Ask Me Stuff

Every Wednesday I ask you to ask me stuff. If you have a burning question about the games industry, leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it this afternoon.

Now, fire away with those questions.


    Are you wearing pants?

      Sadly, yes.

        As a follow up question if i may:

        Is there any relationship between your pants wearing and your length of service with a company. For example, does the probability of a pants-less Mike striding around the office increase for every week you remain employed, then exponentially increase during xmas parties?

        If so, should we expect this to occur before the team xmas party, or do we just have to wait for that?

        Sorry, bored at work(first day back for a week!)

    What are your views on importing games from say the UK?
    Does it hurt the developer in anyway? Its much cheaper but I guess its ten times better than buying preowned games.
    Is there any reason I SHOULDNT do it?

      Sometimes the Australian publishers will buy directly from their US/European counterparts and in that case, it's not ideal. But it still helps publishers and developers far more than buying used games. That said - it's your money to spend, so I think you just have to do what is right for you!

    Is there any chance we can have details describing the conditions of the Reader Retrospective reviews?

    From what I can gather, it has to be in the Summary-Loved-Hated structure but nothing else such as a word limit is given.

      Try and keep them them roughly to 500 words - and I'd like to keep the loved/hated structure for now.

    Hey Mark, I was just curious if you think this years been a bit of a disappointment? there seems to be a number of titles this year that had great potential and were highly anticipated before they came out but received disappointing reviews when released (eg. medal of honor, APB, crackdown 2, mafia 2). Do you think these games just paled in comparison to stuff like red dead redemption and mass effect 2 or is it just studios unable to make games that match their hype?

      I think that overall this year has been great so far. There have been disappointments, but also some awesome surprise games like Limbo. Also, I didn't expect that Red Dead would be the incredible game it was.

    Do you know what is happening with Rock Band 3? Specifically the instruments. I've been trying to find out who is going to have what in stock and how much they're going to charge for them.

    All I could find out was that EB will have the keyboard (uncertain on price but most likely $139.99) and pro guitar (approx $290, not sure if bundled with game). One JB store (Mt Gravatt) told me that they'd have the game and keyboard separately ($134 for the keyboard) and another didn't have any information at all except that they might be getting a keyboard + game bundle. Game has the game by itself as $84 on their online store, in store copies are closer to $100 and again, no information on instruments. KMart isn't stocking the game at all.

    At the moment, I'm looking at ordering from, if only because they actually have the information I want available on their website right now.

      I'll try and get a more definitive answer on this for tomorrow.

        Can you confirm the Rock Band 3 release date? Game's website, amongst other places, still says it is coming tomorrow.

          Not any more - they tweeted at 3pm today that it's slipped to next week. Got a text from the local store confirming it.

      Can you also try to get confirmation on whether the Rock Band 2 export code will available in the Australian version? If it's not, I will have forgo instant gratification, and wait for (and save money on) an import copy instead.

    Hey Mark

    1. I'm currently being seduced by buying current generation games online as I've been burned too many times by EB Games etc. I've stumbled across CD WOW and whoa, those be some low low prices. Any advice or recommendations about buying online? CD WOW any good?

    2. Do you think Far Cry 3 will be set in space? Wildgoose used to think I was mad for suggesting such a notion. AN AWESOME NOTION MIND YOU.

    Thank you

      I think CD Wow has some pretty awesome prices.

      Far Cry 3 will be set inside a human body, like that awesome movie Inner Space.

      CD WOW Feedback: is also fantastic and stupidly cheap, not to mention free freight!

        Hmm, that CD WOW feedback is somewhat discouraging. Ozgameshop looks cool. And cheaper. May have to check them out. Thanks dude.

          Personally, CD Wow is good for games that aren't new releases. Bought a couple of things from them, games well past their release date and they've come within a week. But definitely not for popular pre-orders. I pre-ordered Mafia 2 quite early from them, but they ended up running out of stock.

          On average, even cheaper than Ozgameshop. That and they have a pretty extensive selection of goods too.

          Examples like:

          Fable 3 Controllers for $60
          SSFIV TE sticks for $190

          They remove tax from your purchases at checkout for items 18 pounds or so above. So you usually pay cheaper than advertised price.

            whats been your experience with delivery times? i got alan wake from ozgameshop and it took 7 days to deliver, is similar?

