The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on February 13th, 2011 at 11:15 am.

It's sunday, there is the papers
Sundays are for eating. Don’t stop! Eat and eat until you are like a balloon stuffed with cake, fit to burst. Only when you are precariously heavy with meat and plant-matter, can you stop, sit down, and have a look at this week’s words from the world of games.

  • Will Porter’s retrospective look at the Acorn Archimedes is a thing you should read. Here’s a bit of what Porter wrote: “Yes, the Acorn was a gaming backwater. I’m not going to deny it. Like most tepid shallow pools though, there was a ton of interesting stuff growing in it and occasionally some great stuff floating in from elsewhere if the wind was in the right direction. My Acorn gaming habit was in a gated community, but I’m oddly proud of my hectic spanner-chucks in Mad Professor Mariarti, spherical space platforming in Fervour and mushroom tree destruction in Apocalypse. God bless the Archimedes. For the middle classes shall not see her like again.”
  • There aren’t enough women entering science as a career. Can video games help? Science Daily investigates. Kotaku also has a few words on this.
  • Penumbra writer Tom Jubert has been off visiting Ice Pick Lodge in the far-away land in which they live. He’s written about it, too. It has a certain flavour to it: “5am – I wake up to hear Nikolay singing “What shall we do with the drunken sailor” in his sleep.”
  • Bit-gamer have been talking about how death in games is handled. Here’s a bit: “Death is the focus, the challenge, the enemy to overcome. As you commit each section of a level to muscle memory, you steadily beat death. It becomes more than trivial because it’s wholly accepted. ‘Oh I died. Oh I died. Died. Died. Dead.’ The death state exists for a micro-second before the stage is reset and everything is as it was – the player close to immortal because death has no significance. Clearly this only works in a game in which this concept is the very focus – but it’s a death mechanic none the less.”
  • People didn’t seem to react well to David Braben’s suggestion that we might have “a Metacritic that rates game reviewers”, largely because it seemed to point towards reviewers bowing to some kind of consensus. Us being wrong/mad is much more valuable. Metacritic’s Marc Doyle responded to Braben’s suggestions over here.
  • An investigation of the use of bots in farming cash in Eve Online.
  • Paste Magazine on games being “over the top”, with particular reference to Bulletstorm and Bayonetta.
  • Lawrence Russell takes some time to respond to Julian Widdow’s discussion of inspiration in game design: “…just because I can’t negate thinking about this other game doesn’t mean I can’t find an original idea. I call this the “bad photocopy method”. This method is my favourite for turnaround time although it does require someone else. I start by describing the existing game to my best friend. My explanation of it and his interpretation of my explanation is no substitute for playing the game. The image in his mind will be completely different. I further this by asking him to draw how he envisions the game and get him to explain the GUI and the game elements.”
  • Stu Campbell examines video game pricing, and the profits made by slashing prices.
  • Leigh Alexander on the Dickwolves thing. There’s a sentence I never expected to write.
  • Game Theory’s documentary on game story-telling.
  • Jonathan McCalmont on Heavy Rain: “Heavy Rain is a game that cruelly exposes our own refusal to embrace our freedom. Games such as Bayonetta (2009) involve more button-pushing than a Borgia family reunion, and yet – despite the phenomenal amount of physical interaction demanded of the player – the game gives them little or no control over either the nature of their character or their character’s path through life; it’s not as though you even have the choice to send her home to put on some proper shoes. Heavy Rain gives you more creativity and more sense of responsibility over the development of your characters than practically any other video game… and yet it is a game that demands little from its players but a few timely button presses.”
  • BLDGBLOG interviews Mike “Hellboy” Mignola: “Shipwrecks are great—but ships in general, even when they’re not wrecked, as long as they’re old school sailing ships, are wonderfully Gothic. I don’t know that I’ve done a lot of stories—if any stories—with ships that are 20th-century ships. I like the romance and the spookiness and the tragedy that goes with that old time sea travel. Those stories pertaining to ships are huge. I love them. They’re a big genre within ghost story fiction.”
  • Peter Pomerantsev on the unfolding of Russian TV.

This week in music I’ve mostly been digging through old blues stuff. This John Lee Hooker track has had a lot of time from me.

More soon!

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136 Comments »

  1. NemsMole says:

    What happened to Cardboard Children?

  2. heretic says:

    j.l. hooker ftw!

    big legs, tight skirt, you’re about to drive me out of my miiiind~

  3. Nick says:

    check out Crow Jane by Skip James, if you haven’t already, Jim.

  4. heretic says:

    good find this:

    http://wosblog.podgamer.com/2011/02/12/anyone-still-not-convinced/

    imo, sell it cheaper more people will buy it and less people will pirate…

    • Zwebbie says:

      heretic: Thing is, some people are willing to pay $60 for a game. So the current strategy is to start at something like that, and gradually work the price down, so that you’ll have caught everyone at his or her maximum price down the road. So yes, pricing it at $1 makes a lot of money, but probably not as much as first pricing it at $60 and then pricing it at $1.
      I can only hope that with the half-yearly Steam sales becoming a regular thing, people will get used to the idea of downpricing as time goes on. If you have the patience, you don’t have to pay an outrageous price for anything other than Blizzard games.
      I wonder what’d happen if developers/publishers actually told us their plans for the price of the game for the next few years. That way, you could decide what price you think it’s worth and know how long you’d have to wait. No need to keep up this “sales”-facade, because we all know by now that prices just go down over the years.

    • heretic says:

      I think you’re right, people with the cash will dish out 60$ for a game straight when it comes out.

      I imagine most people with a tight budget can’t though (really talking about myself) which is why starcraft 2 still at 35 pounds is a bit ridiculous and no way I’d buy it now. (funnily enough you can expect blizzard to package all the starcraft 2 expansions into one later down the line… so if you want to wait a couple of years, BARGAIN)

      I’d like to know what sort of plan publishers have too, but giving that away and I suppose they’ll make less money from people who are on the fence about getting it now or fighting the urge and paying less 3 months down the line.

      Nevertheless you could still crawl all this information and I expect you’ll find patterns emerging with new releases. (would be interesting to know if say publisher A always decreases by X pounds after Y months).

      Interestingly some small game publishers decrease price very little, like for arma 2 arrowhead the price stayed constant for a very long time ~15gbp.

    • triple omega says:

      @Zwebbie:

      They are possibly doing the right thing by not starting off cheap. The first high-level sales might be worth it in the beginning. I wonder if they are getting the timing for the price-cuts right though. Because price isn’t the only factor for consumers. An aging game might fall out of trend before reaching the mayor audience by cutting down the price.

      On the other hand, starting off cheap might set you apart from the competition. As well as instantly draw a larger audience that might create a more stable (multi-player) community.(And possibly create a snowball effect.) This could have saved some games in the past that just needed a better start.

      What is best for what situation will have to be determined, but it is clear that the majority of developers are not even taking this serious enough. Most set their prices on what THEY think their game is worth, not what the market thinks it’s worth. If they took pricing as serious as marketing, they might make a lot more monies.

    • Xercies says:

      @triple

      I think your kind fo wrong there, most developers/publishers especially indies now a days price there games on how they think its worth compared to how they think there going to sell. Cliffski is a good example he has done the maths and said that actually he won’t be that profitable selling his games at $10 because not enough people buy them.

      Remember a big factor about these sales is public awareness of them through the promotion or word of mouth, if the price was like that all the time there wouldn’t be that much word of mouth about it so it would sell less so it would become less profitable. I think blanketly saying cheaper games sell well is kind of masking the issue somewhat.

    • Quirk says:

      Yeah, Cliffski’s experiment on this was interesting. IIRC, he said:

      Steam sales make him quite a bit of money, but Steam sales come with a lot of added publicity.
      Dropping the price from $20 to $10 without advertising that you’ve done so sells more games, but not twice as many.

      So until you’ve controlled for the sales effect, saying that it makes more sense to sell games cheaply is premature. Cliffski’s data suggests not.

  5. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of Leigh Alexander but her article about the Dick Wolves thing is excellent. While I’ve not been too pleased with how the PA guys handled the initial event the most sickening thing has been the despicable vitriol of the pro-dick wolves groups and it is very disappointing the PA guys haven’t spoken out against that more clearly.

    A sobering example that “gaming culture” isn’t nearly as progressive as one might like to think.

    • NemsMole says:

      Yes. A more pregressive culture wouldn’t have made such a huge shitstorm out of nothing.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      One of the wonderful things about privilege is the ability to dismiss anything that doesn’t affect you as wholly irrelevant.

    • noerartnoe says:

      Ok… either my comment was eaten or there is suddenly a mod-queue. Sorry if this shows up more than once.

      I think the whole “Dickwolves” thing is just one big stinking wad of entitlement and out-of-proportion knee-jerk reactions on all sides. With the occasional reasonable comment (e.g. Leigh Alexander) thrown in.

      a: “We are offended by this! You need to do something about it!”
      b: “We are not! Ignore those “a” idiots!”
      a: “We don’t care that there are people with a different opinion/view of things out there. Ours is obviously right and must be respected!”
      b: “We don’t care that there are people with a different opinion/view of things out there. Ours is obviously right and must be respected!”

      Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

    • rivalin says:

      QQ

      HA! Oh no Am i exercising my oppressive privilege?

      Taking offence is choice, and it’s one that people take more and more these days, especially when they want to score political points. While I would suggest that it’s unfortunate that communism has fallen since people who like silencing anything they disagree with can no longer move to East Germany, they already seem to be attempting to resurrect it anyway so why bother.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “Taking offence is choice, and it’s one that people take more and more these days, especially when they want to score political points.”

      Yes, the past is famed for its tolerance. “It’s not like it was in the good old days, etc.”

    • Xocrates says:

      To be fair, both sides overreacted (though which one did it worst is up to you). On one hand it was a joke (and one that portrayed rape as bad at that), on the other failing accept that people could take offence at it and even being proud of the fact isn’t exactly mature.

      @rivalin: Communism doesn’t work that way.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      @rivalin

      Its interesting the pro-dick wolves supporters such as yourself argue this is a freedom of speech issue and then go out of your way to insult and dig up dirt on those you disagree with including accusing rape victims of lying about what happened to them.

      I’m sorry the concept of privilege upsets you so but you thinking others having a voice equal to your own is akin to communist censorship just reflects how privileged you are. People disagreeing with me?? I’m allowed to say whatever I want whenever I want. Its not fair!

      @Xocrates While both sides have certainly have overreacted at times PA selling Team Dickwolves (essentially “ironic” pro-rape) T-shirts and flags is pretty damn hard to justify. As have been the aforementioned accusations rape victims have been lying about their condition.

    • oceanclub says:

      Indeed, Leigh’s article is very good. Just as in the way in politics, the worst thing is not the initial scandal but the cover-up, the worst thing to this has been the PA’s guys atttude after the incident.

      P.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Imho, like the adage says: “you can joke about everything, but not with everyone”. Problem with Internet is that everybody thinks the bright screen is talking to them, like, personally. That and:

      - Writing is a poor media for heated up, real time exchanges. It lacks a whole lot of proxemic and behavioural elements which, as animals, we need to properly communicate.

      - Internet tends to push people to extremes. Because in the end, it’s not what you are that matters, but what you appear to be. I’m pretty sure there are complete IRL bastards who jumped on the omg-PA-are-rape-apologizers because hey, it doesn’t cost a cent and why not have an ego boost for once, huh ? There’s always some of those lurking around every web controversy.

      Being progressive has nothing to do with it. Humanist progression should go toward freedom of speech and self consciousness, educating the masses, etc… Strangely, that’s not the case, medias as a whole were far more free in the 80′s, at least in my country.

      Nowadays, we’re rushing at full speed toward censorship as a form of political correctness, but you know censorship isn’t a solution, as it always goes the way of the more powerful influence and is by no mean objective.

      In the eighties, P. Desproges (french, ironic and cynical humorist) wrote (roughly translated), in a humoristic dictionnary:

      ” Woman [/'wʊmən/] n.f: [...] Not equipped with a soul, the woman finds herself unallowed to reach God. However, she most often comes equipped with a stepladder which allows her to reach the ceiling to clean the windows. That’s all we ask from her” but he also wrote “women needs men like a fish needs a bicycle” among a lot of other stuff criticizing misoginy.

      Granted, it does require an actual working brain to be able to explore the different degrees of this kind of humor.

      Censoring it because one part of the audience not so gifted would misinterpret it and end up offended is a far more slippery slope than allowing it. You just have to have faith in the audience intelligence and its capacity to educate itself to go past the superficial level of interpretation.

      It flirts with utopia, but that’s what “being progressive” is about, right ?

      My two cents (and that’s the only two I ever spent and will ever spend on that topic, as I avoided participating in this massive bullshit dickwolves debate up until now).

      [Edit: and as a side remark, you can't really blame penny arcade guys for their handling of the issue. There was just no good way to do it. They'd either have seemed too repentant (which they aren't) or too aggressive (which they aren't either). It was a lose-lose situation, and when the larger web community got the hand on the topic and started digging the trenches it was already out of control.]

    • Xocrates says:

      @ReV_VAdAUL: I’m aware of that, however I sort of ignored any of the Dickwolves side that wasn’t directly from PA as stuff like the accusations that rape victims have been lying about their condition is past overreaction into straight up asshole behaviour.

      If we take in account only the discourse by (supposedly) adult people capable of meaningful contribution, then both sides overreacted. If we take in account everyone that felt like saying something about it, the dickwolves side did way way worse.

    • daphne says:

      I would actually be surprised if people, especially those outside the gaming culture, had the disposition to view it as progressive. I don’t live in the UK or US, so admittedly I don’t have a good grasp of how gaming is really seen there, but doesn’t gaming usually make its headlines out of yearly installments of varyingly violent FPSes and (essentially) sports games? Or the occasional WoW story maybe, or addiction-related issues etc… I guess I’m not really seeing anything about gaming culture, at least on a superficial level, that intuitively stands out as possessing a progressive element. One kind of needs to “get into it” to appreciate its finer points (evidenced by the zillions of blogs, too — thanks Internet!) and the occasional nadir like the PA controversy.

    • daphne says:

      [Hasty rewrite of my previous comment that didn't show up]

      I would actually be surprised if people, especially those outside the gaming culture, had the disposition to view it as progressive. I don’t live in the US, or UK, or any other traditional gaming strongholds so maybe my grasp is a bit off, but doesn’t gaming usually make its headlines via yearly installments of varyingly violent FPSs, sports games, the occasional WoW and addiction-related stories? I guess I’m not really seeing anything about gaming culture that intuitively stands out as a progressive element, at least from a superficial vantage point. One needs to “get into it” (as evidenced by the zillions of blogs, too — thanks Internet!) to appreciate its finer points and the occasional nadir, like the PA controversy.

    • Urthman says:

      Taking offence is choice

      Yeah, it’s so weird that women who’ve been raped or sexually harassed choose to feel traumatized when they’re reminded of it, when they could so easily choose to feel happy instead.

    • Bullwinkle says:

      @The Great Wayne

      Of course there was a good way to handle it. They could have ignored the whole thing in the first place.

    • Archonsod says:

      By the same token, given that I don’t know any of these women I’m confused as to why I’m expected to give a shit about their feelings.

      It’s a simple fact of human nature. The lower the likelihood of someone punching you in the face, the lower the motivation to avoid offending that person. cf the Internet.

    • dhex says:

      if nothing else, if someone was teaching a class on “electronic entertainment pr” (and someday soon someone will be teaching that class) this is a great case study in how not to manage…pretty much every single aspect of a crisis. (or as close to a crisis as a webcomic brand is going to get)

      also makes me think there’s an opportunity for a pay-as-you-go pr firm for people who have been on the internet too long – say about 100 bucks a question, max two hours of research. would have saved them a lot of time.

      “hi should we print shirts with a rape joke on them?”
      “no”
      “oh, ok”
      $100 and thousands of hours saved, a brand’s reputation managed, and maybe the world’s a little less stupid, at least for a little while.

    • bildo says:

      [Trigger warning for rape used in a "humorous" capacity.]

      You ppl are so heartless! You didn’t even have the common courtesy to post the prior message onto the top of your story. You can’t just mention Dickwolf anywhere. It might set off a trigger! So inconsiderate…..

    • Tei says:

      I think the point of transgression is breaking the rules.

      People getting angry about transgressors are cute.

      The problem is not a joke, the problem of rape is rape and people that rape, not a joke that can be interpreted in some way by some people.

      A healthy society needs transgressors, or will stagnate into a world full of sacred things. Woman and the womans problems are not more sacred than the men problems. I hate this dishonesty double moral, where a problem that affect womens is huge, but if it affect men is negligible.

    • bildo says:

      [Trigger warning for discussion of sexual violence and rape.]

      @ tei
      “Woman and the womans problems are not more sacred than the men problems”

      Woman gets raped, its a big deal. Man get’s raped, it’s all cool brah. mfw this too is also man’s fault.

      If dickwolf has done anything good for this world, at the very least it was A) funny and B) pissed off some people who harbor bitterness for the opposite gender because of one criminal.

    • Jumwa says:

      Leigh Alexander’s article was indeed insightful, and helped inform me on more of the issue. I hadn’t followed community response to it all, and my opinion on it before was: the Dickwolves comic was not offensive or harmful for the reasons listed, as rape was not trivialized in the humour (in fact the humour depended upon you taking rape seriously, I thought). Although I sympathize with the notion that any flippant use of rape in humour and society is just adding to the very negative rape culture around us, which harms everyone.

      However, humour like all forms of art and entertainment, is subjective, and apparently the joke was taken as a rallying point for pointlessly cruel and offensive young males across the internet. It has–and still is judging by comments here–been used as an excuse to be hostile to people feeling (justifiably or not) a sense of hurt or revulsion. That’s not a positive thing.

