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7:19 AM on 05.16.2013

Denis Dyack has words for Two Best Friends Play

It's no secret that former Silicon Knights president and current Precursor Games Creative Officer Denis Dyack loves his projects.  Prior to the release of Too Human, the man had a nice sabre-rattling with NeoGAF which resulted in him being banned from the forum.  A brave man for taking on the vastness of the Internet by himself to be sure, and it seems he still has a sore spot when it comes to pre-emptive criticism.

Two Best Friends Play, the duo of AMERICANS who routinely regale YouTube with their humorous game-playing premise, have become quite active in the gaming community since their inception two years ago.  In particular, they have become vocally supportive of various crowdfunded projects, such as DiveKickKaiju Combat, and Shovel Knight.

Once the news of Shadows of the Eternals came down, the Best Friends were pestered into a statement on the game.  After all, they were just fresh off a playthrough of the game's spiritual precursor: Eternal Darkness.  Who wouldn't want more of that?

Apparently, Pat of Two Best Friends wouldn't.  Or at least, he offered words of caution for his fans on their Facebook page:

"Shadow of the Eternals is the new crowdfunding initiative by the remains of Silicon Knights, Dyack included, to make what is basically Eternal Darkness 2. They are asking for money, straight up, on their website. They do not have to hit their goal. They can merely say they will make do with the money donated, and take it, and go make whatever. In addition, they are merely taking raw donations on their website, not even going through something like IndieGoGo, which has rules about how to present your product.

Dennis Dyack and Silicon Knights are people who took Too Human and delayed it for years all the way from a PS1 game into a shitty 360 one. They're the ones who are alleged to have embezzled money from Activision in the process of making X-men Destiny in order to fund the Eternal Darkness 2 demo they are showing off to try and get donations. A crew of people that had to have Nintendo come on board and clean up parts of ED1 during development because they were running it too sloppy. Not to mention what a jackass Dyack has been over the years

They're running the donation drive on the assumption that donations will built episode 1 of 12, and that 1 will clearly do well enough to support development for the remainder, some of which are promised via pledges.

I wouldn't trust them with a dime of my money. They're unreliable at best and outright crooks at worst. My opinions are my own (hell, Liam and I got into a huge argument over this, he thinks I'm paranoid as shit), but considering how many people are posting about how excited they are for this, I felt I should put it out there. You should think twice before giving them a single dollar, and if you have, seriously think about trying to get it back. 

I'm aware there's a lot of love for Eternal Darkness, and it's pretty good, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't use your head."

Now unfortunately, this statement was made at almost the exact time the actual Kickstarter for the project went public.  Regrettable, leaving egg on the face of the Best Friends, but what's surprising is that Denis Dyack himself personally had some words for Pat:

"I think the best way to address your comments is with facts to clear up any confusion you may have on what is happening here:

You say "They are asking for money, straight up, on their website. They do not have to hit their goal. They can merely say they will make do with the money donated, and take it, and go make whatever. In addition, they are merely taking raw donations on their website, not even going through something like IndieGoGo, which has rules about how to present your product.”

We announced a kickstarter yesterday. As stated in our terms of service and our Paul’s CEO latest press release:

"Our community’s involvement has gone well beyond our expectations, with over one thousand pledgers joining our Community Forums to discuss the game and its development,” stated Shawn Jackson, COO of Precursor Games. “We are seeking to raise $1.35 million dollars on Kickstarter. By combining this goal with the tremendous contributions already on our own website, Precursor Games will be able to provide an opportunity for gamers to create games that they want to play.”
“Some people may ask what happens to the pledges on our site if the Kickstarter does not move forward, and the answer is simple: We will issue refunds on our site if the project does not reach its goal on Kickstarter,” said Paul Caporicci. He also emphasized that both campaigns will run in parallel with the same reward tiers.”
I am sorry you did not like some of my past efforts. I always did try to do the best I could - many mistakes were made - I acknowledge that. I can assure that I have learned from my previous experiences. I know there is more to cover here and I will be addressing other issues in the future. I think it is important to get the facts straight on the crowdfunding campaign before moving on to the other issues.

