The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on August 14th, 2011 at 10:48 am.


Sundays! Sundays are for refreshed victory. On Sundays we can consolidate and peer into the week ahead. Will it be better than last week? Damn straight. Let’s prepare ourselves with some written edification for mind and soul. Internet, you are a strong.

  • The Creators Project talk to the man behind mod de jour The Stanley Parable: “I love any game that rattles my expectations a bit, so I’ve been equally delighted with Counterstrike and with Dear Esther. But a mod is just a tool, you can use it however you want, and if you go on ModDB, most of the mods there are sci-fi/history actions games. Even though modding can be a wellspring of innovation and creativity, it’s just as easy to use it to make something that looks identical to everything else. The more open your platform is, the more imitators you get. As far as actual success goes, I think it has far more to do with your intentions than with the openness of your platform. Case in point: i released a game that’s actually kind of difficult to install, on a limited number of platforms, with zero marketing and zero details available about the game, and it was downloaded 70,000 times in a week. That speaks to my desire to do something crazy and unexpected. If your intentions are just to imitate the formula, than no amount of technological liberation will help. But I’m kind of an anomaly here, so what do I know?”
  • Kirk Hamilton and Leigh Alexander are writing a series of letters to each other detailing their experiences playing the original Deus Ex. Kirk has played it before, because he’s a big old nerd, but Leigh hasn’t, so she’s seeing the ancient masterpiece through contemporary eyes. Here’s a bit of what gets said: “I mean, everyone in this game has a trenchcoat. And doesn’t have a neck. The music is the kind of thing I’d expect to hear someone make as a joke at the expense of “dark, futuristic” video games. And the graphics! Good god damn, is this game ugly. People are discussing things I haven’t yet learned to care about, looking like male sex dolls with their pupil-less eyes and gawping fish-lips. In the opening sequence, when they zoomed into that one dude’s reddish, pointille eye, I literally vocalized my laughter.” Old men.
  • Tap-repeatedly have a guest editorial from Amanda Lange on “the generation gap”. It explodes across a bunch of different issues, but is followed by a decent discussion over whether younger gamers are missing out on deeper mechanics because of the drive toward “accessibility” that games current face. Here’s one of the comments: “However… if young gamers *are* missing out on the deeper experiences then it’s part of a much wider problem that is little to do with the mechanics of gaming. The widespread integration of auto-distraction technology into every part of life. Our right to empty, sedate time has been signed away on silicon. We lose our concentration one tweet, one mail and one ad at a time. No wonder there are so many players attracted to Press X to Complete Game. It’s a symptom and not a cause.” Yeah, stupid dumbed-down culture! Dwarf Fortress should be taught in schools!
  • Gamespy look at the virtual item-selling business, and it throws up this quote from EA’s Frank Gibeau: “PC retail may be a big problem, but PC downloads are awesome. The margins are much better and we don’t have any rules in terms of first-party approvals. From our perspective, it’s an extremely healthy platform. It’s totally conceivable that it will become our biggest platform.”
  • BnB Gaming have spent some time talking about isometric RPGs and their power over more modern camera-tastic RPG: “My escape is to a static place, to a place where only my imagination moves. The scene pauses. Should I shoot the Deathclaw in the head, hoping to kill it quickly? Or in the leg to slow it down? Should I waste valuable time equipping a more powerful gun? Or should I gobble down all these drugs I’m carrying around and hope for the best? And suddenly I am away from the first-person experience, thinking about my situation without seeing it. I know that the Deathclaw is still ‘out there’ and I still feel in danger. While perusing my inventory, I am more alone with my fear of Deathclaws than with the fully realised, visible Deathclaw. So am I closer to my character, or further away?”
  • The Armchair Empire have written An Open Letter To Mike Morhaime. It argues that Diablo III’s always-on, real-money trading model will hurt Blizzard because of how PC gamers will react: “The days of The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne are long gone. The PC is the only platform you have invested in, whether that’s Windows or Mac, and there is no other place to go. For better or worse, you’ve tied yourself to a single platform, and forcing this scheme onto the community without the benefit of alternate platforms will not result in millions of fans falling in line like good little sheep to be fleeced. You may get some, but nowhere near what you were expecting. The rest will either forsake the game, and Blizzard by extension, or they will turn pirate.” Not sure I agree with this. I think a minority will vote with their wallets, but Blizzard will still print money. It’s worth protesting, because it’s always worth fighting for what we believe in, but Blizzard are inevitably going to win this battle. No amount of rehashing the grumbles will change that.
  • This video over at PC Perspective has John Carmack’s take on the Unlimited Detail thing, as well as some thoughts about ray-tracing as the future of rendering: “I am confident in saying now that ray tracing of some form will eventually win because there are too many things that we’ve suffered with rasterization for, especially for shadows and environment mapping. We live with hacks that ray tracing can let us do much better. For years I was thinking that traditional analytical ray tracing intersecting with an analytic primitive couldn’t possibly be the right solution, and it would have to be something like voxels or metaballs or something. I’m less certain of that now because the analytic tracing is closer than I thought it would be. I think it’s an interesting battle between potentially ray tracing into dense polygonal geometry versus ray tracing into voxels and things like that.”
  • Hogrocket’s Pete Collier talks about what he believes developers need to think about to make a good game: “Bounceability – This denotes the positive feeling players get at the end of a game where they strongly feel they can do much better next time they play. This is often combined with immediately wanting to play again and is tied very closely with the qualities of addictiveness. Evoking this from a player is a very strong sign of an awesome game. Not only does the player feel like they’ve learned from the experience but critically they also feel it is instantly actionable.”
  • Here’s a piece on Ed Macmillan’s The Binding Of Isaac: “Religion is but one of many inspirations for Isaac. “Thematically most of the inspiration comes from the bible, christian extremist propaganda from the 80s, Jack Chick comics and books my wife had been reading about kids held captive in basements.” Then, there’s the art, which Edmund says he’s “probably pulling a lot from stuff like Ren and Stimpy and other cartoons and comics from [his] childhood”.”
  • Speaking of religion, here’s Michael Johnson on God Games: ” I want to be my own God, I want to create a society in my image, that learns and adapts to my whims and creates its own homage to me. Some games have explored these ideas to some extent such as Black and White, with pet-like avatars who adapt according to our behaviour, becoming a cruel enforcer or benevolent guardian on our behalf according to the way we treat them. But for me that’s not enough.”
  • Futurismic on emergent narrative in games and films: “Aside from the fact that many people do manage to play their way through Dwarf Fortress, what is most exciting about the game is the quality of the stories that it seems to generate… All of these contain stories that have emerged entirely organically from the Dwarf Fortress experience: stories that exist without cut-scenes, without stilted dialogue developed by third-rate voice actors and without code monkeys pretending to be Fellini. Not only do these narratives emerge naturally from play, they emerge beautifully formed and filled with tragedy, comedy and the sparkle of verisimilitude that systematically seems to evade the likes of Hideo Kojima.” A-fucking-men.
  • That Jim Rossignol guy blogs about the weird feeling of working on a game about a ruined city in a week where angry people seemed intent on ruining theirs.
  • A phenomenon that has become rarer as the internet has become more mainstream is the thing where you go to a website and realise it is completely mad. This grading of national flags felt like the old days of the internet somehow. What. Why?

Music this week is Battles’ My Machines featuring Gary Numan, the physical copies of which were destroyed in a fire caused by the riots. Hopefully it’ll do okay digitally and not hurt the band or the label too much. And did I link to Jim Guthrie’s stuff before? Maybe, but anyway, people have been tweeting it again.

As ever, you can email me or twittle me links during the week.

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207 Comments »

  1. Gassalasca says:

    That girl Leigh doesn’t know what she’s talking about. The music in DeusEx is fucking awesome.

    Though she’s right about the ugliness, for the most part.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It is the greatest music of all time.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Put on a trench-coat
      and fight some conspiracies
      Gain experience
      and level up abilities
      will you pick rifles
      or computers?
      Just don’t pick swimming
      ‘coz it’s pretty useless

      It’s a shooter
      and a role-playing game
      The levels are ugly
      and everyone looks the same”

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Yo Leigh, Leigh, your opinion is all valuable and I’ma let you finish in a second, but Deus Ex Music is the bestest music of all time. OF ALL TIME!

      Also
      +1 to doesn’t know what she is talking about .

    • negativedge says:

      Leigh Alexander not knowing what she’s talking about? Shocking! I am shocked!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Hong Kong Streets/The Synapse is outstanding background music for an outstanding section of the game.
      Obligatory link to the Alexander Brandon-assisted reworked version, which is a little less background and a little more awesome.

    • DrGonzo says:

      She really summed up how I feel about Deus Ex. I played it on release but the criticisms of the design, graphics and sound were true back then too. It’s always been an ugly looking, horrible sounding piece of crap.

      But somehow it’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts.

    • Unaco says:

      +2 to doesn’t know what she is talking about.

      It doesn’t help that the letter (hers at least) seems to have very little to do with Deus Ex and the game itself, and seems instead to be all about her (and her prejudices). And she doesn’t seem like a nice person… saying the box art was some “nerd Messiah”, saying a game is too ‘nerdy’ for her to play (I’m sure her editor loves giving her assignments and games to review)… as if Nerd is still a pejorative to the majority. It isn’t! We’ve reclaimed that word, and now wear it like a badge of honour.

      What the other guy (Kirk) is saying is pretty spot on though. Never thought about the Liberty Island level like that… that you wouldn’t see it in a modern day Video game.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Oops, commented on wrong thread

    • Dreamhacker says:

      +3 to doesn’t know what she is talking about.

      One the Internet, no one needs to know what they’re talking about. But if your talk gets enough notable attention, your ignorance will sooner or later overshadow all your other endeavours.

    • Jimbo says:

      Weird, I thought Leigh liked the trenchcoat look. Maybe there weren’t enough swastikas.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Hello everyone! When criticising a writer for talking about ‘nerd messiah’s and rubbish music, it might be good to ackowledge that the writer was describing prejudices she had at the time of release, so as to give perspective on her reactions now. It makes you look awfully silly if you don’t. I Hope you are all well!

    • Unaco says:

      @AndrewC… The Nerd Messiah thing may have been a prejudice she had at the time of release, but she doesn’t seem to have changed her mind, that much. As for the music, that is her criticism from playing the game just now. Maybe you should read the piece we are criticising, before criticising our criticisms. It makes you look awfully silly if you don’t.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      It should probably also be noted that this is the first of a feature, so is very much concerned with pre-conceived/initial impressions. As stated at the bottom, there is a part 2.

    • diebroken says:

      Just like Unreal, the music of Deus Ex is amazingly atmospheric.

