GeekNights Tuesday - The last 10 years of Gaming (2010-2020)

Tonight on GeekNights, we consider the decade to date in games and gaming. Tabletop games, role playing games, video games, console games, PC games: we are living in an explosive and amazing era of gaming. In the news, the Star Wars Squadrons patch made the game significantly more fun, Graveyard Keeper is all right, and the Overwatch winter brawls are particularly good. Check out freeze tag with an eye to the game design going on there.

Things of the Day

Episode Links

The 2010s were certainly a unique decade for video games in particular.

The decades prior mainly focused on graphical fidelity and more powerful consoles. The 2010s basically said “nah!” The 2010s were less about getting the most realistic human face possible (although many triple-A studios were still focused on that) and more about getting creative with long-established mechanics.

Game development itself got cheaper. Professional game engines like Unreal and Unity dropped their hefty price tags and went free, opening the floodgates for indie development.

VR…holy shit, they got it right! Nintendo tried and failed in the 90s with Virtual Boy, leading to some skepticism about VR’s future. Oculus, Valve, HTC, and many others proved that it can be done, and the results turned out great.

I feel the concept of a “console war” died this decade. The consoles are pretty interchangeable nowadays in terms of graphics and performance, and most of their games can be played on pretty much any console, or just a powerful gaming PC.

Any other observations anyone else made? These were just the big ones off the top of my head. (I haven’t even listened to the episode yet.)

Trends I’ve noticed

The death of the mmo zeitgeist. I remember the PAX that Wildstar was announced along with a hundred other mmos trying to muscle in on that space and seeing them collapse one after another.

It’s difficult to not include 2009; Minecraft, Angry Birds, and Farmville. The beginning of extremely predatory monetization along with enflaming of the casual vs hardcore debate.

Dark Souls retooled the previous decade’s design philosophy of accessibility through to difficulty to focus on making players more aware of their own desires out of a game. Games are less afraid to challenge their players while also being far more conscious of actual accessibility. Celeste being an icon of what “accessibility” means in terms of game design, with a near second place going to Last of Us.

Gamergate, and everything with that. Games are now a serious thing that moves culture instead of being the media punching bag like comics and rocknroll before it.

Undertale was this generation’s “game that teaches you being nice is cool”

Indie and AAA games have run in opposite directions. Indies are now often tightly designed games with attention to detail and real heart built into them. AAAs are hitting the cliff of unsustainable production with worsening of crunch and consumer abuse. High profile misfires like Lawbreakers, Anthem, Duke Nukem Forever, and arguably Cyberpunk 2077 are breaking the prestige that AAA has cultivated.

Honestly, I’d argue they’ve gotten worse. Because while the names have changed(And, admittedly winnowed somewhat), we still have the people going “MY platform is better, you loser!” “No, MY platform is better, and you’re a dumb!”, now we have the addition of a third side, the PC Gamer, who has shown up smugly going “Oh, you plebians, you philistines, everybody knows my platform is the best, why must you argue like the fools you are for going with a different platform! The audacity of these peasants.”

Meanwhile, Nintendo is off doing its own thing and is very much not “pretty interchangeable nowadays in terms of graphics and performance, and most of its games can be played on pretty much any console, or just a powerful gaming PC.”

The delay on Scott’s audio makes this episode almost unlistenable.

Rym must have messed up when combining.

Update: actually unlistenable. I’ll try again if Rym fixes it and uploads a better version.

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Scott sounds ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴀ ʀᴏʙᴏᴛ.

I listened to my local recording, that I still had saved. No robot noises.

I noticed this morning and fixed it. My fault. In the new template I left out an automation step that mutes the backup Scott track.

Patreon link works fine:

If your podcatcher grabbed the old audio before I swapped it, you may need to clear/redownload. It may take a while before that site link works correctly.

If you’re interested in the details.

Basically, I record Scott locally from a Discord while we record the show. Scott also records himself locally with much higher quality than Discord can muster. I take his file and sync it with my Discord recording of him.

I left out a step that auto-mutes his Discord track before the final mixdown when I made a new template for GeekNights episodes that cleaned up some other pipeline issues.

The reason it starts just a little echoey, but gets more and more out of sync, is because there is actually no way to synchronize audio from two different sources with two different clocks. This is why you can’t use two different sound cards inside of software like Audition at the same time. It’s usually not that much of a problem with high-end stuff or when doing video work, but with pure audio and Discord in the mix the clocks will drift by up to half-a-second in either direction.

So for all of Quarantine, I’ve had to do one extra manual step. I cut Scott’s file into 8 minute chunks and sync each of them separately back to the Discord Scott. The clocks drift quite a bit, so each chunk is perfectly in-sync for the first few minutes but then drifts away. It’s close enough that you wouldn’t notice unless you had a reference.

I look forward to the day when I can throw all this extra nonsense away and go back to the easy pipeline.

To your comment about the time for questing in Stardew, I fell you there. The idea of the game we are doing is going at our own pace, if we can do something, awesome, if not we just move on to something else.