Jimquisition: Perfect Pasta Sauce

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Good stuff, a message that clearly needs to be spread.

In other news, common sense and common logic is not in abundance.

Everyone is chasing the big three audiences; FPS, MMO and Esports. Meanwhile, no one gives a shit about the rest and isn't willing to do mediocre titles that might make money and give prestige in the lower ranks, because there's a bottom line that has to exceed the previous one, to think about.

Capitalism failure/success 101. Milk everyone for what they have and jump to the next big thing, rinse and repeat.
Same shit in the movie industry, where they're capturing audiences for the same type of shit by milking old franchises or exploiting current "new thinkers", like Harry Potter, Twilight and Superhero movies.
Same shit in the music industry, where people are searching for the next Bieber to milk, while destroying the poor guy(he really is someone to be pitied) and releasing mass produced crap that lowers standards and apparently the intelligence of its audience(fans claiming the Beatles are ripping off Bieber and equal stupidity).

Meanwhile true creativity is stagnating and we won't see the amount of truly exceptional games that we did previously(in comparison).

A game like Dishonered, which Jim praised, wasn't that good a game. It was fun and while that might be all that matters, it was lacking on a lot of points. Now we'll see the Thief reboot which will try to go for that audience, but likely with a far more streamlined approach.

Then there's Bioshock Infinite, which was a mess of a game trying to be creative, but was kept back by the mainstream appeal that "needed" to be there to sell it.

If Mojang did expansion packs or DLC, I would've spent far more money on that than anything these triple A games have to offer.

I would say the only true success I've seen of late is League of Legends.
That's the chunky recipe that cut out the things a lot of players didn't like about Dota and did its own thing, while earning a motherload of money on a free game. The publicity is through the roof and there's so much new content that pleases players and keeps them engaged in a game that keeps changing just enough to be interesting.
Whether you like it or not, whether you agree that it's a good game or not, it's still a success.

Activison pulled the plug on all their Crash bandicoot adventure games to focus on their COD games.
Jim is so right.

I really liked this episode. The example given at the beginning, of how every sauce was the same, and now we have variety, makes me hopeful for the day that we break out of the rut that the industry seems to be in and have a lot more choice of what we play.

Wow, insightful to say the least.

Recently you've been looking into how budgeting has been going on in the AAA companies and I believe this to be one of the conclusions of that line of thinking. Keep at it, this is what I've been wanting someone in the public eye to say for years. Not only is swinging for the moon every time bad, but it misses out on smaller opportunities. Well made inexpensive games are doing very well right now. Not just doubling or tripling investment but tearing the ROI calculator a new one. Big companies need to get their act together and realize that while they're dicking around with the AAA money they can still throw some money to these smaller games and make good or even better returns per dollar invested.

Frankly, it's a significant opportunity cost of them failing to do so.


This just reminds me of how much I want a good new RTS that isn't totally indie or some f2p nonsense, I just want a fair priced RTS with a decent single player story and some skirmish modes for me to mess around in.

Sigh....wonder how much Red Alert 3 is on steam.

I don't know if you've heard of it but give this page a look. It's an RTS called Planetary Annihilation where you can literally fight across the entire galaxy. I saw it on quickstarter and am now waiting impatiently for it's release.


one thing about the whole kickstarter thing is that there is obviously a market for low and mid tier games that dont have the latest is spectacular graphics,in animation. but are just plain solid, provide decent gameplay, make the players happy and give them something thats been missing for frankly decades

T F eachother and T F eachother and T F eachother and there's no substance! LIKE EPIC GOLD! The ending to this video is probably the best part.


God save our gracious Jim.

I'll add on to that.
God save our gracious Jim,
God save our noble Jim,
God save Sterling.

Also diversifying into markets where competition is not as fierce is not really risky. Personally I compete on an airplane design team. After dominating one competition we diversified into a more prestigious competition, but the stiff competition shut us out, so now were going the other way to a competition which is no where near as competitive. AAA could throw it's weight into any number of genres and make some money, and gain a loyal fan base.