Precursor Games has nothing to do with any of that past and was built from the ground up to interact with the community and digital distribution. We are looking toward to future and hope that others can see the potential of what we are doing. 

I hope this helps.
Denis Dyack"

Pat followed up this response with a rebuttal of his own:

"Mr Dyack, I'm glad you saw my post, but I do have to make a few things clear. I do not want your donation drive for a new game to fail, and I certainly wish you no ill will personally. Far from it. However, Matt, Woolie and I have very publicly pushed for several kickstarters in the past, and seeing the huge amount of people asking us for our thoughts on your new project is what prompted this post.

In addition, I felt pretty stupid when I found out when I had made the post, you folks had in fact started a kickstarter a day earlier. I made a comment mentioning such in the comments below the original post.

I'm certain you're all very talented and nice folks. I also feel very likely that you have the best of intentions with this project. That being said, you cannot possibly honestly say that -

"Precursor Games has nothing to do with any of that past" when on the kickstarter page you clearly list the following as one of the very first selling points in your pitch-

"Shadow of the Eternals is a psychological horror game made by the creators of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Reqiuem,"

If it had nothing to do with any of that past, there wouldn't be so much overlap between companies, and that's more or less where the issue lies. Unfortunately, the way that the public has received news about you and your former companies projects in the past has been poor, to say the least. The entire system of pledges for a product is built on trust in those making said product, and trust in you folks is quite low, as you have a long history of incredible delays, under-delivering and most recently engaging in a disastrous lawsuit that utterly destroyed the company.

Hell, I still remember your personal involvement in the nonsense of "Owned by Too Human" back on Neogaf. I certainly don't think you're a bad guy Mr Dyack, but for an undertaking such as this, credibility is by far your most valuable commodity, and both yourself personally as well as anyone involved with the history of Silicon Knights has very little at this point.

I'm sorry if my post had seemed like a personal attack, or was seen as a desire for you or your project to fail, but I have a responsibility to the people who come to this page and watch our videos to avoid misleading them into the "give everybody your money it'll be fine" fantasy that many have fallen into with this kickstarter phenomenon, even passively, even by not saying anything at all. I felt it was my responsibility to warn folks of what I believe to be real dangers. 

So, once again, I wish you the best Mr Dyack, and I hope you and your team have success in both this and your future endeavours. I will gladly purchase your game on release, should you get there."

It seems the pain of past burns simmers gently beneath this exchange, despite the professionalism exhibited by both sides.  We'll see how this develops as the Shadows of the Eternals project moves forward.

You can see the entire exchange for yourself on the Two Best Friends Play Facebook page.   read

9:00 AM on 03.25.2013

PAX East 2013: The Days of Cosplay and Roses

It's that time again!

To floss?

To make fun of the Disney Channel?

Nooo, it's time for my PAX Cosplay Roundup thingy! Enjoy!

Yup, pretty sure that's Rana MacAnear doing her thing.

And lastly, myself with famous cosplayer Vampy Bit Me:

Another awesome PAX. Can't wait to see everyone again in Seattle!   read

3:37 PM on 09.05.2012

PAX Prime 2012: Cosplay! It's what's for dinner!

Pretty pictures? Sir? Madam? Pretty pictures? Special deal, today only!

As another PAX has come and gone, another big pile of pictures has found its way into my camera. Heck, I don't even know who all these guys are, but enjoy!

And as a finale, here's my ugly face on the left.


9:29 AM on 09.04.2012

PAX Prime 2012 - Community Photos!

Can Cyric take so many pictures that even he can't fit them all in one blog post? :O

As the fantastic Nihil gave me his Friday and Sunday passes, I had the honor of adopting his avatar for this show, so expect him to show up where you least expect! Expect!

First, Dtoid goes Over the Top! Starring Sylvester Stallone!

