The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on October 16th, 2011 at 9:25 am.


Sundays are for writing cryptic introductory paragraphs that lead into a list of videogame writings collected from across the internet. What could it possibly mean? Let’s see if we can decode the cypher.

  • There’s a lot been said about Rage this week, here’s Dead End Thrills’ take on it. It’s interesting to see what megatextures mean for taking someone intent on taking screenshots – yes, there are some spectacular vistas, but just don’t look too closely: “It’s an old-school faker. The abrupt colour-grading that simulates HDR; the tiny flocks of birds against a flat and frozen sky; the vast shadowmaps imposing the stage’s authority on the actors: these aren’t ugly, just conspicuous. Then there’s sparse virtual texturing (aka the MegaTexture), an illusion so data-intensive that it would, some suggest, take something in the region of 80-130gb more data to give it the consistent detail you’d expect.”
  • Rob Fahey seems to have touched a nerve by saying that closed platforms aren’t all that bad (login required) and then stabs a nerve with a pencil by saying that Steam is the only way to be a commercial success on PC. That said, I do think the “Steam or no sale” culture we’re seeing now, particularly towards indie games, is crappy. Buy direct, give the creators the money, not the distributors.
  • Eskil Steenberg writes an open letter to John Carmack. It’s largely an attack on Id’s going with current trends and making art-led games: “Get a team of no more then ten people, purposefully don’t have more then 2 artists and maybe one level designer on that team and make something in 12-18 months, and dont make it perfect, make it different. Build an engine based on Raytracing, Voxels, particles, Signed Distance fields, vorenoi patterns, or something else we haven’t seen. Make something that requires 16 cores, or what ever, just push the envelope in some way. Don’t tell a story, don’t make a world, make a decent [does he mean Descent? - Ed] or a Counterstrike something that doesn’t live on content. With a fourth of the time and a tenth of the staff, ill bet you it will be a better investment then Rage.”
  • The Guardian on what Ofcom are doing to investigate ITV saying Arma 2 was footage of terrorist action.
  • Future Looks compares Steam to Origin. Could do better.
  • Eurogamer got Relic to look back on Space Marine: “”Was it our best work?” mulled producer Andy Lang when quizzed by Eurogamer. “It was our best console work.” (It was their only console work.)
  • Neal Stephenson’s company working on “The Mongoliad”: “Stephenson discussed this in small detail at his GDC Online keynote speech. When journalist Geoff Keighley asked him if current project The Mongoliad — a collaborative novel which follows an elite squad of knights on an assassination mission — would make a good game, Stephenson chuckled and allowed that it might.”
  • I won’t link to Three Moves Ahead every week, but I easily could.
  • BnBGaming’s healthy Indiecade round-up.
  • Valve’s writers on the creative process: “Wolpaw: “That whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs.””
  • How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Achievements, by Jody MacGregor.
  • Gamers Can’t Handle The Imperium: “I don’t think a lot of gamers would be comfortable playing the role of a real Space Marine. In fact, with today’s culturally enlightened, almost post-modern approach to gaming, I very much doubt the game would leave shelves without some heavy criticism. If you tell people you are making a real WH40k game, complete with xenophobic epithets, religious persecution, wholesale murder, apostate killing, environmental destruction and human sacrifice, you might have to set up a website to handle the outrage.”
  • More disaster for Project Zomboid. Unbelievable.
  • What will the box art of FIFA 13 be like? Science!
  • Krystian Majewski is not happy with Vimeo’s treatment of his indie games videos:
  • Blimey, all of Tarkovsky’s films are free online. Including the Stalker movie.
  • It’s time for new electricity pylons, apparently. Should they be shaped like giant ants?
  • Music! Music. I’ve spent the week listening to Thomas Köner. Is that music? Perhaps not.

.

260 Comments »

  1. Ed123 says:

    So re: Project Zomboid: There was a bit of a twitter meltdown: http://i.imgur.com/FX7VY.jpg

    edit: h/t to AgamemnonV2: http://www.theindiestone.com/lemmy/index.php/2011/10/16/final-post-and-apology/

    • cupogoodness says:

      Total shit storm on both sides. So called owners and fans of the game saying some of the most awful statements possible, no concern for the project going forward. Just threats and hate speech.

      Horrible reaction by the devs as well. Though not surprised they went nuts tonight given the backlash (which to be clear was justified, just not the “hate mail” stuff.)

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      mrwonko says:

      Internet at its worst… Seems I only ever hear bad news about Project Zomboid. (Well, not exactly, but all too often.) Poor guys.

    • soldant says:

      Alternatively, they could have implemented an effective backup system…

    • TLGAthena says:

      So let me see if I get this right. They only have one copy of their master, current source. It’s in his flat, and they had no current backups?

      As much as I love the concept of project Zomboid and as creative as it is, these people need to pull their heads out of whatever dream land they’ve been inhabiting and realise that if you’re going to take peoples’ money for a product you’d best make damn sure you’re doing all the right things to ensure that product doesn’t end up as ash/someone’s next crack fix/the latest spambot distribution service.

      Offsite and hard backups aren’t a luxury when you’re making something that your livelihood is going to rely on, they’re an absolute necessity.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      As sorry as I feel for the devs on a personal level (burglary is horrible to be on the receiving end of, never mind when your livelihood goes with it) and as much as I despise the outrageous bile poured on them by anonymous Internet twats, I can’t but help agree that an external USB drive each or secure offsite daily backups should have been the absolute minimum they were doing. Sorry guys, but you really really have only yourselves to blame when what would be an otherwise upsetting and irritating hold-up becomes a potentially life changing disaster. You have my sympathy but as said above for the love of God, please wise up!!!

    • Bull0 says:

      Indeed, I feel bad for them on a personal level, and some of the hate they’ve received is just abhorrent – truly awful people – but at the same time we aren’t talking about hobbyists here… they’ve been actively taking preorders and their infrastructure has never been able to support it.

      Still, rather than demonize them for it, I wish them a quick recovery from the grievous crime that has been committed against them and hope they get over the hump and come back stronger. ie, maybe invest in your infrastructure a little and try not to take the insane ramblings of some sociopaths to heart so much, guys. :)

    • misterk says:

      It was clearly a mistake to not back up externally, but burglary/ fire are hardly the most frequent components of people’s lives. I expect many indie developers (and by this I mean effectively start up, one room developers) do not have such precuations. It seems a little much to call them idiots.

    • TLGAthena says:

      I back up even the junk that accrues on my HD. I use this thing called a DVD burner, it’s a wonderful invention and it only costs about £20. If you’re telling me that a dev who’s developing a commercial product can’t afford that, and does not have someone they can trust who can look after the DVD’s in case of the aforementioned burglary/fire/economic armageddon, then I’ll say that dev shouldn’t be developing games.

      Really. There’s so many ways to back stuff up, and so many options which would not even make a dent on a credit card, let alone wind up moving into the realms of talking to a sales department. No. In this case, they dun goofed, and they are muppets. Maybe naive muppets, but muppets nonetheless.

    • simonh says:

      Hard-drive failure however is extremely common. Had they not suffered the burglary the drive would probably sooner or later have failed instead.

      They could just have gotten a Dropbox account, that would have been enough. Zero admin hassle and useful for other things like collaboration as well.

    • Dominic White says:

      They HAD been backing things up. The problem is that their backup system was stolen as well. The fact that a lot of ‘fans’ are blaming them for this, and even getting aggressive, demanding refunds, etc, is appalling.

      Indie gamers have gotten a lot less pleasant over the past couple years.

      I mean, I could understand the hate if they’d only kept the data on one machine with no backups at all, but they did have redundancy set up. It’s just that they had both the original and the backup stolen.

    • CMaster says:

      All of the disasters that have “befallen” Project Zomboid are either a)their own fault or b)something they could and should have easily taken action to avoid. The worrying thing is that their reaction continues to be “we’re really unlucky”. Yes, they have been unlucky, but there’s something they should have been learning from each of these incidents and I’m not sure they have. However, calling them cunts and scammers just because they screwed up once again seems rather unreasonable.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      @ Dominic White & misterk

      I’m afraid I have to disagree. A back-up that is exposed to exactly the same risks as the original is NOT a back-up. One assumes the devs have house insurance to protect their physical property against theft/fire/meteor strike, however rare those occurences may be. Why did they not have a proper insurance plan for their intellectual property to secure against those same risks?

      The linked twitter feed shows that their off-site (ie secure) back-up schedule was haphazard rather than regimented. If physical off-site back-up was not easy to arrange, then on-line is available, or failing that simply a USB stick and a fire-proof safe costs about £100. In this day and age there is no excuse for it, and I’m afraid “naive” is not the right word for presumably tech-savvy people that get caught out like this.

      However, we are in agreement that they do not deserve to be treated so horribly, regardless of their fault. People should be ashamed of themselves.

    • TLGAthena says:

      And their backup was, another PC in the same place? That’s not a backup solution, that’s false security.

      I still stand by what I said before. A DVD burner and someone you trust. A drop box account as well, or if you’re feeling really flash you can even pay for some web hosting and set up a secure SVN repository. You know, I hear that’s really popular among the development community.

      I’d accept it was bad luck if two different locations happened to suffer two different catastrophes and both locations were the backup locations. There’s obviously limits to what you can plan for, but for the LOVE OF BUDDHA, simple stuff, off site is not rocket surgery.

    • pakoito says:

      One simple weekly email easily counts as backup FFS.

    • Mattressi says:

      I can’t quite understand why people are angry about all of this (except the devs, of course) – there’s never been a release date mentioned for PZ and the devs haven’t been hyping up a release or anything. No one’s personal data was released. The devs didn’t say they would stop working on it (Lemmy did say that he’d quit after he had received so many hateful comments, though I’m not sure how serious he was/is). So what exactly is the issue? If you’re paying for a game which is no where near finished (or even a quarter of the way complete) and it’s clearly stated as such, with no guarantees made, what the hell could you possibly be angry about if the devs’ latest version of the source code is stolen? It’ll set them back, what, a few months at best? How many games by big-name studios have been delayed years? And yet these people are raking the devs over the coals due to a few-month setback?

      I think indie was a lot better when it wasn’t mainstream (I say that in the least hiptser manner possible) – now that it’s more mainstream, there’s a lot more entitled douchebags who pay for an indie game early simply because of the discount, rather than to support the devs; then they cry for the murder of the devs when a set-back happens. As the guys at Indie Stone have repeatedly said – if you don’t support them, if you don’t like them, if you don’t like PZ or you don’t like the set-backs; don’t buy the game, or, alternatively, ask for a refund.

      Anyway, I support these guys and I hope they manage to recover from it. I’m not going to ask for my money back, because I knew what I was spending it on in the first place – I was spending a tiny amount to support a promising dev team working on a promising game.

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      kregg says:

      I have to admit, I have failed numerous times at making backups for things. I’ve lost lots of data (recently, my hard disk died and I forgot to back up my album I bought off Amazon MP3), so my condolences to Project Zomboid.

      They seem to have the worst luck.

    • TLGAthena says:

      Forgetting an album you bought is an annoyance, but you forget because it’s not lethally important.

      If however it was the product you had been slaving away at day in, day out, and knew that it’s success would be likely to keep you in food, and a roof over your head, I somehow think you’re not going to forget that…

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Yes, they should have had back-ups. But does that mean people should kick them when they’re down? No. Fuck no.

    • TLGAthena says:

      I agree that the vitriol and hatred is entirely uncalled for. But in this case it does not make them any less of a muppet. What they did would be a firing offence in an actual company, and they should rightly be ashamed they let it happen to their core project.

    • Phydaux says:

      What a shame. It was International Backup Awareness Day that day too!

    • misterk says:

      I just think you are exaggerating their mistake. They actually do have an external back up, but were a bit poor at updating it. Thats a shame, but I dunno about everyone else, I am quite bad at remembering to keep my back ups done. Yes they should have set up a regular back up, but treating them like they are pathetic excuses for game devs for being human just seems shockingly harsh.

    • Cerzi says:

      I find it borderline unbelievable that their code wasn’t mirrored between team members via some basic type of svn.. trac, github, whatever… Unless they only had a single coder, and even then you’d expect code to be autosycned somewhere so that he can access code away from home without needing his laptop/whatever.

      I mean, I’m working solo on a pretty big project for my PhD (although it still probably weighs in at less code than PZ) and I still have everything automatically mirrored with Dropbox to all my PCs (including office), as well as the whole thing version-tracked and backed up to a secure server via SVN..

      Honestly, am I the only one who can’t help shake a slightly suspicious feeling?

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      PoulWrist says:

      So, someone broke in to their office and stuff was ruined, and they hadn’t taken proper backup, and fans explode and call them horrible names and generally just act like complete assholes? Not surprising at all. The internet is so full of people so full of themselves that it’s sickening.

    • zeroskill says:

      I agree with misterk. As a creative professional working most of the time with my PC, I dont always backup everything all the time. Backup-ing is something you do after your done with your regular work, sometimes it gets late, very late in fact, and you are just glad your done for the day and forget about the backup. We are all humans yes? I forget about backups all the time. Usually I backup in bigger chunks of a weeks or two weeks worth of work.
      Now, its really easy to come on the internet and do the “Captain Hindsight”.

    • TLGAthena says:

      International backup awareness day. Brilliant. I appreciate the irony in this.

      I’m not demonising the devs for reference. The people who wish to throw the ill considered vitriol can do that. However, I am suggesting that they were not exactly bright, nor thinking as any right minded person should when they did not instigate proper code backups and some form of stable, regimented off site failsafe when it comes to a project that they’re staking their future on. This isn’t a hobby project which they can just shrug off and go on with their lives as I understand, this is food on table kind of stuff.

      When you’re dealing with that kind of “business critical” work, you don’t take chances, you don’t forget, and you don’t leave things to pot luck. Because if you do, Murphy will strike down upon you and his law is as unforgiving and cruel as it is hilarious.

      The lesson? Always back up your work.

    • johnpeat says:

      I’ll just echo the general tone here, it’s horrible that it’s happened to them BUT they really need to sort themselves out ASAP.

      They’re taking people’s money – that means they need to be professional about what they’re doing – hell, at this rate they’ll prove PayPal right (and we don’t want that, do we?)

      There’s NO EXCUSE for not taking backups – there are 100s of solutions, most of them free, none of them complex – anyone who doesn’t have all their data (which matters) stored in at least 2 physical locations/the cloud – is a berk.

      It’s time they stopped pissing about.

    • Deano2099 says:

      A few things come to mind:

      a) Having your flat burgled is horrible. It’s not just an office, they live there too and that sort of invasion of privacy can be hard to deal with, I totally sympathise with that guy’s reaction on Twitter, I’d have struggled to have been that restrained.

      b) Low-key indie development is awesome and fun and can get messy and run into issues like this. Which should be fine, but we’ve started this thing now where indies start taking pre-orders well before the project is anywhere near done. And once you start doing that your customers do kind of have the right to expect a certain level of ‘professionalism’.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      When other peoiple are bankrolling your project you owe them the professional curtesy of due dilligence and safeguarding their investment. If some publisher had advanced them a few hundred thousand Pounds you can rest assured that they would be in big legal trouble at this junction.

      If you accept money in advance you had damn well better be sure that the least you do is one weekly off-site backup.

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      bear912 says:

      I would like to call the folks whining about the PZ incident some very scathing, uncivil things generally involving posterior orifices. Worst case, The Indie Stone are crooks, and you got scammed out of a few dollars or pounds. Best case, they’re not, they actually got robbed, you’ve accused innocent people of being crooks, and made their lives even more hellish during a crisis.

      Way to be the bigger man!

      As a follow-up, in a way, it’s rather a shame that the developers reacted the way they did, but at the same time, I have a certain respect and appreciation for people who care more for what they are doing than for professionalism. Really, they should have simply said, “we will offer refunds for anyone who genuinely regrets their purchase and thinks we are crooks.” That’s wot I think.

    • sinister agent says:

      I look forward with great cynicism to the day when everyone bitching at these developers is robbed, so that the rest of us can fill the comment sections of their blogs with abuse about how stupid you all were not to move all your stuff to another house.

      Obviously this will never happen, because you’re all perfect.

      Christ. Have some bloody humanity, will you? Not everything is about how superior you are.

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      Kirrus says:

      I’ve done silly things in the past, lost data, destroyed servers (you know, those things that websites run on) due to mistakes. Trust me, the devs will be kicking themselves enough about the backups.

      What they need right now, is for:
      a) Someone to track down the thief, and get the hard-disk, or at least a dump
      b) Sympathy. Patience. And kindness.

      In that order. Anything else is just plain cruel, and makes me hate humanity.

    • johnpeat says:

      @sinisteragent and @kirrus

      You’re missing the point – being burgled is horrible BUT not backing your work up is idiotic – you can have sympathy for one and still be astonished at the other.

      Everyone’s lost work – true – but not everyone has taken other people’s money to fund that work and where they have, there are usually consequences (making it all-the-more important not to lose it in the first place).

      End of the day it’s their own fault – the thieves are scum but the loss of work is not the thieves fault. You can blame them for taking the laptops, but losing the data was 100% IndieStone’s own fault and they need to accept that people will be ‘disappointed’ (to say the least).

      This is why companies have PR y’know – so that they can spin things to avoid them looking like total idiots…

    • LionsPhil says:

      That’s a rubbish metaphor, sinister; I can’t trivially make off-site copies of all my physical things.

    • iucounu says:

      Seems like the classy thing to do is not to bombard the guys who have just been burgled with hate mail, tweets etc. Also seems like pointing out that they should have had more professional backup procedures is kind of useless. “Hey, you know what, you probably should have bolted that stable door!” They clearly know exactly what they could have done to avoid this drama, and are kicking themselves; it takes a bit of a wanker to roll up and start lecturing them about the obvious.