Yet another fantastic episode, Jim. If companies would branch out even a little, they'd probably see more profits. But I doubt they will. After all, that involves risk! (GASP!)

Indie developers have more wiggle room in this regard because they can afford some risks and fill in untapped niches. For example, I like hard games (like Super Meat Boy), so naturally, I gonna make hard games because 1.) I like them, so whatever I make will be better for it, and 2.) it's a niche that many have yet to tap. If Dark Souls and the aforementioned Super Meat Boy are any indication, it's that there's a market for these kinds of games.


That was absolutely superb and I couldn't agree with that analogy more. This is yet another episode which I truly believe would do the industry good if publishers and developer CEOs watched it.

Jimothy Sterling:

Had Prego just asked people what they wanted, it's likely they'd not have discovered extra chunky, because nobody would have said it.

And right there is a great metaphor describing the death knell of gaming variety that has plagued the mainstream.

Consider the previous console generation: the Playstation 2 along with GBA and DS, had the most varied game libraries ever; Far better than this generation has.

Even comparing the PS2 GBA and DS to its competition at the time, it was always the system with the best game variety and not the best graphical fidelity that "won" (financially succeeded), and in all cases, it was not by a small amount either.

I reckon it goes something like this: Music industry > Movie industry > Games industry
What I'm referring to is the order of severity (least to most) of wanting to repeatedly cash-in to the latest fads and desperately trying to make something "perfect" by forcibly mashing everything that was successful in other media into one product.

In the music industry you see this happening the least, for the most part all a band wants to do is what Jim was raving on about: making music that the band wants to make, for the people that want to listen to it.
Alright, there are quite a few examples of bands that simply want to cash-in to a generic fad and make something that sheep want to lap-up en masse purely for the sake of moneeyyyyyy. But it's nowhere NEAR as bad as the game industry.
There is endless scope of upcoming new bands with new ideas, low-budget garage bands that sound good, there is endless scope of finding buried talent (hint: Youtube and musicians who to put their work on Piratebay!). You don't have to be afraid of big-time bands shitting all over you, getting turned-down by studios/publishers just because you're not homogenized is less common and more often than not there is a studio/publisher willing to sell your work.

Then there's the movie industry and the scope becomes a bit more restrictive, budgets become significantly bigger and what is "selling" suddenly becomes a lot more attractive. So we see sequel after goddamn sequel to the point where they keep getting released purely for the SAKE of sequels - Call of Duty comparison anyone? While we do see stuff like Paranormal Activity (low-budget movie which made huge bucks) they are rare, very rare.

And finally we have the game industry, the worst of the worst when it comes to cashing-in to fads. Jim pretty much described everything regarding this.

What say people, would I be correct?

Just a slight correction with your XCOM example, Jim. Development for both the FPS XCOM (to be retitled The Bureau) and Enemy Unknown allegedly happened concurrently. So they were making both games at the same time, but released info on the FPS one earlier. Nobody outside of Firaxis even knew of Enemy Unknown until the damned thing went gold.

To use your pasta sauce analogy, they already made two sauces; they just didn't let you know about the extra-chunky blend until after everyone spat out the plain FPS flavor.

I think a good Single player low magic Conan Game would sell like hot cakes since Age of Conan did well initially then it dropped off. Also look at Obsidian, those guys take existing engines and make amazing games with them in a little over a year when typical development time is a little over two to three years, and they make money. Look at Nintendo, sure they carved their niche as the Disney of video games but they have in their history only lost money one quarter.

They did make a single player Conan game, simply titled Conan, around the same time AoC was released. It was a decent-enough game, but it proved to be a very big financial failure.

I don't know if you've heard of it but give this page a look. It's an RTS called Planetary Annihilation where you can literally fight across the entire galaxy. I saw it on quickstarter and am now waiting impatiently for it's release.

