Our fifth podcast is now live! This edition includes the rumoured Xbox Scarlett!
Thoughts on comments from Nihon Falcom and reports on Xbox Scarlett being a streaming service! Mega Man X and Sonic Mania Plus! How many Nindies per week?!
Thoughts on comments from Nihon Falcom and reports on Xbox Scarlett being a streaming service! Mega Man X and Sonic Mania Plus! How many Nindies per week?!
Thoughts on Fortnite! Cross-Platform Play shenanigans and Mega Man 11 absolutely not coming to Europe at retail too! Everyone is Here in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!
Plus, hear what we have been playing this week. Then our thoughts on E3 2018 and Sony does….what to your Epic Games account?!
Thoughts on Battlefield V vs Call of Duty! Pokemon Let’s Go and Mega Man 11 not coming to Europe at retail too!
Plus, hear what we have been playing this week. Then our thoughts on some pre-E3 reveals and the comments about…a new portable PlayStation?
Yep, finally after who knows how long, we’ve got our own domain (Obviously, it’s why you’re here!) and we’ve now integrated the NL Inklings!
What are the NL Inklings? Well it’s a Squid Squad for Splatoon 2 that we here participate in (I happen to be a tyrannical overlord or something like that…) and we live stream matches sometimes!
But that’s not all! On our official Discord (Link in the bar above!) we set up matches and cooperative efforts for other games like Minecraft, Rocket League, Overwatch, Pokemon and more! So come on by, check the Discord widget on the side of the site to see who is online and get an invite!
We also have @NLInklings Twitter updates. Give it a follow if you want to know when we are streaming some Splatoon action! It’s down the side of the site too!
We aim to have sessions every Saturday (Splatterday!) at 7pm BST/8pm GMT!
But that’s not all! We now have live stream integration too! What will this mean? Well if you’re viewing this site on a desktop, you will get a notification that we are live on Twitch! Simply click it and boom, there you go. We will also publish posts to watch the stream embedded if you wish!
We will be live streaming play-throughs for future reviews, fun, competitive gaming with the Discord crew and maybe even more. Follow on Twitch or @BritishPlaying on Twitter for immediate notifications about those events!
That’s all for now! More will follow in the week! Keep playing and happy gaming!
You guys might want to sit down for this.
So you all know I have become disillusioned with my degree as a Game Designer, I mean I did fail after all. It’s become something I see, and many others see online, a reflection of the negatives of the industry. I always believe if you are creating a form of entertainment, you should make it your best efforts, otherwise a lack of enjoyment from users will mean it wasn’t entertaining. Catch my drift?
So, for simplicity sake, we are going to go through the classes and some anecdotes of my time studying Computer Games Design, explain why I am self-taught, what we were taught, what the marking states we are expected to do in the industry, and how we are expected to progress as individuals and businesses.
So, let’s start at the start.
They hate Nintendo: I’m just getting this done with now, because it’s the most bassackwards kind of thing you’ve ever heard. So when discussing what game systems sold the most, just as a bit of general knowledge, we had 5 options.
So, we had a logical question: Obviously it is PS2 right? Well we asked, for obvious reasons, does that include hardware revisions like the DSi? They said yes, so stuff like the GBA counts towards Game Boy sales as it’s the same thing.
To these people, teaching the young folk of the industry, the GBA is just a Game Boy. Not new hardware, not new games, just a Game Boy. I did point out (After promptly bashing my head of a table like several others in the room did), that this would mean the Wii U did very well, and the PS4 is well over 400 million units by now, if we use that logic.
They stood by it, so whatever. They also said Wii U games can’t be near the size of Blu-Ray, and Nintendo doesn’t make big games anyway so why expect AAAs. (This was before Switch, I must stress). This was a collective head bash again, as the Wii U discs go to 25GB.
There was a blatant love of false information, it was disheartening to see, but as time went on it just becomes numbing as opposed to shocking. For people who worked in the industry one would expect them to be accurate with what they teach to the future.
Be at the forefront of new technology….that we want you to be at: Do you know how fast they were all over PS4 Pro? PSVR? Sony partnered uni for you. Interns there are making VR games, even. That’s cool. That was one of many blooming fields in gaming right now, and I fully support it.
