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Forums - Sony Discussion - Creative freedom, bravery, and risk in games development/publishing

That The Last of Us 2's biggest controversies were of """forced diversity""" (which is at best a value that the developers have always represented in the series, in the foreground since "Left Behind", and in the background since the original game) and a protagonist swap that people didn't like (something that was done in popular games back in 2001 and 2004) shows how little innovation or risk was actually taken by the game.

If anything, these controversies showcase how stupid a portion of the original fanbase was. Which isn't too particularly surprising with how much people put a thumb up their ass over a fairly barebones - if well executed - story. 

And yea, I guess that casting as wide a net as possible only to alienate a portion later on with a sequel is somewhat "risky", but only in the sense that the original was so safe to begin with. 



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IcaroRibeiro said:
Mnementh said:

I have to say, I disagree with you on this one. Sony is in my opinion the least innovative they have been since entering console gaming. Just let me add: I don't think games like TLOU2 or Ghost of Tsushima are bad games, on the contrary. But they are games based on safe formulas.

Sony has the PSVR, it's along with the Switch the most innovative thing in console gaming last decade, but Switch is just hardware while PSVR is both hardware and new software experiences.

However I think PSVR still far too expensive to be a mass market product, plus their games needs to be designed exclusively for it, making very hard to create AAA games for such niche market, that's why I can't see VR gaming gaining much traction. Innovation per se isn't exactly something to be celebrated if don't make it accessible, at least in entertainment industry

I can't say much to VR gaming, not having tried it myself. As far as I understand, that also wasn't the point of the OP. It is quite possible, that Sony puts more innovation in the VR space. As far as I read, people saw a lot of innovation in Half-life Alyx using thee tech in interesting ways. So yeah, my post isn't including VR as I cannot sayy anything about it and it is possible that this is indeed a place for more creativity.



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Azzanation said:
IcaroRibeiro said:

Sony has the PSVR, it's along with the Switch the most innovative thing in console gaming last decade, but Switch is just hardware while PSVR is both hardware and new software experiences.

However I think PSVR still far too expensive to be a mass market product, plus their games needs to be designed exclusively for it, making very hard to create AAA games for such niche market, that's why I can't see VR gaming gaining much traction. Innovation per se isn't exactly something to be celebrated if don't make it accessible, at least in entertainment industry

What about Kinect that MS released the last two gens? I find Kinect more innovating than VR interms of risk and tech. I dont see anyone patting MS on the back for those risks.

I really enjoy my VR Quest 2, games like Half Life Alyx blew me away. However VR, like Kinect are expensive accessories that have to be brought separately. The reason the Wii motion was ao successful was they were bundled with the console at launch, pushing devs to utilise it. MS tried bundling Kinect 2 and failed and Sony has yet to Bundle VR. They are the true risks taken.

I forgot Kinect was released in 2010, the bias of last generation made me forgot early in the 10's we had another Gen. Kinect was indeed great, it's unfortunate it never got many market space. I used kinetic technology in a academic project for a computer vision, and it worked nicely, but if my only use for the technology was a non gaming project... well we can see why it never attracted many devs. Kinect falls in the same problem as VR, it's a more niche market (by the time only Kinect users from 360 + early adopters of One)

If you design mechanics exclusively for those customers you would be alienating every other consumer, not a issue for first parties, but I doubt it's equally attractive for third parties

And I agree this is the exact problem with both Kinect and PSVR, while Wii succeed. But not even Nintendo is willing to create a console with a high focus on motion controls anymore, mass appeal trumps innovation every day in business and this time I can't really blame anybody, if you want something newer and exclusive you will need to pay the premium price



Leynos said:
IcaroRibeiro said:

Never heard of any of them. Which console used either?

Welcome to the 1990s

These were used in VR Cafes. Yes VR Cafes.

SEGA and Atari had some attempts in the 90s. "but VR now is better" yes and and a PS5 is more powerful than a Genesis, So?

Interesting, I was a late 90's baby, so never got into VR arcades before. I've played though some10-minutes shooting VR games on arcades, so I was aware of their existence. Some 8 to 9 years algo I played them again (this time closer to what modern gaming looks like), but it was  in a event about VR/XR. PSVR was my first touch in a home-based VR technology used for gaming 

In this case I will refrain the creativity and innovative side and call PSVR (as a piece of technology) only bold, quirky and distinct in current market space, but serves the same purpose. It provides a non standard experience compared to other gaming mediums when it comes to gameplay even for the most standard genres let's say platformers for instance. Even if the technology is old, innovation on software side persists



AAAAAAHHH, there it is! Thanks so much for the help!