      /lost in memories…

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      If there is a geek religion, AIs are its gods and the Singularity its rapture. Deus Ex is the story of the messiah J. C. Denton, who battles against the corrupt forces controlling the world, and ascends into godhood, ruling the world from an omniscient benevolence.
      And identifying the box art as some sort of “nerd messiah” is exactly right. Just compare the Deus Ex box art with, for example, Rembrandt’s The Ascension.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      What Vandelay said. Her ending remarks are actually, cautiously, positive about the game.

      Also, I agree entirely with the points she makes about the surface of the game being extremely alienating, I mean, if you don’t fetishise that emotionless, dissasociative, one-man-against-a-dark-dark-world stuff, that is. It makes other nerd power fantasies like The Matrix look positively rainbow-filled.

      It is enormously important in the wider scheme of this looking-at-games-as-part-of-wider-culture stuff to recognise how this sort of imagery comes over to people who see games as for unsocial, immature, insecure boys, especially when any criticism of it is met with such tellingly agressive defensiveness.

      The joy of the game is in its open-ended mechanics, not its narrative and aesthetic surface, which remain rather turgidly adolescant.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Man, somebody better tell the whole cyberpunk genre that it’s only for little boys.

    • karry says:

      “other nerd power fantasies like The Matrix”

      Yep…i’ll just go shag three or four of my birds (all at once, mind), snuff some cocaine and go clubbing because i have a fucking life. Oooh i am so superior to you nerds i scare myself sometimes.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Umm, Karry, being invited to cool clubs by hot chicks on drugs is a part of the fantasy of The Matrix.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ Karry

      Yup, that’s exactly what Andrew was trying to convey.

      Also as brilliant as Deus Ex is even in my limited experience of the cyperpunk genre I can tell it’s far from the pinnacle in terms of narrative and aesthetics. Personally I quite enjoyed it and think “turgid adolescence” is a bit on the harsh side but it’s fairly easy to see how it can alienate people. Of course there’s nothing neccesarily wrong with that. Pippa Funnel’s Field of Ponies III alieneates me but it’s not going to give me a negative opinion of gaming as a whole. Some things aren’t for everyone.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      @AndrewC:

      Do you honestly mean to say that dark or bleak or noir themes are “for unsocial, immature, insecure boys”? That is offensive on so many levels, and you can expect to have to apologize to (including but not limited to): the entire noir film industry, the entire dark ambience music scene, every founding figure of 20th century modern japanese fiction, and so on and so forth should you carry on that argument.

      The sheer notion that the game’s dark aesthetics are purely for adolescents is so prejudiced it’s frightening. Pray tell, do you also think that pink clothing is strictly for small girls?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You mean, if I take my arguments far further than I have, express them far more strongly than I have, and demand that a description of one example of an aesthetic is the absolute definition of several huge and wildly disparate genres, then there’s a chance that some of my arguments may not be entirely accurate?

      Is that what you mean?

    • JackShandy says:

      Turgidly: Excessively ornate or complex in style or language; grandiloquent.

      That really isn’t an accurate description of Deus Ex.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ Jack Shandy

      Are you trying to say “I spill my drink” isn’t grandiloquent?

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You are picking at single words now? OK – the word doesn’t have to mean ‘lots of fancy words’. I’ll leave Max Payne to be the poster child for turgid language in games. The word here was being used to describe the tone, which I feel is overwrought, pompous and enormously self-serious.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ AndrewC

      Are you trying to say “I spill my drink” is self-serious/

      (OK I’ll stop now I promise!)

    • JackShandy says:

      Sorry for the nitpick, but words matter on the internet -seeing as they’re all we have- and I don’t feel that your criticism is accurate. “Turgidly Adolescent” brings to mind images of Quake or Gears of War- I don’t really see how making the main character emotionless is pandering to teenagers, or how that description even applies to something that’s always banging on about politics and philosophy.

    • John P says:

      The word here was being used to describe the tone, which I feel is overwrought, pompous and enormously self-serious.

      Well I won’t tell you how to feel. I’ll just tell you you’re wrong.

    • Bishbosh says:

      I don’t think you need to ‘fetishize’ the setting to enjoy it by any means, especially as at the time there were relatively few games with a similar aesthetic. As for issues with the box art, compared to some of the artwork you see, I always thought it came across as less is more… its lack of showiness made it more intriguing.

    • vanarbulax says:

      I played Deux Ex for the first time recently. I in all honesty didn’t like it. Feel free to become angry internet men and imply I’m a Nazi.

      Jesus wept, you guys.

    • RF says:

      +(n+1) to she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

      Also, how shocked am I to find people are whiteknighting for WIMMENZ. On the INTERNET.

    • dr.castle says:

      oh my god someone wrote something mean on the internet about a thing that i like

      does it happen to be a more-or-less accurate statement? is it obviously a description of preconceptions and initial impressions going in, which will be expanded upon in further articles? is it followed by the same writer saying nice things about the game, and that she is enjoying playing it? who cares! she said something mean about a thing that i like is what matters

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Dr Castle and others are right to mock those being pissy in this thread. While Leigh is clearly mistaken about the awesomeness of DX’s music, this is the first part of a series of letters discussing the game. It’s deeply disingenuous to argue as if the first impressions of anyone coming to DX for the first time in 2011 would be wholly positive. Surface impressions of this – the greatest game of all time – are not good. Because it is not about surface. It would only be once they got into the body of the game that they would appreciate its accomplishments, which is certainly what will happen here.

    • Alphabet says:

      Exactly. She’s making a narrative out of her overall experience, and it will start low and go up from there. It’s the same logic as in reality tv – a little jeopardy and some first impressions that turn out to be erroneous or unimportant. You’d think people would have figured this out by now :)

    • Unaco says:

      @Jim…

      Criticism == ‘being pissy’?

      I don’t see people being pissy here, certainly not at Leigh Alexander. Amongst ourselves, perhaps, with the arguments about ‘turgidity’. There is criticism of the piece, yes… Mine being that it feels a little ‘selfish’, it’s more about the author than the subject. But criticising something isn’t automatically ‘being pissy’, and I think it’s a little disingenuous to say that we all are, and we deserve mocking for it.

      Also, I’m not dismissing the fact that this is the first of a series, and I’ll keep reading most likely (if you remind us in the Sunday Papers). Although, you do say… “It would only be once they got into the body of the game that they would appreciate its accomplishments, which is certainly what will happen here.” Certainly what will happen here? You can read Leigh’s mind? Or have you spoken to them? Or is this some secret of Games Journalists? Do you all have to, at some point, write a piece about an old game you initially dislike but eventually come to love? Is Leigh just going through the motions here, ticking a box on her CV?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “You can read Leigh’s mind?”

      Yes :(

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Oh shit, I didn’t know Alexander Brandon did the soundtrack. No wonder it’s so good. Tyrian has one of the best soundtracks to anything, ever.

    • Reefpirate says:

      At first generally taken aback by her attitudes towards PC games as a whole, I think she did end up coming across as reasonable in this letter. I disagree with her very much on a few things, but I’m also curious to see what she ultimately thinks about this giant of a game.

      Also, I now very much like the idea of always defending Deus Ex from any sort of criticism with, “What, so you don’t think that ‘I speel my drink!’ has high enough texture resolution??”

    • Vinraith says:

      Ah the inevitable shitstorm that arises whenever someone pokes one of PC gaming’s sacred cows. Allow me to make things worse:

      Deus Ex is ugly as sin.

      Planescape: Torment’s gameplay is shit.

      That is all.

    • Markachy says:

      I don’t get these comments about the opening level putting people off. I still remember to this day playing the Deus Ex demo (which was Liberty Island) and being absolutely BLOWN away by it. Never had I felt so free so early in a game, the possibilities were endless. If I can learn to deal with the peculiar combat mechanics quickly at the age of 11, anyone can.

      And even better, my older brother came home from uni a week later, boxed copy of Deus Ex in hand, and donated to me, myself not having the money to buy it at that age. Glorious!

      I still continue to be amazed by that level, right down to only finding the crate with the hidden medical bots after many playthroughs. Sigh. Games were better in my day ¬_¬

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ Vinraith

      I wouldn’t say so much “shit” as “on the edge of tolerability.” Then again that’s pretty much how I find a lot of RPG combat. Fortunately Planescape more than makes up for it by being an absolutely tremendous text adventure game in much the in thesame way Deus Ex more than makes up for its flaws.

      I know you know that, just thought it was worth pointing out before some unruly sod at the back of the class starts playing up!

      @ Markachy

      I remember it differently. I played it around the same age and first time round I cheated (and this was right after I thought I’d got past cheating at games having brute forced my way through Half Life using the quick save button!). It was pretty tough for a first level. Still loved the game though, and I atoned for my cheating ways by playing it properly second time around.

    • Alphabet says:

      Vinraith – did you really find the exploration of beautifully-painted environments, the reading of long paragraphs of evocative text, while absorbing the the ambient sounds and the soundtrack, interacting with NPCs, developing your Nameless One with tattoos, the great spell effects, and the constant surprises of Planescape:Torment boring? Or was it just the combat you found boring? I enjoyed the combat, too, but if you didn’t like the rest of it, then you and I have very different taste in gaming (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course)

    • Vinraith says:

      @Lambchops

      I know you know that

      Funny side note, while I certainly know that most people feel that way about Planescape, I certainly don’t know that from personal experience. Despite 8 separate tries over ten years, I’ve never made it past those first couple of mind numbing hours to actually get to this much spoken of “good part.” I suspect I never will, there’s just absolutely nothing compelling about it.

      I suspect it originally got a lot of mileage out of being set in what, to most gamers, was a novel environment. As someone that used to run an outer planes campaign, however, I’ve never been able to get past what a dull, listless use of the setting the beginning of the game really makes. Couple that to uninteresting characters and horrible mechanics and the writing just can’t save it for me.

      I’m going to quietly step out while the room bursts into flames, now.

    • Sunjammer says:

      I don’t understand why some people find it so bloody important to defend the Deus Ex esthetic. It was shitty matrix bullshit when it was released, and it’s still shit. But as someone smart said, it’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a cohesive shittiness that makes for a believable world.

      The music IS rad though. Modules!

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      TL:DR but has she heard the UNATCO music? That is the best piece of music on planetmotherfuckingdeusex

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ Vinraith

      To be honest, if I’d started playing it now I’d have given up on it. Now that I’m older and a lot more time poor i don’t have the same will to sit through a good few hours of either crap or harsh difficulty to get to the good bits.

      It’s why I can see myself abandoning my current attempt to playthrough Pathologic. I can see that it may well have some brilliant moments but I keep getting the feeling that I’m constantly on the edge of irredemably fucking up. I’m just willing to take the risk of pouring hours into it only to not have enough food/drugs or whatever to survive because I didn’t scavange effecctively in the early parts of the game.

      But if you do have the time . . . Planescapes is worth it! Cross my heart!

