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Release date: 12/31/14

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Gamer Love
By ryanbates
Posted on 12/19/14
When a player one meets his or her player two, it's a beautiful thing. Check out this cake my friend and GameRevolution reader Lindsey L. gave her sweetums on their two-year anniversary!   ...


oblivion437 oblivion437's Blog
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 twitter group itself.  It consists of roughly fifty thousand members but has no leadership or central governing authority at all.  They have no official code of ethics or even a unified set of goals beyond bringing increased transparency to a field, games journalism, they view as highly corrupt.  Politically they are all over the map but available evidence (such as users posting their politicalcompass score on twitter) suggests that the great bulk of gamergate supporters skew left-liberal to left-libertarian orientation.  This stands in stark contrast to repeated accusation that most are right wing authoritarians.  The sheer diversity of its membership (practically every possible combination of political values, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality and so on) puts many common statements reiterated by its opponents endlessly in a rather strange light.  Due to their position and nature they can be considered the 'counter culture' of gaming but that term is rather more of an umbrella.  There are reactionaries as well as liberals among them.
    Second are the journalists under fire for alleged collusion, conflict of interest, lack of journalistic ethics, poor writing, inadequate research and other bad behavior.  The instances of such are too numerous to document handily.  One could peruse Slower than Slow, Thicker than Thick[1] or the Kotaku in Action[2] subreddit or go to this timeline[3] which goes back to 1995.  As Razorfist observed[4] it's a remarkable example of rhetorical sleight-of-hand that has perfidious behavior perpetrated mostly by men mostly for the benefit of other venal men somehow turned into a women's issue.  More on that later.
    Third is the group of journalists not actually involved in such activity but caught in the larger tide of resentment brought about by the morally bankrupt misdeeds of their peers.  But since these people, like moderate Gamergate supporters or opponents without hands in cookie jars, don't make good ad copy they're not much talked about by anyone.
    Fourth is a group of apparently left wing hustlers, radicals, con artists, pseudo-academics, cod philosophers, political gamesmen and so on who are desperate to let the second group get away with their deflection in order to use the situation to their own ends.  If the situation were reversed and joining the most severe fire eating lunatics out to destroy the current incarnation of the gaming press was to the benefit of the causes they ostensibly support then it can be said without doubt that this bunch would be sweetening their coffee with gasoline every morning.  They want everyone to keep talking about the individuals early reaction centered around so that the actual recipients of justified ire never have to face the music[5].
    Fifth is an as-yet unidentified group, most likely Goons, responsible for most of the harassment surrounding the whole mess.  Whether any particular claim of harassment is false there has yet to be conclusive evidence linking documented harassment to any particular faction on the table.  While the counter culture would most certainly like these people to go away it's curious that the games media has turned a heavy mill out of letting it happen and posting lurid stories of the damage done.  As David Auerbach notes in his article for Slate[6], the entire situation has turned into a troll's paradise.
    Sixth is the rogue's gallery around whom the original heat coalesced.  Their primary skill or talent, whatever side they were on, was to draw attention to themselves and keep eyes on their work.  The work was often shoddy[7] and poorly prepared.
    Who's in the right?  Well, looking at the reaction among press boosters to John Bain's VGA win, Boogie's ban from Neogaf, or the attempt to shut down Fredrick Brennan's imageboards I suppose the reader might not be sure but the right answer is probably the side that is not wishing violence upon a man who is undergoing treatment for cancer, silencing anyone who is even neutral then lying about it, or trying to destroy the livelihood of a handicapped person by slandering them and cutting them off from their patrons in such a fashion as also disrupts the projects of numerous other creators.  Probably.

[1] - - the writer, Chris, also has a blog about game design, and both are worthwhile.
[2] - -
[3] - - It's far from an exhaustive source, containing only some of the more noteworthy highlights with independent documentation via links.  It goes back to 1995 but problems of collusion and payola actually go back further than that; there was a bit of a dustup in the 1980s about computer software magazines having ads for products reviewed in the magazine.
[4] - - the relevant video is number seven, "Gamergate".  The first in the series is now nearly two years old and the video maker has been writing and commenting on the issue for some time longer than that.
[5] - - GameJournoPros is one of the casualties in the fighting but not one to be mourned; it was, like all secret communication groups, a nest of bad behavior which flourished in the dark.
[6] - "How to End Gamergate" - A somewhat satirical essay demonstrating how games journalists can simultaneously repair their shattered credibility and bring the situation back to normal.  Definitely worth a read and, for what it's worth, Slate has reformed its affiliate policies along the lines Auerbach suggests so people are listening.
[7] - Jim81Jim aka Internet Aristocrat is responsible for the denied, though not debunked, 'sex for favors' claims.  His work, no longer available, was what much of the chamber drama obsession centered around.  It can be fairly said to have done more damage to the progression of the larger conversation than just about anything else and in the long run has given more cover to corruption than it could ever have exposed.

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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 absurd on its face as DSFix contains no copyrighted content in it nor does it in any way make a claim to ownership of Bandai Namco property.  Those interested in getting DSFix can still get it direct from Thoman's blog.  DSFix has been universally praised for making one of the worst PC ports of the past few years user-friendly.

