The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on July 22nd, 2012 at 11:48 am.


Sundays are for sun! Hooray. I am going right out to bask in the electromagnetic wash as soon as I’ve finished these words. Man, I like a good dose of solar radiation. Nothing else like it.

  • The handsome artist and writer Marsh Davies has looked back at Valve’s unfinished episodic experiment with Half-Life Episodes 1 & 2: “The point of all this isn’t that Episode One is a poor game (few games do hold up to Valve’s standards) but that its apparent flaws are so diligently addressed in its sequel. The strictures of antlion combat are inverted. Your venture into their burrows sees you encounter the flighty, cautious antlion workers, whose ranged bombardment and aggressive repositioning makes for a thrilling tactical contrast with the direct attacks of the hive’s soldiers. More importantly, your companion here, a vortigaunt, takes on the role you had in the previous episode, stunning and upturning attackers – so gifting you the primary role of finishing them off. He also has a hilarious line in bathetic overstatement.”
  • Jonas Kyratzes on capitalism, indie games and the Lands of Dream: “In a way, the Lands of Dream are far more brutal than the worlds of most mainstream games. All of the games set there have a bittersweetness that I find much harder to take than the ridiculous adolescent posturing of so-called “grittily realistic” games. So maybe one reason I like them as a setting is because they are far more like the real world: colourful, crazy, full of strange creatures and people, eternal and yet changing, deeply beautiful and sometimes profoundly bitter.”
  • PC Gamer talk to the Civ II ten-year war dude: “In Civ II, things like that had enormous consequences. All of the coasts would flood and farming would be useless, and it happened over and over again – it happened two or three times before I started questioning, well, what would it be like if this kept going on? Eventually all the world’s land – the mountains and tundra – became flooded swampland. It was really neat.”
  • Split-Screen on why hand-held gaming platforms still have life in them: “The argument in favour of the handheld games console is similar to the photographer’s argument for the DSLR, or the audiophile’s defence of a dedicated music player: they just offer a better experience. Some people want a camera to take photos of their friends in a club, facial details obliterated by an overzealous flash. I want a camera to create art, as pretentious as that sounds: to convey the grandeur of Guadalest or highlight interesting architecture. Without proper depth of field on a smartphone I can’t draw your attention to an element of the scene as easily, while fast-moving animals become a smear across the phone’s sensor.”
  • Helen Lewis suggests we fix games journalism by banning the number 7: “My hope, however, is that the mania for scores is just because we’re so used to them – and, actually, we wouldn’t really miss them if they went. In the short-term, one single step would make games reviews more interesting: BAN THE NUMBER SEVEN (or anything in the 70s, if you’re reviewing out of 100).”
  • Would it hurt RPG developers to portray the full variety of humanity in their customisation options?
  • Thanks to Edge’s lack of bylines, and my appalling, overloaded memory, I don’t know whether I wrote this. But maybe. Apologies if you are the true author, but I think some of those terrible infelicities of style belong to this hack.
  • Was Max Payne 3 really not a Max Payne game? “As Payne himself says in the second game: “If you had done something differently, it wouldn’t be you, it would be someone else looking back, asking a different set of questions.” And that is what the core issue with Max Payne 3 is, in the end. It’s not about Max Payne. It’s about someone else with the same problems, dealing with them in their own way. There are many other issues we haven’t mentioned, like the highly out of place shock about the organ black market, or the redundant “Do you kill him or let him live?” prompt at the end of the game. Max Payne 3 suffers from Fallout 3 syndrome. Just how Fallout 3 was a good game, but awful Fallout, so is Max Payne 3 a good game on its own, but an abysmal addition to the series.”
  • On A Lifetime Of Hating Games: “I know there are others like me, men and women out there who feel the same way. But while sports lovers can always bond over sports (that ever-present conversational fodder is something I envy them at times) we non-lovers never head out to non-sports bars to chat about our non-love. What does it feel like to be one of the gaming-indifferent, both in relation to the culture at large and inside one’s own head? What are those of us who ignore this whole area of human endeavor not understanding about the rest of you? What are we missing out on? Is the absence of sports from our lives a net loss or a net gain?”
  • The Creative Team Behind Dishonored: “So people, I think, have devised this thing called “game” as a way of exploring conflict and exploring their relationships with conflict in a completely safe, abstract way. That’s a neat topic that we don’t sit around thinking about all the time, of course. But if you watch lion cubs bite each other and roll around on the ground, they’re not trying to kill each other; they’re engaged in some sort of conflict-based play. That’s the same thing I think we’re doing. We all find conflict fascinating. If you’re playing poker with your friends, someone crushes the life out of everyone else. It’s absolute. There’s not even a soft way to lose poker; you are crushed out of existence. So I don’t think it’s endemic to video games, or exclusive to video games.” EXACTLY.
  • Never seen this Bogost piece on Turing before.
  • Si Spurrier’s strange and NSFW webcomic, Crossed.
  • Best Kickstarter. (Sadly expired.)

Music this week is this amazing video spliced together out of shots taken from the ISS, and given pathos by the Sunshine soundtrack. The whole thing is dripping with perspective: on the size of the Earth, on the beauty of our place in the galaxy, on the vitality of spaceflight, of the ephemeral nature of, well, everything. Fuck! I mean, do you ever get the feeling you were born a thousand years to early? Or perhaps just short-changed because you didn’t get to live for ten thousand years? This sort of glorious space-travel perspective stuff really gets me in the gut. Because for all the doom and gloom and the naysayers who predict our end in the near future, perhaps we will actually just go on for eons. Perhaps we’ll all calm down and finally work together to climb out of the silty bottom layer of our tiny sphere and up into the cold black. Hell, it’s not just the glittering unimaginable interstellar spacecraft I won’t get to see – I want to look back at a thousand years of videogames, a thousand years of science, a thousand years of furniture, a thousand years of restaurants. A thousand years of things that we haven’t got names for yet. For fuck’s sake. It’s not death I am worried about, really, it’s missing out on millions of years of future possibility. Those lucky future bastards. They don’t know how good they have it.

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222 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Shakermaker says:

    Agreed on Max Payne 3. I finished it this weekend and while it’s a competent game in itself it isn’t a Max Payne game. The thing it lacked most was a sense of humor and the most useless addition was cover shooting.

    • haradaya says:

      What truly breaks the game for me is that it suffers from the same thing Bulletstorm did, the cutscenes break up all the action when I just want to play the game.
      I went through Max Payne 3 twice, and I still come back to it once in a while because I do like the shooting. It’s a desire that’s quickly extinguished by having to watch the same cutscenes for the 3rd time with no option to skip (at least not before having watched 80% of said cutscene). Shoot 3 guys, watch a minute of cutscene, shoot another guy watch another minute.

      If we talk about the story then I’ll have to agree with the article.
      I bought Alan Wake off the Steam sales, and it actually manages to feel more like a Max Payne sequel.

      I miss Lords & Ladies.

      • Premium User Badge

        Shakermaker says:

        Lords & Ladies was sorely missing from Max Payne 3. It’s a shame it wasn’t in some way included.

        • mseifullah says:

          Go back to the stadium level and look for all the TV’s to turn on. There’s a Portuguese version of Lords & Ladies in Max Payne 3.

    • woodsey says:

      ‘The thing it lacked most was a sense of humor’

      Were you playing with the sound on? There were moments when I was laughing out loud, which few games manage or attempt. (There’s a line in the stadium about his drinking arm which always gets me.) It’s not the same type of humor as in the past games, but I thought it was still very funny in places.

      As for it “good but a rubbish Max Payne”, for me it was a good game, and a good Max Payne game – just dressed in an alternate style. I can totally understand that for some people that that can mean it’s absolutely not a Max Payne game, but for me I still felt that at the core of it, Max was very recognisably the same guy. That was enough for me.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        I agree with you on the humour and that particular line about the drinking arm had me in stitches too.

        I’m not so sure about the character though. I did feel that the game could have been a new IP and it wouldn’t have lost anything from losing the Max Payne label, in terms of the plot. Outside of some levels being set in New York, there was very, very little call back to the earlier games and Max does not seem to be in the same place he was since we left him at the end of MP2. Quite a bit of time had passed, but there didn’t seem to be any attempt to fill in the blanks. The brushing off of Mona was fairly ridiculous too.

    • Radiant says:

      Max payne crashed the first 3 or 4 times I played it and I was forced, each time, to sit through the EXCRUCIATINGLY long and unskippable opening cutscenes over and over again.

      All developers need to go through this odyssey to really understand how close together having someone shit directly into your mouth is to an unskippable boring long cutscene.

      Besides that it’s an enjoyable game but at this point in time, with every 3rd person shooter using the same tools and mechanics, I couldn’t tell you what does or does not a constitute a ‘max payne’ game other than the name.

      Also I wish devs would stop giving us moral choices or even storied motivations for villains that are morally wrong in the middle of a game where I, as the hero, have just slaughtered 100-200 people through a haze of painkillers and suicide thoughts.

      If the aim of the game is to murder your way through a level don’t stand sit there with a straight face and tell me the bad guys are evil because they’ve put those dead bodies to good use.

      It’s not conflicted or pointed, all it does is tell me that you, as a storyteller, are a dickhead.

  2. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    I waited 5 years to get a Eurogamer 7/10, you’re not taking 7 away from me now! It’s mine!

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      That whole case reads like comedy.

      The lead attorney’s name is “Barry Bumgardner”

      The troll is described at The Escapist thusly “Uniloc belongs to one, Ric “The Man in the Van” Richardson, an Australian inventor who, and I quote, “does much of his thinking in his van, which he dubs the ‘DickMobile,’ near his leafy property in Byron Bay.” ”

      And then there’s the claim itself, which is as outrageous as most software patent claims.

      Oh, and in the legal document, they refer to Mojang’s game as “Mindcraft”.

