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The perils of the Hype Train…
By shandog137
Posted on 03/09/15
The recent release of Evolve and The Order 1886 really got me to thinking about the disparity between the perspective of sales-driven publishers and the quality-driven purchases of consumers. The “Hype Train” is nothing new, but the way it is utilized has been creating far more...

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The Cost of Caving In or: Artistic Integrity
Posted on Sunday, March 29 2015 @ 20:04:27 Eastern

I hate discussing internet fights.  It's the lowest form of anything short of selling human kidneys to buy counterfeit jeans.  As usual for this sort of thing, a bit of nice music to lighten the mood.

https://youtu.be/WDyx459niSU?t=8m11s
Bach's Toccata and Fugue in F Major, as performed by Marie-Claire Alain at St. Bavokerk in Haarlem, everyone!

The perpetual internet outrage machine is, if one is unacquainted with it, a truly terrifying phenomenon.  Consider for a moment a shifting sea of continuously enraged faces shrieking in anger at something, anything.  When there's nothing important they'll shriek at something insignificant, and if they can't even have petty grievances they'll manufact them.  If they can't find something else or invent something else they turn on each other.  It's an endless rerun of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? minus Mike Nichols.  Once one sees it for what it is (a low-investment signing game no more productive than any other primate signal exercise but far more morally degenerate) one ceases to care other than to be annoyed by it from time to time when it cannot be bothered to keep to itself.

And now it's targeting a game I enjoy, Pillars of Eternity, by a developer, Obsidian Entertainment, who I do dearly love.  At this point I'll say that I hope Obsidian lays aside those complaints as the person who created the allegedly offensive poem was a generous backer and, short of seeking and getting the backer's permission, it would be a profound disrespect to that person and every other backer as well to remove it.  Further, they shouldn't even bother to do so as it proactively asserts that all promises and claims made on the Kickstarter page were subject to a provision not found there; if an arbitrarily large amount of vapid internet outrage builds up in response to any of the results of any particular backer reward that reward is, for all intents and purposes, null and void.

I hate what I'm about to do.  I'm going to dissect a joke.  This should never be done.

The original tweet directed at Obsidian complaining about the bit of content alleges it is 'transmisogynist' - but it's hard to argue that it even is.  Here's the poem reproduced as text:

Firedorn Lightbringer
Here lies Firedorn, a hero in bed
He once was alive and now he's dead
The last woman be bedded, turned out a man
and crying in shame, off a cliff he ran

It's clear that this Firedorn fellow is the butt of the joke, not the person who drove him to running off a cliff.  Nor is it clear that running off the cliff was an act of suicide (it's implied but not certain) nor that the person was transgendered in any fashion.  Much like Jeremy Bender, Ace Ventura, and Glenn Quagmire the titular Firedorn's reaction is comically excessive and, largely, because it undermines the pretense of a carefully projected ladies' man persona.  In other words it's a joke at the expense of the would-be Cassanova's obvious homophobia.

The sheer cynicism of it all is in the predatory angle played: Claiming to be potential customers who are driven off by the content which is unlikely. It's fair to doubt they were ever going to purchase the game. Their unsophisticated assertion the content is unambiguously offensive. Arguing only transphobics could be opposed to revision of the content That some objective moral wrong has been perpetrated This is fiction so their complaints are largely irrelevant The opinion of the content creator, who helped finance the game, doesn't matter. Countervailing opinion (see item 4 above) is irrelevant Giving the complaint itself longer shrift than it will ever deserve I offer the following consideration.  Is it not possible to include content without endorsing it?  Is every depiction of violence an endorsement of violence?  Is every frame of every film an advertisement for whatever happens to be on the celluloid at that particular moment?  To those complaining I must say; reasonable people already figured out the answers to all of these questions were 'no' long before any of you were born and moved on with their lives.  It's time you did too.

If an Obsidian employee does happen to read this I implore you to stand by your work and those who helped make your dreams reality.  Turning your back on them, and yourselves, to calm a few people who will find something else to whine about and break every accusation out of their callow rhetorical toolboxes anew when they're done with you will gain you nothing and cost you everything in the end.

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Boycott Polygon Reason No. Whatever
Posted on Wednesday, March 25 2015 @ 17:06:32 Eastern

Before we get started a nice piece of music - My Room (Waiting for Wonderland) by Van Der Graaf Generator

Via a thread on r/Kotakuinaction came a link to an 8chan thread which in turn contained a link to an archive.today of a Polygon piece which I'll link to below.  In less than four paragraphs the writer Charlie Hall makes an utter fool of himself.  It's an impressive display of ignorance matched with pretense undergirded by a need to manufact unnecessary credibility.

The piece, titled "How Pillars of Eternity Rewrites the Rules for Roleplaying" opens with a description of an alleged playthrough of Fallout.  He opens innocuously enough:

"You shouldn't have to put in hours of study to roll up a great character, and games shouldn't hinge on your ability to guess what combination of skills designers thought make the most powerful archetypes."

This is certainly true.  An overly elaborate or arcane system with many traps is bad design with an addiction to complexity.

And now, the pain starts.

"The first time I hit a dead end in a role-playing game came while playing the original Fallout."

How in the name of Tim Cain did you manage that?  I'm suspicious of your claim.

"I forget where exactly, but it was after dozens of hours of play that my party ended up in the bowels of a dilapidated building somewhere in the wasteland trying to bust through a locked door."

Okay...party...that's a warning light right there.  You don't create a party and unless you have high Charisma on your player character you won't have more than one or two characters travelling with you at all.

