Macros and the accepted form of cheating

A while back at a friend’s house party, he showcased the visitors how he had set up a command macro on his mouse to function as a repeating fire in Mech Warrior Online. This macro allowed him to gain a high rate by timing the fire button presses according to the cooling rate. All he needed to do was to press a button. Execution and timing removed, all there was a press of a button.

I admit, this struck me. While macros are accepted in computer game community from the get go practically across the genres, all I really saw was an accepted method of cheating.  Cheating is, after all, gaining an advantage of sorts through illegal means. Illegal in gaming would mean something that would go against the allowed functions of the game. In this sense, there is nothing wrong in using a macro in a competitive game. Nevertheless, yours truly would feel compelled to ask the opposition whether or not it would be alright with them if I were to use macros to enhance my performance.

However, with electronic games the use of assisting programs is counted as cheating as well, as they often give you an advantage of sorts. Trainers directly interject with the intended function of the game and can give advantages like infinite resources or limitless health. The question that I need to ask at this point whether or not we can count macro programs in this category, as they do no directly intervene with the normal function of the game. Nevertheless such function gives an advantage to the player, an advantage that would not exist otherwise. In a competition situation of any sorts against a human opponent, this would be without any doubts be counted as cheating. Not in PC gaming though.

To use a standard 2D fighting game as an example, the use of a projectile within the game is often highly necessary. This necessitates the skill of being able to execute the fireball motion, most often being down, down-forwards, forwards and an attack button, or 236+A if we were to use your keypad as a direction indicator (assuming the player character starts at Player 1 side on the left).  If we were to use the same kind of macro function here, the player would simply need to push a button to throw out a projectile attack. However, due to the different nature of the games, the timing would still be completely up to the player, but with high repetition on the player could throw out this projectile as fast as the game would allow. In some cases, this could mean having multiple projectiles on the screen that the player would not otherwise have, or would have difficulties of executing without said macros.

To re-iterate in a different manner, macros are  a way to handle a mundane task that would take too much time or execution to streamline the gameplay, if you will.

The use of macros have become common to the point of games essentially being designed to use them. The amount of Damage Per Second is various MMOs are essentially tied to macros, in-game or not. An acquaintance asked me if I wanted to play an MMO with him, replying to my inquire whether or not the game required skill or whether or not it Was just about the numbers that it was. You needed the skill to set up the right build to your character and set up the macros so that you maximise the DPS.

Knowledge is not a skill. The search for knowledge however is, and the lack of that is evident on the Internet on sites like Yahoo Answers. To be frank, games like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest require no skill. They require acquired knowledge of in-world mechanics and how to set up a party to counter these mechanics. You can set up a perfect team and win, or lose if your knowledge fails you. In a game like Monster Hunter the knowledge is about as much required, but the element of skill required to play the game also brings in execution, and that execution brings in

The use of macros are, in effect, replacement of execution and skill. As said, this is accepted within the PC game community as-is. There is no negative stigma in using them, and complex macros that may give even the slightest of advantages is seen as some sort of marvel. An impressive feat of setting up a string of commands that are executed with a press of a button.

Automation is where the world is going anyway. Tasks that used to take a master craftsman or other kind of skilled worker have been slowly replaced by machines.  In few decades even welders will have to wonder what’s next, when the technological level has reached certain point. In similar manner how macros are prevalent in PC gaming, some genres have aimed to broaden their customer base by streamlining their games, effectively, trying to lower the skill required to play them. This of course usually bombs and alienates the installed fan base. A fighting game, for example, won’t see much success if it becomes oversimplified and takes away the sheer excitement of the game. Pressing the same button for time for an automated string of attacks that end in a super is the very opposite way to go. The problem why current gaming has hard time to expand its audience is that it mostly refuses to expand itself. It’s the same shit all over again, and making things easier or dumbing things down (i.e. more accessible) has yielded little results. Games like Nintendogs and Brain Train  managed to be a hit due to them being something new and hitting completely different and untapped section of the possible market.  This is a whole post on its own, and I’m sure I’ve already written about it few times already.