      • Premium User Badge

        Jackablade says:

        Byron Bay, for those who haven’t experienced it, is known for two things – rather nice beaches and the growing and consumption of vast amounts of pot.

        • roobar says:

          And rich retires who have spent their lives working in senior management at a bank and want to act like the hippies they’ve abused as bludgers for the last 40 years
          Edit; bludgers not bludgeons

    • LionsPhil says:

      Hooray for software patents and the rubber-stamping USPTO! Awarded in 2005.

      Notch probably doesn’t have the money to win this.

      • InternetBatman says:

        He probably doesn’t if they were able to successfully sue microsoft.

  3. mr.ioes says:

    The “ban the number 7 article” makes me wonder, why isn’t it common to sum up a game, movie, etc. in one short sentence, instead of rating it? People are too lazy to read big reviews and I don’t expect any of us to be big exceptions here. So why not add a tl;dr version?

    Not that I feel like RPS needed to change anything. This is mainly something I’d wish for gamemagazines to pick up.

    I feel like a change like this is even more needed with movies. I know so many movies with 5 or 6 rating on imdb which are awesome (Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, etc), yet only a few games in that situation (Vegas 2 being one).

    ISS video was stunning.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Fun fact: That exact thing, the practice of summing up entire books or movies in once sentence, was the favored way of reviewing media in George Orwell’s 1984. It was considered easier to censor.

      We’ve been gifted with an enormous wealth of expression through human language, why should we limit ourselves?

    • mouton says:

      Exactly, numeric grading is a cancer that took over almost everything, because apparently people find sentences hard. Obliterate numbers 1 to 10, please.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I think the entire purpose of a review is to provide the reader with information so that he/she/it can make an informed purchasing decision. Of course, in practice, that’s basically not the case at all, but anyway, assuming it were, you’d think the more information provided in a review the better.

      Someone should start a site that reviews game reviews. Then you could see the inherent biases in each writer’s/site’s work and create something like Metacritic, except with all of the scores/summaries adjusted to make the information useful. If you did it right, you could probably predict the user score for a game based on the review scores.

      • Merus says:

        I think a lot of the problems we see with reviews are because they’re seen as buyers guides and not as whether or not a reviewer thinks there’s something of merit to be mentioned about a game. People don’t usually go and see movies based solely on the opinion of the critic in their local paper – generally, they either don’t care, or they check a few, particularly if they always disagree with a particular critic.

        And that’s the trick. Movie reviewers don’t score based on whether or not your $20 movie ticket is well-spent – their grade is based on whether or not a movie has merit. A film might be a cheap horror film, but if it’s an effective movie that doesn’t matter.

        RPS reviews – I’m sorry, WITs – are the same thing; there’s no talk about whether a game is worth your money. It’s always about whether a game has something to offer. Most reviews aren’t quite so high-minded, which is why treating the review as if it’s supposed to be a product guide contributes to so many problems people complain about – the 4-point scale, which comes about because honestly most games are fit for purpose; the score inflation for AAA games, which almost always have technical innovation whether or not the game is any damn good.

        Criticism is not about determining whether or not a work is worth purchasing. It’s to force a medium to take a good look at itself.

    • F. Lynx Pardinus says:

      Say you buy a Nintendo Wii. There’s about 900 Wii listings on Metacritic.
      Say Metacritic sees the light and removes the numbers from their listings and associated reviews.You now have to read the one sentence summaries of 900 listings and any associated reviews to find good games. Don’t want to read them all? Well then there’s always the chance that you would have missed a great game in the summaries you haven’t read yet.
      Contrast that with the current system–you can sort the Metacritic listings by score and come up with a list of top 40 games that are probably going to be fantastic. You can then read the textual summaries and reviews on Metacritic for those 40 games. The status quo seems like a pretty good system to me.

      • mouton says:

        Oh great, so now I will go play Out of the Park Baseball 2007, which is a second game on metacritic in the PC section (all time). Also, this Diablo 3 game is obviously extremely good, as it is first on metacritic (last 90 days).

        • MattM says:

          You are deliberately misunderstanding the above comment. He said he would read about the high scored games to see if they interested him not that review scores were all that mattered to him. And if he was interested in a baseball management sim, then Out of the Park would probably be a pretty good one to get based on its score.

        • F. Lynx Pardinus says:

          “Oh great, so now I will go play Out of the Park Baseball 2007, which is a second game on metacritic in the PC section (all time). ”
          I’m work with numbers in my day job, so a while back, I imported Metacritic scores into a spreadsheet that discounts games by 1 point per year past release. It approximates the advancement in graphics technology and game design. So I’m speculating that a 85 game from 5 years ago would probably be as fun and exciting as a newly released 80 game. It would be amusing if the Metacritic website did something similar.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Have you played Out of the Park Baseball?

          • mouton says:

            No, I hate baseball. Well, okay, i am just not interested.

            But it reinforces my point, games are defined by many factors that can have different appeal for different people. Thus giving them a simple numeric grade is pointless and misleading.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Normally reviews are done by someone familiar with the genre, so the score is usually appropriate for the genre. Not being familiar with the genre, and never having played the game, I can’t say if its good or bad.

            I could be wrong, but it sounds like you’re saying metacritic is bad because it leads to people making snap judgments, and using a snap judgment made against the metacritic score to confirm that.

          • mouton says:

            Even within genres – nebulous and shifting as they are – there is no single metric. You can have a shooter with great mechanics and fun explosions but bland story and dumb characters and a shooter with bland/buggy mechanics but brilliant story and atmosphere. Each game can be easily judged in drastically different ways, depending on what a player wants.

            You can easily split those aspects even more – for example Dragon Age Origins has great dialogues and characters, but uninspiring generic plot and an entirely forgettable final boss. Again, this will make one person proclaim the game awesome and another will say it is “ruined”.

      • Vorphalack says:

        But there are more ways to categorise games than score alone, for example by genre, by PEGI rating, by developer / publisher, etc. Scoring is not standardised even between reviews from the same critic, never mind between different publications. It’s also common knowledge these days that publishers will encourage artificially high scores from reviewers using review embargoes or exclusivity deals, so meta scoring is always likely to be artificially high for AAA titles. I’m sure it would be possible to create a filter system to let people search based on personal preference rather than an untrustworthy and subjective score system.

        • F. Lynx Pardinus says:

          “I’m sure it would be possible to create a filter system to let people search based on personal preference rather than an untrustworthy and subjective score system.”
          Many sites, like GameFly, Amazon, and GameSpot, have “Based on this, you may also like” recommendation systems, with widely varying results. I’m not sure that any of them are that highly regarded or used, so the recommendation problem is probably harder to solve than you’d think.

          • Vorphalack says:

            But scores are also flawed in the same manner. There is no consistency, and as i’ve said before, we now have industry interference tainting the system. I’ve stuck to user reviews for years now, and if you get a large enough sample they generally steer you right. I suppose it all depends on how much you are willing to research a purchase before buying. Scores just don’t do it for me, I always want more info.

    • MattM says:

      I am pro review scores. They need to be accompanied with a written review but they have their uses. By looking at the review scores from a few trusted sites I can get a quick idea of how successful a game I am interested in is without spoiling details. If you are looking back for older games they can be good way to filter out the top games of a certain year for closer inspection. The thing I like best about scores is that they force reviewers to make a final call about the game. Many written reviews list various strengths and weaknesses but hem-and-haw over how much those affect the overall enjoyability of the game. The score forces the reviewer to classify the game as “one of the years best,” “pretty good,” “good with problems,” or “bad.” I am not looking for a review to be a in depth critical discussion (I would save reading that for after I have played the game myself) but to be buying advice and a rough description of high points, low points, and technical issues in the game.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Exactly. The problem isn’t numerated scores, the problem is publishers putting a price on those scores and their willingness to resort to payola in order to get those scores.

        • qrter says:

          You say the problem is publishers, but if you spend any time on gaming forums, you’ll be astounded by how many consumers accept that system – I can’t count the times I’ve seen people making statements like “I won’t even consider buying a game with a Metacritic score below 70″.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            If the publishers weren’t (ab)using the system, then consumers wouldn’t be accepting it. Simple as that.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I find sites like Metacritic useful for the user reviews that actually go in depth about what parts of games were liked/disliked. Matching those up to my preferences will often let me know whether I would enjoy the game or not. Professional reviews generally tend to be less useful, in part because the reviewers often have not played the game at any length and are just reporting surface impressions or Goshwowboyoboy stuff. Initial reviews of Oblivion being a stellar example. Reviews from someone who has played the game more deeply are more useful to me. They also sometime cover things that the pros ‘forgot to mention.’ Checkpoint saving, gross UI failures, repetitive gameplay, etc. Or even good gameplay, but of a type I don’t care for.

      Oh, and OP, your movie tastes are…..suspect.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I definitely agree with this. I’ve mentioned it before, but PC gamer gave rave reviews about Mass Effect 3, and then a few days later published an extremely negative article about combat readiness and multiplayer.

        I wish I could find a single, reliable reviewer who reviews games about 3 months after they’re released. Support and content are more important than the number of bugs in an initial release to me.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Oozo says:

    Also very much of note: Charlie Watt’s fantastic interview with “Dr Wasteland”, DayZ’s first folk hero and guerilla medic. The guy is fascinating on his own, but the fact that the interview was done in-game makes it even more worth reading:
    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/07/the-healing-touch-dr-wasteland-brings-hope-to-day-zs-grim-world/

  5. 2helix4u says:

    Maybe I’m a pessimist but Humanity getting off planet would likely be in response to us exhausting Earth, if we get spaceflight early enough to escape environmental collapse we will not learn our lesson and spread locust-like across the galaxy harvesting worlds and moving on.
    Then we meet the typical psychic alien master race who purge us with blades of pure thought.