    • Alphabet says:

      @Vinraith

      “uninteresting characters”

      I very much disagree.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Lambchops

      I still try to play the damned thing about once a year, because I just can’t believe it isn’t something I’ll enjoy, but I’m starting to have serious doubts that I’ll ever make it any significant distance in.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      FWIW Vinraith, I have exactly the same relationship with Torment. I keep trying, but I can never get past the first few hours. I have no objections to the kind of game it’s supposed to be, but it’s just terribly boring.

      If you’re going to use a game to tell a story, you’ve got to get the pacing right.

    • Leigh Alexander says:

      1. Yes, of course it’s a personal narrative; If you want people to lie about their prejudices and list facts, you could just read mainstream reviews. Kirk and I do letter series because we believe one’s own interests, feelings and history are very much relevant to the way they experience a game. We’re also interested to find out if the way fans approach something that is universally beloved is different than the way those new to it do.
      2. Why, no, there’s nothing alienating and nerdy about Deus Ex. Just, you know, if you say you have a bad initial impression of it (which isn’t exactly what I said, even) a clutch of internet men will rush to declare you’re incompetent at your job and that anyone who is interested in your point of view must be “white knighting” because you’re a woman.
      3. And you do know, right, that there is no “correct or incorrect” way to feel about a piece of music, right? I mean, you definitely know already that those things are to an extent not qualitative, right?
      4. Yes. Jim can actually read my mind. It’s freaky.

      Anyway, carry on! Thanks for giving the conversation between Kirk and I a chance, and I hope that even if you continue to disagree with me as the letters evolve and we play more of the game, you agree with us that it can be fun to see how gamers completely different than you approach things.

    • titan13 says:

      “i do realise D3 is not an MMO,but it’ll just have to put into that category for the ppl with bad internet”
      I had an unreliable internet connection for a long time that would disconnect me on a regular basis. The move to single player games requiring an always on internet connection will be a real pain for those who are in a similar position. Also you shouldn’t lump D2 with mmo’s. Diablo II is a classic, I had much more fun with it than I have with any mmo, so I have very high hopes for D3. And I’m sure that there are many people who have a laptop and travel on a regular basis who would have liked to have played this game. I really don’t see anything confusing about the argument against always on DRM.

      Edit: reply fail, replied to the wrong post =(

    • kyrieee says:

      Is this the longest reply-thread on RPS?

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  2. GLSteve says:

    I agree, Blizzard will make a shit-ton of cash through Diablo 3, but I wouldn’t underestimate just how many people will avoid it now that its shackled itself to the always-online thing.

    They will lose out due to the move, even if they don’t actually feel it. Which is a shame, that’s two big developers now kicking PC gaming in the nuts. I’m just waiting on id’s announcement Rage is going to require something similar…

    This does not bode well…

    • Azhrarn says:

      The trouble is (because I agree that always on DRM is silly), I suspect the “always on” thing will work similarly to the StarCraft 2 single-player campaign. That game is also “always on” and doesn’t track achievements and such when it looses connection. Beyond that, you’ll never know it lost connection in any way. And in the case of D3 your auction houses won’t work either.

      As for being always online, most of us are at least 90% of the time, only when we’re travelling we’re not constantly connected to the net and we don’t game very often when travelling for shorter stretches.
      Waiting at an Airport perhaps, but you usually have Wi-Fi for free there.
      When in flight you can’t play D3 because it can’t verify the authenticity of the account, but the same goes many games these days that require a single short check through the internet before functioning properly. Not all flight have decent in-flight power supplies though, so your laptop won’t last long while gaming.

      I don’t like this “always on” stuff either, but it’s what we’re stuck with for having the most open platform for gaming available and publishers being the control-freaks they are.

    • Rii says:

      id has announced that Rage will require Steam even if you buy it retail. Of course most of the internet thinks that’s perfectly ok because it isn’t Origin.

      Console gamers in contrast won’t actually be receiving the entire game on the disc, but will have to download the ability to enter sewers with a one-time code. Folks who buy second-hand will have to pay for the privilege.

      The only reason they’re not forcing gamers to be online to play is because they don’t think we’re sufficiently numbed to that kind of abuse yet.

      I would say that id has fallen to the dark side, but Willits is adamant that they’ve followed their heart rather than the money. So I guess they were evil all along.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @Azhran,

      I beg to differ in this country quite a few people can’t get internet due to their location/infrastructure, and I am sure a whole lot of other countries fall into the same category. – not just when travelling, I know, I spent like 3 years without internet because the houses in my street couldn’t support ADSL.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Steam isn’t always online. You only need to take it online once, then never, ever again if you so wish. It’s certainly not evil.

      Also, stop assuming that because a very tiny vocal minority is moaning about Origin means that most of us give even the slightest of shits.

    • Rii says:

      Forcing gamers who buy the game retail to install Steam and tie the game to an account so they can’t sell it is totally evil. They don’t even have EA and Valve’s excuse of wanting to cut out the middle-man: Steam is the middle-man here. They’re paying Valve for the privilege of screwing the consumer.

    • MaXimillion says:

      @Rii

      Using a multiplayer system that’s well tested and actually works instead of using something horrible like gamespy or spending time and resources making their own system is pure evil? It actually benefits gamers, at least those who don’t see Steam as the devil.

    • Rii says:

      @MaXimillion
      You’re talking about the developer that bloody invented online deathmatch and whose games have some of the tightest netcode ever devised. The only reason they’re using Steam is because it strips consumers of the ability to sell the product they’ve purchased. I’m not hating on Steam here, I’m hating on being forced to use it for a game that I chose to buy other than through Steam. But when you’re busy gargling Valve cock it doesn’t surprise me that you’re unable to appreciate such fine distinctions.

    • 0p8 says:

      I probably should’ve posted this in the original D3 always on thread because it includes more detailed comments regarding the subject; but as its being mentioned here too i’ll post away…….
      This whole problem people are having with “always on” has me perplexed.
      Some of the arguments seem completely rational, but others seem the total opposite.The irrational argument i am referring to is the “i have bad local infrustructure for the internet,(or basically i have a poor internnet connection)” and the ” what about travelling and gaming” arguments which were mentioned under that D3 article.
      Firstly am i the only person who finds it odd that so many ppl are bothered by not having decent wi-fi so that they can keep gaming whilst on the move?
      I do all my (pc) gaming at home, just like everyone else i know.
      Am i missing out? Should i be considering buying myself a new gaming laptop, and getting a round the world ticket?
      Secondly, the whole argument about not having a decent enough connection that would enable you to be “always on”, confuses me even more.
      Not that it matters, but me and every single other person i know and interact with personally, and on the internet, are usually 99% of the time (whilst at home at least), always on.
      My main issue is with the ppl that dont have this advantage, and are complaining about it now.
      You do realise that you are in excactly the same boat you would have been in, if you had wanted to play a popular MMO in the last few years up to the present day?
      Those (MMO) games are extremely popular and also do very well, so is it not within the realms of possibility that this will not just be hugely successful and popular, but also a non issue for the majority of gamers?
      Like i said its specifically these gripes that i am highliting,i do realise that the controversy around having this sort of DRM is more complex than just these complaints alone.

      edit:
      i do realise D3 is not an MMO,but it’ll just have to put into that category for the ppl with bad internet.

    • Shuck says:

      @ 0p8:
      An argument isn’t “irrational” because it describes a reality outside your limited personal experience. Not everyone has reliable internet access. My own is spotty enough that I sometimes can’t play online games, and it’s relatively reliable. My gaming PC is a laptop because much of my free time falls within my commute, during which time I have no internet access. Plenty of people have jobs that require them to travel or be somewhere with no internet. Sure most “hard core” gamers will be playing games at home with internet access, but ironically, part of the success of D1/D2 was that they appealed to people outside that demographic. Requiring a game to be internet connected is a restriction that prevents play; it may not be a restriction that affects many people, but it’s a restriction nonetheless. When that restriction applies even to the completely single player gameplay, which receives no benefits whatsoever from being online, people have a right to be upset.

    • Dominic White says:

      As I mentioned in earlier threads, I have a fancypants 20meg line, capable of downloading gigs in minutes.

      It just died for a few minutes half an hour ago. If I’d been playing Diablo 3 solo, I would have just been unceremoniously booted out of the game. That alone would be a fairly good reason for me not to want the game. The thing that really pisses me off is that I have about a 50/50 split of friends who play online games in Europe and America, and the game is region-locked so I could only play with EU people unless I shelled out for a second, US-friendly copy of the game to play with the US group.

      So fuck that. Even region-locked consoles like the 360 let you play internationally, so why is the PC – supposedly the most open and free of the systems – suddenly introducing such barriers?

      I’d like to think that those two argument are very rational and reasonable. They’re two big problems that would deeply sour the experience for me, so until Blizzard pull a 180 or start selling the game for a fiver (hahaha, they still sell Diablo 2 + Expansion for $40), I’m going to keep telling them to sit on a spike and gyrate.

    • 0p8 says:

      @Shuck
      i probably used the wrong word there, but my point is, this might be one of those games that are unfortunately going into your ever growing list of “Games i cannot play coz of my bad internetz”.
      ……..and fyi i do sympathise with fans of diablo who fall into this category.

    • GLSteve says:

      @0p8 Its hardly irrational to say an unreliable internet connection will impair my enjoyment of the game; I share my wi-fi with several PCs and smartphones in my home, meaning interference is a constant issue. I’m not even talking about gaming on the go, that’s another argument entirely.

      The bottom line is this: You are playing a single-player game, there is no justifiable reason whatsoever to require an internet connection to play, other than DRM. Yeah, having auction houses and achievements is all great and funky, social interaction and all that jazz. But when my net goes down for whatever reason, I can’t use the product I bought. Same goes for when Blizz’s servers go down for maintenance/somebody spills beer.

      We pay good money for the right to play these games, the least they could do is make sure we can.

    • 0p8 says:

      @GLSteve
      i know it sucks, and it is a very bitter pill to swallow, but the idea of us always being connected to the net for gaming (with an isp that can provide stability,ofc) has been on the horizon for a while now and its just getting closer.

    • Urthman says:

      0p8

      No one minds when TF2 requires internet to play multiplayer, because in that case, the internet is integral to the game you want to play. Same with MMO games.

      The thing that makes people mad about D3 is that there’s no good reason you couldn’t let people play the single player game without internet. I think that people are right to complain when game publishers shoehorn requirements into games that aren’t really needed for the game but are just there to benefit the publishers.

      People rightly praised Valve for working to make Half-Life 2 work on low end computers. They were doing their best not to unnecessarily keep people out who didn’t have the best hardware. Conversely I think you can criticize Blizzard for unnecessarily requiring reliable internet access for a game that doesn’t really need it, just as people criticized Valve for (pretty much) requiring high-speed internet for Half-Life 2 when the game didn’t really need it.

    • GLSteve says:

      @0p8 Its not the taste, its the fact its not needed. And if we tolerate it, it will only get worse. Starcraft 2 has a fully integrated online component, full of stats, achievements and wizardry – but they never forced you to be online to play the singleplayer. I don’t get what makes Diablo 3 any different.

