Losing your favorite game studio


#1

As I am listening to Waypoint’s critiques of Fallout 76, my growing sense of dread about Bethesda Game Studios is only getting worse.

While I still intend to continue playing 76 and somehow haven’t been put off it yet, I did appreciate the specific structural and thematic criticisms that were being brought up by the crew. It’s possible I’ll still enjoy elements of the game, but it is also clear that I could expect a lot more from BGS and 76.

BGS has been my favorite game studio ever since I first considered myself a “gamer”. Oblivion was my first true obsession. Every game they’ve made from Morrowind up until now has always felt like “home” to me, kind of like how it feels listening to your favorite band – there’s just something in the DNA of the art that really jives with you.

However, it’s become super clear to me now that BGS may be headed in a different direction. They’re much bigger now than when they made Oblivion, and they’re experimenting a lot more with their franchises, such as with 76 and Elder Scrolls: Blades. I don’t say that in a bad way, because I think they have every right to experiment and that they should, but it is clear from 76’s reception that they may either not “know” what they’re doing, or their philosophy has shifted from what made me so attached to their previous games. I am now starting to have some sort of genuine concern over Starfield and TES VI. While I’ll always have the beloved games of their past, I would like to journey with them into the future.

Basically, I wanted to see how other people felt or what they’ve experienced when it comes to a game studio somewhat “falling” before your eyes. It’s a strange sensation I haven’t really had to deal with in any art form. Though it’s discomforting to listen to things like today’s podcast, I think it’s important to not let yourself be blinded by fondness/fanaticism, etc.

Thoughts?


#2

Thats really funny that you specifically cite Bethesda and 76 because the game studio I instantly thought of when I read the beginning of this thread was Interplay and the old Fallout games.

Its hard. I’ve spent a long time being a butthurt nerd howling on the internet about how nobody plays the “good” Fallout games and only in the last couple years been able to see myself.

I guess a lot of it is being self aware of your emotional attachment to media and to not let it be your identity or depend on it?


#3

Look im not going to lie and say i hate half life or anything but Valve’s libertarian nonsense is infuriating sometimes.


#4

I remember when Insomniac announced Resistance and I was furious because 12 year old me was way into the Ratchet games and I was not down at all with that beige nonsense. Yeah the Future games were alright but let’s be real here, we lost an entire generation of Insomniac games to that grim bull shit and I like that first Resistance game.


#5

Yeah, I generally try to avoid complaining about “the old stuff” being better, or about anything in general on the internet, haha. I try to be happy and thankful with what I get. It reminds me a lot of bands that change their sound, something else I’m familiar with. I just never see the point in everyone constantly griping on the band’s social media, etc. I don’t believe I’ve let my identity be dependent on it, but I have noticed a strange trend in recent years where it feels like the moment I acknowledge something as being important and formative to me and begin to talk about it, the quicker it begins to slide out of its revered place, haha.

I imagine that’s how a lot of people felt when 76 and Blades were announced, in a way. Me being someone who likes doing creative things myself, I guess I’ve always found it hard to stay angry at creators decided to make whatever they want. I’ve usually been of the opinion that artists don’t really owe audiences anything, though of course that’s complicated in the sense that there is generally a transaction involved… but I feel like this time with Fallout 76 is one of the first times I’m being truly tested on that belief. And it’s not that I’m going to devolve into another person on the internet yelling at them each day, but, it may impact my support in the future. I am unsure.


#6

Silicon Knights was the first studio I ever really looked at and said “I want to work there”, after discovering MGS The Twin Snakes and Eternal Darkness.

Watching the studio destroy itself over Too Human, try to plagiarize the Unreal Engine and lose to Epic in court, then seeing Dyack side with GamerGate… it’d be tragic if it wasn’t so disgusting.


#7

I try to avoid these feelings, but I’ll be sad when EA has respawn shit out that star wars game. They put titanfall 2 in the same month as call of duty and battlefield… Also hoping that nothing at Bethesda hurts Arkane.


#8

I am so worried about Respawn… I still dip in and out of Titanfall 2, it is an absolutely phenomenal game. I’m flabbergasted why it never got the traction it deserved. I can’t wait to see what the studio do next, and I especially can’t wait for Titanfall 3, but given EA’s track record is it even possible for them to release a game without controversy now?

