I run Kotaku, a news and opinion site about games and stuff we think gamers like. Today is the day before the release of the Xbox One, Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Tearaway. It's six days since the PS4 came out. I've been fortunate enough to have been playing all this stuff for weeks, so please go ahead and ask me anything about any of it. Or about gaming. Or Kotaku. Or about reporting about and reviewing games for a living. Have at it.


Our big November reviews: PS4, Xbox One, Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Tearaway

Comments: 282 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

DillonMabry35 karma

Why the hell does Patricia still work for Kotaku?

EDIT: Hot damn, thanks for the gold!

stephen_totilo-1 karma

Because she's an astute critic, a fine writer, a fresh voice, a smart observer of shooters, a Pokemon expert and more. You can't like the whole team, right? Just think of her as the member of the Justice League that you don't like or something. I don't know... Red Tornado? She's better than Red Tornado, though. Not sure. Anyway, that's the best I've got to offer on that.

xSlappy-30 karma

I'm happy you didn't use the gender card. People don't hate her because she's a woman, it is because she epitomizes the click-baiting that Kotaku is infamous for with her insidious, sensationalist headlines and stories.

stephen_totilo0 karma

"Click-baiting"? I never understand that. That's shorthand for "stories I don't like." Ever article should be interesting enough to get clicked on.

SnipeyMcSnipe20 karma

How did Kotaku decide on rating games on a yes/no system as opposed to a numerical system? What do you feel are the benefits to doing so? Thanks for doing the AMA, Stephen.

stephen_totilo35 karma

We think review scores are silly. They don't tell you enough. What's a 7.3 really mean and how is it different than a 7.4? Is a game that got a 7.4 this year even really better than a game that got a 7.3 last year? It's madness. So we don't do them. But you know how when a friend gets a game you ask them how it is? "How's that game? Should I play it?" The idea is that the friend probably says, "Yes" or "Don't bother" or "I don't know" or "It's really buggy now" or "Leave me alone, you creep".

Our review "scoring" system is designed to give you that friend-type response as an initial entry point into knowing what the reviewer thought. We also provide a review card that gives you a synopsis of the review that you can read in the time it takes to sneeze twice.

If you're down for more, then we have a full review for you. The "Not Yet" was included in that system as a way to signal that, hey, this is one of those modern games that might need some patches or some proving out of its multiplayer by regular gamers before we can tell you if it's worth your time.

8bitninja19 karma

How do you feel about the continued ban on kotaku because of the ban on gawker sites on a lot of subreddits? And how do you feel when they don't post but screenshot and copy and paste articles?

stephen_totilo11 karma

I hate the bans. I wish that no community or news organization ever felt the need or had the justification to ban an outlet, to, in the case of Reddit, not even get stories that reporters toil over get a shot at being voted on.

But I've come to understand over the last year that many of the subreddits who ban us don't ban Kotaku because of what Kotaku did but because of issues with sister sites in our company. Mind you, this is the same company that bankrolls a gaming news and opinion site that is growing, that is unafraid of publishers, that has awesome lawyers, and that empowers us to do original reporting around the world. There's nothing I can do about the bans other than hope that our work will be appreciated somehow, some way whether it's through subreddits or through other parts of the Internet.

Actually, there's one other thing I can do. Kotaku has been around along enough to garner fans but also garner criticism. I take criticism of our site very seriously. A lot of it sticks. A lot of it influences where this site goes and what we do. So, no matter where criticism comes from, if it winds up involving what we publish, I listen and hope to use it to improve our site.

As for people copying and pasting, if people like a story and want to see more like it, the best thing they can do is click on that story. The worst thing they can do is avoid doing so.

zergbros4lyfe4 karma

The worst thing they can do is avoid doing so.

...that's the point.

stephen_totilo4 karma

The point is for the content thieves to do their best to make sure it's more financially difficult for people to do the work that these content thieves actually like? That does nothing to encourage good work and makes it harder to do good work. That's about the dumbest, most immature and most spiteful strategy imaginable.

Sunago1 karma

I prefer to avoid websites that are pay-per-click because more often than not that creates a 'sensation' mentality....which I loathe. Writing and Journalism should be about the news, the story you are delivering. Not the biggest sensation you can find so you get more bucks. And that is often what websites that are pay-per-click create. If Kotaku really thinks that it is a good competitor for the other gaming news websites out there it should hire it's writers on payroll.

And well. personally I prefer never to see anything from Kotaku again. The writing style most 'journalists' have there make me cringe. The text on the page doesn't flow, which makes it incredibly hard to read. Not to mention there are links left and right on the side of the page, further confusing the reader due to read-direction (you want to read the thing on the upper left first, that's just how your brain and eyes work) and because of it it pulls you out of the article.

The comment system is a chaotic mess and it's hard to tell what kind of system is behind it. I can't even begin to tell how utterly confusing that crap is for people.

