The Place to be Gee Dee Seen
Next week is GDC. There will be talking. About video games. So much talking. Whole rooms full of people gathered together, just to listen to each other talk! About video games! An entire convention center filled with these boors! Including me! But you don't have to go to such great lengths to hear people spill their guts out about video games, exposing yourself to a convention diet and diseases collected from around the world. Let me tell you about this thing called the internet.
It lets me find these great, interesting articles for you to read, then link them like this. This week we'll look at how on Earth South Park: The Stick of Truth managed to happen, the experiences of women in the competitive Super Smash Bros. community, how Street Fighter: The Movie whiffed its combo, and why Peter Molyneux just keeps doing his Peter Molyneux thing. Plus some other cool stuff.
Read South Park: It all started with a suspected prank call
"They talked RPG vision, they talked Parker and Stone's 'successes and failures in the video game space,' and they talked making the South Park game. As the meeting closed, one thing was abundantly clear: if the game didn't look and feel like the TV show, there was no point. 'I can remember particularly Matt saying 'absolutely, that's a thing. It has to be the show.''"
South Park: The Stick of Truth works because it's basically a prolonged, interactive episode of the show. For a series that's built on cheap, quick animation and voiced by a cast you could count off on one hand, that may seem entirely doable. But just looking and sounding right wasn't enough. For it to really work, Trey Parker and Matt Stone had to cooperate with Obsidian to a degree that might just be unprecedented for a licensed game. Robert Purchese explores that relationship in a feature for Eurogamer.
When I go a-scrying with my Gaming Journalist's Crystal Ball of Divination, games built on pre-existing property don't tend to figure too prominently in the image. But the fact that two influential creators like Parker and Stone were not only willing but eager to put hours of work into a Stick of Truth is a great sign of a growing respect for games across the media.
Read The Voices of Women in the Super Smash Bros. Community
"'People ask who I main and if it was Peach at the time, the response was 'Oh all girls main Peach.' I started playing ICs and the new response was 'Oh all girls main ICs.' I finally landed on Sheik and apparently, all women had spontaneously dropped Peach and ICs and Sheik was the new 'main for girls.' People sandbag hardcore and compliment me no matter how much I suck  Inversely, when I beat guys in close matches, they will get very, very angry. The anger is noticeably different from when they lose to other guys  It does make getting in on friendlies easier though. People will let me cut lines or get in on games they normally wouldnt let other guys in on.'
Fifty three survey respondents is a fairly small sample size. So when Lilo, a member of the Super Smash Bros. community, reports that 15 percent (8 of 53) of the women Smash Bros. players she surveyed said they were sexually assaulted by a fellow player, it might be easy to shut down and dismiss it as non-representative. But the individual accounts presented in Lilo's article for Melee It On Me can't be ignored.
Fifty three women, the majority of whom were the target of demeaning jokes or were assumed to be ignorant of the game, can't be ignored. And the pervasive attitudes they encountered when they didn't stay quiet about the BS--"welcome to the Smash community"--can't be ignored either. What kind of pond scum wants blatant sexism to be a pillar of its community? Trash talk is one thing, but reducing half the world's population to a shitty stereotype because they're invading "your" game is another.
Read Street Fighter: The Movie--What Went Wrong
"In the early 1990s game-to-movie adaptations hadn't yet earned their spot in the lower slots of the Culture Power Rankings somewhere between Bret Michaels and the Buffalo Bills. Many rich, smart and well-connected men and women would have plucked out their agents' eyeballs to have a credit appear before the words Street Fighter: The Movie. De Souza, however, was grateful just to land the meeting."
Apparently Polygon has decided to take over the Street Fighter history beat. As long as it keeps pumping out material like the oral history of Street Fighter 2, or this week's segment on the many mini-catastrophes behind Street Fighter: The Movie, I'm okay with it. Chris Plante spoke to the film's writer/director Stephen de Souza and several members of its cast and crew to find out how the notorious stinker barely made it to theaters.
Don't worry about this account ruining your so-bad-it's-good enjoyment of the film. Instead, let it inform your next viewing: cherish the snipped edges of artistry and not-that-bad-for-improv action scenes alongside the schlocky dialogue and character-saturated scenes. Relish the grunts and yips of a cocaine-addled Jean Claude van Damme next to the amazing resolve of an ailing Raul Julia. There will never be another movie like Street Fighter: The Movie, that's for damme sure.
Read The Man Who Promised Too Much
"'I was wondering what the hell's going on--I'm just importing, exporting baked beans,' Molyneux said. 'They gave me all these new machines. And it turned out they got the wrong Taurus--they thought they were getting 'Torus' which was a networking company. And I just lied--and I ended up with all these machines. And I thought, 'Right, now that I've got these machines, I can program a game.''"
Jason Schreier looks at why Peter Molyneux promises so many outlandish things about his video games in a Kotaku feature, complete with interviews with the man himself and several people who worked from him across his days at Bullfrog, Lionhead, and 22 Cans. Molyneux, if you aren't familiar, has acquired a reputation as an overly ambitious hype man at best and a false-advertising cretin at worst. Years of promising the moon and the stars in games that can barely handle planet Earth will do that.
Maybe he just overpromises to inspire his team? It's tough to suss out where the charisma ends and the game developer begins with Molyneux. But judging by the overall quality of the games he's touched, and the success of the people he's worked with, I think we can give him the benefit of the doubt.
Play Pants, Shirt, Cap
We've all been there. Late nights and early morning UPS deliveries don't mix, but we just can't help ourselves. So we hear the doorbell ring and lurch out of bed, assembling the clothes we threw off last night--always pants first, shirt second, cap last, and never in front of a bookcase.
Ok, yes, I'm a sucker for cyberpunk. But A(s)century uses the constraints of Twine (a tool for creating hypertext-enabled interactive fiction) to do some really cool stuff, all with its own soundtrack and evocative illustrations. It's flat-out nifty.
Back Frog Fractions 2
Frog Fractions runs so explicitly counter to the generally established principles of Kickstarting games--transparency and delivering on fan expectations--that it would be worth backing just out of curiosity. But if you've played the original Frog Fractions Flash game (get on that if not) then you know what you're getting into.
Gee Dee See You Next Week
That's all for another week of Off Radar. Be sure to keep an eye on GamesRadar next week for reactions to all the biggest stuff from GDC--feel free to ignore the rest of the internet until next week's Off Radar, it makes my job a lot easier. Until then, be sure to let us know what you thought of this week's selection, or share any gaming-related thoughts of your own, in the comments below.
If you want to read about some games that didn't meet their franchise potential, read our 9 criminal wastes of great licenses in games. Wondering how to live in a post-1,000,000 gamerscore world? So are we.