Thursday, September 20, 2012

ALL-NEW "Game OverThinker" Is Now Live!

Our newest episode is now showing for all audiences on The Other Site and also on ScrewAttack!

In EPISODE 75: "EASY DOES IT", we examine the modern controversy over "Easy Modes": do they really - as the lead designer of "Assassin's Creed III" recently claimed - "ruin games," or is there a vital place for them? In addition, we proudly announce that the next episode will be "Ask Ivan!" - wherein Ivan the Intern will answer questions to posted to the comments sections under the video itself or to this blog post (see episode for details, no anonymous questions please.)

ALSO! You'll see The OverThinker's favorite watering hole, discover the history of The OmegaThinker, witness the shocking origin of RoboThinker, learn something new about Ivan the Intern and watch ME gradually figure out how to properly use my new green-screen! (in all sincerity, I know some folks run hot or cold on the skits, but I'm pretty psyched with how the "ending" bookend for this one turned out tone, FX and timing-wise.)

Embedded episode and spoiler-y discussion after the jump!

*NOTE: QUESTIONS FOR "ASK IVAN" SHOULD BE POSTED EITHER TO THE COMMENTS UNDER THE VIDEO AT SCREWATTACK OR TO THIS POST AT THE "OVERTHINKER" BLOG; *NOT* TO THIS BLOG.



Yeah, I'm proud of this one. The Hutchinson quote kind of fell into my lap as a perfect sort of topic-starter for my little niche here, and it gave me some room to A.) flesh out exactly what it is Ivan is supposed to be doing most of the time and B.) bring RetroThinker back into the picture and try out what might become his new status-quo as "resident old-timey expert guy." He's a fun "voice" to write for, and his "costume" isn't as cumbersome as some others...

As to RoboThinker's origin? I really like how it came out, overall, but it was a winding road to get here.

When I sat down during the "planning stages" for the revamped show as the AntiThinker business was coming to an end, a robot villain named "RoboThinker" was the very first thing I wrote down after deciding to continue the "____Thinker" naming-scheme schtick, but for the longest time that was all I had for him. (FYI, you have been spared the appearance of non-starter ideas like an enviro-terrorist called "Eco-Thinker," a white or yellow ninja tagged as "ElectroThinker" and a flatulence-powered one-off villain named "OverStinker.")

Believe it or not, for a long time my plan was for him to either resemble Robocop or The Borg - which would've been highly unfortunate since this is hitting so soon after "To Boldly Flee." Ultimately, I wanted him to look like a less specific parody, and the final concept ("Super-Sentai Terminator," basically) turned out to be best within my budget/abilities AND to fit best with OmegaThinker's DBZ/Trunks angle (that being DBZ's "Terminator" spoof and all.)

In any case, I hope everyone enjoys this one; and I'm already enjoying seeing people getting into the spirit of "Ask Ivan." If all goes well, you'll get those answers, an explanation of WHY OmegaThinker doesn't want OverThinker doing the fighting and your first taste of RoboThinker's voice and personality next time. Until then, let's hear those questions for Ivan!

*NOTE: QUESTIONS FOR "ASK IVAN" SHOULD BE POSTED EITHER TO THE COMMENTS UNDER THE VIDEO AT SCREWATTACK OR TO THIS POST AT THE "OVERTHINKER" BLOG; *NOT* TO THIS BLOG.

22 comments:

Sam said...

Hey Bob, nice episode. I can see you've really put a lot of effort into it with the green screen and effects. I think the retro gamer character isn't a bad idea as he can voice your views as a retro gaming fan. If I was going to point out a weakness in the show (not bashing or moaning, just my thoughts) is that Ivan can be a little annoying. Navi has always been remembered for being one of the most annoying characters from Zelda. Also giving the character a chipmunk voice just makes it a bit grating. I can understand though the idea of having a character that you can interact with. Have you ever thought about having someone is in the show but yourself? Maybe having your brother on the show like Spoony sometimes does. Again, this is no way a bash. I like your videos and understand this is your show.

P.S you seen Dredd yet?

Sam said...

Hope I didn't offend, I can see he's a important character to the show for you.