      Bringing “freedom of speech” into this discussion seems silly, as I’ve not read anyone (other than those rallying around to mock rape and its victims) mention the issue. I haven’t seen anyone propose it be illegal to discuss or make jokes about rape, only people discussing whether we should choose to as individuals and a society, which, y’know, is a part of a healthy exercising of freedom. Being free to do something doesn’t mean you should do it without thought and consideration, regardless of whether you’re allowed to or not. Let’s strive to be a bit better than that.

    • Froibo says:

      I don’t understand why, when the first reaction to the comic was “you are rapist sympathizers and terrible people all round”, the people offended were surprised that PA’s next move was to defend themselves instead of an appology. They never asked for an apology; they insulted them and then expected an apology in return.

      @jumwa The topic of freedom of speech is in here because why when a comic famous for immature jokes about violence, adultery, suicide, slavery, sexism, pedophiles, blasphemy, suddenly go to far when they stepped on someone’s toes with a joke with rape in it?

    • Jumwa says:

      That does not make it a freedom of speech issue. Nobody was talking about forcing them to stop, but about the appropriateness of doing so. That’s an issue for discussion not an attempt at censorship. Getting angry or claiming that it’s a freedom of speech issue (when it’s clearly not, because nobodies freedom of speech is being threatened) just isn’t conducive to discussion, it’s deflecting at best.

    • jaheira says:

      “Being free to do something doesn’t mean you should do it without thought and consideration”

      Penny Arcade didn’t rape anyone and bear no responsibility for the feelings of those who have been raped. It’s up to them whether they use “thought and consideration” in their comics. It’s hardly logical to endorse the right to free speech and then complain when people exercise it.

    • Froibo says:

      I guess we view it differently but I see it as a cultural view of freedom of speech instead of a legal one. I know no one is forcing them to be silent on the matter but it is still ridiculous to tell someone what they can and cannot mention in their jokes based on what offends each individual personally and actually associate them with the pain caused by real rapists. This whole ordeal has gone past a common complaint.

    • Jumwa says:

      “Penny Arcade didn’t rape anyone and bear no responsibility for the feelings of those who have been raped. It’s up to them whether they use “thought and consideration” in their comics. It’s hardly logical to endorse the right to free speech and then complain when people exercise it.”

      I never claimed they did, and if you’d read my comment you’d see I found no issue with Penny Arcades “Dickwolf” comic. My comment about free speech was just that it’s ridiculous it’s even being brought up. Part of the freedom to say what we want is for people to disagree with what we say and express that.

      “I guess we view it differently but I see it as a cultural view of freedom of speech instead of a legal one. I know no one is forcing them to be silent on the matter but it is still ridiculous to tell someone what they can and cannot mention in their jokes based on what offends each individual personally and actually associate them with the pain caused by real rapists.”

      I haven’t seen anyone telling PA what they can or can’t say, only proposing arguments for why they should reconsider it. Some of those arguments seem somewhat reasonable, others not so much, regardless, none are commands that hold any weight of authority.

      “This whole ordeal has gone past a common complaint.”

      That’s Alexander’s point in her article, and I agree, which is why I bothered commenting at all. If people on both sides behaved rationally, it would’ve just kept itself to a simple discussion on the appropriateness and benefits of discussing rape in humour, agree or disagree. In which case, there’d probably not be much to talk about now, as the comic itself was not a big deal, the reactions to it that spiraled to absurdity are apparently becoming one.

    • Froibo says:

      When the proposed argument to using rape in a comic is slander its authors, I see it as a conflict in freedom of speech.

    • Jumwa says:

      “When the proposed argument to using rape in a comic is slander its authors, I see it as a conflict in freedom of speech.”

      So you’re arguing that they’re overstepping their freedom of speech by insulting others?

    • Froibo says:

      Insulting and saying you advocate rape seem like they are on two different levels.

    • Jumwa says:

      “Insulting and saying you advocate rape seem like they are on two different levels.”

      Well it’s an issue for discussion.

      Alexander stated in her article that the insults and attacks are ridiculous and gone too far, and I’ve stated I agree with that. I don’t think insults and ridiculous exaggerations are conducive to discussion and I certainly don’t believe they’re helpful to anyone involved. However, I’d disagree with you that I think they should be illegal.

      As much of a negative force as it is, I think it’s one of those freedoms we should have that we’d be best off exercising judgment on and face the consequences if you choose to exercise it; i.e. other peoples disagreement and returned insults.

      I’m a staunch defender of personal freedoms, I don’t think it should be illegal to be a jackass. However, I think society should react to such poor behaviour negatively and discourage it on a social level, rather than a legal one.

    • Jimbo says:

      Violence is trivialized and used flippantly for humour about 100000000x more often than rape is. I don’t see how people can get up in arms about one without taking the same stance on the other. What about people who have PTSD due to a violent assault? Aren’t they just as vulnerable? If they make a comic about Burnout, are they going to ‘trigger’ somebody who has lost a family member in a car crash?

      There’s always going to be *somebody* you might unintentionally upset no matter what you say – you can’t just stop commenting on anything for fear of that. Leigh suggests they should show understanding on “this one thing” – how is that a viable position? Why just this one thing? What makes rape so special?

      Also, I’ve heard Leigh herself talking about how she finds Nazi uniforms sexy, so it’s not like she’s some kind of authority on sensitivity issues.

    • dethtoll says:

      This whole thread needs a trigger warning for terrible comments by Bildo.

    • JackShandy says:

      Sure, Jimbo, but I think the idea is that once you HAVE offended someone you apologise. There’s nothing wrong with me putting something offensive on the internet – if you’re making internet humour it’s practically your lifeblood – but if someone writes in saying you crossed the line it’s usually considered the done thing to write back apologizing to them.

      If anything I’m surprised that Penny Arcade seemed to be taken so off-guard by the complaints. If you make an edgy comic then you should expect some blowback- not suddenly get all shocked and defensive. People keep acting like it was completely unexpected that anyone would be offended by a strip with the word rape in it – like anyone who WAS offended is crazy. It’s a pretty popular offensive topic, guys. Practically the go-to when you’re looking to stir some ire.

    • Mil says:

      @JackShandy:

      Sure, Jimbo, but I think the idea is that once you HAVE offended someone you apologise. There’s nothing wrong with me putting something offensive on the internet – if you’re making internet humour it’s practically your lifeblood – but if someone writes in saying you crossed the line it’s usually considered the done thing to write back apologizing to them.

      Your position seems to be a pretty common one, but I don’t understand it. Surely such an apology would be insincere and hypocritical, since they don’t believe they have done anything wrong (which I agree with, for the reasons described by Jimbo), and they don’t intend to refrain from doing it again in the future?

      Apologising would have been the PR-savvy thing, sure. Instead they chose to be honest and take the heat. If anything, they should be praised for that.

      People keep acting like it was completely unexpected that anyone would be offended by a strip with the word rape in it – like anyone who WAS offended is crazy.

      I believe the surprise is at the scale of the reaction. PA have been making that sort of joke (only not about rape) for pretty much all of their existence. There have been tens of their strips where people were graphically murdered. But a passing reference to rape (as something negative, even) and all hell breaks loose. You can see why it would be unexpected.

    • Jumwa says:

      There’s nothing wrong or hypocritical about trying to comfort another human being whose insulted or in pain, even if you believe you did nothing wrong to cause it. If it’s your belief the person is getting worked up over an innocent joke you made because they have personal hangups, then it takes nothing from you to offer a consoling word or two out of empathy. People are capable of empathy without it being faked for PR.

    • JackShandy says:

      Yeah, jurwa has the idea.

      Allowing that they didn’t agree with the criticisms and any apology would have been hypocritical, though, the next best thing is just to ignore the critics. If you go one step beyond that and actually ATTACK the critics- and the follow-up comic and T-shirt do seem like an attack – you’re asking for trouble. You can be honest in your opinion without going out of your way to attack those who disagree.

    • alantwelve says:

      I drive to and from work by the same route every day and have done for over 13 years now. I’m a good, careful driver – I don’t take risks, never exceed the speed limit and I’m careful of and considerate towards pedestrians and other road users.

      Late last year, as I was driving in one morning, a 5 year old ran out in front of my car. I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes before I hit him and he died pretty much immediately.

      I couldn’t believe it when my wife suggested that I might actually apologise to the kid’s parents. Fuck right off – I’ve driven that route with care every weekday for well over a decade and I fully intend to do so in the future. I’ve done nothing wrong and such an apology would be both insincere and hypocritical.

      Interweb arguments need bad car analogies.

    • Chris D says:

      Alantwelve

      Really? Even a small “I’m sorry for your loss” would be too much to ask? A small gesture that might bring some comfort to a family struggling with grief is still less important to you than your pride?

      Sometimes insincerity and hypocrisy are lesser evils than arrogance and an absolute lack of compassion for someone in pain.

    • JackShandy says:

      —Reply fail, wrong thread—

      Chris D, though- I think alantwelve is being scarcastic.

