The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on March 24th, 2013 at 12:26 pm.

Oh God. I'm actually using Internet explorer to write this. INTERNET EXPLORER. The world is mad. Jim owes me bad, he really does.
Sundays are for wondering why you sent Jim a link to a story last night, prompting him to mail asking you to do the Sunday Papers tomorrow as Walker and he are on planes. Still – probably worth Jim owing you a favour, so you talk your parents’ barely functional PC into accessing the RPS WordPress back-end and see if you can collate a few of the finer pieces of games-related reading from across the week for the RPS readers’ entertainment and try not pay tribute to two awesome pop bands who took their final bow this week in a cheery attempt to annoy those terminally addicted to invigorating drone.

Failed.

.

125 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    In the absence of Jim’s music of the week, may I suggest: ‘Bonobo – The North Borders’

    released early because some **** at a radio station leaked it, it’s a truly astonishing piece of work that will most likely end up being my album of the year already.

    • BreadBitten says:

      No please, let me do the honor…

      ‘Soundgarden – A Thousand Days Before’

      …off of their astonishingly good post-reunion record ‘King Animal’. It’s like a trek through an Indian desert, while it’s raining codeine-tinged Skittles!

      • Seraph says:

        Alright, you won me over with that description.

        • wormlake says:

          Jace. I just agree… Marvin`s comment is nice… on monday I got a top of the range Ford Mustang since I been making $8513 recently and over $10 thousand last-munth. this is definitely the most-financialy rewarding I’ve ever had. I actually started eight months/ago and pretty much straight away started bringing in over $74 per-hour. I use this web-site,,,, http://www.Fly38.COm/

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Ah, thanks for the reminder on that one. Downloading now.

        Codeine-tinged Skittles — I like the sound of that.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Actually I think you’ll find music this week is the new one from Sigur Ros.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc6zXSdYXm8

      Also goodbye Girls Aloud, you had some mediocre ballads but all in all some fantastic upbeat pop songs. Sound of the Underground is still the best 1st song from an act that won a talent show.

      • McDan says:

        Agree with you 100%, Sigur Ros are amazing and I’m not ashamed to say I did like a few Girls Aloud songs.

    • Jac says:

      Bonobo wins.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Look, we all know Jim would be listening to something like this.

      Bleeps and bloops and robots. All the good shit.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Thanks for mentioning this! Been listening to the single for a while, looking forward to the whole album.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      searching for that I came across this video for Cirrus by Bonobo and was surprised by the amazing visuals, never seen anything quite like it.

  2. BarneyL says:

    Warning the Kotaku article contains pictures of Richard Garriott. May not be safe for work.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Rikard Peterson says:

    Internet Explorer. And since you describe the PC as barely functional, I imagine that it’s not the latest (actually decent) version of it either. Jim does owe you bad. (And I won’t list the things that went wrong in the formatting of links and such.)

  4. Trithne says:

    I understand why the commonly held belief is that Dishonoured’s spiritual predecessor is Thief, and it’s certainly Thief’s bastard offspring, but I always held that Dishonoured’s primary parent is Deus Ex. It’s basically Victorian Deus Ex.

    • Bedeage says:

      Sort of agree with you, but it is perhaps more likely that they both influenced the Dishono(u)red team.

      • dE says:

        Statements like these are a bit odd to me. Dishonored is primarily a spiritual sequel to Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. The way the map layouts are designed, the feel of the combat – including the blocking mechanic, the way you overhear conversations, the Stealth Gameplay when you bother with it, heck entire skills have been copy pasted from Dark Messiah (Dark Vision, Vitality, Blood Thirst to name some).
        If anything, Dishonored plays a lot like Dark Messiah had a bump with Bioshock. I see very little Thief or Deus Ex in Dishonored to be honest.

        • Premium User Badge

          Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

          I should retry it, I failed so hard trying to play it like Thief, but Dark Messiah remains one of my favourite games so I shall see if I can play it as brutal combat.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    So it turns out that the one week I email Jim with some Sunday Paper suggestions is the one week he doesn’t do it. I’ll just leave them here, then.

    Puppygames’ Cas on indie development costs:
    http://www.puppygames.net/blog/?p=1369

    Team Meat’s Tommy Refenes talks DRM/SimCity/Piracy:
    http://tommyrefenes.tumblr.com/post/45684087997/apathy-and-refunds-are-more-dangerous-than-piracy.

    Cactus and Dennis Wedin talk about the making of Hotline Miami (video):
    http://venuspatrol.com/2013/03/fantastic-video-the-making-of-hotline-miami-a-bonus-catline-meowmi-megamix/

    As for music, I think I might be able to satisfy both Rossignol and Gillen’s tastes with this.

    (Failed?)

  6. TillEulenspiegel says:

    as they viewed its educational approach towards the issue of sweatshops as somehow inappropriate

    Sort of. They have a blanket policy against ‘controversial’ apps or games: “We view apps different than books or songs, which we do not curate. If you want to criticize a religion, write a book. If you want to describe sex, write a book or a song, or create a medical app.”