  6. NathanH says:

    I’m tired of all the complaining about review scores and metacritic. If you aren’t capable of seeing the use for them, fine, don’t look at them, but don’t try to spoil it for the rest of us and don’t try to pretend it makes you smarter.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jackablade says:

      The problem arises when developers getting paid what they’re owed is dependent on the highly nebulous aggregate scoring system.

      It is my professional opinion as an occasional game developer that anyone who tries to institute that kind of system needs to have their head put on a pike.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I absolutely agree. I look up metacritic scores for strange games and then read the individual reviews. They’re not always right, but they’re normally helpful to the consumer.

      • mouton says:

        It is useful if you know how to use it, but I constantly encounter people invoking the metacritic score as a proof that some game is good or bad. I would thing this creates negative trends, like the whole Obsidian bonus for FNV debacle, as well as burying flawed but innovative games while further elevating bland AAA titles with inflated reviews.

    • dE says:

      The main complaints against scores come from a simple thing.
      People know very well, before reviews have been put out, whether they’ll be buying a game or not. They then proceed to scavenge the internet for bits and pieces of confirmation for their opinion. People look to have their opinion confirmed, not swayed. Metascore speeds up that process, fuelling the rage from opinion disharmony much faster.

      Semi joking aside (I actually believe that’s what most people do), I’m pretty much in doubt there’s such a person that only ever looks at metascores and not some reviews as well. The scores are estimates, for detail you need to dig into the reviews.

      I feel in the end it’s the same old story about how supposedly every gamer is stupid. It’s the assumption that no one knows how to deal with this or that. You know that ridiculous self loathing gamers have come to show in recent years and which surfaces in many places.

      • mouton says:

        Problem is places like Steam Store, where you would have to click through to get to the actual reviews, while initially you only see the Metacritic score.

        • InternetBatman says:

          On the other hand, it only takes two or three clicks to see a selection from a bunch of critics, not just the same two or three you’re familiar with (although no RPS does hurt it). It’s much easier to see a large body of reviews on the item you’re considered than a google search. I’ve found that the Steam metacritic link has almost always made me a more informed consumer.

          • mouton says:

            Perhaps I have a pessimistic view of the human population, I bet most people never click through.

          • dE says:

            Now that part about the pessimistic thing, that I’m inclined to believe. You’re not alone on that one. :P
            That xkcd Comic sums it up nicely: http://xkcd.com/610/

        • dE says:

          “Read Critic Reviews” is right under the score though. I don’t think that’s too far a stretch to be honest.

  7. Cinnamon says:

    I’ve got some sympathy for minorities who want to see people like them as leads in RPGs and featured as something other than token characters.

    But with all the examples and pressure being on Bioware it sort of makes me think that the main problem with their games recently is that they already feel like they are too much, “all things to everyone.” That’s not saying that there should be a backlash against political correctness or that people should be ignored. Just that often what I want is a more focussed experience where not everything is a metaphor for everything else. Perhaps even a game that focus groups don’t understand or find too hard.

    • NathanH says:

      One problem with diversity options is that no matter what you do you can’t avoid making a statement. So if you don’t want to make a statement about something, the best you can do is leave it out.

      You can see something similar in the homosexual options in Bioware games. Homosexuality rarely appears except when it’s an option for the PC, and when it does there tends to be not much said about it. This is a pretty clear statement to me: “We don’t want to make any statements about this, we’re just including the options for the benefit of some of our players”.

      I don’t think we should criticize RPG makers for wanting to avoid making statements about real-world social issues, particular in fantasy games where if they want to make allegory they can do it with made-up stuff like elves anyway. If they want to make statements then that’s also fine. But we should acknowledge that everything you do in fiction is making a statement about something, whether you want to or not.

      • Cinnamon says:

        Well, if they can’t handle a sensitive topic or properly represent a group then they should avoid trying to do so and looking like clowns. But attempts at “slick” evasion of issues where they try and fail to deflect attention or appear to be all things to everyone is just bad. It’s like on one hand you are saying you are really cool at representing diversity because you have straight, gay, xenomorph, robot and house plant nookie in your game but on the other you brush off race by saying that in your game there are no more races because melting pot.

      • JehuGarroutte says:

        I’m not totally certain you read the article, to be totally honest.

        How on earth is it “making a statement” to allow somebody in a sandbox game/RPG to design a character that looks how they look? I mean, if I (a white dude) want to make my character look like me, it’s amazingly easy. In almost any game, I can get right down into the uncanny valley and see myself. But if, say, Lance Reddick decides he wants to make his character look like him? Tough shit, man. The sliders don’t go that dark. It’s super weird, and pointlessly exclusionary.

        I also have some beef with the idea that a white-washed story isn’t making a statement all its own, but that’d get digressive in a hurry.

        • Koozer says:

          As mentioned in the article, modifying DA:O to give dark skin tones messes up the textures to the point where people look like they have a rare illness. I have a feeling it is just easier to implement a range of ‘really white’ to ‘a bit less white’ for the sake of keeping base textures working nicely. It keeps lighting issues simpler too. It’s the same issue as with body fat in RPGs; having a truly overweight character would mean new body and equipment models, you can’t just stretch the ‘normal’ ones.

          It’s just hard for them to do more than one section of humanity, and as Caucasians it’s easier for them to make everyone white. Oh, and they’re incapable of doing curly hair in any variety other than afro.

          May I now take a moment of your time to complain about the lack of left-handedness in games? God it annoys me so much. Link of Legend of Zelda fame used to be left-handed, until the Wii came along and they flipped it to make the controls feel more natural for righties. Thanks a lot Nintendo, not only did you destroy about the only left-handed character ever, you made the game harder for me to play on purpose.

          • JehuGarroutte says:

            Eh, I feel like that’s a copout. I’ve heard people, with a straight face, use the same excuse to defend whitewashing in cinema. “It’s too hard to light really dark skin.” Thing is, it’s only hard if you’ve never tried it and don’t know what you’re doing. The fact that videogames have so little experience with dark skin tones that the tech can’t even light it is MORE damning, not less.

          • Koozer says:

            I’m not trying to excuse them, just to point out it is more likely lack of effort and resources put towards these issues, rather than any malicious intent. But how hard can it be to flip the animations for lefties..? I’m honestly interested if anyone has any animation experience here.

          • Phantoon says:

            Games marketed at white males from 14-28 are primarily bought by white males 14-28.

            Who knew?

          • Reapy says:

            Minorities are called minorities because they make up a smaller segment of the population. You are a souless company that wants to make as much money as possible, whom do you market your game towards? Most likely the majority. That is why everything in AAA land is bland and lacks a strong point of view, from the game design to the story, to the characters you offer.

            I do hate people that don’t think there isn’t a cost associated with each asset you put in the game, esp in RPG’s when you need to homogenize the main characters so all the models, textures, and animations that are created and tested in all configurations work for every possible variable that a user puts on that slider.

            That isn’t easy to do, and no, it is not a cop out because whatever shaders/textures they created for the game don’t look good when the colors are too dark.

            Again, I think it just comes down to broad coverage, you make a set of light skinned textures you can cover latino, ‘light’ african american, whites, and asian, where as to grab dark african americans you are going to need to create a whole other set of skin textures.

            I guess I just get annoyed and feel like people are just over reaching to make statements where there aren’t any. There are plenty of things wrong with how big companies build to marketing/sales data, but I don’t think there is some guy up there ordering down to his dev team “NO BLACKS IN MY GAME!!! AAA”.

            If you want to fight the fight i think its better to focus your time on plenty of still real world cases of racism and judgment plenty of people still participate in here in the US, rather than getting pissed because bioware didn’t want to spend 500,000 dollars generating perfect character customizations for every possible race in the world, in a game with dragons and elves.

            I guess I’m reiterating arguments but man, not everything is a message. Writer needs good material for oppressed race of elves, where do you think he will borrow stuff from? The same place everybody borrows from, history.

            Eh anyway, articles like that will always appear because its easy to have an opinion on them, hence, traffic. I am just one more person biting.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            This argument about “making it for the majority” is bizarre.

            Where I live, whether you define this as Oakland, California, the United States, North America, or PLANET EARTH, there is is *no* racial majority. On this blue pebble, we do not have a majority of any racial group, even if you subscribe to the idea that there are distinct racial groups (which is also false).

            Once you start to see that you’re suggesting that it’s natural for them to design for a specific minority, and one that doesn’t even biologically exist, you can start to realize that it’s just a reflection of a cultural phenomenon, and one that is pretty awful.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Don’t forget that the engines games use are not doing real time raytracing – it’s incredibly difficult to accurately render darker skin and make it look natural without a effects which would cripple lower end machines – I’m not saying it’s not possible to do if you build your engine to do this from the beginning, or add it in as an option for the higher end machines but it’s certainly not as simple as slotting in a darker texture.

          If you can’t provide the accurate skin tones, is there any point in providing the physical features which match those tones?

          P.s – I am a darker tone that most games provide and when games do provide my skintone, it looks horribly unnatural and matt. My best friend is a character artist, he had shown me what needs to be done to make darker skin look natural, it is substantially more processor intensive.

          • cHeal says:

            Yeah I’ve seen some engines handle darker skin really really badly but actually some below it the real nail on the head. As you get very dark, you have to come up with a whole new facial model. Which actually means creating “races” which is requires further resources. In the end, they represent their major markets, and what people expect too. Because most fantasy is based on European mythology, the archetypes are generally white to tan rather than being black and so even players who are black or asian, expect from their western, european based fantasy worlds, mostly white people.

            Simply put, if more people ask and demand and expect greater ethnic representation it will come. That’s business. But as long as they don’t see a strong correlation between lose in sales and under representation of minorities in their games they will not spend the resources on it. It’s business.

