Archive for the ‘video games’ Category


Jack Thompson All But Admits A Personal Dislike of Gamers in General

December 31, 2007

EDIT: Jesus, I’m a fucking idiot. This all happened two years ago.

Every gamer’s favorite dickhole is up to his old tricks again. Come on and all to be amazed at Jack’s witheringly condescending dismissal of a polite British gamer’s helpful words of advice. See how his ugly and crude correspondence reveals the truth we’ve suspected all along:

Jack Thompson hates gamers.

It’s not violent games being inappropreately sold to minors that gets his goat, no, it’s the actual gamers he wants to demean and vilify. He hates all of us. He hates us on a visceral, unreasoning level.

According to Jack, if you play games, you don’t have ideas; it’s a contradiction in terms. The only people who think about games, apparently, are the people who only think bad things about games.

Now I think I disagree with the polite British gentleman (who goes by the name Plagiarize of all things) who posted this exchange. I am staunchly against any kind of legislation relating to the content of video games whatsoever. I’m all in favor of a voluntary ratings system combined with strong parental education efforts, perhaps even with an industry-generated code of conduct requiring stores to pledge not to sell M-rated games to minors if they want to be allowed to stock any ESRB-rated games at all, but no government.

But you see, it’s okay for me and him to disagree on this. In fact, it’s probably healthy that gamers have such a wide spread of opinions. And if there really was a healthy exchange of debate on this topic within the gamer community, then gamers like Plagiarize would have a valuable contribution to make. But there is no such healthy debate in gamerland, and much of the blame for that rightly lands at Jack Thompson’s feet.

Because he doesn’t want a debate. He wants a pogrom.


*eye twitch*

November 21, 2007

I bought Mass Effect today. It is a super concentrated jolt of pure ecstatic glee.

My one of my fucking housemates has her goddamned loud stoner friend over, along with another friend, and together they have taken over the living room, so I can play Mass Effect, but I cannot hear it.

Murder is still illegal in this country, right?



October 23, 2007

The Book of Questions

Pablo Neruda


Por qué los inmensos aviones

no se pasean sus hijos?

Cuál es el pájaro Amarillo

que llena el nido de limones?


Por qué no ensenan a sacar

miel del sol a los helicópteros?


Dónde dejó la luna llena

su saco nocturno de harina?



Why don’t the immense airplanes

fly around with their children?


Which yellow bird

fills its nest with lemons?


Why don’t they train helicopters

to suck honey from the sunlight?


Where did the full moon leave

its sack of four tonight?



y dont bg planes

fly w/ noobs?


which mob

drops lemons?


y dont helis

lvl up hunnysuck?


where’d he drop

the flag?


Hip-hip, hooray?

October 7, 2007

Anyone paying attention to the gaming world these days know the Xbox 360 had been doing really badly in Japan. Microsoft’s new console has gone over with the Japanese about as well as a mariachi band at the Hiroshima memorial service. Microsoft has been scrambling to fix this, as defeating the PS3, or at least fighting it down to a draw, on its home turf is the only sure way to win this battle of the console war. Recently it has become apparent that one of their main tactics for addressing this shortcoming has been to woo over a bunch of Japanese development studios to create Xbox 360-exclusive titles. Ace Combat 6, Beautiful Katamari, and Eternal Sonata are just three Japanese developed games that are being released exclusively for the 360. More importantly, 2 of the games I mentioned are sequels to popular PlayStation franchises that have essentially defected away from Sony.

Not only does the Xbox’s strategy of stealing away Japanese games seem likely to be a success, but even the most ionically American game out there, Halo 3, has managed to do brisk business in Japan.

So while the Xbox has sold poorly in Japan so far, it looks like Microsoft’s monolith has just been biding its time and resting up to deliver the ass kicking to end all ass kickings.
So…hooray? I mean, I hate the PlayStation on a visceral, unreasoning level. Those mother fuckers killed Sonic! So I want the PlayStation to fail horribly. But weirdly, I don’t have anything particularly against Sony in general. Meanwhile, I’m an Xbox fan who has the zeal of the converted, but at the same time I simply loathe Microsoft. Vista is disgusting and demeaning and horrible in every way. If the Revolution comes, I’m hoping Bill Gates catches a bullet.

In short, I really don’t know how to feel. I’m happy to see the Xbox gaining traction. I’m thrilled to see the PlayStation stumble. But I don’t want Sony to die, and I would happily dance on Microsoft’s grave.