    In Apple’s universe, games are explicitly prohibited from dealing with serious issues that might make someone uncomfortable. Yet bizarrely, they’re perfectly happy to sell books and music and movies which cover the same topics. Because reasons.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      It is frankly bizarre isn’t it?

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      The American branch of Nintendo had a similar guideline for quite some time, mostly the 90s. This often lead to very strange forms of censorship. Here’s an interesting read about it: http://www.filibustercartoons.com/Nintendo.php

      • Ravenger says:

        I had a more comprehensive copy of those guidelines when I worked on SNES games back in the 90’s. I wish I’d kept a copy because they were unintentionally hilarious, and interesting from a historical perspective today.

        In particular I recall that in addtion to the no church rule (you could have temples, or sanctuaries) that if a character worshipped in a temple that they couldn’t pray – they could only meditate.

        Also if there was a bar or saloon in the game a character could only ever be seen to drink non-alcoholic drinks.

        The most controversial rule was the ‘no blood’ rule, because it seemed to be inconsistently applied. One game I worked on had little tiny characters fighting, and there’d be this little red puff of blood when they caused damage – they were only a few pixels big, and not exactly realistic or gratuitous.
        We had to change those to yellow dust clouds. Yet games from high profile publishers were released which had similar blood hit effects, but uncensored.

    • LionsPhil says:

      This is basically what the article is saying.

      That Apple are censoring bastards kind of goes without saying. Apple make no odds about being the draconian overlords of their little playpen and if you buy into iProducts that’s what you’re supporting and what you’ve got to sit down, shut up, and take.

      That games are second-rate citizens to other media in being seen as able to handle Serious Issues is a wider problem, though.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      There was an article here about Phone Story not too long ago was’t there? Pretty much covered this same point.

      Very strange reasoning from Apple. If they’ll sell songs criticising them, why not games? I’m inclined to believe it’s simply because indie games (especially those with a political point) are so niche they can get away with it. The big bands/writers who might make the same point probably sell far more copy.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        If apple restricted iOS users to music or books from their own store, they would put a sizable dent in sales. When the day comes that the inability to access games except through their own store is restricting sales, you can expect their games store to gradually ease it’s curation, in my opinion!

    • Leonard H. Martin says:

      It’s a fucked up world we live in where mass killing and violence in video games is seen as an uncontroversial norm, and yet the exploitation of people – and especially of children – for the purposes of capitalism is a deemed so controversial apps get pulled.

      But then again: Foxconn.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        In regards to the latter: Really it only took me about a second to go from a raised eyebrow to laughing at the news of Apple banning a game that explores the mentalities and methods behind low-cost manufacturing.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        Yeah, pretty much. Any specific motives Apple might have are less interesting than the cultural norms they’re enforcing. Refusing to take a position is itself a position. Refusing to allow discussion discourages thought and upholds the status quo.

        I’m sure Apple thinks of themselves as neutral – the trouble being that “neutral” (from the perspective of an American company conducting normal business) is kinda fucked up.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      It’s really a symptom of a bigger problem. Gatekeepers (the same goes for Windows 8/phone/consoles/legal systems like patents/etc) basically pre-define the “area” based on their own prediction and understanding.

      Just thought up some completely new idea? Well, if they don’t understand it you’re either on your own, or your going to have to jump through so many hoops you might as well have not bothered (and even then, if they catch up with the “concept” you may find they try and shut you down afterwards anyway… e.g. ISPs throttling legal torrent technology).

    • Henson says:

      The deal with ‘curating’ by Apple, I think, has less to do with games, and more to do with apps. They own the distribution method, so they feel justified in determining what stays and what goes. It’s sort of like a printing company refusing to publish lewd magazines, except in this case there are no competing printers to go to when the first one says ‘no’. In any case, I certainly don’t agree with Apple taking down this particular game – their criteria seem far, far too stingy, and the game creators’ hearts seem to be in the right place.

      It’s also interesting to see similarities to when the FCC determined that broadcast radio and television were inherently different than established media, so they needed censoring.

      • Consumatopia says:

        Broadcast signals are inherently different from other communication, because the government has granted a limited number of private entities exclusive rights to broadcast over the public’s spectrum. The most important kind of coercion that the FCC engages in is not how they restrict people with licenses, but that they require you to have a license at all. It is reasonable for those of us without licenses (almost all of us, of course) to demand that those with special, government-granted privileges be required to use them for public benefit as a condition for keeping those privileges.

        Coming up with an analogy to the app store that actually makes sense is difficult. It would be as if Apple granted only 10 or so companies the privilege to put apps on their store. Not only would advocates for free speech be largely uninterested in what kinds of restrictions Apple put on those 10 companies, the public would (reasonably) hold Apple responsible for the editorial decisions of those 10 companies.

  7. affenkopf says:

    Here’s a non-mobile link for the first story.

    • LionsPhil says:

      But that has the serious downside that you get to see the comments.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Don’t read them, maybe.
        Or, to not avoid but rather cope with confrontation, read them in squeaky chipmunk voices. Helps immensely in keeping ridiculous statements from unreasonably enraging the reader.