To take yet another position, what does it say about current games and their design when they expect the player to have a set of tools to remove task management from the game? Is the mark of controllable complexity now the hallmark what ultimately separates PC and console games? That’s something we’ leave hanging out.

A Mega Man movie

The first question the whole thing raises up is Why? Mega Man as a franchise is not currently relevant to the game consuming crowd and has fallen into a niche. Yet, Twentieth Century Fox worked two years to acquire the rights. Exclusive news be damned, there’s something rotten in the land of Denmark.

Let’s step aside the fact that Hollywood reported used the wrong sub-series picture and managed to fuck up telling the premise of the games, as Rock is Mega Man’s non-hero name and he volunteered to be turned unto a super fighting robot. They are also using the Capcom method of counting the games, with ports counted as separate entities from each other.

The question we have here isn’t if the movie will be good. It’s almost guaranteed not to follow the little plot the original games had and will deviate from it like no other. All Mega Man adaptations have done this, for better or worse. What is relevant about this keg of horseshit is what will the approach be. Whether or not Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman will direct the movie is slightly less relevant on what the studio wants. I can see Twentieth Century Fox wanting to move forwards with video game adaptations in order to fight Marvel’s comic book movies, and adapting Mega Man is all about nostalgia, currently.

The original Mega Man is a children’s TV-show, essentially speaking. The same goes for the Legends series, which can be even played episodically like that with certain pacing. The X-series can be a cartoon for slightly older audience, but much like Zero-series, it could be adapted to a full war story, though both of them do offer interesting philosophical points about humanity and robotics. However, despite that, Mega Man as a whole isn’t about that, and a Hollywood adaptation most likely will miss the little point the games have going on for them.

Let’s not beat around the bushes, the movie’s probably not going to be very faithful to the games and will probably make the fans disappointed while the rest of the audience couldn’t give two shits. Saying this before any solid info on anything has surfaced is presuming a lot of things, yet that’s how it usually goes. Even decent game-movie adaptations tend to suck and have no impact whatsoever.

There is also a possibility for franchise confusion here. With the Man of Action cartoon coming out 2018, Capcom probably has been revving up to emphasize that as the main vehicle to resurrect the franchise. That’s all good and dandy, there is validity in resurrecting the franchise for children from a clean slate, even though it will piss off the older fanbase. However, all the current fans should recognize that they were catered when they were kids, and a kid’s IP should stay that way for future generations rather than change to be something it’s not.

These points worry me. It is possible that the movie will be aimed that older fans and the content of the movie will reflect this in content. This would mean the Man of Action’s take on the franchise could stay as the kid friendly entry, with all the toys and possible games aimed to cater them solely. An adult oriented Mega Man would not be a good idea, unless it specifically concentrated on the more mature aspects of the larger franchise, as mentioned.

That’s where I can’t trust Hollywood Reporter on this. They’re speaking of Mega Man all the while using image resource from X-series. Let’s suppose for a moment that Twentieth Century Fox didn’t just get rights to the Classic series, but for Mega Man movies in general. Then it would be possible for them to use any material from the franchise. I wouldn’t put past them to just use elements across the franchise rather than sticking to one, which Man of Action is kinda doing with their entry.

Chernin Entertainment, the company making the movie under Fox, has multiple action films under its belt,  like the reboot series for the Planet of the Apes movies alongside few dramas and comedies. Outside Parental Guidance from 2012, none of their production is something that would reflect positively on Mega Man. This bodes just as well towards a Mega Man movie as Fox as a movie studio. Their track record with game adaptations like Legend of Chun-Li is absolutely terrible, and while Tom Rothman is not working for them anymore, they’re not getting out from the low-quality swamp anytime soon.

Granted, Deadpool was a damn good movie, but Chernin Entertainment had jack shit to do with it. Telling me that fans that love Mega Man doesn’t carry any weight around here, and while Masayori Oka probably grew up playing the games, Fox is ultimately the ones to put the boot down.

