The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for being at the Image booth at Seattle’s Emerald City Con talking to anyone who has the misfortune to walk past about splendid comics. Do come and say Hi, if you’re around. Which means that Saturday morning is for compiling a list of fine (mostly) games related reading for your delectation while trying to avoid linking to a pop-song, before heading off for the day. And setting it to post.

And done. NOW SHOWER!

(Failed.)

191 Comments

  1. poop says:

    that article about deus ex is calling regenating health and cover systems experimental? yeah, maybe in 2000

    • Grunt says:

      Experimental within the context of a Desu Ex game, is what I believe he was saying.

    • Gorgeras says:

      The experiment was already done: Deus Ex becomes a much weaker game if you select the health regeneration augmentation, especially on a repeat playthrough: you KNOW you’re going to get it sooner rather than later and medical skills are wasted points.

      Unless this cover system really is something unique: I’m thinking hanging from above doorways, on ceiling pipes and smoke/mist that actually works, it’s simply destined to be dumbed-down suck-fest.

    • BigJonno says:

      @JuJuCam: I totally agree. I’m not sure how this PC elitism started, but it’s become ridiculous. There is no inherent reason why complex, intelligent games won’t work or sell well on consoles. Playing games on a console does not make you a knuckle dragging idiot; frothing Halo/Gears fanboys are no better or worse than frothing Counter-Strike fanboys. It’s also completely ignoring the simple fact that anyone with a console has made a conscious decision to purchase a dedicated gaming device, while many PC gamers are simply utilising another feature of a machine they bought for other purposes.

      There are lots of reasons why certain games appear more often on the PC (mouse and keyboard control, cheaper to develop for, making it easier for niche titles to succeed) and it’s fine to prefer the PC as a platform. I don’t like the trend towards oversimplification in games (streamlining, yes, fewer meaningful choices instead of more meaningless ones, that’s fine) but I’m not going to blame it on either of the boxes sat under my TV, especially when PC gamers are buying shite like MW2 in droves.

    • bill says:

      I think Poop has a point. (can’t believe i just typed that).

      Adding cover systems, regenerating health, or other standard game elements to a game isn’t really experimenting. The experimental spirit of Looking Glass was making cool new things, not just using standard features from the other games of the time. While it’s true that DE is basically an evolution of Ultima Underworld, they were still innovating at every stage.

      That said, I also don’t think that adding cover systems, regenerating health or whatever is a bad thing. Unless it means that the game is going to be very combat focused. the beauty of DE was that combat was only one of the options.

      There are actually some cool ways they could incorporate those elements, as part of the RPG system. Allowing you to install or upgrade health regen systems, or learn to use cover more effectively and unlock different moves and options.
      But they need to make sure they pay as much attention to the other areas. Stealth, Dialogue, Exploration, etc..
      (eg: the stealth system could borrow a few unlocks/moves from Sam fisher, to make it interesting and attractive to players, etc..)

    • JuJuCam says:

      The key is, of course, balance. As I understand, IW’s big problem was that the regen augmentation was waaay overpowered to the point where if you took the alternative you were shooting yourself in the foot. Mainly because shooting your way through the game was the most efficient and reliable path.

    • hoff says:

      The whole article strikes me as one of this “Hey, listen! I’m saying the opposite of what many people think!” kind of commentaries. Basically, a front-page version of a typical forum post. It is flawed on an objective level and way too happy about having found the “truth” and why “everyone is wrong”.

      First, he deliberately picked the best and most striking argument for “consolisation”, the limited level-sizes in DX:IW. It is not even relevant any more on modern console hardware. But it *was* relevant back then. Maybe they *could* have worked around these limitations in some genius way, I don’t know. Fact is, the XBox was responsible for the claustrophobic level design. Period. You can’t just brush that off. The hardware is still a factor, though. Just think of a console controller versus a keyboard and mouse and you quickly arrive at similar limiting decisions regarding input and interface design…

      Next he falls for a trap I do not understand why any games journalist should ever fall for: Cutting features supposedly being “innovation”. I cannot put in words how cynical of an argument I find this to be. Eidos Montreal is *playing it safe* by adding regen and 3rd person aesthetics. It’s the SAFE route. What would be innovation, then? Well, doing a NEW game. Say, Portal… or Braid. Or World of Goo, Katamari Damacy, Nobi Nobi Boy, even Heavy Rain shows that quick time events don’t have to be dull.