So when I had the opportunity to demo Nintendo Switch, on my own time and money, and be given some of the opportunities I have now (Through my own actions and skill, not theirs, I have to add), they weren’t happy. Why? This is something I’ve never gotten a straight answer on. You tell us to be at the forefront for new and exciting stuff, but seemingly only if it suits them.
They think platformers are outdated. Cant have running and jumping no more. We were actively discouraged from making those for level design courses which didn’t make much sense, given that’s an excellent show of designing a level regarding flow, player abilities and more.
Now we move on to the content, I have more anecdotes about their very weird views on what we should be doing, because some of it is flat-out restrictive to making games and content, but those will pop up in the next section
Production: Making 12 page Game Design Documentation, and small prototypes. This is all fine and good. There was an inordinate amount of time spent on writing stories (I have no idea why they spent that long on that, it was at least 5 weeks), but they did cover some handy things like progression through a game and mechanics. This was pretty good. Only downside was very little, maybe 1 week, of programming, which means making the actual game was….a challenge. Even then it was copy/pasted code.
Plus, and this is important to bring up, I have come to understand that I design games in the “Japanese” way as opposed to the “Western” way. It just suits my workflow better. Shorter documents, different primary focus, where western focus is on visuals, character and story, mine and seemingly eastern focus, is on gameplay. Those have priority in the official documentation.
I was marked down for that, with the specific words that…I was wrong. Doing something wrong, yet only doing the same thing differently because it suited me. University, and especially a creative field, was being judged on academic criteria, which is counter to the nature of the field.
Creative Design: This started strong. Making company logos, scene concept art, character concept art, promo materials, all good stuff. But that was just half of it. The 2nd half, bear in mind this was mandatory to pass, involved making an interactive magazine, with a video review of content, and amazingly enough, a prediction of the future of something we have interest in.
So I said, based on previous industries like phones and PCs, and them having peripherals to play handheld games on consoles, and console ports on handhelds, that Nintendo will create some kind of hybrid system.
They said we aren’t giving you the marks, as that’s not realistic, citing Nintendo wont be around and the technology isn’t there yet to make it compelling. You can imagine my feelings on this now.
I never did get awarded those marks.
3D Modelling: I have no issue with this. Despite not being very arty, its relevant and covered everything from individual models to whole scenes. This was good, very good in fact.
Web Development: Making websites. In a games design course. Yep. People had the option to do Flash animations as well, as an alternative, but neither are super relevant. You could say Flash based games are, but this was 2014, Flash was already outdated and soon after deprecated.
3D Animations: No problem here. Make 3D animations. My only issue was, amazingly, being put in a group half the size needed for group work, one of whom didn’t work, and the other didn’t want me as part of the team. So I opted to redo it and still failed, as I was then stuck doing a 6-man job as an individual.
Level Design: Relevant. Don’t know why they pushed CryEngine so much, as I think everyone universally hated it, both years I did it. This was one I had to redo because despite having the right sized team, one guy actively faked doing work until he vanished 4 weeks prior, so all I had was code and no assets, and the other guy, bless him he is lovely, doesn’t do any good standard of work. The new team was far better, despite having to teach myself C++ for Unreal Engine 4, because the uni seems to have some weird aversion to teaching how to actually make the game part of a video game.
Mobile App Development: What has this to do with games? Nothing. It was mobile website development, by the way, just thinly veiled. Had to make apps to track people via Google Maps. Riveting.
Had the same lovely guy from Level Design working with me on this one, never did any work, had to teach myself PHP for server-side stuff, because they wouldn’t teach that for some reason (again) despite being half of the marks. Turns out he went and made SASS sheets that were just HTML formatted incorrectly, so we had to scramble! The teaching focused solely on front end: Visuals and appearance.
Games Programming: It was a train wreck. A good attempt but most didn’t get it (Heck I didn’t get it) as the information wasn’t being conveyed in a way that made it learnable, it was just pure here’s some code away you go slap it together. The attempt at teaching programming was a copy and paste effort. Not productive in the slightest, and in hindsight was vastly over-complicated for what needed to be done. You don’t start teaching programming to some students who have never touched an IDE by having them make AI.