Oka’s some sort of gleam of hope in all this, to be frank. In an issue of SFX Collection, he mentioned collecting Pluto, a retelling of sorts of  Tetsuwan Atom‘s arc The Greatest robot on Earth. It’s not terribly far-fetched to say that Naoki Urawasa’s works have affected Oka, and this influence could be seen in the Mega Man movie. That is, if Joost and Schulman won’t ignore their producer completely. More than a handful of movies have been completely and utterly destroyed by executive hands, like the recent Ghostbusters reboot or anything Rothman touched.

Knowing Capcom, they’re not going to care one bit either way. They have a long-time partnership with Hollywood ever since the film version of Street Fighter II came out, and movie adaptations of their games haven’t really gotten any better. Resident Evil is still going on, supposedly, and there were even Dead Rising films. A Mega Man to the mix is just a droplet in the river for them.

If this post reads like I’m losing all hope and faith in the product as I write this, that’s not too far from the truth. While the movie industry is pumping out products that sell millions at the worldwide market, they’re lacking in imagination. A movie about a boy robot fighting an evil scientist’s ambition to take over the world sounds like something that doesn’t carry itself. What works as a game doesn’t work as a movie, and that’s the crux that will nail the Mega Man movie’s faith to either direction.

EVO censorship Round 2

Of course the weekend I’m away from the town and all the news happens to be the very weekend Evolution Championship Series, or just EVO, takes place. Not that I really am into the VS fighting game tournament scene anymore.  Mostly due to how retarded the whole thing has gone to with eSports and how Capcom has begun to cater this audience alone. Street Fighter V was an attempt to hit true with this audience, but most people will just tell you Capcom wanted the game to be a massive hit with the casuals. There’s a clear lack of self-awareness in this scene. It’s a post to its own rights, but I’m not going to spend any more time with SFV than I have to. Capcom would do if they would end this Season bullshit and release all the content as Super Street Fighter V.

Last year EVO showed their total lack of awareness both culturally and within the scene by bending over to ESPN’s demand to censor Rainbow Mika’s costume due to the televised nature of the action. At the time no reason was given. This happened against with this year’s EVO with Cammy’s standard costume, the one she has been wearing for some twenty years, was censored. However, this time ESPN gave a statement, and the supposed reason was broadcasting standards.

Broadcast standards are a bullshit reason. If ESPN would enforce their attitude towards all the programs, you wouldn’t see cheerleaders, women swimming or any other sport with female athletes in as tight outfits as possible. If you’re thinking I’m being some sort of pervert wanting to see skin-tight outfits, you’d be right, but in case of sports they have a functional basis. For example, in cycling you better have an outfit that does not create drag. Movement is also much easier in an outfit that conforms to you body, or has as little elements interfering with your motions as possible. Even Bruce Lee himself stated that going with suit that has as little separation from the body is the best for fighting, hence his iconic yellow suit.

So what about the cultural thing you mentioned, I hear you ask. Well, ESPN showcases wrestling as well. With Rainbow Mika being a joshipro wrestler, her outfit has been modeled after this scene. Not that the American outfits are any less revealing, but it has to be emphasized that Japanese wrestling scene has multiple key differences from American or European one. It’s treated more a fighting scene and outfits are far more flamboyant and cartoon inspired. Rainbow Mika’s blue outfit with the cuts it has, and her attitude, is a perfect representation of a over-the-top Joshipro wrestler. Hell, even Mika’s slightly coarse voice and hip attacks are straight from the ring. None if this is outside what ESPN already shows in their wrestling programs meant for all ages. Suddenly seeing something terrible in leotards and women fighting in them is duplicitous at best.

It’s almost like ESPN is all right showcasing real life flesh, but polygon models are too sexy to be showcased around.

If you’re in the mind that using your hips in an attack is a bad idea, there are multiple ways it can be utilised effectively. This is because the control of you hip can mean whether or not you stand or not, and using the centre in an attack means you can throw that mass into a concentrated attack. Works great in throws, where hip balance is most often used.