JWeinCom said:

I don't think my response was hysterical.

As for Returnal...

1. Yes, and there are plenty of niche games. Like I brought up, Octopath Traveler. Not a whole lot of classic JRPGs like that, even among indie games.

2. Yes, but still there are plenty of new IPS, and a fair number of them are successful. It is more risky than using an established franchise, but it's simply not something that's so rare that doing it should elicit gasps of awe.

3. No... because your argument was about risk. Just because male games tend to sell better does not mean that any time you make a game with a female character you are taking a risk. It simply means you are not using the most common path to success, and there are reasons for doing so beyond simply taking a risk. We'll stick with Octopath Traveler. For every old school sprite based JRPG there are at least 5 shooting games that will sell more copies. Does that mean any this was a brave risk that demonstrates how much Nintendo values developer freedom?

4. 

I just gave a few recent examples. I'm sorry, I didn't know I was supposed to list every one. But... Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, The Endless,

Spoiler!
Astro Boy and the Omega Factor

, Majora's Mask,

Spoiler!
Bravely Default

, Christmas Everyday, Happy Death Day,

Spoiler!

Spoiler!
Hickman's House of X and Powers of X

, Xena Warrior Princess,

Spoiler!
The Good Place

, Buffy the Vampire.

Time loops are not a new idea in fiction. Kind of based off Nietzche's idea of eternal recurrence. Those are the pieces of media I've seen that invoke the idea of time loops in a pretty direct way. There are others that sort of do but not as directly (Naruto, Harry Potter, South Park, and Mass Effect or Dr. Strange for instance). I'm sure there are many other examples I didn't name (I'd be shocked if there isn't a Star Trek or Simposon's episode of that). https://www.imdb.com/list/ls069145438/ I'm sure it might add some other quirk (not watching the video cause I may buy it), but the timeloop aspect is the main one they've advertised to potential buyers, so (unless there is something so divisive in the story that it would turn people off when word of mouth spread) that's the part that would be relevant to how risky the game is.

More importantly though, even if all of these examples of time loops in media didn't exist, so what? Why would this make it risky as a narrative element? Are there people that are just would hate the concept and would not buy the game because it has time loops (even though as demonstrated it's actually pretty popular in narrative ways). The fact that others have not done this exact story in this exact way doesn't mean it's exceptionally risky. More broadly, doing things that are not the norm is not inherently brave or risky.

As for your assessment of my personality and motivation, you can keep those to yourself. If the argument is flawed, explained why it's flawed. I am addressing your arguments and not making any statements about you, and expect the same in return.

5. I guess charging full price for games is brave and risky now...

Really the argument boils down to the fact that this is a new IP and a style of game that is popular in indie gaming but hasn't been tested in the AAA space. And sure that's a lot riskier than GTA VI will be, but to me it's not so exceptionally rare that it is noteworthy or it says something significant about a publisher willing to publish it.

Which leads me again to the point that you're claiming I don't have. My point is that you have given no intelligible way to identify what counts as risky. Without that, you cannot support your claim that Sony is particularly noteworthy in their commitment to risk, bravery, and freedom, and no real discussion can be had.

So, can you explain how we tell when a game is brave and free? If so, how did you determine that Sony produces more of these types of games than other developers?

K, gonna run through the Returnal items one last time in the hopes of a breakthrough, otherwise I give up:

1. While I KINDA get what you're saying about Octopath Traveler, yes, I also just...I dunno, there's a very clear difference of overall intention there in the case of Octopath Traveler, in my opinion. I mean you know me: my favorite Nintendo game for the Switch so far is Cadence of Hyrule, so of course I was one of those people instinctively drawn to Octopath Traveler too, in no small part precisely because here was a first-party console game in the modern era that's a CLASSIC-looking Japanese-style RPG and I've liked a lot of those! And yeah, the fact that it's the classic vantage point and battle systems and everything and not modern 3D, more action-focused material and all that is prolly unfortunately a lot of the reason for the fact that the market for it hasn't been, you know, 8 or 10 million people or more, it's fair enough to say, and, at a conceptual level, I think Nintendo does deserve some credit for their willingness to support such a project. Fair enough!