            In the end, why are RPG’s being singled out? For the reasons I give, Fantasy RPGs don’t actually have to include black people or asian peopel or whatever because they follow on from a certain tradition. There are however many other games out there which not only don’t provide the option to be black but horribly stereotype black characters as “gangsta’s”.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @cHeal – You are spot on in everything you say, I guess rpg’s get picked on because traditionally they have offered the most comprehensive character customisations, and in some of them you really are supposed to place yourself, or who you wish to be in the fantasy world.

          • Apples says:

            cHeal: so while it may be morally, ethically and socially correct to include minority representation, it will not happen because it is not financially viable. Meaning that the problem boils down to capitalism, but is still, in fact, a problem. a lot of people here are going “yeah but it’s HAAAAARD you have to make new resources and everything!” while completely overlooking the fact that that a) is no excuse for ‘white male’ ALWAYS being the default, and b) just reveals an even more endemic problem, that our ideology is based on catering to the terrible majority, exploiting or ignoring minorities, and cutting corners as much as possible.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            so why don’t they make the main character Black and not give white options?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Eddie9000 – Sadly because the game wouldn’t sell as well. There is only one game I can remember that had a black lead character – Urban Chaos and it didn’t sell well despite being a great game and well received. Not that this sample of one proves anything.

          • Janto says:

            Off the top of my head, these Resident Evil 5 screens don’t look that bad – you can clearly see paler=hotter logic in the female character, but the background characters seem fairly convinving, if not super dark. But maybe it’s my own prejudice/perceptions (genuine question)?

            As for the picking on RPGs angle, well, why not? They’re the counterpoint to the Uncharteds of the gaming world, typically giving you some freedom to define your character. Why not go as far as is feasible? Yeah, it’s possible your fiction might rule out certain shades of people – I don’t expect too many black Vikings in the Banner Saga – but when you’re building your own world and mythology, that’s hardly a valid point – you’re sending a message by what you choose to include and exclude as setting appropriate.

          • cHeal says:

            Apples: Do you even know what Capitalism is? Becoming Socialist won’t MAKE people want to be black people in their Western RPG’s, all it would do is make it more difficult, more expensive and less rewarding to make the game in the first place. Games should be made for artistic endeavour, so market forces are a problem in sofar that they interfere with that artistic endeavour. However you’re coming from an even more dangerous place, wanting black people in that art because you believe the artist has some moral responsibility to have ethnic minorities included.

            That is dangerous. At least market pressure represent what people want, and can be ignored by the artist. Great art can always contradict trends and still be great and still be successful. But your line of thought sees us introducing laws or possibly even enforced social conscience which would see our game industry, film, books and music all come under the authoritarian fist of the “Politically Correct”.

            I’m sorry, but Western, European RPGs do not need to represent all ethnicities. They are based (mostly) in theory in Europe whether they be completely new fantasy worlds or Tolkien based. I’m not against black people being in games. I had a red guard character in Skyrim and it didn’t make the game all of a sudden. I am against the rabid idiots who try and shove this crap down our throat. Games should be seen as art first and foremost and not as opportunities to “represent” minorities or address “socials ills”. If the artists want to address “social ills” I’m afraid it is their choice, not the choice of some jobsworth quango-phile.

            non-white characters will become more prevalent in games because of 2 different factors. 1: The people making the games will want to make games with non-white lead characters. 2: The audience will want to play games as a non-white character

          • Premium User Badge

            Kasper says:

            @Sheng: GTA San Andreas sold more than 20 million copies – with a black protagonist.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Janto – nothing wrong with your perception, they look great :)

            @ Kasper – Ahh, I played GTA 1, 2 and 4 hehe, guess I missed that one, well it’s good to hear that!

          • chackosan says:

            What I found weird when playing Mass Effect 2 was that they had black NPCs, but they wouldn’t let the player be one.

        • NathanH says:

          I meant to add that not including something in a game is making a statement about it too, but I was in a hurry and I forgot. It’s usually something fairly benign like “we don’t want to get involved in this issue” though.

          As for the question of the race of the PC in RPG or sandbox games, I think it’s not unreasonable to restrict the player to the set of races that are represented in the game. It’s not unreasonable to not restrict them either, although it can be a bit odd. Like, you can make a Baldur’s Gate character with very silly skin and hair colours, and nothing in the game reacts to it. I think that’s OK, but some people might find it a bit odd.

    • mckertis says:

      “I’ve got some sympathy for minorities who want to see people like them as leads in RPGs and featured as something other than token characters.”

      I wonder, do wheelchaired people, or someone with manic-depressive really want to see people like them as leads in RPGs ?

      • JehuGarroutte says:

        Yes. So?

      • Cinnamon says:

        Bipolar and wheelchair bound heroes, sounds like the X-Men.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I like rpg’s and many other games because they help me forget about my wheelchair!

      • Brahsef says:

        Max Payne WheelCh4ir

        On a serious note though, games are messing up on this. My roommate usually has only one legitimate looking black character to play in the most open ended of character creations. While I have a vast ocean of choices. The worst is when a game has dark skin options but nothing other than white facial figure options and white person hair choices. The end result is some dr frankenstein creation

        • Eddy9000 says:

          I would say the worst is when the black characters that are presented as options are athletic and strong at the expense of intelligence. Morrowind, I’m talking about you.

          • phelix says:

            And in Oblivion, Bandits were always quite likely to be Redguards (AKA black people). Something (un)intended here?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            In both Oblivion and Skyrim – and this may just be my memory and perception deceiving me here – I remember bandits being roughly 50% Khajiit, which kind of fits with the lore.

      • Premium User Badge

        Thirith says:

        I wonder, do wheelchaired people, or someone with manic-depressive really want to see people like them as leads in RPGs ?
        Yes, because that’s exactly the same thing. 1) A sizeable proportion of humanity sits in wheelchairs, just like there are billions who are black, 2) being black also has repercussions on personality and behaviour the way that being manic-depressive does, and 3) being black means that there are certain things you can’t do, like people in wheelchairs can’t really run or jump hurdles. Sigh.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          White people can’t jump

          IT WAS A JOKE!!!

          *Takes cover*

        • Eddy9000 says:

          “3) being black means that there are certain things you can’t do, like people in wheelchairs can’t really run or jump hurdles”

          I think you might have to explain yourself a little better here.

      • spectone says:

        Yes and no. I have bipolar, I would like to see mental illness properly addressed in some games. However in the majority of games, I don’t care. There seems to be no real point to it. Inclusion for things like illness and behaviour seem odd.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      “with all the examples and pressure being on Bioware it sort of makes me think that the main problem with their games recently is that they already feel like they are too much, “all things to everyone.” That’s not saying that there should be a backlash against political correctness or that people should be ignored. Just that often what I want is a more focussed experience”

      Sure thing, so you wouldn’t complain when the story focusses on a main character that’s in a wheelchair? This reminds me of the gay-characters ‘controversy’, people often defended the lack of inclusion by saying a game can’t be ‘all things to all people’. Perhaps we should have a look at the social attitudes that make straight people uncomfortable if they are only given a gay character to play, or make able bodied people uncomfortable if they were only given a main character in a wheelchair. Why wouldn’t anyone want to play characters who are gay, black or disabled? That’s the real problem.

      Just as an aside my favourite characterisation of a character in a wheelchair in video games was Harman Smith in Killer7.

    • Gira says:

      Hey, guys, remember when RPGs were about interactions with player and non-player agents and elegant character development systems and not whether or not you were Emotionally Immersed with your fucking one-armed hydrocephalic intersex mulatto bad grrl with a heart of gold avatar which you spent 16 hours carving out of raw polygons?

      • Cinnamon says:

        In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only identity politics and narcissism.

  8. frenz0rz says:

    Dont worry, Jim. If every single person on the planet were to suddenly pool their resources and invest everything in transhumanist technology, that would allow the few of us rich and important enough to afford it to ascend from our fleshy shells and observe the cultural, technological and biological transformation of humanity for aeons – until some unpreventable cataclysm, unknown or otherwise, wipes our species clean from existence and there is nothing and nobody to observe.

    Reckon you’d be able to afford that on a games journalist’s wage?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      You’re reading that wrong. I’m not interested in the fantasy transhumanist life-extending crap, I was talking about a wider perspective of what will actually happen to humanity across 1000 years.

      • frenz0rz says:

        Oh no, I understood what you meant. I just figured that transhumanism or something similar would be the only way that you could observe and experience humanity for such a long period and look back on all that cool stuff. I’m not into transhumanism myself – while Deus Ex style things like artificial limbs will be a real benefit in the near future, I think those who cling to dreams of the singularity or some other bollocks simply do so because they’re terrified they’ll eventually cease to exist.

        • MattM says:

          That seems like a reasonable thing to be worried about and hoping for an alternative isn’t dumb even if it is a bit unlikely to occur in the next 50 years.

      • MOKKA says:

        Why not think about it in another way? In 1000 years people might be saying: “Ah those lucky people back then who witnessed how all of this started!”.
        Of course this depends on whether or not technology acutally ‘progresses’ in a same manner as it does now. Personally I think, we’re going to hit the ceiling pretty soon, simply because we only have limited ressources on this planet.
        By the way, I’m not buying anything of this transhumanism crap. People should rather learn to accept who they are, instead of running after some kind of quasi-religious pipe-dream.

        • frenz0rz says:

          Those lucky people back in Renaissance Europe, they got to see how it all started!

          And then they died at 40 of some horrible disease that they couldnt cure. Or old age.

      • Shuck says:

        But we have a thousand years of art and written culture to look back on now.
        “Hwæt. We Gardena in gear-dagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon, hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon…”

    • Cinnamon says:

      1000 years, pffft. Where is Olaf Stapledon when you need him.

      • Rawrian says:

        There’s always not enough Olaf Stapledon. In the meantime I can accept some Charles Stross though.

    • Arglebargle says:

      ‘Even 500 years would be pretty nice.’

  9. Johnny Lizard says:

    On the bright side, we have something those pesky future-humans can never have. Diablo 3. And tigers.