      *Shrugs* It makes no difference, I could go on and on, but its the way things are and the way they will stay as long as people keep paying cash for this stuff. And they will.

      But I won’t be parting with my cash for this, nor any game that forces you to be online unnecessarily. My net may be crap but my resolve is strong. :P

    • 0p8 says:

      @GLSteve
      yup, its all just a big strawberry and rusty nail DRM evolution pie, and we all gottta eat a piece.(you get the rest?)
      btw, i read your blog on drm so understand its a pet peeve.
      (also,i got a love hate relationship with racers too, so i think someone needs to buy me a wheel)

      @Dominic White
      well i just lost my connection during a hand in an online poker tournament (very annoying btw), but coz we have the technology, it gives me a generous timer to get back online with no hassle. Hopefully Blizz will come up with something similar!

    • Kamos says:

      In this age of ‘pay what you want’, ‘drm free’ ‘cross-platform’ gaming, why would I buy a game that makes a deliberate effort to use the absolute worst type of DRM? Why would I buy a game that is being engineered with unnecessary requirements, to make Blizzard Activision’s shareholders happy, and not me? If I wanted to suffer arbitrary, non-technical requirements to play my games, I’d have got a console.

    • malkav11 says:

      I will be able to play Diablo II by myself until technological progress moves on so substantially that it simply no longer works natively on my system, and even then we should be able to rig up emulation. Diablo III will last as long as Blizzard deigns to run the servers, and no longer. (Less if they decide to ban you.) That alone would be enough reason to avoid always-on DRM even if always-on internet were a reality for everyone.

    • 0p8 says:

      @malkav11 “Diablo III will last as long as Blizzard deigns to run the servers, and no longer. (Less if they decide to ban you.) That alone would be enough reason to avoid always-on DRM even if always-on internet were a reality for everyone.”

      are you serious?
      even if their servers are up for only 5 years that would still be money well spent.
      too much doom and gloom here :(

    • Kaira- says:

      @0p8

      And you still could maybe get more worth for your pennies out of it, if you could only play it. Good movies, books and games don’t lose their entertainment value during the years.

    • Kamos says:

      @Op8

      And if lasts 10 months, will it be money well spent? How much time should a game last to be considered money well spent (as RPS asked a few days ago)?

      You see games as something disposable, something of the moment, but not everyone sees them like that. Your dismissal of the issue and willingness to pay for what is obviously a problematic product does not make us gloomy, it makes you look like a junkie, willing to pay for anything as long as it gives you your gaming fix. There ARE other games, you know?

    • 0p8 says:

      @Kamos “And if lasts 10 months, will it be money well spent? How much time should a game last to be considered money well spent (as RPS asked a few days ago)?

      You see games as something disposable, something of the moment, but not everyone sees them like that. Your dismissal of the issue and willingness to pay for what is obviously a problematic product does not make us gloomy, it makes you look like a junkie, willing to pay for anything as long as it gives you your gaming fix. There ARE other games, you know?”

      Its funny how our minds perceive things differently.
      You’re probably filling in your own narrative (thx RPS,just watched ‘La Moustache’ too) because I honestly cant see anything that suggests that I was a gaming junkie needing my gaming fix?
      Infact, i can only see the opposite.
      Hypothetically speaking,after 5 years of playing D3 I would probably be fine with it if it all came to a sudden end, I wouldnt feel totally ripped off or depressed or anything anyway.10 months obviously not,(thats just silly) but as it happens I play my older games more often then newer ones.The fact is I could of said any number, it doesnt matter because i only meant it as a throw away comment really, not something to focus on.
      Anyway, I’m sorry if you felt offended by my use of the word gloomy. I went too far with that one.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, to be clear, even though I could install Diablo II right now and play through it no trouble, I have absolutely no desire to do so – I got what I got out of that game years ago and it has no hold on me anymore. It could easily happen that if I got Diablo III, I’d be done with it inside a year. But even that isn’t the point, really. If it were just about me, I’d be a lot more comfortable with most forms of DRM as they have usually little impact on me directly and I am more than capable of snagging a crack to remove the DRM if need be.

      But believe it or not, new people come to the hobby all the time, and even current gamers discover the magic of older games on a regular basis. Most of the games that have ever been made are accessible right now in one form or another – not all of them legally purchaseable, but more of them than ever before, certainly, through services like Good Old Games, DotEmu, PSN, and Wii Virtual Console. DRM like Ubisoft is using and like Diablo III will be sporting cripples that potential right out of the gate, and that’s just not acceptable to me. It may be too late for these games, but if the publishers see that we aren’t willing to stand for this sort of DRM, maybe it will die a merciful death here rather than destroying the legacy of this era of gaming.

      (Server activation of any kind has similar potential, but that battle seems to be lost already, and at least if it’s just a quick server ping that’s relatively easily patched/cracked out.)

  3. RegisteredUser says:

    Deus Ex has actually always been a game I felt had fairly timeless graphics, i.e. it scaled INCREDIBLY well in it’s look just by upping resolution.

    Anyone who has seen comparable UIs and attempts to move these up will know how well Deus Ex fares.

    The detail that went into creating the weapon icons etc was pretty sweet I always felt, and I hold this opinion now.

    (nerdrageuponsacredtitleheresy)
    Also the girl is a frickin’ spoiled clueless brat and needs to gidoffmahlawn, GTFO my internets and be barred from ever playing a decent non-console game again. Kthxbai. (/nerdrageuponsacredtitleheresy)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Timeless because Rubbish? DX looked terrible when it came out.

    • Cinnamon says:

      It looked terrible at the time and my PC couldn’t run it properly despite better looking games being perfectly fine.
      Deus Ex is a cult game and I believe that cult media ages well because of it’s flaws just as much as because of it having merits.

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      drewski says:

      Deus Ex was a buggy, shoddily optimised, poor performing, hideously ugly piece of crap graphically when it came out. Now it’s just hideously ugly…

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      Vandelay says:

      Agreed. Although I have always admired Deus Ex and wish it would have become a far greater source of inspiration for developers than it appears to have been, it was always a game I struggled to get on with. The graphics are just one element of this. The whole style of it always felt at best mediocre, at worst dull. From the graphics engine, art style, animation, voice acting and dialogue, it was always sub-par in my eyes, which has always made me go against the grain when people say it is the greatest game of all time. For me, THE greatest game has to be firing on all cylinders for it to be worthy of that title and Deus Ex doesn’t quite reach the mark. That is even before we look at the crap combat and stealth.

      However, I’ve spent quite a bit of this week replaying it, in anticipation of Human Revolution, and I’m getting on with it much better than I ever have in the past. My first play through was probably about 8 years ago and I was never an RPG player. Elements like the inability to shoot straight were completely alien to me, so that always grated. Since then, I’ve only ever dipped into the early levels once twice, the furtherest being the aircraft hanger level, where my save game became corrupt, losing me about two+ hours of play. This time, I’m just about to head off to Paris and enjoying it a lot more.

      What is most striking, as everyone always says, is the level of variation the game offers you to navigate the world. You never feel like you are following a predetermined path, which is refreshing with the current trend of games. Instead, levels feel like areas that just so happen to have your objectives in, rather than everything leading to your goal. That old picture I’m sure you have all seen of comparing current FPS level design with Doom’s feels very apt when playing this.

      I have hopes that Human Revolution can correct some of the faults, I just hope they borrow from the level design of the original.

      Still, it isn’t the greatest game ever made.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It was built on UnrealEngine. I played it on a RIVA TNT2 just fine. Just like the original Unreal Tournament. Its art direction was consistent and readable (although, sure, “ugly, broken city” is going to look ugly, and it was not a game that really ever tried to show you beautiful things beyond some classy marble floors) and I don’t think it technically compares unfavourably to contemporaries such as Thief II.

      Backlash to popular game gonna backlash.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s not a backlash, it just looked awful on release. I played it on release, it looked shit. It still looks shit. Doesn’t make it a bad game.

      Edit- The Thief series are also two of the ugliest games I ever played now you mention it. They looked years behind games released at the time, but they played fantastically- at times anyway. And naming it as a contemporary is a slightly pathetic attempt to back up your argument as it looked fucking abysmal.

      A better example is how Half Life looks like it came out years after deus ex, but actually came out well before. And even then Half Lifes engine wasn’t exactly cutting edge when it was released.

    • karry says:

      “it scaled INCREDIBLY well in it’s look just by upping resolution.”
      I wouldnt really notice if all textures were solid grey, but those running animations hurt my eyes. At the point of DX release i’ve been studying 3D graphics for over a year, and already could do a significantly better job.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s a reason why so many of the modding projects for Deus Ex are dedicated to fixing bugs and imbalances (Biomod is something I’d recommend even to first-time players, because it makes augs SO much less of a hassle to manage) and polishing up the graphics (New Vision, HDTP, DX10 renderer,etc). The game had problems. Lots of them.

      It was great in spite of the many, MANY things it did wrong, not because of them. From what I’ve played of DX:HR, it seems to have kept all the good things about Deus Ex, but fixed all the bad parts. Naturally, the purists are furious that stealth actually requires not being seen (enemies are no longer blind), combat involves a crosshair somewhere in the same postcode as your enemy, and hacking that involves more than one button.

      Also, decent voice acting this time.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      The DX10 renderer mod improves the graphics by making the lights blindingly bright and everything else incredibly dark so you can’t really see how shoddy it all is. I recommend it to anyone replaying the game

    • LionsPhil says:

      I wish RPS would just force captchas upon us rather than this horrendously broken spam filter.

      I think you’re getting rose-tinted about how good Half-Life 1 looked. It had great art direction and great texture work, sure. It had environments which were more prone to showing off coloured lighting than night streets and bases. It was also a pure shooter, and generally speaking those do tend of kind to pour a huge effort into graphics.

      Am I saying Deus Ex was the prettiest princess of its time? Of course not. It blatantly isn’t.
      Does not being in the top tier at graphics make it ugly? Only if you’re a moron on the Internet.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sod it. The spam filter is being obstinate, so have some ROT13:

      Nyfb, qrprag ibvpr npgvat guvf gvzr.

      V’yy gnxr gur bppnfvbany “V FCRRY zl QEVAX” naq sbervta nppragf bire gung tbqnjshy cebgntbavfg tebjy (naq “V arire nfxrq sbe guvf” jevgvat) nal qnl. Fbzrbar tvir Wrafra n guebng ybmratr.

    • Kadayi says:

      I love DX as much as the next man, but if after HR EIDOS/Square announced a remake/reimagining of the original (and IW) using the new groovy game engine/look I wouldn’t be unhappy in the least tbh.

    • The_Great_Skratsby says:

      Honestly I don’t think it looks that amazingly terrible either – it’s the angular brushes used to make the levels which look the worst; as with those long winding corridors to break up loading screens.

