Rundown (4/12-4/18) Controller Quibbles

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Wherein I discuss a brave new breed of controller snobbery, the Cookstar kerfuffle, REm4ke, Rockstar’s strive for quality, and continued cancellations.

Last week when I talked about the new Playstation 5 controller, the DualSense, I was fairly flippant in declaring my opinion, viewing it as yet another iterative controller. However, in doing so I failed to understand or acknowledge the significant group of people with strong preferences and opinions about game controllers. It is a subject that I have always viewed with indifference, as so long as the buttons are responsive, the sticks feel good on my thumbs, and holding it for 3+ hours does not give me hand pains, I consider any controller to be a good controller. I do naturally have preferences, though those are mostly born of my familiarity with the Xbox 360 controller, which I have used as my primary controller for the past 11 years (yes, really).

I understand that everybody has preferences, but modern controllers are so well designed and uniform in their core functionality that I cannot see why it would take most people more than a few moments to adjust to the layout and feel of a Switch Pro controller, Dualshock 4, or Xbox One controller. Even the different button placement doesn’t strike me as something that would be a massive hurdle considering how many different yet similar input devices the typical person interacts within a given day, and how adaptable humans have become when operating electronics. Then again, I’m an autistic 25-year-old who spends the bulk of her time in front of computers, so perhaps this is just something that I simply cannot understand.

Preamble aside, let’s begin with the news, which largely followed the theme of follow-up stories to things I discussed previously, because the industry can be cyclical like that.

Follow-up numero uno centers around Cooking Mama: Cookstar, a title that was mysteriously released and delisted, as I explained last week, and after letting the story sit in the stew of speculation, we finally have a formal statement from the Cooking Mama IP holders, Office Create. A statement that I will summarize for the sake of this Rundown: In 2018, Office Create granted Planet Entertainment a license to develop a Cooking Mama game for Switch, who then contracted developer First Playable Productions to work on it. The game did not meet the standards of Office Creates, who identified several deficiencies that needed to be corrected before they would approve the project for release. Planet did not see that these deficiencies were corrected, and instead released the game without approval from Office Create, who then saw to it that the game was delisted and removed from circulation while revoking Planet’s license to the Cooking Mama IP. Not that it stopped Planet from selling the game physically on its own website before all copies were seemingly sold out.

Planet Entertainment did issue a response to Office Create, which was mostly them saying that they did nothing wrong, claiming to have the rights to publish the title as is, saying that no litigation is ongoing between the two parties, and curiously wishing Office Create well. It reads like a modified press release template, does not provide details about the agreement between these parties, or answer why, if Planet is innocent for any misaction, the game is still delisted. Oh, and they naturally did not acknowledge how they announced a PS4 version of Cookstar, even though Office Create claims that they never granted Planet permission to do so. It is all a very messy situation that I’m sure will only develop and grow in the ensuing months into what could very well be one of the biggest and more bewildering kerfuffles in industry history.

Moving onto follow-up number two, Video Games Chronicle has been oddly prolific with their leaks this past month, having reported on a slew of Mario remasters, Resident Evil 8, and now they have sources claiming that Capcom has greenlit a remake of Resident Evil 4. Yes, a remake of the seminal 2005 classic is currently being headed by M-Two, the Capcom funded studio led by former PlatinumGames CEO Tatsuya Minami, who served as a co-developer on the RE3 remake. While no solid details on who exactly is doing what, and how much of the original staff is being carried over to the remake, VGC did claim that the title has received the blessing of the original director, Shinji Mikami and that the title is currently slotted for a 2022 release.

Naturally, this caused a bit of a divided stir in the community once this news broke, as Resident Evil 4 is one of the most beloved and celebrated games of its generation. Some people are excited, others think it is unnecessary, a contingent would rather see other Capcom games be remade, and the most vocal group is worried that the remake will not live up to the original due to circumstantial evidence and misinformation about who did what on the RE3 remake. Though, like all leaked stories, we lack clear or confirmed details about what this is going to be, and are operating heavily off of assumptions and predictions. Maybe it will be a direct recreation, maybe it will take a vast number of liberties. All that we can say for certain is that the original RE4 will always be there. In fact, you probably already own two or more copies of it. Hell, I own three copies of it and I don’t even like the game all that much.

Narrowing in on the next topic with follow-up Nummer drei, we need to go all the way back to 2018, when there was a notable backlash over the poor working conditions surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2. A landmark title that went on to sell millions upon millions, and was made through a toxic workaholic culture, mandated overtime, and a level of immaturity from the people running the international developer. Now, 18 months later, Jason Schreier (who left Kotaku this past week) has discussed the working climate of Rockstar with select employees, who claim the company has been making steady improvements to its working conditions and overall culture.

This has culminated in additional flexibility for developers, a greater sense of understanding from management, and a focus on working smarter through developing a reliable technological pipeline instead of mandating last-minute crunch. Hell, they even did justice by the testers, who are now true employees and receive proper 1.5X overtime. All of which has been partially punctuated through the removal of numerous managers, directors, studio heads, and even co-founder Dan Houser, from the studio, in an attempt to cleanse the culture into something more sustainable. However, employees did note that this was a slow process, and one that they hope is merely the beginning of positive tidings to come as development on the next Grand Theft Auto game progresses. A title said to launch with a more modest base game that will later be expanded through updates.

Overall, this is all great to hear. While the backlash towards Rockstar was particularly aggressive, their clout and scale very much could have granted them immunity from any long-term repercussions. They could have done nothing, yet here they are, doing something, and trying to create a better environment for their employees. I can only hope that this sets a precedent that will become commonplace throughout the upcoming generation, where the industry begins to self-regulate and treat its workers with the respect and care they deserve. If not… we can always try to fan the flames of unionization again.

However, that will have to wait, as the troubles are ongoing, things are in a state of flux, and it will continue to be so for a while. So much that Germany has rolled out an event ban effective through August 31st, meaning that the biggest gaming convention in the world, Gamescom, will not be held as a physical convention. Instead, Gamescom 2020 will be hosted digitally, which I assume means that a few conferences and showings will be broadcast. This is to be expected, it’s for the safety of everybody involved, and things will not get better without preemptive actions like this.

Header image comes from the anime series Student Councils Discretion.

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