The Five Biggest Jerks in Gaming
Sometimes I regret my hobby.
Deep down inside I will always be a gamer. I go through periods where my love for gaming declines, usually after I realize I just spent most of a week playing "Freelancer" or "Hearts of Iron" or something like that and feel guilty, but at my core is a gamer. Because of this I tend to spend most of my free time reading about games on our forums or browsing the Internet reading articles on other sites. I like to stay on top of the trends in gaming and development, and keep at least half of an ear glued to the rail so I can hear the rumblings of gossip.
That doesn't mean I consider myself an insider, on the contrary I consider myself a preeminent consumer. I buy lots of games, bucketloads, and other than Hentai games I don't get many free so I'm in the same boat as the rest of you. I spend my hard earned hundreds on the cute little cardboard boxes with the easily lost serial numbers and their much sexier DVD case cousins for the consoles. With each purchase I buy a ticket to the bitch festival if I don't like the game or I don't like what the developers are doing with my beloved franchises. Along these lines I think it's high time to air some dirty laundry about the gaming industry, so let me tell you about the Five Biggest Jerks in Gaming.
5. Peter Molyneux
Studio: Lionhead Studios
Monsieur Molyneux (That's Freedom for "Mister Molyneux").
Chances for Redemption: Fairly high. "Black and White" is a stain on Molyneux's name to many fans whether he or most reviewers will actually admit it. There is a sequel in development to this loathsome game, but Molyneux also has several other very interesting sounding titles like "Fable" on the horizon and any one of these could prove to be his next "Syndicate". Or that motherfucker could just make another Syndicate game, I mean seriously Peter what the hell is wrong with you?! The world has never been more ready for another Syndicate game and don't try to give me some bullshit about not owning the rights, just call the damn game "Tyndicate".
Crimes Against Gamers: I once would have placed Mr. Molyneux near the top of a short list of greatest developers of all time. The man has created wonderful games like the "Syndicate" games, the "Populous" games, "Dungeon Keeper', and other classics. He is known for innovative and fairly dark games and is a perpetual dreamer who has fantastic ideas. Something really weird happened a few years ago though; Molyneux developed a little title called "Black and White" that was met with rave reviews. His fans and thousands of others gobbled the game up, for about five hours that is. His die-hard supporters realized that the game reviews had been lying, "Black and White" was a tedious and awkward "coddle the townsfolk" simulator. But the reviewers didn't care, and thus a weird transition happened, where Molyneux went from beloved underdog to overrated gaming superstar hyped by magazines and web sites and full of unmerited braggadocio. The excellent sales of "Black and White" made a sequel a foregone conclusion and it seems that Molyneux may have learned the dangerous lesson that half-assed is enough for the market if you put the right spin on your game.
4. Larry Probst (CEO)
Studio: Electronic Arts
Probst looks sort of like a young John Ashcroft. Coincidence?! I THINK NOT.
Chances for Redemption: Larry Probst embodies almost everything that is wrong with big business in gaming. He is also, unfortunately, the face of the future of gaming. There can be no redemption short of a deathbed confession from him that his entire life was a hateful lie crafted to destroy the lives of as many as possible. On the positive side, at least he isn't Japanese too.
Crimes Against Gamers: Who ever thought a former executive from Clorox would lead the single most successful game producer in the history of the universe? Larry Probst has forged Electronic Arts into an unstoppable juggernaut of gaming, not to mention one with the attitude of "join us or die". EA's modus operandi under Probst has been to gobble up promising small developers, vivisect them, and then pressure them to release unfinished or bad games. The key to EA's success in this despicable endeavor has been to market their games to as broad an audience as possible, rely on simple and evolutionary titles like the Madden series, and do whatever it takes to undermine companies that refuse to play ball with EA. A good example of this is EA's unusual position in the console wars that are still going on. As the single largest developer of games in the universe, EA wields as much power as any one of the big three console manufacturers. It seems like it would be a good thing for a developer to hold as much power as a hardware manufacturer, but think again! The majority of EA's titles are bland or unfinished pieces of shit, making even Sony's in-house developers look like golden saints of creativity by comparison.
Remember Westwood? How about Origin Systems? Or even Peter Molyneux's own Bullfrog? These companies and many more have been chewed up and shit out by EA. It doesn't infuse capital and profit from their products like a normal producer, it buys these companies out, squeezes their franchises for every penny it can, and then discards their employees or amalgamates them into its own corpulent body to produce the latest Madden game. Probst is a villain with no peer, but he runs a painfully tight ship over at EA and generally doesn't indulge in the same arrogant bragging as developers are prone to do, which saves him from the number one spot on this list.
3. John Romero and Stevie Case
Studio: Ion Storm West/Monkeystone Games
Ewwwwww, Killcreek got Levelord on her! That's gonna leave a mark.
