Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 06/09/19

September 6, 2019

A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: 666,890,000 hours in Hyrule and there are STILL new things to find

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a potential game of the generation and perhaps the finest game ever made (*cough* Dark Souls *cough*). To date 13.61 million copies of the game have been sold. How Long To Beat tells us that to complete the game takes 49 hours on average, whilst people can play up to 181 hours if they want to be a completionist. So on the basis that these are the statistical peaks, and there will be long tails either side, let’s say that each person who bought the game played for 49 hours. That’s 666,890,000 hours of time spent in Hyrule, and probably a low-ball estimate.

And yet, there are STILL things being discovered. Easter eggs perhaps, but even game mechanics. Charlieboy95 of the wacky and wonderful treasure trove, Reddit, has learnt that if you whistle when floating in waters with a gentle slope onto land, fish will run away from you, well, swim away from you. Soon enough they’ll hit land and end up beached and unable to move. There for Link’s delectation is a veritable feast of fishies which can be collected, eaten, turned into potions or used in recipes. Hell yes. 

Nobody had worked this out, certainly not to the point they told someone, anyway. Aonuma-san and his team, and Nintendo again, have done themselves proud. Now, what will the sequel bring us in terms of secrets to discover?

Conclusion Two: The Force is not strong with Battlefront

Star Wars: Battlefront fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a third entry in the troubled series. According to PCGamesN who chatted to Dennis Brännvall, the design director of Battlefront II at Gamescom, there is simply “not enough hunger” for a sequel.

Whether or not that hunger has been tempered after the loot box controversy which surrounded the 2017 game is unclear, but it’s likely to have had some impact, with the response to the “pride and accomplishment” controversy becoming an instant meme and exposing the ugly corporate face of greed. 

Brännvall also stated that the way in which DLC is handled at EA and DICE is being changed.

“We were so used to the chain of sequels, where we do a sequel then we do a season pass for a year then move onto the next game. I think the industry has changed on that… before it was very transactional and we made the game and we signed up for 4 DLCs and then that’s it. So then you focus on getting value to players out of what they paid for and if there was a system that wasn’t working then you put a pin in that and say we will fix it in the sequel. This time around we’re not doing it that way.” — Dennis Brännvall, Design Director, EA/DICE

It may be for the best. The DLC released for Battlefront II has been mixed and it’s clear that EA need a win with the Star Wars licence. But right now, it doesn’t look like Battlefront III is a priority for the publisher.

Conclusion Three: Things aren’t so funny at Chucklefish

It would be nice if we could go a month without a case coming to light about dubious practices in game studios, but there seems to be no sign of that happening any time soon. A tweet from Damon Reece, an ex-Chucklefish developer, outlines how they worked on the studio’s debut game Starbound for two years at the age of sixteen, but received nothing for their effort. Furthermore, they said that around a dozen other workers were in the same situation — the game made a fortune for Chucklefish, but the labour that was put into it (by many teenagers) went unpaid. 

Some devs were offered a job after the game went live, but according to PC Gamer there were discrepancies between what Chucklefish claimed were the working practices in place at the time, and the actual expectations of the company. A statement from Chucklefish said that: 

“Community contributors were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours. Everyone was credited or remunerated as per their agreement.” 

Yet a number of other collaborators on Starbound, including graphic artist Rho Watson and concept artist Christine Crossley, have confirmed Reece’s stance. Furthermore, Reece said that while it was mandatory to sign a ‘contributor contract’ to work on the game, "deadlines were absolutely in place — if not formal, then definitely heavily implied."

Chucklefish’s response does not reflect well on the studio. The situation is that numerous minors were asked to sign contracts, work to deadlines and not get remunerated for their efforts — even after Starbound sold millions of copies. The founder, Finn Brice, appears to be hiding behind legal jargon and carefully worded statements to try and control the damage of this information coming to light. However, given that some of the allegations outside of non-payment and strong-arming workers include bullying and inappropriate behaviour, it seems he may have other issues to deal with soon 

Conclusion Four: Switch Online finally gets something worth subscribing to

This week’s Nintendo Direct included news which many had been hoping for: the addition of Super Nintendo games to the Switch’s roster. Nintendo didn’t disappoint either, as it announced twenty SNES games will be available for free to all subscribers of Switch Online. 

While a selection of NES games had already been included, many thought that they were a stingy offering in comparison to other subscriber services such as PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass. Though not in the same league as either of these options game-wise, the price of £17.99 for a year is still far lower and will include the following SNES games at launch:

  1. Super Mario Kart
  2. Kirby’s Dream Course
  3. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  4. F-Zero
  5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  6. Super Mario World
  7. Star Fox
  8. Stunt Race FX
  9. Super Metroid
  10. Kirby’s Dream Land 3
  11. Pilotwings
  12. Super Soccer
  13. Super Tennis
  14. Brawl Brothers
  15. Demon’s Crest
  16. Joe & Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics
  17. Super E.D.F. Earth Defense Force
  18. Super Puyo Puyo 2
  19. Breath of Fire
  20. Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts

A mix of classics and some more obscure titles, then — but all available to play on the Switch. Nintendo obviously didn’t want too much crossover with its SNES Mini, so it will be hoping that this is enough of a tasty bone to convert those still on the fence about its online service.  

Conclusion Five: I can’t help but laugh

Nintendo is brilliant. The innovator in gaming these days, and playing its own game seperate from everybody else. Playing it very well, too. They aren’t stopping with the Switch, Switch Lite and SNES as part of its online subscription though. No, overnight Nintendo released a video showing off their new hardware — which looks like a crossover between a steering wheel, Wiimote and Wii Fit balance board.

Watching the video makes me giddy with expectation on what this will allow us to do and play, but I also watch those actors using the tool and playing games with friends and family thinking no way in hell would you want to do that in front of Grandma. People have already started meme making from that announcement video, and it just adds to the question we’re asking at Jump Dash Roll: What software is Nintendo going to be making to utilise this? You’ve got to laugh.

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Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.