AR podcast featured

AR Podcast #6b: The Boozey Remnants

AR podcast featured

After we finished editing the XCOM special, we found there was rather a lot of material left over. This is that.

WARNING: we were pretty wasted for most of this material. We didn’t call this The Boozey Remnants for nothing.

Podcast timeline

00:18 – welcome to crotch beer.
00:45 – the truth of AJ’s musical taste is dramatically unveiled.
01:39 – “the rollercoaster is life”.
03:03 – Left4dead contains zombies and, unfortunately, Potter.
06:54 – “Is that what I told you?”
10:56 – the end result of several hours of drinking and impassioned debate about videogames.
12:29 – a stupid and probably misremembered anecdote about Dan Ackroyd.
15:22 – we finally move on to the question of journalistic integrity.
15:56 – we almost immediately drift onto references to bands.
17:03 – Eurogamer’s typically open and honest approach.
21:19 – never have names been occluded in this cunning a fashion.
22:06 – ElectronDance questions itself.
23:04 – a mention is made of a Rockstar PR decision, and Shaun gets really angry.
28:00 – Arcadian Rhythms gets navel-gazey and starts talking about itself.
29:29 – our special non-guest tells us to stop going on about ourselves.
29:50 – some kind of point is eventually reached about paying writers.
31:40 – big games and the uniformity of critical opinion.
37:05 – do we think it’s going to get better?
39:27 – criticism and reviewing.
40:10 – the enthusiast press and what it can be.
43:23 – trying to make things improve.
44:00 – we talk about PRs and make rude jokes. Sorry, people working in PR.
46:20 – Tokyo Jungle still hasn’t downloaded! Thanks, PSN!

Games mentioned & discussed

  • Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Halo 2
  • Left4Dead
  • Way of the Samurai 3 – or was it 4?
  • Ridge Racer: Unbounded
  • Mindjack
  • Earth Defence Force
  • Final Fantasy
  • Halo 4
  • Tokyo Jungle





4 responses to “AR Podcast #6b: The Boozey Remnants”

  1. guillaumeodinduval Avatar

    That's fascinating. I have heard (and never got bored of) the story of the ''Potter major fuck up'' from Operation Flashpoint, but never knew of the (near)immediate response by AJ in the next match. The reason I find it fascinating is simply because I can now not only associate the very ''stabbing of Potter'' aftermath to that very image (from one of my favorite artist), but I can now see meaning to it for, originally, as awesome as I saw that picture, I couldn't quite come up with a scenario that could lead to such a blindly brutal ''betrayal''. And in a sense, I came to think it void of meaning which, alas, had gone unappreciated compared to other pieces of work from the guy.

    Well, now I have a hilarious scenario that matches the image to perfection!

    To get to the grimmer serious subject of video-game critics and AJ's question (''Do you think this is going to get better?''). I'd say yes. I mean, 10 years ago, did we have anyone around the lines of Yahtzee reviewing games? While I agree he may not be the best example in criticism in the sense that he is almost look upon as a ''freak show'', and some may not even take his ranting seriously and just eagerly await his next ''review'' as a source of entertainment rather than a serious critic in and of itself, I think he still brings up considerably good points in most of his ''ranting''.

    Before him, we had the arrival (around 2004ish) of the ''Angry Nintendo Nerd'', but really, that was pure entertainment rather than serious reviews and it's a hit or miss as well, not to mention it's making fun/raving about outdated games which, unless you are a fan of and/or lived under a rock for years, won't be able to enjoy at the present time. While they may be in the complete opposite of the reviewing spectrum compared to the sold-out ''GTA #, 11/10; Halo # 100% GOTY'' bunch, I think we're starting to see things balance out.

    And really, I think places like Arcadian Rhythms are where the middle ground of reviewing is going to be found blooming. That way, perhaps slowly, independent critics will join the ranks of other more mainstream reviewing sites, at first joining the ranks of the ''sold souls'', but in time, replacing them. And if we don't ever lose, say, Shaun to any of the big names out there, perhaps this very little corner of the internet is going to become a beacon of its own. And it will be places like Arcadium Rhythm that ''those who refuse to be bought off'' will join.

    Whatever happens, I think it's a step in the right direction, but I won't lie, I still think that a lot of reviewers will be bought off, and there will still be Metacritic existing out there, but perhaps people won't pay attention to them as much, silently nodding at the sight of a 90/100, but looking up where the % came from… questioning, doubting, investigating.

    But if you bought all the Halo games before and are already sold to the series, there's nothing wrong with going with the other Halo but, truth is, even if ALL the critics would say it SUCKED HARD, you'd still buy it anyway, so whether it got a meta score of 100 or 0 matters not in the end.

    Fans will be fans.

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      Yeah, that story I tell a lot, and one day I will get bored of telling it.

      We'd like to think that Arcadian Rhythms is a safe haven, but the truth of the matter is that we don't get paid and we don't have the ability to really push for people to read our stuff. Although if you want to spend the time to distribute these articles and stuff to people who would be entertained by them then we certainly wouldn't complain.

      The Metacritic is something that still bothers me way too much. I am deeply unhappy by how much impact that can have on everyone. In fact, I am pretty sure I wrote about that before on badgercommander, when it existed.

      There is nothing wrong with buying what you like it is just a shame that people do so blindly and it takes them several iterations to realise that they may not be enjoying themselves as much as they would like to. This is where the sunk cost fallacy thing comes in, well worth looking up in how money affects us into making decisions that we don't actually like or enjoy.

      The image is intense but the back story kind of undermines it a little. I mean if they are swimming in ice cold water then there is no way that you would be able to see their faces, surely?