At the same time, I’d maintain hope that the sheer talent of that studio would surely find a home somewhere else. They’ve consistently changed the game as far as FPSs go. Back when they were Infinity Ward they kickstarted the WW2 shooter with Medal of Honour: Allied Assault, then perfected with the first COD. They rehauled the structure of competitive MP games with COD4 and then did things with mobility in Titanfall that just makes every game a blast to play.

I would hope someone like Sony would maybe snap them up. For all their emphasis on creating prestige titles unique to PlayStation, Respawn could surely deliver the goods especially if they got the same marketing budgets and release scheduling as those first party games. Even Xbox as they have made moves recently to purchase studios that have a certain reputation. You’d think Respawn is on top of everyone’s list - though maybe everyone’s waiting for what will happen with EA first…


#9

Westwood especially after the EA purchase went places with Command and Conquer that were very dissapointing. Some of that is down to changes in the market for RTS gaming, but it was still annoying to me.


#10

This is totally Bungie for me. No shade at all the Destiny fans, who I am happy for, but boy did the magic end for me post-Halo Reach. I fully admit that they still make amazing feeling shooters, but Destiny doesn’t feel as special as Halo. Instead of having really nutty vehicular combat, we just get sparrows. Instead of iconic weapons like the battle rifle, we get an endless loop of mostly forgettable armaments. And instead of an epic journey with characters I care about, we get quest hubs that say the same thing to the dozens of other players in your instance. Oh well, I’m probably still going to play through Destiny 2 one of these days.

This isn’t to say Bungie is a worse company than before, just that it moved in a direction that I’m not interested in. It’s why I’m nervous about Anthem, as BioWare is another studio that I absolutely adore and I fear that they aren’t going to make games I like anymore. But they need to make what they want, and I can’t be too salty about it.


#11

Two recent-ish studios come mind: Ninja Theory and Visceral. Ninja Theory is still around, obviously, but given Microsoft’s track record it’s hard not to worry about their future. I played all of their major games, and even if I wasn’t as smitten with Hellblade as some, I still thought DmC and Enslaved were some of the most interesting AAA games around at the time. It sucks so much that there’s so little room for experimentation in that space.

Visceral is a little different, since I mostly liked them for Dead Space. It just felt especially frustrating because it was so easy to see how EA was interfering with that series, and how it went from a breath of fresh air to just another shooter in just three entries. I remember how disappointed I was reading about the microtransactions, co-op, and human enemies, gradually realizing I probably wasn’t even going to play the third game. I was almost surprised when EA finally got around to shutting them down, since it felt like they’d already been gone for years.


#12

Looking at myself, I always make an overly hard effort to not be bitter and behave like an entitled old school fanboy, even when it’s sometimes a-okay to not like something new.

As Tomb Raider fan since 1996, I experienced so much fandom uproar with every new direction that franchise took. Not just with the latest reboot, but before that with the switch to Crystal Dynamics and the Legend trilogy and before that with Angel of Darkness.
Every time there was a faction that claimed this was not the ‘real’ Tomb Raider - and that ‘the young ones’ just didn’t get it.
With multiple reboots there was even a point where factions that originally hated each other, suddenly felt solidarity over hating the even newer thing together.

I definitely always try to be open minded and imagine that it’s not just about me, especially when games franchises exist for a longer time. This realisation especially came when I read someone writing about ‘classic Tomb Raider’ and it turned out they were referring tot Legend, which came out in 2006. Not exactly ‘classic’ to me, but for someone in their early 20s definitely a piece of nostalgia from their early teens.

So yeah, ideally I like to think that sometimes studios and franchises just take turns that are not for you, and (much like Austin was saying in one of the podcasts last week) look at it as a way for other folks to get into it. For example, I never played the old Fallout games and I really enjoyed Fallout 4; although I wholeheartedly understand older fans wouldn’t be on board with it.

Then again, as I said at the start of this post, I have a very strong tendency (and sometimes I feel it’s slightly compulsive, perhaps fuelled by the fact I’m on the spectrum) that I don’t WANT to be bitter and make myself not be angry about games changing into something else.