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      Future people will have future robot tigers. That can talk. And thanks to future genetic engineering, a thrilling future live action addition to the Diablo story, Diablo 756. It’ll still have an RMAH, but it’ll be a future RMAH.

  10. frightlever says:

    You should probably tag crossed as very NSFW. But I agree it’s a great strip.

    • Salix says:

      Crossed is just nasty. Garth Ennis is a genius but sometimes he just comes up with stuff that goes waaay too far.

    • iGark says:

      As soon as you click it the website bombards you with warnings, you don’t actually ever read a single comic until after you see the warning.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      It’s potentially illegal in the UK. I at least would like some warning of that aside from saying “over 18 only”

    • JFS says:

      I went in, thinking “yeah, only for adults, extreme entertainment, how bad can it be”… VERY bad.

      • Skabooga says:

        Warnings like that almost always mean the work in question isn’t for me, but DAMN MY MORBID CURIOSITY! Parts of ‘The Road’ made me nauseous, what did I expect!

    • Yosharian says:

      I think it’s quite brilliant, but I will admit it’s partly due to a certain morbid fascination with the artwork. Hey, don’t look at me like that.

      I also love the webcomic Freakangels which is linked to this comic, I think the writers are buddies or something.

  11. Imbecile says:

    mispost!

  12. Rich says:

    Half-life 2: Ep3/Half-life 3 better not be bloody online! There’s enough of that social nonsense already.

  13. Yosharian says:

    “perhaps it’s here that Episode 2 struggles to escape the dustier conventions of the series; can Alyx continue to convince as a companion when the player’s verbal interaction with her is nil, when the critical events surrounding her can only advance by immobilizing the player? Though Gordon’s silence has been made something of a joke, it’s an unmistakable hangover from an earlier time, and jeopardises Valve’s growing dramatic intentions.”

    I stopped reading there. Guy doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah that’s entirely backward. His silence is part of the reason the games story is great. I guess it’s just inferior to shooting innocents in an airport.

      • Zwebbie says:

        DrGonzo: Look at the shift in Valve games, though. The original Half-life had Gordon as a blank character for you to fill in, and ran with it. They only showed him on the box art because they had to (this was the ’90s, it was the law). In Half-life 2, the silence is changed from necessary gameplay evil to a commented upon character trait (which is absurd), Alyx mentions that Barney and Gordon would race in vent crawling or something along those lines, giving a backstory and character. And the other characters talk, and talk, and talk. In the last years, Valve has been experimenting with PC and NPC interaction a lot. The avatars in Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead can rival a lot of singleplayer protagonists in talkativity.

        So whether you think a silent protagonist is better or not, Valve certainly hasn’t been elevating the art of silence since Half-life and I, too, don’t think they’d have gone for a blank cypher if Half-life was made in 2007 or 2012.

        • Yosharian says:

          There’s nothing absurd about it, it’s a humorous nod to critics of the mute protagonist.

          TF2 and L4D2 are not like Half-Life 2 in any way – flawed comparison.

        • subedii says:

          So whether you think a silent protagonist is better or not, Valve certainly hasn’t been elevating the art of silence since Half-life and I, too, don’t think they’d have gone for a blank cypher if Half-life was made in 2007 or 2012.

          Man, Portal 2 was release just last year.

          Last I checked I had a hard time finding… well… any publication not lauding it for its characters, writing and dialogue.

          I’ve also yet to find anyone say that the game was terribly lacking and so much worse off because Chell didn’t say anything. Almost every FPS character with a voice that I’ve played has sounded like an inane twerp, and I can’t say that the addition has endeared me any more to either the characters or the story.

          For that matter, you’re taking one (literally one as far as I can remember) throwaway comment about the character and turning it into an issue when it was just a minor joke.

          • Zwebbie says:

            I haven’t actually played Portal 2 myself, so that’s a tricky one, but it was my impression that people prefer the original because it’s less talky.

            Personally, I prefer the original Half-life, partially for its less talky nature. In the second game and its episodes, I often stand around while people are having conversations and informing me of their crazy fun personalities and all I can do is jump around a bit to wait until they’re done. Increasingly, the world gets talkier, and Gordon’s still a mute. Neither is wrong on its own, but there’s a growing dissonance between the two, in my opinion. Feel free to disagree, though, that won’t keep me awake at night :) .

          • Yosharian says:

            @Zwebbie That’s fair enough, everyone has a right to their own opinion. It didn’t bother me though, and I was thinking about this last night when I was playing through KotOR – perhaps it’s because I’m used to a mute protagonist style from all the old school RPGs I’ve played, like Baldur’s Gate, KotOR again, etc.

    • sinister agent says:

      Don’t be such a fanboy. It makes a great deal of sense. Exploring a relationship with someone is pretty damn hard if one of them literally never communicates with the other. Or with anyone else. However well you write around it, It’s hard to escape the likelihood that any real person would eventually get sick of it and ask what the hell the guy’s problem is.

      • Yosharian says:

        More flawed logic. Half-Life 2 is a video game. A video game is not a relationship.

        • sinister agent says:

          … and the part of the video game we’re discussing is the player/character’s relationship with Alyx. Did you even read your own post?

          • Yosharian says:

            But it isn’t a relationship. Alyx is not a real person, and you’re not having a real conversation with her.

          • sinister agent says:

            It seems like you’re either being deliberately obtuse or you don’t understand what drama is.

          • Yosharian says:

            You’re trying to apply the rules for a real relationship ‘a relationship without conversation would be weird’ but this is a video game. Real life relationship rules don’t apply here.

            Having a mute protagonist encourages the player to think for themselves and imagine what they would be saying/thinking in this situation. (It’s called ‘immersion’)

            Players that have only played Gears of War are not used to this type of thinking, so they whine that a mute protagonist is ‘boring’ or whatever.

            It is arrogant beyond belief, and also ignorant, to presume that Valve’s design decisions are based on outdated or archaic videogame restrictions, and even worse to then proclaim that it ‘jeopardizes’ Valve’s ‘dramatic intentions’ (how facile).

            The truth is that mainstream publishers are scared shitless of alienating non-gamers with things they are not used to, hence the reliance by most triple A titles on movie-style voiced characters that leave nothing to the imagination. There’s a tendency towards videogames that are nothing more than glorified interactive movies, and it sickens to me to see the one developer still getting it right to be lambasted by ignorant bloggers.

          • Phantoon says:

            A relationship doesn’t have to mean dating. In fact, in base terms, you could say an object is in a place in relationship to another object. And you know that.

            Don’t be like that.

          • Yosharian says:

            I never said it has to mean dating.

          • sinister agent says:

            @Yosharian

            You’re trying to apply the rules for a real relationship ‘a relationship without conversation would be weird’ but this is a video game. Real life relationship rules don’t apply here.

            No I’m not. I’m applying simple principles of drama to a series that has increasingly prevalent elements of drama with every iteration. Developing drama depends on relationships, which is difficult to do when the protagonist never communicates. It constrains where the relationships can go, which limits the dramatic potential.

            The rest of your tedious strawmen I’ll just leave outside to rot where they belong.

          • Yosharian says:

            Yes, it seems that that’s the only way you can exit this discussion gracefully.

            The fact remains that a mute protagonist encourages projection of a player’s ego onto the main character, where as talky protagonists that engage in conversations as you suggest mean the player is observing Cool Things Happening To Other People (i.e. a movie).

          • sinister agent says:

            Honestly, you really have no right to talk as though I’m the one debating poorly. You still haven’t addressed what I actually said, and are still putting words in my mouth. Crown yourself king of the mute protagonists by all means, but when you start taking any discussion of that concept as criticism, and then start misrepresenting it to make it easier to dismiss, you do little but make yourself look unreasonable.

          • Yosharian says:

            Of course I addressed it. YOU are the one trying to steer this discussion off-topic by presenting this concept of ‘drama’ and then claiming that Half-Life doesn’t satisfy some arbitrary criteria. If that isn’t a straw man…

            HL is a VIDEOGAME and VIDEOGAMES cannot be criticized using the same criteria as other media, they require a new set of rules and those rules should not explicitly state ‘main character must not be mute otherwise drama can’t happen nyah nyah’.

            I have played many games with a mute protagonist and I was fully immersed and involved with all the drama. And I’ve played many games where the protagonist wasn’t mute, and instantly distanced myself from the character because it wasn’t ‘me’.

          • sinister agent says:

            Of course I addressed it. YOU are the one trying to steer this discussion off-topic by presenting this concept of ‘drama’ and then claiming that Half-Life doesn’t satisfy some arbitrary criteria. If that isn’t a straw man…

            How on earth is discussing the very point that you yourself quoted “off-topic”? Answer: It isn’t. Relationships are a core part of drama, and relationships are harder to develop when half the relationship never communicates. This is what I have repeatedly said, and what you have repeatedly ignored, misrepresented, and then flat out dismissed as “off-topic” when you’re the one who bloody raised it with your original quote.

            You haven’t addressed this. You’ve ignored it and instead starting bleating about Gears of War this and triple A that and claiming I said things that neither I nor anyone else here said.

            HL is a VIDEOGAME and VIDEOGAMES cannot be criticized using the same criteria as other media,

            For the nth time, It’s a series of games that incorporates elements of drama, and has done so more with each new game in the series. Like it or not, this is a fact, and capitalising words that you like doesn’t change it.

            And nobody’s criticising them anyway – we’re simply discussing the drawbacks of sticking to one feature the games include. I guarantee you that even Valve would openly acknowledge that drama is harder to pull off when your main character never says anything. Hell, I’d be surprised if they haven’t already. Get a grip.

            they require a new set of rules and those rules should not explicitly state ‘main character must not be mute otherwise drama can’t happen nyah nyah’.

            Oh, and grow up and learn to read what people actually write, and discuss them like a reasonable adult while you’re at it, instead of reading and responding to whatever it is the magical dancing elephant in your head is writing. Christ.