    The Alpha Protocol image stirs a few thoughts within me. With widespread news of Fallout: New Vegas's incredibly buggy state, do you think there's any hope for Obsidian's future. I mean, they have good ideas, sure. But should we keep trusting a publisher that keeps pushing out buggy/unfinished game after buggy/unfinished game, without any attempt to follow up on their incomplete products after release. It's like a hit-and-run. I feel sorry for everyone that bought Alpha Protocol and are still waiting for a patch for the buggy first patch (that had no changelog, and crashes for many users), mostly because I know they're never going to get now that Fallout: New Vegas has come out and they're ready to abandon THAT and move onto something else.

      I think you can trust them. I can only assume they had a tough, unreasonable deadline for both of those games.

        But they said there were unreasonable deadlines for KOTOR2 and NWN2 as well... is any deadline reasonable for Obsidian? Perhaps something along the lines of Duke Nukem Forever or Elite 4 would suit them better.

      There was a very specific point that Alpha Protocol (for me) hit it's lowest point.

      I didn't read much into the games previews and bought it on a whim, and all through the game I was looking forward to an obvious staple of Spy movies: Dressing up in a tuxedo, going to a rich party and mingling with guests, before stealing some shit or assassinating someone. I wanted something like the opening of true lies.

      I got the tux alright, and the exact setup for the mission. The mansion, the party, the guests: But instead I got some friggin' reconnaissance mission, dressed in a tux aiming a sniper scope outside the mansion, and then wham, mission cleared.

      I could tell, with every fiber of my being they intended that mission to be exactly like I wanted (they even had the tux, that was the only part of the game it was worn!), but they blatantly cut it out and replaced it with a boring "aim scope here and listen to a convo!" mission.

      That was a kick to the balls. You had a spy game. Secret agent. you had the assets there, and didn't use them.

      Sorry, been holding onto that rage since it came out. I'll always remember alpha protocol for that one feeling of disappointment.

        I hear you buddy.

        My hope for Obsidian is that they get bought by someone like THQ... or hell even Bioware.
        Someone who makes the QA the bejesus out of their games before they release them.

        Their games have all been let down by poor QA... right back to KOTOR2.
        And it cannot be all about tight deadlines, Alpha Protocol got moved back several times.

        very well explained Fistbeard. While I've never played the game, I can totally understand your frustration.

        I would play a game totally about doing sneaky s*** dressed in a tux at a fancy party.

        I would call it "Doing sneaky s*** dressed in a tux at a fancy party". It would be GOTY.

      As much as Obsidian's recent efforts have been a bit iffy, you have to lay some blame on Sega's door for Alpha Protocol. Their marketing department treated it like a diseased turd, only sending out press releases once in ablue moon to say AP STILL EXISTS BUT WE JUST DELAYED IT FOR EIGHT MONTHS K THNX BAI.

      It was pretty much the opposite of how to pimp a game. Even by Sega's standards.

    I mentioned it earlier this week... but could you elaborate on why there's a $40 difference between console games and PC games?

      It's a huge issue that I probably couldn't cover off here - but I'm really keen to do a feature on this topic - so stay tuned!

      I remember hearing that the reason there is a 10 dollar difference is that game developers have to pay a price to the console makers for every title they release which does not apply to PC games.

    At what point did studios decide that it's ok to release games riddled with bugs.

      Bugs... Why did it have to be bugs!!!

      (I don't know!)

      Probably when they noticed that it doesn't disrupt their bottom dollar all that much as a lot of gamers have the "I'll buy it now and it'll eventually get patched" mindset.


      The Internet making is possible to easily distribute patches comes to mind.

      In the old days, if there was a bug in the game there was not much that could be done as there was no way to put the patch on a cassette or cartridge.

      id say its beacuse nobody said they couldnt.

      there are zero conciqunces for doing so and an thousand reasons in favor of shipping a game so they can turn a profit on the project.

      video games developers are not held accountable for the quality of their software like other products so often are people simply dont take a game back and say i request a refund as this game is faulty because the quest giver wont provide his quest.

      because of the introduction of patches developers just support a game after the fact, when you have the ability to fix problems in a shipped game after its launch it makes 0 sense from a business model to hold the game up in testing when its more profitable to ship it and keep testing past release patching the bugs as you go into the increasingly common Zero Day Patch.