      I’m NOT a PC “fanboy”. I’m just seeing that there are differences in hardware and input devices, there are things certain game franchises stand for and which should be respected if you make a sequel to them. There is nothing to defend there. We’re not being unfair. I’m not entirely sure why game journalists love to protect developers (and even publishers) like puppies here? Just look at the facts and see that those guys have ZERO interest in innovation and that their interpretation of what made the original game “fun” is horribly superficial.

  2. bananaphone says:

    Getting tired of people saying Invisible War sucked. It didn’t. It wasn’t a great Deus Ex sequel but if you can separate it from its superior older brother and accept it on its own merits it is a very good game indeed. If Invisible War had been an original standalone title I suspect it would have been very well received.

    • Ragnar says:

      I think Invisible War would have been a much better game if it had been a standalone original game. Then they could have done what they wanted without having to consider the Deus Ex legacy.

    • Grunt says:

      I don’t think the problems with mouse movement (among other things) helped sell the game. When half the players are hacking .ini files to get the mouse to move in a natural manner how do you think they’ll react to the other changes within the game, such as the much smaller levels and sub-PC-par texturing? For many, myself included, it was difficult to work through that to understand what the game was trying to achieve.

    • poop says:

      invisible war isnt bad but the fact that it so agonisingly held back from being a really good game by some design decisions bugs the shit out of me

      that and the fact that it closes and re-opens every single time I change a zone

    • Bhazor says:

      I’m more struck by “Deus Ex 3 is again set for a multi-format release. That’s understandable. There’s no money in PC exclusives these days ”

      So he’s forgotten Total War, WoW, Witcher, Sins of a Solar Empire, Football Manager, Eve, Guild Wars and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Pretty bad for a games journalist. If he’d said PC exclusive shooters or third person action games are in decline then sure he might have had a point, but as it stands thems be fightin’ words sir!

    • Lambchops says:

      Invisible War wasn’t rubbish – it was just incredibly disappointing.
      Still I remember putting up with a ridiculous bug that meant the mouse pointed disappeared whenever I went into a menu so I had to switch the game into windowed mode (which made it reappear) every bloody time I wanted to go into the inventory and change mods/guns etc. If I put up with that it couldn’t have bene utterly disasterous!

    • mcwizardry says:

      There’s a mod for IW that enables high-res textures : link to john-p.com

    • Lewis says:

      @Bhazor – You’re not the first person to call me out on that. That’s the line I’d change for clarity. I guess what I meant was: if you want to make huge mainstream money out of a videogame, you’re not going to make it a PC exclusive. The games you list have all been successful, but not huge.

      So yeah. Not “no money” at all.

    • Tim Ward says:

      I really do think Invisible War *was* a bad game, irregardless of comparison with it’s glorious predecessor. I won’t rant about why, because that’s old hat. But I will say that the Deus Ex formula is not so inherently awesome that it can withstand such bad implementation and still produce an enjoyable experience.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I’m just glad someone’s sensibly considering the issue of “consolification”. I’ve the good fortune to have access to both an Xbox 360 and a somewhat decent gaming PC. The only major difference (and I’ll grant it is a major one) is the primary method of interaction. The mouse and keyboard simply isn’t an intuitive interface for anyone who hasn’t grown up with their fingers on the home row. My girlfriend refuses to even attempt any game with WASD controls mainly because there are arrows on the keyboard; why can’t up or forwards simply be the up button? Then again, she may not be the best example – dealing with more than one control stick on the gamepad is enough to freak her out. But she’ll at least try.

      Besides that and one or two corollary side effects of a mostly open platform (player-made mods and maps) the only thing that skews a gameplay experience further towards console or PC is the developers attitude to porting. That’s it. Mechanics like regenning shields or health and cover systems aren’t a natural fit for consoles any more than a lean button or iron sights are built specifically for the PC. It’s just that contextually those are the familiar home grounds because of Halo and Gears of War. If the controls are mappable in an intuitive manner, then the game is just the game it is. A good port doesn’t feel any different because you’re playing it on one platform or the other.

      Now obviously the input method issue precludes certain games being made for PC that simply wouldn’t be possible to play with a gamepad in any comfortable way. Despite Starcraft somehow making it to the Nintendo 64(!?), hardcore strategy just doesn’t happen on consoles. But I’m talking about multi-platform releases and gripes about the console mechanics leaking into PC gaming, and PC gaming somehow being watered down because of it. It’s not watering down. It’s cross-pollination, and the gaming genetic stock is better for it.

    • Grunt says:

      There’s a mod for IW that enables high-res textures : link to john-p.com

      If memory serves this was also the same guy who did some fantastic work on Thief 3’s textures as well. He was a saviour for that beleaguered game engine, he really was.