    • sinister agent says:

      It’s not intended as a metaphor. It’s the principle of being unpleasant to people who’ve been screwed over by bad luck. Shit happens, and it’s happened to these guys more than most. They already know they made a mistake. There’s no reason for people to be so bloody … internet about it.

      Also, what iucounu said, basically.

    • Craorach says:

      I have a lot of sympathy for these guys, I feel very sorry for them as being burgled is a terrifying and affecting experience. However, I’m also glad I’ve not bothered trying or pre-ordering their game. Indie or not, they took money from customers.. that behoves a sense of professionalism. There are many disasters that cannot be predicted, but a burglary or house fire are things that happen often enough that we take out insurance to stop us being affected to badly by them financially. When you are holding important, work related, information on your home computer then you back it up off site, and if you do not then you are best short sighted, and at worst incompetent.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      start lecturing them about the obvious.

      It’s not for their benefit. I see a lot of people expressing simple professional astonishment that any programmer could fail to make offsite backups of any slightly important bit of code they’d worked on. That’s just what you do. Always. Every commit you make should be pushed to at least one remote server. You’re “backing up” as part of your natural workflow several times a day.

      It’s not a lecture to the developers. It’s a warning to potential customers, frankly.

      No one put ‘must have thick skin’ (or ‘must make nightly off-site backups, for that matter) in my game programmer job description.

      Astonishing.

    • Eclipse says:

      I’m sorry for the devs but professionals should use SVN\git and dropbox

    • johnpeat says:

      Some folks are still struggling with the difference between bad luck and stupidity – it’s “bad luck” to be robbed, it’s stupid to throw all your eggs into one basket – both can happen.

      They could – for example – have left the gas on and had a fire. In that situation, would people be decrying British Gas as ‘scum’??

      “It’s too late to tell them to backup now” – we’re not really telling them anything, we’re just astonished they didn’t work it out for themselves. No, really, if ANYONE reading this has work they don’t have multiple location backups of – you’re an idiot, fix that NOW.

      All the hate was totally unnecessary BUT if you don’t like people telling you what they think, it’s unwise to put yourself in the public eye.

      Once again, this is why companies have PR – to distance themselves from the chaos…

    • Salt says:

      The message I get from all this mess (other than the obvious backups) is that the “indie style” development of putting not just your game, but also yourself on display can go horribly wrong.

      Lemmy is obviously seriously shaken up by this event in particular, but it sounds like the pressure of being so exposed to the public has been wearing on him for a while. From his final blog post:
      I sit there with the ‘new email’ notification haunting me, and I’ve been guaranteed to read something that makes me want to cry every day for the past few months.

      It’s great to talk about open development processes, and listening to community feedback, but not everyone is suited to being exposed quite so directly to the tides of grumpy internet people. I hope that in time, and now operating more privately he will be able to enjoy the development of the game again.

      I’ll be over here, hiding behind a user name.

    • Sunjammer says:

      There is no excuse for not having off-site backups. Actually the word “backup” is antiquarian if you’re a developer. You use a source version control system, and you offload that job to a third party dedicated to it, like springloops or github or googlecode.

    • TLGAthena says:

      @ Johnpeat – Agreed on the backups thing. And I’d append – if you work for a company – make sure it’s done and you’ve documented it before your boss comes around, if you think neglecting backing up your code will get you fired, here’s a tip, it probably -will-.

    • johnpeat says:

      On the “dealing with the public” thing – “dreading the sight of new email” is a feeling most indie developers will know and love – ditto responses to posts, comments, Twitter, Facebook etc.

      People are heroes at their keyboards and they fear nothing – the depths of ignorance and casual abuse you can get is astonishing – it will test your patience in ways you cannot possibly understand until you’ve done it.

      I’m lucky that the feedback I get on my Android stuff is generally positive and certainly there’s enough nice stuff to outweight the nasty but it still stings when someone takes a pot-shot at you and – again – that’s why most people distance themselves from it through “Community Manager” or even just good-old PR people.

      I love his comment about going back to commercial programming tho – because it’s got nothing to do with what you’re programming and everything to do with who you’re doing it for/with.

      In a ‘job’ as a programmer, you program. Running your own company as a programmer you have to do everything including making the tea and fighting-off the hordes of nasty people and it can be pretty trying – it’s definately not for everyone! :)

    • AlexVostrov says:

      Want to see something morbidly funny? Go on Twitter and look at how many devs are scrambling to set up off-site backups. I got an external HD a week ago, but I didn’t set up anything offsite yet. I’m sure as hell doing it now.

      People should drop the holier-than-thou attitude and have some empathy.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      If you are allowing customers to pre-order a software product that you’re developing, you really ought to have the brains to do regular (ie every day if not more often) off-site backups. Sad, but these clowns should have known better.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      it will test your patience in ways you cannot possibly understand until you’ve done it.

      See, I dealt with that kind of crap when I was 12 or 13, when I was running a website and an Ultima Online guild and more. And I dealt with it poorly.

      But…I’m an adult now. And I do not care what random people think of me or my work. Genuinely. I care very much about the opinions of people who I respect. But the rest are steadfastly ignored. It just doesn’t bother me at all, because I have zero respect for them.

      This is the internet, ok? It’s fully of shitty, shitty people and vile little children and you can do absolutely nothing about it. It makes no sense to get worked up about it. I’m just glad I’m not an attractive young woman who happens to make YouTube video blogs, because holy fuck, the abuse I’ve seen…

    • TLGAthena says:

      “It’ll never happen to me.”

      Yes. Yes it will. Always assume the worst. Always assume if something is important, you protect it and you plan for the prospect things will go -horribly wrong-. If that important something is a commercial matter, not only do you plan, you ensure those plans have failsafes too.

      I feel sorry for the guys, being burgled is a horrible thing. But really? If you’re taking money for a product, you don’t put the backup in the same place as the primary. Murphy’s law and all that.

      As for the devs scrambling to instigate good practices? Do some work in a proper straight suited company as Tier 2 or Tier 3 support, you quickly learn how much even SMALL cockups cost, let alone large ones. Beancounters are great for reminding you just how much the mythical man hour costs.

    • iucounu says:

      @Till

      It’s not a lecture to the developers. It’s a warning to potential customers, frankly.

      I’m really referring to the people who felt that they were entitled to contact these guys directly and tell them exactly how they fucked up. And I have to say, it seems like a warning to consumers is superfluous – it’s pretty obvious that this is a fuckup, and that people who have paid them money may need to wait a little longer for the game they laid down a few very speculative bob for. What does labouring the point achieve?

      Anytime anyone loses any data and tells the internet, a queue of overbearing dickheads (present company excepted) forms to explain in minute detail exactly how they ought to have backed it up. I think the two lessons these guys will have learned is a) the obvious one that they learned the second they got home and found their computers gone and b) don’t tell anyone, because 80% of what you’ll get is abuse. (And I always felt part of the charm of indie developers was that they don’t have PR departments to spin every terrible setback as a new triumph. God I hope Tarn Adams has good backup discipline…)

    • Tatourmi says:

      You have no protection duties where I live, that is the role of the state. You should also be conscious that the term of responsability has no meaning when taken off its legal background, and in this case the only responsible party for the loss of data are the burglars. Frankly I don’t even understand the whole “Look at her skirt, she asked for it!” mindset.

    • Zaboomafoozarg says:

      You have no protection duties where I live, that is the role of the state.

      So I take it that you do not live in The Real World?

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      frymaster says:

      project zomboid’s backup system was that both laptops had a copy of the code. Shocking, but hardly uncommon, you might argue, except they also said that one of the laptops was very new. So, before that, they had no backups.

      These guys have a web presence, ergo they have an easy way to do offisite backups. They should expect to get a lot of grief for this – and indeed, one of them said something along those lines. Except.. when they did get grief, their reaction was to whine, abandon everything completely, and moan about the way they are being treated. They screwed up absolutely and totally, they should have bent over, smiled, and took it like gentlemen.

      As someone on reddit pointed out, paypal also come out of this looking remarkably prescient. And the PZ guys have just engineered a PR disaster for the entire indie industry, especially anyone who ever want to “crowdsource” game funding

    • Consumatopia says:

      You should also be conscious that the term of responsability has no meaning when taken off its legal background, and in this case the only responsible party for the loss of data are the burglars. Frankly I don’t even understand the whole “Look at her skirt, she asked for it!” mindset.

      If you’re gonna go with the most offensive analogy possible, at least pick the right one. This is like your kids getting abducted because the babysitter wasn’t watching them carefully enough. You’d be mad at the abductor, but you’d be mad at the shitty babysitter too. Understand now?

    • Salt says:

      @frymaster
      They have an off-site backup system, but they’d fallen out of the habit of using it. They still have all the stuff stored there, but most of it is a month or two out of date. They’ve lost progress, but not lost the whole project.

      They are not “abandoning everything completely”. One of them posted a tweet when drunk saying he was giving up. The next day he posted on his blog that he wasn’t giving up, but was going to leave public relations stuff to others on the team.

      Again, the project is not cancelled, and people with preorders have not lost anything. The game will take about a month longer than it would have. Month long delays are not at all uncommon in all realms of game development or funding model.

      I’m not aiming to excuse their lack of backups or their handling of the events (if that needs excusing). I just want to point out where you’re wrong on the facts.

    • mwoody says:

      It’s the just world hypothesis. When people see someone close to them – say a dev of a game they’ve been following – have their home broken in to and their life’s work stolen, they have to find some way to convince themselves this isn’t how the world works. They can’t take the horror of it and, even moreso, they can’t take the idea that the same sort of random act could happen to them. So they find a way to blame the victim.

      These folks had backups. They didn’t have offsite backups, but neither does – and I speak as an IT professional here – 90% of the small businesses out there, including those who work in a coding field. At best you might see a fireproof backup safe, but those are small and wouldn’t survive a determined thief. If it’s a wake up call to other indie devs to have a remote site or cloud-based alternative storage system then great, but that’s NOT cause to heap shit on people who have just had their work and worldly belongings rifled through and taken.

      After reading comments – some here, but mostly elsewhere, thankfully – calling these poor bastards every foul thing under the sun, a mean-spirited part of me hopes they take that preorder money and tell the community to go fuck itself. But that would be punishing the many for the vocal actions of the few.

      The next time someone has been attacked, raped, burgled, or otherwise hurt in some way, pay very close attention to your reaction. If your first impulse is to blame the person on the receiving end, STOP. There is a place for a strongly worded talk about preventative measures, and it’s NOT to someone for whom the worst has already happened. Shut your damn mouth and be compassionate.

    • LionsPhil says:

      If someone neglects to wear their seatbelt, then gets blindsided by a wreckless driver and end up with a face reshaped by broken glass and asphalt, sure, you might pity them. Chances are you’ll also think “you’re a fucking idiot, the seatbelt was right there, and everyone knows you should wear the damn thing”.

      The people deluding themselves about the state of the world are the ones not taking pre-emptive action to protect themselves from it.

      (Also, one comment thread filling the whole first page? I think perhaps indication that RPS could do with covering this properly, including in particular exactly what state the project is in now.)

    • Aquamarine Jesus says:

      I think these guys could have avoided a lot of this backlash and pointing fingers if they would have handled the matter a bit more professionally. Being burglarized is a horrible experience and most people can sympathize with that and unfortunately in this case it brought to light some issues with the PZ crew’s backup procedure.

      If they would have simply made a post describing clearly and concisely what happened, why it happened, apologized, and outlined their plan to ensure something like this will not happen again, they probably would have appeased most people.

      One of the devs going on a drunken twitter rage and making excuses is simply not something a paying customer wants to see. It just opens the door for all the finger pointing and backlash. I understand he made an apology but the damage had already been done.

      Personally, I can empathize with the guy and hope they can come back from this, but directing nasty comments at your paying customers and making excuses only adds fuel to the fire.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Point the first: a local storage backup is a backup. It guards against physical device failure as well as software misbehavior (a buggy program scribbles all over your data). It does not guard against fire, and might not guard against theft.

      Point the second: Developers very *rarely* take infrastructure all that seriously. I don’t know what the deal is, but its commonplace to find that the only machine in the world that could possibly build the product has some undocumented and unduplicated setup. Source code that goes for months without being checked in anywhere happens, or people set up a ‘local repo’ for workflow convenience without any backup strategy considered at all. It’s sort of a software industry trope at this point.

      Point the third: Taking the above two points into consideration, it seems somewhat unfair to be too hard on these guys. Yes, they put their business at risk through their own foolish actions. Yes, they can be fairly scolded. But most people make the same mistakes.

    • gulag says:

      And this is the point where I go ahead and order the Alpha.

      To err, get drunk, and cuss on Twitter is Human. To get up the next day and get back to work is Divine.

    • johnpeat says:

      On the topic of backups, I’m of the belief that portable/desktop HDDs are utterly useless for this purpose and I wonder at the sanity of people who use them.

      HDDs are quick but they’re also prone to catastrophic failures and are super-expensive to recover data from – so you use them for storing dispoable/otherwise backed-up media, not backups themselves.

      They’re also large physical lumps of metal which, by necessity, spend a lot of time close to your work PC and so they’re easily lost in a fire/burglary (or even the same mains spike!!)

      Backup – to me – is done via either

      Removable Media – DVDRs, basically, which you can store in firesafes or even offsite as they are small,light and you don’t need them back UNLESS you suffer a failure

      The Cloud – the range of free ‘cloud’ backup solutions is huge but the most popular are Dropbox and SugarSync. A new service recently launched which offers 512Gb of free online storage tho – yes that’s Gb!! – and on most ADSL setups (1Mb upload) it would take months to fill it!!

      Seriously tho, just having 2 copies of something on fragile-old-HDDs is NOT a backup solution.

    • Aquamarine Jesus says:

      @gulag: If more of the world thought like that I think it would be a much nicer place. Unfortunately, it’s also human nature to be drawn en masse to public meltdowns.

      Who knows, if people start showing their support by paying for the alpha this could turn into a windfall for PZ. I’ll second the start of that movement, just bought the alpha.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’m of the belief that portable/desktop HDDs are utterly useless for this purpose

      Once you’re over a few hundred GB of critical data, shit gets complicated. If you’re recording hours of raw HD video every day with multiple cameras, then buying hard drives in bulk, putting them in RAID enclosures, and developing a proper backup plan is pretty much the only way to go.

      Fortunately, the vast majority of software development projects never reach that level. If you’re under 2GB, Dropbox is free. If you’re using Mercurial or Git, BitBucket is free and theoretically unlimited. Dropbox will accommodate 50GB or 100GB for very reasonable fees.

      So yeah. If you’ve got terabytes and terabytes of stuff to backup, you’ve still got to live in the Stone Age (unless you’re Google and you just shove everything on multiply-redundant clusters). For everyone else, it’s a happy, fun modern world of data safety and free love.

    • Deano2099 says:

      “If someone neglects to wear their seatbelt, then gets blindsided by a wreckless driver and end up with a face reshaped by broken glass and asphalt, sure, you might pity them. Chances are you’ll also think “you’re a fucking idiot, the seatbelt was right there, and everyone knows you should wear the damn thing”.”

      Yes, you might think that. And you’d be right. What you wouldn’t do is go down the hospital and yell in to their mangled face about what an idiot they were, even if you felt you had a right to do that because you once lent them five quid and it got burned up in the crash.

      Not having a back-up was stupid, but honestly if it were me, and I’d been burgled, and that was the reaction I got from my ‘supporters’ then assuming I was ahead on the project (ie. I’d got money in from pre-orders that covered at least my expenses to that date, and a little more, so I was in the black) then I’d sent everyone the two month old last backup code and fuck the whole thing off. Because I’d have no interest in making sure such awful and abhorrent people ‘got their monies worth’.

    • bromelain says:

      Ugh, internet.

      I think that sums up the reaction to this perfectly.

    • AgamemnonV2 says:

      This does not surprise me. At least, it doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t have his data backed up correctly.

      I ran into a “spat” with Lemmy when I made a slight mention to Project Zomboid on a bit of writing I did on how a lot of indie developers are selling their “alpha” products with false promises, lamenting the fact that if any big business developers did this everyone would cry bloody murder (Link, if you’re interested: http://agdom.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/indie-developer-jones-and-the-temple-of-greed/). A day later his Defense Brigade trolled it up and even he came around to defend his point. Essentially this is what I got out of him: “I made some bad business decisions and now I’m trying to keep my dream alive by doing what Notch did.”

      Dreams are nice–I hope everyone pursues their aspirations in life. But they need to do it smartly. Running a business is not easy. You can’t go in head-first without security and expect to win. I’m not sure why everyone keeps mentioning “kicking him when he’s down.” Other than the obvious troll comments, this guy was running his business out of his residence. He knew the risk. He knew the risk well enough that he also chose not to back up his work correctly.

      It’s unfortunate to see him down on his luck and rather down, but, like I said, I can’t say I’m surprised unfortunately. He’s not on the side of the street selling lemonade at a stand–he’s running a company and people are entrusting him with their money as investment opportunities with a promise that he will deliver in a timely fashion. Someday he’s going to have to make that connection and start taking his work seriously or else this will keep on happening to him. The problem with keeping your head in the clouds is that eventually gravity does its work and you have to come back down to planet Earth with the rest of us scrubs.

      EDIT: http://www.theindiestone.com/lemmy/index.php/2011/10/16/final-post-and-apology/

      Looks like the majority of troll comments were coming from Reddit. Color me surprised.

      Anyway, good on him from moving away from publicity. Things should be rather private and kept to media interviews or press releases.

    • gwathdring says:

      I haven’t been following Project Zomboid. But I’m a bit uncomfortable with some of the suggestions here.