Does this have an effect on the scene and how enthusiastic it is about their game? If we are to believe the case Reaxxion has made for Dead or Alive 5, it indeed does. While some of the 25 costumes in there are a bit racy and questionable, the point of these costumes is to be silly. DoA as a franchise has always had this element to it, where the beauty and coolness of these characters have been celebrated, as well joked about. As Reaxxon says, censoring content in order to make some sort of safe space where women can contest with men is ridiculous. If any offense should be taken, it should be taken from the fact that people are being treated like babies through assumption that they can’t handle certain outfits and suits.

Character outfit selection also has the effect of changing the atmosphere and feeling of the game. While some may scoff at this, the very idea of changing outfits that fit a situation and appearance is valid within VS fighting games. The chosen outfit reflects on the character, both the player and the playable character, and this reflection carries into the style of play. Street Fighter V on the other hand throws this away, as there is just one style of play per character. What this essentially means that overall styles and choices that the player makes in visual terms that may not be conscious are now being censored and won’t have representation.

While this won’t hold any water with ESPN, it is nevertheless a valid concern. Furthermore, if broadcasting standards are used to explain why a character’s outfit must be banned (all the while the channel is showcasing equally amount of skin and breast physics on other all-family sports events they’re airing) it may lead into companies enforcing censoring changes to already realised content, or approach the task of game creation and character design with self-censorship in mind. Street Fighter V is again an example how Capcom has bent over the whole eSports scene in how much they have censored from the game both pre- and post release.

It is a sad business fact that if Capcom and other fighting game developers want to hit the big money with TV broadcasts and be as mainstream as eSports can be, they must make a choice between staying true to the vision they have or bending over and allowing changes made according to what other execs think is the best. Again, if we are to treat games as art, they must have the autonomy and must stay as intended. Reality shows that games are anything but art, and if business sensibilities tell a company to censor their content in an attempt to appease someone, they will. It’s money that’s on the line, and they’d rather make these short-sighted decisions that will affect franchise’s popularity and how much consumer value it.

Games as consumer art?

If the arcade game paradigm is applied generally in interactive art, `interpassivity’, a Pavlovian interactivity of stimulus and response, will be induced.

Simon Penny

Electronic games can be argued to train the player in a Pavlovian sense. I’m pretty sure most people who have played games to some extent can discern what sort of importance a large, glowing globe on a boss’ head means. You may need to solve a some sort of puzzle or wait for the right time for the globe to reveal itself, but when it does, you close in for the damage. There are so many games out there that use this approach to their enemies and bosses that it has become universal to some extent, and players already have a Pavlovian response to them. Modern Zelda games even go as far as to explicitly train the player in a use of a gimmick to solve a puzzle that is then presented in a boss battle.

Games are not the only ones that draw a response out of us. Art tends to do that as well, though art itself rarely is interactive. There is a distinct overlap between interactive art and electronic games in both of them requiring a participant in order to be realised. Interactive art does not fulfill its intended form without interaction in the same way as a video game can’t play itself.

Games and art do share more than that. Both are biologically unnecessary and often are seen in a romantic light of being separate from the need of being a sales success or politically driven. From a more realistic perspective, both art and games need to make money and the more emphasizes storylines games have had, the more they have emphasize they have on a subject. It should be noted that games like Zelda don’t intend to make any sort of political statement as such, but as with anything, there are those who will analyse anything and see whatever they wish to see.

The value of art itself is also in the line, as the general public is outside the circle of high art connoisseurs, who have made efforts to determine what art even is. At one point the notion of a five years old being able to do the same thing as a highly skilled painter was able to had become common enough to be seen absolutely everywhere. It’s the lowest level of insult given to any piece of work out there. This insult is not necessary from ignorance, but simply that the notion of a canvas painted white was even considered as art.

There is a lack of criticism towards what is considered art. Whether it is due to the post-modern era we live in or simply because the majority of the population simply attach the term to anything they see even remotely wonderful and astonishing. The old argument you’ve seen in this blog is If everything can be considered art, then art has no value.

This blog tends to would argue that art has always had a direct connection to its consumption under consumerism. However, the romanticised view is not any less valid. Art does not need to entertain or conform to the wishes of the consumers, it has no wish to the commercially successful. A consumer product has to, and if we are to combine both art and electronic games under one banner under the term of interactivity, then we must also abandon the notion the romantic view of art gives us and embrace art as something that has to serve the masses.