    • Rich says:

      @JuJuWard
      I’d say Mass Effect has to be the best example of a game that is just as good on a console as on the PC. Thanks to the attitude they had towards porting. They wanted to make it work properly, and succeeded.

      @Tim Ward
      ‘Irregardless’ is not a word. Go back and do it again!

    • Rich says:

      *@JuJuCam

    • MD says:

      It really was super-duper technically flawed. Once I finished applying a bunch of hacks and tweaks and mods and patches, AND realised that it was necessary to lower my natural expectation level by about 75%, I had quite a lot of fun with Invisible War. But when you have two — completely seperate — potentially game-ruining issues (being a technical pile of wank + being crippled by unmet expectations), it’s pretty understandable that a whole lot of people are either not going to get down to the meat of the game at all, or refuse to engage and judge it on its own terms.

    • hoff says:

      If you make a sequel to Deus Ex, it will be be measured by the standards of its predecessor. That’s not unfair, that’s what you get from doing a sequel instead of coming up with a new game.

      HL2 came out around the same time and proved that you *can* do a sequel to a late-90ies “best game ever” and still surpass the hype, please the critics and make a ton of money from it. It’s not impossible. Even Doom 3 and Thief 3 showed that you can significantly change a game with a pleasing result.

      They made many horrible choices with DX:IW and failed. DX:IW was an average game (the plot, out of all things, was excellent, which makes me cringe when the DX3 guys say that they avoid the mistakes of IW by focusing on a great plot) but it was total waste of potential and it dragged down the franchise like George Lucas dragged down Star Wars with the Episodes I-III. I don’t see how I should feel sorry for them?

  3. Jayt says:

    So Phoenix is getting popular enough to get covered by children, cool. (slight typo in the first bullet point)

  4. john t says:

    I think the best kind of horror in games, and one that is under-used, is making the player into the monster. Games are the only artform that can make you feel agency and make you feel personally bad for doing something and the choices you make.

    Probably the most horrifying game I’ve ever played was The Baron and that was all text.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      That horror article:

      First, I’m not sure why Left 4 Dead is excluded from the discussion. You have the creeping dread which accompanies Smokie’s cough or the Witch’s weeping, the horror of fading ammo and health, and the jumps from the Hunter grappling with you. You also have the added worry of being left behind when you need to grab some ammo, or being left for dead when the hordes rain down on you, or some jerk hitting a car alarm. There’s a lot of different types of horror all happening in that hugely successful mainstream game.

      Second, well, play some console games. There’s a shed load of survival horror on the consoles, stuff like Resident Evil, or Silent Hill, or Fatal Frame. Here again we have more than simply jumping when some beastie comes whistling into view. Think of the moment in Resi 1 when you start wading through the water filled laboratory then suddenly the camera changes and it’s rushing though the water and you realise that something … is … coming … at … you! Even things like Final Fantasy 7 contain horror, like the laboratory in the opening section where there’s blood and bodies everywhere and no clue as to what did it, or Vandal Hearts when they put the villagers to the sword and the blood gushes out of them like a Tarantino pic, or its ending where the final revelation is a chocking fist of horror down the throat.

      Third, might I suggest some adventure games. Beneath A Steel Sky as you wonder through the tunnel and some thing is there. Or Darkseed, where the headache just won’t go away. Or Anchorhead. Maybe even Nightfall if I recall correctly (the IF game).

      Finally, there are games that are aimed at the mature* market, like STALKER, Thief 3 and Fahrenheit, then there are games that have a more trigger happy market in mind, like Doom 3 and Condemned. It’s not very surprising that the horror found in the latter type is the somewhat immature* kind because the game itself isn’t really a slow paced cerebral game aimed at building horror.

      * I don’t understand why getting someone to jump is immature though and I don’t understand why being immature is bad either. Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell was like a rollercoaster ride of jumps, and all the better for it. I specifically went to see 1408 for the jumps, to give me that adrenaline high. Plus, why the hell are you playing a horror game if you don’t like being scared?

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ john t
      My loooong post was aimed at the original article, despite it ending up as a reply to you.
      Downloading The Baron now. I really dig a good bit of IF.
      Edit: Oh no! It won’t download.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      @Tom Camfield: No offense meant, but you sound like the Hollywood type that would put the “horror” label on any crap that has a monster or a dimly lit room on it. You’re putting Doom III and Condemned on the same row, and those games go by two concepts of horror that are as far removed from one another as they possibly could –and then two steps more.

      Sure, they’re both first person, but that’s about the only thing in common they have. By that train of thought you could also say Dear Esther is the same as Halo.