    • Chris D says:

      Jack Shandy

      Ah, you may be right. In which case I have overreacted and made an arse of myself.

      Alan Twelve

      I apologise.

    • alantwelve says:

      Chris D:

      Yeah, I was being sarcastic – tried to make it as obvious as possible, but you’ve highlighted just how words written in jest can provoke misunderstanding and anger. And I suppose that on the internets, no amount of colossal assholery is actually impossible. But hey, if hadn’t written the pretend asshole stuff, you wouldn’t have written this:

      “Sometimes insincerity and hypocrisy are lesser evils than arrogance and an absolute lack of compassion for someone in pain.”

      And that would be a pity, because it’s an eloquent truth that fully applies to the whole dickwolves saga.

      And I’m sorry for misleading you and making you think I was a bad guy, even though I didn’t mean to and I didn’t really do anything wrong (and I don’t even have a car. Or a wife!).

      I think I may now, with your help, have made my point repeatedly. Cheers!

    • Chris D says:

      Alantwelve

      Well, I shall apologise again. I see you were going for the whole “Lets pick an example as outrageous as possible so no one in their right mind could possibly think I was serious” thing. I have done the same thing myself. Unfortunately this time I jumped in with both boots before thinking things through properly. I shall put it down to a combination of seeing too many near sociopathic opinions expressed on the internet recently and that I should have been in bed at least two hours ago.

      Anyway, I hope between us we’ve made the point and provided an example of how sorry doesn’t have to be the hardest word.

      EDIT Was that last part too cheesy? It was wasn’t it. Sorry everyone.

    • Nogo says:

      @Rev_Vadual

      Gabe recently made a very clear post explicitly condemning the threats of the pro-dickwolf crowd.

      Which is a great frame for this entire debate: baseless assumptions about content and intent that only fuel personal distaste. I’m not going to say people don’t have a right to feel offended, but their follow up comic was specifically aimed at the “you are encouraging rape” crowd, and some people mistook that as a general attack rather than pointed defense. Thus all parties involved got jammed further up their own asses for being misunderstood and now we’re stuck with a lingering smell of dookie.

    • Ultimanecat says:

      While Mike’s (Gabe’s) reaction to the whole thing didn’t help anything, I understand it completely. We can’t be sure exactly what sort of emails were originally sent to PA, but their initial response seemed tailored to those who were casting accusations of supporting rape culture, and not those who simply were made uncomfortable (or “triggered”) by the mention of rape in the comic.

      Mike’s responses always have seemed, to me, to be addressing those accusations. Now, “rape culture” is an academic term with a definition that is not immediately ascertainable from the individual words used (and the original accusations were leveled by a community who takes it as a point of pride not to explain things when they do accuse people). How else would you expect an actual decent person to react when accused of supporting rape, especially people known for being sarcastic and far from politically correct?

      The original accusations were indeed from people looking to pick a fight, who then proceeded to hide behind a related but far more sympathetic group when the fight came back to them. Toss in some 4chan /b/tards taking up the fight as well and you have a recipe for a shitstorm bringing out the worst in everyone.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      I think the whole question of whether PA should have said they’re “sorry”, is rendered almost impossible because there are two meanings of the word “sorry”. And the risk for misinterpretation is so high.

      As in, “I’m sorry for your loss.” An expression of empathy that does not imply wrongdoing. When you say this at a funeral you are not implicating yourself in the death of the recently departed.

      And as in, “I’m sorry I acted that way.” An admission of guilt and of regret for one’s own behavior.

      The first is entirely appropriate here. The second, no. If only we had two different words. If I slammed a dumpster lid and some guy goes haywire because he’s a vet with PTSD and thinks it’s incoming fire or whatever, again 1 yes, 2 no. Regrettable, but unaffected people shouldn’t have to go about in constant fear and censorship.

      I think this is a very good analogy, because like PTSD, rape victims may respond to a “trigger”, in an abnormal yet understandable way. It’s not their fault, and yet it’s not truly the fault of Penny Arcade either.

      So really the only people at fault here, are those who overreacted and angrily condemned PA for “slamming the dumpster lid”, and also those who would use that as a pretext to mock and belittle those with “PTSD”.

      IMO that’s this issue in a nutshell.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Jim Rossignol
      I don’t think anyone here is trying to imply anything positive about the tolerance of the past so your post is either a misunderstanding or a straw man.

      I think rivalin’s point was that there’s a difference between taking instinctive, gut-level offense at something, and yes, CHOOSING to be offended, because said “object of offense” is cognitively deemed to be incompatible with one’s chosen ideology or worldview. One is an uncontrollable emotion, the other is a reaction that is politically motivated.

      If something “offends” in the second manner, often people do feel obligated to respond, because within the context of their ideology and worldview-biases, to do otherwise would make them feel a hypocrite and a bad person. The only way out of this self-conundrum is to relax one’s ideology, and god knows that’s not in vogue these days.

      I believe that may have been what rivalin was saying, other than general resistance to authoritarian attitudes towards free speech and political correctness. People these days are increasingly heading towards making decisions and opinions based on ideology rather than common sense or use of context.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Sorry for triple post, but this just occured to me:

      What is the difference between Fox News saying transgressive humor in Bulletstorm causes rape, and “feminists” saying transgressive humor in Penny Arcade is fomenting “a culture of rape”?

      Is it different because one allegation is from a reactionary American TV outlet, and the other is from so-called “feminists” and “progressives”?

      Why do some mock the former as ridiculous, but indulge the latter? It’s almost literally the same thing.

      Perhaps the source of the allegation is causing a bias.

    • Jumwa says:

      @ Grape Flavor

      I haven’t seen anyone here or Alexander siding with the extremists claiming the Dickwolves comic endorsed or encouraged rape, and that is not, as I understand it, what the term “rape culture” is about. There doesn’t seem to be any bias there, from what I’ve seen.

      It’s a bit over simplistic to compare Fox news claiming a single game encourages rape and murder, and a more nuanced argument made about the effect of, not single item such as a lone comic, but a wider cultural phenomenon on peoples tolerance of and reaction to rape. The concept of rape culture typically avoids sensationalism and is tied up in larger studies of broad spectrums of people.

      I’m by no means fond of academics in general (far from it), and I don’t claim to be an expert on–or endorser of–the concept of rape culture, though I admittedly find it interesting and persuasive. However, comparing news media sensationalism to an academic concept of rape culture because of a few internet posters who misuse the term, seems unfair. It’d be like condemning all those ‘experts’ (right or wrong) that Fox news references without checking to see if they were quoted accurately.

    • JackShandy says:

      A lot of commenters here are saying that the initial response was so violent and furious that PA had no choice but to respond. According to the timeline, though:

      http://debacle.tumblr.com/post/3041940865/the-pratfall-of-penny-arcade-a-timeline

      There was only one article objecting to it on the internet, from a feminist blog that I’m sure hardly anyone has ever heard of.

      I can’t speak for how many emails they got, but if it was just that one blog and a few emails Penny Arcade’s reaction seems pretty overdone. A lot of this swings around those emails- People who like PA seem to assume that the dickwolves responses must have been overwhelmingly crazy, while the others assume they were reasonable.

      EDIT: Just had a look through that timeline again, and Tycho says: “It was a small group of very vocal people. Not tens of thousands by any stretch. More like a couple dozen.” when asked about taking down the Dickwolves shirt.

      ——–Cut out Grape flavour response, post was long enough already————–

    • Jumwa says:

      @JackShandy

      I wasn’t aware of that timeline before now. After reading through it and seeing PA’s official responses to it, I don’t know that I feel comfortable reading their comics anymore. Not as a statement or anything, just as a personal matter. To say they handled it badly would be a joke of a response in the face of their outright contempt for those they continually provoked and antagonized with their remarks.

    • Nogo says:

      I don’t see anyone claiming they had ‘no choice’ except a response. It’s their site and they can generate any content they want for whatever reason. We are free to criticize their content, but we are not free to criticize their reasoning behind said content because only they are privy.

      Thankfully Tycho did explain the reasoning for posting the second comic: “when mail started to come in to the effect that we were perpetuating a fundamental social conspiracy to rape, we couldn’t believe what we were reading. That is the entire point of the second strip, which some people took as a literal response or apology, neither of which was its intended purpose. The only people who are pro-rape are rapists. The idea that you would have to specifically enunciate an idea like that is almost overwhelming. It’s self-evident. Hence, the comic.”

      Now that his intent is part of the content we can criticize their specific reasoning and it’s success/failure, but frankly it’s rather boring and reasonable, so now I’m more interested in their decision to remove the shirt for the sake of PAX’s inclusive atmosphere, because frankly it rolls into Gabriel’s internet fuckwad theory all too well.

    • Jumwa says:

      @ Nogo

      I find it interesting that though they gave in and stopped selling the shirts, they later stated they would be wearing the shirts themselves at PAX, kind of making it an extremely hollow and meaningless gesture.