User Interaction: Critiquing UI across devices and suitability for things like VR and such. I didn’t do this one, wouldn’t let me because I didn’t do Flash animation (Why?) but, at least it was relevant to the field.
Multimedia Web Development: This was an extension of making apps except it was making videos and images for web-based viewing. Game Design remember?
Audio: Smashing stuff. Didn’t do this, because I didn’t do Flash, but hey they you go. Another relevant one.
Professional Awareness: You know I have no idea what this is? Talking to people who did it, they didn’t either. It was something to do with team work. Can’t really fault that from the outside, but the confused responses I saw from people made me think it was one of those “token classes”.
Here we go. So a note, they wouldn’t let me do the group project or individual research project. I’m going to get to something else they didn’t let me do this year as well, at the end.
Advanced Concepts in Gaming: Debate issues around gaming such as women’s rights, sex, violence, anthropomorphism, realism, middleware and so on. We had to make either a realistic building render, a character creator (Which I did, guess what there was a complete lack of material on? Yes there really was NO teaching on what the hell they even expected!) or a transmedia narrative, spanning multiple devices.
Basically glorified marketing. I actually failed this one, because for whatever reason, my side of the debate, when it came to the debate, didn’t back me up in the slightest. Didn’t help every debate prior had been a one sentence thing, while this was a paragraph on why anthropomorphism is bad for games as it is dehumanizing. Overall, this wasn’t a bad idea, it just wasn’t…a good marking thing? It’s hard to explain. Like why the class existed was okay, but what you had to do to pass was all kinds of arbitrary.
Digital 3D Effects: Make a 90 second CGI movie. Take real footage and CG something in. And make a documentary about making it. Teams of 4, I got a team of 2, with the nice guy who does nothing from Level Design again.
Side note, the people in the class did say “Thanks for taking one for the team”. Cheeky sods.
But again, this is Game Design. Making CGI/Live Action movies? I….alright? I don’t see the relevance unless you wanted to do pre-rendered cutscenes.
But the good part: So being colour-blind I can’t composite shots very well. I can’t get the tones right, so I directed the location shoots, designed a monster for a monster movie trailer, animated it, gave it all to the lovely guy to do, while I worked on a documentary using shots of the cut up work with narration to explain what we did. It was easy marks for him, and he couldn’t possibly screw this one up.
Boy did he ever. For some reason he used barely any effects, had terrible audio balancing, used his own static image for a monster it was just….I had some alcohol that night. It totally invalidated the documentary as well, which didn’t help marks.
But to compound things, he did ask for feedback, and by the time I was done watching the…monstrosity…he had constructed, he messaged me to tell me it was submitted.
I became a very good friend of Mr. Jack Daniels that night.
Indie Game Development: Here we go. The things you need to know when making a small studio. Great right? It also went over ways to make money and such. Didn’t cover talking to other companies or acquiring anything for development but hey, priorities.
When writing out a business plan however, we were required to plan out DLC and micro-transactions (Not just for marking purposes), but it is a requirement they want us to do when we plan a game. They want us to put MTAs and DLC in from the start.
And I didn’t do that. I openly object to that.
Also, this required submission of .exe files and code via electronic submission. All handy right? Electronic submissions don’t allow zips, rar files, code files or exe files. Whoops. Another mismanagement. You can’t submit it electronically due to restrictions on what can be uploaded, but the only submission was electronic.
Advanced Concepts in Web Production: Judging by what Advanced Concepts in Gaming was about….probably the same but Web-based. Again though, it’s Game Design.
Creative Visualisation and Animation: Do you know those Casually Explained videos that have neat animations explaining things and how they work? It’s that. Make that. Pick something and explain how it works via animation. Game Design.
And that’s the course structure. As you can see, a lot of it is irrelevant to the actual subject, but it’s what you didn’t see that worries me more. While a fair chunk of it is relevant, even within those, there are alarming holes, not most beyond teaching some dodgy practices and business moves.