    • Perching Path says:

      @Tom Camfield
      For De Baron, try here on the invaluable Interactive Fiction Database. It’s pretty great (as my review on that page says in more detail). While it can definitely evoke a feeling of horror, though, its genre elements are mostly metaphorical (which is presumably why the H-word hasn’t shown up much in the discussion of it).

    • The Innocent says:

      I agree with Craig’s article for the most part, but I think for the discussion to go anywhere we need to stop conflating multiple words into the umbrella term “horror.” Authors, playwrights, and filmmakers tend to distinguish which type of fear they’re attempting to elicit when in the writing process. When something jumps out at you, that’s terror. When you see the aftereffects of something, that’s horror. And when you’re suffering terrible anticipation (which is the greatest type of fear), that’s dread. They often as not go together, but they’re still distinct techniques.

      But I do agree that games generally overuse terror as a technique to cause fear in their audience; the best games (like Stalker and The Cradle from Thief 3) are usually composed of dread.

      need to mature, and Craig’s points are all correct, but he’s merging these terms into just “horror.”

    • Will says:

      @Tom Camfield

      After a fairly large amount of googling; you can download The Baron here: link to springthing.net

    • archonsod says:

      @ Tom “* I don’t understand why getting someone to jump is immature though and I don’t understand why being immature is bad either. ”

      Because it’s not horrific. Someone dressed as a giant chicken leaping out and yelling “Boo!” can cause you to jump, but it’s not going to make you feel afraid; it just fires off a few neurons in your fight or flight reflex. As soon as your brain has the chance to assess the situation the feeling has gone. It’s no more horrific than a rollercoaster or a fast paced shooter. It also relies on the surprise factor, so too much too quickly will simply desensitise the viewer.
      Horror, at least when composed by someone with any skill in the genre, might utilise some quick shocks, but it should also leave a lingering sense of unease which will last long after the initial shock. It’s the kind of movie or book that still has you hiding under the blankets three weeks after you watched/read it. You can’t usually get that with simple jumping, it usually necessitates messing with your head to some degree.

  5. James G says:

    From my original E-mail to the hivemind:

    Haven’t had the chance to watch the video as I’m near the end of my months bandwidth and have about 200Mb to last me until Monday, but just from reading his comments I can’t help but think Costik sounds a little like a self absorbed arse. (I’m suddenly concious of the fact he’ll probably end up reading this. Note please that I said he sounds like one, not that he is one.) Okay, the VIP line may be a little out of keeping with with Indie gaming aesthetic, but such things are driven as much by practicality as they are by arrogance. (Of course, the Indie gaming scene isn’t exactly lacking in arrogance either.) But criticism of tuxes and scripted jokes are just bizarre. Without having seen the video I can’t comment on the IGF parody, but I do take issue with Costik’s ‘only sane man’ discussion of the events, as though he was blessed with some clear unsullied insight when everyone else had been blinded by the mainstream money.

    It reminds me of another playthisthing article, which you linked a while ago, link to playthisthing.com , also written by Costik, I’m not sure he’s holding up to his promise “I, for one, promise never to slug you for failing to be indie.”

    Oh, and Leigh Alexander gets in on the act as well, she tweets:

    “sorry, costik — kyle gabler cannot possibly lose his indie cred simply by wearing a tux. pls go to therapy.”

    Then, following Jim’s reply mentioning that the parodies alone were available on YouTube:

    Ahh thanks, found a video with just the ‘parodies’ now. Seems to me that they are a bit toothless to be taken as an attack on the Indie games scene. It’s quite difficult to say much more than that to be honest, as to me the idea just seems so poorly executed that its quite difficult to draw any real conclusions from them. I do get the impression that whoever made the videos probably wasn’t hugely familiar with the Indie gaming scene, but I don’t see that as a slight on the IGF so much as just a result of the same kind of poor planning that results whenever an event relies on input from someone not directly involved. Either that or it just isn’t hugely funny because humour sometimes falls flat. I wonder what Costick’s response would have been had it been done well, something along the lines of ‘Passage in 10 seconds,’ where not only does the joke work a bit better, but is clearly made by an ‘insider.’

    • qrter says:

      Just watched it on Youtube. That was awful.

      I can see how Costikyan is annoyed about that – here you have this event that’s about ‘celebrating’ indie games, and this feels like a bunch of fratboys crashing the party and making jokes based on the dullest of clichéd ideas about what indie gaming could be. It just feels inappropriate.

      On the whole tux thing.. that’s kind of what happens when you create an event like this, it inevitably gets bloated and self-important. I mean, I like indie games as much as the next man, but as soon as you get all this awards-bussiness, I lose my interest completely. If you’re going to one of these events, best thing to do is to not wear a tux yourself and not care about other people. The best best thing is to not go at all, really. There’s just no point in getting angry at the people who do go, I feel.