ANImaniac said...

@Sam:
I think Moviebob can handle a little constructive criticism, you don't need to tip toe around with your comments.
Bob's gotten a lot better with the whole story line thing (he's about half way to Linkra and Spoony's level at this point) But honestly still think the pre-story line GO episodes are much better and in some cases more entertaining.

paronomasiac said...

Bob, I can't even read this post. Your amalgam of bold, caps, and blue link text at random intervals reads like a MySpace page from 1998. This is eye poison.

Sam said...

@ANImaniac
yeah i know, just wanted to make it clear I'm not bashing. Others have been pretty vocal about their dislike of the changes to the series.

Mild_Snakz said...

Hey Bob, great episode. I'll make this as brief as possible.

I agree with most of what you said about easy mode however I do believe, depending on the game, some are better off remaining difficult. You didn't speak about Dark Souls, even though you referenced it visually but I would argue Dark Souls is one of those games that would absolutely suffer artistically and design wise. Some games, like Dark Souls, benefit for being hard as it is an essential piece to the "gesamtkunstwerk" of the game, or in English: total work of art.

TL;DR: I mostly agree on easy mode but some games are better off without being easier.

The Saarai'ari said...

Hopefully the questions asked to Ivan on the Game Overthinker announcement article on your other blog count too as mine was on there as well.

Anyways, I don't really play a lot of first-person shooters. Can anyone please explain to me what spamming the noob tube meant?

Looking Down The Crionics said...

Fuck To Boldly Flee, if you want to do a Robocop parody do it. They don't have exclusive rights on cosplaying. It's like when Obscurus Lupa did Robo Vampire, yea Mike Matei did it first, but Mike Matei has the charisma of a wet duck, so it doesn't matter.


(Is anyone else besides me getting sick of Mike's bullshit polluting Cinemassacre?),

Mack said...

this is really great and i love your skits, my only complain though is how much you bash on xbox live, i know that xbox is the easier target but such bad behaviors are just as easily found on Playstation Network, i could just be an xbox fanboy who doesn't like hearing his system bashed but it's just how i see it

biomechanical923 said...

I'll be blunt, I don't really like easy modes when they're designed to make video games appealing to people who don't like video games. I compare it to somebody who wants to participate in a movie critique after fast-forwarding through it. Because if you really love games, you would put in the effort to get good at them.

Rather, I think video games should allow easy modes for people with disabilities. Making an "I win" button is fine when it's for somebody who doesn't have hands or something.

Besides that, I'm surprised to see you complaining about online multiplayer. Computer-controlled AI of a single-player experience will NEVER be close to the complexity that arises with human players competing against each other. I think they call that "emergent gameplay"

biomechanical923 said...

One more thought.

While I don't think that games always need arbitrary skill barriers, I do think that "bragging rights" is an important part of gaming culture, and should not be relegated to XBOX kids who compare achievement trophies.

I'm talking more about rewarding people who achieve more challenges with unique weapons or costumes or something. For example, in Final Fantasy, you usually need to complete a bunch of sidequests, or kill Omega Weapon or something to get the most rare weapons. Some gamers are resistant to this, but I think that rewards can be a little more cosmetic than just being achievement points in a file somewhere.

If developers can give unique items to people for pre-ordering a game, I think it's fair to give unique items for beating their game on nightmare.

Michael said...

I completely disagree with the video and find it to be a rather rushed and narrow-minded conclusion, disappointingly enough.

If "teh hardcorez" gamers, as you would put it, apparently insist on everything being hard to exclude others from their favorite past-time activity, why do you have to go for the opposite extreme and demand everything have the option of an easy mode? It's so silly. Why can't SOME games have the option and others that are specifically designed to be hard as a strict part of the experience not have it?

Example:
Starcraft 1 remains the most beloved RTS of all time, and as an E-sport made I don't know how many hundreds of millions of dollars. The game itself was incredibly inconvenient and user-unfriendly, and many actions you performed were in fact repetitive and wasteful (having to manually rally each individual worker to a mineral patch, not being able to select your whole army at the same time, the path-finding was atrocious so you had to lead the units by the hand, etc.) Because it was so inconvenient, it made the game incredibly difficult. You had to be INHUMANLY FAST at a professional level if you wanted to win. So the skill ceiling was very high. And the thing is, people loved to play it because of that, and loved to watch it, too. There were no options to make the game easier, and nobody would appreciate it if there were.