"It was at that moment, in that dirty digital basement, that I realized no one in my party had the right mix of stats or skills to move on."

The only character who uses non-combat skills at all is the player character.

"There was literally nothing I could do to get the damned door open, and my story just stopped."

Really?  You didn't try explosives?  Shooting the lock?  Kicking the door down with your feet?  You didn't just retry the lock because there are no hard lockouts for it in the entire game and if you keep trying you'll get it eventually?  You didn't do any of those things?  Why not?

"My only option was to grind that party for four or five whole levels, dumping all of my earned experience fighting radscorpions and bandits into lock picking."

Party.  Again with the party.  Your companions do not level in Fallout.  Only the player character levels.  Besides; dynamite, grenades, crowbars, shotguns, feet.  All of these can get past a door.

"Rather than bury all that time (and bottle caps) into potentially over-leveling my characters for that one door, I just started over."

You don't spend money to improve skills.  Be honest - you've never played Fallout.  Why lie about it?  Describing trap builds in a general way works fine - CRPG enthusiasts get the concept and will know what you're talking about while novices will understand a general explanation better than something heavily rooted in particular knowledge.  You wasted time, words and effort lying to manufact a credibility that you now not only don't have but in so doing have weakened your position even further.

"The one I ran into with Fallout was a trap inherent to the design of the game quest itself. "

No.  No it wasn't.  You didn't even play the game you liar.

"But what about my party in Fallout? No amount of adaptive, divergent, new-age stats finagling was going to get me through that blasted door."

Go home fake gamer boy.

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Why Console Libraries are Still Anemic as of March 2015
Posted on Saturday, March 14 2015 @ 09:44:51 Eastern

In the March 13 entry ("Where are All the Great Console Games?") in his running video series "The Point" Danny O'Dwyer considers a serious problem - the drought of worthwhile software for new consoles.  Spending the first three minutes of a five minute video on the subject to make well-founded complaints about the aforesaid dearth of games and the increasingly irritating unreliability of projected release dates he then goes on to note the possible significance of the death of "B" games which is relevant but not of primary importance.  A comparison of seventh (but curiously not the sixth) generation software in the first two years after launch finds the current generation wanting.  This is all well and good.  However he never gets to the core of the issue or lays out a serious examination of the problem in itself.  Noting it is there he moves on to wonder when the situation may improve.  By video's end we are no closer to understanding 'whence the drought' but since O'Dwyer's focus is more a chiding than analysis it may be adrift of his actual goal.

The answer is simple, really.  Microsoft and Sony both rushed their new systems to market.  If they'd waited there would have been substantive launch libraries and decent post-launch rollout to follow.  They may have also been able to build more powerful systems; the disparity between seventh and eighth generation performance would be that much more severe and provide that much more incentive to switch.  Recent backlashes against games which were rushed to market such as Assassin's Creed: Unity and games which, despite receiving extensions, turned out lousy anyway such as The Order: 1886 have forced content creators to push back releases to finish products properly and to make sure that what they release is, at the end of the day, a decent game.  We might also be playing an Obsidian RPG on one of the new consoles if it wasn't arbitrarily canned for fear of crowding out the absolutely nothing else it would have to stand against to date.

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EA Released Its Q3 FY15 Earnings Statements
Posted on Wednesday, February 4 2015 @ 15:16:12 Eastern

EA released some new financials today.

They're available here.

I'm not an accountant and have no training in reading these sorts of documents but a couple of interesting things pop out from the Form 10-Q quarterl...   read more...

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A Means to Disseminate Honest-to-God Leaks
Posted on Monday, February 2 2015 @ 11:31:56 Eastern


Wikileaks, though technically not a wiki, provides an easy means to disseminate information that some find it desirable to share against the wishes of those who find it desirable to keep secret. Aside from the morality of the leaking itself, ...   read more...

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Finally Broke My Crowdfunding Rule
Posted on Monday, January 12 2015 @ 11:26:39 Eastern



I've had a long-standing rule to avoid getting involved in any sort of crowdfunded activities.  I didn't donate to Shadowrun or Wasteland, but I did buy and enjoy both of them (I'm plugging both of those games right n...   read more...

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Not News: Gamespot Still Sucks
Posted on Sunday, January 11 2015 @ 17:35:14 Eastern

At 8:09AM on January 11 Emanuel Maiberg posted a blurb to Gamespot's newsfeed which indicated via headline that Baldur's Gate III is in development with Beamdog at the helm.

Here's the headline as it appears :

...   read more...

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A Valuable Analysis of SJW Culture
Posted on Friday, January 2 2015 @ 10:30:14 Eastern

The author is unknown and the piece is untitled.  I found it via a reddit thread.

It reminds me of another essay, the author known and the piece titled, it being "The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult" by Murray Rothbard.&n...   read more...

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A Brief Summary of Gamergate
Posted on Friday, December 26 2014 @ 11:16:51 Eastern

    Gamergate in summary: several hungry people are fighting over slices of pizza sitting on a table.  What follows is an attempt to describe them and the basic outline of events.
    First up is the hashtag ...   read more...

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Bandai Namco Issues DMCA Complaint Against Dark Souls Modder
Posted on Monday, December 22 2014 @ 15:48:26 Eastern

In a post on NeoGAF Peter "Durante" Thoman announced Bandai Namco has issued a DMCA complaint to Dropbox forcing the takedown of DSFix, the most popular mod for the PC version of Dark Souls, from their service.  The claim appears absur...   read more...

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