            I have played many games with a mute protagonist and I was fully immersed and involved with all the drama. And I’ve played many games where the protagonist wasn’t mute, and instantly distanced myself from the character because it wasn’t ‘me’.

            Wonderful! Good for you. It’s still completely irrelevant.

          • Yosharian says:

            We’ll just have to agree to disagree here, I think.

          • sinister agent says:

            Fair enough!

      • Soon says:

        You’re providing the other side of the relationship as the player, Gordon would be a third wheel. You can have him say whatever you want and then your actions follow through.

        I’m sure most people have told annoying characters to shut up, or swore at them when they do something stupid. Same sort of thing. Now, I don’t think that was ever the original intent with Half-Life, but it kind of works.

        • sinister agent says:

          It can certainly work, but it has rather harsh limitations, and in many ways can limit the dramatic potential of a game. That’s one example of how half-life 3 (or 2 episode 3 part 1, whatever) may be limited by a feature that dates back to a time when it was more of a technological necessity than a conscious decision.

          It doesn’t mean it makes a sequel impossible or a silent protagonist unworkable, but the point the article made is that it is a constraint that causes some problems, and I think that’s perfectly a valid statement.

          • Yosharian says:

            No, the mute protagonist allows for a much stronger personal experience. You are Gordon Freeman.

          • TariqOne says:

            Aren’t you the same guy who thinks the Witcher games, with their talky protagonist and “glorified interactive movie” approach to so-called RPGs are the greatest thing ever? Now you’re violently arguing some absolutist view that blank-slate protagonists allow for a “much stronger” experience?

            You will pretty much say whatever pops in your head and then defend it to the bitter death, won’t you?

          • Yosharian says:

            I never said that Geralt being ‘talky’ enhanced the experience did I? I’m just lucky that Geralt happens to be my alter-ego. I’ve always wanted to bang every woman in sight and slay monsters with my pinky.

            The Witcher series isn’t the most immersive if you ask me, and players that don’t like Geralt’s character may have quite a problem getting into the game. If I recall, wasn’t that one of the main problems we discussed?

            Anyway, there’s no need to drag that discussion into this one. It’s counter-productive.

        • Skabooga says:

          It still presents a limit to characterization and interaction among characters because even if you provide in your mind what Gordon is saying, the other characters in the game have no idea what you’re saying, and thus cannot respond accordingly, so it not only hampers Gordon’s dramatic presentation but those of the other characters around him as well.

          For example, one of the characters could say, “Gordon, will you help us raid the Combine citadel?” You could respond in your mind for Gordon, “Hell, no! That’s dangerous and not likely to work!”, but the other characters will react as if you graciously accepted to help them at considerable risk to life and limb, and the game forces you to go and raid the citadel. There is already a level of characterization of Gordon at play, and from a certain point of view, it does approach the absurd to not formally recognize this with dialogue involving Gordon.

          Keep in mind, I immensely enjoy Half-LIfe, and for future installments, I would not mind if they kept Gordon silent or gave him dialogue, both ways have their merits and can be done well. I just hope that at some point in the future, one of the characters mentions that Gordon was born mute and communicates with a complicated system of winks and eyebrow wiggles.

    • Kadayi says:

      Marsh Davies is the same unrepentant Valve apologist who wrote the ‘devs owe you nothing’ article a few months back that caused such a stir. Apparently if you bought episodes 1 & 2 on the basis that Valve were going to conclude the trilogy by the end of 2007 (as they originally stated when they announced them), you’re not actually a customer in his view (because you’ve not paid for episode 3), and therefore have not rights to inquire as to where it is. I have to wonder whom, if not the very people who bought episode 1 & 2 the audience/customer base for episode 3 is exactly? I mean it’s not like episode 3 is akin to Fallout 3, where in the story is tangential to the earlier games and you can just dive in.

      It was a strange and frankly troubling proposal by him tbh (as was the level of vocal support given to it by a lot of gamers), and rather a pity that no one else in the ‘professional’ gaming press had the balls to call him out on it . Plain truth of the matter is, if we apply this idea that the customer has no right to question unless money has been exchanged to other arenas of business its core absurdity becomes abundantly apparent. If you went into a restaurant and ordered a three course meal off the menu and the final course wasn’t delivered in a timely fashion after you’d finished the second in essence Davies is saying you have no right to complain about the Kitchen staffs tardiness because you’ve not yet paid for the food. Technically right perhaps, but you’d be hard pressed to find many people who’d support that perspective. There are many things to admire about Valve, but their hubris is not one of them.

      • MattM says:

        I think that there is a space between legally actionable and totally ok. I don’t think you should be able to sue valve in a class action suit for failing to deliver episode three but I do think its reasonable to complain a bit about them selling the first chapters of a story and then abandoning it without an end. Or to criticize the decades long intermission in their story as being detrimental to good storytelling.

        • Kadayi says:

          Pretty sure no ones taken legal action against Valve over the non appearance of episode 3. I’m not too sure where you people pull these ideas from tbh.

          • MattM says:

            Spend some time in places like the steam forums. Some fans are crazy, some call for legal action others get pretty nasty. Look up what some people have said about the possibility of George Martin dying before finishing his current book series. The “You don’t have any legal right to episode 3″ argument is often set up as a strawman by fans defending valve from any criticisms involving the delay of ep 3. Heck its happening below on this board.

      • Johnny Lizard says:

        George RR Martin Gabe Newell is not your bitch.

        • Kadayi says:

          What’s George R.Martin got to do with anything? Half-life wasn’t the sole creation of Gabe Newell, it’s the creation of a large collective (he didn’t even write it). Assigning the somewhat dubious privilege of the auteur to the work of a company with a couple hundred staff and an extremely healthy bank balance (thanks Steam) is nonsensical. The reason people gave Martin shit is because he publicly said DwD would be out in short order, same deal with Valve and episode 3. If either of them hadn’t given time lines in the first place then people wouldn’t be giving them grief. Plain truth of the matter is, and as I stated in my earlier post Valve actively promoted the whole episodic model on the basis of fast turnaround to be wrapped up by the end of 2007.

          Any other developer out there if a release is going to slip actually make a habit of informing the public of the delay and proffer a revised date. Using the example of the restaurant, if the Waiter says the food will be half an hour how much time do you think Gabe Newell’s going to wait past that before inquiring where it’s at? Dudes not paid for the meal yet, but he dares to ask when it’s coming? What an ungrateful SoB. He should be privileged that he’s even allowed to eat the food in our restaurant.

          • Phantoon says:

            You meant to say “entitled”, because the drivel that Bioware pushed out in response to laziness was the same. Except that people had already paid for it. So actually that’s not the same thing at all. Like having a urinal cake in your soup, and being assured it’s a new urinal cake, while sidestepping the fact that it’s still a goddamn urinal cake in your soup.

            I’m glad episode 3 hasn’t come out. It couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations at this point.

          • Kadayi says:

            Pretty sure if I was going to bandy around a nonsense phrase like ‘entitled’ I have used it.

            As regards you being glad it’s not come out. I find that a curious statement tbh. I’m hard pressed to think of a game ever that’s exceeded peoples expectations.

      • Yosharian says:

        Seriously? Your gripe with the HL2 series is Valve didn’t deliver a third episode “as promised” (where?)… That’s just dumb.

        • The Godzilla Hunter says:

          Uh, something being incomplete is a legitimate complaint.

          People bought episode 2 understanding that the story would be continued, as Valve said it would. YMMV on whether that counts as a promise, of course.

          • Premium User Badge

            jaheira says:

            Even if it was a promise that doesn’t mean other consideratons are not relevant. Maybe they finished Ep.3 already and decided it wasn’t good enough. Would you have wanted them to release it just because they said they would? Personally, I’d rather wait till they get it right.

          • Yosharian says:

            Did they? I didn’t.

          • Kadayi says:

            @Yosharian

            So you’re quite happy if Valve never release Episode 3 then yes? You’re perfectly content for them to leave the conclusion of the half-life story unfinished? For someone who seems to be such a ‘fan’ of the series I find your lack of desire to see the conclusion faintly bizarre tbh. This notion that you’ll happily sit there while Valve release anything but EP3 or HL3 for the next 15 years doesn’t smack of someone whose actually that invested in the game at all tbh.

          • Yosharian says:

            Of course I’m invested, but I have a ton of other games to play, not to mention the fact that I have a ton of problems in real life to sort out / mull over and get nowhere with. I don’t really have the time or inclination to get upset over some game I played 5 years ago that ended on a cliffhanger. Honestly, when I see that final part of Episode 2 I just think “that’s a fucking amazing ending to a game”, and yeah it’s a cliffhanger, but what a cliffhanger.

            When Ep3/HL3 finally arrives, I’m going to enjoy the shit out of it. Until then, it’s not like there is a dearth of good games to play. I have a mountain of games sitting in my Steam library waiting to be played as it is.

        • Kadayi says:

          My gripe? I expect people to hold to their word, or if they are unable to deliver proffer a revised schedule. Going from having a date to radio silence doesn’t cut it. Also offical source as you seem to be a skeptic: -

          http://uk.gamespot.com/news/half-life-2-episode-one-gold-two-dated-three-announced-6151796

          End of 2007 as stated. Yes sure we all know about ‘Valve time’ and that delays are part and parcel of the company, but even then the slip between episode 2 and 3 is kind of a joke that long since wore thin.

          Personally, as a fan I think there’s an expiry date on the particular storytelling approach of the series and unfortunately I kind of think its likely run it’s course as other developers have taken up the mantle and moved the medium on I’m not really sure there’s that much room for silent protagonist with a rucksack of guns and linear game play as there used to be, and I think likely be increasingly hard to operate within those constraints and not seem somewhat antiquated. Now that’s not to say I want to see Gordon Freeman talking or for episode 3 to feature co-op, but I’d like to see the series concluded on a high note rather than left open ended and unfinished as it has these last few years.