Chances for Redemption: Romero's career as a major developer is pretty much over these days and Stevie "Killcreek" Case only ever had a career because of Romero, but I suppose somewhere in the depths of Romero's mind is the same genius that spawned "Doom". If he can tear himself away from his dented Lamborghini and Killcreek's enhanced bosom long enough maybe he'll one day make a good game again, but I wouldn't count on it.
Crimes Against Gamers: Romero's life would be a perfect story for a nerd version of VH1's "Behind the Music". His role in creating "Doom" skyrocketed him to gaming superstardom as one of the first and most widely known legends of the gaming industry. People who barely knew about gaming at one point knew who Romero was; the first dorky rockstar on the gaming scene. With "Doom II" and "Quake" fading into the background Romero broke away from id to create his own game company that would better suit his needs as a sports car driving, leather pants-wearing, long haired loser with a shit load of money. He wanted to use Ion Storm to realize his dreams of creating a game with a big-titted female sidekick and a sidekick named Superfly, and with only a few years and a budget bigger than the GDP of most African countries, Romero managed to do just that. And the gaming community roared with laughter at the piece of shit that was "Daikatana", a legendary failure that had run through four different lead designers. Naturally Romero's fledgling uber development house Ion Storm crashed and burned and a lot of other talented developers suffered for it. Thankfully a few like Warren Spector were saved from Romero's fate by the decidedly cruddy Eidos.
Swept up in, and contributing to, this whole drama was mediocre level designer Stevie "Killcreek" Case. This mousy blonde got a makeover courtesy of Romero's Millionz and became a fleshy parody of the sort of women found so often in video games. Not only that though, she inadvertently became a semi-celebrity icon for the stupid wastefulness of the gaming industry in the mid-nineties and the excesses of some developers. While she was giving Johnny boy greasy hand jobs in the front seat of his diamond-encrusted Porsche hundreds of developers were slaving in anonymity on their next breakout project. For most of those developers there would be no champagne parties and rap star mansions, nor would there be anything approaching creative control. Romero had the opportunity to transform the industry into one fueled by creativity and ideas rather than purely profit, instead he proved to the big boys that creativity and ideas were overrated in the face of a quick buck. He handed the reins of the industry over to the likes of Electronic Arts, Take 2 Interactive, and Eidos and those corporations opened their mouths to swallow the next year's graduating class of developers into their game factories.
Now both are working at another Romero startup called Monkeystone Games, which is the official term for "John Romero's nervous breakdown and bankruptcy".
2. Derek Smart
Studio: 3000 AD, Inc.
Derek Smart relaxes on his leather couch. God he is such a pimp.
Chances for Redemption: Redemption?! The man has never made a good game, yet he is still a well-known developer, probably because of his immense ego and ability to single handedly put the entire PC gaming community into an uproar every time he types out an arrogant post on a message board. The only reason Smart didn't make number one on this list is that he doesn't take ten years to release a game and doesn't waste millions of dollars on huge development teams.
Crimes Against Gamers: Derek Smart is the biggest asshole of the gaming world. Many have tried to contest this ignominious title - from Mike Wilson to Bernie Stolar - but frankly there isn't a chance in hell anyone not convicted of a capital offense could ever surpass Smart for sheer "that motherfucker!" quality. Smart is also a pretty intelligent guy, and has some fantastic ideas for games, but for whatever reason his executions of these ideas fall far short of expectations. This is a common failing of developers but where it goes sour with Smart is when he opens his fool mouth, particularly on the Internet. Smart is a hothead and loves to search for his name in Google and then become enraged at the slightest affront to his overwhelming genius. He has no qualms with boasting about his latest and greatest upcoming game while simultaneously insulting the parents of someone who was "slightly disappointed with Battleship 4D". He's probably using his giant brain to read my mind while I'm writing this and is already composing a hotly worded reply to post on the forums of his web site.
1. George Broussard
Studio: 3D Realms
Broussard slaving away on "Duke Nukem Forever" as always! Out on the street. In his boxers. With his Porsche getting towed.
Chances for Redemption: Duke Nukem Whatever, no one cares about Broussard and 3D Realms anymore. They're a permanent punch line for a joke unless DNF actually comes out this year and is one of the greatest and most revolutionary games of all time, which is to say Broussard's chances for redemption are nil.
Crimes Against Gamers: There is no developer more out of touch with reality than George Broussard. He lives in a fragile fantasy world where "Duke Nukem Forever" has not already vanished into the gaping maw of assured failure that also consumed "Daikatana". In the world the rest of us live in, DNF has totally eclipsed "Daikatana" for most ridiculous marketing line. What's more amazing is that most of the cogs over at 3D Realms continue to parrot Broussard's downright retarded claims that "Duke Nukem Forever" will be the hottest title of 1998. While the pot of rancid chili that is DNF has been simmering on the stove for the better part of a fucking decade, Broussard and company have been devaluing their franchise by repeatedly cashing in on it with knockoff titles about as fun as licking razors. Remember "Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes"? I didn't think so. In addition to shitting away the good will of fans with cash-in games, Broussard and company have been shamelessly telling anyone stupid enough to get within spitting distance that DNF "will be out for Christmas". Then it became a self-mocking joke of "whenever it's ready".