That said though, when I actually sat down and played Octopath Traveler...it just felt like such a half-hearted effort, you know? The story...the character arcs...much of it just felt kinda thrown together and that's the worst quality in a game to me. I expect more from a brand like Square Enix. Octopath Traveler clearly wasn't a passion project and it also didn't fail relative to expectations. At the end of the day, Octopath Traveler is a first-party game with an entrenched, major developer that was kinda thrown together and reliant on the familiarity and reputation of the Square Enix brand more than its own merits for success and achieved some success largely on that basis. Returnal to me feels more like an indie passion project overall that actually got the resources needed to be optimally realized but that just didn't work out commercially. It was made by this former indie developer and would've been an indie game like nearly all other roguelikes are if not for the resources provided by Sony. That's what I would say is the difference.

2. You're missing my point. You're taking individual elements I was highlighting totally separately from one-another. No, any one of these elements I'm highlighting is not that radical by itself, but when you put them all together, they kind of add up to something fairly daring. At least I think so anyway.

3. How did we get from a discussion of representation back to Octopath Traveler? I don't even understand your argument here. I pointed out that games narratively centering women fare worse overall commercially in a male-dominated market, to which you're like "Yeah, so? Just because they sell worse doesn't mean they might sell worse. Octopath Traveler!" To paraphrase.

4. Okay, when we're citing Majora's Mask and the movie Groundhog Day as comparisons, it's very clear that there's more miscommunication going on here. When I'm talking about the story structure and themes at work here, I'm not talking about the game's genre (that was discussed back in point 1), I'm talking about...its story structure and themes, not the death loop style of game play. Separate thing. I guess it does help to play the game to grasp what I'm talking about here, but you could get a basic idea from many video reviews, or just from the story overview I linked you to. Thematically, the game is narratively about navigating a particular form that trauma takes and its metaphors for that are absolutely brilliant. In terms of narrative structure, it's like a big puzzle that you have to piece together and may not get all of even after completing multiple playthroughs. Players still often disagree about what characters are being shown in certain key scenes and which characters they are makes a huge difference in terms of what message one draws from said scene and it seems to be that way intentionally.  Subjectivity distributed in just the right places to really make you think, even after you've completed multiple playthroughs. Well, I think it's pretty cool anyway!

(And anyway, even if I had been talking about the game's genre again here in point 4, it still would say something that your case is built on movies and TV shows for some reason and on games for old handheld systems and home console titles that are more than two decades old. My point back in point 1 about Returnal's genre choice being a rare one in the AAA landscape absolutely stands!)

5. I have done nothing but complain about the unexpectedly high pricing of this game. Maybe it's just that I'm still not used to paying $70 for any games, let alone for material like this, but I was taken aback by the price tag as much as most professional reviewers were, frankly, in much the same way that I was likewise taken about by the $60 price tag that's been attached to the 2D Metroid Dread. The material in question begets certain pricing expectations. $70 for a game like this seems excessive and greedy to me and I'm pretty sure was a major factor in Returnal's commercial failure. I'm NOT defending Sony on this point and I don't get why you're acting as though I am.

As to the rest, look I'm trying to objectively describe things that are, at the end of the day, a little relative and subjective by nature, like what the intention of content creators is and whether those intentions feel sincere to me as a player. I'm doing my best, okay? I think I've made my case for why Sony was indeed taking a real chance on Returnal as an example. I've authored God knows how many posts explaining at great length what I find unique and special about The Last of Us Part II that makes it much more than just another sequel by an established developer and publisher and have spoken some on what I see as the very distinctive merits, and relevance, of Death Stranding as well in the past. I don't know what else you want from me.

It was also not my intention to suggest that Nintendo NEVER works to appeal outside of their fan base or that they NEVER take real creative risks on the actual software side of the equation or what have you. People have really gotten hung up on the overall brand difference I sought to describe in one paragraph of the OP to the neglect of my main point about hoping that Sony will continue to support more games that are as bold as Returnal (or Death Stranding, or TLOU2) in what they seek to bring into the AAA landscape in the wake of these more radical games yielding only so much profit compared to somewhat more conventional open world type investments like Ghost of Tsushima and the Spider-Man games. The Nintendo comparison was an aside that I drew on only to help get that point across. Matter-of-factly, it should be self-evident (<--<--) that I don't dislike Nintendo as an institution.

