Welcome to another issue of Currents, where video game industry headlines are broken down and editorialized. It's been a little while since the last column. I would say that this had to do with the major move that my girlfriend and I just when through, but it has more to do with #GamerGate — which only seems to have gained momentum since Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend publically aired their dirty laundry this past summer. As far as I can tell, non-#GamerGate news stories haven't been in great abundance as of late and I have had reservations about making any commentary either way on the issue. Still, it's unlike me to not have an opinion.
The past few months have been full of strange accusations, false charges, extremism, and now death threats. One side of the debate has latched on to McCarthyism in order to demand greater professional ethics, which is a cause I generally support, while the other has understandably vilified a large base of gamers as being misogynist bigots based on the disgusting deeds of a few bad apples. There have been horrible opportunists on both sides and likewise professional careers in each camp, which have since been demolished in the collateral of this increasingly nauseating culture war. Personally, I don't think anyone here is in the right. It would be naive to see things so black-and-white. I do, however, suggest that the sea of grey that this issue is awash in has turned all current and future statements related to #GamerGate into noise. No side can "win" this war, and the more the fire is fed the more I, and likely others, are inclined to tune out. That's where I stand on this issue, and that's all I'm going to say on it.
This month is unique in that I've chose to only highlight video game industry stories that I think are interesting and positive. I think we all deserve an ounce of normal video game news at this point, and I hope you can appreciate where I'm coming from. To set the mood, let's watch this rad Final Fantasy VI cover (shout out to TheAnimeMan for introducing me to this YouTube producer):
If I could ask you readers some questions this week, they would be:
- Should exclusives exist today?
- How do you feel about harassing developer into creating games?
- What do you think should be done with axed content?
Filed under "hilariously odd," a Sony PlayStation fan from Florida has created a Change.org petition demanding a port of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS on the PS Vita. His name is David Smith, and he has some pretty strong opinions on something I'm sure many people would have assumed was a moot point. I've previously lamented the often unfortunate use of Change.org as a platform for asking the impossible, but this new petition takes things to new heights. This could be an elaborate attempt at trolling, as the write-up straddles Poe's Law like a wild horse, but the creator seems earnest.
In David Smith's own parlance, "Nintendo NEEDS to port this game to the PS Vita. Many of us Sony fans don't want to buy an underpowered console like the Nintendo 3DS, but we would gladly buy a quality title like Smash Bros. Not only would it be beneficial for both fans and Nintendo, but probably also REQUIRED by US antitrust law, since Nintendo has a monopoly on games like Smash Bros. by virtue of having no competing title." And that is just priceless.
Whether it is for parody or not, the petition has over 900 supporters at the time of this writing and an overall goal of 1000. Not sure why such a low number was chosen in a bid to demand something this unlikely, but I think it is hilarious either way. Apparently I'm not alone as a number of comedians have taken to the comments section in order to poke fun. Some gems include:
"Please Sony, don't let Capcom lock me in the basement again." — Mega Man
"That way Nintendo can join me in releasing more games on the Vita than Sony are. I'm releasing Minecraft, Nintendo releases Smash Bros." — Phil Spencer
"Sakurai please use Snake." — Hideo Kojima
"The PS Vita will be replacing the sandbag in the Home-run Contest in Smash Bros. Wii U and 3DS. Thanks for your time." — Masahiro Sakurai
"You want a Nintendo game. You buy a Nintendo console. That is how things work. Please understand." — Satoru Iwata
"What's a Vita?" — Kaz Hirai
I can't see how anyone would assume that this would happen, especially in light of a Smash Bros. clone, PlayStation All Stars, already being on the console. Still, this petition added some much needed levity to my week and I seriously considered signing just for the giggles. What do you think the outlook of Smash Bros. coming to the PS Vita is? Let us know in the forum.
Continuing the theme of gamers asking for the moon and the stars, a pair of McKee Wallwork & Co. interns just launched an Indiegogo campaign to pressurize Valve into making the long awaited Half-Life 3. You read that correctly. The campaign's official press release reads "Indiegogo campaign to engulf Valve employee's lives." They've proposed spamming Valve into action, but will require your help (and money) to do so.