In a designers eyes this website is a complete and utter mess. In a writers eyes Kotaku is laugable.

stephen_totilo2 karma

OK. I get it now. You're going through this AMA to add your insights. More power to you, but please try harder to know what you're talking about in the future. We don't get paid-per-click. Our writers draw salaries. Have done so for many years.

Brickerly1 karma

Wow, lots of anti-kotaku ignorance, kudos to you for addressing it. One point he/she does have, though, and one I havent seen anyone there talk about yet, is about the discussion layout. By my calculation, the new system thats currently in test on kotaku and has been live on Valleywag for a while is 42,564 times worse than what has been running for the past year or so. What are the benefits of the new system in your opinion?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Are you talking about the commenting system? The rest of the layout is the same, but they have a newer commenting system that isn't ready for prime time yet. The idea is to make more comments/replies look and feel like important pieces of an article, to further diminish the sense that there is a privileged author whose work matters so much more than what the people replying to them has written. So what you can see on Valleywag, though it's a little rough, is a system that allows an author to pull some comments up from the bottom and display them at full-width below their article. In theory, those promoted comments and back-and-forths with the author will be as edifying to read as the article themselves. That's the theory! But I think they're still working out making sure that it all reads well. I hope that helps!

JWylie1517 karma

Tomorrow (Fri, Nov 22) seems to be on of the biggest days in Nintendo's recent history, launching both a new Zelda and a new Mario on the same day. Rave reviews from all around keep pouring in for both titles. What do you think Nintendo needs to do next in order to maintain the momentum they've generated this month?

Thanks for doing the AMA!

stephen_totilo14 karma

You're welcome!

The 3DS seems to be in pretty good shape. Hardware sales aren't quite as on fire as the DS' were and I think there's some year-on-year softness, but if you have a 3DS I think you're a pig in mud. Excellent games come out on the system monthly.

In contrast, the Wii U portfolio just doesn't seem to me to be as well-managed. Nintendo quieted development on the Wii a long time ago and had a year to really impress with games that felt like they HAD to be on the Wii U. Even 3D World, which is a lot of fun, doesn't feel like it has to be on that system.

In fact, these days, I'm thinking that I'd like to see Nintendo converge their hardware lines, make everything portable with some sort of output to the TV. The Wii U is begging to be portable already. Case in point.

Brickerly17 karma

Why do reviews focus so much on story, characters, development background, feature lists and everything else besides gameplay. You almost apologized for your in-depth description of the combat in Ryse, but I think that type of thing should be absolutely mandatory in any review, it is the best way to actually give someone an idea of what the game is like.

stephen_totilo10 karma

You're generalizing, but you're right that too many game reviews fail to do two things: 1) clearly explain what the game is and 2) explain what it feels like to play it. The more reviews that do that, the better. There's less of an established vocabulary and grammar for describing gameplay which is one of the things holding games criticism back. Going forward, better critics will use video and even GIFs more often to show how a game works. That helps explaining the feel. Good question!

TheObesePlatypus11 karma

PS4 or the Xbox One?

stephen_totilo39 karma

If you can wait, wait. Neither is a must-have yet. Both are a clean break from the previous consoles, since they lack backwards compatibility. Xbox One tries to do more and I'd say doesn't do some of what it's trying as well as it should (see the inability to separately control the volume of the TV signal and games that it can display in splitscreen--you have to listen to both). But Microsoft actually has a good, diverse launch line-up. PS4 tries to do less at launch and, as a result, I'd say they do more things well. Neither has a must-own game yet. Sorry to not make it easy for you.

Ultimately, what do you want? To play Titanfall and split your TV and games on one screen? Get Xbox. To effortlessly livestream and play Naughty Dog's games? PS4.

BreakfastNook11 karma

You guys seem to break a lot of news stories. Where do most of those come from? Is it just from tips in your inbox?

stephen_totilo4 karma

We get a lot of tips from our [email protected] e-mail address but we also have lots of sources. It's tricky with sources. You meet someone and you have no idea how reliable their info is. So you have to check it out. Try to corroborate. Eventually, I and other reporters on the team wind up with sources who've been right and reliable for years. It's really like any other kind of reporting and it's a thrill any time we can break some news that gamers will care about.

TheHat211 karma

Okay, so there's the issue of the backlash against Kotaku's foray into various social justice topics in the gaming community, and the general association with Gawker. People want to see Patricia Hernandez fired, or a more critical take on Anita Sarkeesian, and I certainly remember the furor over these two articles.

My question is, how are you guys handling this? Does it impact your perspectives on the gaming community, or influence the way you write your respective articles (as in, to try and avoid or contain any reader backlash)?