It feels like sex on my head! :D

A little bit of panel love:

And Nihil in various states of molestation:


7:19 PM on 10.17.2011

NYCC 2011: Cosplay-a-Go-Go, Baby!

Ah, you know the drill. Enjoy, dearies.

Any questions about who or what or... why? Leave a comment. :-P   read

4:26 PM on 09.05.2011

Labor Day: Walkthrough of Lordly Caliber

For some people, the topic of "which game required the most work" will be easy as remembering their latest time sink. For others, this may be a reach deep into the past back when they had the time to deeply plumb the recesses of video games before they got a life/job/family.

Although it's the latter case for me, I'm fortunate in that I have well-documented evidence of all the work I put into the games I love (shameless plug), and it's simply a quick read for me to remember the greatest time sink of them all.

The year was 2000. The fifth hardware generation was winding down as Sony prepped its next big thing to take more of the market from Nintendo. Microsoft's first entry into the market was just announced and Sega was still attempting its best to be relevant. Also, most of you lot were still in elementary school.

Also, every computer in the world died.

As for me, the world of the university opened up before me. I was in my second year, no longer a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman. No, the world was now truly my oyster, and there were a metric ton of experiences waiting for me to de-bushify my tail. So, being the intrepid youth I was, I spent the majority of my newfound freedom on the Internet and playing video games shut up in my room in the dark.

It was on that same Internet that I ultimately discovered the community of GameFAQs. I hardly need to introduce such a site to the readers of Destructoid, many of whom I'm sure have spent plenty of time on the site, if for nothing else than perusing the brobdignagian archive of FAQs and walkthroughs.

Of course, we all have our opinions about the community these days, but this was 2000 GameFAQs, back when the community numbered in the mere thousands, assclowns were the exception rather than the rule, and site creator Jeff Veasey was still young and actively involved in discussions, rather than the Howard Hughes-like recluse he is today.

Last known photograph

It was here that the bug of writing truly bit me. I realized that I too could copy down all the strategies on beating video games into a text file, thereby saving gamers tens, maybe twenties of dollars in strategy guide purchases. My e-wang would swell and gorge, and I'd truly find my place in life.

Oh, my naiveté.

Unlike some other writers, I had a vow to encapsulate within my guides everything you may ever want to know about a game. It was only after I began that I realized that everything is a lot of things.

My first project was one Rare masterpiece entitled Perfect Dark. Certainly a fair amount of time was spent pulling together the myriad threads of a game so big it required the N64 Expansion Pak to play properly, but help came from varied sources as strategies and the like popped up on the forums, so I can hardly take full credit for that guide's size.

No, the true glut of lost nights and urine-saving came from the development of the appropriately-named Quest Corporation, and via the publishing of a young and still hot-blooded group of nobodies known as Atlus USA.

Yes, that Atlus, some time before I begged to have their Jack Frost babies

The Ogre series will likely never rise out of niche-dom. Hell, it's barely in the same class as Shin Megami Tensei. Still, niches are meant to be filled, and this series had, and still has, its fans.

Most people knew the series only tangentially once Square consumed Quest and Final Fantasy Tactics games started squirting out. The gameplay from that series was a concept begun by Quest in the Ogre series. Still, that was Tactics Ogre, and the true Ogre Battle fan (note: remove preceding pretentiousness later) is only interested in the main real-time strategy portion of the series.

Also known as "screw those grids"

It was in Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber that the series shone. Of course, much of that shining could be attributed to the fact that the game was really the N64's only good RPG, but shining is still shiny nonetheless, and my RPG-starved bones feasted ravenously on this offering.

It was early into the game that I decided that, yes, I truly needed to make a guide of this game, if for no other reason than to have a place to chronicle all my thoughts and ideas regarding ways to best condition my troops, place my units, and liberate the kingdom of Palatinus.

It has been said that the despairing wail of my parents' hard-earned tuition payments could be heard that day.