      I think a lot of that boils down to the atmosphere the visual direction delivers, which really works hand in hand with how downright depressing everything can be.

    • John P says:

      Deus Ex looked fine then and it looks fine now. Jeez.

    • Alphabet says:

      Strangely – and maybe it shows how subjective these things are, or maybe immersion blinds one to how good or bad graphics are – but I played the demo at a friend’s house, then went out and bought a top-of-the-line PC just so I could buy Deux Ex, because I was so impressed with the graphics. Maybe it also had something to do with my not having played many games since the Wing Commander era. But I will never forget how impressed I was with Deus Ex’s graphics.

    • Nick says:

      yes it looked rather bad when it came out and the combat was and still is bad, but thats not what made the game great.

    • malkav11 says:

      I much prefer one button hacking/lockpicking/etc to tedious little minigames, generally speaking, but I will reserve judgment until I actually play Human Revolution’s approach.

    • Muzman says:

      Deus Ex is easier to mark as being behind the curve, graphics wise. I think it’s the animation that really clinches it.
      Thief on the other hand is always saddled with being ugly and the graphics being sub par. But compared to what exactly? What 1998 first person shooters can people name that Thief didn’t live up to? Half Life aaaand maybe Unreal (although most of this is achieved through being brightly coloured and having huge spaces. Which was impressive, don’t get me wrong).
      What else is there that was so much better than Thief? Well there isn’t anything actually. Everyone’s just forgotten what the par was as the time. (people are also too stubborn to adjust their monitor properly to play it. Which will make just about any game look like crap, but Thief suffers the most)

  4. Symitri says:

    “Not sure I agree with this. I think a minority will vote with their wallets, but Blizzard will still print money. It’s worth protesting, because it’s always worth fighting for what we believe in, but Blizzard are inevitably going to win this fight.”

    I think the issue people are afraid of is more the implications that such money trading has on any game with a competitive element. Given that D3 is supposed to be a game that will be enjoyed with others, both in the monster-slaying portion of it and the PVP part of it, there is this belief that RMT isn’t going to be avoidable unless you don’t want the edge or unless you get incredibly lucky. They could alleviate all these fears by telling people that there the best gear isn’t tradeable in this fashion but I somehow doubt this would be the case, as then the AH model falls flat after a very short period of time.

    The fact is that if there was no competitive side to this game in any form or flavour and the RMT was going to be purely for cosmetic items, nobody would have given a damn. But give people the ability to gain an unfair advantage over others by spending some money and it becomes a question of who’s willing to sink in more money for the advantage. There are also questions of whether Blizzard employees could secretly distribute spawned items of all the right stats onto the AH to get things rolling but really, it all comes down to competitive advantages.

    The always-online facet still bothers me more because, while I intend on playing with friends for the most part, I don’t always have online access. But given the time it’s slated to launch, if it does stick to the end of this year, D3 is hardly on top of my priority list of games to get around to. If it’s any kind of issue to most people, it’s release will come at a time when there are plenty of other AAA games you could put your money into instead.

    Like Saint’s Row 3!

    • The Sentinel says:

      ““Not sure I agree with this. I think a minority will vote with their wallets, but Blizzard will still print money. It’s worth protesting, because it’s always worth fighting for what we believe in, but Blizzard are inevitably going to win this fight.””

      Prior to its launch people were saying that about Playstation 3. And Windows Vista. And Star Wars pre-Phantom Menace. There’s no phenomenon large enough that can’t or won’t be brought down – that’s the only inevitability there is. Maybe it’s Blizzard’s turn to learn a little humility.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You just gave three examples of very commercially succesful things.

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      drewski says:

      Given The Phantom Menace cost $115m to make and grossed nearly $1b worldwide, *just in cinemas*, I’m sure Blizzard would happily accept that sort of being “brought down” by public opinion.

      “You mean we only make ten times our original investment? However will we survive!”

    • Schelome says:

      I pass on Vista, I know it has bad rep, but as to whether it made money or not *shrug*

      The PS3 perhaps had a slow burn, but it has definetly been a success.

      Starwars however, would like to remind you that it does, infact, print money, and has for some 30 years now.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think The Sentinel should win some kind of award for that. I’ve never read someone prove themselves wrong quite so beautifully in their own argument. All of those were successful, they prove that you can affect their profits somewhat, but in the end they still print money.

      Also, Vista is quite good if your not an internet troll. It had problems on release, but was patched up nicely. People seem to be of the opinion that a dodgy release means it can never be a decent product, even though underneath it and Windows 7 are very similar. I would also like to remind those people they should HATE Windows XP due to the fact it was also a piece of shit on release.

    • LionsPhil says:

      As someone who has been running an XP RTM box since 2001, and it only saw as much as SP1 as late as the mid-2000s, you’re talking nonsense, or have forgotten just how bad what came before was.

      Escaping the hell of the 9X era was as glorious as escaping the hell of DOS.

    • The Sentinel says:

      *bows*

      Yeah, fair enough. Not my finest hour. I’ll accept my award and go sit in the corner quietly for a while with the D cap on. :)

      Gah.

      [EDIT] I also agree with Lionsphil: Windows ME was an absolute horror. Escaping into the juicy, stable NT-hardedned environment was utter bliss. XP wasn’t perfection but it was still very warmly received by many, and then only got better with time. No wonder we had such trouble letting it go. :)

    • karry says:

      “Escaping the hell of the 9X era was as glorious as escaping the hell of DOS.”

      On the other hand, 9X could be reinstalled in 20 minutes, had a memory footprint below 30MB, and started up in under 10 seconds.

    • LionsPhil says:

      …and then crashed in five because it had no effective process separation. Meanwhile said XP box hibernates overnight and keeps running the same session for days.

      For that matter, I don’t have a single 9X machine that boots in ten seconds. And I have one sat either side of me for retro gaming. Both are way above minimum spec for it.

      DOS had a memory footprint of under a megabyte. Do you want to go back to fiddling with LOADHIGH and trying to find which variation of Sound Blaster that particular game wants to be told you have to get audio working?

      (Now, if you want to reminisce over the 16/almost-32-bit glories of Atari, Amiga, and Acorn, be my guest. Those were powerful, at-least-slightly-multitasking, passively-cooled, instant-on machines, where running a game mostly involved sticking the disk in the drive. Damniable IBM PC compatables…)

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      @ LinosPhil

      Your post just brought back so many memories of being a frustrated kid trying to run setup utilities so my game coud have sound.

      Hmm, maybe I need to use Soundblaster II Ultra driver not a Soundblaster FX Super Duper Pro driver. Can I hear the music. Nope. Next. Truly the bad old days. Of course it’s still easy to reminisce about them by trying to get an older game running on Windows 7!

      Edit: I’m leaving in my “Lino” typo for posterity. You can replace my kitchen flooring any day!

    • D3xter says:

      Remember having to edit/alter Autoexec.bat and Config.sys for almost every game in DOS to get that little bit extra EMS/XMS memory so it can finally run? xD Fun times.

    • Nick says:

      I used 2000 for long into XPs life and it was great.

      And choosing if I should LOADHIGH my mouse.exe to give me enough memory to run a game sucked.

      (I may be remembering that slightly off, but I do remember tweakng my config.sys and autoexe files a lot, turning stuff on and off and all that just to free up required memory)

    • Kamos says:

      Vista did so well that it has not only managed to further Microsoft’s fame for designing bad OS’s, but to actually delay the adoption of its next (and quite good) OS, Win7.

      Phantom Menace did very well, indeed. Yet if you consider the value of the franchise that the original movies created, with die hard fans still going 30 years after the movies were released, then the new movies are a joke.

      PS3 is just now coming around, after years of Sony getting kicked around by Nintendo and Microsoft. Yet the PS2′s reign was absolute.

      You guys say these are commercial successes. I agree, but I think you’re missing the point. They are not as big successes as they could be. If there is one thing that is similar for all these companies is their ability to stay afloat even when they are absolutely disconnected from reality and doing things that will make them lose money (not only ‘real’ money, but potential money).

      The same thing is probably true for Activision Blizzard. But do not think that it doesn’t mean they will not lose a share of the market. That seems pretty clear, just judging from the reaction here. Perhaps it will not be significant, but do not overlook the power of the ‘hate’ they are bringing upon themselves either. At the very least, it is a retarded move on their part to dismiss some of their oldest, most die hard fans, who would otherwise vouch for them and run around telling others to buy their games.

      A giant does not fall because of a pebble in its way, but enough pebbles and time might just do that…

  5. MrBRAD! says:

    If I can’t play Diablo 3 LAN (or at all) with my brother without buying two copies, I’m going to buy no copies.

    • Tomm says:

      God forbid each person buys a copy of the game they want to play.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Replace ‘game’ with movie and see what one is getting at.

      How one longs for the odl days when you could do LAN games where only the host needed the CD in the drive to play…

    • Premium User Badge

      Shakermaker says:

      I am entitled!

    • LionsPhil says:

      How I miss the old days where C&C came with two CDs in the box and—while this may have been at least partly technically driven to fit all the per-side movies on there—the manual said “go ahead and use the extra one to play LAN with someone”.

      It’s almost as if letting someone who doesn’t own the game jump in on a multiplayer game of it might have encouraged them to buy their own copy when they got home!

      And then by RA2 it was “I smell the same CD key in use—EVERYTHING BLOWS UP!”.

    • subedii says:

      Indeed. Back then, game devs used to view it as a good idea to facilitate players in playing alongside friends, added to the game’s value.

      Blizzard were actually big proponents of this. Load up your copy of Starcraft 1 and go to the installer menu. On there aside from the standard install option there should also be one for “Spawn copies”. This is a feature that allowed you to install the multiplayer component onto several separate PC’s, for free, so that you and your friends could LAN it together off of a single CD-Key. Same with Warcraft and Diablo IIRC.

      These days of course, things have changed. Even console-side, even things like split-screen coop are becoming rarer. Why let people do that when you can get them to each buy a copy right?

    • DrGonzo says:

      I used to play LAN parties with only one copy of RA2. Stop spouting crap all over RPS.Check one fucking fact that comes out of your mouth, just once.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @DrGonzo,

      Whoa, that’ll do donkey, that’ll do.

      Sarcasm aside, I do remember having quite a lot of trouble getting RA2 Yuris Revenge working properly lan, but, err it was a less than legal copy anyway-so I can hardly complain. (I was young, had no money, and have bought it now :>)

      I haven’t had any problems with most games – although my friend bought Crysis 2, and his cd key was in use, so he returned it, and that one was in use as well, and on the third time he got to play. Yay!.

      I don’t know where I’m going with this.

    • LionsPhil says:

      DrGonzo: Funny that. I won’t post the link because I’m sure RPS’ rules say no linking to pirate scum sites, but a quick Google for “red alert 2 copy protection” found me:

      This patch also removes the copy protection which causes all buildings/units to explode after 30 seconds of playing!!