Thanks for doing this AMA, by the way. Give everyone at Kotaku a high-five for me.

stephen_totilo15 karma

Luke's in Canberra, so I can't give him a high five right now. I'll go to the zoo and high five a kangaroo. Same thing, right?

Kotaku was covering gender, race and class issues regularly earlier than other major gaming news outlets, as best I can tell. And from the start we recognized that it'd be tricky.

Some folks don't want us to report or write criticism about that at all, because they'd prefer to not have those issues in their gaming coverage. Even among that crowd, there are the people who are uninterested because they care about the play of games over the content. Others simply can't tolerate social politics showing up in gaming news.

Others simply disagree with some of the things we report or opinions some of our writers state. I completely understand when a reader says, "hey, why did you make a post about there being no women on stage at the PS4 event? You didn't do that for any other gaming event? And who cares?" We can't let the fact that we never covered a topic or angle before restrain us from every covering it in the future. And we can't get so tangled up in worrying about offending someone that we censor ourselves.

Sony not having women on stage was a fact. What it represented was up for debate. We saw people talking about it on Twitter and one of our writers volunteered to write it up. I thought it was an interesting thing to note and something worth following up with reporting (which we did, the same week).

There are readers who won't see a story like that as anything other than a rude attack on Sony. They'll see it as an attempt to hurt Sony or the PS4. It's not. It's a story about a thing that happened, a thing that seems distinct enough to be newsworthy, a reaction, and ultimately some exploration as to why.

I look at Kotkau as an outlet that has infinite space. There are stories I've been dying to get to all year that I still haven't gotten to. So when people perceive imbalance, it's sometimes because we just haven't gotten to reporting other parts of the greater story. Other times, the perception of bias or nitpicking is in the eye of the beholder. I recall a controversial piece that Patricia wrote about Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. I thought the piece was terrific because she wrote about something that was uncomfortable, wrestled with her reaction in her own article and even featured the creators of the game disagreeing with her. It was all there on the page and it was all stated in a reasonable, non-kneejerk manner. That's the kind of criticism, whether it's about social issues or good use of shoulder buttons, that I think games deserve.

I do think that there's been a lack of strong coverage of the contrarian points of view to some of the social issue stuff. But I must also say that when popular arguments against Anita Sarkeesian boil down to her just being in it for the money, it makes it harder to get past that and find the arguments that hold water. It's not like the things she's pointing out about games are fiction. I mean, have you played Ryse? Well, no, you probably haven't, but you'll see.

I welcome all criticism. It influences us and makes it better. Except the criticism where people are just assholes or claim that we don't know how to report or somesuch. Then people just make themselves look foolish and I tune them out.

oodie112710 karma

As someone who has never played a Zelda game, would I like this?

stephen_totilo9 karma

Oh, how sad. Hell yeah. Link Between Worlds is really good. Play with the 3D on.

TheAubz10 karma

Fuck, this makes me sad now :( I lost my left eye a couple years back...


stephen_totilo12 karma

Oh my god. I am so, so sorry. You'll like the game well enough, I promise.

WhitsonGordon9 karma

1) What are your personal thoughts on game emulation? You guys don't talk about it on Kotaku a lot, with legit reasoning--but just curious what your personal views are. Do you think there's a time and place for it?

I've recently been playing Ocarina of Time--a game I own on N64, but am emulating with high-res textures and an Xbox controller--and I am having a really fun time with it, particularly because it feels a little "updated." Some of those old N64 games look like crap on an HDTV, and I feel like emulation has helped me rekindle my love for some of these old games.

2) Where do you find the bravery to go into Reddit, the lion's den, and do an AMA? (just kidding :-) People have asked me to do a Lifehacker-related AMA and I always chose not to for fear it'd be a bloodbath of general hate).

stephen_totilo9 karma

1) I'm pretty religious about paying for the stuff I enjoy. But if you own it already? I'm sympathetic to that. Just not something I'd do. I mean, if you have an emulator for one platform, then the temptation's strong to start picking up games you didn't buy, right? Then again, shame on a lot of these companies for making it hard to enjoy their games on modern tech. Whitson, get yourself a 3DS. Ocarina's on there. You can take it with you!

2) People are ultimately good-hearted and respond to positivity well. I'm an optimist.

ShatteringLast9 karma

What are some gaming franchises you'd like to come back? Personally, I'd love a new game in the Strike series from the Genesis and SNES days.

stephen_totilo23 karma

Nintendo doesn't do enough with Metroid. I miss Advance Wars, too.

I'd like to be excited about a Fable game again. And there's this other little franchise that I miss. It's called Half-... something. I forget. It's been so long.

anexanhume8 karma

Why do you think Sony sent Tearaway to die (figuratively) by releasing it on the same day as SM3DW, Zelda and the Xbox One?

stephen_totilo9 karma

Tearaway is brilliant. I don't know how companies decide when to put games out, but how about all of us on Vita try to help Tearaway live. It's one of the year's best games. I love it.