Last edited by Jaicee - on 27 June 2021

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Move cursor into the quote at the beginning and press up. This way your cursor is above the quote and you can start typing.

Jaicee said:

First and foremost, I have a technical question: How did you do that with getting the quote box to appear in the middle of your post rather than defaulting to the top where you can't type above it? That could be very useful knowledge to have in the future if I wish to like quote from a news article sometime without having to use the spoiler boxes that hide the text unless you click on them.

See above.

Jaicee said:

Secondly, well obviously I'm a hardcore gamer or else I probably would be here on a dedicated forum about video games.

Yeah, it was kind of a joke. Also a lot of your OP boils down to (at least how I read it): "I liked TLOU2 but others didn't - what is wrong with you?" That is so much a hardcore gamer thing to do. Let it go.

Jaicee said:

But it's also totally disingenuous to characterize games like The Last of Us Part II as a "safer" to make than these examples. You know what I'm getting at. Games like that don't just generate passive dismissal from core gamers or something like how many casual games are treated, they face active rage, up to and include death threats against the creators. Wii Sports never got that reaction, I guarantee you.

I get that a lot of the backlash against TLOU2 is about absolutely stupid stuff, but it is like it is. But for others the reasons to dislike TLOU2 are similar to the backlash to Metroid Other M. The game decided to characterize important characters in new ways, and it didn't sit well with everyone. But that doesn't mean these directions were bold or brave and creative. Probably the devs were caught by surprise.There is a lot of that. Mass Effect 3 ending, Windwakers visual style and so on. That happens. In other cases it works, God of War for example. But overall these things aren't a result to creativity. Basically you have to make some choices, if you progress a series to new hardware and changed societies. I don't see bold creative choices in TLOU2, just an adaption to the zeitgeist. That for some fans of the series felt off and some are actively fighting against the new zeitgeist and opposed it for that reason.

TLOU2 was a creatively safe game, as it used well-tested gameplay, pushed visuals according to the general direction of the industry and adapted plot and characters according to the mainstream zeitgeist. That indeed is safe. That isn't changed by some very vocal people throwing tantrums online. If society is split over some issues you will piss off one or another either way. And again: I don't think TLOU2 being a bad game. But I just don't see the creative bravery in it. And that was the main claim in the OP.

Jaicee said:

You have also followed many of my threads and know full well that honestly, in general, indies like Untitled Goose Game and Return of the Obra Dinn and Butterfly Soup and What Remains of Edith Finch and Spiritfarer and Hades and Undertale and There Is No Game and so on usually do tend to be my favorites. I don't know why you seem to feel that the existence, creativity, sincerity, and overall excellence of these games, however, should preclude me from also appreciate that of Naughty Dog's titles just because they fall into the AAA landscape. TLOU2 is one of the most audacious games ever made for only a million different self-evident reasons that we've discussed at-length on this forum innumerable times (typically with the conclusion of the thread getting closed) and you know it. It's just ridiculous and highly dishonest to suggest otherwise.

I know and I gave these examples to remind you of how creativity looks like. And no, obviously the creative bravery of TLOU isn't as self-evident as you think. I think it is a creatively safe but well made game, that just had some ill luck with some very vocal groups.

Jaicee said:

I feel that many of Sony's modern titles have a depth to them that the sorts of older titles you mentioned liking better from them didn't and that's certainly part of the appeal to me. I enjoyed Parappa the Rapper and Katamari Damacy as much as the next person, but it doesn't preclude me from also appreciating Returnal or Death Stranding even more. I see the latter sorts as boundary-pushing titles in ways that go a little deeper.

As mentioned before, I see that Death Stranding has some creativity to it. But the point also is: Sony never would've greenlighted it, without such a name like Kojima attached to it. And that is the point: in the past they greenlighted games like Loco Roco and Patapon. That is why this quote by Jim Ryan pisses me off as it is. Because I stand by it: Sony is the least creative they have been since entering the gaming console space.