No, really. I can tell you this for a fact, because today we have Starcraft 2, a cazualized sequel that does half of everything for you. The skill ceiling ceiling is much lower. Everybody acknowledges that. It's great for casual players, sure, but the whole competitive scene suffers for it. And you know what? There are actually some easy-mode features that could be turned off to make the game harder, but the pro gamers won't do that. And why would they? If you already HAVE the advantage, even if it makes the game worse, you're not gonna go out of your way to forsake it. It's just plain foolish.

The central point is that some games are MEANT to be hard, and they're better off being that way. If you give people the option of an easy mode, they WILL use it. And it's going to completely devalue the experience. Sometimes, having options is NOT good. Sometimes, you have to force people into something for them to find meaning/enjoyment in it. That's how it often works in life, too. It's narrow-minded to think that these kinds of intentionally hard games only exist to make someone feel "SO HARDCOREZ" when it's a great opportunity for anyone to actually learn something about themselves and feel accomplished. You know, accomplishment. That thing so many people live for.

Michael said...

Part 2:

Same thing with the proposition that Dark Souls should get an easy mode. I thought you understood when the game was mentioned at the Escapist Expo. DS is an experiece that's built around its high difficulty. Take that away, and there's nothing to it. It's just another generic game that you'll forget after you're done speeding through it. It's not memorable in the slightest. Sure it has decent atmosphere and a nice world, but those won't hold up by themselves. It's the difficulty that sets the tone and makes them stand out.

Do you want games that don't strictly have a captivating story to be forgettable, Bob? I mean, come on! Looking back on all the hard games you played when you were young, do you really feel like they don't stand out in your memories precisely because of the difficulty? I suck at video games tremendously, but even I'm not as diametrically opposed to the concept of challenge as you!

You brought up the convenience of being able to mod games, but that has nothing to do with the topic. I absolutely cannot think of anyone making a mod that decreased fair difficulty in any game. Broken and unfair difficulty, for sure. Still, for the reasons I stated above, if such mods do exist, developers need not inflict more damage by making their games easier.

Again, I was very disappointed at this episode. You didn't give it enough thought, and your stance can basically be boiled down to the emotion of "I hate hard games because I'm bad at them." I find this to be an irresponsible approach that could even prove dangerous to the industry.

Please take more care in the future.

-A concerned fan

Michael said...

Addendum:

If you want to experience parts of the game without being bothered by the actual gameplay, Bob, I recommend looking up some Let's Plays on Youtube.

Anonymous said...

suck my pole bob

MovieBob said...

@Michael,

Ignoring your overall condescending tone, I've been giving this "enough thought" for my entire gaming LIFE.

The fact is, whether we like it or not an expanding audience means an evolving medium. Gaming has evolved, and part of that evolution is that challenge is not the only or even primary reason that a growing number of gamers play, and I simply do not see the problem with allowing an OPTION for those people to experience a greater number of games.

The days of "This game is impossible but I've played it to the point of memorization" as the ONLY measure of gaming devotion is over, and I embrace that in the name of a better medium.

biomechanical923 said...

@MovieBob

For something that you've been thinking about since you've been able to hold a controller, I really think you could have done a better job trying to elaborate on your position. It was a 17 minute video,and you spent about 8 minutes actually talking about games.

From what I see of your position, you seem to be trying to justify developers chasing after the easy money, while at the same time, blasting movie studios for doing exactly the same thing.

Michael has a point, regardless of whether you're unhappy about the way he delivered it. Dark Souls was one of the best games of the past decade, and it had virtually no story (aside from item flavor text). It was good because it was unforgiving and difficult, and even I'll admit that the game would be absolutely boring as shit if you had the ability to run around 1-shotting things.

