Devouring Essence

Reconcilable Differences podcast logo

There’s this terrific podcast called Reconcilable Differences. The hosts are Merlin Mann (who you may recognize from past podcast recommendations) and more pertinent to this site is John Siracusa.

Siracusa is this uniquely expert individual in the science of breaking down and explaining almost any topic in a way that nobody else does. Even with topics that I think I understand, I gain a new understanding by listening to his podcasts. He’s more typically known for the recently ended 15-year streak of reviewing versions of Mac OS X. In this particular episode of the Reconcilable Differences program, #8, he describes why Destiny’s raids are fun to Merlin who hasn’t had much recent experience with any games besides Mario Kart. The way that Siracusa talks about this raid is more interesting than listening to almost any typical gaming person talk. You should really try out the episode if you are bored with other gaming podcasts. Unfortunately it is one-of-a-kind, Siracusa doesn’t tend to talk about games elsewhere or on other episodes of this podcast.

Game Releases are Broken

Daniel West has this enormous and insightful article about the perils of releasing a good game when nobody buys it:

There seems to be a prevalent attitude that if you just do everything right, you’re sure to find success. This idea abounds when we talk about games that failed to meet expectations. Much of the time, you’ll see failures explained away as fundamental errors made by the misguided development team. If only they’d gone to more shows! Mailed the right journalists! Put more effort into Youtubers!


An incredibly low barrier to entry has ensured that the number of games released per month is skyrocketing. As a direct result, it’s harder than ever to make a game that sticks out. The standards for remarkability, marketing, and luck have increased dramatically, meaning that games need to be bigger, better, and have more expensive marketing campaigns to stand out from the crowd.

I’ve lost pretty much all confidence in the possibility of reliably making a living with indie games. I had never put a whole lot of stock in it, however at the moment I see it as a risk that’s simply not worth taking. I can’t help but make games, so I’ll keep working on them in my spare time, but without any real hope for commercial success.

Looking at the screenshot of the game in the article I can’t help but instantly recognize it (somewhat incorrectly) as a side-scrolling gravity-based mobile-game. That is what is uninteresting and unremarkable. It might actually be great, I would be happy to try it out, but there are too many of this specific kind of game right now. Don’t be in the glut, make the thing that other people try to copy.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition 0.12

Tasos Lazarides has a huge list of updates to the version of Minecraft for phones and tablets:

These are just a few of the additions in this huge update, and you can see now why I said this update really changes the game up and brings mobile gamers closer to being able to play the full PC game on the go.

It’s 2015 and Mojang is still paying for the mistakes of using Java to develop Minecraft by almost just now coming up to the features of the Java version of Minecraft in this just-updated C++ Pocket Edition.

Cross-platform game development can be easy when you use the right technologies. Java is useful for prototyping. Java is not useful for shipping a truly cross-platform game in 2015. I never thought I’d say this but it feels like Microsoft might just have been the right steward for Minecraft. I’m not sure they have the balls to ditch the Java version entirely and open up a desktop version of Minecraft to modifications and tinkering in the face of whatever backlash it’ll create, but I hope that Mojang, and Microsoft, do it.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on Live

Here’s three hours of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at 720p60. I can’t believe how well MGS V has merged open-world exploration and stealth action along with X-Com style base building and each component is done better than any other similar game. Some games stagnate as sequels stack up, MGS isn’t one of them.

With every sequel Metal Gear Solid sheds its skin and becomes something new. Kojima fools us each time into thinking that this new MGS is like other sequels and to buy it in the comfort of finding something familiar. The band-aid is ripped off quicker than ever in Metal Gear Solid V, in a little more than an hour you will already be surprised and then find yourself doing similar things to what I’m doing in that video and there are still many more surprises ahead.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V launched last night on Steam and today on consoles. This is supposedly the final Metal Gear Solid game from Hideo Kojima after some discord internally at Konami who have basically done everything they can to get out of the console game business choosing instead to focus on pachinko and mobile games. The only other big game coming out of Konami after Metal Gear is soccer.

MGS V’s Windows version was to be released a few weeks after the console versions but it shipped on-time and looks great. Reviews are overall extremely positive and the PC Gamer report on the technical aspects of the Windows version is positive. The game runs very well on my machine, and the only real technical disappointment that PC Gamer failed to mention is that the companion app for tablets and phones, iDroid, will only link with the console versions of MGS V.

I stayed up until 2AM playing last night after it unlocked around 9PM Pacific. MGS 5 is just that good.

Playstation 4 OS 3.00

John Koller on the Playstation Blog has some of the improvements coming to the Playstation 4‘s operating system. In addition to YouTube’s new streaming service we’re finally getting an increase in storage space for cloud saves:

PS4 online storage capacity has increased from 1GB to 10GB for all PS Plus members. In 3.00 system software, you’ll see that we added a handy usage meter to monitor your available storage capacity, and a new Auto-Upload menu has been added to Application Saved Data Management.

The 1 gigabyte limit was ridiculously small. Microsoft has no storage limit with their cloud save service on the Xbox and while it did require a subscription for the service on Xbox 360 that requirement went away with the Xbox One.

Gamestop the Alien



Matt Matthews:

I’ll admit, watching GameStop is a spectator sport for me. Despite all the negativity directed their way, consumers continue to buy at GameStop’s stores and partake of the pre-owned product pipeline that fills the company’s coffers. Pure digital consumers (like myself) have become a significant part of the video game industry, and yet the brick-and-mortar bruiser continues to flourish.

I’m reminded of Ash’s words about the creature in Alien (1979): “I admire its purity. A survivor — unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

Satellite Reign

Satellite Reign was released last week on Steam for Linux, Mac, and Windows, it looks like everything I loved in the original Syndicate:

Satellite Reign is a real-time, class-based strategy game, set in an open-world cyberpunk city. You command a group of 4 agents through rain-soaked, neon-lit streets, where the law is the will of mega-corporations. Use your agents to sneak, shoot, steal, and sabotage your way up the corporate ladder, and take control of the most powerful monopoly of all time.

Each of your agents can be tailored toward your favoured play-style, while still maintaining their own unique specialisations. Shape your team into an offensive war machine, or an elite covert spec-ops outfit, and take the open-world city as your own.