As for Returnal: I think JWeinCom already explained it. While being a good game it is not exactly creatively bold. Roguelikes and shooters aren't new. The combination has also happened, for instance with Risk of Rain. The characterization is following the current zeitgeist, as in movies as well. That all doesn't mean it is a bad game. Just that it isn't much in terms of innvoation or creative boldness (pretty much all games are creative to a point, but you talked about brave and creative freedom, which I don't see here).

Microsoft of all companies is bolder than Sony. Sure, they have their safe bets with Forza and Halo. But then they have Flight simulator, which pushes technical innovation at something new than the usual "more polygons, more effects". It is also not the usual gameplay. And while Starfield and Redfall look like what you expect from the industry, MS still has games like Psychonaut, Grounded or 12 minutes.

And that stuff is currently lacking at Sony. And Jim Ryan is openly lying about that. Which is the thing that makes me angry.

Jaicee said:

I'd keep going, but I've lost track of what it is we're even arguing about here because it's too stupid.

Well, I challenge the statement that Sony is currently nurturing creative freedom. I wish Sony would fire Jim Ryan, who apparently sees gaming as just another opportunity to make a profit and elevate someone like Shuhei Yoshida, who while being a businessman still shows the passion for gaming as a hobby and an art form.



3DS-FC: 4511-1768-7903 (Mii-Name: Mnementh), Nintendo-Network-ID: Mnementh, Switch: SW-7706-3819-9381 (Mnementh)

my greatest games: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020

10 years greatest game event!

bets: [peak year] [+], [1], [2], [3], [4]

AngryLittleAlchemist said:

That The Last of Us 2's biggest controversies were of """forced diversity""" (which is at best a value that the developers have always represented in the series, in the foreground since "Left Behind", and in the background since the original game) and a protagonist swap that people didn't like (something that was done in popular games back in 2001 and 2004) shows how little innovation or risk was actually taken by the game.

If anything, these controversies showcase how stupid a portion of the original fanbase was. Which isn't too particularly surprising with how much people put a thumb up their ass over a fairly barebones - if well executed - story. 

And yea, I guess that casting as wide a net as possible only to alienate a portion later on with a sequel is somewhat "risky", but only in the sense that the original was so safe to begin with. 

I look at TLOU2 the same way i look at The Last Jedi and the Rise of Skywalker. The new SW trilogy movies aren't innovative or risky in anyway and the direction it took with legacy characters and story plot took a massive nose dive compared to what the audience would have preferred or liked. I am a huge SW fan and i am quite vocal on the approach the new movies took. Its nice to add new characters weather they are male or female but to just slaughter old favorites just to push a motive is far from acceptable in my books, this is something i hated with the new SW films. They killed off majority of the old characters and pushed in the new characters without justifying the causes or at least showcasing the audience they actually cared about them. Example: They made Luke Skywalker a coward and killed him off, and it took a separate TV series to re-justify him.

I hear the same arguments with Joel, many TLOU fans liked him, he was a badass, yet was killed off so quickly and carelessly which was one of the major factors in the criticism by the public. Its not because Abby is a female, because the other main character Ellie is also a female that is a fan favorite, its the point of killing Joel and now we have to like the new character without a choice. The same thing happen with Halo 5, when everyone was forced to play Agent Locke instead of the chief, it wasn't because Locke was black, it was the fact that gamers wanted to play their hero and Locke hasn't done enough to earn his place just yet. 

It really comes down to good timing. I agree some of the criticism based on TLOU2, SW and Halo 5 is quite ridicules however that's just fanboys using the negativity to their own egos, however we cannot let that blind us on the real issues with these games and movies.



Azzanation said:
AngryLittleAlchemist said:

That The Last of Us 2's biggest controversies were of """forced diversity""" (which is at best a value that the developers have always represented in the series, in the foreground since "Left Behind", and in the background since the original game) and a protagonist swap that people didn't like (something that was done in popular games back in 2001 and 2004) shows how little innovation or risk was actually taken by the game.

If anything, these controversies showcase how stupid a portion of the original fanbase was. Which isn't too particularly surprising with how much people put a thumb up their ass over a fairly barebones - if well executed - story. 

And yea, I guess that casting as wide a net as possible only to alienate a portion later on with a sequel is somewhat "risky", but only in the sense that the original was so safe to begin with. 