      Also: I find his remark that only rapists are pro-rape to be an odd expression of his lack of understanding of the issue. Part of the whole concept of “rape culture” would have to do with how rape gets re-categorized and justified away. Rapists don’t think of themselves as rapists. Is he unaware of how every rapist in existence seems to justify their horrendous crimes? “She was asking for it,” “Did you see what she was wearing?” “She initiated and I got carried away,” etc., etc., etc..

  6. Cinnamon says:

    I watched Heavy Rain on youtube and I can see how the quick time events could add tension and immediacy to it but I think that the soundtrack was probably more significant than the gameplay. As a story it was mostly knob and I think that Grasshopper manufacture are much better at exploring this sort of thing than Quantic Dream. I can think of all sorts of developers who are much better at giving a certain feeling through gameplay that is more complicated than QTE or more different than a straight up genre game which don’t get any love from critics because their story isn’t lovable enough or whatever. But I think that a good dynamic soundtrack is very helpful for this sort of thing. Certainly the attempt to gentrify middling stuff like Heavy Rain by referencing philosophers and classic novels is not something that connects with me.

  7. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    That one about Bulletstorm was a fair article, I think I will still buy it; as from what I can tell it is a fun game, but that article makes the ‘Double Penetration’ and ‘Gang Bang’ Skillshots sound pretty ordinary.

  8. The Great Wayne says:

    About tom jubert writing:

    “Actually I think I wrote this in a bit of a hurry, the reality was far more interesting. I had to skip out the point where the guys started comparing scars like that scene out of Jaws. Alex had just had an operation, and Nikolay had just been stabbed in the chest a few months ago. No joke.

    Russians nerds ain’t the typical nerd. They seem to be, but they’re more… well… russian.

  9. Maykael says:

    I have never played an Ice Pick Lodge game. Because of Jubert’s article this will change soon. Holy shit!

  10. Schaulustiger says:

    Tom Juberts journal of his Ice-Pick Lodge visit is hilarious.

    Now imagine crashing on a couch next to Bobby Kotick after having too many drinks with him. Yeah, that’s why Ice Pick is awesome and Activision is not.

    • Lambchops says:

      In a week of some great Sunday Paper articles this one was my favourite.

      Must get back to playing the Void at some stage. Probably with some sort of “make it easier” modification as I remember screwing up horribly last time.

      Must get back to Pathologic as well. I was holding out for an improved translation but maybe I should just man up and play the damn thing already.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Don’t blame it on activision, dude. Tell me without blushing that you’d get drunk next to kotick and won’t try to punch him…

      Yeah, that’s why the guy don’t do this. Angry nerds. Actually it would do a fine synopsis for a remake of the hitchcock movie: “The Nerds”. Scary.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I concur. Ice Pick Lodge are awesome.

    • Veracity says:

      I want Cargo! despite knowing next to nothing about it. Haven’t been this nearly willing to buy something solely because of where it came from since Looking Glass fell to bits. Hope the Jubert chap does end up working on it; he seems a decent enough fellow and IPL could certainly do without a repeat performance of Pathologic’s translation. Whatever happened to the plan I’m sure I remember reading of to do an unofficial patch job on that so the girl might actually be playable in English?

    • JackShandy says:

      “Nikolay’s efforts to allow children to die in Pathologic by officially considering them midgets.” made the article for me.

      I am so jealous of Tom Jubert. One day… one day…

  11. Colthor says:

    I agree with the first two sections of Braben’s piece, but the “Know the Score” section seems to imply that there is a single, objectively correct review score for each and every game, despite the first section pointing out that reviews written for Demographic X are not useful for Demographic Y. Which is true – but why should a review for Demographic X say “Demographic Y will love this”? This is not helpful for Demographic X, who are the people reading the review. Why should a game Demographic X is unlikely to find interesting get a glowing review and massive score because Demographic Y will think it’s the best thing since beans on toast?

    And even in Demographic X there will be plenty of differing opinions about the absolute worth of any game, so even expecting a review score to be spot-on for every member of a group (every time they play the game for the rest of time) is ludicrous.

  12. mandrill says:

    The EVE botting story kicked off last year with EVE News 24 speaking to an actual botter,

    A lot of people were dubious about how prevalent the practice was, this article lays those doubts to rest. I will say however that the accusation that CCP does nothing because they’re making money from the bots (through their subscriptions) does not hold water. Most bots, if they are making as much as is claimed, will pay for their game time with PLEX (an item that is tradable in game for in game currency) and so won’t actually be paying CCP directly for their game time.

    Legit players will buy PLEX with real cash and simply put them on the open market in game, where anyone can buy them. These players would pay for PLEX anyway, and any action taken against the botters would only really affect the internal PLEX market and not make much of a dent on CCP’s bottom line. A mass ban of botters would maybe cause a drop in the in-game price of PLEX but that’s about all.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      If they pay with plex, they pay money to ccp through the plex system.

      Yes, directly. One plex is equal to 30d gametime. If they ban a large amount of bots, the demand of plex will plummet, and with it the supply as the decreasing value will cause less people to use the option.

      I, for one, would love to see rps poke CCP about an explanation. It has become quite obvious that they are not acting on widespread botting as long as it is not directly related to isk selling. They even pretend item selling wasn’t there.

      It has come so far that a substantial part of the game economy is under direct control of macros, namely the highmin market, ice products, and most implants.

    • mandrill says:

      No, they don’t, Someone else does, and that someone else would be buying PLEX anyway. The botters do not pay real cash directly to CCP.

      Any drop in demand for PLEX (and subsequent ISK value fall) will be offset eventually by the demand generated by microtransactions (sexy hats for your Incarna avatar, ship paint jobs or whatever other vanity items CCP decide to add to the game)

      I sincerely believe that the players can be more effective in combatting bots, as the post on EN24 and the comments demonstrate. It simply takes the will to do it. If CCP are dragging their feet over the issue then it is up to the players to do something about it, the tools are there in game, and gathering the intel is a simple (if laborious) matter. If players care so much about the issue then they should get off their arses and do something about it themselves.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Players have absolutely zero obligation to try to fix the game for ccp. Nobody should have to stop anything they’re doing to idle in a macro system, essentially not playing the game at all just to deny income to someone who will simply be able to move somewhere else (or just move the whole operation to empire for invulnerability).

      The ball is squarely in ccp’s court. They are the ones turning a blind eye on bots, they’re the ones with access to detailed information and information gathering tools, and they’re the ones responsible for the economy and it’s balance. They have fucked up, and continue to fuck up.

      As far as I can see, microtransactions are not yet in game. So my point is still valid. Bots are creating a demand for plex, which ccp is directly profiteering from.

  13. Xercies says:

    Hmm very interesting about the women liking making video games, I think that is definitely a good thing, though of course the current video game creators and owners will just not accept that because they are a misogynistic bunch and would not accept a woman coming into there kingdom. Hopefully women fight that power.

    Ice Pick Lodge thing was very good, probably a lot of it was a bit untrue but it definitly showed how great these indies are and how human they are. Which makes me love them even more, I must get to playing there games one of these days.

    I enjoyed Heavy Rain the game, while I’ve only gotten a bit into it I didn’t have a problem with just it being quick time events and they had a sense of urgency to them. I kind of agree with the article really and think Heavy Rain is a classic game but just no one saw it because they have all these hang ups about what games should be. Games should be this and something different as well…there is no right way that games should be.

    • Archonsod says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s misogyny, simply that there are far fewer women drawn to computer science for whatever reason. It’s the same in the regular business side of things, not just games devs. I can count the number of female sysadmins I’ve worked with on my fingers.
      In fact, the whole time I was at uni there were two women in the whole student population of computer science. Yet the IT degree was roughly 50/50.

    • Xercies says:

      I don’t think there is a misogynistic element to why women don’t choose computer sciences and the like, but i do think the industry of gaming does have some misogyny still in it with all the reports about women being sexually harassed and the boyish nature of most of the companies.

    • Quirk says:

      It was a bit facepalm obvious if you ask me.

      Pretty much every really talented programmer I knew at university a decade ago had begun coding as a teenager, making games. The interest in games and the desire to create games came first, and only then did people get hooked on the act of creation itself, on being god over the machine. Once they started to love coding for coding’s sake, they broadened their views and branched out (and usually got fascinated by open source operating systems).

      Even now, games companies get away with paying very talented people fractions of what they could earn in other software industries. Game creation is -the- gateway drug to producing coders, and if you’re trying to get more girls into computer science, it seems like the first place you’d start.

  14. NieA7 says:

    I grew up with Archimedes computers – an A3000, an A4000 then a RISC PC (which still works pretty much as well as ever it did despite being about 12 years old now). Discussions of the classic PC games tend to pass me by as I’ve never come across most of them. We had Heroes of Might and Magic 2, Doom, Lemmings and the best version of Elite, but that was about it. Still nostalgic for Stunt Racer 2000, Star Fighter 3000 and Cataclysm, nice to see someone else remembers them too. Star Fighter 3000 is pretty much the soundtrack of my teenage years I spent so long playing it, I think I completed all the missions on normal and hard difficulty. Never could do the penultimate mission of Cataclysm though.