      • Premium User Badge

        DrollRemark says:

        Heh. Guardian comments really are just the worst.

  8. Low Life says:

    We had some barely-discussion about the subject in the comments of the Mark of the Ninja article a few days back, Joe Martin seems to have stumbled upon same problem with stealth games as I (and if the replies I got are to trust, many others):

    when violence arises from ability and not necessity then it causes friction with the vulnerability [that otherwise lays at the heart of Thief.]

    I would love to have more games where taking an enemy out (be that lethal or non-lethal) is a choice with its pros and cons rather than the obvious thing to do. Mark of the Ninja almost got there, though it went a bit too far in that sense and the choice was entirely removed.

    • thegooseking says:

      One of the things that charmed me so much about Dishonored was that I found myself running away from guards who spotted me even though I could kill them easily. I do think that games are more fun if they say, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” rather than “No, you can’t.”

      (Of course, that leads into other issues, like how Fox News will conveniently ignore the part about the game discouraging you from doing it and zoom in tight-focus on the part about the game allowing it.)

      My one gripe was that the encouragement to not kill the guards in Dishonored was extradiegetic. On a loading screen, the game told me I would get a different ending if I killed fewer people. Wouldn’t it have been better to have NPCs try to encourage that kind of behaviour a la Deus Ex?

      • malkav11 says:

        Would that really make sense, though? You’ve been hired by a (slightly shady) conspiracy to murder people for them. Why would they encourage you not to kill people?

        • Zenicetus says:

          Corvo isn’t a pure assassin though. He’s a bodyguard, cooperating with the conspiracy to place the murdered Empress’s daughter Emily on the throne (plus some revenge motivation). The non-lethal or less-lethal approach is aimed at causing less havoc in the city that Emily will be running with the conspirators, once they’re restored to power. It makes some sense, I think.

          OTOH, it’s not very consistent in places. You’ll get the bad ending if you kill too many Assassins during that late mission with Daud, even though it would seem logical to rid the city of a league of mercenary killers like that. It would have been more internally consistent, if those killings didn’t add to your chaos score. It just didn’t make sense to me to leave those Assassins alive, so I killed most of them. And got the bad ending (but with Emily saved) because of it.

          • malkav11 says:

            Most of the people you can potentially kill are working for your enemies (the guards, the Overseers) or are not conducive to maintaining public order (thugs, assassins, weepers). I grant you that just savagely murdering civilians would be counterproductive and probably out of character (which is why I took care not to even on my very bloody run through the game) but there’s not really a good way for them to know if you did for the most part. I’m assuming that the reason Chaos affects your ending at all is that you’re a fulcrum of destiny of sorts. One of the individuals that the Outsider finds interesting enough to observe and gift with magic. So it’s a more cosmic adjustment than anything influenced by the in-narrative characters.

          • Premium User Badge

            LTK says:

            Corvo ceased being a bodyguard when he was framed for murdering the person he was supposed to be guarding. The rest of the conspiracy makes it eminently clear that you are first and foremost an assassin. Admiral Havelock: “We need a man to kill the bastards for us.” Piero: “For you I will create the tools of a master assassin.” It’s really more up to you whether to go lethal or non-lethal.

          • Phantoon says:

            After the inevitable betrayal, I began killing my way through everything that I deemed evil.

            Got the good ending. May have been because I was doing it so quiet-like, and dodging guards whenever possible.

  9. zabzonk says:

    You have to wonder about an article on Thief: The Dark Project that uses a graphic from Thief: The Metal Age in its banner, particularly as (IMHO) The Metal Age addresses many of the issues he is complaining about.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Playing TDP on expert addresses many of the issues he has with the game!

    • Joe Martin says:

      Do you have to? I just like that image. The masks are beautiful.

    • deejayem says:

      Yes, I wasn’t really convinced by the Thief article. His argument seemed to be: here’s a rather contrived list of “distortions” that make the game work, and here’s a list of reasons why they don’t work. His starting premise rather undermined his conclusions, to my mind at least. Which is a shame, because the point about the game setting up a rulebook then playing with it is very true – emergent, innit?

      And as Sheng-ji says, if you’re playing the game on Expert (the only way to play), you never feel you’re over-equipped. And you can almost never kill anyone. Part of the thrill for me was always “I’ve only got one mine/gas arrow/holy water to last me the whole level – do I really want to use it here?” I invariably got to the end of the level without having used any of them because I was “saving them for later” – perverse, I know.

  10. pakoito says:

    Lots of HTML fails in this week’s papers.

  11. Premium User Badge

    soulblur says:

    I’m personally looking forward to the next step in the logical evolution of the Euro truck simulator: Eurotruck Simulator Manager 2014. Start off with a single truck in Belarus and work your way up to a logistics empire, taking on the likes of DHL and UPS. Open up offices and transport hubs in such fine cities as Frankfurt and Milton Keynes. Upgrade your fleet with new tires for advanced fuel efficiency. Diversify into white vans to take on the delivery networks of Waitrose and Opodo.

