Electron Dance
1Aug/1933

Discussion: Mythbusting

Welcome to the July newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Today, it is usually the open world game that generates urban legends. However, it’s difficult to know whether player reports are made in good faith or made up for clicks and likes, much like those schoolfriends who used to boast about crazy videogame happenings which never actually happened. There’s a page full of GTA: San Andreas myths from Bigfoot to UFOs.

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

Sign up for the monthly Electron Dance Newsletter and follow on Twitter!

Electron Dance Highlights

Comments (33) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I care not for Mr Scott’s head-canon. Mr Dick left enough knowing half-smiles for us to wonder if there are indeed any non-engineered lifeforms left on the dead Earth.

  2. Ooh, mysteries. The wonderfully awful, awfully wonderful Realms of the Haunting (1996) is a source for me. There was a British and an American version. In it, near the end, in the middle of an seemingly interminable hell-maze, there was a section where if you clicked on enough weird beating hearts in the environment you would get a psychic message from your separated companion before the final item on your shopping list (brains) would appear. That didn’t seem to make it into the American version. The hearts are there, but they do nothing, and all the brains seem to be spawned from the start. Both my wife any I (both fans) remember that scene, but I can’t find any evidence of it anywhere. There’s also lots of red herring inventory, story content that branches to nowhere and even a ward-sealed door that tantalises me to this day.

  3. Very relevant to this: People Make Game’s recent video about whether Gandhi in Civ 1 was more nuke-prone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ur3SdgkW8W4

  4. Thank you! I have been trying to remember the name of Realms of the Haunting for about two years now.

  5. Mr B

    I’ve just had to look up a bit of that game. I didn’t play many PC games before 3D graphics cards took over everything, but I feel like I’ve missed out. Especially with those. Dramatic. LONG PAUSE. Cutscenes.

    On your deathbed, given the chance, would you plead for revelation? “I can tell you the secrets. Or you can die with mystery in your heart.”

    Alan

    You’re not wrong! I love that Meier makes the point that not knowing is better. To completly dismantle these games’ systems takes away the magic.

  6. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. This isn’t the only valuable thing the internet has destroyed – there’s also boredom (although smartphones are more at fault there). People just don’t get bored anymore – and I mean truly bored, like bored enough to draw images in the sand with a cigarette butt while waiting for the bus. It’s such a big part of the spectrum of human emotion, and it’s pretty much gone.

    I’m definitely pro-mystery. I don’t need to know everything, and I don’t want to know everything. It’s hard to stay wilfully in the dark these days, but I’ve trained myself well.

  7. Ah, Ketchua. It is true I’m never truly bored, I always feel I have more than enough to get on with, explore, dally with. Oh, I have children too. I don’t know why we need children in the age of the internet, I’ve got enough to be getting on with.

    I took this literally initially: “It’s hard to stay wilfully in the dark”. Like, most people have lights or music or a phone beside their bed. You keep the shutters closed and go to sleep in the dark without any electronic buzz in the room. I was cool with that too.

  8. “On your deathbed, given the chance, would you plead for revelation?”
    I can die not knowing the answer, as long as I know whether or not there is one.

  9. @MrBehemo

    I loved ROTH back in the day and played through it at least twice. I had a UK copy and what you describe – clicky hearts, reveal brains – certainly *sounds* familiar.

    Mind you, you could just be Berenstein-Bearing me…

  10. Actually while we’re talking ROTH, “The Ire” (if I recall the name correctly) was a sort of myth within the game. Oft-mentioned, dangerously threatening, never makes an appearance.

    Not the same kind of thing as the newsletter discusses, but since when did an ED comment thread stay on topic? Duck penis.

  11. I think I played through the UK version twice and I’ve through the US version somewhere around a bazillion times. We’re ROTH nerds in this house.

    So I think we did encounter the Ire. First there was the spooky voices inside the Tower. The Ire was supposedly like a mass of lost spirits? Kinda fits, if a little over-hyped. Secondly something somewhere mentions that the Dodger is a manifestation of the Ire into the realm of Heled. So the big purple Ghostbusters dog you saved Florentine’s staff for – that was the Dodger, which is also kind of the Ire. But none of this is confirmed, so it’s still a juicy mystery.

    Now, if you really want to get Berensteined, do an image search for “Realms of the Haunting box art”.

  12. Oh my. It’s an honour to meet someone who loves that game even more than me!

    Yyyeah, as I recall the Ire was supposed to be a sort of consuming supernatural mist. A mass of lost spirits sounds right. I’d forgotten about the Dodger’s provenance – probably overwritten by disappointment that, good as the game is, *that* boss fight is how it chooses to conclude.