Firstly: Where the hell was optimisation? I cannot stress this enough. We weren’t taught how to optimise anything, even for PC. Looking back it was mentioned in passing, like what it is and why you do it, but nothing on it. When submitting something, hardware just has to brute force it.
Secondly: Programming! They tried, bless, but it was so poorly done, in addition to a lot of mismanagement, it’s worrying that they hand wave the key component of making a game interactive. The bit that makes the game a game.
There was a week where Intel were coming around and allegedly offering job opportunities (Now why Intel came to game designers to offer them jobs, some of whom wont pass for two years, is a mystery) but it happened. Interns ran interviews, and all was well. Got emails and checked the sites for the list of times and such, find my allotted time.
This was a mandatory thing that had to be done by all second and third year students.
Long list of names, covering all second and third year students, both in the e-mail and on the website.
I had been withheld from an opportunity that was listed as mandatory I must stress, and they never once said why. They never once said “We don’t want you there”, they just never let me do it and never mentioned it to me. I asked my housemate, once they revealed they were one of the people doing the interviews. They said they didn’t know why either. The staff pretend it never happened.
Now, they had, since day one, said we should be striving on our own as well. Working on games in the background, and eventually, trying to get relations with developers and publishers who visit for talks, see the exhibitions at the end of every year, and so on.
So, being a guy who likes to make progress, I did the numbers, looked at what games I wanted to make, so on and so forth, and by the half way point of that first year of learning, I was already talking to the first company I even spoke to.
But here is my thing. They say go to the new tech. Make the games you think people will enjoy. Work with people, who get you where you want to be. But it has become increasingly apparent, that it doesn’t apply to certain companies. I don’t know the exact reason why, I don’t know for what purpose, but I have been locked out of opportunities on many occasions beyond the egregious one I listed, ever since I took their initiative, showed initiative, and made myself known.
They refused to let me go and demo the Nintendo Switch in London, on my own time and money. Obviously I went anyway!
At the end of the day I got ahead, did as they asked, and I was pushed away by it. And that’s on a personal level, the worst aspect, that doing what I want and what they said I should do, has led to being left on the side.
This led to a serious downward spiral for my health both mentally and physically. I hope it is the only time I need medication for depression and anxiety, because lord knows it was a rough time.
But here is my final thought on the matter.
In a lot of ways, I have enjoyed myself. I have learned things, that granted, I did pick up over time just by playing games and being analytical about them, but the doesn’t excuse the gaps in knowledge, some of which is crucial, and the blatant irrelevancy and mismanagement of the course in general. For £9000 tuition fee per year, and all the loans I’ll have to repay?
It needs to be better.
That is 100% the truth. This is the education an actual institution is giving students who, god forbid if this standard maintains, will be making games in the near future. Aggressive monetization, dodgy practices, lapses in knowledge. Yes they can’t reasonably teach everything, but they could at least teach well and relevant.
Universities are ultimately a business, and this was a course that I personally feel was misleading. It positioned itself as one thing, with freedom, and revealed itself to be a stifling, counter-intuitive, sometimes random mismatched bunch of classes marked academically to judge creativity: And the problem with that is, if you don’t fall in line with that is expected, creativity can be shunned.
So I recently turned 22, a ripe young age I know, but I feel a lot older. Significantly older as it happens, and I find myself wondering why. It’s because I’m tired.
I am incredibly tired. Not physically, but mentally: Exhausted. I find myself playing games a lot, it’s what I do, but why I do it, and why it has exhausted me, are related.
So a lot of people play games for fun, a hobby, or a job. For me, and many others, it is escapism. It always has been.
I started playing games with the Mega Drive and PlayStation, specifically Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot 2/3, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I would have been 2/3 years old at the time. Yes I did start very early in my life, and not with the easiest games to begin with either!
Video games were a sanctuary for me. I wasn’t very sporty (I can play sports quite competently though), nor was I one for going outside. The latter is simple – Around the time I found my interest in games and technology, was the time I started school: The time the bullying started.