      (Mentioning that Leigh Alexander remark actually earned Costikyan a couple of respect points, I generally don’t rate her opinions at all.)

  6. Sagan says:

    I think people misunderstand Schell when they take him serious. He was very much intending to freak everyone out with that talk. I mean he talks about how in the future your dreams will be modified through advertisements. That he seemed to encourage this kind of game in the end was more his way of saying “look, there is no way to stop these games from being created, so let’s make sure they aren’t going to be what I just described.”

    Unless he has changed dramatically since writing his book, his philosophy of game design would lead to games like World of Goo or Baldur’s Gate 2. He says games should serve curiosity, they should be beautiful and they should have their own personality. They should be the right kind of challenging, they should generate stories, they should have characters that you can identify with, lead the player to fascinating places etc. The message of his book is very much that people should create more interesting games. If you listen to the talk in that context you will see that he could never have been serious at the end.

    Still the first piece you linked to (can’t find the author’s name on his website) is valuable, because it explains why this future won’t happen. And Hecker’s analysis is valuable because he explains why achievements suck when you play a game for the first time. I see how they can be valuable if you are someone who wants 100% completion, but I would just like to turn them off when playing a game for the first time.

  7. gnome says:

    What an excellent, excellent collection of links.

    (hadn’t typed that for quite some time now, had I?)

  8. Premium User Badge

    Cooper says:

    Re: Ad blocking

    I don’t block ads on my work or home desktops, as I recognise viewing brings in the monies.

    I do, however, block ads on my netbook.

    Some of those animated ads can bring this little thing to a crawl and until ad companies revert to static images, I’d rather not experience internet borwing a la 1997 speeds.

    • Rich says:

      The ads on RPS, I don’t block. They’re static and unobtrusive. If they effect the arrangement of things on the screen though, like the frame-based ones they used to have here, then you’d better believe I block them. Anything the involves flash is way out too.

      I appreciate that I am basically bleeding a company of money, but if a company chooses to accept animated and/or (shudder) audio-visual adverts, then they deserve what they get. I also fully expect a quite reasonable flaming for having such views.

    • jarvoll says:

      Nah, no flames here, I’m kinda the same: I’m running NoScript, so any ads that rely on googleadservices.com or googleanalytics.com get blocked. I can, however, see ads for Gamersgate and Gog. I have no idea where this leaves me in the supporting-RPS-or-not stakes, but I’m pretty sure I subscribed the other day, so I can’t feel too bad about it.

      I feel that advertising is repulsive, and go out of my way to avoid it in life. I never watch television or listen to the radio, and avoid public places whereever possible. Given the situation outlined in the Ars Technica article, I’m happy simply to decide if that site’s content is worth paying for: if not, I leave rather than view their ads, and if so, I subscribe. Luckily, I only have two websites whose content I check regularly: RPS, and the Dwarf Fortress devlog, and I’m paying for both.

    • Wulf says:

      Actually Rich, I agree with that. If ads were static and had no scripts tied to them in order to function, I’d be all for it. I just wish an IP address and a cookie was enough for an ad to recognise a view, but in most cases it’s not, so even my benign use of NoScript would damage a site’s income.

      That’s why I’ve subscribed to RPS, because I’m not dropping NoScript but I don’t want to deprive them any income, either. To be honest, I wish they’d raise the price of subscription, they could ask more than they are.

    • bill says:

      I think that one of the problems with ad-blocking is that many of the ads are centralized in one or two networks. So if I block one doubleclick ad that’s annoying then I end up blocking all double click ads on all web sites.

      IMHO ad-blocking scripts should be responsible and not offer out of the box blanket black-lists. But if an ad annoys someone and they block it, that seems fair too.

      I have ad-block, but i only block ads that are annoying. I have noscript, but that’s for security reasons, and I’ve enabled most of the sites i use regularly. I see the GOG ads and some other ads here, and I’m not bothered by them so I won’t block them.

      As someone with a website that has ads, I mostly agree with the Ars poster, but I also think it only takes one annoying ad to get an entire raft of ads blocked net-wide.
      Maybe ad-serving companies should offer a “never show me this add again” button. That way many people wouldn’t need ad-blocking plugins.

    • Pod says:

      Adverts? Fuck ’em.

      If what you say is worth saying, then people will pay to hear it.
      If what you’re saying isn’t worth it, but you REALLY want to say it (becasue you just can’t help siplling the beans?), then you should have to pay for it.

      There’s no such thing as a free lunch, especially when you run a shitty blog.