The language here is an issue. The emphasize we’ve given to art and artists is stupidly high in modern world. Whoever draws pictures is called an artist. Whoever can produce a piece of music is called an artist. Whoever can make and edit videos is called an artist. Ad nauseam. While the core etymology of art in ars refers to skill or craft, perhaps that’s not applicable nowadays, where the amount of people who are skilled eclipses that in out history. Make no mistake, very few can make classics like Mona Lisa, but in all objectivity, we have Internet full of people making far more impressive paintings with superior tools.

The worlds just don’t meet. If a game is made by hundreds of artists in a combined effort towards one end goal, is such work art anymore? Perhaps games are galleries in the sense that they offer a virtual space for different artists to showcase their skills in respective fields. Most games are not single vision as the main consumer crowd wants to view them as. Hideo Kojima is not the only person responsible on the success of Metal Gear games just as Miyamoto has a large team behind most of his Mario games. There are composers, illustrators, modellers, coders, designers, business men, organisers and God knows what within the credits of one game, all supposedly artists in their respective fields working.

The same applies to movies, and to some extent to movies as well.

Cultural consumer is a thing, a person who consumes cultural product within their society, and even outside it. Perhaps Patricia Martin was right to suggest the converge of art and entertainment alongside with technology was, and still is, remaking the consumer. This thinking consumer who wants to separate himself from the mass market has options to voice himself. Either through blogs or Youtube videos. In reality, with this constant cycle of ever-present news, media and event information we have thanks to the Internet, the cultural consumer has become part of the mass market. What used to be counter-culture is now mainstream.

How does this tie to our topic? Games were made by mathematicians and other people who didn’t want to get a “real job.” They were seen as kids’ toys. Something to scoff at. As games became more popular and mainstream, the more they were tied to artistry in multitude of ways. Now, electronic games are a bigger business than Hollywood. The institutionalisation of art would mean that its romantic view needs to be discarded, and we recognize that art is through and through a tool for profit and politics. Art is a thing that perhaps should stay as a romanticised object and be desired to be realised as, despite the reality not permitting this.

 

Life simulation in Japanese games

One of the main goals of video and computer games since their inception has been the realisation of virtualised world. In other words, the simulation of the real world. The most common examples that people across the world can recognize would be the multitude of driving simulators (with varying levels of realism across the board) and The Sims, a life simulation game series that has been acting as a huge time sink to many players since its inception in 2000. Seriously, all the people I’ve known who played The Sims had a mania towards it to the point of one girl wrecking her four-year relationship.

The thing is, certain type of simulation games aren’t really common in the West. The main reason I chose driving and life simulation above as examples is because of their widespread nature. Sports overall can be counted as sort of simulation, depending how the level of realism they have, but without a proper controller such games always fall tad flat. Sure you can do realistic dribbles in Fifa, but that’s all in the controller. You’re not standing up and actually dribbling the ball in a virtual environment. That’s currently impossible, the technology isn’t at the level of Star Trek‘s holodeck yet.

 


Alpine Racer had a control rig of two sticks and slots that emulated skis. The game require complete physical movement to be controlled, and was fun

The main difference between American, European and Japanese cultures when it comes to simulation games, which also reflects our approaches to games in general, is that there is a level of separation. Sure, driving games and such are fun thing to play, but ultimately a Westerner could just go and try these things himself for real. In Japan, however, this is not the case due to geographic and overall cultural influence. The reason Japan has so many golf games is that it’s a status symbol. To have a membership in a golf club is a sign of financial success and socially high status. These golf clubs are much more than just tracks to play golf, as they offer a complete spa and vacation resort experience. It’s a prestige, and simulation of that prestige is invaluable.

