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Fez's dev to japanese developers: "your games just suck"

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Well in light of the discussion, I'll post this here.

Jonathan Blow: How Mainstream Devs are Getting it Wrong
The developer behind Braid and The Witness talks about the Indie scene, if games should be fun, and the state of Japanese game development.
i think his point would be more useful if he used more examples. i'm speculating based on them talking about zelda 1 vs skyward sword on the panel, but it feels to me like for a lot of indie developers metroid and zelda were so influential to them as creators and defined japanese games for them that seeing skyward sword and other m be so handholdy has such a strong visceral impact and which leads to generalizing about japanese games.

maybe i'm not right there and the wealth of japanese games are like that if i sat down and looked at it but it's interesting to me because a lot of criticism from the gaming press i see is near the opposite that blow describes, that japanese games are too obtuse and punitive and require players to spend a lot exploring the mechanics and getting frustrated.
 

SolidSnakex

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Well in light of the discussion, I'll post this here.

Jonathan Blow: How Mainstream Devs are Getting it Wrong
The developer behind Braid and The Witness talks about the Indie scene, if games should be fun, and the state of Japanese game development.
His main complaint about Japanese games is the exact same "problem" that exists in pretty much all games, regardless of where they're actually developed. I just did a quick search for handholding games and this popped up

http://www.360magazine.co.uk/general/top-five-most-hand-holding-games-this-generation/

4 out of the 5 games that they list are western developed.
 

PowderedToast

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these points that blow and fish are making about hand-holding in japanese games are not exclusive to japanese games. excluding nintendo's output and FFXIII, i'm struggling to think of titles that're even applicable to these criticisms. in fact, if i were asked to describe japanese games with a handful of adjectives i'd probably use the words complex, obtuse and insular. and i love a lot of them.

blow uses his own indie game braid as an example of how this isn't the western standard, which couldn't be further from the truth. if you're sampling AAA japanese titles as evidence then it's only right to project the same criticism at our AAA games rather than our indie scene. once you do that, the argument collapses.

i like blow, but the more he elaborates on these statements the more it seems that he shouldn't have a problem with japan but rather mainstream big budget games in general.
 

Rhazer Fusion

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He doesn't think Japanese games are all that bad though. He thinks Japanese games are usually aesthetically better than their Western counterparts.

Imo, what he said are extremely bold words from someone who has an unproven game and for me, an unknown track record. Well, see what happens with his game. I think quite a bit of people are expecting near perfection after all of this time.
 

Gong

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I'm probably way off, but personally I get the feeling Fish is a bit insular and said this to appeal to his hipster friends, trying to be edgy and the like but ended up coming off as a gigantic tool. Any intelligent discussion that could be had about the quality of Japanese games or suchlike becomes lost in the maelstrom surrounding his comments which is the real shame.
 

Margalis

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The idea that Japanese games suffer from obnoxious overlong tutorials and western games don't really just does not hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.

I don't even understand how anyone could claim that except out of acute ignorance.

Edit: Can I also say I'm kind of tired of people who know zero about the Japanese game industry pretending to have some sort of in-depth knowledge.
 

Margalis

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Has this GDC spawned any interesting game design discussions? Any philosophical discussions and such?
GDC really isn't about game design any more, it's about how to trick the public into buying your shitty iPhone game.

It's actually really sad to see where GDC was say 4 years ago compared to where it is now. It has very little value for professionals beyond networking and private meetings.
 
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The idea that Japanese games suffer from obnoxious overlong tutorials and western games don't really just does not hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.

I don't even understand how anyone could claim that except out of acute ignorance.

Edit: Can I also say I'm kind of tired of people who know zero about the Japanese game industry pretending to have some sort of in-depth knowledge.
Who the fuck is claiming that Western games don't? It's a lament from people who are used to playing loads of great Japanese console games from the past generations now faced with a very pale shadow of that output in this one. Yes, handhelds and such are where it's at for older Japanese-styled games. For a lot of long-time players, the console is where the Japanese video game lives.
 

Clear

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The Blow interview on the subject is superficially reasonable, but lets step back for a second:

On one hand, he admits that there are some notable exceptions recently (I presume he's referring to Dark Souls or maybe Catherine) but he's happy to tar "Japanese" games with the same brush. But earlier on mentions how "industrial scale" (i.e. PROFESSIONAL) Western game designers also do many things wrong in his opinion.

Are we supposed to gather from this view that "indie" games have a particular identity divorced from their nation of origin? And if so, why is he playing the nationalism card?

Watching that interview further cemented my view of a kind of PC/360-centric myopia afflicting the argument. Demon's Souls is a 2009 game, yet it took til 2011's multi-platform release of Dark Souls for From's radicalism to get its due props. The point being that its not a one-off, its a fucking franchise already!