    • choconutjoe says:

      I grew up with a RISC PC. Stunt Racer 2000 ftw!

      I seem to remember ours having an emulator card that let it run DOS/Windows 3.1, which gave me my experience with classics like Doom and a few other Windows games. Didn’t all RISC PCs come with those?

    • NieA7 says:

      The pitch bend engine noise in SR2000 is still the greatest car sound I’ve ever heard. I loved how you could pay a bribe to have one of the cars blow up, only as the guy planting the bomb was short sighted there was an even chance it’d be you.

      There was a software emulator that came with all RPCs that just about worked for DOS but couldn’t really cope with a game (I think I got a copy of Space Quest IV from a friend that almost worked right except the chap left lots of little feet behind wherever he walked). There was also a series of hardware cards that were basically self-contained PCs. You could get reasonable games working on them (it could run WIndows 95 fairly well) but I could never afford one at the time. Years later I got one cheap second hand but by then it was far too out of date to play anything current, and seeing as I was an Acorn kid I had no idea what old titles to look for. Fun getting it to work though.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      Man this brought back memories of many an hour lost to the good old BBC B and A3000 my family used to have as a kid. Whilst the games scene was a bit slow, there were some corkers out there – Stunt racer and Chocks away probably ate more of my time than any game since.

      I can still remember the day one of my pals got a RiscPC, and that thing was a truly stupendous machine for it’s time, with a far superior OS to anything Microsoft have managed to shit out in the 20 years following Acorn’s demise. Oh for a computer that values efficiency of coding and design over bloated nannying over-featured monstrosity *sighs wistfully*.

  15. Urael says:

    Re: The acorn Archimedes – what a great computer that was! Away from the ‘big name’ games like Zarch and Elite, I recall a fabulous puzzle game where you had a tank of water and had to guide the flowing water to a drain at the bottom past a variety of fiendish levels designed to help you spill it away to nothing. For a 2D game of it’s time the water simulation (done on a purely per-pixel level) was astonishing – to my mind it’s never been bettered. I can’t help but look at every depiction of water since the polygonal revolution of the mid-90s with mild sadness at how utterly primitive and illusory it still is.

    • Sarlix says:

      Re:Re The acorn Archimedes

      I saw the words ‘Acorn’ and ‘gaming’ and it made me think of my old Acorn that I had. Someone put in extra ram for me so I could play the Crystal Maze game. Yes thats Crystal Maze with Richard O’brian. We all used to watch that right?

      Anyway I thought the game was amazing. It was just like being on the show! I recently decided to have another look at it after 15 years or so. I got it going again via an acorn emulator, and it turned out to be utter crap. I was devastated. Why did it seem so good when I was a kid? Still the music was as good as I remembered….dun’a dun’a, dun’a dun’a…do do do do do..da..do do do do.. da…do do do da…dan’a.

      My advice to you Urael would be – Don’t ever go back and play this water game of yours. Because it will only destroy your soul!

    • Urael says:

      Heh, no danger of that – I can’t remember what the blimmin’ thing was called! And I don’t have access to an Archimedes either: are the emulators still expensive and online ROMs still like hen’s diamond-encrusted teeth?

      Mind you, I’ve done loads of retro-spelunking that era for ZX Spectrum games and most of them have actually stood the test of time really well. The Sentinel is every bit as good as I remembered!

    • NieA7 says:

      That game is called Cataclyasm, and I’ve not played it for ages but still think highly of it too. There are a couple of clips on YouTube if you want to have a look, but I take no responsibility for any damages to fond memories that may ensue:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMlZ2MwYvuA
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbIJa66Q02A (oddly stretched)

    • Sarlix says:

      Wow that Cataclyasm actually looks pretty good! Maybe your memories weren’t completely obscured like mine were Urael. Good job for finding it NieA7.

      There is an open source Acorn Archimedes Emulator – look here: http://b-em.bbcmicro.com/arculator/

      As for hen’s diamond-encrusted teeth, send me a PM ;)

    • NieA7 says:

      It got better than that. Later levels had mixable water (came in blue and yellow but the end pipe would only accept green, you had to pool them together before the outlet so they could mix properly) and lava (death if you touch it). There were also sentry guns and armed and deadly aliens. If you were very lucky some levels even gave you a gun to fight back with. I’ve still got my discs somewhere, probably back at my parents. Wonder if they work.

      I’ve a funny feeling I’ve mentioned this on RPS before, like some kind of one man Cataclysm appreciation society. Good game though, it’s a shame to see unique stuff like this out of bounds for most people due to changing hardware.

    • Sarlix says:

      It sounds awesome – I’ll join your one man appreciation society :-)

  16. stahlwerk says:

    Oh boy, Heavy Rain. I would never cite this mess of a game as something revolutionary. I won’t go into too much detail because of spoilers, but a story that actively lies to you from literally the second scene to pull off a SHOCKING plot twist, after throwing about red herrings like a fisherman on speed, is not something to commend IMO.
    Cut content, that leaves a main character with an unexplained psychic ability that goes nowhere at all. For gods sake, keep the paranormal in if you’re too much of a hack writer to write a story without it, everything is better than taking it out, leaving only a gaping plot hole.
    (Edited in:) Nothing out of the ordinary, everybody messes up, you might say. Except that during one of these fugue states the one event that sets off the rest of the story happens. The kidnapping of Shaun can only occur because there was once something in the story to explain Ethan’s fugues, but that was TAKEN OUT completely without an alternate explanation. And then David Cage has the audacity to call it a “McGuffin”, like some Hitchcockian stroke of genious.
    A female lead character who’s in-game characterization could be at best described as love interest/mother teresa, at worst serial-killer/rape-magnet (but she’s been wearing them tight jeans all game, right? RIGHT?! Except in her introductory shower scene, of course). Honestly, they could have made the story decent, if they had concentrated on fewer, but better fleshed out characters. The under-utilization of Ethan’s wife is nothing short of criminal! (Oh hyperbole, let me count the ways…)
    Speaking of crimes, they could have made it a really cool CSI style game by focusing on some of it’s stronger aspects. The ARI sequences looked really cool and did well with the control scheme. I’d gladly play “Special Agent Jayden, FBI”, if the writers would get their act together and spend two minutes of Wikipedia on how law enforcement branches actually work in the USA. On the other hand, a PC port of Deadly Premonition is much higher on my “what if..” wish list.

    I’m stopping myself now, before this rant gets even more incoherent.
    TL;DR: I feel Heavy Rain’s story does not deserve most of the praise it gets. Play Deadly Premonition instead.

    PS: it also would have helped a lot for the backstory if they would have had american kids do the VO work for american kids.

    • SHDR says:

      I don’t understand why people think games are meant to be about exploring characters like in a traditional story. That’s a good example of how game developers actually use their freedom: They refuse to believe that “story” is somehow the pinnacle of human art (which is sort of like saying that rhetoric is the greatest achievement of human communication), and that there is a space, a room for make-believe play, for empowerment and re-embodiment outside the scope of narrative.

      No, we haven’t mastered storytelling in games. I hope to hell we never do, so we can just abandon the whole stupid idea and create wonderful systems of play, of constant, meaningful choice and the wonder of constant, meaningful and exciting participation. Reducing videogames to ever more inane and prescriptive choose-your-own-adventure books strikes me as the fantasy of someone who has forgotten how to dream and can only deal with ideas when slotted into existing comfort zones and ideals.

    • stahlwerk says:

      I don’t know if you agree with me or not – or even if I agree with you, I think extrinsic story gives meaning to play that wouldn’t be possible by intrinsic/emergent means – but that’s exactly the hubris of Heavy Rain: Trying to simulate 8+ hours of meaningful story with 4 different main characters and 22 different outcomes without falling on it’s face. I don’t think it succeeds in that, but apparently many journalists do.

    • SHDR says:

      Why would we need to agree? We’re talking!

      I only see story as meaningful in terms of establishing a context within which the symbols that represent the mechanics of the game system can be interpreted or, in interface design parlance, as in interface metaphor.

      Apart from that, I just don’t understand why we need an emphasis on storytelling and in particular I have trouble understanding why anyone wants to try to fit TV or film formats into game storytelling. It doesn’t work, it does not fit with the way people enjoy games, it does not fit with their motivations for seeking out the game experience over a TV or film experience and so on.

      Heavy Rain is just like Fahrenheit: Interesting if you are an avid observer of the games medium, as a sort of yardstick that shows just how far we’re falling from making games into successful vehicles for storytelling. In a sense, it’s a terribly over-wrought monument to why there’s no real need for interactive drama. We’ve already got “interactive drama”: It’s called reality TV.

    • Thirith says:

      @SHDR: While I think it’s perfectly valid to criticise the way story is done in games, I think it’s simple arrogance to want to exclude storytelling from games altogether. There are a couple of game experiences that are richer because they tell a story and present you with compelling characters in a way that other media can’t, at least not to the same effect; equally there are games that don’t need and shouldn’t have stories. Heavy Rain does some things that are only possible in games – whether it succeeds or fails, IMO it’s hubris as well to say, “Well, games shouldn’t do that!”