Ooh.. is that a spiritual successor to Total Annihilation I see?

I like this idea, not only because RTS games are kind of rare right now but also because those that exist seem to be steadily moving towards deeper micromanagement, which I'm not opposed to but it would be nice to get away from.

On topic.. excellent episode, and I think a strong counterbalance to the episode on innovation (which I somewhat disagreed with at the time, but I think you've added a lot of context to your argument here).

Any time focus testing is mentioned I get really worried. It was shocking when Naughty Dog mentioned that no women were brought in for focus testing, and half of that was just because they were bothering to focus test The Last of Us at all. Focus testing is where ideas go to die in the name of homogenization. It's also why I'm worried about Broken Age, as Tim is allowing the community to influence some ideas, and that's downright frightening.

Sure, with some testing Bioshock Infinite may have made more sense to those that didn't understand it's ending, but it would have been worse off for it. It's why I respect Ken Levine so much. He doesn't care what others think, he does what he want with his creative freedom and goes nuts.

I cringe at the term focus testing as well. Simple statistics proves that their samples aren't even useful information for representing such a diverse consumer base. Plus, almost everybody's focus testing comes from third party marketing firms that have no idea what a "gamer" is. They seem to think the 12-25 year old males that live in their mother's basement are the only ones who buy videogames. And of course, the large publishers in the industry take the large quantity of numbers as fact and base their decisions off of that. All reaction and no action.

I wouldn't be too worried about Broken Age because Tim's using the community involvement more as marketing than helping with actual game design. It's smart because it gives the community a sense of creativity in the game they plan on buying.


I too have stared into those soulless eyes of the game industry, and what I saw scared me enough to stop buying games as much as I can. If a game comes out that does cater to me, I'm sure to buy it still, but I don't think one is coming from that zombie corpse that is today's game industry.

Jim, you speak the truth (once again. Keep it up!)

As has been said before, not everyone has the same itch. Thus, you should create different back scratchers.

I kind of felt this lately playing Luigi's Mansion 2 and Fire Emblem. It's NICE to play something different even if there are still great shooters like Bioshock Infinite.

There's certainly the audience for more than that which, I think, is why kickstarters like Double Fine and Project Eternity are doing so well.

See, this video is a perfect example of why I don't even bother to comment in Jimquisition threads.

Because he's already said what I was going to say.

Thank God for you, Jim.

Any time focus testing is mentioned I get really worried. It was shocking when Naughty Dog mentioned that no women were brought in for focus testing, and half of that was just because they were bothering to focus test The Last of Us at all. Focus testing is where ideas go to die in the name of homogenization. It's also why I'm worried about Broken Age, as Tim is allowing the community to influence some ideas, and that's downright frightening.

I don't think this is entirely fair. Focus testing can be an excellent marketing took, if you know how to use them. The problem with them is that Focus Testing, at it's heart, is a scientific experiment most often conducted by people who are very much not scientists. Therefore they have no understanding of just how rigorous and careful their studies have to be in order to provide meaningful conclusion. Without this, you end up with confirmation bias-you see the results that you wanted to see consciously or subconsciously.

Yep, AAA industry has no clue what its doing most of the time. I would literally go buy every single mid tier game that could possibly interest me if it were priced accordingly. I don't need a bazillion 200 million budget action fests, I don't even like shooters that much anymore, give me something freaking unique or at least different to the last thing I played god. It's like their are literally people with signs and directions screaming at publishers doors and they just hold up in their little offices and keep pretending all anyone wants is Call of Duty.


I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

I mean just look at how the killed Banjo Kazooie by turning into a racer and stating as much in game. They literally said they were broadening the demographic and assumed gamers nowadays just want to shoot things with some serious 4th wall breaking. DAMN YOU MICROSOFT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID TO RARE!

Okay. Try Braid, Limbo, Terraria, Cave Story (my personal favorite out of the bunch), and any games from the Basement Collection. Like I said, Cave Story is the one I recommend the most, as it feels more platformy than the others. In my opinion, of course. All of them are for PC, so go check them out. :-)

(I want 2D platformers too. I freaking love those games.)

