I Shouldn't, But I Will
Posted on Thursday, June 4 2015 @ 13:37:34 PST
Music: Kid Charlemagne - Cover by Kyle Bronsdon
One can complain about one's least favorite news outlets for good reason. The New York Times still hasn't repudiated Walter Duranty, The Washington Post hasn't done anything worth remembering since Watergate, Fox News is a punch line to the joke that is media credibility, Kotaku hires writers who routinely sleep with the subjects of their coverage, The New Republic still exists for some reason, etc. Today we're here to ***** about Polygon.
For the uninitiated Polygon's been in the 'worst news outlet in games journalism' competition for a while now. A few sins:
Taking blatant payola from Microsoft ($750,000 to make a 'documentary' about their site's founding)
Suspiciously coddling MS titles while throwing heat at exclusives for other platforms
The preceding two items are definitely unrelated
Hiring Ben Kuchera
Not firing Ben Kuchera
Doing predictably lousy journalism
Blatantly lying about Sim City, specifically the nature of its deficiencies
Framing paid mods as an 'abuse' story with potentially criminal malcontents as victims.
It was one Colin Campbell who defended paid mods here while his most-talked-about work is the 'all games are stupid and I'm such a special and beautiful unique snowflake look how Gonzo I am' piece here. Either way he's a terrible writer who needs to get out of games journalism/editorial/writing of any kind. Practically anyone could do his job better than he does and would probably enjoy it more. Granted you would work at Polygon but the money's probably better than McDonald's. We're not here to ***** about him and his blatantly obvious insecurity and narcissism. No, that's the blooper reel before we get to the really offensive stupidity.
We're here to celebrate a bush-league Al Sharpton. From one Tauriq Moosa comes "Colorblind: On Witcher 3, Rust, and gaming's race problem" and it is, without a doubt, one of the most Americentric, chauvinist, racist things I've read since the last time I saw a screencap of /pol/.
Here's a fine selection from the article:
"Many white gamers expressed concern, as Megan Condis documents, disliking being forced to think about race and having to play someone who didn’t match their own race. "The problem is lack of freedom of choice," one claimed."
Neither Moosa nor Condis actually document the relative frequency of any of this - what about people assigned white skin tones who wanted to be black? Are they telling me those people flat-out don't exist? How do they know any of the people, never mind all of them, making these requests are all white? Why do they dismiss the 'freedom of choice' concern and assume the person saying it is arguing in bad faith? Is it so that they can lump them in together to make their point seem more significant than it really is? Or is that they're just so used to employing base rhetoric to argue their points they don't know how to stop?
Later on in the article he whines about not getting many chances to play characters which look like him (why would you want to? Are you that self-infatuated? Are you still a child? That's like watching Goodfellas, not being Italian, and then *****ing about all the Italians in the movie; calling such a complaint stupid does this particular whine too much credit) and links to an image here. Given the title 'brown haired white guys' see how far you have to go into the image before you find a character who either doesn't have brown hair (hint, if you missed Jason Brody you went too far) or is not the only template for that character (they include the white male Alex D from Invisible War but the default was female while the nearest male type was black - in fact it seems deliberately engineered such that selecting the white male face/template required the most effort from the player - I don't think I ever even finished a 'male' playthrough, I liked the voice work for the female better) and you have just that far to invalidate the image's attempt at a point.
"When you complain, you’re making a fuss and being political."
He almost has a valid point here. Had he the intellectual courage to keep going he would manage to get there sooner or later. I'd be disappointed if I thought such a thing possible.
"Race shouldn’t only be an issue for gamers when some white gamers express concerns."
Why the hell does it have to be an issue at all? Couldn't the whole lot of absurd homuncular overgrown children represented by this lot either go away and leave the rest of us in peace or at least grow up?
"I even adore the white male lead for his dad jokes and genuine love for his friends."
You managed to relate to a character who doesn't look like you? And you even managed to not hate him for being white? Moosa we are making progress, brother. Why, at this rate, you'll be listening to classical music and not frothing with murderous rage at dead Austrian composers without justification in no time!
"While some reviews have mentioned issues such as sexism, none I read mentioned another crucial misstep: Not a single human in the game is a person of color."
And the progress is undone. Forget I said anything nice.