    • zabzonk says:

      Actually, this sounds worryingly enticing – anyone remember “The Brothers”?. And for the farm boys, “Brian Aldridge’s Farm Manager” – build giant light-less structures where animals are kept in vile conditions, plant genetically modified Triffidgen ™ beans on all available bits of land, and have inappropriate sexual contact with every female sim!

      I need to get on to BBC Marketing right away….

    • LionsPhil says:

      I believe Euro Truck Simulator 2 already lets you hire other drivers and set up your own little transport firm; you just start as a freelancer.

      I just don’t get what people find fun about it. It has very little game to it, and not much gently explore-yness to it either since it’s largely ugly motorways made of prefab parts. If you want to see the world from your armchair on a budget of less than lunch, you’d get a better experience with Google Street View, since at least then you’re seeing actual photography of places.

    • malkav11 says:

      You can pretty much already do 90% of that in Euro Truck 2012.

  12. Premium User Badge

    JohnArr says:

    The bleeps at 0:52 in NANANANANNANA always make me laugh.

  13. baozi says:

    apple’s curation of the app store in this way is troublesome, but i cannot see how that is related to making anyone “pro-pc”.

    • Premium User Badge

      yhancik says:

      Because Apple has obviously always been (or, at least, for a long time) about controlling “the platform”? Only Apple-made computers can run Apple-made OSes, only Apple-made phones can run Apple’s iOS and Apple-approved apps. Even if Windows is sadly catching up with that, it’s Apple that introduced the App Store and Gatekeeper to “personal computers”.

      Consoles are pretty much the same.

      So, even if it’s not perfect (and surely not going in the right direction lately), “PC” is still the platform that is the least centrally controlled by a single company. That’s why I’m “pro-pc”.

      • baozi says:

        Apple’s always been about controlling where you can install their OS? True.
        Apple controls the content when it comes to their mobile devices? True.

        Apple controls the content when it comes to their computers?
        I’ll agree if or when you cannot disable Gatekeeper any longer.

        • Premium User Badge

          yhancik says:

          Alright I understand your point, then! I cannot speak for Kieron, but let me explain my point of view:

          – I’m speaking more globally than dividing it by type of device. In this “post-PC” world, I’m still an old fashioned “pro-PC”, because I’m not too thrilled about the general tendency of smartphones and tablets to be more controlled environments, nor am I really a fan of the “App Store” approach (although it has a purpose and fits some people). Again you can extend it to consoles; it’s an ollllld discussion after all ;) (see Nintendo mentioned above)

          – Regarding Apple in general, OSX is not as closed as iOS, indeed. I feel like adding “yet” because of Gatekeeper and the fact that it wasn’t slammed by the critics. I’d say it’s more about a company’s general politics. Considered how they treat the App Store and iOS, I don’t want to get involved with their other products. So yes, it makes me more “pro-PC”.

          (“You can install everything you want on it” is still slightly debatable though. I’ve cursed Apple so many times for having me or people update the whole bloody OS just to get a new Java version that I could install with any hassle on my crummy old Windows XP :p)

          • Premium User Badge

            FriendlyFire says:

            This is what scares me the most about Apple’s success. It’s sending the signal that people not only are fine with draconian control over the OS, they like it.

            It’s no surprise then that OSX, Windows 8 and even Ubuntu are following that trend. While I doubt Ubuntu will ever get to the point of iOS, OSX is a very real possibility and Windows to a lesser extent (I’ve heard the hypothesis of a “Windows 9 Business Edition” that allows you to install anything while the other, consumer variants would lock you to the marketplace).

            The trend is really bad all around for anyone who values owning their hardware and software.

          • Trithne says:

            I’ve been easing myself into Linux for just that very reason. Fortunately, it is a much less painful process now than it was when I last tried to do it 10 years ago.

          • baozi says:

            When it comes to personal computers, I’m also definitely part of the, erhm, install-what-you-want camp. I don’t really have much of an opinion when it comes to phones and tablets – I think the market is different and most people would rather have an environment that is not riddled with malware than care whether they can install from other sources, and that that’s the trade off that the companies have found to make more sense to them.

            What gets me is just when people who seem to have never used the operating systems conflate iOS and Mac OS. People, you know when Gatekeeper was introduced to Mac OS? A year ago. And it’s trivial to disable.

            So now, look at Microsoft’s direction with Windows Phone / Windows RT. Surely, as with Apple, this is also reason to not get involved with their desktop/laptop OS? No? :P

            (Even if the Java thing isn’t Oracle’s fault (?), what about Microsoft often restricting their new DirectX versions to their new operating systems?)

            Sorry if this came across as ranty, you seem to be a nice guy :P

    • LionsPhil says:

      The PC is an open platform. If you want to release a game for PC, just make it and give it to people. The Internet makes this dead easy since the closest things to a big central authority you have to deal with is getting a domain name and an actual connection: i.e. a website, something almost anyone can do and is under very little regulation.