#13

Hope everyone understands it is okay to be disappointed that that thing you once liked is no longer the thing you once liked. If you are mad/disappointed in the creators that’s an entirely different thing.

Naughty Dog is mine. They created my favorite mascot platformers and then they created these shooting adventure games and I’m just not really there for them. It is a type of game that we don’t get a lot of now but also with Crash and Spyro remakes…and even the Ratchet one, I can eventually have a prettier Jak remake.


#14

Konami is the big one for me, Metal Gear, Silent Hill, PES big games in my formative years. Now I know Konami seems pretty shitty to work for as a developer so I guess im ok with them slowly dissolving everything to make arcade ports of MGS3 with the fox engine…

im absolutely not ok with it, I hate it I wish PES was back to it’s glory days, I want a fox engine MGS remake. FFS I want PT. But not at the expense of exploited workers


#15

I don’t know if it’s quite the same, but the fall of Peter Molyneux for me. The loss of reputation makes me sad: from the person who worked on Syndicate, Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital and Fable, to the digital snake-oil salesman behind Curiosity and Godus. He stopped being the charming eccentric guy who’s imagination and enthusiasm sometimes got the better of him, and turned into the parody version of himself.

The slow transformation of Godus after the kickstarter from a spiritual followup of Populous to a free-to-play mobile game with a PC port was the final straw for me. It was hugely disappointing.


#16

Yes, good one. I was always so forgiving towards him with the Fable games. Always making excuses like: “Oh you know… the guy is just so enthusiastic, he can’t help it…” But then he got in his head that he was some sort of innovator with groundbreaking, life changing games and it was just so sad to see that escalating out of control.
Still want Fable 4 though; without him people might be able to bring it back to that sweet spot where charming and challenging overlap.


#17

Old school Tomb Raider fan as well. The shut down of Core Design was a dark day, crunch gets talked about a lot today but the Core Design team made 5 successive Tomb Raiders in five years. I think by the end it was becoming a bit stale, they wanted to shake it up and gambled big with Angel of Darkness which effectively killed the studio. I always think it’s weird that Crystal Dynamics picked TR up because when those first games came out, they were cranking out the Gex games.

Tomb Raider is a difficult one, because following AoD the series has just emulated other better games. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time became the leader for those kind of platforming adventure games. Which the Legend trilogy basically was. Then Uncharted became the standard which is what the latest three Tomb Raider games were basically emulating. I think they’ve had better success with the smaller titles like Guardian of Light and Lara Croft Go. However, I’m not sure about the future of Crystal Dynamics either or Square Enix for that matter…


#18

I think I’m maybe lucky that I never got to play Halo, but I played the Marathon series and was so into the world-building and I still love Destiny for that (and the moment-to-moment feel), but it’s definitely a different beast. D2 has started to go to a better place but it’s still primarily an “investment” game rather than a story driven one.

Also @Velocirapture and @How92 seeing the chat about Titanfall 2, have you watched any recent speedruns of it? I caught the run at GDQX and it’s really impressive. Beacon skip is just insane!

I think my own answer to this question would be Crystal Dynamics, who made the Soul Reaver series. In hindsight it was a prestige game series 20 years before that was a thing (Amazing VO, world building and graphics. Decent mechanics), and I’m sad that Amy Henning and co. never got to wrap up the glorious mess that the story became.

Oh and @Dyfrig I can’t believe that there will only ever be one (meaningful) game released with the Fox engine. Its such a good base :frowning:


#19

Yeah I agree, I found redeeming qualities in all TR games and enjoyed them for what they were, but I think it’s probably time for yet another cool down period and a new fresh start :thinking: Not ideal, but I guess that’s the corner the franchise painted itself in.


#20

I enjoyed Marathon as well (admittedly after the fact), but I like it for the same reasons that I like Halo. It’s a mostly linear progression with a clear objectives anchoring its story supported by excellent shooting mechanics. While Destiny has the latter, it lacks that clear drive that Bungie’s previous games very much had. I’m sure if I dug into Destiny’s lore I could approximate that feeling, but it just wouldn’t be the same.