      I take it you will now be offering me an apology for that little outburst?

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      When was that patch released? I recall trying to play the game in multiplayer (the base one, that is, not the expansion) a quite few years after it was released and my base blowing up at the start of every game. I had no idea that had anything to do with copy protection, until now.

      Edit: Ignore me. I see it wasn’t an official patch now. Actually reading comments can be fun and informative.

    • Namos says:

      Remember the days when developers used to put in profiles in their games? You know, in the idea that a game might be shared with other people using the PC?
      A common allegation against PC gaming is the price of the machine. Yet developers seem to think that every member of a household that plays PC games will own an individual gaming PC. What the hell?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Generally, games that are written even vaguely correctly for the modern world in which we live will behave themselves as Windows applications, and “profiles” are thus obsolete in favour of just storing settings and savegames as part of your Windows profile/account. (Unfortunately, there seems to be some horrendous inconsistency on where, exactly—My DocumentsGame? My Documents/My GamesGame? Somewhere under the profile’s AppData? All of the above!)

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      Argh, I hate that about modern games. I just want them to put the save games in the game directory, so I can easily back them up if needs be, not spread all over my user directory. To be honest, the whole individual user thing is a pain in the arse and makes it impossible to find things, but that might just be because I’m the only one that uses my computer.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Ham Solo says:

    I like the idea of a Stanley remake with stunning visuals.
    You dare question Deus Ex’ integrity? This is madness, woman!!
    About Diablo 3, I think I will buy Torchlight 2 instead.

    • zeroskill says:

      Im with you on this. I have been waiting for Diablo 3 a very long time but the latest news put me totally off. Torchlight 2 looks to be a very good game, im going with Torchlight.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Sod games, the question must be asked, what is your favourite flag?

    Patriotism leans me towards the Lion Rampant but aestehtically perhaps Cuba or Finland.

    That Niue flag is an eyesore!

    Errr, yeah, flags. Carry on folks.

    • Schelome says:

      I dont know, the person who made the list might be a loon but his most liked flags were Switzerland and Vietnam, and I can sort of agree that they are more appealing than most.

    • Rii says:

      Sweden > *

    • Kaira- says:

      Sweden? Oh no. Norway would be the best out of Nordic countries, and even that isn’t all that great. Now Libya has a nice flag, if only a bit ugly colour choice.

    • Jake says:

      The Gambian flag is the best A+ 90/100, CASE CLOSED.

      I like the Botswanan flag myself, very modern. Estonia works if the blue is not too vivid. And Albania looks like medieval heraldry which is quite cool.

    • JFS says:

      Somalia all the way. A shame it is the failedst of failed states… Botswana is nice as well. I like light blue :)

    • Zwebbie says:

      The best country flag ever, in my opinion, is that of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (it’s also a strong contender for country with the best name ever): link
      It’s just the coat of arms on a white background, but it includes the arms of pretty much half of early modern Europe, plus the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and has four different kinds of lion.

    • Skabooga says:

      The author of the flag website has some sort of odd predilection to square-shaped flags. He is most clearly insane.

    • Shuck says:

      That guy doing the flag reviews doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because Bhutan has the best flag ever and he said it was rubbish.
      /flagnerdrage

    • formivore says:

      Agreed about the Bhutan flag! If it wasn’t for the somewhat poor contrast between the orange and white it would be one of the best.

      While not the ugliest, Australia/NZ are the most embarrassing. Amazingly, Australia’s flag was actually selected in competition, and one of the designers was a New Zealander! In both of these countries, there are petitions every few decades to follow the path of Canada, but none of them have been successful so the flags linger on as living emblems of attachment disorder and apathy.

    • Tams80 says:

      Bhutanese flag = best flag evar!1!!!

      I also like the Nepelese/Nepali flag, if just because it’s NOT a bloody rectangle.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      That list doesn’t even have the bestest flag ever: Hong Kong!

  8. Chuck84 says:

    The Amanda Lange article is quite interesting. The summary suggested to me that it would be another tiresome, elitist, “kids-these-days” rant, but i was pleasantly surprised.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Lange is a good writer.

    • AJLange says:

      Finally regged just to say – thank you!

      The truth is, I did try demonstrating Dwarf Fortress in a ‘beginning intro to games’ class, so it’s funny it came up in the article! I enjoy exposing console gamers to stuff outside their comfort zone.

    • Muzman says:

      FF7 is definitely a good marker. I think that was the first game I ever saw advertised on television. And it was a trailer like a film. Crazy. Games and Rest-of-World had collided, it was most unsettling.

      While the consumerist culture of easy satisfaction does define the culture if you’ve grown up with it, people must be on the look out for something different though. Has anyone done a breakdown of who’s playing Minecraft? That seems to have something for everyone (except narrative of course)

  9. Jumwa says:

    What is with people all lamenting this “decline of attention spans”? Does nobody really recognize this for what it is?

    With the industrial revolution came the rise of a need for brain dead drones who could stand in one place, performing a repetitive task endlessly, day in, day out for the rest of their lives. Human beings weren’t very good at this, and so came the modern school system to train children to prepare them for a life of low stimulation in the work force.

    Now today technology has been providing us with greater stimulation, keeping our minds busy and active, refusing to let us be happy with sitting there thoughtlessly. Or so the argument goes from these people.

    If this really is the case, I say bring it on. Stimulate us! Let us see where it goes and stop whining about the younger generation the same way every old fogy has since the dawn of time.

    • Xercies says:

      I have to say I agree, why should we discourage them if they like stuff we think is clearly not superior. They will have there own likes and dislikes and their own culture and their own way of thinking what is great and what isn’t. Then some of the will create interesting things because of this.

      Down with the old fogeys who constantly say you should be doing this instead of that I say!

    • LionsPhil says:

      I was going to post a well-considered reply, but got distracted by thoughts about explosions.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harbour Master says:

      I probably would’ve phrased better if I’d known I knew my comment was going to be quoted in The Sunday Papers. I have nothing against young people as I work with many of them, I have two at home which provide many more distractions than Twitter, and also – I have it on good authority – that I was one.

      It was a jibe at the constant hum of electronic distraction, not the latest generation who just happen to be immersed in it. I’m approaching 40 and I find it extremely difficult to cut through the permanent pings of the social networks and various online connections I’m plugged into. This, atop family life, drives me towards shorter gaming experiences which I resist: I want to play Morrowind, AI War. I don’t want my middle-aged gaming to be characterised by Angry Birds, even though there’s nothing wrong with Angry Birds.

      I took this personal experience and gave an alternate cause to the hypothesis (which I didn’t agree with) that the new generation might be finding more hardcore experiences, well, too hardcore. Born into a world of 24-hour engagement, who has got time to learn those stupid X-Com rules and controls? etc, etc,

      Truth is, as just looking down the comment thread over at Tap reveals, the change in gaming habits and styles is tied in to a whole nebulous shitstorm of cultural and technological factors. Does Duke Nukem 3D still have truck with the newest generation? If not, would that purely be down to hardcore values? etc. etc.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      Harbour Master, not actually read your piece yet, but I can certainly concur with the many distractions for letting me being engrossed in a massive game. I want to play AI War too, as well as things like Mount and Blade, Minecraft, Europa Universalis III and Risen to name just a few recent purchases, but find myself gravitating to smaller games, because I just don’t find I have the time to sink into these larger games what I feel they require or even deserve.

      That is just having a bog standard 9 to 5 every weekday job. I can only imagine how little time for gaming I would have if I had a family or even an actual social life.

      Distractions like this very site do not help matters.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harbour Master says:

      Vandelay, just to clear up it isn’t my article – I just commented against Amanda’s thought provoking piece. But you’re right, what an excellent suggestion! I should stop reading RPS to get more gaming time.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      “because I just don’t find I have the time to sink into these larger games”

      I’ve never really understood sentiments like this. You say you play smaller games instead of bigger ones. Well, just play Risen for the length of time you would have used for three smaller games. Problem solved?

    • Premium User Badge

      Harbour Master says:

      The sum of lots of small bits of time is not the same as one large bit of time. Humans just don’t task switch cleanly.
      I’ve started Morrowind twice and spent like an hour walking through creating a character and talking to a handful of people and then forget what I did when I come back to it three weeks later. I don’t know if I can’t put myself through a third time. AI War also needs proper commitment and skipping play for a few weeks mean the keypresses and strategic fundamentals don’t burn to long-term brain storage.
      There’s also the other thing; to commit yourself to one long game for months sounds abominable. What if it’s dead boring? Will you keep playing through the “dead spots” expecting it to get better further on ahead? I think Far Cry 2 took me six months and by the end I wasn’t convinced it was worth the long haul. Short games tell you very quickly whether it’s worth your time or not. I was digging around this problem with an earlier article I wrote that got flagged on The Sunday Papers.
      That said, I haven’t given up on Morrowind or AI War.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Ah, fair enough. I didn’t realise you had such big spaces of time between gamey sessions.

    • Jumwa says:

      @Harbour Master

      My comment wasn’t actually directed at any individual in particular. The debate linked here in the Sunday Papers was engaged in quite smartly, I thought, and it was hard disagreeing with anyone really.

      But it did remind me of some other pieces I have seen lately. Including some “alarming” news articles lamenting the decline of attention spans in youth these days, and how it might affect them in school and the job market. Personally, as someone who resented the school system immensely growing up, I couldn’t help but be glad for this potential change. Bravo I say.

      And for the record, Morrowind is still my favourite RPG of all time, and I adore such titles. Though as I get older, I find my own willingness for “hardcore” gaming to be diminishing. I can still pick up and play the old Mario and Megaman titles on the NES and play them through on a single life based on pure muscle memory from the endless playing. The big, extremely complicated strategy titles were my fantasy wet dreams! But I’ll be damned if I can find the time and desire to play through tough, aggravating games that are complicated to learn these days. I’m trying to get into AI War, because I love the idea of it, but the old me who devoured such complex strategy titles is gone and I know not where he went.

      In my own approaching fogydom, I have no room for recreational stress, just easy-going relaxation.

  10. Premium User Badge

    LarsBR says:

    “I literally vocalized my laughter.” LOL

  11. JackShandy says:

    I’ve gone too many Sundays without plugging my personal Sunday Reading grail; DnD with Porn Stars. You should absolutely read it.

    “But wait!” I hear you cry, “I don’t care about D and D or porn stars!”

    That doesn’t matter, just as long as you care about games and mythology and ideas and weirdness. Stuff like: fantastic monster art, a dissection of the world cool and how it relates to african gods, why dungeons are important, random tables that read like poems, an after-action report that rivals anything on RPS, and-so that the name is at least slightly relevant- a porn star’s view on hyper-sexualized women in games.

    It’s consistently interesting and thought provoking, despite occaisional stuff that’s only good if you care about DnD and/or naked women.