I look at TLOU2 the same way i look at The Last Jedi and the Rise of Skywalker. The new SW trilogy movies aren't innovative or risky in anyway and the direction it took with legacy characters and story plot took a massive nose dive compared to what the audience would have preferred or liked. I am a huge SW fan and i am quite vocal on the approach the new movies took. Its nice to add new characters weather they are male or female but to just slaughter old favorites just to push a motive is far from acceptable in my books, this is something i hated with the new SW films. They killed off majority of the old characters and pushed in the new characters without justifying the causes or at least showcasing the audience they actually cared about them. Example: They made Luke Skywalker a coward and it took a TV series to re-justify his character.

I hear the same arguments with Joel, many TLOU fans liked him, he was a badass, yet was killed off so quickly and carelessly which was one of the major factors in the criticism by the public. Its not because Abby is a female, because the other main character Ellie is also a female that is a fan favorite, its the point of killing Joel and now we have to like the new character without a choice. The same thing happen with Halo 5, when everyone was forced to play Agent Locke instead of the chief, it wasn't because Locke was black, it was the fact that gamers wanted to play their hero and Locke hasn't done enough to earn his place just yet. 

It really comes down to good timing. I agree some of the criticism based on TLOU2, SW and Halo 5 is quite ridicules however that's just fanboys using the negativity to their own egos, however we cannot let that blind us on the real issues with these games and movies.

The older characters actors wee pretty old. Killing them was the right thing to do, as they were also old in narrative context. Harrison Ford was specifically direct on his demand to only play Han Solo again if it was the last time. 

Both Han and Luke had nice ending arcs for me, I don't see exactly what make people mad about them, and I'm also a Star Wars fan. I'm just sad Leia was the only one who couldn't get a more satisfying end, as Carrie passed away before most of the movie was filmed 

I also think people get too invested on fictional arcs and characters and starts do get too stressed out with small things. People play new IPs and with new characters all the time, I don't get why the concern to play a different character in the same franchise. Like, I understand Lara Croft is the face of Tomb Rider since the beginning, but why exactly would be so hurtful to play another character? I just wonder 



This thread goes exactly as I thought it would.

Same old, same old.



Jaicee said:

AAAAAAHHH, there it is! Thanks so much for the help!

JWeinCom said:

I don't think my response was hysterical.

As for Returnal...

1. Yes, and there are plenty of niche games. Like I brought up, Octopath Traveler. Not a whole lot of classic JRPGs like that, even among indie games.

2. Yes, but still there are plenty of new IPS, and a fair number of them are successful. It is more risky than using an established franchise, but it's simply not something that's so rare that doing it should elicit gasps of awe.

3. No... because your argument was about risk. Just because male games tend to sell better does not mean that any time you make a game with a female character you are taking a risk. It simply means you are not using the most common path to success, and there are reasons for doing so beyond simply taking a risk. We'll stick with Octopath Traveler. For every old school sprite based JRPG there are at least 5 shooting games that will sell more copies. Does that mean any this was a brave risk that demonstrates how much Nintendo values developer freedom?

4. 

I just gave a few recent examples. I'm sorry, I didn't know I was supposed to list every one. But... Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Source Code, The Endless,

Spoiler!
Astro Boy and the Omega Factor

, Majora's Mask,

Spoiler!
Bravely Default

, Christmas Everyday, Happy Death Day,

Spoiler!

Spoiler!
Hickman's House of X and Powers of X

, Xena Warrior Princess,

Spoiler!
The Good Place

, Buffy the Vampire.

Time loops are not a new idea in fiction. Kind of based off Nietzche's idea of eternal recurrence. Those are the pieces of media I've seen that invoke the idea of time loops in a pretty direct way. There are others that sort of do but not as directly (Naruto, Harry Potter, South Park, and Mass Effect or Dr. Strange for instance). I'm sure there are many other examples I didn't name (I'd be shocked if there isn't a Star Trek or Simposon's episode of that). https://www.imdb.com/list/ls069145438/ I'm sure it might add some other quirk (not watching the video cause I may buy it), but the timeloop aspect is the main one they've advertised to potential buyers, so (unless there is something so divisive in the story that it would turn people off when word of mouth spread) that's the part that would be relevant to how risky the game is.