Sony doesn't put a ton of games out for Vita overall. I'd complain more if they held Tearaway back. Vita gamers need more new stuff to play.

FTWiener2 karma

Do you think they'll end up porting it to PS4 or PS3? I mean, the Vita ain't doing so hot...

stephen_totilo5 karma

If they ported Tearaway to consoles, they'd ruin it. It depends on running on a system that has a rear touch panel and a camera pointing at your face. The Vita is perfect for it and it is perfect for the Vita. That's a Totilo Tautology, just for you.

BladeRunnerDMC7 karma

I watched a story about a year and a half ago("Tonight with Brian Williams'') about companies being known for releasing information and posting stories without confirming it there was legit sources just to be the first to release the information and Kotaku was one the named sites along with gizmodo. What truth is there to it?

stephen_totilo2 karma

We reach out for comment about stories before we publish them. Our reporters are expected to note that in our stories. The more volatile a story, the more important it is to make sure that the other side of the story has had their say.

But as for posting things that just might not be true? If we think something is false, we don't publish. If we're not sure but feel it's important to put out there, we are transparent about what we know and what we don't.

The worst thing an outlet can do is lie to its readers or mislead them. We'll never do that.

tyrax7 karma

reddit and neogaf believe that major news outlets are money hatted by M$. They can't all be wrong. Do you know of any major news sites that have taken money from publishers (advertising) for better reviews?

stephen_totilo8 karma

I don't know about that. You do see outlets taking paid travel to go to events they cover. We're backed by a strong enough company that we don't have to do that and we don't. But even many who take paid travel work very hard, from what I've seen, to maintain distance and present honest appraisals of games.

The influence you should worry about more is the subtler stuff. Can a publisher scare an outlet by pulling ads? Can a reporter's friendship with a developer squash a story that readers deserved to know about? That stuff you can only judge by paying attention to the bylines of the people whose work you read. For example, Patrick Klepek. He's squeaky clean and a terrific reporter, which is why he's earned Giant Bomb reader's trust.

bsus14125 karma

In your opinion, does Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Two Worlds do for the 3DS what Phantom Hourglass did for the DS in terms of innovation and originality? If so, how? If not, how so?

stephen_totilo1 karma

What kind of trick trap question is this? Spirit Tracks blew Phantom Hourglass away. Phantom Hourglass had that dungeon you had to keep repeating and was, I thought, fairly weak as Zeldas go. Spirit Tracks had some series-best dungeons and an immensely rewarding and mysterious sidequest system that fleshed the game out a ton if you had the patience for hauling passengers around on your train.

I like A Link Between Worlds more than I liked Phantom Hourglass. It's very good. The dungeons are superb. The change to the gameplay formula--letting you "rent" and own items, letting you play most dungeons in any order--are great. And, my god, the 3D effects are awesome and are the best argument for playing with the slider halfway up.

sargoto5 karma

Sometimes when someone asks you for clarification of a topic or understanding when there is a misunderstanding. Was wondering why you tend to go on the defensive so quickly? Is it due to the large amount of internet trolls out there?

stephen_totilo6 karma

If I have, I'm sorry. Not my intent. I'll try to avoid that in the future. Now why are you attacking me? Leave me alone! (How am I doing?)

justicea235 karma

With the recent sales of the PS4 do you think Sony has a genuine chance of "winning" over North America. Also how do you think Xbox launch sales will compare. Love your work, Thanks!

stephen_totilo2 karma

Thanks! Man, I don't know about sales. It's launch time, you know? The people buying the consoles are the hardest of the hardcore and the richest of the rich. Console sales explode when the prices drop to mass market (PSOne and PS2 getting toward $100) or when there's something that the masses fall in love with (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Brain Age)

bestcoastwesttoast5 karma

What advice do you have for someone looking to enter the world of games journalism? I'm currently a news writing major with an English minor and my ultimate career goal is to write for a tech blog, but I don't exactly know where to start. I've followed your work and Kotaku for years, and what you do for the gaming community is great. So thank you, and keep up the awesome work.

stephen_totilo10 karma

Write. Publish on your own site. Figure out if you care more about reporting or criticism. Good reporters are a hell of a lot harder to come by than good critics. Everyone wants to review games, but few want to pick up the phone and dig up dirt! Distinguish yourself. Don't write what everyone else is writing. And if you think you've got a killer pitch or a story you think is worth highlighting, e-mail me: [email protected]

robertscreek5 karma

What do you make of accusations that you're biased to one console or another?

stephen_totilo21 karma

When Bill Gates calls to complain to me about that, I put Kaz Hirai on hold and get off the chair Reggie Fils-Aime gave me for my birthday to tell him that it's a damn lie.