Similarly, due to the limited space Japan has, the experience of e.g. owning a dog can be a challenge. It’s also a financial risk that some people can’t simply do. Hence games like Nintendogs became a success, though Nintendogs wasn’t the first dog simulation game. There has been a few in the past, with one of the more notable ones being Sega’s Inu no Sanpo, or Walk the Dog. The game works on a treadmill and on force feedback leash. You are given instructions when to walk normally, run or dash, while the screen would have a realistic Japanese scenery going on while your dog just stumbles along events that can happen. Like a runaway cat taking your dog’s attention or car almost hitting it. All the while you can feel the force feedback through the leash in your hand.

Walk the Dog may be a curiosity for a Youtuber to rant on, it’s a case study how Japanese simulation games do allow people to do things they couldn’t otherwise. Of course, there is one specific simulation game that doesn’t only hit the cultural nerve but also has a mania following with train otakus. Densha de Go! or Go by Train! is another example of simulation games allowing something desirable in the culture, as trains are nearly revered in Japan.

 


Armed with a special controller replicating a train’s control panel, Densha de Go! was a massive phenomena in the late 1990’s and gained a legendary status as far as train simulators go

Densha de Go! isn’t just about achieving something that’s beyond most people. It’s also a sort of taking control event, where the player can move from being a simple passenger to the role of the train driver. The game also benefits from having realistic environments for the tracks, which has been argued to relieve stress in many ways, e.g. allowing a salaryman to travel and see new sights without moving away from his home, or bringing back childhood memories through seeing familiar train routes from back home.

Of course, one of the most Japanese simulation game genres out there is the raising genre, or ikusei games. Or sodate-ge, if you want to be informal bastard. Without a doubt the most well-known title in the genre is Gainax’s Princess Maker, in which the player character takes control of raising a girl from childhood to adulthood. The game’s a contrast to The Sims‘ controls, where the player doesn’t exactly control much of the character in the end. In Princess Maker, the player is responsible is one individual’s growth into the ideal women, and the game offers 74 possible endings, ranging from your daughter ending up being a solider, bishop or a whore.

Princes Maker can be seen as another way for Japanese men to ogle at young girls of different ages in a perverted way, but the more likely reason why Princess Maker became popular is that it allowed lonely men to experience some resemblance to family happiness. Which is one is the sadder option is up to you.

The most popular and well-known raising game however isn’t Princess Maker when it comes to global population. That would be Tamagotchi, which experienced its explosive boom in the late 1990’s. These eggfriends was a bane of many school’s existence, with the fuckers beeping in the kids’ bags every so often requiring to be fed or their shit be cleaned out. The basic idea is that you have an egg that hatches into a creature that must be taken care of and raised well in order it to flourish, until it dies. Early in the game the creature gets sick easily and there has to be rather large amount of effort to keep it alive in the first place. Balancing with its diet and mood was important as well, as sweets tended to get it sick while normal food kept it alive in the first place. The reason why the game became a bane was that the device beeped every time the creature needed attention, and you can imagine how teacher’s felt when thirty Tamagotchis went off during every hour, demanding their shit be cleaned.

Not everyone saw the device as a terrible bane. Some teachers and adults saw Tamagotchis as a device to teach responsibility to the child playing it due to the whole death of the creature if its neglected thing going on. What Bandai didn’t see with its raising pet simulator dangle thing was the psychological effects it had on the player. The Tamagotchi Effect describes the development emotional attachment towards non-living objects, like robots or software agents. It’s not necessarily a negative effect, as it can be used as a form of therapy, as is the case with the PARO Therapeutic Robot. The choice of the creature dying in Tamagotchi has caused some trauma with the player, but this sort of permanent deaths in a massively popular game was something new. It brought a level of realism to a game that was expected to be cute lil’ thing. Instead, it brought adult responsibility and death.

To be honest, I never got into Tamagotchi, but it’s a subject that really necessitates its own post with an analysis of its effects.

Whether or not we can count a software like Summer Lesson a game on its own rights is for another time, but it can’t be ignored that it is essentially an evolution of life simulation, where the player takes control, or rather becomes, a tuition teacher to a schoolgirl during summer. While its raising elements are a more limited than Princess Maker‘s, the player is expected to set up a schedule for Miyamoto Hikari, the student character. Much like Princess Maker, it has been criticised for being a game for perverts, where in reality its intentions are anything but. After all, Japanese culture has always added a small hint of sexuality to its cute things in a positive fashion, which Western culture often misunderstands.