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The Search for Optimal Bake Time
Posted on Wednesday, December 17 2014 @ 14:36:19 Eastern

Something percolating in my mind for a while now is the question of an 'optimal' development time for a given game.  If a game is given too little time in the oven, or if the post-production work is rushed, the resulting game is unfinished.  This can also be a result of any of the worst practices following through.  If a game is given too much time, however, the results can be equally bad for a number of reasons.   Is This Even Bread Yet?
The underbaked game is easy enough to spot.  Features are either missing, broken, or in need of an overhaul.  Some get fixed with time or mods but others will remain forever broken or missing.  They tend to be highly unstable at launch with patches smoothing things out.  Someone who knows how to look for it will find the scars where content was clipped.  What they all have in common is that simply extending more time and/or funding to the development process, whether at the creation phase or the testing phase, would have prevented these problems from arising in the first place.  Whether a lack of available capital, a need to have something in the company portfolio for a given fiscal period, simple short-sighted greed or some other thing games get sent out the door early all the time.
It's Not 'Burnt to a Crisp'!  There's Nothing but Crisp!
The overbaked game is harder to pin down because while something went wrong in development along the line in such a way that the whole project should have been shut down or radically redone it is not merely a project that went bad but one which was not abandoned when it should have been.  The overbaked game tends to have a few warning signs prior to release.  It will slip deadline after deadline though this could also be the developer working outside their comfort zone and the pre-launch PR got going too soon.  But atop the missing deadlines follows a worrying trend with the overbake; information on the project slows to a trickle but even the trickle may dry up.  Before the development goes dark, if it goes dark, numerous features and design concepts talked up at some point in the past will cease to feature in pre-release campaigning.  The developer and publisher will instead talk about art direction, theme, the reputation of the creator or other insignificant trivialities instead of the game.  After launch, no matter how many copies the game sells, the studio will often shut down or hemorrhage talent while stories come out of the project director repeatedly killing viable work and demanding incessant retooling amid massive turnover within the team.  The game didn't lack for commitment from the publisher; it lacked for control.
This Was Never Going to be Bread
In truth the overbake is just a subset of the misguided development pipeline.  At some point someone should have taken the project in hand, forced development on certain elements to stop cold while others would be pushed to the fore and something shippable ironed out and released.  It's baseless speculation to assert it outright but it's possible that the vast majority of projects which are ever greenlit fall under such a header.
I Don't Know How, But This is the Best Bread I've Ever Eaten!
Sometimes the story does get a happy ending.  In spite of every adversity a project which goes off the rails can right itself.  Some of the most beloved games ever made are would-be disasters saved from the brink.  So how does anyone achieve the 'optimal' development path?  Sadly, by doing the same thing over and over again.  That's why annual franchises, anaphylaxis-inducing mediocrity though they be, arrive on schedule with little indication of stopping short of catastrophic sales losses.  Experimental or artistically bold stuff breaks the mold and will, as a rule, impose unforeseen challenges upon development no matter what.  The most well-prepared such plan will still go over budget and past deadline.

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Dark Souls Steamworks Migration Available, Masochists Rejoice by Screaming in Pain
Posted on Monday, December 15 2014 @ 08:33:53 Eastern

The announcement turned out to be that the Steamworks version is available today.  Check the game's forum page from your library and look for the pinned thread for instructions on how to migrate from GFWL to Steamworks and enjoy the game wit...   read more...

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Dark Souls Steam Migration Delayed but on Track?
Posted on Sunday, December 14 2014 @ 07:03:34 Eastern

November came and went without Namco Bandai's promised Steam migration but an announcement on the 25th of did say news was forthcoming.  Later an announcement was made that information would be revealed 'soon' and that the migration ...   read more...

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The Witcher 3 Has Been Delayed to May 19
Posted on Monday, December 8 2014 @ 17:45:28 Eastern

David Thier's reaction here.

My reaction here.

EDIT: For some crazy reason I thought the Forbes piece was written by Paul Tassi.  I was tired when I wrote this post....   read more...

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InXile Files Trademarks for 'Van Buren' and 'Meantime'
Posted on Monday, December 8 2014 @ 17:19:36 Eastern

PC Gamer has the scoop and credits RPG Codex as their source.

For those not in the know, Meantime was an aborted followup to Wasteland and Van Buren was the internal codename for the version of Fallout 3 Black Isle almost got to make.&...   read more...

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GoG Winter Sale In Swing!
Posted on Thursday, December 4 2014 @ 16:12:55 Eastern

GoG is running their annual winter sale.  Scope that stuff out if you're looking for something good.  It runs until the 15th of December....   read more...

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Why Has Bethesda not Made an Announcement?
Posted on Thursday, December 4 2014 @ 15:04:04 Eastern

The following post will be mostly speculation and guesswork pulled together from interviews, modmakers' notes, newsposts, discussion boards, twitter exchanges with relevant personnel and so on.  It isn't journalism or even anything close...   read more...

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Yet Another Nitpicky Essay Whining About Clickbait
Posted on Sunday, November 30 2014 @ 13:03:35 Eastern

In the grand tradition of all my previous whiny nitpick articles I'll begin with something pleasant and go on to cause nothing but misery and it's all my fault.

First, Zappa Plays Zappa with The Black Page 1 and 2

...  

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