  12. frenz0rz says:

    Awesome page on flags that, and you can tell from a few of them (e.g. Yugoslavia) that it was written quite some time ago. Had a good laugh at the flag of the Northern Mariana Islands that scored 2/100 and “appears to have been constructed from clip art”.

    • The Dark One says:

      The Seychelles’ flag looks like a graphic generated on an old version of Windows that couldn’t display more than eight colours at a time, and always the wrong eight colours.

  13. Xercies says:

    I think I entirily disagree with the emergent narritive thing. Sure some people do create amazing stories out of their experience of these games and are eloquent enough writers to make facinating stories out of these games. Not everyone is like that.

    I remember loving AARs of Galactic Civilization 2, they were really facinating to me and made me pumped to play the game. When played it it wasn’t really that great to be honest, I couldn’t make those kind of stories myself so I really didn’t loike it. Same with Minecraft. Same with Dwarf Fortress.

    For me another persons emergent narritive is the same as having someone tell a story in a game. I would rather someone else tell me a story and have it engaging and memorable because when I play games I’m not very good at telling the story myself.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      While I am furiously resisting playing Europa Universalis 3 or Hearts of Iron, I do love reading AARs from people who know what they’re doing. It strikes me that the games simulate history well enough to get some really meaty storytelling going.

    • McCool says:

      It isn’t so much that emergent storytelling systems are inherently inferior, the problem is there is a lot more art to even that type of design than the article perhaps suggests. While if you put the most basic structures down, a certain type of person will draw a lot of narrative out of the game, like the author suggests, the better designed the game is the more easily narratives will form, in the minds of more people. EU3 is a great example, it works a lot harder than, say, Total War, to inject drama and interige into the player’s experience, to give the player agency and then toy with that. There is a huge spectrum here, with Minecraft at one end, and Final Fantasy at the other. Even Final Fantasy is still an example of emergent storytelling within certain peramiters, only here the emergent narrative is restricted to how battles play out, with most of the rest of the narrative pre-written. But even here the two are part of the same thing: a boss fight feels like a huge achievement to win for the player because it is for the characters,and how the player got there is a part of the narrative.
      The role of the designer is to inject factors into a situation over which the designer has very little control, in order to trick the player -ideally any sort of player, into being a part of a story. Cutscenes are a brute-force measure here, but should be seen as essentially the same sort of thing as, for instance, the mechanic which makes monsters appear at night in Minecraft, or the complex psychology of DF’s dwarves, or the mechanics themselves of the fights that take place between the cutscenes. All are thrusting at the same thing.

    • John P says:

      I think I entirily disagree with the emergent narritive thing. Sure some people do create amazing stories out of their experience of these games and are eloquent enough writers to make facinating stories out of these games. Not everyone is like that.

      You haven’t understood the concept of emergent narrative. It’s not about relating a story to other people. It’s just about giving players the ability to create unique stories in the games. Strategy games and multiplayer games most obviously do this. ‘I sent my troops into his base, but he flanked me with his tanks, so I sent some gunships in for support.’ Or ‘We lined up in the corridor and waited for the signal, then charged into the killzone and had a quick firefight before pushing on into the building’ or whatever. These are narratives that players create. Whether they tell these stories to other people isn’t the point.

      It’s what games like Metal Gear Solid just don’t get. Those play out in basically the same way, and then force you to sit through hours of cutscenes. They’re imitation films and aren’t even very good at that. Of course sometimes you get games that actually succeed on the strength of their written narrative. Classic adventure games, for example. But they’re rare because most writing and acting in games is awful.

    • McCool says:

      @John P
      But Metal Gear Solid does do that, and I can’t think of a console series anywhere near as popular that comes close. Have you played the games? “There was a guard patrolling around the corner, so I tapped on the wall, and hid on the other side while he went towards the noise, then I saw he was heading my way anyway, so I hid inside a cardboard box. The guard walked up to the box, and looked at it as if he was going to kick it-” etc. Such stories will be familiar to anyone who has played MGS. The games are mostly comprised of sandbox-style game environments filled with guards, with an objective at the other end. It’s like a third person Thief. And this is without even going into some of the sandbox systems in MGS3, where survival in a jungle environment was added to the factors that help shape emergent stories.

    • Xercies says:

      Sorry I just need a goal when I play games, with all these “emergent narrative” games I get bored very easily and I never have a greater story then what a writer has written in a game. Maybe thats just me but I think having a goal even if its just a silly one like saving the princess.

    • John P says:

      I’ve played MGS1 and I struggled through some of MGS4. Yes, I’ll grant you there is some of that when the games actually let you play them. I’m not dismissing every part of them, though I don’t think they’re as successful at creating a sandbox as the Thief games. They’re not exactly JRPGs though, I’ll give you that.

      It’s just that, taken as a whole, I simply can’t stand MGS because of the control being taken away so often for so long. I don’t like the stealth game much either because of how you play the HUD so much, but that’s a different argument.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      “You haven’t understood the concept of emergent narrative. It’s not about relating a story to other people. It’s just about giving players the ability to create unique stories in the games.”
      Yes, but the benefits of emergent gameplay are usually touted by some guy going ‘Oh, man, last night in [Game X] I totally did [this sweet thing]‘ and the vast majority of the stories related thus are really bloody boring, not to mention nigh on identical, meaning the removal of or lesser emphasis on linear storytelling to focus on giving the players the tools to create their own narrative and all the rest of that nonsense does next to nothing for me. Most players are terrible storytellers, and most stories benefit immeasurably from connective tissue – you know, proper character development, emotional weight, context, worldbuilding, all that stuff. And no, The Sims does not provide any of that out of the box.

    • JackShandy says:

      Dude, if you’re hanging around listening to other people’s emergent stories, you really are doing it wrong.

  14. karry says:

    “As ever, you can email me or twittle me links”

    Dont you have emails, like us normal people do ?

  15. Rii says:

    “A phenomenon that has become rarer as the internet has become more mainstream is the thing where you go to a website and realise it is completely mad.”

    This is true. I sad now.

  16. Gassalasca says:

    I must say, Jim’s proven again that he has great music taste.
    Battles – awesome, but I was already listening to them.
    This Guthrie fellow – awesome, first time I’ve heard of him!

    Thanks, Jim.

    • Premium User Badge

      felisc says:

      yup, i have to admit it always feels good when i see some tim hecker or battles linked here.

  17. Inglourious Badger says:

    Who is this ‘Jim Rossignol guy’ you link to and why would we want to know his thoughts on anything anyway!?

  18. Owain_Glyndwr says:

    Eh, I’m a bit dissapointed with the Binding of Isaac. When I first heard about it, I thought it’d be a game with deep biblical themes. Except I think by biblical themes, the creator means “Wow is the Bible crazy! As are religious people! I’m going to make a game all about this craziness!”
    If you want to make a game from a an atheistic perspective fair enough. I just think it’d be cool if we saw games with religious/metaphysical themes by people who believed deeply in them.
    For example, how about Flannery O’Connor? Some of her short stories (particurlarly A Good Man is Hard To Find) would be brilliant as one of those episodic games TellTale is always releasing. Or maybe G.K Chesterton- Father Brown as a point n’ click?
    The Outsider by Camus as some sort of RPG? (You kicked a dog, Misanthropy up by 1?)
    Anyone got ideas about games they’d llike to see with deep belief systems behind them?

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      The Little World of Don Camillo could make a good setting for a game.

  19. Jockie says:

    Thanks for including the link to my piece! Reading it back I think I should have touched on Dungeon Keeper a little bit, when trying to explain my influence over direct control idea for the God Sim.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      I would love a game like you describe in that article.

  20. Swanky says:

    That national flag site feels old because it is old. I remember that from, oh, at least ten years ago. The remark about the Libyian flag stuck with me; ‘Did you even try?’

  21. Srethron says:

    Diablo 3 went from a game I was thinking about picking up at some point to my backup job strategy. For some time I was a gold farmer back in WOW before Blizzard made it illegal. So now that they’re actively endorsing it… Well…

    It’s like this. The economy in my country is just not great right now, and despite some decent qualifications and a good work ethic I’ve been constantly floating between (a) unemployed, (b) entry positions that get eliminated (it is always explained to me that this is no fault of my own but rather because the economy sucks), (c) non-paying internships which promise promotion to paid work but instead get eliminated (“the economy sucks,” they tell me), and (d) part-time work where customers are having a bad time and mostly yell at me all day.

    I’ve done some preliminary math with a friend who is good at math, and if I can make even minimum wage (and based on the info we know about Diablo 3 so far, we think I can), gold farming sounds awesome compared to the getting-yelled-at / waiting-to-get-laid-off-at-all day experience of the past years of post-college unpleasantness.

    I don’t like the only online thing or the real-items for money auction house thing (and will never buy from it), and I don’t like that I’ll be selling to people who are probably suckers. Plus, it will probably ruin Diablo 3 as a *game* for me, but, hey, at least I’ll have a job. At least that job will involve playing a game, any game.

    Strange times we live in, eh? Strange times.

  22. Robin says:

    Deus Ex did not look “terrible” when it came out.

    The character models weren’t great, but were not vastly worse than contemporary games. Environments still look OK.

  23. McCool says:

    Urgh, as well written as that piece on Emergent Narrative is, the Kojima bashing is really getting old. Hideo Kojima is actually responsible for a good deal of the best Emergent Narrative game design of the last 15 years, not to mention the huge in-roads he has made into exploring what the limits of storytelling in game design are, both in the strong and weak sense. Yes it’s a sad fact that he also attaches a B-Movie of cutscenes to each of his games but the “tragedy, comedy and the sparkle of verisimilitude that systematically seems to evade the likes of Hideo Kojima.” is probably more present in his games than in almost any other mainstream designer’s. Kojima is an easy target because of his cut scenes, and that he doesn’t really write for PC, but this is a horrible simplification of his design, willfully ignoring the great work he has done.

    • KenTWOu says:

      @McCool says: Kojima is an easy target because of his cut scenes, and that he doesn’t really write for PC…

      Nope. Kojima is an easy target because he is an afwul, afwul video game writer.

  24. bigtoeohno says:

    Not that i disagree with he’s points i find the stanley’s parable creators sound a little self-important in that interview.

  25. JFS says:

    More love for isometric RPGs! I think isometric 2D is still the most timeless of graphics. Commenters here are arguing whether Deus Ex has aged well or not or whether it has timeless classical graphics, all the way forgetting about the article on isometric RPGs. Slap on a widescreen mod, and those are still as brilliant graphically as back in the day. The author of that post has recognized their magic – they stimulate your fantasy, which is something that seems to have been lost a little in today’s strive towards total realism and simulation. Same goes for other 2D-iso games, such as Rollercoaster Tycoon or Warcraft II. Somehow, they are still a lot more compelling than the latest 3D marvels that are too realistic to stimulate you, but still too far from realism to really cut it.