          • Yosharian says:

            Your way of thinking is utterly ridiculous. The only thing Valve have to deliver on when they release Episodes 1 and 2, is Episodes 1 and 2. They don’t ‘owe’ you Episode 3.

          • Jimbo says:

            Even if they use the carrot of a complete trilogy of episodes in order to sell Ep. 1 and 2? (I can’t remember if they actually did that or not – I’m not sure if I was even born when Ep 2 came out.)

          • Yosharian says:

            Everyone is saying this and offering no evidence whatsoever that it’s true.

            And even if it were true, it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference. If Valve want to delay HL3 for another 15 years, that’s their problem. It’s not great, but in no way are they offending you or your consumer rights. How ridiculous to argue otherwise.

            And furthermore no carrot is necessary to warrant the purchase of the HL2 episodes – they are absolutely brilliant games in their own right.

          • Kadayi says:

            @Yosharian

            In all seriousness go back to when they announced the entire episodes trilogy back in 2006 and read the language coming from Valve across various gaming site in interviews and articles. They were very much pitching the whole episodic model (which was a novel departure from full games + expansion packs) as a new approach to development. Take some time to read up on things before letting the ‘Valve can do no wrong’ fanboy in you take over.

          • Jimbo says:

            Of course it would make ‘the slightest bit of difference’. Don’t be silly.

            The first two episodes are great at what they are: the first two episodes of something. If we’re now supposed to consider them as a whole then they are narratively incomplete. People bought the beginning and middle episodes on the understanding that the ending would follow within a reasonable timeframe. Valve sold them a bill of goods.

            “Episode One, released at retail outlets and via Steam® on June 1st, is the first in a trilogy of episodes that will conclude by Christmas of 2007.” -June 8, 2006, Valvesoftware.com

          • Yosharian says:

            But there WILL be a Half-Life 3 at some point, it’s merely that some patience is required. And the current lack of a game does not make Episodes 1 & 2 bad, or any less deserving of praise. Really, it’s not like Valve have said ‘sorry guys, we can’t be bothered with Half-Life anymore, Ep 2 is the ending’.

            But kudos for actually finding some evidence about their initial intentions, I’ll give you that.

          • MattM says:

            Right, it’s only been pushed back a few months, where is your patient people? A six year gap in the middle of a story is detrimental and getting tired of waiting becomes pretty reasonable as the years go by.
            I want ep 3 to be good AND somewhat timely. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

      • Premium User Badge

        PikaBot says:

        This is a rather strange complaint. You paid for episodes one and two and for that you received…episodes one and two. You can certainly be disappointed by how long the third is taking, but saying that you have somehow been ripped off or bamboozled when you got exactly what you paid for strikes me as bizarre.

        Personally I’m content to wait as long as it takes. Valve moves slow, but they move slow because they don’t release half-baked projects and they don’t set themselves arbitrary deadlines. In an industry with more sad tales of promising games crashing on the shores of fixed deadlines, and being rushed out the door half-baked, than you can shake a stick at, I’ll pick ‘slow but steady’ every time.

        • Kadayi says:

          It’s not a complaint, it’s merely a reduction of Mr Davies earlier article. Run through what I said about the restaurant earlier on and put some thought into it.

  14. LionsPhil says:

    And the longer the game remains in development, the greater step-change is required.

    Valve should really talk to 3D Realms about that.

  15. mandrill says:

    We may already be immortal. The Singularity is Near. Save your envy for when you know your card is about to be punched and your bucket about to be kicked. :D

    • Premium User Badge

      Dilapinated says:

      And by the same token, save your dismissal for if it ever actually happens?

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        The burning question, of course, is will we get the rapture or the singularity first?

        I’m taking bets.

  16. onodera says:

    Why should fantasy RPGs include black and Asian people if there’s no Africa or Asia? Yes, Shepard should be able to get kinky hair, because s/he can actually be a distant descendant of Africans, but in Dragon Age the Muslims have horns and the Byzantines murder children to keep them at bay.
    These black people should come from somewhere. If they simply live in Ferelden, why haven’t they been assimilated and turned everyone’s skin the colour of milk chocolate? If you try and include these cultural or religious reasons in the game, you’ll have to adjust the gameplay. Why is House Cousland the only black dynasty? Or do you restrict this background only to whitish characters? Where do your black characters come from, then? Do they suffer any prejudice because of their origins? What will Rev. Jesse Jackson say about your portrayal of black characters?

    • JehuGarroutte says:

      This argument carries little weight. There’s no Europe in the fantasy worlds, either – but ACTUAL Europe was considered “worthy” of being converted into a fantastical version. Other regions, other people, were not deemed interesting/valid/”safe” enough. So there was still a decision, whether conscious or not, to value one region/people over others. That’s sorta the point of the article, in my opinion; realizing that the world doesn’t start and end at white people, and that acting like white people are the Default Race Forever is kinda messed up.

      • onodera says:

        But if you base your world on Medieval Europe, then white people are likely to be the default race. You can have a multitude of races, but then you need to explain why they haven’t all intermarried (especially if you actually have romance subplots in your game), and this opens a whole can of worms that fantasy RPGs keep closed by turning “races” into distinct species, which aren’t human and can be stereotyped easier than real races.
        Characters in an Earthsea game wouldn’t be all white (even though some movies forget about that), but there’s a nice skin-color gradient right there in the setting, Kargs are white, people from Way are black, and there are cultural and geographical boundaries that keep them apart. I know Le Guin herself has criticised the faux-Middle Ages of Europe as the default setting, but if it’s picked, why should you expect to be able to play as a black person if your origin story is that you are from Ferelden?
        An all-original setting is hard for people to get into with no familiar stereotypes to grab onto (many people imagine Homeric Greece while reading Earthsea books), and picking a fantasy Africa as a setting isn’t easy: there’s much less cultural baggage of history lessons, fairy tales, and existing fantasy works. This means it’s easy to get something terribly wrong, especially when there are race-conscious watchmen like this blogger. Making one of existing stereotyped European countries black could be an answer, but this still means your Fereldan would be white.
        I guess it could be hard to identify with your character if you’re non-white and he/she is, but people can identify themselves with a yellow circle that eats pills or with an ork, is it really that big of a problem if almost everyone in a single medieval country has the same skin tone?

        • JehuGarroutte says:

          “You can have a multitude of races, but then you need to explain why they haven’t all intermarried (especially if you actually have romance subplots in your game), and this opens a whole can of worms that fantasy RPGs keep closed by turning “races” into distinct species, which aren’t human and can be stereotyped easier than real races.”

          This, and the subsequent two paragraphs, can be boiled down to, “Yeah, but diversity is harrrrrrd.” Which, I ain’t exactly brimming over with sympathy for someone who takes the easy route out instead of trying to address a legitimate problem with the medium. Progress is never easy.

          “I guess it could be hard to identify with your character if you’re non-white and he/she is, but people can identify themselves with a yellow circle that eats pills or with an ork, is it really that big of a problem if almost everyone in a single medieval country has the same skin tone?”

          It’s a problem, yeah, because it ain’t equal. If EVERYONE was pretending to be an orc or a yellow circle, and that’s it, fine. But when you see, with every game you play, that other real-life folks are represented, and you’re not, it gets bothersome. Like they’re worthy of representation, and you’re not. That they’re heroes, and you’re not. That people like THEM get to save the world, but people like YOU never will. That shit takes a toll, man.

          • Phantoon says:

            Things will never be equal, because Orkz is da best. Resta youse lot just muckin’ about.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        I think the main problem is that people default to the Standard Fantasy Setting (or a Modified Standard Fantasy Setting) which is based off of medieval Europe and European folklore. Thus, the main nations will be based off of European nations, thus white people. People have been reusing the same setting for a long time, that simply making everyone black would seem incredibly tacky (hey look, we have DIVERSITY aren’t we so original! Sure that is the only different thing we’ve done, but BLACK PEOPLE!!!!) and people don’t like making entirely new settings.

        The main problem with the industry (or whatever you call it) is not racism/under-representation, but lack of creativity.

        • Shuck says:

          Lack of creativity is certainly a problem, but the fact is that the “Standard Fantasy Setting,” which largely derives from Dungeons & Dragons is not entirely based on Mediaeval Europe. There are actually a lot of Asian and Middle Eastern/African elements as well. Not only that, but even Mediaeval Europe was more diverse than the Standard Fantasy Settings are. So the Standard Fantasy Setting is actually significantly “whitewashed.”

    • mckertis says:

      ” Where do your black characters come from, then?”

      Who needs Ferelden, we have black Atlanteans in DC universe ! How can you possibly get black skin when you live underwater ??

      “acting like white people are the Default Race Forever is kinda messed up.”

      “Default Race” where ? Ever notice how in Japanese media its Japanese always saving the world ? And every alien race in the universe visits Japan first ? And have you seen Chinese TV ? Think there are many white people on it ? At all ? You’ll be lucky to see a token rich white rival in some romance drama.

      • Shuck says:

        Except as the article points out, Japan – a relatively ethnically homogeneous country – is much better about diverse characters in their games than the games made in Western, ethnically diverse countries are.

        • Terragot says:

          Bullshit, I am yet to see a Japanese game that champions the use of Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Semetic, East Indian, American Indian, Eskimo, Polynesian, Micronesian, Australian black or native New Guinea.

          The only race they ever use is Japanese and African American, whop they will then decide to write as a bundle of stereotypes.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            Wtf are you talking about, main characters in Japanese games are always white-European or white-American!

            I think you need to get back in your box.

      • qrter says:

        So the argument now is: other countries/cultures are shit at this, why shouldn’t we?

        Good grief.

