PIXEL BURN – Hatred Greenlight, Miyamoto talks new Nintendo consoles, Telltale’s Minecraft

In which Matt reveals his secret powers of videogame prophecy.
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[TRANSCRIPT]

Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I look at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things to have happened in the week’s gaming news. That’s pretty much the gist of it really.

You all remember Hatred right? That nihilistic spree-killing game from Polish developer Destructive Creations that caused a kerfuffle about two months ago. Since then it has positively thrived on the oxygen from all those articles calling for it to be banned, and made it to number 7 in the top 100 Steam Greenlight rankings with over 13,000 votes.

For those who don’t know, Steam Greenlight is Valve’s ill-conceived notion of letting the Steam community help decide which games should be distributed on Steam by voting for the ones they like the look of. A game with squillions of Greenlight votes isn’t guaranteed a place on Steam but their chances are good, although Valve still have the final say.

And that’s precisely what they did with Hatred, which disappeared from Greenlight quicker than you could say “Blimey, did Valve just do something?”

That Hatred got so high in the Steam Greenlight rankings wasn’t too much of a surprise, nor was it’s subsequent removal. No, the real shocker in all of this was Valve actually curating their own fucking store for once. Proactively at that.

Because as great as Steam is, it doesn’t half have some right old shit for sale on it. From lazy smartphone ports dumped onto Steam by the gallon and clogging up the frontpage like so much raw sewage, to games so hideously shoddy and broken some of them don’t even load. Yet Valve does nothing to remove any of this crap from Steam. Well, not unless it’s something like The War Z, but even that was only removed after a huge consumer backlash, and it eventually came back under the name “Infestation: Survival Stories.”

In fact you were more likely to get your game removed from Steam if you make a death threat against Gabe Newell, as one of the co-developers of Paranautical Activity discovered recently, then if your game was a load of steaming old cack-handed rubbish.

So what were Valve’s reasons for removing Hatred from Steam Greenlight? Besides its obvious subject matter that is? According to Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi…

“Based on what we’ve seen on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down.”

Okay. Any specific reason?

[THE SOUND OF CRICKETS CHIRPING]

There are actually some rules governing what sort of content you can submit to Steam. You can’t submit cheats, hacks or game exploits, games using copyrighted assets or intellectual property without permission from the owner, you can’t submit someone else’s game, and you can’t make threats of violence or harassment. You are also not allowed to submit, and I quote, “inappropriate or offensive content.”

But who decides what is inappropriate or offensive? Well Valve obviously. It’s their store. But different things offend different people.

For example some people might be offended by a game where you run over old ladies with a car and smear their broken elderly carcasses into the tarmac.

Similarly, some might consider it inappropriate to sell a game in which you can beat someone to death while suffocating them with a plastic bag.

And as we’ve seen with Hatred, a lot of people are offended by the idea of playing a trenchcoated loner with a gun going on a killing spree.

But then before you could say “Gee, aren’t Valve being a bit inconsistent and hypocritical here?”, Hatred was suddenly back on Greenlight as if it had never gone away. It has since skyrocketed to number 1 in the Greenlight hit-parade, thanks in no small part to the countless articles in the gaming press telling you all why you should ignore it. The reason for the game’s return to Greenlight is Valve head-honcho and PC Gaming deity Gabe Newell himself, who sent the following message to the developers.

“Yesterday I heard that we were taking Hatred down from Greenlight. Since I wasn’t up to speed, I asked around internally to find out why we had done that. It turns out that it wasn’t a good decision, and we’ll be putting Hatred back up. My apologies to you and your team. Steam is about creating tools for content creators and customers. Good luck with your game.”

So Hatred is now back on Greenlight and with a shitload more publicity than the developers could ever have dreamed of. Meanwhile Valve still have a virtual monopoly on the PC digital download market, its policies are as opaque and inconsistent as ever, and the Steam store is still cluttered with broken half-arsed shit people have the gall to charge actual money for.

But we can always look forward to more scaremongering articles about how Hatred will destroy all the progress videogames have made as an artistic medium, the way Cannibal Holocaust and Driller Killer did for movies.

Oh no wait, they didn’t.

Do I like the look of the game? Not really. Will I buy it? Probably not. Do I support it’s right to exist? Absolutely. In my opinion the game should be allowed to be sold, not just on Steam, so it can succeed or fail on it own merits. If it turns out to be any good then fair play to it. If it turns out to be a load of old crap it’ll be forgotten in a month. You can’t get much simpler than that really.

Onto a cheerier topic now, Nintendo’s kindly old uncle Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed in an interview this week that Nintendo are working on ideas for new hardware systems.

My god, what a revelation! Only some sort of devillishly handsome, intelligent, sexual tyrannosaurus of prophecy could possibly have predicted something like that?

[CLIP FROM PIXEL BURN 36]
“One of the more interesting rumours this week arose from a job advert posted by Nintendo on the recruitment website Taleo, asking for a Senior Software engineer to work at Nintendo Technology Development in Redmond, Washington.”

It basically means Nintendo are looking for someone special to work on some new hardware, which immediately raises the question “are Nintendo developing a new console?”
[/CLIP FROM PIXEL BURN 36]

Oh Gamespot. Do try and keep up.