    • D3xter says:

      Yes, you can still make such wonderful, fantastical and abstract landscapes with 2D art that 3D STILL to date isn’t quite capable and they are much more capable of stimulating your imagination while 3D is a lot more WYSIWYG.
      Just take a look at this RPS article from 2008 about Planescape:
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/05/29/planescape-landscapes/
      Or Sanitarium: http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/sanitarium/screenshots
      Or even good old Baldur’s Gate 2: http://www.sorcerers.net/Games/BG2/Screenshots/index.php
      Which 3D game was ever able to replicate the level of detail and pleasing look/atmosphere of these games?

      I’d relinquish any SKYRIM, Fallout 3, Mass Effect and even Gothics for a up-to-date HD revival of that genre any day of the week…
      In the meantime I’ll have to console myself with the likes of Avadon (which will come out on Steam for 10$ in 3 days btw.), which although being isometric is lacking in both budget and style to be a proper stand-in for it.

    • Thants says:

      Don’t forget about Bastion.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Not for me. I find the all those isometric 2D RPGs quite ugly. There’s some nice artwork in them, but it’s usually buried in what looks like cheap POVRay rendering. Torment, Fallout, Sanitarium, Little Big Adventure–all of them feel fake and tacky to me. I think my distaste for this kind of look began with Ultima VIII, so maybe it’s just a negative reaction after the beautiful 2D artwork of Ultima VII.

  26. D3xter says:

    I read the “Open Letter to Blizzard” and while I applaud the sentiment and would wish other gaming publications that don’t look like they’re right out of 1995 would also do some opinion pieces or critical analysis of the issues and maybe take sides like they did back when they tried to implement RealID unto their forums even making it into “serious” publications I have to disagree on several points.

    Diablo III is a prime example of a game that they could roll out on the consoles at some point, especially if it doesn’t sell as expected (still selling millions though)… remains to be seen what kind of platform they would attach it to, most likely it wouldn’t be “Always-Online” as they are a lot more sensitive towards the issue. Blizzard might seek out a deal of trying to bring its Battle.Net onto the consoles like Steam did with Portal 2. In fact they were looking for “Diablo 3 related Playstation 3 specialists” not too long ago: http://www.joystiq.com/2011/06/03/blizzard-hiring-playstation-3-specialist-for-diablo-3-team/
    Also they still have their money-farm WoW raking in the cash and aren’t in any imminent danger of taking a hit even if Diablo III totally bombs (which it won’t).

    The second thing is his point about piracy, the thing is there will probably be no piracy within the first few weeks/months that are most important for a games sales and success. It took people almost a year to bring LAN back to StarCraft II, writing their own Netcode and emulating and then it was the Chinese managing to do it using a Taiwanese client.
    Diablo III being based on a server-client architecture: https://twitter.com/#!/Diablo/status/99273919634227200 with possibly things like the loot-system/drops, the entire character saving and maybe even enemy-spawns being handled by the backend will make this task at least as arduous if not more. Darkspore did already prove that the system is working as it still isn’t cracked yet, given almost no one gives a damn about Darkspore and this is Diablo III but still.

    I do think though, that both EA and Blizzard, not much unlike history has taught us might be fighting their wars on too many fronts at once, trying to “push” too many things onto their consumers from Digital Distribution, Always-On-DRM/No Offline, InGame Pay2Win cash-shops, “social” gaming and all that all the while displaying a general contempt towards them and still trying to gain record sales in the eye of direct competitors, and while they may be at the top right now it takes only a few losses for the situation to change rapidly.

    That said, I’ll also be getting Torchlight II instead :P

    • Tei says:

      great comment :D

    • Shuck says:

      Of course the thing is, the “pirate” version of D3 won’t actually be D3. It’ll be someone’s original code that attempts to recreate (with varying levels of success) how D3′s servers work. It’ll be like those pirate MMO servers – they never come particularly close to how the official servers work, they’re simplified versions that happen to spit out the right types of responses to the client software. The play experience ends up quite different, even if the graphical assets are the same. Unless someone gets hold of the actual the server code, it’s not an issue of “cracking” anything.

    • RF says:

      ^ Except they probably won’t be anything like MMOs because I can’t imagine Blizzard shelling that much money out to pay for servers when they have convenient player hosting to use.

  27. kuran says:

    Deus Ex looked great when it came out.. why wouldn’t it now? In general it had very cohesive and well executed art direction.

    System Shock 1 also still looks good, even though the engine has aged.. you have to look beyond that. It’s like saying The Third Man is an ugly movie because it is in black & white.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The average gamer, even amongst PC “grown-ups”, still seems to be more interested in how many bungholiomarks it burns shading its pixels, alas.

      “Citizen Kane isn’t even in 3D with 7.1 digital surround!”

    • D3xter says:

      Till the average PC game is indistinguishable from its concept art of what it is supposed to illustrate and the fancy CGI trailers they make to sell it better I’ll bitch about graphics because they can’t properly present a mood if characters still look like Lego and Action figures, everything is made out of angular polygons and there’s still crates everywhere to fill the space as it impaires my enjoyment/immersiveness, thank you very much.

      It’s different for 2D platformers or isometric games and pixel art though as that is the style they are going for and they’re not just suffering from limiting hardware (LIMBO being a good example of that). See my comment above, no not that one, the one above it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      So in one paragraph you claim “they can’t properly present a mood if characters still look like Lego and Action figures”, and in the next you advocate pixel art, which necessarily involves heavy stylisation not unlike Lego or action figures.

      Buh.

    • D3xter says:

      One stems from the will to create something in a particular art style e.g. making a Black&White movie with an old film camera to get that certain look because you deem it important nowadays.

      The other stems from a lack of most hardware being able to render the amount of detail it would need in real time e.g. trying to make a color/3D film in 1910 but not being capable to because of a lack of proper tools/display devices.

      Just compare a few Artwork/Leveldesign examples and ask yourself, does it look like that because it is MEANT to or because an increased amount of detail wasn’t possible with the targetted hardware specs and the given engine e.g.:
      http://huntersinsight.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/sundermount-01-p.jpg
      http://tinyurl.com/3uz4we8

      http://oyster.ignimgs.com/ve3d/images/07/38/73894_DeusExHumanRevolution-LocaleConceptArt-07.jpg
      http://www.plughead.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/f93e03f6aeb590592aca6936feef6e0f469bd380.jpg

      As soon as the two start to overlap and they start looking like what they are supposed to look I’ll be fine with how the 3D graphics look in games.

    • kuran says:

      I always preferred graphics to be ‘functional’, rather than aesthetically pleasing.
      Great example is Deus Ex:HR, which for some reason has hundreds of objects in every office, yet 99% of them are immovable and can’t be interacted with. In the original Deus Ex, if you saw an object you could either move it, shoot it, or pick it up. Sure it wasn’t as detailed as HR, but the overall impression was that its game world offered me some level of freedom, which made it a very immersive experience.
      This is why I used to prefer tile-based games over ‘scene rendered’ backgrounds (like Baldur’s Gate).. and to take it even further, I would prefer the look of Police Quest 1 over Police Quest 6.. simply because the crude and simple appearance gave me the impression that the game world was infinite and offered me depth to explore.. perhaps because the graphics seemed like they were generated by a computer rather than touched by a human hand?

    • LionsPhil says:

      That really bugged me about Portal 2, actually. There was more clutter than Portal 1, but it was all completely static. In P1, every last coffee mug and computer keyboard was physical detritus that you could lob into a portal loop then eject at the wall at insane speed.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      but the overall impression was that its game world offered me some level of freedom, which made it a very immersive experience.

      the crude and simple appearance gave me the impression that the game world was infinite and offered me depth to explore

      That’s a great comment. I really like games where there’s little extraneous detail; pretty, non-interactive scenery does nothing for me, and if anything, takes me out of the game.

      It’s also a matter of letting imagination fill in the blanks. There’s a point in the progression of graphics styles where your brain switches from accepting it as an abstraction, to expecting realism/detail. I rather like my imagination and what it can do; combine a simple graphical style with loads of interactivity, and you get something like Ultima VII, which is a wonderfully immersive experience.

    • kuran says:

      Ultima VII is one of my favorite games.. I wish I could get Exult working again! Every object in the game has a purpose, almost nothing is extraneous.

  28. Ultra Superior says:

    @Leigh Alex
    It’s fun, I think those letters will be fun to read. But for people who get DX it will be like reading a conversation of parents discussing music with their teenage kids.

    Or of grandpa discussing movies with a granddaughter. “Grandpa, I get it, Citizen Kane is a cool movie, I get why you like it.” Sure you do.

    @ Jim and all others who talk about suckedy graphics:

    It is strangely timeless. I didn’t like it back then, but as I play DX every year – it didn’t get old !!!! It’s like vintage cartoons, it just doesn’t age. Certainly not as much as the other games. It’s because it’s DARK. The lack of color, the lack of animation, lights and textures – the atmosphere – what you’re playing is 25% dated graphic and 75% cutting edge imagination.

  29. Urthman says:

    I haven’t played Fallout 3, but that experience Robin Booth describes of being in an intense, desperate situation, hitting the inventory key, and scrolling through your stuff, looking for a solution that will get you out of this mess, knowing that some horrible creatures are waiting to pummel you the instant you close the inventory screen, is one of my favorite parts of Oblivion. Much more exciting than the actual “action” parts where you’re dancing around enemies and clicking to swing a weapon or cast a spell.

    • InternetBatman says:

      In Fallout it’s far more horrifying because (if I remember correctly) your inventory costs action points, taking away your ability to respond. You can also see them coming from a long ways away and watch as blasts from high middle tier weapons do depressingly little damage to them. In Fallout 2 they’re actually less scary because you have less time to respond to them and they have different types of deathclaws, some of which can be easily killed by midlevel characters.

  30. James says:

    “No amount of rehashing the grumbles will change that.”

    Silly, defeatist Jim. If things actually worked that way, the world would be a very boring, primitive place.

    Holding a view is not the same thing as predicting the future. Whatever though, I know what you’re saying…not that I agree with it.

  31. InternetBatman says:

    I read a bunch of Leigh Alexander’s articles on Kotaku back when I posted there and they were usually rubbish. The most egregious was her article basically rating how hot booth girls were. Almost no one called her out on it because the editors, particularly Crecente, ban and destar at the slightest hint of criticism.

    I didn’t read this one because I don’t want to give Gawker traffic after their dickish security mistake and terrible redesign, but if it falls into her general pattern it’s probably poorly written.

  32. KenTWOu says:

    I’m afraid if Diablo 3 will be a huge success, every Ubisoft PC release will be undebatable with always-on DRM.

  33. Tams80 says:

    I must say that Josh Parsons has absolutely no good taste in flags. He observes funny attributes of flags (in a humorous manner) and then gives them a low grade for it. Such in-continuity is unacceptable in academic work! Then again academics have always been bad at making jokes.