      I don’t care if they could have done something to better protect the data. Thieves take safes too, because safes look like they have important things in them. Thieves take external hard-drives. One of my friends was robbed last year–the thieves took her textbooks, her laptop, her flash drive and her cell phone off the table then grabbed her backpack for good measure–they fortunately dropped some of her notebooks, homework, and the backpack itself out behind the apartments presumably to make a quicker getaway.

      If the issue was their backup methods weren’t sufficient and then a routine computer failure set-back progress by several weeks … that looks irresponsible. But even if their backup methods weren’t sufficient … I don’t care if they were storing their data on a Windows ME machine with a bad hard drive. When your data storage is physically stolen from you, you are not responsible for it’s loss. Period. Because then it becomes an endless series of what-ifs.

      “Well, you can put the drive in a safe.”
      “What if the burglars ripped the safe out of the wall? That happens.”
      “Well, bolt it down better”
      “I live in a cheap apartment with old wood.”

      You can make the argument either way. But at the end, for me, it’s incredibly simple. When someone commits a crime against you, it is not your responsibility to have been less vulnerable. That’s not the society I want to live in. That’s not the society I’m going to live in. I’m damn well going to be as safe as possible and try to protect my person and my data. I’m not going to stick my fingers in my ears. But I’m not going to blame people who do when something horrible, illegal, and immoral happens to them.

      As a corollary, businesses have a responsibility to provide for their customers. It does sound like, in general, practices by the developers were not especially robust. I don’t know enough about web-based storage to know how feasible it is to reliably store, access, and retrieve large amounts of data safely from such a company or how cost effective it is–so I can’t speak to that issue. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect an independent developer to have an offsite storage unit or bank vault they go to every time they want to make a backup. That seems neither time nor cost effective.

      I agree it is incredibly naive to expect to be able to run a hodge-podge, back-garden business and collect large sums of money from people without risking a lot. There is a point where you have to get out of the dream world. But I wouldn’t go so far as out-of-the-home developers needing to prepare for possible robbery of their development platform. A window shop, sure. An at home game-maker? That seems like we’re asking too much.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      But I wouldn’t go so far as out-of-the-home developers needing to prepare for possible robbery of their development platform.

      But it could’ve been a fire. Or a flood. Or hardware failure. Or any number of possible accidents.

      You make backups for lots of reasons. Theft is pretty low on the list of scenarios, and doesn’t typically need to be dealt with as a special case unless you’re talking truly sensitive data.

      But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect an independent developer to have an offsite storage unit or bank vault they go to every time they want to make a backup. That seems neither time nor cost effective.

      What? You download a program. It’s called Dropbox. You make a free account, which gives you 2GB of space. You copy stuff to a folder on your computer, and it’s magically uploaded into Amazon’s redundant storage infrastructure. It is really, truly, I’m-not-kidding that easy. Takes five minutes, plus upload time.

    • RichardFairbrass says:

      I admit that some of the people condemning the developers have gone over the top (possibly way over the top elsewhere judging by that twitter response). Everything seems obvious with hindsight, and although I am surprised by their lack of a robust back up plan I’m sure we’ve all done something similar.

      I do take some issue with a few of the analogies being used here by people defending the developers. Specifically the “it’s like telling a rape victim they deserved it or their skirt was too short” type arguments.

      These seem to miss the point that no one here, as far as I can tell, is blaming them for getting burgled. The only way that analogy would work if that someone believed that their lack of backing up in some way lead to them getting burgled and thus could have been easily prevented.

      It seems that they had adequate anti-burglary precautions (not that anyone should really have to have precautions) and people understand this and are sympathetic. People are allowed to comment that they think not backing up is a stupid thing to do, and this is only tangentially related to the fact that they were burgled. It is in no way like blaming a rape victim for bringing it on themselves, and arguments like that simply muddy the actual issue.

      If the developers had posted a blog outlining their backup strategy of using two HDDs in the same room, and off site back up once in a blue moon, I would expect the response to be similar. In fact I think it would probably be a bit harsher as there would not be the fact of the burglary to soften criticism.

      As for what people have said elsewhere, well I’m sure there are plenty of dicks who have no compassion / sense of restraint or just love to troll. I would be very surprised if there weren’t in fact. If I ever find an argument free place online I’ll let you all know, but the only one I’ve ever seen that got close was #idle.

    • Muzman says:

      As vaguely mis-commented earlier, I’d be curious to see how people would react if this happened and they had a backup system failure (corruption, upload failed etc) such that if their backup policy was less vigilant they’d actually have been better off.
      I suspect a good portion of people would still just say “Yeah, well you should back up more! It’s your own fault!”

    • gwathdring says:

      @TillEulenspiegel

      I believe you misread. I specifically stated that I’m not aware of online options or how much I personally would trust certain options with my data. I know nothing about Dropbox save that it exists. I was specifically referring to physically-off-site storage. I thought throwing “bank vault” in there would make that clear.

      I don’t think anyone here is blaming them for being robbed. But I also just don’t think the fact that their data wasn’t especially secure is even relevant to the robbery. They are separate issues to me, with no connection. Every at-home, reasonable, non-virtual backup method I can think of is susceptible to robbery. And digital security is a whole different ball of wax. There are all kinds of services most people trust that I wouldn’t shake a stick at … and vice versa. Most people I know who purchase a lot over the internet use Paypal, but I don’t trust them enough to set up an account. Similarly, the last time I was looking at third-party file-hosting options for my music (a while ago; as I said, I’m not familiar with the current upload landscape) I wasn’t very happy with any of the options I found. This isn’t necessarily a reason not to use such an option at all … but I sympathize with individuals who prefer hard storage to virtual storage and are uncomfortable putting that much of their work in the hands of a third party.

      I’m not a data security expert, but at the end of the day, the best security is a well fortified bunker for your primary server. Or, alternatively, a computer kept in a secure environment with at least enough redundancy to account for software and hardware malfunctions. I guess I also disagree that an at-home developer has the inherent responsibility to protect the product from unlikely fires, floods or earthquakes. If you live in fire country … sure. If you live in a hurricane zone or a 100-year floodplain … sure. But if you live in a place that does not often have natural disasters or any statistically anomalous data-destroying calamities I don’t think you have wronged your customers when a freak accident or random criminal act or natural disaster sets you back a ways. I don’t think lacking a data-related plan for unlikely scenarios is inherently irresponsible.

      Having a plan and preparing for such situations, however, is certainly a sign of responsibility. It’s the sort of thing that would make me trust a developers and be more willing to buy their product knowing that they think of the unlikely possibilities and try to prevent any harm to the product. As a business owner I would think I had personally failed if I were not consistently exceeding customer expectations in this regard. But I won’t condemn a business or developer for not being prepared for something as statistically unlikely as a robbery or house fire that destroys the game data (and don’t tell me both happen quite frequently; the event occurring in the first place is only part of the probability model at work here).

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      While I agree that only keeping recent upates on a local system isn’t the smartest thing to do, I would like to point out that every backup system has its flaws and can therefore fail. If they kept a cloud backup at Dropbox and their servers would fail or their account would get hacked, everybody would blame the devs for not choosing another, more reliable cloud service instead.

    • PhallicBaldwin says:

      dominic whiteknight coming to the rescue of the poor indie devs from their big bad customers yet again!

    • Dominic White says:

      Oh, I’m sorry for having the slightest ounce of empathy for a guy who just had almost everything he had stolen, along with his work for the past few months.

      I should be more like you, Cooldude McBroseph. High-five?

    • jalf says:

      Yes, you might think that. And you’d be right. What you wouldn’t do is go down the hospital and yell in to their mangled face about what an idiot they were, even if you felt you had a right to do that because you once lent them five quid and it got burned up in the crash.

      Bad analogy.
      First, because people didn’t “lend them five quid”, they paid money for a specific service which, it now turns out, the developers did not take seriously.

      The analogy would work if you’d paid them five quid to drive from A to B and deliver a package, and if the seatbelt protected this package, rather than the driver.

      But then the analogy would make no goddamn sense, and it’d be pretty pointless.

      If you choose to run a business, and you choose to accept money from customers in return for a service, then those customers tend to expect that you actually give them their money’s worth: that you actually deliver the agreed-upon service, and take the necessary precautions to ensure that it is delivered as agreed.

      If I pay you 10 bucks to go and buy me a cake, and you then lose all the money on gambling and end up in debt, then yes, I will absolutely yell into your face that you’re a f’ing moron. I’m sure you had the best intentions (you just thought you could make some more money along the way), and yes, you were just “unlucky” and things just didn’t work out as you’d hoped. And so what? The deal was that you spent the money on getting me a cake, and nothing else. The fact that you’re now in debt might make me feel sorry for you, but it doesn’t mean I won’t blame you for throwing my goddamn money away.

      And with Zomboid, the deal was that people pay them money, and they make progress on a game. Failing to do this because you didn’t anticipate any problems, didn’t consider that you might actually need your backup one day, is simply irresponsible. They gambled that they’d never need a remote backup. They were wrong. They screwed up.

      So yes, I think they’ve been irresponsible and at least borderline incompetent.
      I also think they’ve been very unlucky.
      And I think the amount of abuse and insults flung at them over this is completely over the top and unreasonable.

      It’s not black and white. Them being unlucky does not absolve them of responsibility for what they’re doing, and what they’re *not* doing. Being irresponsible idiots does not justify the shitstorm they’ve had to go through. And it doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize with them.

      Failing to realize that accidents can occur, that you might one day need a backup for *any* of those reasons? *That* is irresponsible.

      The probability of a burglary is low, yes. But the probability of one day needing your backup is *much*, much higher.

      If they kept a cloud backup at Dropbox and their servers would fail or their account would get hacked, everybody would blame the devs for not choosing another, more reliable cloud service instead.

      What makes you say that? I don’t think “everyone” would do that. To me, there’s a world of difference between “trying, and failing” and “not even trying”.

      Having your backup system fail, or your dropbox get hacked, is very different from simply not taking a backup for months.

      For a small indie developer, I certainly wouldn’t expect enterprise-grade backup systems. But I do expect *some* kind of remote backup of core assets like the game’s source code. I’d expect them to go for the low-hanging fruit, at least: back up the things that are 1) important, and 2) easily backed up.

      They HAD been backing things up. The problem is that their backup system was stolen as well. The fact that a lot of ‘fans’ are blaming them for this, and even getting aggressive, demanding refunds, etc, is appalling.

      But they had no off-site backup. A backup that is subject to the same risks as the thing it is backing up is useless. The point in a backup is that it should still be there when the original is gone, because that’s when you *need* it. Keeping your code *only* on two laptops is mind-blowing. It’s not rocket science to ensure that it at least exists online *somewhere*. Send it to your own gmail once per week, if nothing else. Use a sane version control system. Copy it to a DropBox account. Any developer I know would set up a source control server somewhere, and then check out the code from there. That alone would have solved the problem, because code would then be pushed to this server on a daily basis, so it would exist there as well as on the two laptops.

      A software developer doing that? The only word that comes to mind is “incompetent”.

      But again, this doesn’t mean that they haven’t been unlucky, or that we can’t sympathize with them.

    • TLGAthena says:

      If a backup policy fails, and it’s from an act of god. You’re SOL. That happens. It’s rare, but it does. At which point you’ve done everything -reasonable- in your power and frankly Jesus just doesn’t want you to complete your project/game/program at this moment in time. Jesus is wise and thus must have a plan as to why this happens. That occurred -once- during my career, and the exact sequence of events was so ridiculous that in the end all management could do was laugh, throw their arms in the air, and headbutt the wall. In that order. Nobody is going to scream bloody murder if you took decent precautions and things THEN went to pot despite best efforts.

      If you lose data -without- having a proper policy in place (and a second laptop in the same flat with a mirror of the code on does not count), then as tragic as what might have befallen you and your project, you’re still an idiot. The closest metaphor is to drive a car without a seatbelt, if you get sideswiped by a garbage truck you’re not going to live either way, but you can avoid a lot of potential injury/fatality scenarios by simple expedient of putting your safety belt on.

      In this case – the backup policy is the safety belt. Use it. If you get hit by the garbage truck at least you DID the right things to increase your odds of survival, then it’s down to Buddy Jesus to decide if you get the thumbs up or not.

      Like I said, I fully sympathise with the guys, being burgled is teh suck, and nobody deserves the kind of crap they got from THE INTERNET. I will however rightfully and truthfully call them muppets for not wearing the metaphorical safety belt.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      What makes you say that? I don’t think “everyone” would do that. To me, there’s a world of difference between “trying, and failing” and “not even trying”.

      But that’s exactly what I was addressing. They were using two different physical machines to keep their assets. They tried, and failed. There will always be someone blaming them for not taking backup measures up to the next level, no matter what level that is. Blamers gonna blame, so to say.

  2. Wunce says:

    The Achievements article is interesting, I have gone the opposite direction. I no longer care about achievements even though a year or two ago I would obsessively try to get every one in a game.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      I like achievements, but only the ones that make the game more interesting or challenging. For example, I had a very good time trying to make it through Avadon without ever using a resurrection scroll recently. Other good ones that comes to mind are the Deus Ex pacifist and foxiest achievements. To me achievements should be awards for players who make it through the game under more difficult circumstances or which offer a more interesting or challenging way to play that isn’t necessarily imposed by difficulty levels.

      However, if they are just stupid and lazy “collect x amount of y” type achievements, I don’t bother with them.

      To me, the problem with achievements isn’t so much achievements in themselves, as much as it is developers treating them as a lazy after thought and not bothering to do anything creative with them.

    • Chris D says:

      I still think the greatest comment on achievements that will ever be written is John Teti’s attempt to get 10,000 gamerpoints in a day.

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/overachiever-for-a-day

    • The Colonel says:

      Can’t shake the feeling that achievements often exist primarily to artificially extend the life of games. Valve do them right by encouraging you to have a bit of extra fun. Do completionists look back after getting 100% and feel that much better about themselves?

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I can’t say I hate achievements, in fact as several people have said they sometimes give you some sort of inspiration for ways to approach games differently. But I think they are basically pointless. The ones that ‘reward’ repetition are pure frippery, and the others that give you ideas, well, the point of those is half in knowing they exist anyway, requiring you to play a certain way, and that could be done in a better way.

      I’d prefer to see that sort of thing in the loading screen tips, which are a great idea in principle, ruined by people who couldn’t think what to put there and thus ended up writing “press your use key to interact with the environment” and others of Captain Obvious’ greatest hits. If the DXHR loading screens said “You can complete the story without killing anyone” I’d be intrigued.

      What I do dislike about achievements is the fact that you get nothing for them. If the game were to give me some sort of tangible thing beyond a little box that briefly appears in the corner, I’d be more interested. Keeping with DXHR, it’d be nice if achievements gave you something in your home or office that reflects this play style; for example, earning the Pacifist achievement gives you a Judo trophy, a humanitarian society certificate and an infinite supply of non-lethal weapons mounted on the wall, while Foxiest of the Hounds gives you a dismantled alarm panel surrounded by tools on your desk and an annotated circuit diagram on the wall

      The gamerscore thing is even worse. When the 360 was first being announced, I assumed you would be able to use the points you got from achievements to buy stuff on Live – you know, like a reward, for achieving something? I was staggered when I found out that all they actually did was pile up in a big heap of numbers so you can boast about them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stompywitch says:

      @YourMessageHere: Alpha Protocol does that. As you complete the missions your apartments become increasingly full of souvenirs and mementos, that Mike comments on if you interact with them.

    • sub-program 32 says:

      The Binding Of Issac is another good example – most of the achievements are based on game progress anyway, and they unlock new items and suchlike in-game when they are completed.

    • gwathdring says:

      Alpha protocol does more than that. It has an achievement system that it calls “perks.” When you accomplish certain goals or hit certain milestones, you get character bonuses. Some of them are straightforward (75 evaded enemies, bonus to stealth) while others highlight interesting conversational moments (I forget examples, but finding certain difficult options or getting certain characters to like or dislike you and so forth). The best part is that you can’t really lose out on the perks. If you take the “bad” options in a scene, you get bonuses for being a right bastard. Not all of the perks give a bonus that is related to the awarding of the perk, hence my labeling it an achievement system. Many perks are simply one-time experience bonuses. I like the system a lot. One of my favorite perks was “Psychological Warfare” which I got for completing as many dossiers as I could and ferreting out a lot of extra info about many characters. It wasn’t hard, exactly, but it was a milestone that meant something to me based on the way I was playing the game. It was the game saying “We see what you’re doing there, bravo. Keep it up!”

      That’s when I love achievements. When they set up a dialog between the game and the player. One of my favorite types of achievements is well outlined by TF2′s Rasputin achievement for the heavy. You get it for taking a whole bunch of different types of damage before ultimately dying. I like this kind because it creates moments. So you’re wandering around in the sewers of 2Fort and then, around the corner is a massive mob of enemies. You go out in an incredibly rapid blaze of humiliation and then up pops a notice telling you you’ve earned an sardonic achievement you weren’t expecting in the slightest. My personal favorite TF2 achievement moment happened while I was a pyro. I was standing on one side of a setup gate having a taunting back-and-forth with an opponent. The gate opened just as I started another taunt and suddenly my opponent burst into flames and died … I was unaware this was even possible at the time. It was already a hilariously awesome moment, but it was beautifully punctuated when I received a small note labeled OMGWTFBBQ.

      My favorite kind though, are the crazy ones. The ones that pop-up out of nowhere when you do something bizarre or die in a spectacularly splendid way … and then the developers acknowledge that they had something planned for even that wildly unlikely event. It’s that communication with the game that makes achievements interesting to me. I don’t care about them at all when they’re basically bad MMO quests or worse “Did You Know You’re Playing the Game? Well Now You Know What Level You Finished, Too.”