I don't know. We probably all have our sentimental favorites, but given how I get heat from every console company at some point or other every few months, I'm confident that we're doing a good job of favoring no one too much.

hero0fwar4 karma

Double Dragon or Battletoads?

stephen_totilo3 karma

Double Dragon

loveslolieroge4 karma

Tearaway and Ys Memories of Celecta or 3D World and The Wonderful 101?

stephen_totilo6 karma

I never played a Ys. I'm tossing this one to Jason Schreier. Jason?

larsvontears4 karma

Hey Stephen! no questions, just want to say I'm an avid fan, thanks for your time with Kotaku!

larsvontears3 karma

I guess I do have a question, do you know of any inside scoop on the status of Half Life 3? is this a myth...?

stephen_totilo4 karma

At this point, they've got to be going right to Half-Life 4, right?

No inside scoop on that one, sorry. Wish I did. Hey, if YOU have a Half-Life 3 scoop, send to [email protected]. We'll love you for it.

Brickerly4 karma

Multiplayer is such a huge part of gaming, and gaming culture. Do you feel that Kotaku covers it enough, given that you usually ignore it in your reviews and have pulled the plug on your fleeting esports coverage with Alex Mendez?

stephen_totilo5 karma

No, we don't cover multiplayer enough. It's really hard to cover since it requires a degree of expertise from repeated play that I think most in the gaming media world don't have time to devote. I'd like to get better at it, but it's tough.

Alex was doing some cool work, but our schedules weren't syncing up enough to keep doing something regular. He's someone worth following: https://twitter.com/GoldenboyFTW

romisbmw19893 karma

Which game (for either next-gen console) are you most excited for?

stephen_totilo10 karma

Trick question. We all know there are three next-gen consoles.

asura_wahrheit3 karma

Do you get payed for your job or is it just something you do in your free time? How did you get to be on the kotaku team?

stephen_totilo4 karma

I get paid. In money! It's a full-time job, believe it or not, complete with health benefits for full-time staff. If you join the team then you too can put up with me while writing three, five, eight articles a day, reviewing games at ungodly hours, and living in a cool world where you get to play the next Zelda a month before most everyone else.

We hire great critics and reporters and some talented video folks, too. You apply when we're hiring. We're not hiring right now. (We were last summer)

yahooeny3 karma

Hey Stephen! Glad you worked up the courage to withstand the r/gaming mob to do an AMA!

Aight, so I've got a couple questions:

  1. Where do you think gaming-related video content (let's plays, reviews, parodies) are going to go next and what's it going to take for it to evolve and mature? (Mature is stuck on my mind thanks to this morning's twitch/HORROR fiasco)

  2. A lot of old media companies is starting to take gaming more seriously e.g. Time Warner with adult swim games + Warner Games, Disney with their recent purchases of Tapulous, the Where's My Water team, etc. But something interesting is that they're taking a big interest with small indie devs. What do you think is the reasoning behind this and how do you think that's going to affect the other big players in the AAA league?

stephen_totilo3 karma

1) I think we're going to see some of the same growing pains you've seen with games reporting, where some people get more access and then find themselves either softening their voices or lashing back against those who've given them access until it all comes to a good balance. I love that more gameplay is more visible to more people. That's really healthy for our collective understanding and appreciation of great and terrible games.

2) AAA productions are slow-moving boats and, often enough, don't sail anywhere interesting. I'm sure that these giant media companies appreciate the creative freshness and flexibility of indie devs and probably also find them fairly cheap to work with. Now will big corporations let indie devs express themselves unfettered? I wouldn't be so sure.

kuattro3 karma

You guys cover some indiedevs and indiegames on Kotaku. How do you guys find the indiegames?

stephen_totilo3 karma

PAXes are swarming with them, but they also hit us up a lot. In fact, we probably only cover a fifth, if that, of the indie games we're contacted about. It's tough to keep up. So many games!

Jakeen2293 karma

What game or serise would you like to see revamped on next gen? For me I think we have VERY few hack and slash rpgs around, other then Diablo and torchlight I can't think of any. I miss games like gauntlet staying up all night with friends.

stephen_totilo4 karma

As much as I love the series, Assassin's Creed could use a re-think. A gamer can only climb so many churches and towers to survey the land around them.

samuraislider3 karma

What are your thoughts on PS4 not having DLNA support?

stephen_totilo4 karma

I don't use consoles as media centers, so I have no personal take. This and the MP3 thing seem like things they can add after. One of the great things about PlayStation and Xbox releasing head to head is that competition ensures that they'll both keep trying to improve. Next thing you know, Sony will allow you to turn off the light in the DualShock 4.

Death-Grind2 karma

Game of the year 2013 : Which game deserves it?

stephen_totilo3 karma

GTA V, Last of Us, Papers Please, and Half Life 3 were all pretty awesome this year. But let's also hear it for games that won't get GOTY but were damn good: Puppeteer, Tearaway, Luigi's Mansion, Fire Emblem Awakening, Gunpoint? And so many more.