In the end, Summer Lesson emulates real life much like any other in its genre. It just managed to get unnecessary flak way too much, whereas the game’s main content really isn’t anything far off from other manager/raising simulators that have been around on Japanese PCs and consoles since the 1980’s. Summer Lesson also allows the player to take part in a valued job, much like in Densha de Go!. Perhaps it too is a way for the player relive their youthful years or experience some sort of life they couldn’t otherwise achieve, much like what other simulation titles offer as well.

Maybe I should skip buying Switch this year and get PS VR for Summer Lesson after all.

Greater fool

With the announcement of SNES Classic Edition, or the mini as I’ll be referring it to as, the collective retro gaming Internet lost its shit and the console sold out in matter of days, or hours in some store’s case. not only that, but some sites already have re-sellers putting up their units for grossly exaggerated prices. That is not to say stores would be upping their price anyway after seeing the success the NES mini was.

The suggested price of the SNES mini is at $79,99, or around 70€ to 80€. However, even now there are stores that have jacked up the price over hundred, because they knew it would sell out and that they can fetch higher price. The Greater fool theory has few variations to it, but for our purpose it can be stated as a person investing into a product in hopes of selling to a greater fool who is willing to pay more. The retro game market has become somewhat similar to a stock market, where certain people try to find fortune in finding games at a lower price, jack up the price somehow and then proceed to sell at a much higher profit margin.

There are few ways of doing this. One of course is the removal of products from the market and further making it a rarer piece. This can be done with relative ease, especially if one has the foresight to proceed to empty the market at the right time. If you were to buy certain games fifteen years ago at a low price, these games could now fetch up to two hundred their purchased worth.

Then of course you can change how the market perceives the products. Even now, some games are absolutely terrible, but due to their limited runs and relative obscurity, they can fetch stupidly high prices. The quality doesn’t really step into the equation here, it’s all about how rare something is.

This of course makes sense when looking at other collectables markets, where the exact same things happens over and over. However, the one thing that can’t be ignored with this theory is also the personal perceived value the greater fool might have towards a game. When you combine the believes and expectations a buyer has for a game with his personal affections towards it, they can be ready to pay extraordinary high sums of money.

As stated, a rational buyer may just buy the game and sell it forwards at a higher price, because there is a greater fool. This cycle has been going on in the retro game market for a solid decade and then some, and I’ve seen some argumentation for longer period of time. Whatever the case is, the current prices used retro games are going for now, and in the foreseeable future, will not stay. This is a bubble that is waiting to be burst, but I highly doubt it’ll be an overnight event. Rather, we’ll see something like a common Super Mario Bros. peaking at its highest point at some extraordinary price, and then things will dwindle down.

Or rather it should,  but it won’t. The kind of retro collectors we have now are willing to spend high amounts of money for their collection. Of course, the sellers are willing to accommodate with equally over the top prices. I’m talking about people who are willing to pay over hundred dollars for a loose Mega Man 5. At that money, any sensible personal would just pick up one of the collections for whatever platform and spend the rest on ice cream.

The NES and SNES mini have made things interesting, to say the least. While Nintendo has claimed they’ll be producing the SNES mini in higher numbers than the NES mini, there won’t be enough. Nintendo has always underestimated their classic library to the point of neglect. Nintendo’s strategy with these re-release consoles is not to introduce new people to their older library, but rather just grab some cash before they can do something sensible with the Switch’s online. Nintendo never realises how much demand there is for their classics. The Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition they released for the Wii sold out faster than they could imagine. Twice! Nintendo is gearing up to something with the Switch and whatever plans they have for their classic library, but these mini consoles are just stopgags on the way there.

Nintendo seems to be aware of the retro market. While their profit margins are less with these mini consoles than with Virtual Console, this is catering to a certain demographic first and foremost. While you could argue that the demographic is the general audience, the fact that NES mini wasn’t released in same production amounts or even officially in places as the Switch says that the target demographic was rather limited. The SNES mini will always be sold out, and despite the supposedly higher production run, it will still see similar fate.