  3. Juan Carlo says:

    I rather like that Steenberg’s open letter to Carmack article. If ID made a cheaper, scaled down (in terms of team), but graphically impressive and technologically innovative version of Quake 3 aimed at the PC, for example, I think it’d do quite well and have way more longevity than Rage will have.

    I think there’s a market right now for an old school deathmatch game that isn’t being filled by the likes of the Team Fortresses and Battlefields of the world.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      ” If ID made a cheaper, scaled down (in terms of team), but graphically impressive and technologically innovative version of Quake 3 aimed at the PC, for example, I think it’d do quite well and have way more longevity than Rage will have.”

      Yep.

    • terry says:

      He should make 4k demos.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I’m curious about how well it sells… I don’t see the PC version selling very well beyond the preorders due to the massive technical issues, and amidst Resistance 3, Gears of War 3, Dark Souls, etc how well will the console versions sell? Consoles don’t exactly have a history with Carmack. VGChartz show that the XBox version sold around 400,000 copies and the PS3 version a little more than half of that in the first week. The numbers probably won’t increase exponentially in the coming weeks. Will it be enough to recoup the development costs of a game that took in excess of 6 years to make? Bulletstorm had a shorter development period, Epic is a renowned console developer and the game itself didn’t push any envelopes – and even that couldn’t recoup its development costs after a sales number in excess of a million. And now apparently they’re going small scale with their projects with the PC and iOS devices as the main focus. Wouldn’t be too surprised if id does the same, especially after his glowing comments on the iOS platform (much to my distaste, I might add).

    • pakoito says:

      Now he only need to learn to write “than” instead of “then”.

    • Premium User Badge

      maicus says:

      I pretty much disagree with that article on every point; I mean, a developer the size of id (Id? ID? I.D? Eyedee?) shouldn’t be producing concept games as an end result; it would look like they were just monetizing their own internal r&d.

      The question for me is are Iddie playing to their strengths? They’ve got all these artists, all this technology to support them, and they’ve been paying them to paint brown backgrounds for 4 years.

      You unleash all THAT frustrated talent, something cools gonna come out of it.

    • Metonymy says:

      In spite of the spelling and syntax, the article by Steenburg is close to perfect, and is an exact reflection of what I’ve believed for a long time. “Too much art, not enough game.” Doom3 was so bad that I can’t even bear to play it a second time. I’m not sure it even works properly anymore, and guess what, no one cares. RAGE is exactly the same.

      Doom2 is a perfect GAME. It is not a perfect reality simulator, or a perfect anything else. It’s a perfect GAME. Quake 1 was such a good game that we are still playing it in the form of TF2. Orcs Must Die! is the example of what people can make if they’re trying to make a good game. And hilariously, it’s production values still end up being better than anything Id is doing, for a fraction of the cost.

      Placing all the blame in the hands of the artists is incorrect. The problem is weak designers. Artists must serve the designer, they can never be given any control, or you get a game that reflects the artists’ ideal: a simulation of reality.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I don’t know whether mechanics or art is more important to games.

      I do know that if John Carmack made a game with algorithmically generated art, that art would be more beautiful than anything actual artists created in any of his games.

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      I haven’t read the article yet, and I probably won’t agree with all of it, but I do rather agree that I’d love to see what Carmack would come up with if we poured caffeine into him and told him to make some sort of crazy 4k demo, or the like. That would be fun.

      For us at least, maybe not for him.

    • asthasr says:

      Doom, Doom 2, Quake 1 and Quake 3 all reflected a sense of game first and foremost; I think the problem iD has is that at some point they lost that sensibility and moved into the arena of “interactive stories,” without hiring talented writers and (narrative-oriented) designers to go along with that. I think the problem actually stems from Half-Life; they saw Valve’s success and have been trying to ape it ever since.

    • Chandos says:

      I can’t get over this statement of his: “Many games designers think its their job to tell stories, but games isn’t a story medium, they should go write books or make films.”

      That’s like saying TV is not for telling stories, it’s for watching things move on screen. I will admit not everyone plays games for the same reason, and yeah not everyone plays for the story, but come on.
      I can’t stand people who dare to tell me what my gaming experience is ought to be.

      Edit: Ok, I just read his edit where he says “Quake, and Doom had drama, modern AAA games have Story telling.” But who cares? If I like “text, cut scenes, voiceover, and machinima” in my game, does that make it less of a game? Was Planescape: Torment a terrible game for all the art and writing and storytelling in it?

    • asthasr says:

      @chandros

      No, of course PS:T wasn’t a terrible game — but it also wasn’t an Id game, and it also had much better writing than Id ever has. Quake didn’t even have a plot; the plot was abandoned halfway through development and Quake became “Doom, but with Cthulhu rather than Hell.”

    • Chandos says:

      @asthasr: I can agree to his criticism of iD games. It’s just that sweeping generalization about the role of storytelling in games that I have a problem with. That’s a big and unjustified leap of logic in my opinion.

    • wssw4000 says:

      @chandos

      You can’t compare TV to video games. First of all a TV is a piece of equipment, as is a PC or a console. Secondly, TV dramas and movies, film, theater and books are basically prose expressed in one way or another. As such they can be put in a group whose main purpose is storytelling. Artwork, which encompasses things such as painting, sculpting and the like does not belong in that group. And while it is possible to tell a rudimentary story through artwork, storytelling is not what you would primarily judge it by. Same goes for games, which are, if you consider them art, in a category all of its own. They are games and it is their gameplay they should be primarily judged by.

      PS. The same goes for genres. You determine the genre of a game based on how you play it. Therefore Mass Effect 2 for example is a 3rd person shooter no matter how many choices or consequences it has.

    • Metonymy says:

      What distinguishes games from other media is gameplay. If it’s amazing in every imaginable way: story, music, characters, art, setting, etc, but the gameplay itself is horrible, then it is a horrible game.

      Full stop.

      Any elaboration beyond this is nonsense. Games are games, not stories, not art, not anything. A game is judged by how good it is as a game.

    • wssw4000 says:

      @metonymy

      Yes, basically.

      Also, someone mentioned Planescape Torment. While the gameplay (fighting in particular) was its weak point, I certainly wouldn’t call it horrible or even bad, so it’s not really an example of a good game with bad gameplay.

    • Chandos says:

      @wssw4000
      “Also, someone mentioned Planescape Torment. While the gameplay (fighting in particular) was its weak point, I certainly wouldn’t call it horrible or even bad, so it’s not really an example of a good game with bad gameplay.”

      I didn’t say it had bad gameplay. I am saying there is an example to a game that shines most brightly in our memories, not for its game mechanics, but for the story it told, and to the extent it used game mechanics to engage us in the storytelling process. When people judge it as a great example of a CRPG, that judgement is not passed solely on the merits of its gameplay mechanics. There is a rather significant difference between PS:T and Icewind Dale gaming experiences, that you cannot explain with mechanics alone.

      Don’t get me wrong, I do not deny the importance of mechanics and the need for innovative ideas in that aspect. What I take issue with is people thinking why they play games is why everyone should play games, or what they think games stand for is what everyone should think games stand for. That is not the case, has never been the case, and will never be.

      I am a gamer who will always prefer amazing storytelling with ok mechanics, to brilliant mechanics with no story. I am sure there are others like me, and I hope people will keep making games that cater to that preference. Just as I hope they will make games that cater to your priorities. I try not to label anyone’s preferences as a lesser or truer form of gaming, and I hope people will have the same respect for me. I just did not see that respect in the article that we are discussing.

    • Thants says:

      You know, the idea that games are only their mechanics and should only be judged on that bugs me. Saying that games aren’t a story medium seems willfully ignorant. They clearly are a story-telling medium, among other things.

      Games are a very wide medium and they do a lot of different things. Some people seem to want to limit them to only what they enjoy. Just because you don’t go to games for story doesn’t mean that story isn’t important. Something like Tetris is almost entirely its mechanics, but Mass Effect is mostly about the story. The idea that you should judge both by the same measure is just silly.

      Yes, the mechanics are what’s unique about games, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the most important thing in every game. A game should be judged on how good a game it is, but “game” includes art and story not just mechanics.

    • Metonymy says:

      No, what we’re saying, is that Mass Effect shouldn’t be allowed to exist without being a good game. Two and a Half Men shouldn’t be allowed to exist if it is not funny, since being funny is it’s purpose. If you enjoy that show because of it’s amazing set pieces, then you’re just as much of a problem as the bad writers are.

      By the same reasoning, Mass Effect is not a good game, therefore it should not exist. If you like it because of it’s story, (and for the sake of this argument we’ll take your opinion seriously) then you are just as bad as the designers who allowed its tedious, uninspired gameplay to exist.

    • Chandos says:

      @Metonymy

      Wow. I’m trying very hard not to take your comment as unfounded snobbery of the highest order, and yet I might be failing in that.

      It sounds like what you are suggesting is a dystopian gaming industry where a game is either good or removed from history altogether; there is no in-between and no mercy for people who have tried and created a fairly enjoyable game that actually gave some people some wholly valid gaming experiences. No, we cannot have that if they cannot pass your test of Are-You-Game-Enough.

      But consider this: maybe Two and a Half Men was meant to be different things to different people. Yes, maybe it was not a comedy to you, but maybe it was a great drama and portrayal of the tragedy of a dysfunctional family to somebody else.

      Are you really that disturbed by somebody enjoying a game that you could not? Christ.

    • bill says:

      I find it somewhat amusing that, after years of everyone complaining because ID games were just “tech demos”, now we are complaining because they aren’t.

      Not to say that he’s wrong. (on that point – he’s clearly wrong on the story point – though his heart is in the right place).

    • InternetBatman says:

      I think Carmack agrees with him, although probably not how he put it in an open letter. Didn’t he say at the last Quakecon that another game like Rage would bankrupt them and that that kind of development wasn’t sustainable?

  4. LuNatic says:

    Plenty of people read the 40k fluff. Would a game make the setting so much harder to deal with?

    • Ed123 says:

      A lot of 40k fluff is heavily sanitized, though. Especially when the protagonists are Space Marines.

    • JayTee says:

      Deathwatch, Rogue Trader, and Inquisitor say hello.

      There, 3 RPGs set in the 40k universe and pretty much as ‘faithful’ to the fluff as you can get. While not games, Deathwatch puts players in the most xenophobic, blood-thirsty, warmongering segment of the Imperium. These are not only Space Marines, but the most vicious, powerful and competent Space Marines around with the most ridiculous assortment of weaponry. And their mission? Kill everything that isn’t human.

      Now these are Pen-n-Paper jobs, not CRPGs, but still they do exist and are fairly popular. Inquisitor in particular is pretty popular, and if anything epitomises all the things about 40k that he says one cannot handle.

    • Ed123 says:

      I was thinking of the novels.

    • Chris D says:

      I see where he’s coming from but I’m not convinced. He’s mostly talking in the context of a 40K RPG, but the point of an RPG is that you get to choose how you react to things, maybe the rest of the galaxy is insane, it doesn’t mean you have to be unless you want to. I can see it not being for everyone but I don’t see mass outrage either.

      The traditional way of dealing with the 40K background is to leave it in the background, focus on the conflict at hand and ignore it for the most part, and there’s no reason I can see that you couldn’t do that again. If you do want to deal with it then maybe you’re one guy trying to do the best he can in an insane situation, maybe you’d want to explore it as full on social commentary, or maybe you just want to cut loose and say “Screw it, I’m going to be a bastard and enjoy it.”

      I think I’d see a lot of parallels to Judge Dredd, which is a world that’s been explored extensively in comic form. It depends on who’s telling the story. Some days he’s a brutal oppressor who you want taken down, other days you’re rooting for him because the other bastards are worse.

      @JayTee

      I was thinking of those as well, although I think the counter argument might be that with pen and paper RPG’s content is far more player driven, so you can set your own level nihilistic brutality to a greater extent than you could with a computer game.

    • JayTee says:

      I was replying to Lunatic as a general reply to said article, rather than to you specifically :p I entirely agree with you there, some of the novels seem to portray the 40k universe in quite a different light, very much dumbing down the frankly horrible nature of existence in that world.

    • Bull0 says:

      The crux of the matter with 40k is that the setting is brutal, but quite often the individual narratives use that brutal setting to extol the virtuous and noble where they can be found. There is a lot of darkness, but the hero almost always has some redeemable qualities. Space Marines in particular are frequently depicted as brave and noble, etc.

      Also, “Killing everything that isn’t human” is a different prospect in WH40k to, say, Avatar or ET. In WH40k, everything that isn’t human is generally trying to kill or enslave humanity. And yes, humanity probably deserves it for being militarist expansionist asses, but the same can be said of most of the other races (with the arguable exception of the Eldar, who are just uncaring snobs) and in general I have to say I root for the home team. But then I cheered when they napalmed that giant tree in Avatar, so I mean, yeah.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I think that guy is fundamentally missing the power of scifi, which is to hide brutal truths about our present in stories of other times and places. It’s the primary purpose of the genre, and it works. A CoD could never present such a story without blowing up a shitstorm, but I don’t doubt that a 40k game could.

      This discussion does remind me of a film review of Starship Troopers, in the Guardian I think, that criticised it for unwittingly celebrating fascism.

    • bill says:

      well, that’s one purpose (the main one recently). But there is another purpose:
      http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation

    • Bursar says:

      Not all the Space Marine Chapters are as unlikeable as the article makes out. The different chapters embody different qualities within humanity.

      Ultramarines and Salamanders for example are characterised as protectors of humanity and without the disdain for bog standard humans that some other chapters have. That was why Titus’s personality in Space Marine didn’t bother me. The Ultramarines are typically cast in the classic ‘Space Hero’ mould (see Graham Mcneills Ultramarine series for details).

      Chapters like the Black Templars and the Space Wolves on the other hand do fully embody the less ‘admirable’ traits detailed.

      If RPG makers are worried about the likability of their lead characters and want to use Space Marines then an Ultramarine, Salamander or a Crimson Fist (for example) all can work as a classic hero.
      If you want a zealous nutter then drop in a Black Templar.

    • Bull0 says:

      Obligatory shout-out to my beloved Blood Angels goes here; all the nobility of the Ultramarines but with artistic and slightly vain leanings and an exciting fatal flaw that in the right circumstances manifests as a deranged bloodlust.

      Good stuff, good stuff.

    • iucounu says:

      Is the 40K fiction better written than the cringeworthy DAWN OF WAR: RETRIBUTION game that I bought a while back? That was puerile stuff. I think it was supposed to be campy and overblown but it rather failed at that as well.

    • Thespian says:

      Frankly, I’d like the next 40k game to avoid Space Marines. Basically what we need is Dark Heresy the RPG. Something that depicts the fact that literally everyone is an asshole who wants to get one over you. And obviously it has to be a rogue-like-like. It’s not Dark Heresy without level 1 permadeath!

      @iucounu, there’s loads of good 40K fiction. The first three Horus Heresy books, Ciphas Cain, Deff Skwadron, Gaunts Ghosts… Basically if it has the name Dan Abnett attached to it, it’s worth your time and money.

    • iucounu says:

      Ta!

    • Bull0 says:

      Abnett’s not infallible – Prospero Burns is fucking appalling.

    • Thespian says:

      Yeah actually I’ll give you that, but generally he’s much better as a whole than say, C.S Goto

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      I think gamers can probably handle the Imperium, but the majority of writers, apparently, can’t.

    • iucounu says:

      I think one reason 40K is difficult to write for is that the setting is intrinsically kind of naff. Naff in a good way – I think Robert Florence mentioned this at one point, that lovely British kind of naffness that got me into Warhammer in the first place, with the heavy metal styling and the overblown grimness. But still kind of naff. You’ve got elves and dwarves and orcs out of Tolkien, hideous alien monstrosities, demons, hypermacho space marines, psychics, magic…. they’ve tossed everything in, and the more you try to weave it into some sort of coherent universe, the more the tone keeps jarring. Back when I used to play W40K with my friends at school, I was always allergic to the Space Orcs, because that cosmic football hoolies thing was tiringly unfunny and grated next to the ‘undead emperor sustained by human sacrifice’ thing. The tone’s all over the place.

      What I’d really like to see them do with 40K is dial back on the story aspects and give us a turn-based 40K simulation a la Blood Bowl. I didn’t like the one Relic RTS that I played (but largely because I’m shit at RTSs) and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to accommodate me, but ah, well, it’d be nice.

    • ceriphim says:

      First off, “Gamers can’t handle the Imperium”? Are you f**king high? Or just trolling for page-views? I start to suspect the latter, especially when I read headers like this, “Gamers Can’t Handle Xenophobic Holocausts. No, Seriously, They Can’t.”

      lolwut?

      Who is this person to tell me, as an educated, mature gamer, that I can’t handle playing something like that? I’ve ready damn near *every* piece of 40k fluff out there and assure you that not only can I handle it, but I would LOVE a proper semi-serious, dark, brooding, 40k RPG.

      Isn’t part of the appeal of Space Marines in particular that they are absolutely black and white? There’s no room for doubt in the life of a SM, only the absolute unwavering faith in the Emperor and Primarch. When I think of that, I feel it must be such a luxury to possess such boundless depths of belief in your existence and duty. That’s something I envy and will never truly be able to fathom of the devoutly religious (I’m agnostic leaning toward athiest).

      However, I *hated* the story and development of Captain Titus in Space Marine. As some have pointed out, and TFA goes to great lengths to describe, Space Marines are, in the truest sense, posthuman. They have no sex drive, no desire for material gains (in the sense we understand it), have a well of faith deeper than any human, and live every second of their existence knowing that while they are functionally immortal, they are 100% certain to die a violent, most likely horribly painful, death. They will never retire, they will never have kids, a family, etc. Space Marine (the game) makes the mistake of thinking that by showing people how cool/strong/big/tough Space Marines are, they will understand what it’s like and play accordingly. Captain Titus is far closer to a Heinlein-esque Space Marine than an actual, GW Adeptus Astartes. As much as I love the idea of Space Marines, there isn’t any easy way (without literally VOLUMES of back-story and immersion in the concept) to have the player *be* one in a game. Someone above mentioned that the best idea for an RPG would be to NOT have the player be one, have them be an inquisitor, Guardsman, etc, which I totally agree with. The best way to show just how Space Marine Space Marines are, is to paint them right alongside baseline humans.