Again, I'm not saying games shouldn't have easy modes, I'm saying that not all games should have easy modes. It should be up to the creators to choose what kind of experience they want to create. The tone and atmosphere of a game can completely change when you don't have to worry about your health, ammo, etc... certain genres lend themselves toward open experiences better than others. I certainly wouldn't want to play a Survival Horror game where I never had to worry about survival, for example.

Some people might say that once a person buys a game (or any work of art), they should be able to experience the game (art) in any way they see fit. But really, isn't that what half of the piracy debate is about? The right of a creator to have a say in when, where, and how you get to experience their intellectual property?

Wes said...

@Michael First I'd like to mention how Starcraft, brood wars or wings of liberty, is not difficult. If you play the campaign everything is delivered to you in reasonable chunks, yes in WOF they were delivered slower but that in no way means that anything of the game was "done for you". If you want to really play you still micro like non-other. The begging difficulty of SC2 was a reflection of introducing new mechanics and units to the old players while helping bring new upcoming players up to speed. Nothing of the design is difficult to grasp, or overbearing, the difficulty is when you're doing multiplayer with a challenging human opponent. Not what we're talking about at all. The video is very clearly about establishing that easy mode is not something that is watering down the medium. Bad design and writing is what waters down our medium. Bob never said that certain games like Darksouls would be better with an "Easy Mode", he is simply making the a counter argument to the designer of the AC3 lead designer's statement. I personally thought it was laughably ironic for the guys that bring us AC to be saying that, the game where you press x not to die, the games that made the prebacked finnishers 'as combat' popular. This was not an attack at "hardcore" difficulties, modes or, gameplay simply pointing at that if the community start to see more approachable designs as negative then the industry WILL go down hill. It's the path to an elitist community that results in only biggotry. Any student of design understands that the universal rule is that 'approachable communicates', you can not force someone to 'get' your art or blame them for not putting time into something that was purposefully hard to approach, that is your design choice and your make it for your own reasons. Likewise making something more approachable for a larger audience does not automatically mean you're trying to make an 'easier buck'. Darksouls strength was not that the enemies were difficult, the combat and controls were solidly designed, the world was fantastically built and the story and narration were amazingly implemented.

Main point,
There is nothing wrong with easy modes. There are a number of legitimate reasons to include easy modes other then just reaching a larger audience. This strong negative attitude towards "casual" modes are unarguably elitist and something that will hold back the medium.

biomechanical923 said...

@Wes
"Likewise making something more approachable for a larger audience does not automatically mean you're trying to make an 'easier buck'"

I'm sure somebody could say the same thing about Michael Bay movies, and it would be equally wrong.

"combat and controls were solidly designed"
Lagstabs, Dead Angles, Lightning Weapons, and that glitch where you press a button and nothing happens until you try to press another button... are "solid design"?

"the world was fantastically built"
The world was designed to impart a sense of graudeur, creating the desire to explore, and intimidation, the fear of exploring too much.

I don't think the world would feel as impressive, or opressive if you had a Lakitu to fish you out of every deathtrap you fall into.

WyrmWithWhy said...

Yeah, I think that Starcraft thing is a terrible example. I'm freaking terrible at RTS's but I loved the original Starcraft and Brood War. It has a really engaging narrative and very compelling characters that I mainly played through by typing in "show me the money" or "power overwhelming" and auto-winning. And I loved going online and playing "Use Map Settings" games where you either controlled a single unit or a massive hoard of units or just defensive structures. Starcraft could be enjoyed in MANY more ways than as a competitive E-Sport, so that game actually supports Bob's argument in this episode.

Smashmatt202 said...

Matt B. here, wanting to ask three questions for Ivan. Please answer them if you can, though if you answer just one, that would be fine:

Firstly, what are your thoughts on the other faires from The Legend of Zelda series, e.i. Tatl, Ciela, the Great Fairy, the Fairy Queen, etc.

Second, have you heard of Game Grumps? If you've seen it, what do you think?

Third, who is best pony? :3

(speaking of which, how could they have a Fluttershy plushie 5 years ago, before My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic even existed? Unless it was... A G3 PONY! I think that'd be worse than the Robothinker!)

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