      There may be little curated lists you want to be on as well, but if Steam Greenlight turns you down, you can still go your own way and release directly.

      iOS is a closed platform. The ONLY way to get your game onto people’s devices is to be approved into the App Store*. The resistance against Windows 8 is because it’s pulling the same stunt in its Not-Called-Metro-Any-More, and there’s a fear that if they push the “old fashioned” desktop Windows down more, it’ll become the only way there.

      Closed platforms are Not Good for anyone but the platform holder.

      * Good luck selling a game that says “to install this, first jailbreak your iPhone using security holes that Apple are reliably trying to close; oh, by the way, that might break everything else”.

      • baozi says:

        Yes, but Kieron said “PC”. He didn’t say mobile devices.
        Mac OS is as open as Windows. You can install everything you want on it.

        • Jay says:

          This is a fair point.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Perhaps he meant desktop/laptop, rather than Windows PC.

        • Low Life says:

          I don’t think he’s saying he’s pro-PC in the PC vs. Mac way, but in the PC vs. console way. Personally I find the whole separation between PC and Mac quite useless anyway (they have the same hardware and Macs can run Windows/Linux just fine), I didn’t even think of it before I read your comment.

          • Premium User Badge

            DrollRemark says:

            It’s not a consoles though, it’s a phone.

          • Premium User Badge

            FriendlyFire says:

            A phone is basically a portable console with more variety in what you can install, so the comparison fits. They’re all “computing devices” in some way.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          Let’s see you install Crysis 3 on it.

    • bill says:

      He’s not saying it’s related to the PC at all. He’s just saying that his reason for liking the PC platform is that it’s very open.

      It is possible to mention a PC in a topic related to Apple without it being some kind of attack/comparison.

  14. Hoaxfish says:

    Supermeat’s Apathy and refunds are more dangerous than piracy.

    Tabloid edition: Richard Garriott on why “most game designers really just suck”… shitstorm follows as Garriot accuses everyone of sensationalism after everyone accuses him of being an egotistical lunatic.

    • mondomau says:

      While that Supermeat post is an exercise in stating the painfully obvious, it’s nice to hear it coming from someone actually in the industry.

      • NathanH says:

        Unfortunately the article is undermined by being based on the idea that, if some effect cannot be measured, attempting to quantify its influence is a waste of time. Fortunately this idea is nonsense, otherwise I’d be unemployed.

        • Premium User Badge

          FriendlyFire says:

          The article is based on the idea that instead of chasing the unicorn that is piracy sales figures, developers should just focus on making good games, making distribution as painless as possible, and having competitive pricing.

          I approve of the idea.

        • mondomau says:

          It’s only undermined if the reader shares your opinionon the matter. I don’t, so it’s a valid and interesting proposal.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      That Garriott article is pretty entertaining, thanks. Staggering amount of chutzpah on the man.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        There’s a bit of follow-up:

        Garriot posts in the comments of Gamasutra’s coverage of the interview, here. Even using that 90s trick of putting NOT! to subvert positive sounding statements.

        And PCGamer does a follow-up, including a link to his public statement (it’s linked in the first sentence, but RPS’ comment system doesn’t allow 3 links in a post).

        • Premium User Badge

          DrollRemark says:

          Excellent. It’s funny because he has a decent point (his gamasutra post makes it clearly), but he rails about being “taken out of context,” rather than acknowledging that there was nothing out of context about what he said, he just said it badly (i.e. the backlash is his fault, not PCGs).

          Also on the 90’s watch: Times New Roman on his pdf.

    • LionsPhil says:

      PCG’s comments thread showing the number of “spam” votes is certainly revealing on how Internet dullards will abuse such a feature.

    • Premium User Badge

      Keirley says:

      I generally agree with Tommy Refenes, but his argument here seemed pretty shoddy. First he argued that, because you can’t quantify the number of lost sales due to piracy you shouldn’t try to combat piracy, as you can’t run a business on guesswork based on unquantifiable factors. But then he says that lost sales due to disappointment with a company/brand should be taken into account when running a business, even though he admits that this is similarly unquantifiable.

      He clearly thinks that you can make decisions, even financial ones, based on unquantifiable factors, so his given reason for rejecting DRM is problematic.

      • Premium User Badge

        FriendlyFire says:

        There’s a big difference between the two: we have no hard figures on how piracy as a phenomenon behaves. Do pirates buy more games than average? We don’t know. Would pirates buy the game if it was impossible to pirate? We don’t know.

        What we do know however is that if you shit on your customers too often they’ll stop doing business with you.

        • Premium User Badge

          Keirley says:

          I really don’t think there is a significant difference here, because while we may be able to say ‘be awful to your customers and they’ll eventually desert you’ we don’t have any kind of quantifiable data regarding the stuff Refenes is talking about.

          As far as I’m aware, we simply don’t have data on how much, or what kinds of things customers are generally willing to put up with, especially when it comes to videogames. It’s one thing to say ‘treat your customers horribly over and over again and eventually some of them will stop doing business with you’ and another thing entirely to say ‘EA including always-online DRM in the new Sim City is going to have a significant effect on future sales’.

          Saying ‘if you shit on your customers too often they’ll stop doing business with you.’ is just far too general to be useful. Without proper data it’s about as useful as saying ‘making it harder to pirate your game will encourage some people to buy a legitimate copy’.