So what happened? Well until the end of my GCSEs (Age 16 for you not-British folks!) I was bullied in some form near daily. Sometimes physically, most often verbally. So I became sheltered. Not anti-social, lord knows I wouldn’t be here if I was, but someone who simply doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about parties, drinking, going out. I’m a desk sitter.
So games were my past-time. Something to do when I wasn’t out playing with other children. Losing myself in fantasy worlds, being heroes, beating bosses, getting 100%, those years on the PS2 were magical. But then I turned 10.
Suddenly all the games I played weren’t cool: Yes, it was the time all the kids my age jumped onto Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty despite…being horribly underage, and there I am, just being introduced to Pokemon via Pokemon Ruby for the first time on my first Nintendo system and falling in love, playing the latest Jak and Ratchet games on PS2 and PSP. When I brought these things up, I was bullied for playing kids games…despite being a kid. Child logic is weird.
I was chastised for playing these lighter games that were not only age appropriate, but held my interest, and for playing on kiddy systems instead of the Xbox at the time. This would have been 2004 to 2006 I believe, and of course the Xbox 360 came out, and I had a Wii. Well, everyone did, but I never used my 360. So that became a thing I was bullied for too.
Then I got a DS, continued playing Pokemon through my teens, got introduced to Mario and Smash Bros and all these other franchises, continued with Sonic and Ratchet on PS3 when I got one in 2010. What few friends I were able to make, and who are still around today to my surprise, had the same interests. But to the hundreds of other students at that school? It was a huge target on your back to play games like these openly.
This is when the bullying was at its worst. There is nothing more vindictive than a hormonal teenager looking to let off steam, and as the designated “Bullied kid”, every school had one, that was on me, for who I am and the games I play.
I see similar stories, and I heard it from others while I was at university. The same thing happened to loads of people, bullied for playing certain games. Why? This confused me but upon discovering the wider internet as I started university, I saw what it was.
So all of the above things, bullied for certain games, talked down to, it may all seem familiar.
Go to any message board, look up the PC Master Race, as it is called, or even some “Professionals” in the games media. The air of elitism, “I’m better than you”, it seeps out in comments sections but the motives and methods are the same to this day: Demean someone else’s gaming habits and feel better in doing so.
It’s bullying. It’s the same bullying. Yet I sit and wonder why I simply sigh at comments like that, the inevitable comments, from every side, be it Xbox, PC, Sony, Nintendo, Mobile, the list goes on, across many mediums in fact. It all fills me with the same disgust: Why would I get involved? What does it get me? Nothing, but it sure does remind me of my time at school, as it will to many.
For the longest time I used games as a way to forget about my bullying, to learn about technology, something I was deeply immersed in and still am. But over time it became something used by the bullying, and that’s when the depression sprang up like a bad weed.
There are days, weeks even, where I don’t want to play games. It’s usually after seeing comments, unavoidable comments, or people, or mind-sets, that just bum me out.
There is something to be said for thick skin, but even rocks on the coast are worn down by tides with enough frequency. You can only do some much before needing a break, some reprieve.
The internet and this modern age of gaming has largely proven itself to just be a horrifying extension of my and many other’s time at school.
The console wars are bullying, though no one on either side would admit it, but they know for sure they feel it.
But to conclude this analysis of why many play games and just what happens if you dare go online these days, I want to end by looping back to my time at university, at least briefly.
For all of a train wreck as that was, with teammates not working or bluntly dropping out 4 weeks before a deadline, terrible teaching for what was meant to be “Game Design”, there was this elitism lingering around the place.
In January 2017 I was invited by Nintendo to London to try the Nintendo Switch out, something that *anyone* would jump at. Early on I remember the university said they wanted us at the forefront of new tech, which is an amazing concept. We even had PSVR dev kits and had interns making VR software, it was great.
But they didn’t want me going to try the Switch. In fact there was this feeling that Nintendo…wasn’t a thing. It was very much a PS4/PSVR thing. Xbox got mentioned due to similar architecture, but was similarly dismissed. We learned nothing in the way of coding or optimisation either, but we sure did learn how to aggressively monetize games.