      I like Yahtzee but I would be inclined to agree that he is more a stand up comedian than a reviewer in earnest. He is also a victim of his audience, when he started saying nice things about games, he clearly lost viewers so he reverted back to his previous persona and that bummed me out a lot.

      1. guillaumeodinduval Avatar

        Too true, I once ranted about something here (it had to do with bots, or more importantly, lack of bots) and how many people might not feel the craving for that 'something' if they never even experienced a proper version of it, hence, never feeling the need to request for it. Like a little happy African child enjoying himself in the dust, unaware that, while he IS happy with what he's got, he could be getting better.

        The problem with that analogy is that no, actually, that little African kid might not be able to get better, but US on the other hand, have already gotten better, but now no longer have it. To the point that we may have forgotten it or not even GROWN with it. I mean, one could say, given the advancements in AI and how it shows in GTA V, you'd think we'd be able to have humans & bots vs humans & bots… o wait, no it comes down to data of win/lose ratios not being fair since they'd be partially tied with the doings of non-humans… right, I forgot about that important egocentric aspects of many gamers out there… probably why the makers of Fuels of War, while they had done this AWESOME mod for the old Battlefield 1943, didn't add bots in their game. That, or they didn't really know how to CODE bots ever in the first place since, after all, Desert Combat was pretty much just a fancy retexturing and remodeling of the code found there (which, had bots) done by another completely different bunch of guys (ei: those who made Battlefield).

        Which brings me to GTA V. The critics are all over it. Like, I'm seeing 10/10 and 97% everywhere. Needless to say, its Metacritic is off the chart, but then I ask myself, is this guy in this threat a troll or just ''a gamer who'll never be happy with any game ever'' (I mean, we all have our quirks: some will love the next CoD, others will rather play MindJack*):

        But given the complaints (and comparisons) it seems founded in quite a few instances (not as bad as GTA IV in some fields… but still, GTA IV did have, at the time, a Metacritic similar to GTA V now, and it's not like they hadn't done better before! GTA IV felt lackluster in many GTA-specific fields alone, without needing to compare to other games to begin with). I won't expect the game to be AS BAD as he makes it sounds, but if Rockstar has done ''much better'' in other games for the field mentioned, and it's ''sub-par'' in those mentioned fields for a game like GTA V… ''accepting that those aspects are shit'' isn't what should be done by critics in then saying that game is a 10/10 when, clearly, on the market you have other games – games made by that same company – which have done better! It's like if we'd say ''forget about all the shitty aspects of MindJack** in the cover-base shooting or the story and acting, that game is definitely a 10/10 – IF YOU OVERLOOK THOSE FLAWS''. OBVIOUSLY this can hold true for ANY game when you think about it this way, duh.

        *Yes! Mentioned MindJack***

        **Mentioned it Twice!


        1. ShaunCG Avatar

          I am a bit late to this discussion so I'll begin by saying Mindjack.

          Guillaume, I'm really rather flattered that you think those big names out there would want me! Right now I'm very happy being able to write and say whatever I like here on AR; our independence and non-commerciality is a strength… or would be were we higher-profile and in the position to be noticed by larger industry players. I think you're right about smaller sites and venues being where a lot of exciting games criticism is focused; I think the flipside of that argument is that there are so many such sites that getting exposure is difficult. Even long-standing sites like Tap Repeatedly or widely-linked and respected sites like Electron Dance don't have huge readerships, and getting words more widely read is the biggest challenge any indie games writing site will face. Fortunately, while I would love more exposure, I'm also pretty happy just knowing that a fairly dedicated readership does follow AR and likes what we do.

          I'm with AJ about the Metacritic question. I actually go farther than he does and think that scores are a crutch for people who are either too lazy to read or lack the reading skills to actually comprehend what a review says. But then I am a dreadful snob (also my reviewing background is books, where scoring systems are much more widely frowned upon).

          Personally I like to read reviewers and critics with personality and who are capable of outlining an argument about a game: even if I don't agree with them, I enjoy their opinions and, over time, I can even look at a negative review and think "that game sounds like one I might enjoy". That seems to me a much better way of engaging than, say, lurking on metacritic until you see a score out of line with all the others and hurrying over to ineptly troll the reviewer who dared to have an outlying opinion. (Quarter to Three is the best place to see this in action; it's so bad that I often wish Metacritic would de-list them, just so the idiots would fuck off.)

          Plus of course, if you like a series then you'll probably continue to dabble in it! Hell, I've bought Star Control 3 twice and I know it's rubbish.

          I agree about Yahtzee. I find his schtick very entertaining and he does regularly make good points, but what he does is theatre and comedy over and above criticism. It is pretty clear that if the knife must cut, it will cut the latter. But what I find more an issue is Yahtzee's imitators; YouTube wannabes who think that they can be the next Yahtzee by swearing, shitting on games and making crass analogies. AJ and I talked about this at EGX but I think it was before we started recording.

          GTA games nowadays are events as much as anything else: there's widespread circle-jerking and adoration around them for however many months and then it fades, at which point a lot more people raise their heads above the parapets and start pointing out the game's flaws. It's easy to see this happen: I've no interest in GTA V really but I've had so many friends saying they love it that part of me wants to play the game just to get in on this awesome experience I'm apparently missing out on. But I did that with GTA IV and, in retrospect, I enjoyed relatively little of that game. The GTA games are also, in many ways, technical triumphs and, in the past, have pushed envelopes – although I'm happy to have seen articles criticising GTA V's approach to edgy satire, which was feeling a bit over-the-hill back in GTA IV.