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    Fanning the Flames: Luc Bernard, victim or raving idiot?
    Monday, 18 August 2008
    What has now become known as simply Bernard Gate will go down as an infamous moment in the minds of many hardcore gaming forum members across the world. But was he simply a victim of the current state of gaming communities? Or did he perhaps leave himself open to this kinda of treatment as a result of the way he put himself in the public eye?

    Popular gaming blog Destructoid recently posted a shall we say less than positive review of Eternity's Child. They gave it 1/10 and derided the game as worthless and not worth your time or effort in playing. The review did raise some interesting points namely in the introduction, highlighting how Eternity's Child had come to enter the limelight; "Talk about the game's creator, Luc Bernard, whose skill at self-promotion has put his work firmly in the public eye for one reason or another?"

    To be fair the backlash from the review was far more from to do with the comments and it is really easy to lay the blame firmly at the feet of Anthony Burch and Conrad Zimmerman for their analysis in their article. Listening to the recent Podtoid does make the site shine in a far more distinct light as they defended their honest objectivity that is present in their reviews. If a game is bad you can trust them to tell you. They took the slant that Luc Bernard should not have gone and argued in their comments system and it is hard to not agree with this viewpoint. One thing they said is hard to justify was about his drinking, if this debacle has indeed led to Luc seeking refuge in alcohol it is surely not something to laugh about?

    I recently spoke to Luc on MSN during the calm after the storm. It is clear to see Luc has taken all these comments very personally when he told me "You see when you get a certain number of comments on your blog telling you to kill yourself well erm lol you think and you're like ok if I continue I will end up like Uwe Boll". Uwe Boll of course the much hated movie director who seems intent on giving us videogame movies that are well to be frank awful. Whilst critizing a game is one thing there is no way you can justify personally targetting one and Luc has found both his personal blog inundated with insults and threats as well as his private email address. How is this in anyway fair? Certainly sending insults via email is an invasion of privacy and the arguement that he has entered into the public so is therefore fair game does not wash at all.

    There can be little doubt that trolls have become the bain of the internet. Luc summarized it "forum and trolls are destroying everything", whilst this is a very broad statement and becomes a bit gloomy there is plenty of truth behind it. Trolls are a problem and if a reaction by them to a game like this can bring somebody to quit the Internet. This is something developers need to roll with and evolve to accept it. This new found culture of people going to extreme lengths to deliver their point of view isn't going to go away as new blogs and forums spawn every day of the week. It isn't going to go away, this kind of game conversation which would never have taken place on press sites prior to the up rise of the Blog. Bloggers aren't bound by the policies and integrity of the mainstream press and as such aren't held in high regard. Despite perhaps this lack of professional regard Blogs do create incredible reactions, controversial posts on popular Blogs seem to make the headlines as much as actual gaming news these days. Should developers enter the blogosphere though? Is it worth the hassle?

    It does seem that whenever a developer goes into the public arena it only ends up ending in a less than favourable way. It is usually self preservation unfortunately Luc decided to compare himself with the ultimate forum whipping boy Denis Dyack.

    Trying to compare himself to Denis Dyack of Silicon Knights was perhaps not the best thing to do. It's like George Bush trying to defend his war policies and comparing himself to Genghis Kahn. First up he went on 1up Yours and opened a whole can of worms by saying he did not approve of people previewing games, this of course had nothing to do with the poorly constructed demo of Too Human that made it onto the E3 showfloor, hey Denis don't want your games previewing? Then don't show them simple as. However Dyack didn't stop here, he has recently been running amok on NeoGAF and now alienating the very people who he is relying to buy the game. Luc Bernard on the other hand until this debacle has proven to be a very likable fella, with appearances on the Radio Ninty and N-Europe Show podcasts to name just a couple helping to reaffirm this belief.

    As mentioned before I have had the pleasure of speaking to Luc on MSN and he does have an air of a very nice man, who is enthusiastic about what he does and has a lot of passion for the job. He was very passionate in his defence of himself. He explained his reasons for entering into the comments section of reviews and battling them head on, it was simply a case of fighting fire with fire. He felt his back was up against the wall and it would seem this is the only way he knew how to fightback.

    Also of course Dyack has the advantage that of the six games published today he has managed to secure big publishers for those titles; Nintendo, Konami and Crystal Dynamics to name a few. Luc has not had this advantage he is an indie developer and any deals he has in place will likely mean he needs to hit a lot of downloads to make money from it. In conversation with him it is clear to see he thinks that this review from Destructoid has killed the game before gamers even had the chance to download it and therefore feels he faces a dire financial future if he relies on Eternity's Child as his main source of income.

    Just for the record I have played an early demo of Eternity's Child and yes it did have glitches. However the potential was there, I think it had the hallmarks of good level design the sort of none linear mechanics that have been praised in games such as Castlevania and Metroid. It is worth noting the also the art style is gorgeous (something Destructoid's review did mention, see it wasn't all bad!) and Luc Bernard's admission that he will perhaps continue his stories through graphic novels will see this work survive in a different form at least.

    In balance the truth likely lays somewhere between the two. What right do trolls have to publicly hurl personal slurs and taunts at a guy who is just trying to make a living? Comparing himself to Denis Dyack really hasn't helped in anyway, Denis is a different beast all together. Luc Bernard is a very friendly, likable, passionate and eccentric man; all traits which have unfortunately helped contribute to him being an easy target. One thing is clear though Luc Bernard will not be the last man to fall victim to the Internet forums of the gaming community. As the way we consume games evolves we also find the way we discuss games changes and everyone becomes a critic when they set up an account on any number of sites, its up to games developers to learn to use it to their advantage rather than let themselves get defeated by it.

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    posted by flameboy @ 13:00  
    • At 18 August 2008 at 23:12, Blogger tomalak said…

      Interesting post. One small correction; Luc is not a games developer in the strictest sense. Eternity's Child was implemented by a team of coders and an artist. Luc had the idea and managed the project with creative input and ownership rights. He also conceived the designs. But this does not make him a developer! I think it is important to remember (and a lot of people seem not to) that EC does not solely belong to Luc Bernard, yet we never hear about the others.

    • At 20 August 2008 at 20:19, Blogger D_prOdigy said…

      So what is he then? A director? A producer? Presumably the coders and artist are just that, then: coders and an artist. I think there's a weird thing still going round that links "Games Developers" with "Programmers" and "Scripters". I think people will find actual game developers are rather annoyed with this conception, ie: Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid.

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