Not Every Story Is Worth Publishing


#1

Open Thread is where Waypoint staff talk about games and other things we find interesting. This is where you'll see us chat about games, music, movies, TV, and even sports, and welcome you to participate in the discussion.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/594exz/not-every-story-is-worth-publishing

#2

patrick: i hope u know u can only do this once


#3

I remember asking the “did the devs use assets for their next game that legally belong to their previous publisher”-question when Project CARS 1 was out and had many bugs I remembered from NFS Shift and Shift 2 the developer did as an EA gig.
I mean they have many of the same real world tracks in both Shift and PCARS, do you really start from absolute scratch? Or do you use some old data as a baseline (that you might not necessarily own)?

Or for Man of Medan here… the animation and camera tools that maybe were made for Until Dawn, do they belong to Sony? Did they have to rewrite those tools from memory?

If you ask me, Patrick was on to something, but he’s probably right that it’s not worth the effort to dig deeper.


#4

Well, it’s debatable if it’s unsubstatial research. I would bet on Patrick doing a story (or even a review) on Man of Medan once it comes out. This information might not be worth a whole article, but it can bring light on why that game feels different from Until Dawn, or if it has a disappointing look. Even better, if it turns out to be a great game, it can be worth mentioning what a praise the team deserves since they started from scratch.

What I mean is, just like a bad run on a roguelike, investing in the wrong research can bring personal gain.


#5

As someone who is a big fan of video game trivia (and trivia in general), I think stories like the engine behind Man of Medan are in fact worth publishing. But also, I understand that Waypoint as a website is built for longer form articles than a blurb about engines. It seems like a story of this size is in an awkward space between a tweet and a full-on investigative article. Perhaps a different delivery method would work, like a podcast segment or an article collecting the weekly or monthly detritus from all the writers?

I will say that stuff like this is why I still keep Kotaku in my bookmarks. Their firehose approach to content might lead to a lot of stuff I couldn’t care less about, but it also means I’m regularly seeing these bits and bobs of video game chatter.


#6

This is a valuable point about how we as outsiders examine games, and it’s also one aspect of the player community that the game development community deeply resents.

There is a narrative in the player community around the Unity engine, that basically asserts it’s a fuckin shitty engine and everything it produces looks and - worse - plays the same. I saw one instance in which it came to a head when a popular YouTube reviewer, jackfrags, levied a major criticism against Escape from Tarkov for using the Unity engine instead of the Unreal engine. He posits that it’s cheap to license, but a poor choice for ‘this type of game’. (this video is set to start when he starts talking about Unity)

Of course, jackfrags is not a developer. He’s a consumer who knows some inside-baseball info about game development, as most of us do. He can make assumptions based on anecdotal evidence, but in the end he hasn’t been in the developers’ offices, watching them work with the engine and build this game. He doesn’t know why they chose it, or what actual impact the engine choice has on the game they produce with it. He just has played some Unity games in the past and thinks he knows how game development works.

He might be on to something about the Unity games he’s played: perhaps they all share similar budgets, or scope, or have the same level of QA testing or ‘polish’. He doesn’t know for sure that Unity is at fault for the things he has noticed, though. Whatever the case, the discourse among players around Unity games is so bad, in Steam forums especially, that, earlier that year, a developer wrote a Twitter thread complaining about it, directly blaming journalists for reporting on engines in the process. The thread garnered thousands of interactions:

Zoë Quinn spent the day commenting on this narrative, too, culminating in a tweet exemplifying Unity’s myriad capabilities:

I disagree with blaming journalists for this. It’s not the journalists’ faults that players like this are fucking stupid. They don’t know better, but they think they do, and yes, it’s from learning what game engine games they don’t like are made with. However, there is merit to the critique that journalists and, by proxy, players are critiquing games for the engines they use like “they [know] shit”, in Forest’s words, when in fact they only know a very small amount.

Journalists and players (a distinction that is becoming increasingly blurry) should be careful in assuming knowledge about what role a game engine played in how a game turned out, and yeah, it’s clear that players learned to make this kind of critique from journalists doing it first. I just think like, 10% of the people who do decide to talk like they know shit about game engines are actually equipped to do so. Whether or not that’s Patrick, I can’t say, but he’d be the kind of journalist who could certainly provide an informed opinion based on substantiated information from sources on the development team!

EDIT: Just heard Thursday’s Sekiro Bonus Pod, in which they talk about this piece and Austin touches on these points


#7

Patrick turned a non-story into a story about non-stories. It’s a Christmas miracle!


#8

I think if Patrick got a lead from Supermassive and they would be willing to talk about the switch now. Then maybe it could be a full article on the game along with a small bit on how they had to rebuild their pipeline using Unreal 4 (And I know Patrick’s probably chomping at the bit to talk to Supermassive). But then some days I think going too inside baseball before the game comes out is effectively hurting the developers work. Like @kcin’s excellent post about Unity above. Some Gamers (Usually associated with a “Gate”) can be fucking stupid, reductive and completely ignorant of the work that is put in unless its gently massaged by PR from a company that is beloved. Especially when you have people with little clue how it works who will immediately deploy their hot take on youtube to a ravenous audience.


#9

is it bad that i actually think this information, and the journey Patrick took to get to learning the information, was actually kind of interesting and he probably could have squeezed a short article out of it without the navel gazing (not that i don’t appreciate the insight, everything Patrick writes is eminently readable)


#10

I really appreciate when we get stories that break down the wall and show us what’s happening behind the scenes of a story. As a journalism student I’m always chasing leads and so much of the time I end up dropping them because of a bunch of different reasons. Seeing Patrick’s thought process with this one was weirdly reassuring - even if the story didn’t really go anywhere.


#11

This was a neat peek into what makes a story worth going into, and when you should just drop it. That aside, the title of the thread and the article could be used as an answering descriptor for nearly every WaPo Opinion piece in the last two years.


#12

The vast majority of the videogame audience is completely unqualified to talk about engines and I wish people wouldn’t - especially because almost every game uses so much custom code that they don’t really share “engines” at all aside from a basic framework

although i can’t look at Death Stranding trailers without thinking that somebody at Kojima Productions brought a pretty good memory of the Fox Engine lighting system with them when they moved


#13

To paraphrase Tony Hawk, “well you [published the story] so here we are.”