          • malkav11 says:

            The difference is pretty simple. By fighting piracy you are trying to force people to become your customers. (Or at least I assume so, because what earthly reason is there to bother with the time and expense if you don’t think it will gain you sales?) You can’t control whether that happens or not. People can always choose not to do business with you even if you shut off the alternative of piracy. It is ultimately doomed.

            Meanwhile, you have plenty of control over how well you treat the customers you do have, and how well you support their needs. Happy customers are customers that will likely continue to do business with you, and their word of mouth will both spread the news of your existence and likely help encourage other people to do business with you. Conversely, if you treat your customers poorly, it’s entirely possible they may put up with it anyway, out of inertia, apathy, lack of viable alternatives, or similar, but you certainly won’t have their goodwill or their recommendation. Seeing just how far you can push people before they leave seems counterproductive.

          • NathanH says:

            That may be so, Malkav, but this is essentially irrelevant to Keirley’s argument. The writer of the original piece states that companies shouldn’t worry about the number of pirates who would have bought a particular game had the DRM been more effective, because this number is essentially unmeasurable and therefore apparently any attempt to quantify belief about what this number is is a waste of time, and therefore apparently the companies should perform their calculations assuming that this number is zero.

            But then Keirley notes that the writer argues that the companies should take into account the number of customers who will buy the game only if it is DRM-free, and take into account brand loyalty and brand disloyalty. But presumably these concepts are also essentially unmeasurable in the same way, and therefore by the writer’s previous arguments should be taken to be zero and no further thought put into them.

            Either all unmeasurable effects are fair game, or none of them is. You can’t pick and choose the uncertain variables you’re allowed to quantify. You shouldn’t let your agreement with the conclusion (that anti-piracy policies are counter-productive) trick you into agreeing with a bad argument. Presumably you have thought about the uncertainties around all the numbers in question, decided that overall any reduction in piracy is unlikely to be relevant when compared with the loss of customer goodwill. That’s fine.

          • thegooseking says:

            NathanH, I think that was his point, though. That refusing to buy a game because it has DRM is an unquantifiable loss, but something like, say, buying a game and then returning it is a quantifiable loss.

            Of course, that relies on digital return policies being a lot more consumer-friendly than they currently are, but that’s another story…

          • NathanH says:

            Thegooseking, in the article in question Refenes states that “This is not a quantifiable loss of course, but people are more likely to buy from distributors they trust rather than ones they’ve felt slighted by before” as he is arguing that this trust should be factored into calculations by the developers. Refenes is specifically advocating factoring in unquantifiable loss. This is in the very same article in which he specifically advocates not factoring in a particular effect because it is unquantifiable loss. This is incoherent. Keirley’s criticism holds.

          • PopeRatzo says:

            Maybe we can start by quantifying whether piracy causes ANY lost sales? If you can’t quantify the effect of piracy, then you can’t quantify the effect of piracy.

            That’s the point. Unless we quantify, I can say, “So many crappy $60 games that only have about five hours of content hurt profits a lot more than piracy” and I can’t be refuted. Also, there is a much greater correlation between IPs that have consistently provided high value, such as Far Cry or Batman:Arkham Whatever and profits than between DRM and profits. Even if they had not a shred of DRM, the next Arkham game or Far Cry 4 would sell a ton and make massive profits. They could put the most fool-proof DRM imaginable on the next Aliens:Colonial Marines title and it would probably fail.

            That’s the lesson for the big companies, and that’s what most of them are ignoring instead of the much easier “Let’s put the most obtrusive DRM possible on our next crappy $60 game and then whine like whiny-ass babies about piracy when profits decline. Oh, the game business is just so hard.”

        • WrenBoy says:

          … we have no hard figures on how piracy as a phenomenon behaves. Do pirates buy more games than average? We don’t know.

          Actually a number of studies have been done. The below study for instance(not in english im afraid) was carried out by the Swiss who concluded that while a third of internet users pirated music / film / games, this group spent the same proportion of their disposable income on the form of entertainment they pirated as the non piraters. They concluded there was no need for specific anti piracy legislation:
          http://www.ejpd.admin.ch/content/ejpd/fr/home/dokumentation/mi/2011/2011-11-30.html

          A dutch study on the other hand showed that music piraters spent more money purchasing music than non piraters and that piracy had a largely beneficial effect. I dont read dutch though so am relying on translated commentary:
          http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090119/1943093458.shtml

          • Josh W says:

            Exactly, although you cannot quantify intention, you can quantify correlations between paying and pirating:
            Does a game that is pirated more loose more sales? Does a game that is pirated less loose sales? Is there a particular distribution of those who tend to pirate and play certain kinds of game but rarely pay for it? Are there those who pay for certain games and not others? Are there people who are more receptive to funding things through kickstarter than paying for existing products?

            Great big mathsy comparisons across the market.