      Otherwise they just end up being tough guys in cool armor, which wastes all the potential the concept really has.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I think this guy summed up why 40k is fascinating. In not so many words it’s the fact that it’s a horrible culture so unlike our own that makes it interesting. No bright eyed, optimistic future where good bands together to punch the evils of the universe in the face. Instead the greatest bastion of humanity is a decaying monolith, one riddled with corruption at that, which embraces religious zealotry and wilful ignorance. The individual exists to serve his superiors, a philosophy that applies all the way up to those immediately below the Emperor (or rather the people who rule in his name). What would people from such an empire be like, and what stories could you tell about them? How does someone reconcile basic human nature with the insane mindset of the Imperium, and what conflicts arise from that?

      Beyond that you’ve got all the other species in the galaxy who, by and large, are as screwed up as the Imperium is. Except maybe the Tau, though they’ve got their own, slightly softer version of zealotry and imperialism going for them.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ Snidesworth

      In not so many words it’s the fact that it’s a horrible culture so unlike our own that makes it interesting. No bright eyed, optimistic future where good bands together to punch the evils of the universe in the face. Instead the greatest bastion of humanity is a decaying monolith, one riddled with corruption at that, which embraces religious zealotry and wilful ignorance.

      Powerful deployment of irony sir. I hope.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Whoops, made a bit of a jump between our current culture and the generally rosy and optimistic futures we imagine. 40k’s more of the opposite to the latter, not quite so much the former, which is substantially less pleasant than idealistic fiction at times.

  5. Matt says:

    Relic also made The Outfit for Xbox 360 in 2006, which I haven’t played. (And I suspect most commenters here haven’t either.)

  6. Dave L. says:

    Re: Relic’s console work: You’ve forgotten about The Outfit, Jim.

  7. asshibbitty says:

    If gamers can handle CoD why not WH40k? Same shit.

    The distributors deserve your money as much as the devs. Hating on the middleman is childish.

    • Bull0 says:

      Particularly when those distributors put as much effort in as Valve have. Screw brick and mortar stores though. Screw them right in the ear.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “The distributors deserve your money as much as the devs.”

      Why?

      “Hating on the middleman is childish.”

      No hate for the middleman here. I just don’t see the need to reward them when more of my money can go to the creators.

    • Unaco says:

      I’ll buy games as and how I see fit. If it’s more convenient for me to buy over Steam, then I will. If I feel more secure buying over Steam, then I will. I don’t want to be giving out my bank details to too many people… especially when things like Indie Stone’s latest problems can and will happen.

      If Indie devs don’t want to be losing the cut to Steam for every copy, then they probably shouldn’t be selling on Steam… but, with the massive exposure, and the massive number of sales Indies get on Steam, I think that cut is worth it for them.

    • Acosta says:

      Because I want to have my libraries as centralized as possible, because I don’t want to install a plethora of different games from different services each time I change the computer, because I want cloud saves if possible, and, in general, for convenience.

      Come on Jim, I understand the “No Steam no sale” drives you mad for good reason, but don’t say people have no reasons to wanting a game on it. And even ignoring that point, hasn’t Steam been a powerful drive force for the Indie community so far? Why should we erase it from the equation now?

    • Consumatopia says:

      Middlemen are cool, but screw gatekeepers.

      Yeah, I understand why people insist on Steam. The Universe sucks slightly more because those people exist.

      Hopefully, things like Unity, Flash 11 and Google Native Client will make local installation of games, and all the associated headaches that Steam is designed to manage, less necessary.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “but don’t say people have no reasons to wanting a game on it. And even ignoring that point, hasn’t Steam been a powerful drive force for the Indie community so far? Why should we erase it from the equation now?”

      I didn’t say any of that stuff.

      My point is, and has always been, that making Steam the only platform you are willing to buy from is dangerous and unproductive. Being willing to buy directly from developers is important to them *really* being independent.

    • thegooseking says:

      This might be slightly off-topic, but I think Steam should take a more Amazon-like approach to games. I don’t necessarily have to register all my games on Steam (I don’t expect Steam to provide me with downloads and patches for non-Steam games I’ve bought); just adding a shortcut in my Steam library is often good enough. But I do want to be able to tell Steam when I’ve bought a game not on Steam.

      Back in one of the sales, Kadayi tried to gift me Alpha Protocol. I already had it, but he didn’t know that because I didn’t buy it on Steam. Amazon lets you tag items you bought somewhere other than Amazon as already owned (though Amazon doesn’t let other people see what you already own, Steam does, but only if you bought it from or registered it on Steam), it lets people say they’re going to buy stuff on your wishlist for you elsewhere, and it lets you review items that you didn’t buy through Amazon. The thing is, Amazon doesn’t seem to lose anything by admitting that there are other ways to buy things, and I don’t think Steam would, either. I know a lot of times I’ve wanted to recommend a game on Steam, but couldn’t, because I didn’t buy it on Steam.

      In short, it’s ultimately in Steam’s best interests to let people say “I own this game” or even “I like this game” even if they didn’t buy it on Steam. And that, I suspect, would somewhat diminish the weight of “no Steam no sale”. Paradoxically, loosening their monopolistic grip could give them more sales (e.g. through recommendations). And everyone wins.

    • Acosta says:

      “I just don’t see the need to reward them when more of my money can go to the creators.” sounds exactly as if you were arguing about the place of Steam in the equation, at least that is what I get from that.

      I really want to understand your point Jim, what is the scenario you are defending? I buy things outside of Steam, buy I certainly don’t want to buy every single indie game I buy outside of Steam as far as the convenience problems are there. Am I a bad customer for that?

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s fine if you want to buy directly from the creators. But I think it’s important to have games available through as many channels as possible, to give the consumer the greatest range of choices. I’m irritated by people who will only buy on Steam as much as you are, but I personally don’t want to buy every game I’m interested in directly from whatever makeshift storefront the devs have managed to put together. I prefer to buy from one of a handful of centralized web stores with clear and consistent policies about things like redownloading my purchases (I absolutely must be able to do this indefinitely, which may or may not be true when purchasing direct), a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy, etc. I don’t want to have to remember which of the 800 websites I’ve dealt with has a particular game if I want to go back to it (one reason why I’m irritated with EA for trying to push Origin – I’ve already got like six or seven digital retailers to deal with, I don’t want to have to add yet another one – with a client, even – just because EA wants to cut out the middleman). It doesn’t have to be Steam. I’ll buy on Impulse, Direct2Drive, Beamdog, Gamersgate or GoG. But Steam does have a pretty nice package.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Actually, if someone made a COD RPG, where you aren’t just following orders and following a linear scripted path but you actually made moral decisions on a battlefield resembling a modern counter-insurgency warzone, I think that would be both more interesting and more controversial than a Space Marine RPG.

      But honestly I don’t think political controversy would be either game’s biggest obstacle. It’s the business models of people making games–why make an RPG when you could make a good ol’ shooter?

      This is the same as having no civilians in BF3–trying to blame that on public reaction was nonsense, lots of games let you shoot civilians and punish you for it. The developer just doesn’t feel like changing the gameplay to accomodate such conseqences, so rather than admit they chose fun over realism, they’ll blame the public for a non-existent reaction.

    • gwathdring says:

      With DRM free games, and a reliable credit-card portal, I’ll default to the creator’s storefront of choice. If I don’t trust the credit card portal, if the DRM system would make it particularly inconvenient to retrieve copies of the product at a later point, or if I don’t feel like the game is worth avoiding a currently ongoing sale on another service, I’ll use another service. I have no preference between the big download services. There are things I like and dislike about all of them. My steam collection is immense only because the number of games on my “worth buying on sale” games I can actually buy on sale is highest on Steam.

      I buy a lot more independent games at full price point than big studio games, because the prices are lower and the games I’ve bought from independent developers tend to be things I really want to play NOW and support NOW rather than games I suspect I would greatly enjoy if I happened to get around to them. There are some big studio games I have the same reaction to … but the price point is often high enough at $50-$60 that I simply wouldn’t play as many games if I didn’t buy them on sale. I don’t feel like I deserve to have games cheaper … but if the company/distributer gives me a chance to play five games for the price of one, I’ll take it unless I desperately wish to give support to a particular concept or game.

    • asshibbitty says:

      Late reply sorry bout that. I was ordering the last Forza game the other day, and ended up adding some more crap I’ve been planning to play for a long time. The shop suggested all those other games to me, based on my purchasing habits over the last five years. Now, my first reaction was naturally *stop trying to sell me shit* but what’s wrong with that? Nothing it’s actually awesome. If you have good control over yourself that is. Either way if they are both doing a good job, yes they both deserve the money they get.

      Steam needs more good-natured competition (opposed to big publishers trying to force their way in) and a UI redesign.

      @Consumatopia
      That’s my point, both Cod and presumably the last WH40k game don’t give you the whole picture. That’s what you do when you’ve got profoundly shitty source material, you water it down until it’s presentable. No one will make a WH40k game like that, and no one will make a CoD that makes you feel bad about the people you’ve shot. Like, genuinely bad, not “maybe I shouldn’t shoot those dudes it won’t even affect the game”, show the player that people hate being shot, that it’s not a one bit dead or not situation. For all the narrative focus of these games they try the hardest not to touch on the strongest and most natural emotions that being on the battlefield provides.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    It’s not just his film, the Mosfilm company has a project where they are aiming to get their entire catalogue onto Youtube AND subtitled into English. It’s a laudable goal.

    I heard this back in May some time, probably from english russia but I’m struggling to find the announcement link, just the email I sent out asking some Russian friends what I should watch out for. Their catalogue is here:

    http://www.mosfilm.ru/Page.aspx?id=4523490E-7769-4D9F-BFEC-A9E37DEFA40F&lang=en

    in english.

    You could also link to the official channel available here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/mosfilm?feature=chclk

    with stalker available here:

    (don’t forget to click the CC button for your subtitles)

    May as well watch it there and link in the main article to there. I think it’s higher quality and we should try to encourage what mosfilm are doing! They are fighting piracy the right way.

    • rei says:

      Wow, that’s really awesome, thanks for posting that.

    • mudlark says:

      Ooh, Kin-Dza-dza is on there as well. Amazing. Everyone on RPS should see that at least once .. an insane low-budget Soviet desertpunk comedy sci-fi about totalitarianism and linguistics, not unlike the sort of film Ice-Pick Lodge might make if they had a studio arm.

      Two parts, here. Anyone else seen it?


      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eti9Qn4bZDg

    • coldvvvave says:

      Um, your links are wrong, at least for me, I keep being redirected to somewhere wrong.

    • mudlark says:

      whoops. fixed!

  9. Inigo says:

    Mongoliad

    I thought you weren’t allowed to call people tha- oh, wait.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Going from the title alone, my secret hope was for a novel about an ageing Genghis Khan putting on a triathlon for his hordes in order to determine his successor.

      Thousands of battle-clad cyclists streaming along the Great Wall, the dozen or so nearest to the edge cascading off at every corner.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cardinal says:

      The story/experiment is worth checking out @ http://www.mongoliad.com/

      Moreover – very much enjoying Stephenson’s new novel REAMDE. This has some MMORPG themes running through it, while remaining an intelligent non-patronising geek adventure.

    • Arglebargle says:

      This sounds like a particularly…weird…premise. For the story anyway. Faked up western martial arts vs the Mongol Empire? Yeah ;( I don’t think they have a leg to stand on. Sounds too close to fanboy material. The form of the release is real interesting. The content….hmn.

      Anyone actually gone through any of this yet to report?

      In any case, if it weren’t for two Great Khan’s deaths in five years, we’d all be using a lot more Mongolian loan words…

    • Tams80 says:

      @ Cardinal

      I don’t know. Even the first paragraph seemed off. Not bad writing per say, but it just seemed rather contrived.

    • gwathdring says:

      Snow Crash was a lot of fun. It felt slick. It didn’t seem to be taking itself seriously. It was ridiculous, it was bombastic, but it still felt just smart enough to avoid being campy or silly.

      Then I tried the Baroque Cycle. I loved the setting, and I liked the blending of real and fictional characters and the portrayals of some of the historical figures. I liked many elements of the plot and the characters, and paragraph by paragraph, I even liked the style–I liked the bizarre mix of eloquent wording and crass phrasing. But the pacing. The pacing was … I loved all of the above elements enough not to notice until a ways into the first volume. But there was often too much happening off-camera relative to what was happening in view of the pages and the pages tended to pan across and flip through events far too slowly to keep up with the breakneck pace the characters and political machinations at work seemed to want to go. Everything felt held back, and yet the author emanated calm and seemed comfortable with the strange slowness at work. And even the plot got … weird in a less desirable way round about Eliza hooking up with Bob … I re-read that scene twice times trying to figure out what the hell is going on and I still didn’t get it. Her character got kinda weird after that, in general. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to picking op The Confusion again.

      I’ve heard good things about Diamond age. And I liked Snow Crash enough to try any of his books for a good portion at least.

      P.S. Given the above sentiments … anyone who has ventured further than about 1/3 of the way into The Confusion or on to System of the World think I should tough it out? Does it get better with respect to my issues with the series?

  10. Ba5 says:

    I would definitely love a game that has you playing as an insane xenophobic space marine who is the biggest dick in the universe.

  11. Cinnamon says:

    Steam is the only way to be a success on PC? Not really, see Minecraft. But can’t really be bothered to get an account on his site to read his idle musings.

  12. Moni says:

    I feel like Eskil Steenberg’s Open Letter to John Carmack could be addressed to any developer.

    I think AAA development needs to be supplemented by small unique projects. The current state of the industry seems to be studios throwing, literally, everything they have at one massive-budget game, and more often than not, the fail, and then dozens of people lose their jobs.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    I had read up on Tarkovsky’s Stalker movie before seeing it with a friend. Given the praise, I was pretty stoked, hoping it would be a neat looking glass into the Zone. It ended up being the dullest two hours of my life. At first I was afraid to say it, given my friend also was a fan of the stalker games. But after the movie as I was sitting quietly for a couple of minutes not sure what had just happened(as if something *just happens* over the course of 150ish minutes), I exclaimed that I had in fact thought it was -awful- at which my friend agreed.

    None of the praise I had read had really prepared me for the kind of movie it really was. I was more expecting a movie where you would follow the protagonists navigating the Zone, which you do to some extent. But the monologues, and the dialogue, well it was a bit too much.

    • thurzday says:

      Sorry to hear that. It’s one of my favorite movies ever. It’s probably best if you go in to it without having played the game first, though, and you certainly have to be in a certain mood to appreciate it. It’s probably best watched alone.

    • TheLemon says:

      Stalker is also one of my favorite movies. It is a very slow film and was created in a manner that is quite contrary to the way that modern Hollywood films are filmed. It is very philosophical and features almost no action. Do not watch it if you are looking for something like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I will say though that the scenery and atmosphere of the film and the game are very much in sync. They both capture the eerie quiet and emptiness of The Zone perfectly.

  14. Owain_Glyndwr says:

    Yeah, the problem with 40K is that most of the time, you’re playing Nazi’s IN SPACE. It’s a bit like playing the German Campaigns in WW2 strategies- a dim awareness that really horrible things are happening because of your success. It’s quite difficult to get the audience to engage with that, and unfortunately the whole Mythos takes itself far too seriously. It would work much better if the black humor was focused on, maybe- what if Relic did Orc as a sequel to Space Marine? You’d die quite a bit, but orcs are basically football hooligans IN SPACE, and who doesn’t want to play that?

  15. Mark says:

    On the open/closed platform debate: it comes down to freedom, ultimately. The freedom to build and install whatever programs you want, to buy it from whomever you want. The closed platforms mentioned in the article won’t allow users to do this.

    The problem is, this is an ideal held by some to be of paramount importance, yet it is probably ignored by most as trivial. I think that’s sad.

    Addendum: Origin: my most recent experience with it is when uninstalling the Battlefield 2 beta it just opens up the Add/Remove section in Windows. It should have just uninstalled the damn thing from within Origin. There are a lot of little irritations like that at the moment that makes the UI feel half-baked, which reflects badly upon on the entire platform.

  16. TooNu says:

    A 40k game would only work if we were playing as a human who was part of that universe. Think a member of an Inquisitor’s retinue, or a ganger in a Hive, or a crew member aboard an Imperial Barge, a Rogue Trader, a member of the Imperial Gaurd. Those are just some examples.

    To play as anything else would mean a progressive game of Imperial indoctrine where by you have to change yourself as a gamer and as a human (slightly) in order to be any good at playing it. So it wouldn’t work.

    And yes playing as a Space Marine is a bit silly if you are looking for story, because you can not possibly relate to a Space Marine who doesn’t have feelings like you or I do. Unless you want to play in a mindless game of killing, Space Marine welcomes you with open arms if that’s the case.

  17. Sleepymatt says:

    -reply fail-

  18. magnus says:

    Thomas Köner, eh? I’ve had a few of his albums in the past, the Porter Ricks albums seem pretty good too.

  19. Syra says:

    The guy talking about 40k demonstrates a massive lack of understanding of the lore in general, which is pretty much shown by him thinking that the space wolf books are the most personal ones around. It’s too shallow, it’s like doing a flyby of the latest space marine codex and then suggesting that is the basis on which the whole game is set.