OT- YES JIM YES. I fully agree that I'd like something new and interesting. I don't want homogenization, I want my good games. Considering I'm getting out of my zone and trying new things, I really what I'm seeing. I started Ys Origins. Fucking fantastic and a change from my days of playing TF2 and Skyrim.

Bravo man, bravo.

I own Limbo, braid, Terraria and cave story
I like 3d plat formers more


I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

I mean just look at how the killed Banjo Kazooie by turning into a racer and stating as much in game. They literally said they were broadening the demographic and assumed gamers nowadays just want to shoot things with some serious 4th wall breaking. DAMN YOU MICROSOFT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID TO RARE!

... you know platformers are probably the most numerous type of game at the moment because they're the easiest for entry level designers to make, yes? And that lots of them are unique, well-received games?

Sam Rothrock:


3D plat formers?



Microsoft didn't do anything to Rare. Rare ruined Rare. Why do you think Nintendo was so willing to sell? Because they knew Rare was turning into shit. It astounds me how many people still don't realize this very simple fact and blame Microsoft.

Is it indeed a fact and that being sold to microsoft and making nothing but crappy kinect games since was entirely rares fault? For some reason I don't think Nintendo handing over some of their successful ips had as much to do with rare turning bad as it did with the global financial crisis.



Well here's the issue, there are great titles in some genres being made that are getting no love. No marketing or buzz is put around them. Let's look at platformers, Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a GREAT 2D platformer by Wayforward, and most people have never played it. Same with Harry Hatsworth. Psychonauts is a 3D platformer with a cult following but abyssmal sales. The same 3-4 platformer genre games are being turned out because they are the only ones that sell: Mario, Kirby, Ratchet and Clank, and Donkey Kong.

Banjo Kazooie was a pretty well renowned game in it's time and Psychonauts which I love gained a lot of it's cult following after the initially abysmal release. Unfortunately many games are judged only by their initial sales but I wonder how well it's done so many years later.


I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

Well there's Braid and Limbo to name off the top of my head.

OT: First off this is a wonderful idea, we must throw pasta sauce on the heads of the AAA industry until they can absorb the information that they're being absolutely idiotic and ridiculous (and delicious). They need to learn that not every "new" direction or different genre than the high budget CoD games that make yachts filled with money a risk that is not worth taking; mainly because most of the time there is no risk or it's so small that there isn't much point trying to quantify the potential losses.

Sounds good to me

Holy shit... that comparison between "AAA" Games and inbreeding royal families is insanely profound. Well put, Jim!

I like this show very much. It's a bit dismaying to hear though that people in the industry don't understand anything so basic.

Great point, Jim, I honestly never considered this.

It makes me think of Mount and Blade, a considered niche' by all means, but as I understand it Paradox was originally just two people, but seems to have grown massively, and most of their published games seem focused around that medieval niche'.

It a sickness in capitalism that fewer and fewer have any interest in simply earning a living and providing a service. If you are looking for the big bucks as fast as you can, you're doing something wrong. Hence, everyone just tries to ape CoD and WoW, either directly, in in the features that seemed to attract all those extra casual gamers. Or, should I say most do. There are small and mid sized companies that fill their niche happily (that you Atlus and telltale) and therein lies some of the problem.

As much as I hate to defend the AAA's stagnation, there is a reality to consider: While Angry Birds soared to new heights, there are a lot of indy / mini games that flopped and are gaining digital dust right now. Walking Dead seems like a similar fluke as telltate's other games didn't set the world on fire, nor are a few other games in the same vein like Virtue's last Reward. For all the cravings of new IPs, it seems more common to see them flub in favor of Generic Sequel XIII, and companies start relying on reboots and "spiritual sequels) to avoid being ignored. You can call the AAA industry myopic, but they at least want to see more than one or two big successes before they even start to consider something a thing to try while we hold up exceptions that worked because we refuse to see a lot that didn't.