And there will be greater fools who are willing to pay three times the original price for their own reasons.

The Atari Box wants to hit the same core demographic. Someone at Atari saw the demand the NES mini experiencing and wanted some of that dough. Whether or not it is a full-fledged console as rumoured, the chances are that it’s more or less a flashback sort of device like that NES and SNES mini. It would be easy to do a modern Atari console with most classic games installed while offering the possibilities to expand the library in the future. Nothing says an older console couldn’t be re-released and have new titles released or produced for it.  After all, Nintendo’s pushing Starfox 2 on the SNES mini as well, and they’d make tons more money if they would allow the user to purchase more games on some sort of game cards and have them run on the system.

Or just release things on the Virtual Console and be done with it. I’m still expecting Nintendo to announce Netflix style gaming for its online service, where the consumer has no ownership.

Music of the Month; Streets are hot

If you haven’t seen California Crisis, it’s worth watching at least once

It’s the middle of the summer in the Northern hemisphere and the streets indeed are hot to the point of the asphalt burning the feet and tar boiling in the cracks. This time of the year should be for relaxation for yours truly, but of course it isn’t. The past months have been hectic and stressful, to say the least, but at least I managed to keep my two posts per week rhythm, despite the quality being every which way occasionally.

Much like with previous months, there are no plans for the blog. I haven’t had the time to come up with anything. Plus, I’ll be busy creating a programme for a local convention about Iczer-1, which will take most of my attention away from other matters. I’ve only got few weeks to build it from the scratch, but at least I have my own posts from which to pull information from.  I’ll be throwing other 1980’s pop-culture material in there as well, and as such it’ll be slightly more expanded view on the whole phenomena and the cultural situation during the era in Japan. However, due to this, this summer won’t see a massive thematic post like I’ve been putting up during the past few years, unless something extraordinary turns up that I can tap for information.

That is not to say I’ll be using this forced vacation I’ve been thrust into only doing something I should consider extra work of sorts. I picked up a pen digitizer Huion GT-220 v2 relatively recently, but haven’t had the time to sit down hours on end and draw with it. Plans are to spend notable hours per day with it and trying to find some way to produce images I’d be somewhat satisfied with, commentators be damned. With this I hope I’ll gain enough experience with it to give a proper view on the thingamajig and do a sort of review, but that’ll have to wait until the end of the month. You already saw some scribbles I threw together with the previous mecha design post, because I’ve ran out of paper to scan. Well, this should force me to concentrate on the digital side of things and further encourage me to step away from just pen and paper whenever possible.

Speaking of mecha designing, the rest of the year will probably become unique examples of transforming mecha. We’ve covered the core basics, and rather than trying force terrible doodle on everybody, I’ll be resorting on existing designs. This is just a thought for now and the end result will probably be something else. I still need to talk about Super Sentai robot designs and contrasted to e.g. Macross‘ Valkyries due to the core difference in the target market.

Summer is also a time when things tend to die out a little when it comes to news and such. It’s not the best time to release certain kind of game titles, though summer blockbusters are at their peak. The upcoming Spider-Man Homecoming is an example of this, though I have to admit I have reservations for the flick and will have to wager whether or not I’ll be seeing it in the theatres. If I do, I might as well go watch the latest Transformers while I’m at it. I’d rather see movies myself and make up my own opinion on any movie rather than rely on Internet reviews, because ultimately only I can say whether or not whatever fits my tastes. The same goes for you, which is why I quit doing game reviews as such and moved unto related stuff. At least with controllers and similar stuff I can review their ergonomics and function relatively objectively without getting stuck on whether or not I or someone else likes it.

Rather than forcing myself to remember the last subject I was supposed to cover in this post’s last four hundred words, I’ll just recommend you all to go out and enjoy the sunshine or rain. I’ll just go fix my summer bike and go take a stroll across the town, it’s such a good weather to break my knees open again.

And oh, remember to sharpen your kitchen and tool knives, and to oil them afterwards. A well sharpened and oiled knife will last more than a lifetime.