"[Editor's note: Hey, wait a second, Polygon's review did in fact bring this issue up!]"
Why do I get the impression that this piece and that particular bit of nonsense in that review are somehow...connected, as if this wave of race-baiting was all part of some pre-ordained plan? I'd have to attribute some measure of intelligence to Polygon's staff which I would believe otherwise impossible as they continue to willingly employ Ben Kuchera and Colin Campbell. If one is to be the village idiot it is well remembered that on the six days of the week one is not flashing traffic or committing mopery one should keep one's pants on in public. If one is to be a cynical peddler of pious frauds please have the decency and respect for human intelligence to not announce the fraudulence of the fraud as is in action. It's insulting.
"Let’s look at a few uncomfortable facts. Almost every Witcher 3 review I came across was written by a white man — excellent writers and all of whom I respect. But games media itself is, like the tech world, a very white-male dominated area. This is why we got a hundred articles confronting the Witcher 3 devs about less pretty grass physics, but not a single article asking them about no people of color."
The review *****ing about no fantasy black people was written by a pasty-white trustafarian from the Bay area. Also, the complaints about visuals had to do with an allegation of bait-and-switch (an allegation I don't think holds water) which is of a far more serious nature for consumer reporting than 'this fails to flatter my political prejudices'.
"But the lack of persons of colour, and the lack of questions about our absence, comes from ignorance rather than animosity."
Would anyone care to take up this thesis and actually argue for it? Moosa can't be bothered. He simply assumes it true.
"Because Slavic people are predominantly white, it therefore is in keeping with nods to that mythology to only feature white people in the game’s world. Just as you would feature Indian people if you were making a game based on Indian mythology, so you would do the same for Slavic."
Why not? It makes sense. It's called thematic continuity. It gives grounding to subject matter.
"But this misses a crucial point: Things are not equal. We are not in a medium that features predominantly Indian men, Chinese women, or focuses on stories from Africa. We’re part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people."
First, how is this point crucial? Second, 'white people' is not a homogeneous group you racist punk, and white people are not, as the phrasing of this statement seems to imply, some kind of androgynous subspecies. Third, you're not part of 'the industry'. You're part of the industry which reports on 'the industry'. Get it straight.
"The Witcher world itself features Zerrikania, whose inhabitants seem very much inspired from the Middle East. In the first Witcher, a prominent Zerrikanian character is named Azar Javed, an Arabic name. Like mine! Culture and names are welcome, but skin color, it seems, is not."
The above paragraph has been edited from its original release - it asserted that Javed was in The Witcher 2. Anyone who has played the first two games would have known this not to be the case. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Moosa's full of it when he claims to have played any of these games. I suppose it matters that Azar Javed is blatantly not white and anyone who played the game would know that but, again, a Polygon editorialist doesn't actually like games or even play them, they simply throw tantrums about them to stir up ad revenue.
"You’ll often hear "based on mythology" as well as "historically accurate," in the same breath, even though it can’t be both. If it’s based on mythology, then it’s fiction. If it’s historically accurate, then we must talk about our ancestors’ legendary fights with sirens on shores of Arg Skellige."
Roman à clef. Try harder next time to understand art, please.
"Indeed, it shows again that humans are white humans and everyone else is non-human and oppressed."
Look up a photograph of a large crowd of random people from Poland. Then realize that the ethnic composition in Poland really hasn't changed much in about 800 years.
"Again: This is literal dehumanising of people of color. We are relegated to non-human species, their treatment is supposed to mimic real-world racist policies."
Bigotry comes in a wide variety of forms and targets a wide variety of recipients. Sapkowski, and by extension CDPR, are inverting Tolkien's archetypes to say something about human nature - namely that it's human nature to isolate, demonize and alienate those different from ourselves. Moosa's article is proof positive that Sapkowski was on to something.
"We want to be seen as people, too. There’s little more to it, for me."
Are you seriously trying to maintain that the Polish developers (who are from and operate in Poland, by the way) who made this game don't think you, personally, are a human being and this game's existence is an attack on your dignity as such? To quote Eugene Krabs, "I've never felt such a combination of pity and...indigestion." If it helps I think you're a person. A dumb, self-centered, entitled jackass but a person nonetheless.