Chris Salem and Kyle Mazzei assert that they are here to show Valve that the Half-Life 3 community is strong and deserving of this sequel. The Half-Life franchise boasts some of the most lauded games in the history of first-person shooters, and it is no secret that fans have wanted a proper sequel to Half-Life 2 for years, so I doubt Gabe Newell and the fine folks at Valve needed a reminder that there is a strong fan community. With that being said, I find this campaign to walk a precarious line between entitled consumerism and professional harassment. And yet, I find their pluck incredibly endearing nonetheless.
The pair is aiming to raise a maximum of $150,000, although there are progressive milestones along the way. There are four main objectives that they would want to do with your money. First, a Half-Life 3 Google AdWords campaign that specifically targets the people who work at Valve. Anytime an employee of the company would Google "Half-Life 3" or CEO "Gabe Newell," they'll see an AdWords spot on the side of the page that says something to the tune of "WE WANT HALF-LIFE 3." This is the lowest objective and has been projected to cost around $3,000. For $9,000, the pair would commission a mobile billboard plastered with Half-Life 3 propaganda to circle the Valve headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. For a whopping $45,000, 15 Gabe Newell look-alikes will be hired to show up on Valve's doorstep wearing "WE WANT HALF-LIFE 3" t-shirts. Finally, the achievement of the final financial goal of $150,000 will lead to a rock concert specifically geared towards Half-Life fans. Gabe Newell and a number of his staffers would be invited to this event. Whether they would go or not, however, is hard to say.
As of this article's writing, the campaign has raised just over $1,000 with 29 days left. Who knows how much support this kind of PR campaign will ultimately rally, but if I were in the shoes of these interns I would prepare for some eventual backlash. Again, I find it endearing that the interns are going to such creative lengths to achieve this lofty goal, but anyone with half a brain can see that this can be taken in several negative ways. There appears to me to be an air of hostility in this kind of request and if the wrong types of people rally behind this cause and take it too seriously it might lead to harassment of Valve employees or the interns themselves. Still, this is an interesting approach.
There aren't many things I find as intriguing as unfinished content dug up from game data that is over four years old. Such is the case for Final Fantasy XIII. As first reported over at SquarePortal, a group of dedicated gamers have found unfinished content of an area in Final Fantasy XIII known as "The Seventh Ark: Concealed Vestige." This location isn't in the final game, but is available on the disk of the PS3 and the data of the PC version.
It's apparent that this location would have been an additional area to grind before the final encounter, accessible from one of the portals in Orphan's Cradle. The group who found this believe that the area was slashed from the game for timing reasons, only to be considered for additional DLC — with those plans being squashed by technical issues and quality of content. Still, character dialogue for this area's scenario is available on disk, with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles.
Nemesis, the Fal' Cie boss of this area, may look an awful lot like Anima, but his exact design can also be seen in Final Fantasy XIII-2 as "Adam." Interestingly enough, the group digging through the data also found a hidden datalog discussing Nemesis and the purpose of the Seventh Ark, although it is in Spanish. Translated it reads:
"Fal'Cie lord and master of the Seventh Arc. Its work consists of harassing the l'Cie in the middle of cruel tests and obligating them to surpass their own limits. Apparently it trains them to fight against someone, but it is not known who. Nemesis and its Arc already existed in the times before the construction of Cocoon."
"One of the military installations of which the legends of Gran Pulse speak. The Fifth Arc is clearly an arsenal ready to combat invaders; the Seventh, instead, has as its principal function to awaken the hidden power of the l'Cie."
It seems doubtful to me that this content was ever seriously considered to be possible DLC by Square Enix. If you remember the hazy days of 2010, you'll note that Square Enix wasn't nearly as committed to the concept. The times have clearly changed, as painfully demonstrated by Final Fantasy XIII-2's and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII's overpriced and largely unnecessary DLC. Still, I feel like the original game could have actually benefitted from some original DLC story chapters, had the company been oriented towards that at the time. Maybe a DLC pack that resolved Fang and Vanielle's frozen crystal status, instead of two games that complicated and elongated an already poorly told narrative.
Major props for this discovery should go to Rusted Logic's "The Cutting Room Floor" forum. If you check out the thread for Final Fantasy XIII you can also see a lot of other unused assets, including early designs of all the characters and Beta footage.
That's it for this issue of Currents. You'll see another issue again in a couple weeks, but stay tuned to RPGamer for all the latest RPG news, reviews, previews, and interviews.
Your dork from the Great North,
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