    • stahlwerk says:

      Ah, okay, now I see where you’re coming from. :-)
      My main gripe with Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain is that they are heralded as prime examples of story telling in games, when their story is IMO either bat-shit insane pulp or a convoluted, nonsensical saw rip-off. Games can do so much better, and I think we should just let these two fade into obscurity and then continue on improving storytelling by actually writing good stories. And this is where we disagree.

    • Chris D says:

      I think you could make a perfectly good game with no story if you wanted to, I don’t think we need story in that sense. But I think given the choice many (most?) would rather play a game with a good story than one without. It’s why I’d rather play something like 40K over chess, despite recognising that chess is probably the better game.

      Story is something common across almost all forms of human expression; opera and hip-hop, comics and fine art, ballet and ball-room, TV film and theatre. Even something like football, which on the surface is story free, becomes over several seasons an epic tale of plucky underdogs struggling against the odds, soaring passions and bitter rivalries, hubris and redemption. Most people really like stories, so it’s not unusual that we like them in games too.

      That said, it’s not as simple as plonking in a movie script and adding a fire button. It’s like in comics, you can’t just use the standard techniques from novel writing or illustration. You have to realise it’s it’s own thing and treat it accordingly. If anything the games space is wider and it’s going to take some time to explore all of it and discover what all the possibilities are, but I for one am looking forward to the day when we can have storie as compelling as anything in any other art form married to the best gameplay around.

    • AlexW says:

      Stahlwerk, are you a Goon by any chance? Because I agree completely. It’s a hideous monstrosity, all hype from an undeniable master of PR, with nothing resembling good gameplay, story, or execution.
      It picks QTE buttons essentially randomly so that the player never figures out what button should do what, allowing the game’s awful animations to slide under the player’s notice.
      Its story is a broken mishmash of French ‘culture colloquialisms’, if you will, awful cop shows, blatant fan service and horrible murder mystery inaccuracies, with a gaping hole where he ripped out the supernatural elements with the writing equivalent of a rusty spoon (such that it would have actually been far more entertaining and believable if he kept the underwater scenes in).
      It has terrible voice acting, audio problems, superfluous characters (since Madison is only there as a back-up in case Ethan or Nahman fail), a bewildering habit of bald-faced lying to the player in order to fake tension, an intentional lack of replayability despite the multiple endings such that Cage himself said ‘only play the game once’ so that people wouldn’t notice, and a laughable interpretation of the quality of life in the US city it’s supposed to be set in (Philadelphia, I think). Oh, and one good scene, since the Lizard trial is actually good and dramatic.

    • stahlwerk says:

      @AlexW: I’m a lurker of the Let’s Play subforum, yes, but lacking a credit card to my name, and thus an account. The whole HR thread was quite the thing, and the times people stopped with the indiscriminate Cage-rage and started discussing what was displayed, some really interesting lessons about story writing and video games in general could be learned.
      At the moment I’m following SGF’s Deadly Premonition LP and it is kind of cathartic in how it just runs circles around Heavy Rain. I mean, it’s a bit sad that it so heavily relies on twin peaks (which, while having some truly great moments, I was kinda underwhelmed by on the whole), because it’s obvious that Swery and team could have tackled a fresh setting with ease as well.

    • JackShandy says:

      Hold on hold on hold on! I just played heavy rain a few weeks ago, so I’ve got something to say in it’s defense:

      It’s tense and exciting.

      Sure, as a whole it has a bunch of plot holes, but it’s like a dime-store thriller -when it works, it works.

      The fact that failing the quick time events has real, permanent consequences is what does it. If you’ve failed one, then you’re going down that track of the story for the rest of the game, son. If you leave someone to die, then they’re dead. That’s it.

      It makes you concentrate on the action sequences with almost unbearably tensity, which is something no quick-time event has ever done for me before.

    • AlexW says:

      JackShandy, the basis of Heavy Rain’s ‘merit’ is that it’s supposed to be original and clever. As I pointed out before, the QTEs not having any regular positions is the reason they feel like they draw you in, not them actually being good. It’s like saying tying your shoes would be far more exhilarating if you forgot how to do it by rote each morning and had to figure it out as you went along. Similarly, if you accept that it’s a rubbish thriller, then by all means like it, but you do have to accept that it’s a mess of plot holes, cheap tactics and that unmistakable stench of an author who thinks they’re far better than they are.

      I would also like to point out how rarely character death actually comes into it, and how little it means to the narrative. If you lose Madison to one of the innumerable serial killers living in the same city, nobody notices, since she barely interacts with anyone but Ethan for almost the entire game until the ending. If you lose Norman, the FBI doesn’t say “Hold the phone, ladies and gents, we’re bringing in the big guns now,” and since he doesn’t interact much with the other main characters either, not much else happens either. You physically cannot get Ethan or Shelby killed no matter how hard you try, they just call it quits and move on to the next bit. So sure, things can not go according to plan, and that’s neat, but they didn’t actually pull it off all that well. From what I hear, Alpha Protocol is far better at that (I haven’t got the bandwidth to download it fully and try it out yet though).

      And stahlwerk, LP lurkers unite *fistpump*. I’ve been meaning to cough up the cash for an account plus archive access so I can give a little back and get access to the actual threads for the games on the LP Archive, actually, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve also been meaning to check out the DP LP, since it’s a legendary game and my current stock of watched LPs is running out again, but haven’t done that yet either. I’m clinging to a small shred of my free-time productivity.

    • JackShandy says:

      AlexW, like I said, I couldn’t care less that the quick-time events change – it increases replayability, but that’s not what drew me in. The simple fact that failing here would have consequences was what thrilled me (even if Ethan/shelby can’t die, they can fail). Imagine a shooter that would continue on with the story if you died in a bossfight. Immediately the whole thing would be made edge-of-your-seat tense, knowing that any failure would be permanent. It’s the sort of tension that makes one-life playthroughs so interesting, made into a mainstream game.

      That, at least, is something I haven’t seen done before outside of small indie games. Most games don’t go beyond a “CONTINUE?” screen, or a short movie showing the end of the world. Alpha Protocol does some good things based on your choices, I’m sure, but I haven’t heard anything about it actually picking up and continuing if you fail.

      Heavy Rain’s story is just a poor framework over a system I like.

  17. stahlwerk says:

    Hey Jim, look familiar? http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/02/01/garriott-says-weve-not-mastered-storytelling/
    ;-)

    I knew I had seen this brain fart of an editing botch-job before. Well at least before I had to turn it off twenty seconds in because of all the “edgy glitches” and bleep-bloops.
    Please mister editor for Game Theory, if you have to intercut two shots, ask yourself twice next time if it really needs to go to mirrored black and white for 1500 msecs with a scanline error effect accompanied by the sound of a capacitor shitting itself, mid sentence.

  18. omicron1 says:

    “Enough women entering science” should be “as many women as want to enter science,” not “as many women as there are men entering science.” The latter is a false equality.

    • Pantsman says:

      Except that would entirely miss the point of the question “Why do fewer women than men enter the sciences?”, which really is, “Why do fewer women than men choose to enter the sciences?”

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @omicron1
      My god yes.

      Advocating that people should simply choose what they want in life, regardless of whether it creates some kind of demographic imbalance, is pro-freedom.
      Advocating that people should choose things in life to fill some stupid artificial quota, is anti-freedom. Who do people think they are, saying “ladies, you gotta go into science, there’s a gender imbalance, so if you don’t you’re (insert guilt trip bullshit). Bottom line, you’re pressuring women to do a specific thing based on their gender. Which I’m pretty sure is sexist.

      Expect these distinctions to sometimes be lost on the RPS staff, who, by their SP article selection, appear to buy into mainstream “feminism” (authoritarian, retrograde, sexist). In this ideology, demographic imbalance in of itself “proves” discrimination so in their view they’re just trying to fight sexism by crusading against said imbalance.

      Or perhaps it’s simply because if you advocate true “gender egalitarianism” (libertarian, progressive, anti-sexist) these days, the “feminist” establishment will go after you like a swarm of piranhas. Fear is a powerful motivator.

    • Pantsman says:

      @Grape Flavor: The real point of the article, and of the general effort to encourage women to enter science, is clearly lost on you. No-one’s saying that women shouldn’t do exactly what they wish. But the fact is that an inordinately small amount of women choose to go into the sciences. Pretending that this fact is unimportant, or that it couldn’t possibly indicate that some form of cultural or systemic bias is at play, is willful blindness.

      The imbalance is far too large to be attributed to randomness. It must thus be caused by one or more of:
      A: Intrinsic biological differences between the sexes,
      B: Cultural differences between the genders,
      C: Sexism in academic institutions.