BigDZ4SheZ1 karma

Half life 3?

stephen_totilo3 karma

You didn't pick up a copy of Half-Life 3 this year? What kind of gamer are you?

Jarmeh2 karma

Opinions on the Wii U in comparison to the new next gen consoles?

stephen_totilo3 karma

It has more good games than the Xbox One and PS4 do, but that advantage probably won't hold. All three platforms feel pretty barren still and I'm not that excited about Wii U's next-year line-up. Mario Kart and Smash reek too much of been-there/played-that for me. My Nintendo fun still happens more on 3DS.

OneTrueKingSlayer2 karma

What do you know about Made In Japan PS4s? Any chance Kotaku will receive one from Europe?

How was the build quality of both the PS4 and Xbox One? Which felt more premium?

stephen_totilo4 karma

I don't know anything about variations in PS4 models. The Xbox 360 is a heavier, beefier unit, which I guess makes it feel more solid. The PS4 is disarmingly skinny. Both have survived multiple trips in my backpack, back and forth from home to work.

yoimrocktimus2 karma

What is your opinion on updating reviews, and given the mishaps with sites reviewing games under PR experiences that are drastically different than the consumer experience, is it time for sites to place the credibility of their voice over being first to press?

SimCity comes to mind, as well games with heavy multiplayer portions.

stephen_totilo1 karma

We label plenty of games with a "Not Yet," since so many games change, evolve or even get fixed (or broken) after release. If games aren't static, reviews shouldn't have to be either.

As for PR-supervised reviews, I disagree with some of the conventional online wisdom. The idea, I guess, is that review events where the game reviewer binge-plays through a game while a PR person or publisher rep sits nearby is worse and more ethically compromised a situation than a reviewer reviewing a game in the office at home. Could be. May be.

We don't go to review events, because the binge-playing part is problematic, as is the idea of having to spend our outlets' money to send a reviewer somewhere when it's cheaper for the publisher to send us the game. That said, any reviewer who is cowed by the presence of people who are working on the game needs to hang it up. You can assess a game if you're being supervised, sure. In fact, I sometimes contact game creators while I'm reviewing their games to ask questions about the game so I can better understand what's in the game and what the intent was. That leads to a more informed, richer review. I know some reviewers would never do that, but I find value in learning more about a game as I play iy.

Akihiko-VX2 karma

What is it like working for Kotaku? What are some the high- and low-points of your job?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Busy! There are a ton of stories to write. Tons of games to play. A chunk of our team works out of our New York City office, but the rest are spread around the world. The work day can feel neverending, but being able to talk to game creators, play games and tell gamers about them--while also sharing some of our non-gaming interests with folks, too--makes the job a lot of fun.

mamamaMONSTERJAMMM2 karma

Do you think Titanfall will come to the PS4?

stephen_totilo4 karma

The first one is, apparently, a Microsoft exclusive according to Microsoft themselves. Respawn, the devs, confirmed this. But a sequel? Sure. Keep an eye out for Gears of War, too. I'm not convinced that's sticking with Xbox only. Microsoft doesn't own that series. Epic does.

Jetamors2 karma

What do you think is the best article or review that Kotaku's put out this year?

If you could change one thing in the game industry, what would it be?

stephen_totilo1 karma

The one I think I did the best job on this year was: http://kotaku.com/5986239/the-rise-and-fall-of-superdae-a-most-unusual-video-game-hacker

I'm very proud of my team's longreads: http://kotaku.com/tag/kotaku-longreads

But given how many pieces we publish, it's hard to pick just one.

Something to change? Hmm. Gaming still feels too much like a secret to me. The more people share their experiences, talking about gaming, make it less of a secret hobby, the better. The prouder gamers are and the more willing they are to talk about what they think is great or awful about games without being defensive and acting like games are under siege from the masses, the better.

NickNewmz2 karma

Do you feel like the delay of Watch Dogs and Drive Club made the Sony launch not as successful as it would have? Or do you think it would not have done any better? Also, did the delays come as a surprise for you?

stephen_totilo4 karma

They sold a million consoles in a day, right? So they did ok! Watch Dogs was beginning to raise eyebrows, because Ubi kept showing the same demo. The one I saw in May was the one they showed me again in September or October. And GTA V was so impressive that I assumed it shook that team up a bit. Drive Club wasn't really on my radar, but I was surprised given that racing games seem relatively simple to nail for console launches and that studio had been working on that game for a bit.

kittysbeingadildo2 karma

Would the wiiU have done better with a better launch line up? A Zelda title specifically? By the time a new Zelda title comes our on wiiu, they may stop making it

stephen_totilo3 karma

I don't think Zeldas are as big a deal as they used to be. Skyward Sword was a cool game and did well, but it didn't do Skyrim numbers. As I said elsewhere in this AMA, lately I've been in the mood for Nintendo to converge their lines and just make handhelds that can also output to TVs. The Wii U is practically that already and the 3DS is such a killer system that I'd love to see it all become one. They could call it the Nintendo One!

marsh_naylor2 karma

What kind of strategies do you and your staff use to manage the hundreds of comments each article gets, especially in regards to comments that are hateful or just plain unfriendly?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Our tech people helpfully reinvent our commenting system every few months, so... um.... well...