I'm not saying I like what happening in the industry. Just that it's easy to shout at companies to take a risk when it isn't your money or company you're asking them to gamble. Even on the cheap end, games are a lot pricier to produce than pasta sauce just to try something for the sake of seeing if people like it. Heck, we seem reluctant to put $60 down on something unless we're sure we're going to like it, and companies have the same reluctance. Maybe we should lead by example: buy something new. In store or online, we need to try and get other genres than the shooter, the MMO, or the AAA blockbuster up in sales more regularly. When the adventure game, the tactical RPG, or the visual novel only do modestly, or only make a splash one in a rare while, it's not hard to understand why companies get the idea they don't sell.

mirrors edge was AWESOME!

Thank God for you Jim. Another good argument to spice up the variety I miss so much.

I will drown developers in money if they bring out another game like Super Smash Brothers Melee (no, not Brawl you moron) and I don't care who does it because I don't know if I can trust Nintendo with that anymore.

Also, I will throw money bombs at any developer who can make RTS games that doesn't look like a copy of classic RTS games and also have good game play. Something with one persons soul put into it. Remember, it's glorified chess, make it fucking interesting for fuck sake.

Sir Shockwave:

4- A game that Blends Science and Fantasy in extreme ways.
Seriously, who doesn't want to see a Mage Fighting off Robots with a Magic Gun that She uses like a wand? or a Knight That uses a Lazer Sword to Decapitate an Ogre? You Following? Now... Imagine doing all this while traveling across space with an Elf, a Cyborg, a Dragon and a Cat girl, all taking up roles as Scientists and Wizards to Study life on other worlds, and they come across an Alien Race of Trolls that are essentially the Larval Form of some offshoot of Fairies, and have built a giant cocoon world in the sky out of gleaming metal and are just beginning they're quest into space.
... This Overlaps with 2.

TV Tropes to the rescue!


Complete with Video Game samples to go and try out X3

Funny Thing... I've already played most of the Ones mentioned there...

...Save for Phantasy Star and Chrono Trigger, those are kinda hard to get hold of.

(And Phantasy Star Online 2 was still "Coming Soon" last I heard.)

I loved the pasta sauce analogy- it really really worked.
I wish game publishers actually watched the Jimquisition- I think it would help.

Sam Rothrock:
Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family?

Oh come on.
I've heard what a bunch of americans say about Bush, and he was (arguably) elected.
You don't elect monarchs, you just make do with what you get. And when what you get is rolling the dice on the recessive gene table, it's not pretty.

And no, us Australians don't want to keep the queen as our head of state.
The referendum we were given was to choose between "what we've got" and "this really really really REALLY retarded alternative", and the monarchy option barely won.

I'd wager that CoD is creaming Battlefield because to date they've only sold one gun as DLC (in the first Black Ops 2 map pack), whereas Battlefield upsets the gun balance in practically every BF game since Bad Company Gold with Gun DLC and early unlocks, turning it into a meta-game of buying your way to victory just to keep an edge on the other players.

There's not enough respect for "niches" in today's market. And niche is being treated as an insult. I never remember "niche" being treated as an insult to a genre or a type of game in the 90s. Yes, some people referred to "RPGs" in a condescending fashion in the 90s, but things were nothing like they are today.

Gamers don't all like the same game. Call of Duty fans will buy Call of Duty. Angry Birds fans will by Angry Birds. Gamers cannot all be put into one camp and moved around. We are diverse people with diverse tastes and needs.

Japanese RPGs are hardly being made except lower budgeted ones on the handheld, and indie games out of the West going by the Japanese formula like Pier Solar. Why? Because there's hardly any sales to be made and folks like Capcom and Konami have abandoned the genre. What happened to the Suikodens, the Breath of Fires, the Grandias of the world? Lost to time because the industry that created them has abandoned them.