And I'm sorry, but the amount of coverage guys like Blow and Fish get vastly outstrips their productivity. They act like making one (small) game of note somehow gives them the stature to pontificate about what's right and what's wrong about gaming across the board, yet are happy to summarily discount instances where their Japanese counterparts/competition gets it right.
 

Risible

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And I'm sorry, but the amount of coverage guys like Blow and Fish get vastly outstrips their productivity. They act like making one (small) game of note somehow gives them the stature to pontificate about what's right and what's wrong about gaming across the board, yet are happy to summarily discount instances where their Japanese counterparts/competition gets it right.
DING DING DING! Hit the nail on the head. One game does not an expert make.

I really feel that the publicity these guys get really fucks their heads up big-time.
 

Danielsan

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Personally I'm getting rather tired of the amount of shit Jonathan Blow gets. Yes he’s only made one “little” game so far. But Braid is such an intelligently designed piece of entertainment that I think his input on game design certainly is of value. Furthermore Blow is always articulate and in general he provides his criticism in a constructive manner.
 

FStop7

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I hate watching assholes be assholes to japanese people, because their manners are usually so impeccable that they end up just looking visibly shocked.

Oh well, there is plenty of other vapourware I can't play that I can imagine liking instead.
I dislike watching assholes be assholes to nice/enthusiastic people regardless of where they're from.


Personally I'm getting rather tired of the amount of shit Jonathan Blow gets. Yes he’s only made one “little” game so far. But Braid is such an intelligently designed piece of entertainment that I think his input on game design certainly is of value. Furthermore Blow is always articulate and in general he provides his criticism in a constructive manner.
Jonathan Blow won me over when he went in on the Microsoft Twins last year during Giant Bomb's E3 podcast.



Is she drunk (yet again)? But yeah, that photo pretty much sums up LOL Games Journalism.
 

Curufinwe

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The original statement really wasn't that constructive at all. I can't recall exactly what was said, but it went something like this: "Japanese games suck. Your game design is stuck in a rut." *a couple seconds of silence while the audience derps* "I'M SO SORRY."

Those last three words are a direct quote, FWIW.

This was followed up by Jonathan Blow actually offering a more constructive criticism - that of Japanese developers' horrible tendency to put tutorials in their games, rather than teach the player through clever level design, as used to be the case.
Western games also have annoying and unnecessary tutorials a lot of the time. It's not a tendency that's affects only Japanese developers.

The idea that Japanese games suffer from obnoxious overlong tutorials and western games don't really just does not hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny.

I don't even understand how anyone could claim that except out of acute ignorance.

Edit: Can I also say I'm kind of tired of people who know zero about the Japanese game industry pretending to have some sort of in-depth knowledge.
Acute ignorance is exactly what Blow suffers from.
 
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DING DING DING! Hit the nail on the head. One game does not an expert make.

I really feel that the publicity these guys get really fucks their heads up big-time.
Where do you guys get this? Who says he's an expert? The media follows who they want. You don't have to watch the videos or read or listen to these folks' opinions if you don't want to...yet, you do and then complain. What? Why is it assumed that these folks are speaking for anyone but themselves when the questions posed don't ask them to represent or think on behalf of the Western or indie or whatever side?
 

Pie and Beans

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Personally I'm getting rather tired of the amount of shit Jonathan Blow gets. Yes he’s only made one “little” game so far. But Braid is such an intelligently designed piece of entertainment that I think his input on game design certainly is of value. Furthermore Blow is always articulate and in general he provides his criticism in a constructive manner.
Blow does get an inordinate amount of shit (I like it to the Dawkins effect, a man that sounds intelligent evokes angrier responses in some more primate leaning brains), but then he gobs on about a perceived issue created solely by playing the new Zelda as if Nintendo's handholding tradition can be held against the entire japanese developlment community. Thats when their insular lives of either not playing many games at all (due to working on their own, fair play) run counter-effective to getting up on a podium and professing to have an opinion of weight about large industry wide issues. They simply don't know, but attempt to and scramble around throwing out paper-thin or just straight up misinformed arguments.

Also he throws his lot in with this bunch:
http://youtu.be/GhaT78i1x2M

Over-reaction is an internet staple but I straight up wretched at the 'look how stressful making games is/Braid sprite falling' segment. Honestly. My throat actively rebelled and made a "blugghhh" sound.
 
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games that take five years to develop usually wind up being pretty good.
And Duke Nukem Forever is the best game in the world...

Oh wait.

That said, Japanese games do not suck. It's the ideology that is closed-minded is what sucks. They tend to suffer from understanding what the western market wants and vice versa. The only thing is that Western devs don't need Japan's support to survive in the market whereas Japanese devs require western support. Japanese games have this amazing esthetic to it which immediately tells you where the game is made. If anything, it's the mainstream western market that is so oversaturated to the point that indie games are overall more profitable compared to mediocre AAA titles when you look at the big picture. This is something that Japanese devs don't have in their architecture i.e. going "indie".