  9. nabeel says:

    I would very much like to read something DXy from you guys, perhaps something more than just a straight retrospective?

  10. Andy_Panthro says:

    As far as Adblockers ruining websites goes, surely it will affect websites differently?

    The majority of people don’t use an adblock (still loads of people with IE for example), so I would suggest it’s only website visited by more net-savvy folks which would suffer, and usually smaller websites.

    Has RPS been affected at all? I was under the impression the audience for the site is increasing, so you guys must be doing okay?

  11. Lewis says:

    RE: The IGF/IGN indie game parody… well, I didn’t find myself reeling as much as Costik, and I took no issue whatsoever with Gabler’s tuxedo, but the IGN parody was a bit misjudged, wasn’t it? It would actually have worked really well if it had isolated and attacked indie gaming in the way Jim Sterling did the other week. You know, go for the clichés. It would have been knowing, and funny. Instead, what they ended up with is a video that didn’t quite seem to know what it was attacking at all. I didn’t think it was insulting, because the thing it was attacking wasn’t indie games. It was… well, just some barmy game ideas. I guess that’s what the potentially insulting part was: that it didn’t feel like the video’s producers had even gone as far as researching what people might think is rubbish about indie games.

    • Lambchops says:

      Also from the brief bits I’ve seen of it (I wasn’t going to sit through an entire presentation!) the “Indie man” sketch where somoene sabotaged major publishers with silly suggestions (it’s funny because they ACTUALLY happened, d’ya get it!) showed that isn’t only IGN that have a someitmes poor grasp of humour!

    • Dinger says:

      Well, let’s face it, all of the sketches they did were pretty lame. For that matter, the only person who could present an award and not sound stilted was Ms. “IGN-sellout-woman”. Watching the thing streaming (I couldn’t sleep), I was just happy I wasn’t there in person.

      And for Cactus’ speech to the best? If that twerp is the best part of an awards show, something’s seriously wrong.

      So, no I disagree. Sure, the sketch about the “top 5 games that didn’t make it” was stupid and condescending (but it got me thinking about CMP mechanics); so was Cactus. The rest of the show was just stupid. So it was actually a highlight. The biggest laugh of the whole hour came from the Enviro-Bear clip they showed.

  12. Morris says:

    Mature? Horror?
    link to mobygames.com

    ;)

  13. Grunt says:

    @Dragon Age article: The formula is simple. Treat PC gamers with respect + provide compelling and interesting games = sales. That publishers can still react with surprise to this only underscores the increasingly tiresome fact that large publishers simply don’t understand the business they are in. With PC gaming you need to work WITH gamers, not fire products AT them and hope to open wallets. More than any other demographic PC gamers want to be treated like adults; spoken to truthfully and earnestly, without excessive spin or prevarication, and also made to feel valued in addition to being entertained. Fail on any one of these points and profits dwindle.

    @Ad-blocking. In days of yore excessive web ads could significantly hamper browsing performance, especially in the days of dial-up. Ad-block systems evolved out of this need as well as the irritation factor. Nowadays, with broadband, fibre and modern browser rendering speeds all increasing, there’s less need to conserve precious resource. Most of us have learned to tune out the ads anyway, or can quickly flick past them. As an Opera user – which has both internal and external ad-blocking systems available – I find myself very rarely blocking anything these days so can browse with a free and clear conscience. :)

  14. Lyndon says:

    “Despite the criticism of games as narrative, almost every game player can quickly name dramatic stories from games which sticks in the mind as moving and engaging.”

    *sigh*

    story ≠ narrative

    Problem solved.

    • Gorgeras says:

      Agree with Lyndon. It can be argued that Half-Life has almost no story but very rich narrative. It’s just a sequence of events, but the player infers meaning into them. Only the later games bothered sticking any story in. It’s the kind of thing that can only be done with games now; most people wouldn’t have the patience to watch a film or tv show play out in the same way, a good reason why cartoons like Tom and Jerry are kept short while Scooby Doo is longer.

  15. Lambchops says:

    That Brooker man vs food article is hilarious,

  16. Mistmanov says:

    So I disabled the ad-blocker for this site..

    ..only to find that my flashblocker is still blocking the majority of the ads -_-

    Not going to disable that one btw. Static images are ok, but the weird stuff that flash does from time to time.. (besides, my poor pc was sometimes brought to it’s knees by some of the flash ads (can’t remember if that was also the case on this site))

    • LionsPhil says:

      Sod netbooks, those bloody Bioshock ads made a Core 2 run flat out. I’ve seen O2 ads elsewhere do the same. Some idiot marketroids have probably used an ActionScript that runs in a tight loop and doesn’t realise/care.