We do have a way to elevate some commenter accounts and let those accounts' comments appear by default. We try to engage with readers, since I agree with Gawker Media boss Nick Denton that readers sometimes have as interesting things to say as our writers do.

This year, we also took steps to push back against the kind of hateful comments you see in so many parts of the Internet. Anyone who sees something wretched in our comments is encouraged to e-mail [email protected]. I have no time for attacks on readers and writers and I'm intolerant of intolerance.

0pie6662 karma

I've got 2 questions for you :)

since brian creccente left kotaku, do you still feel that gamers see Kotaku as a blog biaised towards XBOX?

Do you see yourself as a blogger or a journalist? Why?

stephen_totilo3 karma

I didn't know gamers felt that way when Brian was running things. Brian's a serious reporter and always tried hard not to play favorites. He's top flight.

I'm a reporter first and foremost. Got my Masters' in journalism. Never want to do anything else.

Mastah_Blasta2 karma

Which next gen console has the best original titles?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Right now? Between PS4 and Xbox One? With Sony having, what, three? Xbox, I guess, thanks to having more variety. Resogun might be my favorite across the two machines.

curiousardor1 karma


stephen_totilo2 karma

Tough question! Kameo on GameCube was cool-looking, but I can't remember if I played it. The versions of Aliens Colonial Marines I saw at preview events sure looked good but.. you know the rest.

MAINEiac44341 karma

How do I get a job with you guys?

stephen_totilo4 karma

Just show up and act like we already hired you. We'll forget that we didn't.

wgresser1 karma

Where do you see games going in the future? More towards a nintendo path (changing the way we play games) or microsoft/sony (upgrading/creating more powerful consoles)?

stephen_totilo5 karma

Shorter, more social, less "expensive" to make. Indie devs are pushing back hard against the idea that the games that matter most are the ones that have grand stories and photorealistic graphics. God bless them for that.

But as some games get shorter, I see open-world gaming becoming an ever more popular genre. It makes sense for developers, publishers and players for there to be a massive game world that can be populated with more and more content as the weeks and months go by.

I wonder if the campaigns in big multiplayer FPS games will stick around. If Titanfall's a hit without one, we might see some major rethinking!

LegalSizePaperMaker1 karma

Is there any chance we will see another cell-shaded Zelda game developed?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Sure. Why not? I'll get on the horn with Aonuma right now.

In other graphics news, how the hell good does Yarn Yoshi look? My most anticipated Wii U game!

yoimrocktimus1 karma

Stephen, can you ask Jason which Final Fantasy character is most like Geno Smith?


stephen_totilo2 karma

Jason, which Final Fantasy character is most like Geno Smith?

BigBadMonster1 karma

I'm working on a persuasive speech for my public speaking relating to the next gen consoles. I need to take a survey of about maybe 15 people on which next gen console they may want more. So may I ask (if you do not happen to have either of these already), which console do you like/want more? PS4 or XBOX ONE?

stephen_totilo1 karma

I have them both. I answered about what I think about both elsewhere in this AMA if you don't mind doing a quick search. Short version: neither has much of an edge yet.

Zahne19771 karma

Why aren't you giving PC gaming more attention? It has the largest library of games in the world, and it's more capable graphically than any console.

stephen_totilo1 karma

I think we do cover PC gaming a lot. http://kotaku.com/tag/pc We can always do more, but it's impossible to keep up with all PC releases. Any games in particular that you think we're missing?

Zahne19771 karma

It's not so much a specific game you are missing, but when posting AMA's that list the PS4 and Xbox it would be super-fantastic to hear you give a tip of the hat to the largest and oldest gaming system :)

stephen_totilo1 karma

Sure thing, but please understand that the PC didn't come out this month. I was talking about the brand-new stuff. PC's cool, of course!

katsuku1 karma

Why does it seem like kotaku is so biased towards Apple products compared to other mobile operating systems? I know some of the articles are cross over from gawker, why do they get chosen to be displayed on kotaku though. As someone who is not an Apple fan it is frustrating to see studies posted all the time for any change or new release from Apple but no coverage of other products.

stephen_totilo3 karma

Mobile is hard to cover, as there's a waterfall of games to keep up with. More of the team has Apple devices than Android and since we're covering what we know and what we're playing, we wind up writing about more iOS games of note. It's something we're aware of internally and try to get as much Android stuff as we can given that constraint.

enkryptid1 karma


stephen_totilo1 karma

I don't call it a blog. I call it a news and opinion site. And Kotaku hasn't only been about gaming for years.