Unheard over the vicious shrieks of freaking Hydras

It would be three months and two complete playthroughs of the game before I could consider my guide anything close to complete. Three months of plugging away at documenting every item, every unit, every character, every battle. Let's not forget that these are college months. This wasn't like an hour a night because I have school or work. These are long "whenever I'm not in class" hours. Stopping every few minutes into a mission because I had to document something meant a half-hour mission turned into two hours.

Such was my labor of love. When those three months were up and the guide was "complete", I still tinkered away at it here and there over the next year or so trying to refine it. In the end, I moved on to other projects that struck me, as I suddenly remembered that there were other video games out there.

All that said, do you know what the worst part about all of this is?


I'm still not satisfied with the end result. My writing was atrocious back in those days, for one thing. My organizing left something to be desired. Also, I didn't really document any good general strategies for making a proper battalion. I mostly just stuck to mission-specific strategies.

This is where I note that, eleven years later, I'm still working on the damn thing. Oh, I have a job and a life now (allegedly), so no more seven hour sessions with the game, but with the game now available on the Virtual Console, it's easier than ever to boot it up and spend some time with Magnus Gallant and his ragtag band of misfits.

I'm still not ready to present what I've been working on all this time, as it's going to require at least one more playthrough to round it all out, but who knows what the next dry spell of games will bring?

One more mission. I can do one more mission, right?   read

9:39 AM on 08.30.2011

PAX Prime 2011: All mah photos!

WARNING. This is kinda huge.

Ah, the good life. Strolling around in a costume trying to balance picture taking with getting your picture taken.

If anyone wants me to ID any of these, just comment and I'll edit as such.

But enough about me. Straight to the action!

First up, the booths and miscellany

Booth babe at booth.




Man, duh.

And some feel good community photos

Just for a thought, I came to Seattle with 2 StreetPasses.

And lastly, I'm sorry guys, but it's just business.

Ashly Burch, assassinorted.   read

1:57 PM on 08.20.2011

Silent Hill HD Collection: How not to do a preview

Or, "How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Not Blame the Voice Actors".

It goes without saying that previews are important in today's cutthroat game industry. Previews are designed for the fans to get excited about the game. These fans excitedly tell their friends about how awesome the game looks. These friends tell their friends about the sick gameplay, and so on down the line. In the end, the hype is generated and you have a nice bunch of people lined up ready to purchase.

The trick is getting the word out, effectively. A good preview will have people foaming at the mouth and ready to simply throw their money at the company developing it. If you don't put out any previews at all, you can easily get lost in the shuffle, no matter how good you are.

Wonderful story. Varied gameplay. Vibrant world. Budget title in the space of a month.

Then there's the third option: completely whizzing it down your leg. Hey, any publicity is good publicity, right? Well, maybe, but don't forget gamers are vocal, vocal people, and they stick together. Once your "fail" is apparent, it will not be forgotten easily.

So, we have a developer. Let's call them "Konami". They have a long-lasting, much-beloved series. A series which has earned them legitimacy amongst their peers. This series is known for its mature themes, its unique approach to psychological horror, and its dark, moody, depressing atmosphere. This is a series that produced some real gems in its infancy, but lately, it seems that the steam has been running out. A misstep here. An ambiguity there. And suddenly, it seems that the future of the series is a little rocky.

But the teat cannot be considered completely dry just yet, can it? Weren't the early Silent Hills some of the most renowned games of their generation? The answer, of course, is simple. Remake the best of the series and release to a whole new generation of gamers to bask in and enjoy. Of course, we don't exactly have the budget for a full remake, but it was just last generation, right? No need to go hog wild on massive upgrading costs. Let's just upgrade the graphics to HD and it should be sufficient. Oh, and crap, we owe residuals to that guy who did James. Let's recast the voices.

And now we reach the crux of the subject:

That's right. Take a good long look. Taste it all.

So, the problem is obvious, right? Konami, in their infinite greediness and lack of respect for the old actors, got a few bums off the street, handed them a mic, and presto. Franchise suicide.