Until this year, that is. This year Broussard and his team hid from the public, barely even making their presence known at E3. Ostensibly this was done so they could concentrate on the task of finally finishing their game that no one cares about anymore, more likely it was to work on building paperclip men and downloading shemale porn. Meanwhile their publisher Take 2 Interactive innocently commented that they were lowering their earnings expectations because 3D Realms was taking their time on the game. From where I sit I consider any money that Take 2 is giving to 3D Realms is something akin to charity and I would hope Broussard would realize how fortunate he is to still have a major publisher for his games after all of the bullshit he has spewed. Instead, in an apparent effort to self destruct, Broussard went on a rampage telling Take 2 on Shacknews that they need to "STFU". Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. George, from me to you, Shut The Fuck Up. You're a moron, Take 2 is a mediocre publisher but they're huge and rich and they're your only potential chance of salvaging the career you've pissed away for the past six years on your fake game. Put out a screen saver, call it "Duke Nukem Forever", and then swallow your pride and move on to something else.
Or just kill yourself and let some teenage texture artist at 3D Realms take over, I'm sure he would at least finish that stupid piece of shit you call a game. Oh wait, Half Life 2 is coming out! Maybe you could start over again using that engine!
Let's come together and celebrate George Broussard and to a lesser extent the entire team of Duke Nukem Forever for being the most consistent and pathetic examples of wastefulness and stupidity in the gaming industry to date. While we're at it why don't we take a stroll down memory lane and remember some fine quotes from the talking heads over at 3D Realms.
"We're confident that DNF will be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, game of 1998. And this confidence is not misplaced." - Scott Miller, 1997
"Duke Nukem Forever is a 1999 game and we think that timeframe matches very well with what we have planned for the game." - George Broussard, 1998
"Trust us, Duke Nukem Forever will rock when it comes out next year." - Joe Siegler, 1999
"When it's done in 2001." - 2000 Christmas card
"DNF will come out before Unreal 2." - George Broussard, 2001
"If DNF is not out in 2001, something's very wrong." - George Broussard, 2001
"DNF will come out before Doom 3." - George Broussard, 2002
Hey, I can stick a gun up a cat's ass! Well that surely will make me overlook the horrible gameplay, shitty models and textures, and the worst level design since "Ken's Labyrinth".
Those quotes get posted a lot around the Internet and I can't help but laugh every single time I read them. This year has also been a year of up-and-coming jerks in the industry, and I would be remiss if I didn't at least touch a few of these developers. Take Quicksilver Interactive for example. Their "Master of Orion 3" was hotly anticipated and turned out to be almost unplayable, full of bugs and counterintuitive features, and saddled with design changes that seemed to move laterally away from the fun strategy gaming of "Master of Orion 2." Their work is a great tragedy of gaming as they single-handedly eviscerated one of the most enjoyable franchises out there and their unrepentant attitude and horrible patch development have rendered the game essentially unsalvageable.
Another big loser this year has been "The Sims" mogul Will Wright. Once he was a near-legend of gaming, but Wright has recently become one with the sort of sweatshop cash-in pattern endemic at Electronic Arts. Idiotic Sims expansions continue to be disgorged by EA, despite horrible console versions of the game and a lackluster online version for the PC. Wright, the sort of idea man I once would have mentioned in the same sentence as Molyneux or Sid Meier, has become father to a legacy as repellent as the swarm of hunting simulations that still populate Wal-Marts across America.
Finally there is Vince Desi of Running with Scissors. He spent the last few months hyping up "Postal 2" with some of the most shamefully bad press releases I have ever had the misfortune of reading. The man was a walking billboard for sterilization, and would spew out "hip" and "in your face" puns about pussy whenever some member of the gaming press would make the mistake of giving him a chance to talk. This loathsome behavior was only compounded by the release of "Postal 2". It amounted to a manifestation of the sort of moronic garbage Desi was vomiting onto the public and was, consequently, one of the worst games released in recent memory.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Photoshop Phriday
Hey gang, Josh "Greasnin" Boruff here. As you probably counted on, what with it being Friday and all, there is a brand new edition of Photoshop Phriday up and ready to kick your face off. For reasons likely related to pure madness, the SA Forum goons spent an awful lot of time Photoshopping the heroic and terrible actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in ways both inappropriate and more inappropriate. The results, like his movies, are hilarious.
Seeing as how you're probably turned on by that picture, you might want to look at the rest of the feature!