      (some) Studios have always released buggy games, it just seems to be more accepted these days - we'll kick it out the door and get the sales ticking along, and patch it later - seems to be the common attitude.

      bugs in games have been around for ages, remember secret of monkey island had the tree stump glitch (waits for laughter or abuse) but OT i do think its a mixture of the ability to patch via internet, there bottomline and generally the fact that games are more and more complex pieces of art that companies can have problems with conflicting data and code (Fable 2 anyone?!?!)

      Remember too that games are alot more complex these days than they've ever been before. Bigger more complex games -> more people and teams working together -> more opportunities for lack-of-communication or otherwise to cause bugs to appear.

      Plus factor in the growing sandbox-nature of games where there's more opportunity for players to do things which the developers wouldn't have expected, and that's where bugs creep in.

      Finally, there's always rush to market too; time off the shelves is lost dollars in the eyes of publishers, so the developers are often overworked with crazy deadlines (EA Wife anyone?), so it's no surprise that these things happen.

    Recently I asked Cory Doctorow (google him if you guys don't know him) about his views on gaming piracy and DRM in general..

    What do you guys think:


    I guess my feeling is that games are an existence proof of every truism
    about (c) and tech:

    1. Left to their own devices, creators can find new business models that
    don't rely on restricting copying: viz the movement from FPSs to
    MMORPGS, which can't be "pirated" since the interaction is server-based

    2. Most creators will fail: witness the legion of game devs whose games
    failed to be too dull to steal, let alone buy

    3. You can sell stuff even when it's being freely copied without DRM:
    Minecraft man is a millionaire

    4. Cheap failure is the artist's best friend: again, Minecraft. Cost
    pennies to make the first alpha, dev was able to experiment in public,
    became a millionaire

    5. DRM doesn't stop copying: every DRMed game is cracked in seconds

    6. DRM makes buying stuff less attractive: buy it and get a rootkit;
    steal it and get it without fucking up your computer

    7. DRM locks distribution channels: from Xbox Marketplace to Wii
    Marketplace to Steam, DRM stops a dev from changing channels, stops
    players from following her to those channels, doesn't prevent piracy,
    but DOES transfer market power to the DRM vendor


      I like the point about some games being too dull to even steal. So very true, and those involved try to play the piracy card when the game fails *coughTitanQuestcough*

    Are you still wearing pants?

      Up-to-date pants report.

      They are currently secure. In a holding pattern next to my underpants. Over.

    What's your opinion of the arms race between the major FPS games of the year - Medal of Honour, Modern Warfare 2, Bad Company 2? They seem to be the ones that are being compared to each other with the release of MoH recently, and with the release of Black ops coming soon. I've been on MW2 for the last 8 or so months and I've been keeping an eye on some of the developments in the genre, particularly for online multiplayer.

    Which game do you think does what best (between story and online game design, among other things)?

      I think Modern Warfare does the best job of hiding the smoke and mirrors, and making it feel like you are part of something bigger. Medal of Honor really did feel like a series of levels.

      These games are starting to feel a bit 'templatey' to me.

      -The stealth mission
      -The vehicle mission
      -The explosion mission
      -The have to do it as quickly as possible mission
      -The snow mission
      -The rescue mission

      To be honest, I'm a bit over all of them!

      (Will still play Black Ops though!)

    I have to guess that being a games journalist is an awesome day-to-day experience, and a fantastic job overall. However, do you sometimes find yourself wondering if you should have chosen a different or (some might say) more significant career? Do you ever just stop and think "Crap - I should've been a doctor/firefighter/arctic explorer/etc."?

    (I ask not out of malice, but because I grappled with this doubt every day during my job as a developer. Now I just have a regular old IT job, which is neither fun nor important.)

      I enjoy my job, and I try to remind myself that there are plenty of people out there who would kill (me) to do what I do.

      I've done terrible jobs when I've woken up in the morning and felt like I'd rather do anything that get out of bed. I don't get that feeling with this job, I come in every morning totally motivated to do the best job I can, which is a good feeling.

      So I don't think about it that often.

      Although I do really want to be a Ninja.

    Z.H.P: Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman... is this coming out on Oct 26 here in Australia? Or is it just for Europe and America?


    Sexy Jiggly Boobs!

    Do you know when the SPECACT DLC will be coming out for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on the PC?