      Opera, Quick Preferences, Disable Plugins. Before RPS moan, the ad system seems to fall back to static images anyway.

  17. Bowlby says:

    lol at the last paragraph of Brooker’s Man Vs Food article. The man knows how to do poop jokes. :D

  18. tomeoftom says:

    I don’t care if this makes me a dick. I hated, hated, hated that rendition of Lizstomania, and the cheesy, melodramatic hand-motions performed by many in the chorus were much closer to embarrassing than cute.

  19. Joe says:

    Watched the video of the IGF awards: Costik was right. The whole show was put together by people who don’t give a flying hoot about indie games, and nonetheless feel entitled to shower the scene with lame mockery at every opportunity.

    Totally worth watching for Cactus’ acceptance speech though – around 31:30.

    Can’t they get better sponsors? Or fewer sponsors and a little less “glitz”? I work for a company that does award ceremonies for tiny little public sector organizations, and I know for a fact that award ceremonies can be done on a small budget and still be rewarding and worthwhile. I mean, the involvement of people that care would be a start.

  20. Nezz says:

    I believe it’s a false generalization that all ad-blockers fail to register the money-making hit. ABP for Firefox certainly does; it blocks the content from loading in the first place. But others, I think, such as Ad-Thwart for Chrome, do load the whole content and then make the useless stuff invisible, which seems to be the win-win solution here.

    • James G says:

      Except that it would still result in a reduced advertising efficiency, meaning that the value per page impression would be reduced to compensate. (This of course ignores the Red Queen Effect* of the advertising arms race, which supposes that a lot of financial investment in advertising it as much about keeping even with your competitors as it is about gaining and advantage.)

      I’m not sure if the term is traditionally applied outside of evolutionary biology, but the concept is the same. Taken from Alice Through the Lookingglass, it uses the Red Queen’s statement to Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” ans an analogy for the evolutionary arms that forces an organism to maintain its advantage over its competitors, even if in isolation such evolutionary changes may offer no significant benefit, or may even be detrimental. Thus advertisers may invest obscene sums of money on brand awareness to gain a leg up on their competitors. Meanwhile if everyone was investing proportionally less in advertising then no one would actually see an equivalent drop in sales, and they’d all have more money to invest in other areas. Naturally in real world situations there are other elements at play, and no companies could be persuaded to adopt such a position.

    • Joe says:

      @ James G

      Red Queen effect in advertising – that is super interesting. Not to be rude, but is that an original thought? If there’s been research done on it I’d like to read up.

    • James G says:

      It is an obserbvation that I picked up from somewhere, but unfortunately I forget where, so couldn’t point you towards any sources. Which is a shame, as I can’t have read many articles on marketing theory in my time. I’m not sure if the direct analogy to the Red Queen effect was in the original discussion either, or if it was one I made myself.

      This is why I should maintain my citation database for more than just my thesis.

    • James G says:

      Found a paper that seems to look at said effect, as well as a few articles which discuss the issue with respect to buisness management as a whole. Unfortunately as I have now reached the end of my monthly bandwidth I am now browsing from my phone, which makes it difficult to read articles and to copy paste links. Googling ‘advertising marketing “Red Queen Effect”‘ seems to me reasonably effective at pulling up articles on the subject. Hopefully some empirical evidence as well. (You might have realised that [citation needed] is a good way to induce guilt in me if I’m ever off spouting ideas which I suddenly realise I’ve forgotten the supporting information for. Mainly because it raises the possibility that I have been spouting bull.)

    • Joe says:

      @ James G

      Google seems to be coming up trumps, yes. And ignore the citation anxiety. It’s a blog comments thread, I’m grateful enough for full sentences.

  21. Bowlby says:

    That ars article still irritates me to this day, and there’s a well-written rebuttal to it here:

    link to briancarper.net

    Take a look; see what you think.

    • Lewis says:

      The book example in that rebuttal would hold a great deal more weight if everyone didn’t seem to think that web-based content was a free entitlement. If charging to view websites wouldn’t be bizarrely laughed out of the door, I suspect we wouldn’t need so many ads.

    • Lyndon says:

      I for one prefer advertising to some sort of hypothetical pay-per-view system.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The problem with that article is this:

      “If your business is about to go bankrupt, and your business is so important to me that I want it to stick around, I’ll give you money. Real money.”

      It’s based on one guy’s idealised view of the world. Great, he is an internet hero, but that’s not going to fix my problems as a website owner. Most people aren’t disposed to want to give money. Often they don’t even have any money to give. They do not *lose* anything by viewing an advert.