            Fundamentally, the bigger problem is that you cannot quantify customer service or the quality of a game itself, nor it’s effect on sales. If you could, game investment would be a doddle, and become effectively commoditised, pushing publishers even more out of business. Maybe we’ll get there eventually, and I really hope it turns out that “good games sell”, but until then, we all want people to making decisions on the basis of actually making good games, in the hope that that will make them money, because really, good games is what we’re here for.

    • JFS says:

      Apparently Garriott had EVERYTHING before there even was ANYTHING. Ridiculous.

    • Lanfranc says:

      The historian/archivist in me sure hopes that Garriott’s taking good care of those Ultima notes.

  15. baozi says:

    perhaps i misread the thief article, and somebody else said this before, but i disagree that it’s not a problem that dishonored oversupplies you and you have to adjust less than in thief. essentially, this made you play the game a particular way more because you wanted to (even in very hard), whereas, say, in the original deus ex, even if you wanted to play non-lethally, you’d have to work for it, adjust, and possibly compromise, which i personally think is much more interesting.

  16. Snargelfargen says:

    I drew a great big dong on the hood of my car in Test Drive Unlimited 2.

    Particularly funny because before every race, the participants’ avatars get to walk around and admire each other’s $100,000 luxury cars. If that isn’t a dick-waving contest, I don’t know what is.

  17. wodin says:

    Tomb Raider article was good. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that game..def up there as one of my favs release din recent years. Even though it had QTEs etc.

  18. guygodbois00 says:

    Mr Rossignol should definitely do some serious writing about this Richard Garriott bussiness. Mr Meer could step in also. The public demands to be informed, etc.

    • terry says:

      What’s to talk about? He gave his (probably accurate) opinion in a somewhat mangled way and looks mildly foolish? Yes, stop the presses, indeed.

  19. Brahsef says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of mock dubstep simulator commercials

  20. edwardh says:

    “You cannot trust a corporation with that kind of control of an artform.”

    Surely, you meant
    “You cannot trust a corporation.”

    ;)

    Seriously though… the times when a decent amount of companies cared for both customers and employees is gone. These days, one can only try to fight companies.

  21. crinkles esq. says:

    The article on transit simulators was a great read; I really had no idea who was buying this stuff. But “farmers buy farming simulators”… wouldn’t you be sick of driving a real tractor already?

    The Lara article… does generating an emotional response equate to that thing being art? No, it just pressed the right emotional buttons for that person…who, er… pressed the wrong physical buttons.

    The only thing about the Sweatshop game I’m surprised about is that the developers ever thought Apple would allow it in the first place. They made a game about the thing Apple has been criticized for over and over. Why don’t they release it on Google Play? Plenty of Android phones were probably made under worse conditions than iDevices.

  22. Grape Flavor says:

    misreply

  23. Sardukar says:

    Oh, irony. http://m.guardiannews.com/technology/2013/jan/25/apple-child-labour-supply

    “Apple has discovered multiple cases of child labour in its supply chain, including one Chinese company that employed 74 children under the age of 16, in the latest controversy over the technology giant’s manufacturing methods.”

    From January this year.

  24. fish99 says:

    I only skimmed that Thief article briefly, but it’s a shame the guy didn’t do a bit of research into the proper way to play the game – i.e. on expert.

    On expert you can’t kill any humans, so the killing power of your sword, broadhead arrows, fire arrows and normal mines is gone for most of the enemies in the game. Gas arrows and gas mines are very expensive, you never get more than 1 or 2 of them, and they don’t appear until the 2nd half of the game. Also water arrows and holy water for killing zombies are in short supply too. On expert it’s a true stealth game. There’s even a level in Thief 2 where you can’t knock anyone out.

    It’s a shame the other difficulty settings have to be there, but most people don’t have the patience for 3 hours creeping around in the dark to do one mission.

    Btw I replayed Thief Gold and Thief 2 late last year with the new patch and they’re as good as ever, and now 100% working on a modern OS.

  25. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    Disappointed at the lack of KG fan-personing in the comments. So:

    *ahem* Woo KG! \o/

    That is all.

  26. bill says:

    An odd point to the Tief article is that he says that every level is about distortions. Then he says they introduce too many distortions. Then he says many of those distortions don’t actually do much distorting.

    I never played thief with some kind of unbreakable rule on killing. I tried my best to use stealth and sneak around, but occasionally I might have to kill someone.
    That generally felt like I’d failed – but it also allowed me to avoid the frustration of getting stuck or being forced to replay a whole level.

    that seemed to be how Thief was designed to be played. Do your best to stealth, but it isn’t mandatory.
    That seemed fine to me.
    (not that I ever use things like gas mines in games… I always hoard them for later and then the game ends. )

  27. Jason Moyer says:

    I’m as guilty of the occasional piracy as anyone (music, whatever) but I have a hard time seeing how theft isn’t immoral.

  28. Grape Flavor says:

    I think people with your attitude are naive. If people can get something for free instead of paying, they will, in the absence of a reason not to, such as laws or morals. The quality of the product or the policies of the organization behind the product, have very little to do with it. Amazing indie games get pirated like you wouldn’t believe.