    Any games you looking forward to that are coming out this year? My eyes are on AC:Brotherhood and would've been on LBP2. Also, looking forward to Ghost of Sparta :D (I feel spoiled with two God of War games in one year. But then I remember I have to pay for them, and then I don't feel as spoiled.)


    where do babies come from?

    from little timmy age 10

      Depends who you ask.

      Madonna get's them from Africa
      Hugh Jackman's wife gets them from China

    What are you playing at the moment and enjoying the out of, or if you're not enjoying the hell out of anything currently, what was the last game you enjoyed the hell out of?


    Also, do you think they'll ever make a new Vampire: The Masquerade game? If not, can you please start work on one?

    I'm really sick of the treatment Vampires have been getting recently. They are either protrayed as sissy lady-boys or not at all.

    Damn zombies are hogging all of our... er... their light.

    ...Metaphorically of course... real light is bad for us.. dammit, i mean them.. THEM!


      The Masquerade pen and paper RPG was shut down by white wolf in 2003, and the new Vampire: The Requiem isn't popular enough yet to warrant a game, so we're stuck with wimpy halfbreed sparkles for the moment.


      Please don't freak out or anything bUT OMFG I LOVE THOSE GAMES. Let us band our fanboyism together!!!! LET US REVIVE THIS GAME SERIES!!!

      i am so happy to have found another fan.

      Kind regards,

      Alistar Grout

      It may not be quite what you had in mind, but I did come across this a few weeks ago

      I'm playing through Castlevania and, to be honest, it's doing my head in!

      Last game I played and loved was probably Limbo, or Halo: Reach. I thought Reach's campaign was as good as any Halo game since CE.

      Multiplayer is top notch as well.

    Name a word that contains three "G"s



      Wait, that's four...

      I win???

      This one, while a word, is more so the name of a lake in Massachusetts.

      And I have to apologize in advance to any sufferers of hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.

      The name is Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg!

      That's 15 g's! Beat that! ;)

    What is the best video game to come out of Scotland?

      I'd vote for Lemmings.

      APB no question


        Wow, I didn't think anyone else remembered.

        Planes go faster than cars so that means jumping is faster, keep jumping.

      gta 4 without a doubt.then crackdown

    Is there any plans to look at the Mod Community. In particular highlighting some amazing mods that are being developed/released? Granted most never get completed, but sometimes you have some real gems. Is there the possibility of community Mod reviews for KotakuAU?

    I just got the idea earlier this week after installing the latest version (released Sept) of DarthMod for Empire: Total War. Recommended - graphics overhaul, increases battle sizes, provides more customisation options for campaigns etc. The game actually runs smoother for me as well during larger battles and in complicated campaign turns. (No idea why).

    Do you have any idea whether more PS3 games will be released with "forced firmware upgrades" being bundled with the game? Unfortunately I can see it becoming commonplace and I like having the "install other OS" option.

      I see this is a big yes myself and it's the biggest rumour as to why Gran Turismo 5 was delayed, to make the game require 3.50 Firmware.

      But yeah supposedly there is a story from somewhere that all games from November must at least require 3.42, time will tell I guess...

        Also with the PS3 and any Bluray player you have to update the firmware to run movies. Like recently Robin Hood won't work on players over 6 months old that havent been updated in that time. So if you watch blurays on ur ps3 u have to update it. Its actually a smart way of stopping piracy but it could cause them to charge whatever they want for video games....ahhhhh

    *Inserts generic "Where's the new Mechwarrior game" question".

      *Is interested in generic question and would also like an answer*

    Hey chaps, will get to the rest of these tonight. Ended up having a crazy schedule today! Thanks for all the questions.

    Mark . . . well . . . um . . . I don't know how to ask this. It's like this: the always popular "This Week in Games" section was always posted like real early on Monday - and I'm talking first thing in the morning. It's like that, and that's the way it is. You seem like a real stand-up guy, Serrels & Kotaku looks real spritely - and I'm talking super sparkle and shine. But - in the spirit of asking you stuff - can "This Week in Games" run first place on Monday morning? Awaiting your reply from my office - (window ledge: 37th storey). Hey! Just kidding! No, but seriously, Mark, please: This Week in Games + First Thing Monday = OMG & LOLs & :-) & Christina Hendricks.

      Sure dude - I'll make it happen! But I thought it did run first thing on the monday this week?

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