All in all, Japanese gaming structure needs a change. They tend to overproduce a game and they need better localization. They need an outsourced that is willing to help them make their game more appealing without the cultural boundaries on how a workplace should be. There are a lot of things different in the structure, and all I will say in the end is that Western market adapted Japan's best management traits and made it their own; Japanese devs need to be willing to change their structure as well.
 

ittoryu

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Reading the Fez dude on twitter writing "no but seriously suck my dick" is just... sad.

Congrats to you and your 30000$ prize Phil, but you have no class/style at all.
 

Clear

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MightyHedgehog said:
Where do you guys get this? Who says he's an expert? The media follows who they want. You don't have to watch the videos or read or listen to these folks' opinions if you don't want to...yet, you do and then complain. What? Why is it assumed that these folks are speaking for anyone but themselves when the questions posed don't ask them to represent or think on behalf of the Western or indie or whatever side?
If you put yourself out there in the public domain, you better be ready to deal with criticism, it comes with the territory.

In my opinion these guys are all hype and little substance, propped up by a gaming media that's largely defined by a dismaying combination of ignorance and cynicism.
 

djtiesto

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Phil Fish.

My hero.

Not reallllly, but what he says is kind of true. Japanese game design is stuck in a rut. There are certainly plenty of gems that come from Japan, but they're more often than not knocked out of the way by other games that are... too Japanese. Even a lot of the "gems" still suffer from antiquated game design.
Someone please answer this question since nobody has done this in this thread every single time I've asked: what is this "antiquated game design" that people think is so present in Japanese games? Is it the fact that the game doesn't play itself and simplify everything for the lowest common denominator?
 

dark10x

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Wow, that's a pretty shit attitude. Seems like he's just begging people to pirate the shit out of Fez.

He should probably just keep delaying the game in order to win more prizes as he's been doing for years now.

Someone please answer this question since nobody has done this in this thread every single time I've asked: what is this "antiquated game design" that people think is so present in Japanese games? Is it the fact that the game doesn't play itself and simplify everything for the lowest common denominator?
Yes, I'd like to know this as well. Such a statement screams of ignorance.
 
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You realise the game is going to be big, the Frisco media are in love with this prick. He'll get multiple download game of the year awards.
I know. Which is why -1 sale from my end. I don't care how amazing your game is, if you're arrogant and are not respectable to the community and the industry, you don't deserve my money.

He makes Bobby Kotick look like Gabe Newell, and even Kotick respects the industry more than this guy is portraying to.
 

dark10x

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I know. Which is why -1 sale from my end. I don't care how amazing your game is, if you're arrogant and are not respectable to the community and the industry, you don't deserve my money.

He makes Bobby Kotick look like Gabe Newell, and even Kotick respects the industry more than this guy is portraying to.
Pretty much.

The game does LOOK very nice, but how it feels while playing is going to be key as that can make or break a platformer.

The visual style certainly comes off as very Japanese, though, almost like a 3D take on Cave Story or something (complete with simplistic tiled backgrounds).

The very fact Fez was allowed to enter again, and won nevertheless - wow, GG IGF, enjoy becoming irrelevant.
I can't understand that either. You'd think there would be a limit to how many times you can enter a game that is struggling through development.
 

Suzzopher

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I know. Which is why -1 sale from my end. I don't care how amazing your game is, if you're arrogant and are not respectable to the community and the industry, you don't deserve my money.

He makes Bobby Kotick look like Gabe Newell, and even Kotick respects the industry more than this guy is portraying to.
But the hard(er) work isn't done by him, the game is developed by other people. People who would have worked longer hours coding and debugging. Seems silly to punish those who've worked hard and said nothing because this guy is being prick.
 

dark10x

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But the hard(er) work isn't done by him, the game is developed by other people. People who would have worked longer hours coding and debugging. Seems silly to punish those who've worked hard and said nothing because this guy is being prick.
Who else has worked on the game and what have they done? What exactly is Phil's role in the creation of this game?
 

wolfmat

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I really like that Jonathan Blow articulates his gripes with modern Japanese games, and I agree for the most part.

Anyway, what everyone should take away from the GS interview is that he makes valid points, backs them up with clear arguments, doesn't insult anyone along the way, really just analyzes what's in front of him without the big "fuck you" splash that really makes it hard to deal with people like Phil Fish.

I mean, give me the "fuck you"s, it's not a big deal, sometimes, it really has its value, but at least build up to it so that it doesn't just irritate like a bad Family Guy skit.

Seriously, Phil, if you have something to say about Japanese game design of the last couple of years, then go for it. I'm sure you have valid points as well. But don't expect anyone to accept this attitude. It's just not working for anyone.
 
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