More importantly though, even if all of these examples of time loops in media didn't exist, so what? Why would this make it risky as a narrative element? Are there people that are just would hate the concept and would not buy the game because it has time loops (even though as demonstrated it's actually pretty popular in narrative ways). The fact that others have not done this exact story in this exact way doesn't mean it's exceptionally risky. More broadly, doing things that are not the norm is not inherently brave or risky.

As for your assessment of my personality and motivation, you can keep those to yourself. If the argument is flawed, explained why it's flawed. I am addressing your arguments and not making any statements about you, and expect the same in return.

5. I guess charging full price for games is brave and risky now...

Really the argument boils down to the fact that this is a new IP and a style of game that is popular in indie gaming but hasn't been tested in the AAA space. And sure that's a lot riskier than GTA VI will be, but to me it's not so exceptionally rare that it is noteworthy or it says something significant about a publisher willing to publish it.

Which leads me again to the point that you're claiming I don't have. My point is that you have given no intelligible way to identify what counts as risky. Without that, you cannot support your claim that Sony is particularly noteworthy in their commitment to risk, bravery, and freedom, and no real discussion can be had.

So, can you explain how we tell when a game is brave and free? If so, how did you determine that Sony produces more of these types of games than other developers?

K, gonna run through the Returnal items one last time in the hopes of a breakthrough, otherwise I give up:

1. While I KINDA get what you're saying about Octopath Traveler, yes, I also just...I dunno, there's a very clear difference of overall intention there in the case of Octopath Traveler, in my opinion. I mean you know me: my favorite Nintendo game for the Switch so far is Cadence of Hyrule, so of course I was one of those people instinctively drawn to Octopath Traveler too, in no small part precisely because here was a first-party console game in the modern era that's a CLASSIC-looking Japanese-style RPG and I've liked a lot of those! And yeah, the fact that it's the classic vantage point and battle systems and everything and not modern 3D, more action-focused material and all that is prolly unfortunately a lot of the reason for the fact that the market for it hasn't been, you know, 8 or 10 million people or more, it's fair enough to say, and, at a conceptual level, I think Nintendo does deserve some credit for their willingness to support such a project. Fair enough!

That said though, when I actually sat down and played Octopath Traveler...it just felt like such a half-hearted effort, you know? The story...the character arcs...much of it just felt kinda thrown together and that's the worst quality in a game to me. I expect more from a brand like Square Enix. Octopath Traveler clearly wasn't a passion project and it also didn't fail relative to expectations. At the end of the day, Octopath Traveler is a first-party game with an entrenched, major developer that was kinda thrown together and reliant on the familiarity and reputation of the Square Enix brand more than its own merits for success and achieved some success largely on that basis. Returnal to me feels more like an indie passion project overall that actually got the resources needed to be optimally realized but that just didn't work out commercially. It was made by this former indie developer and would've been an indie game like nearly all other roguelikes are if not for the resources provided by Sony. That's what I would say is the difference.

2. You're missing my point. You're taking individual elements I was highlighting totally separately from one-another. No, any one of these elements I'm highlighting is not that radical by itself, but when you put them all together, they kind of add up to something fairly daring. At least I think so anyway.

3. How did we get from a discussion of representation back to Octopath Traveler? I don't even understand your argument here. I pointed out that games narratively centering women fare worse overall commercially in a male-dominated market, to which you're like "Yeah, so? Just because they sell worse doesn't mean they might sell worse. Octopath Traveler!" To paraphrase.

4. Okay, when we're citing Majora's Mask and the movie Groundhog Day as comparisons, it's very clear that there's more miscommunication going on here. When I'm talking about the story structure and themes at work here, I'm not talking about the game's genre (that was discussed back in point 1), I'm talking about...its story structure and themes, not the death loop style of game play. Separate thing. I guess it does help to play the game to grasp what I'm talking about here, but you could get a basic idea from many video reviews, or just from the story overview I linked you to. Thematically, the game is narratively about navigating a particular form that trauma takes and its metaphors for that are absolutely brilliant. In terms of narrative structure, it's like a big puzzle that you have to piece together and may not get all of even after completing multiple playthroughs. Players still often disagree about what characters are being shown in certain key scenes and which characters they are makes a huge difference in terms of what message one draws from said scene and it seems to be that way intentionally.  Subjectivity distributed in just the right places to really make you think, even after you've completed multiple playthroughs. Well, I think it's pretty cool anyway!