Alright, so I can’t call myself “The Sexy Nostradamus of Gaming” just yet. All I really did was speculate based of a couple of job adverts Nintendo posted, and it technically wasn’t Gamespot who broke the story anyway. They just reported on this interview between Miyamoto and Derrik J Lang of the Associated Press, in which Miyamoto had the following to say:

“For the time being, our focus is on the Wii U hardware, but Nintendo as a whole has groups working on ideas for new hardware systems. While we’re busy working on software for the Wii U, we have production lines that are working on ideas for what the next system might be.

Note that Miyamoto says “systems” plural, suggesting Nintendo are working on more than one console at the same time. Which makes sense seeing as they also do handhelds, so perhaps they’re working on a new handheld alongside a new home console.

The implications of which are…pfft, who knows? You’d have to be some sort of carnally-potent sagelike visionary to imagine them.

[CLIP FROM PIXEL BURN 36]
“If I had to speculate, which is all anyone who doesn’t have an uncle working for Nintendo can do, the next generation of Nintendo consoles and handhelds will all run on the same unified architecture. So developers will only have to design one version of a game that can then be scaled down for handhelds, rather than develop two entirely seperate versions like they do now.”
[/CLIP FROM PIXEL BURN 36]

Oh fine then! So it’s just Miyamoto confirming something we all suspected anyway.

I still think I’ve earned the right to be a little bit smug.

And finally the most surprising news this week came from Mojang, fresh from their purchase by Microsoft, to announce Minecraft: Story Mode.

Ahh, a new additional gamemode for Minecraft? Not something I really expected but…

Nope, it’s a whole new separate narrative-driven game set in the ever-shifting world of Minecraft centred around an original story driven by player choice. Members of the Minecraft community will be involved to make it as “Minecrafty” as possible but it won’t be an “official” story for Steve, the game’s blue-shirted default protagonist. Nor will it explain the mysterious origins of the world of Minecraft.

Well, a brand new game built from the ground-up is better-suited to a linear narrative experience I suppose. Do Mojang have much experience with those?

Oh it’s not being made by Mojang, silly! Telltale Games are developing it!

Ah, well it’s in good hands then.

Wait a second…Walking Dead Telltale?

Yes, although don’t forget they also made Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Adventures!!

The same Walking Dead where, at one point, you’re given the option to cut a dying dog’s throat with a penknife?

Erm…yeah, but Telltale also made that Back to the Future game!

Yeah, and The Wolf Among Us. In which a sex worker’s decapitated head is left on somebody’s doorstep! And I have a pretty good idea of what I can expect from their Game of Thrones adaptation.

As gaming collaborations go this is certainly one of the most surprising, particularly as it involves Telltale Games: critically acclaimed for their tightly-plotted narrative games. The very notion of some kind of fixed story for Minecraft, even one supposedly driven by player choice, to me feels like the very antithesis of what Minecraft is about. I always thought one of the appeals of Minecraft was that you made your own story, either alone or with friends, in your own little private world or other people’s.

But then I read about kids buying and voraciously reading Minecraft fanfiction novels, like this one by a German author or any of these ones available to buy on Amazon. And when they’re not reading other people’s Minecraft adventures they’re watching YouTube videos of Stampywhatshisbollocks here, frolicking in his creepily-named “Love Garden.”

When I first heard this news I was a bit bewildered, but after having delved a bit deeper into the cubic Minecraft rabbithole to research this segment I think I kind of get it. A bit. Sort of.

In the naive, innocent eyes of children the world of Minecraft is an infinite realm of infinite possibility, and where everyone’s Minecraft story is equally important. To them Telltale’s Minecraft story won’t be any more or less official than this one, or this one, or their friends’ stories, or their own. And if the reportedly-troubled Minecraft movie ever sees the light of day then that won’t be “official” either. You yourself could sit down with any Minecraft-playing kid and, unless they’re a right little shit, they’ll also be just as accepting of your Minecraft adventures.

Although they tend to get a bit upset when I tell them Steve was killed in a prison stairwell nonce-bashing, and that all his experiences in Minecraft-land are a hallucination in his dying mind.

Not that I’d know anything about what children think, because I was born with the mind and soul of a miserable old man. Now get off my lawn.

Telltale could make a happy, cheery Minecraft game about some Minecraft character going on a quest to rescue his or her lost pig from the dark, spooky Cave of the Creepers . Alternatively they could craft a dark, harrowing tale or survival, loss and despair, in which the main character is forced to decide whether or not to cut a dog’s throat.

Either way I’m sure kids will love it. But then kids would also love a rotting sheeps carcass if you stuck a bloody creeper mask on it.

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn and for this year, what with Christmas being imminent and all. Before I go I’d like to give a massive thanks to all of you for helping me reach 200 subscribers: I didn’t actually believe I’d hit that goal before the year was out so that’s absolutely one of the best Christmas presents I’ll get this year.

That also means I should probably get round to doing that Q&A I promised back when I hit 100 subscribers. So if you have any burning questions you want me to answer, either post them in the comments below or send them to me via twitter with the hastag “#Traindreams.”

In the meantime thank you for watching, may you all have at least a tolerable Christmas, and I’ll see you in the New Year.

You can go now.

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.