    DRM doesn’t work. Destroying the openness of the internet through draconian laws isn’t desirable. All we have is morality. We should be trying to get people to understand that not giving back to the creators of a digital product that wasn’t intended to be free is selfish, not patting them on the back and reassuring them that piracy is a victimless crime.

  29. ArthurBarnhouse says:

    I have an acquaintance who torrents all content she watches. I mean that as literally as I can. She doesn’t pay for cable, she doesn’t buy DVDs or amazon video. She has a program that is designed to get the new episode of every show she wants to watch. Most people aren’t THAT extreme, but I know other people who download the majority of the music they listen to and the tv they watch. Should that be a fineable or jailable offense? My gut says no, but at the same time it seems obviously wrong, because these people are not owed free episodes of Game of Thrones or Wilfred or whatever else they’re grabbing off the Internet. These also aren’t crappy/mediocre shows that they don’t care about. My acquaintance loves game of thrones, talks about it constantly. So for you to to say “it’s the content makers fault for not making something worth paying for” seems foolish. I don’t think my friends should go to jail, but I do think that if they care about something they love, they should be willing to pay for it.

  30. fish99 says:

    As someone who used to pirate a lot of games, I can tell you it made little difference back then how good the game was. There were a few exceptions, companies who made stuff so consistently brilliant that I had to support them, but really that was just one company (Looking Glass). There were plenty of very good games I pirated, played all the way through and then didn’t buy. I did it because it was easy and it meant I still had that money to spend on other things, like PC upgrades, and because money wasn’t plentiful. I notice this is quite a middle class site, so maybe that explains the naive comments I read here about piracy.

    Also it should be obvious that piracy breaks a basic tenet of capitalism, because you can have something great without paying for it.

    For the record, I haven’t pirated a single game in about 5 years now.

  31. kud13 says:

    how many times must this be said?

    piracy=copyright infringement

    Copyright infringement=/=theft

    therefore, piracy =/=theft

    You are not taking the property of the license holder. You are violating their monopoly for the distribution of their IP.
    also, please note, that in copyright, nobody “owns” ideas. an IP is just an expression of the idea.

  32. malkav11 says:

    The fact that media products currently make billions of dollars is pretty strong evidence that people don’t, in fact, always opt for the free option. It is trivial to pirate movies, television, comics, books, music. It’s occasionally slightly less trivial to pirate games, but only for a tiny handful of games and that usually passes pretty quickly. Anyone who wants any of those things for free that has a computer and an internet connection (admittedly not universal, but certainly widespread enough to be relevant) can have them.

    Also, there are plenty of venues (Kickstarter, Humble Bundles, etc) where people happily chip in tens or hundreds or even thousands of dollars for things they could easily have for much less.

  33. Grape Flavor says:

    Well yeah, clearly many people are indeed willing to pay, my point is that we should be encouraging that. The whole thing’s basically running on the honor system at this point, which is why it’s more important than ever that people understand the consequences of their decisions.

    When you pirate, it’s all take and no give – you are enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labor without doing anything to help sustain the continued production of that which you enjoy. In fact, you are discouraging it, by sending the message that people are not willing to pay, and therefore that continuing to invest in creating these kinds of products would be foolish.

    Maybe it doesn’t do any good to obsess over whether that’s “immoral” or not (it seems at least “selfish”, to me), but either way, the idea that choosing to pirate instead of buying is an isolated act that doesn’t affect anyone, that it doesn’t effect the ongoing viability of these productions, just isn’t true and we shouldn’t be spreading it.

    The only way the traditional business model can continue to work is if enough people voluntarily chip in somehow, and people need to understand that. Because right now I’m not aware of a better way of making this work.

  34. Grape Flavor says:

    And there’s the whole thing in a nutshell. She “loves” Game of Thrones, but doesn’t apparently love it enough to not rip off the people who worked to make it for her. Good thing there are still enough people with a sense of gratitude that the show can get made anyway.

    DRM usually harms only the paying customer. And we can’t shut down the internet. All that can be done is trying to make people understand why that kind of behavior is selfish. Unfortunately though, not only do people like getting things for free, they also like coming up with flimsy rationalizations for why they shouldn’t have to feel bad about doing so.

    And so you have the movement to legitimize piracy wholesale – some people aren’t just too cheap to part with any cash, they’re too cheap to even be willing to shoulder the emotional cost of taking responsibility for their decisions.

  35. Grape Flavor says:

    Yeah, to be clear, when I slam piracy, I’m referring specifically to gratuitous “pirating instead of buying” aka the proverbial “lost sale”.

    If someone pirates because they cannot afford to spend on games, or because the DRM is preventing them from playing their legitimately obtained version of the game, or something like that, that’s a whole different thing. I’m hardly an absolutist on this – I’m talking about the people who can and should contribute, but are pirating simply because they can. What percentage of “pirates” that entails, I don’t pretend to actually know.

    I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I’m sitting here from my position of economic privilege condemning those who can’t afford to spend their cash on video games. In this era of Steam Sales the financial obstacle to buying PC games is lower than ever, but even so it would be very arrogant to assume buying games is a trivial expense for everyone.