(And anyway, even if I had been talking about the game's genre again here in point 4, it still would say something that your case is built on movies and TV shows for some reason and on games for old handheld systems and home console titles that are more than two decades old. My point back in point 1 about Returnal's genre choice being a rare one in the AAA landscape absolutely stands!)

5. I have done nothing but complain about the unexpectedly high pricing of this game. Maybe it's just that I'm still not used to paying $70 for any games, let alone for material like this, but I was taken aback by the price tag as much as most professional reviewers were, frankly, in much the same way that I was likewise taken about by the $60 price tag that's been attached to the 2D Metroid Dread. The material in question begets certain pricing expectations. $70 for a game like this seems excessive and greedy to me and I'm pretty sure was a major factor in Returnal's commercial failure. I'm NOT defending Sony on this point and I don't get why you're acting as though I am.

As to the rest, look I'm trying to objectively describe things that are, at the end of the day, a little relative and subjective by nature, like what the intention of content creators is and whether those intentions feel sincere to me as a player. I'm doing my best, okay? I think I've made my case for why Sony was indeed taking a real chance on Returnal as an example. I've authored God knows how many posts explaining at great length what I find unique and special about The Last of Us Part II that makes it much more than just another sequel by an established developer and publisher and have spoken some on what I see as the very distinctive merits, and relevance, of Death Stranding as well in the past. I don't know what else you want from me.

It was also not my intention to suggest that Nintendo NEVER works to appeal outside of their fan base or that they NEVER take real creative risks on the actual software side of the equation or what have you. People have really gotten hung up on the overall brand difference I sought to describe in one paragraph of the OP to the neglect of my main point about hoping that Sony will continue to support more games that are as bold as Returnal (or Death Stranding, or TLOU2) in what they seek to bring into the AAA landscape in the wake of these more radical games yielding only so much profit compared to somewhat more conventional open world type investments like Ghost of Tsushima and the Spider-Man games. The Nintendo comparison was an aside that I drew on only to help get that point across. Matter-of-factly, it should be self-evident (<--<--) that I don't dislike Nintendo as an institution.

1. You're entitled to your opinion (I really liked Octopath) but a lot of the stuff you're saying is more about the overall quality than whether or not it was a risky venture.

2. I disagree.

3. Because the conversation wasn't about representation, it's about risk. I believe your argument was that making a game with a female lead is risky because most of the best selling games are males and male led games tend to sell better and therefore having a female lead is not the surest path to success. Likewise, most games do not feature sprite based graphics and those that do tend to sell less than games that don't, so following the same logic, choosing to do so would similarly be brave or risky.

Basically, for pretty much every game, you can come up with 4-5 ways that it doesn't follow the most successful industry trends. I chose to use Octopath as an example for consistency's sake, but for most games I could probably come up with 5 things it does that don't follow the most successful trends.

4. The thing that's most relevant to whether or not the project is risky are the things that would have a pronounced effect on its sales, and that would be mostly what is visible to prospective buyers. The thing that is most prominent in the game's marketing is the timeloop mechanic (which sort of implies multiple playtrhoughs will be required to get the full picture). I'll just grant for the sake of argument that the story is on the whole very unique and creative and excellently done. I still don't know why it would logically follow that the game was especially risky and brave for Sony to publish. 

5. I thought the point of the list was to demonstrate how Returnal was a sign that Sony is particularly brave, risky, and gives devs creative freedom? If your only point in mentioning the price is that Sony overpriced the game, then ok, but I feel like that's kind of off topic.

As far as Nintendo goes, I don't think I ever suggested that you dislike them. But I don't agree that Nintendo is overall less brave or risk averse than Sony, or that you've demonstrated that to be the case.

What I want is what I've asked for. Some intelligible way to determine to determine when games are risky or brave. Doesn't necessarily have to be objective (would be nice though), but it would have to be something more than what's given. What we have here are three examples of very different games that are considered risky and somewhat contradictory reasons. Basically I get that you're arguing that developers/publishers should make more games that are like the three you mention, but I can't figure out what that is.

If you can't really explain what makes games brave/free/risky and are just basing it on gut feeling, then fine. You're entitled to your opinion, but there's just no further conversation to be had. Based on my personal feelings, I think Nintendo is the braver/riskier developer. Is there a way to determine who's opinion is better supported or is it just my feelings vs yours?