One final point:
"That such hostility exists at all is the problem and it perpetuates the silencing of our concerns — leading to marginalised people leaving white-male-dominated industries altogether."
The flight of women from tech positions started in the mid-1980s. Before that, comp sci departments were actually dominated by women. Starting in the '80s the split started to even out and then reverse and it hasn't gone back. Instead of assuming it's sexism or whatever, why not try analyzing those trends and see what happened in detail? An article actually worth reading is waiting there.
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The Age of Mutual Bottlenecks or: The Downgrade Story
Posted on Thursday, May 21 2015 @ 03:04:53 PST
This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
In all the talk of graphical downgrades no one seems much preoccupied with 'why?'. Why build something and then proceed to tear it down, piece by piece, in the hope that ever more diminished expectations about the final product won't be severe enough to dampen sales. Is it a bait-and-switch? Is it impetuousness? A secret conspiracy by the Five Dutch Bankers? Unfortunately it's nothing so fun. It's actually far more mundane than that.
When building anything, software or otherwise, which must meet multiple sets of restrictions there are basically two ways to do it. One is to build a different version of it for each set of requirements. The other is to build a single thing which will fit all the sets at once. The former option can get hideously expensive but allows for the best fit for each case. The latter option is preferred in software for its ease of implementation and lack of expense. What is lost in potential use value for the least restrictive choice is gained in simplified building, testing, polishing and shortened overall development time.
When The Witcher 3 started production the new consoles were not only not on store shelves yet but had in fact not even been finalized. CDProjekt RED targeted a high end PC of the time period as their benchmark on the assumption that a new generation of console hardware would be powerful enough to meet that standard. They were wrong.
Among the list of design choices and compromises struck in building the new consoles a fair few of them force me to scratch my head in wonder even with my limited knowledge of how the hardware actually works.
The hard drives in the consoles are slow. They use SATA 2 interfaces which have relatively limited bandwidth and the drives themselves operate at 5400 RPM. This introduces latency. This latency would be a bigger problem if the SATA 2 interface were not so much slower than the newer SATA 3. One might think the insistence on using cheap off the shelf standards would explain their choice but neither SATA 3 nor 7200RPM Hard Drives are even remotely new.
So in the interests of saving a poorly chosen buck large amounts of data going to or coming from the drive will be a major issue. The obvious way to prevent it from getting out of hand is to ensure that the installation of files will place those most likely to get loaded together in the closest physical proximity (which cuts down on active seeking) and to keep the files small (which reduces the possibility of bottlenecking). The implications are most vivid in terms of visual detail; a 1kX1k texture has 1/16 the memory requirements of a 4kX4k texture. Dropping texture resolution doesn't just help keep the processor running.
Both consoles use unified memory pools. Both use off-the-shelf memory from PCs. But the memory itself is actually very different. As the standards grew and changed over the years the GDDR series grew more distinct from DDR. DDR is system memory and is designed for chewing up and spitting out small tasks in rapid succession. It is doing many small things so address latency is important. Imagine an intersection in a large city. Many small cars going through that intersection means that anything holding their passage up unnecessarily is a major problem for traffic flow. Video memory has high clock speeds and high latency. It's more like a series of semi-cabs hauling trailers across a rural highway. Getting slowed up at the one intersection for hundreds of miles is not going to matter - the truck makes up for it with steady speed on the open road. The problem is that they're both designed that way to better accommodate the needs of their respective tasks without costing a fortune. The PS4 rural highway is getting clogged with other traffic while the XBOne has to deal with semi-cabs hauling trailers through that busy street.
The overlapping flaws of both consoles create a situation in which it is incumbent on multiplatform games to play to weaknesses rather than strengths.
So if you're wondering why these downgrades are happening it's actually multiple reasons but a big one is that the demands of multiplatform development make it inevitable. CDProjekt RED isn't guilty to the same extent that Ubisoft is but they do bear blame for poorly communicating with the public.
Wikipedia: Serial ATA BUS Comparison
Whatifgaming: UPDATED - Developer Insider: The Witcher 3 Was Downgraded from 2013 - List of All Features Taken Out and Why - I include this for relevance. It's the source everyone goes back to on most of the downgrade claims. That said I find that editorial extremely suspicious.
[The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan]
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