    • cjlr says:

      That argument actually carries a lot of weight. The human spectrum of a setting is a large part of establishing it. onodera’s points about Dragon Age are all true. Anywhere you go on earth you’re still gonna find that most people are similar looking to each other and less varied than the species as a whole – the exception being our shiny new immigration-heavy global cities (hi, Toronto!), which are not possible without modern transportation and communication technologies.

      So it’s not really a counterargument you’ve got there, JeguGarroutte. It’s a parallel argument. There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a fastastical setting that is extrapolated from a particular (perhaps somewhat narrow) range of human history.

      It is, however, VERY wrong to only ever do so with part of human history (ie renaissance Europe) as you so rightly point out. I grant that it is probably, in part, a matter of exposure – a European setting is more familiar to, er, people of predominantly European descent and cultural background. As in, most video game developers we’re exposed to. To the extent that I’m aware of, east asian devs take a similar course. If the decision IS conscious as opposed to unconscious I think that’s mitigating; but I’d wholeheartedly agree that people should try harder.

      Of course, if we ever had a great RPG set in principate Rome (a man can dream), we could have jet black Upper Egyptians hanging out with ghostly pale Caledonians, both complaining about the weather in southern France.

    • Dominic White says:

      I’m reminded of the Nightfall expansion campaign for Guild Wars, set on the continent of Elona. It was a blend of African and Arabic styles, with a dash of Egyptian, and many of the characters were dark or dusky skinned.

      Naturally, 95% of the player characters the started out in this region were white as the driven snow, because people are terrible.

      • JackShandy says:

        An alternate hypothesis: White was the first available option, and people are lazy.

        • The Godzilla Hunter says:

          I heard that some people don’t spend incredible amounts of time creating the perfect avatar. That they even *shudder* go with presets.

          • Dominic White says:

            If I remember right, the default skin tone on Elonian characters is a few shades darker than average. Likewise, characters starting in Cantha (the asian-inspired continent) have a similar situation behind them.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      If it’s a fantasy game why should all the characters be white in the first place?

  17. EPICTHEFAIL says:

    Alright, who opened the transhumanist can of worms? I personally support the concept. The only issue is how it would be applied: a capitalist approach to such a powerful technology may well result in us nuking ourselves back to the stone age. Coupled with the fact that this could also lead to such exciting stuff as true sapient AI, another massive paradigm shift similar to the industrial revolution, etc. I`d rather live a bit longer than be “satisfied with where [I am]” as some idiot further up the thread put it. The future is far too interesting to worry about what might go wrong and ignore the stuff that might not.

    • Skabooga says:

      The thought of living to 100 years of age scares me more than the thought of dying at 80, living longer than that would just be tedious. But for those who are interested in extending their life, I say let them have at it if they wish.

  18. Armante says:

    Thank you for the amazing video link to the time-lapse footage from the ISS, Jim.
    Truly beautiful, and coupled with that piece of music it brought a tear to my eye.

    I do wonder if I was born too soon sometimes. To travel to space, through it, encounter the fantastic future as I have enjoyed the last 30+ years of my life, from Star Wars on.. Ah..

    If I won one of those ridiculously large lotteries that make people multi-millionaires, the ISS is the place I’d buy a ticket to.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You’d probably have better odds of getting into space being born 40, 50-ish years earlier. The youngest person to have set foot on the moon is now 76.

      There’s still no particularly compelling reason to go back, and no practical way to go further.

  19. mispelledyouth says:

    That comic is compelling, disturbing stuff. I’ve read such asinine drivel in the web comic field in the past it put me off the notion entirely ( xkcd notwithstanding, of course ), but I’ve just read Crossed in one sitting and am thinking that there must be some other good stuff out there. Anyone care to make any recommendations?

  20. Jimbo says:

    I say we ban ’7′ entirely. Fuck that number.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      you can’t ban lucky numbers, you will regret this!

  21. Schmitzkater says:

    That kickstarter guy brought a smile to my face.

  22. Premium User Badge

    corinoco says:

    Every single link was worth reading. Every one!

    And yes, I was born at least 1,765 years too early. No AI, no ftl, no anti aging, no cure for myopia that doesn’t involve butchery, ridicule or 16th century inventions.

  23. webwielder says:

    What are these open-world first-person shooters that Davies is contrasting Half-Life to? Dead Island? Borderlands? I’ll keep my linearity if that kind of boring trudgery is the alternative.

    Unless we’re talking Metroid Prime here…

  24. Synesthesia says:

    Yeah, i already miss the future quite a lot. Looking at the sky tends to do that.

  25. MadTinkerer says:

    You know what I hate? Too many books.

    Shit. I don’t have time to read all these books all the time. There’s books by Wodehouse and Chaucer. Rowling and Austen. Twain and Dickens. Pratchett and King. All kinds of novels from all eras. Shit. Am I really going to read all of these more than a few times a year?

    Then there’s the programming books. Stroustrup just won’t stop cranking out books on the language he invented like the jackass who invented Klingonese. And how many books on BASIC and SQL and Assembler do I really need? Fuck.

    Game Guides. Goddamn Game Guides. How many times I have to play through Chrono Trigger and I don’t even read the book anymore?

    Then there’s the RPG books. Oh yeah: a whole shelf of oWoD Mage, another shelf of D&D 3 and 3.5, and almost a whole shelf of Savage Worlds plus all the miscellaneous systems. Toon 3rd edition AND both supplements.

    And then there’s the paperbacks of all kinds. Yeah, the above were only listing the full-size hardbacks (and some softcover)! I can’t read all of these more than once in a year!

    Man, if I could just toss them all out and start over…

    I wouldn’t be able to read them ANY TIME I WANTED TO. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias aren’t the only kinds of reference books. Hammers and screwdrivers aren’t the only kinds of tools. Cars and motorcycles aren’t the only kinds of vehicles.

    Games that you own are reference materials. They are there, and you can use them without having to buy them because you already bought them. You don’t have to borrow them from a friend because you own them. Maybe you’ll never get around to playing Hammerfight, but it came in a bundle with four other games that you play all the time. Maybe you’ll never get around to finishing Penumbra: Black Plague because you are fine with sitting in place and never going down the corridor to find out what creature is making that noise* and Dear Esther is so much more relaxing.

    I’m perfectly fine knowing that some of my collection will likely never be played by me due to lack of time. On the other hand, that lack of time is due to employment. If I wasn’t employed, I wouldn’t be able to afford any reference materials. Buying “extra” games is not wasteful. I can choose to play any of them whenever I wish, and so I pay for the ability to access them any time I want. The sale is limited time. The games are, theoretically and practically, forever**.

    *Actually, it’s a T-junction and I can’t tell which way the noise is coming from. Yes, for those who have played the game, I’ve barely started. Fuck you, Frictional Games, I’m sitting here forever and I’ll be fine because you didn’t simulate hunger or thirst. I am not getting any closer to that noise.

    Meanwhile, in another world, me and my three pals will be running around shooting zombies that don’t sit around and make scary noises. And I will be just fine.

    **And if something horrible ever happens to Valve and I’m cut off from the games I haven’t backed up, there’s always piracy. Publishers may bitch about pirates, but most pirates care more about preserving software for future use than publishers do.

  26. Radiant says:

    EVERYONE must get:

    Ghost Recon +
    Ghost Recon Desert Seige
    Ghost Recon Island Thunder

    From the tom clancy pack in the steam sale.
    They are PC shooting at it’s VERY finest.

    EVERRRRYONE

  27. Alexander Norris says:

    Just how Fallout 3 was a good game, but awful Fallout, so is Max Payne 3 a good game on its own, but an abysmal addition to the series.

    This man is a very silly man.

    • Kadayi says:

      So insightful

    • Gira says:

      Yes, anyone who doesn’t think certain games are worthy additions to their lineage due to being completely functionally different to previous entries is just a silly billy. Good old RPS.

  28. Premium User Badge

    Dilapinated says:

    Hey guys, unrelated to the article, but: Primal Carnage beta applications are now open.

  29. Phantoon says:

    Wait. So people flip out if black dudes are around with no explanation of how there hasn’t been enough intermarrying to have just one race of people, but no one considers the settings that don’t have black people have white people living in jungles and deserts where their skin would eventually take on a darker tone/sunburn all the goddamn time?

  30. phenom_x8 says:

    wrong reply. My bad.

  31. Premium User Badge

    PikaBot says:

    I think the Episode One and Two retrospective is off-base in a lot of ways. For one thing, at least for me, the Citadel sequence is not the most memorable part of episode one. It was good too, but what really got me was the underground sequence with Alyx, particularly the waiting-for-the-elevator climax. Running through dark corridors, working with Alyx to stay alive, all of it developed and sold me on Gordon’s relationship with her more than a dozen voiced cutscenes could have. Not to mention it got tense as fuck.

    And honestly I think the final line is garbage. Half Life has never been about showing off stunning new technology, the source of perennial delays in Duke Nukem Forever or Doom 3. Valve’s selling point (with the Half-Life series, anyway) has always been the craftsmanship they put into level and scenario design, the way they stage linear events, their understanding of how to manipulate the player to allow strong telling of even simple stories in an interactive medium. And virtually nobody is innovating in these areas, particularly not in the FPS genre. Whatever Half-Life 3 (or Episode 3, or whatever it’s titled by the time it’s released) throws at us, it’ll probably knock our socks off.

  32. crizzyeyes says:

    On the subject of the number 7, I agree and find it pretty obvious that the decimal rating system is quite flawed. Ratings below 6 seem to be reserved for terrible games, and the numbers assigned there seem more or less trivial.

    I do think, however, that reviewers who use the five-star system tend to put out a more logical rating according to their review. Hell, even G4′s X-Play, despite how much I may disagree with one review or another, seems to match their rating to their opinion — three stars at least means “worth playing, even if it has flaws,” which equates to a 6 on a decimal review, which for most reviewers is “mediocre to the point of skipping the rest of the review.”