    As to your last point: I… feel I’m missing something. Am I ruining it by still owning a physical copy of the 4-CD jewel case? :/

  13. Maybe – the predominantly available version nowadays is the US one, which looks like this:
    http://www.mobygames.com/images/covers/l/3184-realms-of-the-haunting-dos-front-cover.jpg

    The European one looked like this:
    https://www.mobygames.com/images/covers/l/381058-realms-of-the-haunting-dos-front-cover.jpg

    The opening FMV was edited to match, and it took me a couple of years to put my finger on why it felt different! :D

  14. I’m only familiar with ROTH through Ross Scott’s excellent Game Dungeon series. It looked like a great example of the sort of ’90s PC game Richard Cobbett used to cover in his Crap Shoot articles; often terrible, sometimes incredible, almost always janky and weird and a labour of love.

    Sure enough, I did a quick search and he did indeed cover it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_oS9XBxlwM
    https://www.pcgamer.com/crap-shoot-realms-of-the-haunting/

  15. Jesus, Matt, you can’t just walk in here, guns blazing, with an on-topic comment.

    (enjoyed the tweet btw)

  16. OK, fine, FINE, I will salvage my reputation by asking if you have obtained the expansion for Stephen’s Sausage Roll. It features sausages prepared for ritual sacrifice, which must be grilled on the traditional open fires, and sausages intended for ordinary consumption, which must be guided to gas grills. It’s called “The Sacred and the Propane.”

    (It has been brought to my attention, by Google, that that joke was already on The Sopranos but.)

  17. Ok, so Joel, I have a question for you. I want to talk about the EGS store.

    *thunderclap, lighting, audible gasps, mothers covering childrens’ eyes, elderly devout crossing themselves*

    Wait! Come back! I only want to talk about one specific thing. Not the exclusives, not the social media crusades.

    It’s the give-aways. I’m looking at my Epic Game Store account. I own 12 games that I paid precisely nothing for, and that’s a smaller number than for many who are better at remembering to check back every week. These are all big name games – killer, not filler. Headlines indies. Some of them extremely recent – Mutant Year Zero, Subnautica, Edith Finch, with Celeste coming next week (I’ve made an appointment in my calendar!)

    Great for me, but here’s the thing: I was planning on buying all these games at some point, along with Transistor, Rime, Slime Rancher, Stories Untold. Okay, you got me: I was waiting for the sale. It’s been argued, I believe in The Weapons of Progress as well as elsewhere, that one of the malignant factors of the Steam sale was that participation was a rational move in the short term for indie developers, but in the long was contributing to the gradual movement of indie game prices towards zero as customers were trained to wait for the sale.

    I was wondering if you thought Epic’s give-away strategy, especially as it makes a hard turn towards more recent titles and not stuff that might have exhausted its long tail years ago, might be contributing to an acceleration of this affect – of customers being trained not even to wait for the sale, but to wait for the give-away?

  18. CA, I’d bet that revenue that Epic pays for the giveaways outweighs potential sales. I think it’s a good thing. People don’t consider “free” in the same category as “cheap”. Cheapness devalues the product, whereas giveaways reinforce a sense of value. It’s why a Happy Meal gives you a 20p toy instead of taking 20p off the price.

    One thing that surprises me about the freebies (I’ve grabbed them all) is how many of them I already own or were on my wishlist. It’s like 80%.

  19. Ooh, Celeste. I should look out for that.

    OTOH I haven’t opened Stories Untold yet, I’m still trying to figure out whether to delete The Witness, and I can’t figure out how to stop the launcher from opening when my computer boots up, so maybe I’m getting what I pay for?

  20. @matt: Open the Epic Games Launcher, press Settings (bottom left), then one of the first options should say “Run when my computer starts”. Deselect it.

    EGS: I have taken all of them too. I already had quite a few, but I definitely prefer to have them in two places (a few stores have gone bust already…). I had in my wish list What Remains of Edith Finch, Slime Rancher and GNOG.

  21. Thanks Fede! Was thrown by the lack of a Preferences menu in the place that Mac apps normally have one, and I was afraid I’d need to remember my login to get anything else done.

    I’m kicking myself a little for missing Hyper Light Drifter but I guess I can always buy it! Though I feel like I should put serious time into Hollow Knight before I buy anything else. Has “Hollow Knight” been discussed at ED? I have a feeling it may fall into Joel’s “misses the whole point of the Souls games” category.

  22. Hi CA/MrBehemo…

    My feeling is yes and no. I mean, it doesn’t accelerate anything, I think it’s just another step along the zero price road.

    Epic ran aground with their “Mega Sale” where they discounted EGS games but didn’t ask developers for their consent. They feel they didn’t need to ask for consent because it was an “EGS sale” and the developers were all compensated regardless of the discount.

    However, some developers were angry because it took the power of discounting out of their hands. Maybe you were going to wait a little longer for discounting. Maybe you were never going ot discount. But someone else did it and damaged the perception of your price.