I was being given opportunities and striving forward on my own, something any institution would be happy for, but they didn’t want me doing that. I was even excluded from what were “Mandatory” events, and I wish I knew why. All I can assume is that just like with the bullies in my schools, or the people online engaging in never-ending flame wars…I fell outside of what they wanted.
And that’s just the thing. You can’t please everyone. But you can do your best to be nice. For nearly two decades now, being it from tutors, peers, random people online, I have had the same experience day in and day out. The games I play aren’t good enough for them, and they feel like they should shout it at me.
Personally, I will always be this way. I will have times where it does get me down. There are reasons I walk that fine line of “You do you”. If someone wants to play games of their choosing how they choose, then fine. That’s them. They have the right to, and I can’t stop them, nor is it my place to tell them how that makes me feel.
But that has been a rare stance I notice. It’s okay to be a fan of something, lord knows everyone is, but fanboyism, tribalism, this bullying, it is something I want to see stop. Sadly I don’t think it ever can.
I grew up telling myself I wasn’t going to be the people at school. I wouldn’t treat people like that. All I can do is laugh, and sigh, and move on at each instance like I always have.
But I know for some that isn’t so simple. Some people take it way too far, and it’s those instance that make me write things like this. We all love games. Why do there need to be lines between us?
Today we have the PSN outtages, death of Miitomo, Paragon and Twitch’s push to surpass YouTube, as well as GDC Surveys, Switch Sales, and more!
If you like what you see, give this a share on social media, feel free to suggest topics for next week, and we will see you then on Behind The Game! Happy Gaming!
YouTube has been a bit problematic lately and with the unfortunate e-mail today that I will indeed be losing access to a lot of features, and my network, as of February 20th 2018, I had to quickly and very certainly move ahead with some plans I had been considering, but have now been pushed to acting upon.
So what is happening? Well YouTube basically stripped us, and hundreds of thousands of other small channels, of most of our features, and monetisation, to fix some problem (The email is kinda bad).
Now this isn’t a money issue. This is a “I’ve been at this for 9 years and the goalposts just moved”. Imagine getting an eviction notice and at that same moment being told your eviction is because your rent is increasing. Bit like that.
After this point YouTube has presented a brick wall that has to be climbed, and while many will stick with it, as they aren’t far from the requirements, others don’t get such a luxury.
But instead of give up, I have pushed myself to this point to consolidate all of my media avenues into one thing. So let us begin:
Behind The Game will see the least changes.
As always we will post written reviews, articles, discussion pieces, impressions on upcoming games, all the usual content. This will not change.
What will be added however, is podcasts, discussing certain topics in gaming, the previous week in gaming and more.
There will also be video impressions on indie games, DLC, other gaming things and more as stand-alone videos available on YouTube, that will be linked here.
This is where the most will change.
Currently we upload episodic Let’s Plays of video games. Now however, that content will not be recorded in advance (Usually, this is situation permitting).
From now on, all the “Let’s Play Content” will be streamed live on Twitch, then uploaded as VoDs onto YouTube, same as the podcasts for Behind The Game.
YouTube will also get the Impressions videos and any other things specifically for Behind The Game that cannot be livestreamed.
This is going to be the most drastic change, but allows us to record footage in better time, and upload it as long form episodes of an hour or two per week.
Finally we come to Twitch.
On Twitch we will host several shows that will replace our LP content on YouTube, such as a retro gaming session, indie session, so on so forth. More so this is where we will host our Podcasts for Behind The Game.
All things streamed on Twitch, whether it be the new “LP” content that will populate YouTube, or Behind The Game podcasts, will be made available on YouTube after the fact.
Behind The Game – Business as usual, except expect added podcasts and discussions (Hosted on Twitch, then uploaded to YouTube), and Impressions videos (Uploaded to YouTube)
YouTube – Our Let’s Play content will be replaced by live streamed content, made available after streaming on Twitch, and we will add the Impression videos.
Twitch – Twitch will be where we host our livestreamed content, both for gaming and Behind The Game.
So with that said, I hope you enjoy the changes, look forward to some streaming schedules, and go follow both of the channels at the links below. Oh, and stay tuned on Twitter @BritishPlaying for on the fly updates and news on all things BLP and BTG!