    There’s a wealth of intricacy in the 40k lore, picking on one over popularised aspect (space marines) would be a suicidal way to make an RPG, inquisitor or rogue trader is the right way to go.

    Also I question the idea that a game where you kill ALL the aliens is that unusual or implies some sort of geneocidal mania :P Sounds like most games…

    • Syra says:

      p.s. do people not want to role-play the supremacist sometimes? Ever since Skyrim was announced I have known I would play it as a crazed nord slaughtering all the cat freaks and lizard scum and pointy eared greenskinned filth I can find…

      p.p.s. I usually play RPGs as the scientist/thief… so I’m not a crazy racist :p

    • Azdeus says:

      @Syra; Considering that the vast majority of modern wargames requires you to shoot at things that wear a turban or red star, or something similar because “you’re supposed to”, and gamers gobble it like candy, I have a hard time thinking The Imperium fazing gamers at all.

      Playing as an Inquisitor retinue or Rogue Trader would be awesome, and lends itself well to different characters and views; Especially Rogue Trader, but Radical Inquisitors are often overlooked, and are very much part of the canon. Having a RPG with well thought out system of choice and consequences set in the 40K universe would lend to all manners of interesting situations, as long as the developers don’t chicken out (See Fallouts original Junktown ending for instance… ) with moral dilemmas and loads of problems for the PC or friends. There is really no end to the possibilities!

      And reading through his article really made me facepalm, especially with his conclusion that playing a Purist Warhammer character would force you to “change a little” of yourself, really the man has NO CLUE about what roleplaying actually is. This is coming from someone that less than 15 hours ago sat playing a Deathwatch White Consul character arguing that lancestrikeing the last remaining 50000 civilians and soldiers, that battled for their lives 3 months cut of from the Imperium on an Tyranid infested planet was the most sound option as to not taint the millions of lives in the sector. I’m not like that, it’s a character I portray!

      OT; I blame Bioware and Bethesda for this with their complete lack of player/character separation in their latest games, “popularizing” “RPG’s”…

    • pipman3000 says:

      @Syria

      No, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to. If they really want to roleplay the supremacist they can go hang out on Stormfront.

    • Sassenach says:

      I’d imagine it’s the same reason why people play ‘Evil’ or ‘bit of a cock’ characters in bioware RPGs. Just to see what happens.

    • ceriphim says:

      I responded upthread a bit to this, but I’ve realized that what really bothers me is this undertone in the article and conversation where everyone’s afraid to be called a racist because they want to roleplay one.

      WTF? That’s the whole point of ROLE playing. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. In WH40k as in real life, often your viewpoint simply comes down to your perspective.

      Does it make sense to commit small-scale genocide on the survivors of an alien/Chaos/rebel invasion? From an inquisitor’s perspective, it may be justified (to contain the spread of knowledge regarding _____, because knowledge is power). From a survivor’s perspective probably not (I promise not to tell anyone about those ____, just let me live!).

      One mark of a mature society is being able to handle/discuss issues that we may not feel totally comfortable with. As I mentioned in my previous response, part of the allure of the 40k universe to me is the absolute black & white, Imperium vs Chaos, good vs evil (or maybe more accurately, Bad vs Worse) dichotomy. I enjoy reading and immersing myself in it exactly because IT IN NO WAY reflects the world we actually live in (nor am I enough of a nutter to believe I can make it that way).

      I would relish the opportunity to play a space-facist fighting to save Humanity in the grimdark (C) future where there is only war, and I’m not afraid people will think I’m racist because of it. Even if they do, I’m mature and rational enough to realize I can’t control your thoughts, only my actions.

      PS – Sorry for the accidental inclusion of the tired old, “Knowledge is power” line, it happened by accident

    • iucounu says:

      The question is, what is the story you’re telling – participating in – supposed to do.

      Look at the movie version of STARSHIP TROOPERS. It’s clear that Verhoeven is steeping in irony what is a, on the face of it, a story about ‘heroic’ fascists. We’re supposed to laugh at their jackbooted pretensions while feeling a bit queasy about enjoying the violence. Most of the point of it is, ‘see how easy it might be to get swept up in this sort of thing! Isn’t that scary, and also kind of ridiculous?’

      You need that ironic distance for it to be successful as fiction, I think. With WH40K, if you’re telling a story in which the fascist Imperium exterminates a whole planet of ‘heretics’, I think you’re going to need to treat it the same sort of way. We’re surely not expected to like what the Space Marines stand for; it’s going to be very hard, not to say impossible, to write a story in which they’re the ‘good guys’. At best, they’re the lesser of two evils, and then you’re telling an extremely grim and cheerless story.

      I’d be interested to see how the more lauded WH40K fiction writers get that sorted out. Do you treat it with irony, or play it straight?

    • Snidesworth says:

      “At best, they’re the lesser of two evils, and then you’re telling an extremely grim and cheerless story.”

      You say that like it’s a bad thing.

      Also, must stories always have some lesson or morale to convey? Isn’t there value to be had in exploring a fictional world? A great deal of games enable you to do just that and are applauded for it.

    • Panzeh says:

      40k is extremely juvenile and is about as extreme as BMX XXX. It might have had some value had it kept its more humorous aspects from earlier in development, but anybody can be grimdark if they want to. Grimdark is dumb.

    • pipman3000 says:

      I liked Warhammer 40k better back when it was a parody of fascist military sci-fi instead of an example :(

      (bring back the squats right now)

      but nope gotta be grimderp as fucking fuck

    • Syra says:

      grimdark is great for some, but that’s not really the point is it :P Roleplay + killing stuff is what games are all about. I see no reason why it’s not a viable RPG setting. Though it is suited better to a multifaction MMO, hopefully DMO isnt order vs chaos, because that would be fluff rape.

    • iucounu says:

      @Snidesworth,

      “Also, must stories always have some lesson or morale to convey?” – no, that’s not exactly what I’m saying. Stories don’t need morals. They do need to have some kind of purpose though, which isn’t quite the same thing – the purpose of your story could just be to be entertaining, for example. A story in which horrendous Space Nazis launch a pogrom against even more appalling aliens is going to need to be leavened by something. You could do it in a grim and cheerless way if you stick a moral in there, I guess, in which case you take it all very seriously and make points about war and about how people lose their humanity blah blah blah. The more fruitful route for 40K is probably the TROOPERS thing, though, where you take the piss out of the setting while still revelling in the action.

    • Snidesworth says:

      @iucounu
      It would. Why tell that story, though, or at least why tell it like that? On a macro-level scale 40k is utterly horrific and absurd. It’s good for little snippets of fluff but if you want to tell any sort of detailed story (whether po-faced and serious or tongue in cheek) you need to get down to the level of individual characters and see the setting through their eyes. People are still people, even with the insane ideology of the Imperium layered atop them. Provided the character isn’t an absolute monster the reader (or gamer) can relate to them on some level while also seeing just how strange their thinking is. They needn’t even be that monstrous. For example, there’s a book about a simple farm boy who gets drafted into the army and sent off to fight a war against some rebel world. He’s a simple, decent sort whose had a good upbringing and isn’t some sort of monstrous xenophobe. He subsequently finds himself in the wrong warzone due to a bureaucratic error where everything promptly goes to hell. The central narrative of the book is him struggling to come to terms with the reality of where he is and the insanity of the people who’re running the war from distant command bunkers.

      Even if you do want to get a bit more monstrous with the characters that can be done effectively as well. Don’t make characters mean spirited or malicious, just wrapped up in the ideology of the Imperium. How does a dedicated, honourable and just agent of the law mete out justice in a world where the law is there to enforce the absolute loyalty of the populace and the virtue of duty is championed above basic human rights? How does her mind tick, what sort of strife arises to challenge her and how does she deal with it? It’s interesting to read about a character so unlike yourself, especially of the type who’d usually just be a villain to be knocked down in another tale. People have different tastes, of course, as well as different tolerances for how unlike them a character can be before they stop caring about him or her. It’s up to the author to make a character relatable and detailed enough to get the reader interested and not just write them off as some abhorrent caricature.

  20. ShadowBlade says:

    Regarding the letter to Carmack:

    I’m of the opinion that games absolutely need more artists and designers than programmers. Many people seem to think games are only mechanics, which I disagree with entirely. Also, i don’t think it’s artists who want realism, it’s the engine programmers most likely. I’m certain (especially in the huge companies) that the artists are told what to make by the guys higher up.
    Still, i’d love to see many more enemies on screen rather than a 1 million poly character every now and then.

    It reminds me of the Torchlight vs Diablo argument. Many will say they are the same game, but they absolutely are not, because of the artists, the content. The mechanics may be the same, but games are more than mechanics.

    Edit: Looking at DeadEndThrils, Rage is a brilliant looking game. It and Witcher 2 are probably the best looking games around at the moment.

    • Lacero says:

      In my experience it is always the artists driving realism. Graphics programmers tend to be much more prosaic about cheating and making something look good without having an actual physical idea behind it. Perhaps because artists tend to copy ideas from other mediums, film etc. which are almost always realistic as they almost always use reality as their medium. Programmers understand what’s possible in the machine separated from reality. Which isn’t to say you don’t need both, you do, just that artists usually push for realism in my experience.

      Also I disagree about diablo and torchlight. There’s a small impact of artwork in that some things are easier to see in one game or another, visual feedback is an important part of interaction, but mainly the differences in the games are in the skill trees. That’s where the real game is in this genre, including titan quest, and the visuals really don’t matter. The level layout does matter, but I would put that under mechanics rather than art.

      Although, note titan quest had pre-built levels rather than random ones and that is likely to be a decision based on having more art resources (“content”) than programmer resources. More mechanics and less content make for more interesting games. Even if they don’t quite look as good the first time you play them.

  21. phenom_x8 says:

    Crysis technical analysis on console by digital foundry quite interesting to read!

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-crysis-face-off

    Before that, they asked whether Crysis can run on console or not!

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-crysis-console

    And, it looks our fellow console gamer seems quite impressed by the original Crysis gameplay and level design !

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=446652&page=21

    Ah, crysis!

  22. frenz0rz says:

    The only race in the 40K universe that I can see being portrayed ‘realistically’ (lore-wise) in a game without massive backlash is the Tau Empire. Granted nobody is quite sure just how their race came to suddenly live in perfect harmony, but the fact is they dont fight for the extermination of aliens/mutants/heretics and do not, like most 40K races, consist entirely of xenophobic genocidal maniacs. They instead fight for the Greater Good – and anyone can be a part of that. Race, creed, colour, anyone can be accepted to their cause, as attested to by the myriad of alien species who have joined their cause, and even the significant number of humans who have forsaken their Emperor and sworn their allegiance to the Tau. Sounds pretty acceptable to me.

    So yeah, more Tau games please. Surely a fully customisable battlesuit is far more exciting than some beefed up clod with a bolter and chainsword?

    • coldvvvave says:

      Tau Commander is about o be added to a DoW2R Last Stand mod. Or so I heard. I also heard that Tau use mind control to achieve said harmony among their race. And it’s not all that pretty.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Well yeah, I’d heard that the ethereal caste might use some sort of pheramone-based mind control to bend the will of their fellow Tau and organise them into the various other castes. But in terms of their day-to-day existence, I’d much rather be an average water caste citizen than an Imperial commoner.

      Plus, battlesuits people! BATTLE-SUITS! They’re like Tuxedos with flamethrowers.

      Wait, wasnt that some god awful Jackie Chan movie?

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I’m also on the Tau side of the fence. I don’t play the tabletop game, but I will always stop and look in the window of GW when I go past, and the Tau are streets ahead in terms of coolness, for me. I loved them in Dark Crusade. I even played a large chunk of Fire Warrior before I got roundly sick of how dreadful the game was. I too go for the ‘for the greater good’ thing – closest thing to an actually reasonable bit of rationale I’ve seen 40K get.

      Mind control…versus xenocide? I think I know which is preferable, for me.

      EDIT: battle suits, yes, and crisis suits. I used to like dreadnaughts, but crisis suits are just awesome.

    • Lacero says:

      The mind-control idea is typical imperial propaganda :)

    • Azdeus says:

      @Yourmessagehere; Mind control is just as bad as genocide, you’re talking about destruction of self afterall.

      @Lacero; Yes, most assuredly. For theee greeaaateeeerrrr gooooooood…

      Tau are just as viscious bastards as everyone else, they hide it well though.

    • frenz0rz says:

      @Azdeus

      At least they make an attempt to hide it!

    • Azhrarn says:

      You mean the “surrender and join us (and sterilise your entire population) or we bombard your world to ashes” Tau wouldn’t kick up a shitstorm?
      They’re less terrible than the others, certainly, but they’re still totalitarian fascist genocidal aliens.
      Sure, they’ll give you the option to surrender, which most won’t, but if you do that then they’ll proceed to doom your species to extinction by sterilising everyone and sacrifice as many of your kind as possible in the fires of war while your species lasts.
      The Tau aren’t nice at all, they’re just more naive than the older species.

    • Azdeus says:

      [Reply fail]

  23. coldvvvave says:

    You are about to be compared to Hitler.

  24. Ajh says:

    Poor warhammer article guy is under the impression that people pay attention to details like that in sci-fi and fantasy games, which gamers sometimes do, but the media as a whole doesn’t really.

    I’ve never seen a (non-gaming) news article about the xenophobia, nationalism, and bloodthirsty behaviors displayed by the races in WoW even. No one cares that Sylvanas is systematically wiping out everything living and converting them to her minions in a broader and broader area. The blood elves live in such a rigid society they have peacekeeper magical constructs walking around making sure everyone conforms. Gallywix did his best to enslave his people, and did use the word slaves.

    When you look at religion you have the light, but you have the zealots too, or did anyone forget walking through scarlet monastery killing humans because they’re on an insane religious crusade? Tirion was, in lore, kicked out of being a paladin for not being a xenophobic asshole.

    Someone did raise a minor stink about having to participate in torture, but if I recall it never hit major news networks the way grand theft auto and call of duty would. This is because the game is in a fantasy setting.

    Granted none of this is as bad as warhammer’s stuff, but warhammer always struck me as a grittier universe. If no one bats an eye at any of the horrible things happening in a fantasy game, why would they even notice this stuff?

    • shitflap says:

      Hehe, I thought that myself. Lets hope that no-one from FOX News reads this

    • Craorach says:

      I actually found the Warhammer article was pretty much accurate to my fears for the new MMO. Warhammer Online was pretty rough, but it pales in comparison to what the world is really meant to be like.

      I read an interview at one stage with one of the devs for Warhammer Online, who explained why they went with Tzeentch as the primary chaos god behind that faction. While it also make sense from a “Tzeentch is a plotter likely to use several mortal races to his own goals”.. the primary one is that Tzeentch is pretty much the only way to get anything other than an M rating and even banned in many countries… Khorne is not just a God of War.. one of his biggest followers in the 40k universe is Kharn the Betrayer… because Khorne doesn’t care who’s blood is spilled, and if you can’t win, kill your own people instead. His followers are bedecked in the bloody remains of their victims, hooks and chains and other nastyness…. Nurgle would probably be even worse, truely sickening plagues and famines, imagery that even the most desensitised of us is likely to feel unwell over. Nurgle is a God that would require some of the worst suffering imaginable to be shown in graphic detail, but without the release that Khorne at least offers.

      And then there is Slannesh. I think it goes without saying that there is no way that the followers of this god can accurately be portrayed in a game that doesn’t have an adult rating. A God that offers individuals endless pleasure and ecstasy, no matter how depraved?

  25. zeroskill says:

    “That said, I do think the “Steam or no sale” culture we’re seeing now, particularly towards indie games, is crappy. Buy direct, give the creators the money, not the distributors.”
    Look, the point is, it is not necessary for an Indie to be on Steam to be a commercial success, but its beyond a shadow of a doubt that being on Steam increases the chance of being a commercial success exponentially. Not every Indie can live off word of mouth/youtube popularity like Minecraft.
    Not trying to get on Steam in this day and age as an Indie developer is sheer madness. What cut does Steam take? 20%? 25% off Indies? Thats an absolute joke compared to what you buy yourself for that. Solid server architecture and exposure to an ungodly amount of potential customers. I mean cmon Jim, Valve even allows devs to throw Steam keys your way even if you dont buy on Steam and buy directly from the devs for christ sake. If you cant see that Steam is a blessing for the Indie scene then your totally out of touch with reality.

    The recent attacks on The Indie Stone is really an embarrasing display of the PC gaming community. The only effect I can see this will have for the future is that even less developers will go this path and expose them self to interaction with their communities. Just sad.

  26. Cerzi says:

    Re: Steam being over-used to purchase indie games. What if the humble indie bundle guys made their own platform? Yeah, I know everyone is pretty against having to have more than just Steam installed on your PC, but some kind of indie games platform with a nice open source moddable client can’t go down too badly, surely.

    If it has the usual stuff like being able to see what friends are playing, track achievements etc, then people who might be of the “only buy it if its on steam” might be persuaded to grab it from a more developer-friendly source.

    • zeroskill says:

      “more developer-friendly source” Im sorry but are you sure Steam is a particularly developer unfriendly platform? I never heard any Indie developers complain about how Steam is developer unfriendly. Quite the opposite is true in fact:
      (Im sorry, this is a PC gamer article, I just found this right off the bat)
      http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/03/02/team-meat-describe-nightmare-xbox-development-everyone-should-love-on-steam/
      It said here: A month later, Super Meat Boy was released through Steam, selling more in two weeks than their total sales on Xbox Live. Speaking at GDC, one half of Team Meat, Tommy Refenes said “It’s much easier to update and everyone should just love on Steam. Like, hot nasty love all over it.”

      I dont know where you take your impressions from that Steam is a developer unfriendly platform. Maybe you are confusing Steam with Microsofts Xbox Live?