I’m a man without a country.


Restrictive Design Standards = Vast Fields of Opportunity

September 27, 2007

The developer commentary included with Team Fortress 2 has one interesting segment on a conundrum they faced while designing the Spy class. They wanted players on the Spy’s team to be able to identify them as friendlies, and they wanted to do this without adding another 2D element to the HUD. The solution they came up with was inspired: have the Spy put on a paper mask with a picture of the class he’s masquerading as on it. The lesson here was that holding one’s self to a strict design standard can force innovation by removing the easy way out. It is said that restriction’s are an artist’s best friend, and their Spy solution is a textbook example.

I think this is a great concept, but it should be pushed farther. So how about making a game of a certain genre that is known for primarily revolving around a certain kind of play mechanic, and then refusing to use that mechanic at all? This would force the developers to come up with new ways for the player to interact with the game and their environment, which would create new styles of gameplay and inject a big fat slug of innovation into the games industry. The play mechanics that would be developed to fill the sudden vacuum could later be refined and applied to other games all over, potentially opening up entirely new genres and game types.

And the most overused type of gameplay is combat. When a developer doesn’t know what else to do, they hand the player a gun, put them in a room full of monsters and let them fight it out. This is true of several genres, almost by definition, but it doesn’t have to be. How about an RPG with no combat whatsoever?

With no combat to balance, development resources could be focused elsewhere, such as dialog and writing, and here’s where an idea really grabbed me: make a game that only has 8 or so NPCs, but each of them has a thousands and thousands of lines to dialog. Instead of making a whole lot of little NPC interactions, focus on a very few but very big and deep and complex NPC interactions, with hundreds, or even thousands of permutations.

And to give players more control over how their half of the conversation plays out, perhaps they could be given two option categories they must pick from during each round of dialog. One category might be answer content, with options such as “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” etc, and the other category could be a tone of expression, such as sneering, humble, proud, direct, and so on. Different NPCs would not only react to what the player said, but how he/she said it. And this would be true of every dialog option in the game.

With the current techniques involved with writing NPC dialog, this is probably an unworkable goal. So of course new techniques would be developed to meet this challenge. For instance, maybe the developer could create a special AI to aid in this process, one that has a set of preferences and then looks at the player’s current state, the player’s past actions, the state of the game world, any story flags that might be relevant, and so on, and then chooses the line of from a list of responses that best fits the context of the conversation. Or maybe an AI wouldn’t be much help, and the solution would just be an improved method of scripting conversations. In any case, the main goal would be to move beyond simple dialog trees, and more towards a simulation of a real conversation.

If every answer had a real and immediate effect on how the rest of the game played out, the replayability of this game would be astounding. This quality could be enhanced further by deliberately writing the script so that you could only get part of the story during a single play-through. A single play-through would contain enough information for the story to make sense, perhaps, but the NPCs could be set at odds with each other so that to get all the information an NPC could provide he/she would have to earn one NPC’s trust at the expense of another’s. A player would never be able to get everybody to tell the whole story in a single game. And of course the ending would change depending on the player’s interactions with all of the NPCs, so even if a player decided to stick close to NPC X during two different play-throughs, the ending might still be different depending on how the player treats NPCs Y and Z.

This is just one of the ideas that came to me while pondering VALVe’s example of how a commitment to design principles yields big results. I have more, which I may post about later. The daydreams this will be running around in my head for months, I can already tell.


The New Medics Are Nifty

September 22, 2007

To further expand upon my TF2 gushing:

They have built the perfect medic.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Selling My Soul for Team Fortress 2

September 20, 2007

So yes, I broke down and joined the TF 2 public beta. In my defense, it seems that doing so actually made more financial sense for me, even if it was a total fucking money grab on VALVe’s part to kill the Black Box (a decision whose importance I did not fully comprehend until I saw that it would be vastly more expensive to buy each component game separately instead of as part of the Orange Box.)

Still, I think this complete and total abandonment of my principles was worth it. It is now very clear why Team Fortress 2 took 9 years to develop- it’s the best multiplayer game of the year. Everything ties into everything else. It’s got a level of balance and polish I’ve rarely ever seen before. The graphics, even on my beat up old system are smooth and clean. Games are fast and tense. It’s got everything you could ever want from a TF game.

If you’ve been waiting for this game, be happy. It doesn’t get much better than this.