Gaming is our primary area of focus on Kotaku. We do publish what we think and hope gamers care about. And since I completely understand some readers' desire to see only our gaming-specific content, we offer a an option to filter out all the non-gaming stuff: http://kotaku.com/tag/kotakucore

Brian Ashcraft runs an overnight shift called Kotaku East that is, as the posts state, a "slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am."

limchori1 karma

What do you think the effect of the Steam Box will have on current gen console wars?

stephen_totilo4 karma

Hard to say. I've heard very mixed impressions about the controller. Some love it. Some think it's just not good enough. If the controller stinks, that's a problem. Also, can Valve manage a platform? On the other hand, they run a store pretty well.

psycharious1 karma

Where do you see the future of Nintendo and how best could the WiiU be used?

stephen_totilo2 karma

Nintendo will continue making games forever, that's for sure. And I think they've got a pretty stable handheld division at this point, despite smartphones stealing a lot of the mainstream-appeal thunder from them that they had with the Brain-Age/Nintendogs DS.

I have a tougher time seeing them justifying a continued presence with home consoles and would rather see them figure out a way to converge their console and handheld into one device that can output to the TV.

InTheTreetop1 karma

Hey Stephen. If you're still around, what's your opinion on the Ouya so far?

Thanks for the AMA. It's really appreciated.

stephen_totilo2 karma

I've barely used it since it came out. Too many other games to play on other systems. I didn't see much on there I couldn't play elsewhere, and I'm not big on couch co-op games, so the appeal of Towerfall was lost on me. I did fall in love with Knightmare Tower and played the hell out of that. Then played the hell out of it again on iOS.

Fyrebrand211 karma

What if any headsets available today will work with xbox one until the new ones come out thanks

stephen_totilo2 karma

Not my area of expertise, but I've asked a colleague to chime in.

superbekz1 karma

can you guys implement a filter on the articles?

i rather not see any plunkett's "articles"

stephen_totilo2 karma

No filters, but his all run in a clump, so just tune out from around 11pm ET to 4am.

refep1 karma

Do you think that Nintendo still has a place in the console market despite increasing competiton from Sony and Microsoft?

stephen_totilo2 karma

I've mentioned this elsewhere in the thread, but I think they'd be well-served to make one machine that can be handheld and console. Basically a more powerful handheld that outputs to TV. It increasingly feels like a shame that some of their best games can only play on one device or the other. Why split your talent like that if we're increasingly in a world that lets portable content play in good resolutions on TVs?

theDoomguy20111 karma

If there was a game like if Shadow Warrior, Equilibrium, Max Payne, Painkiller, Rise of the Triad, Serious Sam, and BLACK were put into a blender, would you play it? To sum it up, a fast paced cyberpunk retro styled twitch shooter with German hardcore music and explosive adrenaline pumping gameplay.

stephen_totilo1 karma

I'd try it, but I think I'd stink at it.

Olzifer1 karma

I seem to have lost interest in my 3ds. I've had it since day one and only seem to use it on long journeys, however once i'm home i hardly touch it. Can you recommend any good games or tricks to utilize it better?

stephen_totilo1 karma

Wow. After this year? 3DS has had an amazing year. Have you looked into Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, or The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds? They're all among the best games of the year. The new Animal Crossing and Pokemon are both pretty good, if you like the franchises.

The 3DS library is one of the best ones for any platform, so I encourage you to check those out. Fire Emblem is brilliant if you like turn-based strategy. Luigi is more of an action game with exploration. Mario & Luigi is an RPG. Zelda's, well, a great Zelda.

Olzifer1 karma

Thanks for the helpful reply. I actually own the new pokemon game and animal crossing. And whilst I fully admit they're fantastic games I have trouble picking them back up after the initial week of purchase. Out of curiosity what are your thoughts on the post main story missions in X/Y? because there doesnt seem to be as much content as there was in say, Soul Silver (although that is probably an unfair comparrison due to the fact that game had a second region!)

stephen_totilo1 karma

I barely played Pokemon, so I couldn't tell you. Sorry. If you want to be adventurous, look for a game called Pictobits on the eShop. Art Style Box Life is another download favorite of mine.

ANillegalALIEN1 karma

I miss when Brian Cresente was Editor in Chief ;(

stephen_totilo2 karma

He misses when you knew how to spell his name correctly.

kousuke1 karma

What is your favourite game of all time?

stephen_totilo5 karma

Majora's Mask, even though Tetris is probably the greatest game ever made.