    • Cerzi says:

      Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that Steam is indie developer unfriendly. It was just in response to “Buy direct, give the creators the money, not the distributors.” – I think these days people prefer to buy games that they can play from some kind of platform (in 99% of cases, this is Steam). So, a group such as the Humble Indie Bundle might benefit from having some indie-equivilent to Steam that players use. Again, it really depends how willing people are to use additional platforms on top of Steam.

    • malkav11 says:

      The Humble Bundles have pretty consistently offered keys to register the games on Steam, which I suspect contributes substantially to the willingness of people to partake.

    • Xocrates says:

      “Again, it really depends how willing people are to use additional platforms on top of Steam.”

      The dominance of the “Steam or no sale” mentality shows that they are not. And honestly it’s not hard to see why. I currently own games on Steam, Gamersgate, Impulse, Origin, GOG, Direct2drive, among others, as well as plenty bought direct. Quite honestly it reached the point that there are games I don’t know I own or where.

      I’m not terribly fond of having a single dominant force, but I do wish I could have them all in the same place and end up buying second copies on Steam sales because of it.

      Regarding the Humble Bundle getting it’s own client. They already give away keys for Steam AND Desura, I don’t see why they should bring yet another client into the mix.

    • Urthman says:

      The dominance of the “Steam or no sale” mentality

      Is there any real evidence that this is at all significant (much less “dominant”) other than, “I’ve seen a handful of people say this on internet forums now and then.”

    • InternetBatman says:

      I don’t see a reason why they should offer their own platform. They give away the keys to many platforms already, I would argue that one of the strengths of the bundle is that it does not require a platform, but offers it if you would like it.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I’ll buy direct from the developer if there’s no Steam version available (although I definitely forget to check if buying direct also provides a Steam key most of the time). I prefer the Steam copy as I like things like auto-updates and achievements for my games.

      But do we really need another platform? Steam is a great curated service. But we’ve also got Desura which is the closest cousin I’ve found to the service (and is also supported by Indie Bundle). There’s also a new indie focused portal that just opened recently, although I forget the name of it.

      How many gaming portals are we going to need or have installed on our systems?

  27. Koldunas says:

    Pretty sure it’s voronoi patterns, not “vorenoi”.

  28. Mr Labbes says:

    Why did the jury go for the most boring of the electricity pylons? It might be functional, but basically all other short listed designs look far better, imo.

    • Koozer says:

      Because it’s probably the cheapest and easiest to construct, and has a design that isn’t likely to look anachronistic in a few decades time.

  29. noclip says:

    Is it just me or is almost every one of the non-winning electricity pylon designs better than the winning one?

    • Premium User Badge

      Chaz says:

      I liked the curved one that looks like a sail catching the wind. The winning entry just looks totally uninspiring. It looks like a modified telegraph pole or the sort of thing that carries the overhead cables on a train line.

      My guess is the winning entry was also the cheapest.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I like the winning entry the most because it’s got the simplest profile. It doesn’t try to stand out; it doesn’t try to be an object of interest itself, but aims to minimally impact the landscape.

    • FeralChicken says:

      Yeah, but all of the others look fairly impractical to build and install en masse.

    • Vinraith says:

      Nearly every one of the non-winning pylon designs is comically impractical, I can’t imagine what some of these people were thinking.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      @ Vinraith
      So what? Practicality is not the only issue. Why not use a design which has some visual or even artistic impact? The current design of these things is extraordinarily ugly, at least in Britain.

    • Vinraith says:

      So what? Well, a horribly impractical design is going to cost a heck of a lot more to do a job either equally or not as well. You’re really so concerned with how power pylons look that you’re willing to have the state blow a bunch of money to make them look neat? We haven’t got anything more important to be doing with that tax money?

    • PleasingFungus says:

      I especially enjoy the design which looks like a medieval landscape illustration. They didn’t even bother to add the electricity cables in! Were they even trying?

    • Zenicetus says:

      There are so many other considerations for designing something like this, I think it’s interesting that they considered aesthetics at all.

      It’s not just the construction cost that has to to be considered, it’s continuing maintenance, worker and helicopter safety when inspecting or repairing cables, resistance to high winds, and even bird impact mitigation. As a functional object where the main idea is to blend as much as possible with the landscape, I like the winning entry. It’s a hell of a lot better than the existing towers.

    • iucounu says:

      They picked the one that was simple to manufacture, easy to maintain, and didn’t look (as some of them did) like a hideous biomechanical insectoid army marching across the countryside.

  30. thegooseking says:

    OT; I blame Bioware and Bethesda for this with their complete lack of player/character separation in their latest games, “popularizing” “RPG’s”…

    Eh, latter BioWare games have essentially asked you to interpret the character, not to make choices for the character. I always felt like Mass Effect was asking me not, “What do you want Shepard to do?” but “What do you think Shepard would do?”. Same for DA2 (but not for DA:O). I fail to see how that’s a lesser degree of player/character separation.

    Bethesda’s games offer more of a blank slate, putting the responsibility on the player to create the character. The player’s invariably (unless they’re a very good roleplayer) going to put a little bit (or a lot) of themselves in that character, which does speak to a lesser separation of player and character, but that’s a more traditional approach anyway, and can hardly be blamed on this newfangled “popularisation” of RPGs.

    • Azdeus says:

      @Thegooseking;
      I disagree with that premise. BioWares Mass Effect series started out with that, but has since the first game in the series dropped the Player/character separation in that they give you total control over the character in his actual physical skill. A roleplaying game should have a stop between the players skills and abilities and the characters. The first game did this with having the characters weaponskill for instance adjusting how accurate he actually was, this was dropped in the second game.
      Commander Shepard is more the player and less a character with his own skills. This makes it harder for a player to get distance between their self and the character.

      Bethesda has since Morrowind done the same thing mechanically, I don’t have any real problem with their character creation process, and I mostly direct my focus towards Fallout 3, but more of their attempts to make skills less important in the way you interact with your world. As you remove the boundary between the player and the character, and go First Person, you lessen the character and move the player to the foreground in a way that does’nt fit well with roleplaying games.

      I consider both companies latest games adventure games for these and more reasons, and to a bigger and smaller degree. When both companies call their games “RPG”s with very flimsy separation, and reaching out to a bigger crowd not normally interested in the genre, mistakes such as that of the author, and players putting more of themselves into the choices in games than thinking of it in a way of the characters point of view.

      Don’t know if this is actually a allowed discussion though, or if it’s too off topic.. :S

    • Urthman says:

      I think thegooseking was referring more to the conversation system, where the player doesn’t get to choose exactly the words Shepard will say. The player is allowed to give Shepard a nudge in one direction or the other, but the actual wording (or even the actions) are up to Shepard.

      You can tell Shepard to be a jerk, but Shepard decides whether that means to deliver an insult or a punch in the mouth.

  31. yutt says:

    Test, please delete.

    • yutt says:

      Somehow I lost a decent sized response. You guys seriously need a more reliable and intuitive comments system. It can be incredibly frustrating to try to participate in discussions here. :/

  32. Muzman says:

    Programmers and Gamers in ‘sticking with petty Aspie-arsehole image for now, thanks’ shocker.

    They should just tell everyone that they had a nightly semi-auto back-up system but it corrupted itself last time. So if they weren’t doing regimented backups they’d probably still have a recent offsite copy. Then flip the bird and walk away.

    (this, of course, was meant to go somewhere else. Could be user error)

  33. Sunjammer says:

    I don’t understand why players wouldn’t want to play xenophobic imperials? We play xenophobic imperialistic sons of bitchs in every other game we play!

  34. Vinraith says:

    This is the internet, ok? It’s fully of shitty, shitty people and vile little children and you can do absolutely nothing about it. It makes no sense to get worked up about it.

    Every time a web browser connects to the internet, a little text box containing this should pop up.

    • Will Tomas says:

      The problem is, the response of governments to that line is to say ‘not ony can I, but I should do something about it…’

    • Nick says:

      It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least condem them for what they are.

  35. MFToast says:

    HOLY MOLY! There’s a gigantic sale in the Rise Of Flight store!

  36. JackDandy says:

    A real pity about Project Zomboid.

  37. Zenicetus says:

    I don’t buy the premise of the “Gamers Can’t Handle the Imperium” article. It’s written from the perspective of someone deep into the WH40k lore. People unfamiliar with the game series just don’t look at it that way.

    I never knew anything about this whole WH40k thing until I saw the more recent DoW games pop up on Steam. Trust me, from the perspective of an outsider, there is a comic overlay of silliness to the look and the premise — Orcs in space? Elves in space? (okay, that’s kinda cool), big armored dudes with tiny heads? Oops, it’s the bodies that are big? Okay, whatever. Chainsaw swords and giant hammers….. riiiiight.

    There is a huge body of lore and background that’s supposed to make this all grim-dark and serious. But it still doesn’t overcome the fact that you’re fighting ORCS IN SPACE with big armored dudes and ridiculous, oversized weapons. With that as the context, you’re not going to get any real criticism of how dark and disturbing your RPG elements are. You’d have to take all the other stuff seriously first, and only fans of the WH40k series will do that.

    I think the larger problem of making a hardcore RPG in this world, would be getting anyone who isn’t already a WH40k to relate to, and care enough about the back story. And they’d need that, to justify a AAA-level game of this kind. Space Marines was an easier sell, because it’s just a basic action game and you don’t have to care about motivations and back story.

    • Wulf says:

      Wow… this is a prime example of what I talk about in my post below.

      That’s interesting.

      You need a certain setting to be able to accept the evils in a given scenario? Just because something is silly and ludicrous, it can’t necessarily also be twisted and unethical? I’m sorry but this just fascinates me, and I’m not even a big WH40k fan. But the last thing I expected was the post above mine to actually be an example of what I talk about in my own post.

      I’m not saying that you’re somehow wrong for feeling that way, I’m just intrigued. Does the silliness somehow outdo heinous acts? If you see an Imperium guy toss his armour aside to rape an Eldar, does that heinous act stop being heinous because of the silly visuals?

    • Arglebargle says:

      The whole 40K setup has always struck me as a bad joke taken far too seriously. Fungus Orks in Space! Space Elves! Chainsaw Swords! The bad humor man sends his regards….

      Plus, I thought the rules were far too fiddly, both PnP and tabletop.

    • Zenicetus says:

      “Wow… this is a prime example of what I talk about in my post below.”

      Yep, and I think your reply also illustrates the differences between insiders and outsiders with this game series. You’re so deep into the lore and the game world, that the over-the-top character and weapon designs don’t bother you. Since I’m not invested in the lore and the world, I can’t really take seriously anything that happens in these games because the setting just seems so goofy.

      “Does the silliness somehow outdo heinous acts? If you see an Imperium guy toss his armour aside to rape an Eldar, does that heinous act stop being heinous because of the silly visuals?”

      Including that.

      For me, it’s like having my minions burn up a human town in Overlord. That was an action game with just the bare minimum RPG elements. I never felt that I had to take “being” the Overlord seriously, or care about the morality of what he was doing, because the overall presentation had that comic overlay. If the game had showed a cutscene where the Overlord had taken off his armor and raped a human, I would have thought it was gross and unnecessary; reflecting badly on the game designers. But I wouldn’t have cared about the morality of it in an RPG sense, because the whole scenario is so goofy.

      I think that’s the reaction an “average” gamer would have to a hardcore RPG set in the WH40k universe, which is what the linked article was addressing. I don’t think any of the grimdark stuff would bother most people, because they just wouldn’t take it seriously in the context of ORCS IN SPACE and guys with giant hammers whomping on ‘em.

    • Panzeh says:

      I definitely agree with this angle.. Nobody is going to take the transhuman aspects of someone who wears gigantic shoulderpads and skulls all over himself using a chainsword all that seriously. If you put a bunch of grimdarkness in gears of war it wouldn’t make it more profound. It’d just be a weird change of tone.

      Maybe I just don’t see the profoundness of vague excuses to have everyone fight everyone in tabletop wargames involving hundreds of dollars in miniatures. At least ww2 wargames re-fight something that actually happened.

    • gwathdring says:

      There are certainly games, movies, and other media for me in which I can handle all kinds of situations I would otherwise find difficult to watch due to the way the tone warps my perceptions of the occurrence. In serious movies, I have a lot of trouble with violent scenes. But I can relish in cartoonish sadism in Team Fortress 2, and crush people to death in Rock of Ages. More relevantly, I can murder folks to earn a few extra caps in the wastes of Fallout 3 and think of it as another point of favor with characters x, y, and z rather than a sickening or even at all regrettable instance. It goes both ways, too. If the dialog sets up the right atmosphere, a single slap or punch or cut with a knife can be incredibly disturbing and discomforting.

      There are some things, though, that I have yet to find in a context that didn’t disturb or discomfort me. Rape is one of them, though I do sometimes react with the lack of specific care mentioned above. However, I’m still affected by it. I’m still extremely uncomfortable with the situation … but context can dissociate me from the characters to the point where I’m not outraged, upset, or simply disturbed on behalf of the characters. Although … oddly, it’s these circumstances that bother me the most. When media makes use of situations like rape in a way that feels unnecessary or without emotional purpose, I won’t put up with it. I’m not interested in being subjected to certain situations “just because” and that’s one of them.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I rather liked Yahtzee’s take on it.

      “I couldn’t imagine how many levels of cynicism you’d need to be operating on to want to spend your escapist fantasies in a universe that has been completely fucked over by twats. It just seems like such a juvenile concept, like it was pitched by a thirteen-year-old boy while hopping up and down on an examination table waiting for a doctor to grimly fill a large, ominous-looking syringe.”

      Though, at the same time, there was this comment below:

      “As a soldier with two tours in Afghanistan, the last one being combat, and a familiarity with the 40k universe I have to disagree with Mr. Croshaw. What he sees as big and dumb I recognize as a cautionary tale in the same vein as many other dark sci-fi stories. 40k is very much about the dangers of the ‘perpetual war’ taken to it’s extremes. The human government is a fascist theocracy, the average person is slave labor to feed the war machine, humanity is mired in ignorance and even their greatest minds do not understand much of the technology they use, and their greatest protectors are religious fanatics. How much of this is due to necessity for survival, as there are no shortage of genocidal enemies in 40k, and how much is it abuse of power? There in lies the grey area of debate, similar to the one that is currently ongoing about ‘Freedom vs. Security’. I see 40k and spend time reading or playing games in that world in part as a reminder of how good we actually have it here and now, and how bad it could get if we let it spin out of control and lose sight of what we are trying to defend. I felt much the same way as I looked at the blasted war torn wasteland of Kandahar Afghanistan and reminded myself of how lucky we are in the West. We should use stories like 40k to promote discussion and thought about our own situation, not dismiss it as a juvenile waste.”

    • JackShandy says:

      Personally, if I see an ad containing giant battle suits shooting at things, a tiny valve in my brain clamps down on my eye glands and they slide instantly away from it, leaving me unable to stare directly at it. No matter how much I’ve heard of the satire and orks and elves and things I still can’t focus on the thing without going temporarily blind. Such a shame.

    • Panzeh says:

      “As a soldier with two tours in Afghanistan, the last one being combat, and a familiarity with the 40k universe I have to disagree with Mr. Croshaw. What he sees as big and dumb I recognize as a cautionary tale in the same vein as many other dark sci-fi stories. 40k is very much about the dangers of the ‘perpetual war’ taken to it’s extremes. The human government is a fascist theocracy, the average person is slave labor to feed the war machine, humanity is mired in ignorance and even their greatest minds do not understand much of the technology they use, and their greatest protectors are religious fanatics. How much of this is due to necessity for survival, as there are no shortage of genocidal enemies in 40k, and how much is it abuse of power? There in lies the grey area of debate, similar to the one that is currently ongoing about ‘Freedom vs. Security’. I see 40k and spend time reading or playing games in that world in part as a reminder of how good we actually have it here and now, and how bad it could get if we let it spin out of control and lose sight of what we are trying to defend. I felt much the same way as I looked at the blasted war torn wasteland of Kandahar Afghanistan and reminded myself of how lucky we are in the West. We should use stories like 40k to promote discussion and thought about our own situation, not dismiss it as a juvenile waste.”

      The problem with this is that there’s absolutely nothing to relate to in 40k. It is so divorced from any notion of being political, that the Imperium is most commonly presented as “deathly evil but necessary”. 1984 did it earlier and better, because they didn’t focus on the wars that were always happening. Of course, Orwell wasn’t making miniature tabletop gaming rules.

      Besides, among the 40k demographic, which is nerdy guys with plenty of disposable income, is “religious fascism always at war” really some cutting danger that hasn’t been done before? I think almost every sci-fi and fantasy novel at some point takes on either a caricature of the Catholic Church or fascism, even if their undertones are themselves very fascist. Is something in 40k really going to challenge someone’s beliefs or preconceptions? I highly doubt it.

      It’s telling that what’s considered the “best” 40k novel is basically a copy of Sharpe, which is in and of itself kind of schlocky.

  38. Wulf says:

    The funny thing about the real Imperium is that they’d make fantastic villains. It’s easy to sympathise with a band of bounty hunting orks when you realise that the Imperium proper happen to be their foes. That’s just the way of WH40k. They’re all evil but whomever is being the most evil at the time is the least sympathetic, and they can all be downright evil. Even the tau become as evil as the Imperium when you realise the truth of them. So at the end of the day it comes down to their actions.

    It’s been said though that there are no real good guys in the WH40k Universe, and that’s an absolute truth, but it’s also a truth I think that most gamers actually do need ‘good guys,’ so I can see what the article is saying. I suppose this is why we’d never see a WH40k game in the mould of Space Marine but featuring the orks instead. Instead we get an ultra-lite version of the Imperium. It would have been hilarious if they’d cast the player as a xenophobe who’d kill a bunch of people just because they’re xenos, even if they’re civilian xenos, but the outrage for doing so would be terrible.