      While C used to be a major problem, there has been much improvement in this area in recent decades, so in my opinion this is likely to be a negligible component. Most research does not indicate that there is any biological difference between the sexes in terms of scientific ability, so A is likely out. That leaves B, for me. Perhaps, though, you attribute it to A (correct me if I’m wrong, but I somehow doubt you’d pick C.) If so, then you could at least have the courage of convictions to acknowledge that this position is sexist by definition. If not, I’m puzzled that you don’t see it as worthwhile to attempt to eliminate people’s own biases against careers which not only might prove more rewarding for them than what they would otherwise do, and also provide greater long-term benefit to society.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @Pantsman
      Yeah, I view C as not the likely culprit as well. So on the matter of A and B.

      A is out unless proven otherwise. Any other policy towards the matter would be prejudicial. All scientific research, in contrast with feminist “entirely social construct” ideology, shows, (as a generalization, not binding on the individual level), certain innate differences between the sexes. But I am unaware of any evidence that “women are bad at science”. So yeah.

      B, sure, sounds plausible to me. But I do not automatically assume B is malign or imposed. Perhaps women, in general, are less interested in the sciences, or find it less rewarding? (Regardless of equal ability.) I’m not even saying that’s the case. I wouldn’t know. But it seems to me to merit consideration alongside the theory “our culture is telling girls science isn’t ladylike”.

      More women being urged to consider all career options = great. Irrational bias is bad. Diversity, in general, A Good Thing. I think this is one of those “debates” where we don’t actually even disagree. I just didn’t like the way Jim said “there aren’t enough” as if there’s some unspoken quota that needs to be filled. A poor choice of words – replace “entering” with “considering” and I take no objection.

      oh, and late post but what the hell.

  19. Doesntmeananything says:

    I’m not sure how the article of Peter Pomerantsev about Russian TV has found its place in this ‘issue’ of the Sunday Papers, but I’m really glad it has. A really interesting, if confirmative, piece. By no means shocking or revelatory, as thinking part of our country’s population knows about this grave state of TV here. Things are indeed that bad. The best programmes and shows, which is a small batch, very rarely deal with politics, and I think that that plays a major role in the Russians’ detachment from political life of the state and as a result such buffoonery in the government. At least the intelligentsia is there (and will always be), doing what they do best – acknowledging the situation, producing masterpieces and weeping over Russia’s horrible luck.

    • coldvvvave says:

      I disagree.

      IMO we don’t even have intelligentsiya in a classic sence anymore, it died with SU. Only so called ‘Liberal inteligentsia’ is more or less alive but I have doubts about it having anything to do with liberalism

  20. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    David Braben is grumpy that his game scored a 74 on Metacritic, and that he would deserve at least 10 points more. Coincidently that’s around the scores the franchises he named as being underrated by reviewers fall into. Those are not bad scores.

    “I have in mind games like Animal Crossing, Nintendogs, RollerCoaster Tycoon – all huge sellers, but with noticeably lower reviews than their quality suggests. The presumption is ‘it wasn’t aimed at me, and so it must be bad’.”

    Also he wants to rate individual reviewers instead of just publications. There is no way this could be used to single out particularly unwelcome individuals, oh no.

    • Veracity says:

      He’s not just grumpy, he’s on some impenetrable mission to assassinate himself as thoroughly as possible because all the people hating him over the fact he’ll clearly never produce Elite 4 (or, worse, will) isn’t enough to satisfy him any more. He told Eurogamer recently that people buying his games used might as well pirate them for all he cares, which seems a tad impolitic regardless of whether it’s what he thinks.

    • Dominic White says:

      Do you have any problem with the statement that you might as well pirate as buy second-hand? Because exactly the same amount of money gets to the developers either way.

    • Tei says:

      Do you have any problem with the statement that you might as well pirate as buy second-hand? Because exactly the same amount of money gets to the developers either way.

      But more money get into the hands of people that buy games, so more games are buy.
      Some people can afford games only because sell the old ones.

      If you have 30$ and I have 30$. We can buy 1 game. Withouth renting, we can buy 0 games. A lot more people have 30$ than people that have 60$. And a lot more people have 10$ than 30$.

      Anyone still not convinced?
      http://wosblog.podgamer.com/2011/02/12/anyone-still-not-convinced/

    • Bullwinkle says:

      @Dominic

      That’s not quite true. Many people buy games with the intention of selling them when they’re done with them. In their mind, they’re not paying the cost of the game, they’re paying the cost minus what they get back for selling. Their own risk is less, and so some take a flyer on different games they wouldn’t otherwise try since they know they can recoup at least some of their money. If they couldn’t sell them, they might not buy some of the games. At least this way the developer gets one sale.

    • Thants says:

      What is it about used games that people think is so unique? Pretty much every product sold has a used market, there are even laws protecting it such as the first-sale doctrine. It’s how markets work! Car companies don’t complain that you’re stealing from them if you buy a used car, they brag about how much resale value their car has.

    • JuJuCam says:

      There are a few differences with the used game market as opposed to most other markets, but it’s not a clean cut issue at all. Bringing used cars into it is comparing apples to oranges.

      Mainly, the way I see it, retailers that only offer store credit for your used games are more clearly unethical. I guess this might happen at a dealer where you might trade in an old car in lieu of a down-payment on a new one, but if that’s the case it’s likely because you wanted the new car from that dealer in the first place. And mostly you can find a deal for cash for cars fairly easily. Whereas when you trade in a game you’re locked in to spending the trade value at that retailer. When that retailer sells your game, they’re getting cash (or another traded game, worth cash to them but store credit for that customer). It’s a brutal business model that results in megabucks for the shop but with no apparent victim. The thing is the same box can potentially keep coming in and out of the same store 4 or 5 times and that store can make back 500% of their initial wholesale price on that product, without giving up a single penny in cash. Doesn’t sound fair to me. I mean I know giving up store value represents potential earnings, but it’s not real currency in the same way that Microsoft Points aren’t real currency.

      I’m basically on the line about the whole thing. Mostly I’ll buy a game brand new if I think the devs deserve my dollar and I want to encourage them. Sometimes the only copy on the shelf is traded in and my hands are tied. Either way I rarely pay full launch retail anyway because very few games are worth it. And I usually don’t trade in my games any more, unless it’s a real disappointment of a game and I’m truly skint.

  21. Jahkaivah says:

    The Acorn Archimedes version of Simcity 2000 may have had only one piece of music playing throughout, but god damn was it awesome:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK1-Q0ufPhc

  22. man-eater chimp says:

    The EVE bot farming link isn’t working for me… From people commenting on it I think that might just be me however.

    EDIT: Working now, ignore me!

  23. negativedge says:

    Man, I know I was disappointed in Bayonetta because I couldn’t make Crazy Hair Chick go home to contemplate her life. And really, I’m so glad Heavy Rain exists so that third grade writing standards the world over will start to get (even more) respect.

    video game commentary is so depressing in its ineptitude.

  24. Deccan says:

    I went on an archive binge at BLDGBLOG recently (I’d not read it in nine months or so, no I dea why…maybe I’d hit my head); it really is one of the gems of the internet.

    It’s quite neat playing through Guild Wars and suddenly seeing something that was in BLDGBLOG’s interview with Daniel Dociu. “I’ve never been here before, but this is strangely familiar…”

  25. bildo says:

    @dethtoll

    I’m sorry you think that way.

  26. Pantsman says:

    The whole situation is interesting for a couple of reasons. The reaction to the initial Dickwolf comic was pretty small – it was the “response” in the comic the next day that really sent things into a tailspin. It’s worth noting that Penny Arcade actually has had several jokes involving rape before (just search for “rape” in their archives), and they’ve also given ironic in-comic “responses” to critics before (and they’ve certainly been criticized before). But this is the first time all of these have happened at once, over the same issue, and that combination seems to be what caused the discourse to spiral into unrestrained spite on both sides.

    My position is that the original comic wasn’t unduly insensitive (and certainly not unusually so, for them), but at the same time the feelings of any rape survivors who might have been “triggered” by it are valid. They have the right (perhaps even the duty) as artists to express their vision, but given the kinds of subjects they tend to make light of, it might behoove them to at least put a disclaimer on the site, warning new visitors of what they’re getting into. This would resolve the original issue rather neatly. The site was born on a smaller, rougher internet still mostly populated by young male tech-savvy types, unlikely to be offended by anything. But the net is a different place now. It’s grown up somewhat, and it may be time for them to recognize that.

    As for the response comic, well, I found it hilarious at the time, not having read the specific accusations against them. I still think it’s funny, but I also think it’s perhaps going a bit too far. Cognitive dissonance ‘r’ me. After that, as we all know, things just got worse and worse on both sides, as these things tend to. That, sadly, is just human nature, and with that in mind I think the best thing is to for everyone to just forgive everyone else and try to start a more measured and understanding conversation – if I’ve learned one thing from all this, it’s that such a conversation is indeed necessary.

    (Oh, and of course this is nothing to do with freedom of speech! You can believe in a right and still believe that there are irresponsible and negative ways to exercise it.)

  27. Jambe says:

    Neat to see you linked the EVE botting article. Apparently their site has been crashed. Dunno if it’s the influx of RPSers or if it’s another DOS attack against them.

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