    I think, even if you don’t discount your own games, the presence of The Free and The Discounted Furious has a lasting impact on the pricescape. That’s an “I think” sentence rather than a statement of fact. But it’s “I think” I believe in. I never really liked the EGS freebie ploy. I mean, it’s standard Business Stuff. Just with my awareness of the unbearable cheapness of now, I couldn’t see it as a positive development.

    (FYI I don’t currently have an EGS account!)

    Matt – I don’t remember seeing Hollow Knight discussed anywhere.

  23. Just random thoughts: EGS isn’t the first to have freebies, so is 1 year of EGS freebies actually changing the pricescape? I mean, Steam used Portal as a freebie in 2010. GOG usually had one at every major sale (not anymore). Humble Store often has some.
    Sure, EGS has an easier to predict schedule, but so did IndieGameStand years ago before disappearing (though that was PWYW, and there’s a lot of difference between $0.00 and $0.01).

  24. can confirm that Celeste is the good shit

  25. Anyone have any idea whether Epic pays devs a flat fee for these week-long giveaways or bases it on how many people grab the game? I always get free Epic copies of games I already have just in case it means a little extra revenue for the devs.

  26. FedeIt’s a somewhat different level of freebies. It’s not “free-to-play” (which often has a sting in the tail) and it’s not “a little bonus on the side” – fairly recent, well-received games, one every two weeks for a year. That’s quite a dent in the psyche.

    If, say, Valve made a retaliatory gesture of free-game-of-the-month, that would be a far more worrying reaction because then it starts to bed it into business-as-usual. I don’t think the commercial market could stand the downward pricing pressure. I guess that’s why I don’t like this, they crossed a certain line. You need deep pockets to do it, but you’ve thrown down a gauntlet. It’s not just one free game. It’s a YEAR of them. An attention war using free games would be devastating.

    The IGS data point is more interesting although most of the games were titles you probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise (I grabbed a number of titles from IGS) so it’s not quite the same. EGS is converting “top tier indies” into free.

    Urthman After much web searching, I couldn’t find any details so it’s like all signed NDAs. I asked about it on Twitter, likelyihood is lump sum.

  27. Hello, sorry to necro this thread, but I signed up for a newsletter and got 12 links.
    One of the SILENT HILL developers posted a tweet within the last year–I’m mad ‘cuz I can’t find it on my harddrive, but I feel fairly certain I wrote it down in one of my novel-writing notebooks–that said (and I’m mauling it in my approximation) “Never answer their questions. Once you answer questions about your work, they’ll stop talking about it.”
    I spoil things for myself by wanting to chew on every theory (even in games I haven’t played!)(which is why I’m here…your WITNESS video)…but could some of this be devs’ faults (esp Indie devs) for making games that are less “mysterious” and more “they had no idea what they were doing and now people are driving themselves up a wall trying to put meaning where there maybe wasn’t any” ?

  28. Hello Danielle, and welcome to Necro Corner. Don’t worry, this happens a lot around here.

    I was considering your comment through the lens of PR – any developer interaction will have a marketing component whether intentional or not. Developers like to be “open” and “transparent” not just to connect with their community but to keep the project alive in people’s minds, it’s just Marketing 101. Find something interesting to say, it may be about your project, it may be about something else, but it keeps the attention on you. The counter by the Silent Hill developer implies you get plenty of chatter as your fanbase talk about unanswered questions, but explaining those questions will shoot the conversation dead. Well, that’s the commercial angle, anyway.

    More positively, mystery creates conversation, has social worth, and answering questions means no one has to talk to each other. I like this idea of “mystery as social creation”. (Of course, when I’m addressing mysteries I tend to keep to myself hoping no one spoils me with the correct answer, from knowledge or otherwise. I’ve been spoiled in the past by people making intelligent guesses about mysteries.)

    So Jonathan Blow is unlikely to open his mouth about the intended meaning of this work – well, for many years at least. I can’t imagine he’d ever officially endorse The Unbearable Now.

  29. I tracked the actual quote down! And he’s actually quoting a character from THE PRESTIGE

  30. “Some people ask me his questions about Silent Hill. However Alfred Borden in film “The Prestige” said about “trick” like this, “Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret, but as soon as you give it up, you’ll be nothing to them”. [:-) ”
    https://twitter.com/adsk4/status/1148690801796378624

  31. Good work on tracking that down Danielle! That’s definitely nothing to do with PR or the social conversation :) It’s a lovely quote which perhaps sums up my entire newsletter in a lot fewer words.

    I think you’ve linked to the wrong tweet (which is a fine Jacob’s Ladder ref nonetheless): https://twitter.com/adsk4/status/1106036135803871233

  32. We are, of course, plagued with Ending Explained articles. But then, half of those don’t actually explain anything but simply put down the beats that happened on the screen.


Leave a comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

No trackbacks yet.