Or is it really that simple?

Well, let's put aside two things for this article. One: whether the remake should have been done in the first place. That's a discussion on the concept of remakes as a whole and what they mean for all of us. Really, that's a whole other article. Two: whether the voices should have been recast. The decision has obviously been made on that one. I imagine the initial idea was to keep it on the down-low, but former James actor Guy Cihi saw to it that everyone would know about this from the get-go. When his rather angry tweet came down that he would not be reprising his role, the cat was out of the bag and all of Konami's money issues came rushing out of the damn as if the Otherworld had taken them over.

So, with all that having happened in the past, let's take a look at this preview as it stands alone in the present and see where the problems are. I spot three big ones.

#1: The overall tone of the preview: Placation

Remember earlier in the year when Congressman Anthony Weiner was outed for his practices of suggestively tweeting younger women? Remember at the close of it all when, instead of immediately sinking into obscurity, he tried to placate the masses with a heartfelt speech regarding his departure from Congress and his desire to seek rehabilitation? Remember how we all forgave him and wished him well in his endeavors?

Not pictured: Nobody buying it.

The point is that the entire tone of this preview is basically saying, "It's not as bad you think it is." When you go out of the gate admitting there's a concern, you've already put yourself in a bad position: beneath the crushing press of those who believe you're talking out of your ass. In the case of this game, now viewers think the problem may be even worse because the developers themselves have taken the time to address it publicly and have given credence to even the most loony of critics.

It's another step worse in this case because they've even given us a talking head (more on him in a second) directly addressing the issue. It's one thing when you respond to the concern, but if you're going to have one of the members of the dev team live and speaking directly about the problem, the problem becomes all more real.

#2: Senior Associate Producer: Tomm Hulett

Putting aside the mystery of why Mr. Hulett felt the need to personally address viewers, let's talk about his performance in this preview, specifically. He seems a bit off. Nervous perhaps. Stumbling over his lines with awkward delivery. But it doesn't matter that much, right? I mean, he's not an actor, so he doesn't have to sound like Patrick Stewart if the important part is the game footage that follows, right?

Unfortunately, any public speaking professor will tell you that that's just not true. The idea of an opening address is to get your audience's attention as well as set the mood for everything that's to follow. In this case, putting across a lack of confidence will only instill that feeling into your audience as they continue to watch what you've put together.

Oh, and one more important thing. This is a preview about acting. When the first "actor" is the worst performance of them all, everyone else who follows will be brought down by it, even if they're Shakespearean in training.

#3: The actual watered-down presentation

It may seem as if I've been dancing around what everyone feels is the real issue here, that horrible series of cutscene vignettes with the new audio layered over it. Honestly, I'm not going to defend this presentation. It's horrible. It looks horrible. It sounds horrible. The question is: why?

The easy target is the actors. Obviously, that's what has changed from the original, so that must be the cause, right? Oh, if only the process were that simple. Sound in video games (and in any media) is a vastly complex process that the actors are only a small part of.

Let me state the bottom line from the beginning here: this is not finalized audio. Listen to it again. There's no echo. There's no mixing, no layering, none of all that other sound-related jargon that I can't think of at the moment (Fuzzying? Graining?) Heck, not even the background music has been inserted. It sounds like the voices are coming from a studio recording, and that's exactly what it is. The makers of this preview have taken recordings straight from the studio, plopped them onto the corresponding video, and called it a day.

This is obviously the greatest sin of this preview. In an effort to show that the voices will be nothing to worry about, they have done the exact opposite. They've taken their foundations and passed it off as a completed structure. They've given us a sandwich with nothing but bread.

And it's a shame, too, because, as Mr. Hulett stated, the ADR director for this project is Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who has been directing for more than a decade and acting for even longer. I couldn't begin to list her many roles in acting, but I will mention she did the ADR direction on Cowboy Bebop and even the recent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. In short, she's a damn professional, and the makers of this preview treating her work like this is a travesty.