    It’d be like No Russian, except it wouldn’t be sensationalism, it’d actually be true to what the Imperium are. But even in Dawn of War we got a very lite version of the Imperium, and I can understand why that is, but I’m still amused by it. I think that intrinsically gamers are so used to playing as human characters that they couldn’t accept the Imperium being as monstrous as they actually are. That’s fascinating on so many levels. Though it does show a level of personal limitation, there.

    Of course, I’m more likely speaking of the more common gamer than the RPS person, since many people here seem to be familiar with WH40k in its original form, and thus the Imperium in its original form. But I suspect even here, amongst the RPS ranks, there is a non-trivial number of gamers who’d take offence at playing a human character who truly is unethical and completely lacking in any form of recognisable morality. It’s one thing to play a human that kills people, but it’s another to play a fascist human, a xenophobic one, and one that likes to torture and kill civilians which aren’t just emotionless rag dolls. The sort of human that could gut a mother and make the child watch.

    There’s actually an example of this that never ceases to amaze me. In Guild Wars: Eye of the North, there’s a scene where Gwen is clearly torturing Pyre. There’s no blood, because the engine isn’t designed for it, but she’s clearly beating an incapacitated prisoner, and she’s not even doing it for the information she might get out of him, she’s doing it for her personal pleasure. Even Vekk realises how sick and twisted it is. But when speaking of Eye of the North with people, very few people actually recognised that the perfect little Ascalonian was actually mercilessly torturing an unarmed person. I was stunned that I had to explain it before they twigged.

    For some reason, people are willing to have selective seeing when it comes to stuff like this. After Guild Wars: Prophecies, there are a number of gamers who wanted to believe that the Ascalonians are pure and good (when the truth is is that they’re a hell of a lot like WH40k’s Imperium, which is why I bring up this point). Being familiar with Warhammer, I recognised the elements of propaganda, fascism, and imperialism right away. But it’s something that when speaking with the regular gamer, I often have to just sit down and explain it to them, because until you lay it out for them, they don’t see it.

    So they ignore the evidence of Ascalon being evil in Prophecies, then they ignore Gwen torturing Pyre, all to hold on to the feeble notion that just because the Ascalonian lands were beautiful, and because of the twee music and the happy children, that the Ascalonians must be good, decent, moralistic people, when the reality of things couldn’t be further away from that if ArenaNet tried.

    This makes me wonder how far a person would go to believe that the Imperium are good in a game if we actually really used the Imperium as a playable race, and presented them as something that the player had to believe in and defend. How far would the average gamer go to delude themselves into believing that the Imperium are good? How many truly heinous acts could the gamer gloss over or selectively not see just to keep that belief close to heart?

    Really, I’d love to see this done with a degree of subtlety. Such as a family being dragged away in the background, or quiet screams being heard frequently in Imperial camps, with lots of cussing there, if you listen. And lost of hate speech if the player bothers to stop and listen to the NPCs. Something where it would slowly dawn on the player just how horrible they are, instead of outright hitting them with it. How far would the average player delude themselves before having to admit that the people they’re playing as, and defending, are absolute bastards?

    This is probably why most developers find the real Imperium such a risk, and this is why there was an outcry in regards to calling Ascalon out on who they truly were in Guild Wars 2. It’s funny, because I even remember an article here on RPS about how an ‘idyllic, folksy city’ or whatever terminology was used really shouldn’t have been used to denote something horrible and terrible in Guild Wars 2. And this actually got a raised eyebrow out of me. Why not? Does idyllic naturally mean good? That’s fascinating. But people were so used to deluding themselves into believing that Ascalon were true and good, that confronted with the truth in Guild Wars 2, they screamed.

    On a number of forums there was so much screaming about the portrayal of Ascalonians in Guild Wars 2, you would not believe. Really, you wouldn’t. The article I mentioned above was an incredibly muted response, but elsewhere on the Internet, people were calling for ArenaNet’s blood and trying to say that somehow ArenaNet were lying. Everything from ArenaNet being shit story-tellers, to ArenaNet being a perpetrator of terrible lore retcons was used, but to the contrary, none of this was the case. In fact, the lore books that accompanied Prophecies already had painted the Ascalonians in a bad, and somewhat brutal and bloodthirsty light, but no one wanted to read them.

    (Just as an aside, this is one of the things that amuses me about the risks in Guild Wars 2. A lot of the things that ArenaNet are doing have amused, intrigued, fascinated, or outright impressed me. And that they’re not afraid to kick their own fans in the pants if they think that those fans are wrong is just another one of those things that I like about them.)

    Anyway, yeah. The point of this is is that many gamers need to believe that the character they’re playing as is intrinsically good. If the character is simple, naive, good, and human, then all the better. The further you deviate away from this, the more trouble the average gamer has accepting the game. And when they review it, the average gamer won’t actually admit any personal failings on their own part, but they would rather say that the game is simply crap.

    Any game that featured the real Imperium would likely cause an uproar over how shit of a game it is.

    You may think that the reviews of Space Marine are bad now, but if they’d actually done what I mentioned above, and slowly made it dawn on the player that they’re playing as monstrously evil people, then they’d balk at this. They’d scream, they’d protest, and they’d act as if you’d personally struck them in some sort of way. This is why the Imperium in Space Marine, and even Dawn of War, are presented in the way that they are. People will gloss over their own character or their character’s race/faction doing horrible, unethical things as best they can, until it gets to the point where they can no longer fool themselves. Then they rebel against it.

    Frankly, I long for games that take more chances, to bring about some kind of illumination in the minds of average gamers, to even make them scream and shout about it. But it’s a risk. A game like that probably wouldn’t do so well, it might have bad reviews across the board, from gamers and possibly even critics alike. And that’s why we don’t see that in games. Though I will keep thinking that it’s such a shame.

    Maybe there’ll be some more of it in Guild Wars 2? I can only hope.

    • Dood says:

      Sorry, but is it just me, or is every single one of your posts just a wall of text completely saturated with Guild Wars references?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Not all of them have Guild Wars references.

    • ceriphim says:

      I know I shouldn’t reply to this, but really? I find it hard to believe that “most” gamers “need” to play a character who is intrinsically good. That shit is boring.

      The fun of the Imperium is realizing that you absolutely do not have any choice in life other than just trying to survive. People in real life do awful things to each other for what they perceive to be good reasons. Some people do awful things because they just want to. Exploring concepts like that is something that is fascinating to me as a person and gamer, and that I am mature enough to handle (how many people love movies like “Saw”?).

      Also – don’t throw out hyperbolic straw men like “what if an imperial dude raped an eldar?”. Seriously? That’s the most juvenile thing I’ve read in a while, and seriously undercuts everything else you write. Why not posit something equally ridiculous, like, “What if a dude in Gears of War raped a female survivor of Emergence Day? Would you still be stoked to play GoW3?”.

  39. Wulf says:

    Blargh. *pokes the comments system’s nose.*

  40. GT3000 says:

    Relic has made console games. Forgetting The Outfit? Of course you are and even if it’s true by comparison, Space Marine is their best console work.

  41. bluebogle says:

    Just a quick comment, but Bits ‘n’ Bytes Gaming is down right now (host went down or something) so the IndieCade roundup is unavailable. Sorry to anyone who was interested.

  42. Jake says:

    I don’t see why everyone thinks the Imperium are really the ‘bad guys’. They aren’t, they are just humans. It’s a civilisation that spans countless planets and includes every type of personality – even some nice ones. If you look at the good 40k fiction (with 40k as with any other immense fictional universe it seems wise to pick which bits of fiction you want to include in your own personal canon because a lot of it is just rubbish and should really be ignored) there are plenty of examples of the Imperium being good guys. More importantly, there are shades of grey. The Imperium is not all Space Nazis, it’s just people, and yeah there are a lot of bad ones but that’s how people are, we do genocides and wars and all that stuff already. It’s just all on a bigger, more extreme scale in 40k and harder for one good guy to get noticed among all the Exterminatus.

    For me personally the stories in Dawn of War and Space Marine are not my 40k, the Space Marines are presented as being far too heroic and the universe is too bright and colourful and I just don’t buy it (partially this may be down to Orks who are always a bit cartoony, bless them). For me, 40k is John Blanche artwork and inquisitors, rogue traders, mutants and heretics, the Imperium is a dusty, senile civilisation that has been around for so long it has forgotten more than it now knows. Technology is worshipped not understood and institutions exist because that’s what they have always done even if no-one can remember why. Space Marines are not the main focus of every story but a terrifying legend and for most people seeing one would be like seeing a Greek god step down from Olympus. And they are all (sort of) descended from gods. It’s a great backdrop for any number of stories and it’s a shame to see it squandered on stories about heroic Space Marines all the time. Space Marines are cool but they become dull when they are all we hear about.

    The 40k game I personally would like would be one where you play an inquisitor or similar rogue agent. Free to travel the stars and make your own mind up about things. If you want to be a religious fanatic fair enough – after all there are actual gods and demons all over the place in 40k so it’s harder to dismiss that way of thinking out of hand. Or if you want to be a genocidal xenophobe then again, I can understand that – when there are actual monsters from a hell dimension trying to eat you and billions die from alien invasions every other Tuesday. I think I would hate Tyranids too. And I can’t see many redeeming features for say, Dark Eldar.

    There is a fan game called Inquisimunda that uses Necromunda rules and inquisitors/rogue trader stylings. Make that into a PC game and we are set.

  43. TsunamiWombat says:

    On making a Warhammer 40k RPG:

    I’ve thought about this many a time. It’s actually quite easy. First, crib off of Mass Effect wholesale – Bioware is a big boy it can handle it. Your character is a Journeyman Inquisitor – you therefore have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything (in the name of the Emperor). You can use Xenos tech, even consort with Xenos if you keep a lid on it.

    The ‘paragon’ and ‘renegade’ concepts fit perfectly with the conservative/renegade scale of the inquisition, from the hyper conservative Monodominants all the way down to your *spoiler* Graegor Eisenhorns.

    As an inquisitor you have the freedom to visit a variety of locales, interact with a variety of peoples, and make whatever choices you damn well please without being summarily executed. But they need to provide consequences for your actions – the good as well as the bad. The central madness of WH40k is that they do such horrible things because they’re -necessary-.

    So if you choose not to execute the innocent cultists who worship a benign fertility diety in the forest, I want to see the look on players faces when that diety manifests as a horrible Slaaneish tree demon that grafts the wailing and suffering corpses to it’s surface as limbs and proceeds to attack the nearby village inspiring lust and maddened rage in the commoners via pyschic control, forcing you not only to kill the demon but to massacre and burn the entire village.

    Or, you could just execute the cultists to begin with and avoid all that.

    As you play the game you would slide along either the conservative or renegade plane, bringing benefits and consequences. More renegade points allows you to access esoteric and powerful pysker abilities, xenotech, and informants and resources that would normally be closed off to you. As a consequence however, more conservative Inquisitors are going to randomly show up and try to kill your ass, and the resources availible to a more conservative/pure inquisitor are close off to you.

    Conservatives on the other hand would have access to blessed weaponry and equipment, holy relics from the vaults of the inquisition, and rare arcanotech blessed by the Adeptus Mechanicus as well as other resources and informants a renegade would not have access to. However, the resources of a renegade would be closed off to you.

    The Inquisitor setup also allows you to gather a cadre of companions who may serve you loyally, betray you, or inspire mutiny depending on your alignment and the alignment of your other companions. As fun as it may be to have a Sister of Battle in your coterie burning your enemies with her flamer as she uses holy chants that passivly improve your party and debuff the enemy, she will NOT tolerate that rogue pyschic idolater whose ability to possess enemy units and then make them expload in a geyser of air-combusting blood and ichor. One of them will kill each other. This isn’t a matter of Jack and Miranda fighting in the conferance room. There is no middle ground. One of these must die.

    This will give you the ability to experiance all layers of the WH40k universe, up to and including Space Marines (if conservative enough) or Xenos (if renegade enough), and of course everything inbetween – Arbites, Imperial Guard, Eccelesiarchy, Sanctioned Pyskers, Abhumans (such as Ogryns) or even mutants.

    On Space Marines: Space Marines are not all emotionless death-monks. Many chapters do not even revere the Emperor as a god, a matter they clash with (frequently armed conflicts) with the Eccclesiarchy and the Sisters of Battle with. The Ultramarines happen to be the prototypical warrior monk-cum-ultimate warrior types that create this trope, though even they are not the most extreme (the Dark Angels and Black Templars probably win that one). Attitudes reguarding the Imperial Guard are likewise varied. There is no such thing as a homogenous space marine.

    Edit: if I double posted I apologize in advance

    • Jake says:

      So that makes at least two of us that would buy this game.

      Your Sister of Battle analogy reminded me of erm, that religious rogue from Dragon Age whose name I have forgotten. When I drank dragon blood to gain superpowers (like a radical inquisitor might do), she got very offended and we had to kill her. In fact, Dragon Age had some similarities to this game concept, there was a similar dichotomy between doing the morally right thing and doing what was most efficient in the war against the… erm evil orc things (my memory is terrible). I was initially determined to be pragmatic, but soon found myself doing some rather reprehensible deeds (sorry religious rogue lady) in order to best achieve my goal of stopping the orc things. We did slaughter that final boss though. I loved that about DA and it would totally work in a 40k setting.

  44. TsunamiWombat says:

    I’ve thought about this many a time. It’s actually quite easy. First, crib off of Mass Effect wholesale – Bioware is a big boy it can handle it. Your character is a Journeyman Inquisitor – you therefore have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything (in the name of the Emperor). You can use Xenos tech, even consort with Xenos if you keep a lid on it.

    The ‘paragon’ and ‘renegade’ concepts fit perfectly with the conservative/renegade scale of the inquisition, from the hyper conservative Monodominants all the way down to your *spoiler* Graegor Eisenhorns.

    As an inquisitor you have the freedom to visit a variety of locales, interact with a variety of peoples, and make whatever choices you damn well please without being summarily executed. But they need to provide consequences for your actions – the good as well as the bad. The central madness of WH40k is that they do such horrible things because they’re -necessary-.

    So if you choose not to execute the innocent cultists who worship a benign fertility diety in the forest, I want to see the look on players faces when that diety manifests as a horrible Slaaneish tree demon that grafts the wailing and suffering corpses to it’s surface as limbs and proceeds to attack the nearby village inspiring lust and maddened rage in the commoners via pyschic control, forcing you not only to kill the demon but to massacre and burn the entire village.

    Or, you could just execute the cultists to begin with and avoid all that.

    As you play the game you would slide along either the conservative or renegade plane, bringing benefits and consequences. More renegade points allows you to access esoteric and powerful pysker abilities, xenotech, and informants and resources that would normally be closed off to you. As a consequence however, more conservative Inquisitors are going to randomly show up and try to kill your ass, and the resources availible to a more conservative/pure inquisitor are close off to you.

    Conservatives on the other hand would have access to blessed weaponry and equipment, holy relics from the vaults of the inquisition, and rare arcanotech blessed by the Adeptus Mechanicus as well as other resources and informants a renegade would not have access to. However, the resources of a renegade would be closed off to you.

    The Inquisitor setup also allows you to gather a cadre of companions who may serve you loyally, betray you, or inspire mutiny depending on your alignment and the alignment of your other companions. As fun as it may be to have a Sister of Battle in your coterie burning your enemies with her flamer as she uses holy chants that passivly improve your party and debuff the enemy, she will NOT tolerate that rogue pyschic idolater whose ability to possess enemy units and then make them expload in a geyser of air-combusting blood and ichor. One of them will kill each other. This isn’t a matter of Jack and Miranda fighting in the conferance room. There is no middle ground. One of these must die.

    This will give you the ability to experiance all layers of the WH40k universe, up to and including Space Marines (if conservative enough) or Xenos (if renegade enough), and of course everything inbetween – Arbites, Imperial Guard, Eccelesiarchy, Sanctioned Pyskers, Abhumans (such as Ogryns) or even mutants.

    On Space Marines: Space Marines are not all emotionless death-monks. Many chapters do not even revere the Emperor as a god, a matter they clash with (frequently armed conflicts) with the Eccclesiarchy and the Sisters of Battle with. The Ultramarines happen to be the prototypical warrior monk-cum-ultimate warrior types that create this trope, though even they are not the most extreme (the Dark Angels and Black Templars probably win that one). Attitudes reguarding the Imperial Guard are likewise varied. There is no such thing as a homogenous space marine.

  45. Dances to Podcasts says:

    The logical conclusion to the whole Steam discussion is to have all these platforms obey the same standards and make them work like web browsers, so you can buy a game on one and play it on another, achievements and such being shared too.

    No, it’ll never happen, but a man can dream.

  46. Kaldor says:

    Ha, that crazy Doom-fanboy is truly someone. What he wants is the most basic first-person shooter experience possible. And every year, pushing the boundaries into ever smaller nanoseconds of reactivity, or whatever. Well, there’s no arguing with high-level tech-freaks. They’e probably wired that way.

  47. RichardFairbrass says:

    Personally I can think of 10 diffferent Wh40K games in 10 different genres I would like to see. A titan simulator would be fairly high up the list. I think what could differentiate it from your Mechwarrior style games would be the need to have a team to operate a titan successfully, making it a sort of co-op battleship simulator. Probably wouldn’t work.

  48. Consumatopia says:

    The people sending them personal email to yell at them are scum.

    But posting a comment on an RPS story is not the equivalent of being in someone’s face at the hospital.

  49. bonjovi says:

    It’s funny cause people complain about Steam closed shop, but in what state digital distribution would be if steam never existed?

    I’m sure a lot of developers would be glad with an idea of giving away 30% of their revenue for exposure Steam can give them. with little extra effort on their side.