Capcom won't even make a Mega Man game anymore. It has cancelled all Mega Man projects, and will likely not make another one. It cancelled Mega Man Legends 3. Why? Because according to them it "would not sell enough". Mega Man is seen as "too niche" by Capcom to warrant developing for.

Who is making scrolling shooters anymore, a genre that can be as varied and innovative and worthwhile as first person shooters, but folks like Cave and indie developers? This genre was one king of the arcades. Now thrown by the wayside as being "too niche". Shoot em' ups deserve a love they are not getting. In the meantime I will buy up every single thing that Cave puts out.

For goodness sake Point and Click Adventure games deserve a place in the industry. But have all but completely disappeared aside from their very cult following. I was never a PC gamer in the early days. But when people talk of the "good old days" of PC gaming, I can at least remember some PC genres of game I really did like. Point and Click adventure games were fun and took advantage of the PC platform. Why not more point and click adventure games? Visual Novels are still around. I wish Japan would discover the point and click genre(actually there are a few, the genre just never really took off in Japan). I'd like to seem some point and click Visual Novels. To me, a point and click adventure game and Visual Novel would be a match made in heaven. People should make more point and click games.

What about platform games? Both 2D and 3D platformers aren't getting enough love in today's industry. The majority of both of these genres are coming out of SEGA and Nintendo. Particularly Nintendo. Who carries on the torch for this genre. Outside of that? You have your Rayman, but not much else. Most of the 2D and even 3D platformers are coming out of the indie sphere. Loads of 2D platformers are coming out of indie developers all around the world. But big developers outside of Nintendo and SEGA hardly bother with the genre.

Why? Is there no innovation to be had? No new fun? Of course not! Heck, the New Super Mario Bros. games are extremely innovative and have finely polished gameplay. The fact that people think that first person shooters have more room for innovation today than platformers or shoot em' ups shows a problem with today's industry.

And here's another thing Capcom threw by the wayside, Metroidvanias. Nobody is making Metroidvanias anymore. The "Lords of Shadow" franchise has been turning Castlevania into something it is entirely not. What happened to Castlevania? What happened to Metroidvanias? I have to get mine out of the indie community, like with Cave Story, La-Mulana and Bunny Must Die.

What happened to Fighting games? I really respect Lab Zero for making Skullgirls, because outside of them, Capcom still making Street Fighter, Bandai Namco still making Tekken, and Arc System Works still making Blazblue, nobody is making Fighting Games anymore. Oh yeah, and the Dead or Alive series I suppose. What happened to other franchises like Virtua Fighter?

Why indeed the lack of real strategy and horror games? People are still carrying the torch for horror games. Amnesia is more of a horror game than the recent stuff by Capcom. Where's the effort and magic that made Silent Hill good? Where are games like Fatal Frame? At least Koei has the guts to throw the 3DS a Survival Horror game. I wish that most companies felt that way. I'm also sick of the variety in the genre, we need more games like Fatal Frame and less "Hey look! Zombies!" games. I'm looking at you, Zombie U.

This issue is also a problem in the MMORPG industry. Everyone is trying to copy World of Warcraft. Could maybe, just maybe, the folks who want to play World of Warcraft, end up simply going and playing World of Warcraft? The genre is never going to improve if every MMORPG fits the World of Warcraft or Nexon grind formula.

You've got the success of Farmville and a long history of games like Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and ect. Why does nobody want to make any more games like this? As in serious, Farm Raising type games? Right now you've got Zynga and Natsume. Why nobody else?

I hate the video game industry today. I really do. It is so alienating as someone who grew up with gaming in the 80s and 90s. I want the PlayStation 2 era video game culture back at least. People keep talking about a video game industry crash. I don't know about a total crash, but I want this current gaming culture to "crash" and be replaced by something better. I need some fresh air, because at this rate, I start to wonder if I need another hobby. And I love video games.

Jim, can you tell me the reason of your fixation with Dafoe, other than because he's the smexiest man alive?

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