So, here we are. A proper cow flop of a preview with the blame completely misaimed. Still, I refuse to have this entire article be doom and gloom, so perhaps I could offer some fan-based advice as to how this all could have been averted, and I mean besides the obvious of "submit finalized audio". I realize that hindsight is 20/20, but bear with me, because I think this could help in the future.

If possible, make light of the situation.

Also known as the "Diablo 3" maneuver. I'm sure we all remember the big hooplah surrounding Diablo 3 accused of "being too colorful", and Blizzard's perfectly apt response. Not only does Blizzard get points for being self-deprecating, but it makes the complainers look like whiners and tools.

Blizzard to whiners: Suck on our pink.

When I saw Jim Sterling's response to the preview, I thought it was, to be kind, somewhat lacking in professionalism (sorry, Jim, can't win 'em all). The crazy thing is that if I saw it coming from the developers themselves, it would come across as cutting and self-aware. If Mr. Hulett had taken a few hours out of his day to "herp" and "derp" over the video, and yet introduced it straight faced, he would have had biting satire, and a chance at a much better response than what we have here.

If making light isn't possible, try to sweep it under the rug to bring up later.

This seems a bit underhanded, but from a business standpoint, sometimes pretending there isn't a problem is a decent method to getting people to forget about it, especially considering the title in this case is still months away. Make your trailer introducing the acting some ways down the line and don't make the entire trailer about it. Just make sure you finish it. There is a risk taken here, though, because gamers have rather long memories.

Just don't placate.

Have actors introduce acting. Heck, introduce them, period.

Here's a fine example of actors being the ones to tell you about their experiences recording, and in this preview's case, it may have beehooved them to call up Ms. McGlynn and have her introduce it. She's beautiful, speaks well, and is quite charming. Also, since she's actually connected to the process, she can explain what you're about to see better than a producer.

I could be convinced turning James into a howler monkey is a good idea if it came from that voice.

To the second point, tell us who the actors are and maybe we'll feel even a tiny bit better about the production. Voice acting has become a big business since games went to CD, and in the last decade, a large stable of names have assembled that are synonymous with talent. To put it another way, they didn't identify any of the actors in that preview, yet from hearing them so many times, I was able to pick out Ms. McGlynn herself as Mary and Maria, and I'm pretty sure that's Troy Baker as James. Obviously, both very talented people, and worth the name recognition.

Remember why people love your game/series, and play to that, instead of focusing on minutiae.

This is the overriding bit of advice from this experience, and honestly, it seems like Konami's missing the boat on this one where Silent Hill is concerned, especially if the new game's announcement is to be taken seriously. Gamers have said time and again why they like Silent Hill: the story, the atmosphere, the overall feeling of loneliness, despair, and personal fear. It's not the combat, or the quality of the graphics, and it's certainly not the voice acting.

Consider the performances you got with the original cast of Silent Hill 2. That game is still being held as the best of the series despite nearly being the one with the worst voice acting (Silent Hill 1 being the reigning king of that).

Also, consider something you can't change: the visual models. They're as big of a mess as they were from the original release with overstated gestures, smiles that look more creepy than sexy, and, just... Eddie.

Geez, with that face, how could James NOT fall for her?

Acting is a combination of both the visual and audio presentation, and quite frankly, I can't imagine even the best performance looks good next to those visuals. So, if you're going to introduce the voice acting, maybe you shouldn't even be showing the visuals. Just give us audio over
production stills, or something to that effect.

So, another day in the saga of the Silent Hill series closes with them digging themselves further into a trench, and the worst part is that this could have all been avoided. I hate to be the guy to say it, because it does sound kind of entitled, but it's really worth it to remember your fans, and why they got into this. That's the best way to keep them, and it gives them credibility as they try to talk up your greatest accomplishments to a new generation.

Heck, even just throwing them a bone with something they always liked may be enough.

On second thought, never mind. You don't seem to be any good at that, either.   read

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