    • Grunt says:

      FIRST a person or company puts a lot of information somewhere that everyone can read it effortlessly for free, and THEN they sometimes expect me to look at their ads. And I can simply choose not to.”

      Wrong. The ads are part and parcel of the website’s delivery, not a secondary reading requirement. Reading for free? This is unfair entitlement. It took money to get that content there and all they ask is not that you look at/click on every ad on the page but that you not alter or filter the web-page code to exclude them, which is what ad-blockers do.

      Yes, there are way too many ads in society as a general rule: yes, some internet ads are incredibly annoying and yes, there are alarming concerns about data-mining practices that should be properly legislated and managed but this rebuttal does nothing but portray the writer as a selfish AIM with a chip on his shoulder, as many of the comments following his article also suggest.

      By his viewpoint the RPS-Hivemind don’t deserve to do anything at all to cover their hosting costs: we can just read all their stuff for free forever and to hell with their needs. Argument FAIL.

    • Dean says:

      Wouldn’t Ad-blockers be circumvented entirely though if the ads were actually part of the site? As in, hosted on the site’s own servers?

      I mean, this is how advertising works in most other mediums. Magazines choose their adverts with some degree of care and insist on certain standards (more so the likes of Conde-Nast than Future admittedly). TV adverts similarly are managed: so you don’t get an advert for WKD in the middle of a documentary about alcoholism.

      The web seems to be the only place where you just sell space on a page to an agency who then let clients put whatever the hell they like there. Often using cookies and tracking to target specific things at specific users. Everyone sees something different, so often the site will be an eyesore for people in one country, and the site editors will have no idea.

      If adverts were just images like any other image on the site, there’s no way for an automated system to tell one from another, and there’s a guarantee that the advert has been signed off on by the site’s editors. Of course, that’s a hell of a lot of work, and needs an entire new way of thinking, but the web would be a much better place if we adopted that paradigm. And only by ad-blocking can we reduce the effectiveness of all these middle-men ad-servers and move towards a different method. And before anyone shouts at me for killing RPS, I subscribe.

    • Joe says:

      Good spot, Bowlby. I don’t think Brian Carper’s thing works as a justification for adblocking – in a practical sense, adblocking *does* hurt these sites. However, philosophically he’s sound when he says

      “Businesses exist to milk you of as much of your money as possible. The only sane reaction for the average person is a similar one: I want to deprive businesses of my money. I want to get as much from them as I can, while giving up as little as possible.”

      The double standard – why are individuals criticized for following their bottom line while companies are praised for it?

      That said, it shouldn’t be a war between sites and their users. Both sides should take time out to question the arrangement that has made them “enemies” in the first place.

    • Matt W says:

      @Joe

      That sort of approach is woefully short-sighted, from either direction. Businesses that focus on milking now at the expense of sustainable profits later generally die. Customers who find a product they like, and then drive the producer out of business because it’s “philosophically sound” to destroy said producer’s profit margins by any means available, are generally going to live a less joyous life in the long run because they are intentionally destroying things that make them happy. Yes, it usually pays to be savvy, but that does not justify economic savagery.

    • Wulf says:

      @Dean

      I’d be happier if RPS hosted their own ads, that way they could parse the content for themselves, and the responsibility would fall upon them to ensure that nothing malign ended up on their site. I could never trust ad providers to be that benevolent.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Regarding the Carper article:

      “Stop trying to grab my attention, evoke emotional responses in me, manipulate my mind, and trick me into spending money on crap I don’t need.”

      Can we please grow up a bit as a culture and get past this bullshit? Mind control doesn’t exist. No one forces you to buy anything. Unless an ad actually conveys misleading information (and some do, and should be criticized for it), it won’t trick you into spending money on crap you don’t need. Yeah, they’re designed to get an emotional response. Yeah, they want to get your attention. But you are the only one who chooses to buy or not to buy. All this bullshit about being manipulated and so forth is just lazy person’s shorthand for “I make bad purchasing decisions and don’t want to take responsibility for it”. That is the consumer’s own fault, and one should take oneself to task for it rather than blaming it on insidious advertising mind control.

      That said, I still don’t really want to look at garish and obnoxious ads. RPS’ ads are pretty restrained and reasonable, so I have it unblocked and allowed in my noscript. I’m not likely to do that for sites that don’t show that level of consideration for my poor corneas.

    • sexyresults says:

      Probably the worst rebuttal I’ve ever read. That man just bitches about advertising, completely missing the point.

  22. Casimir's Blake says:

    Craig Lager has obviously never played Whiteday.

  23. Jon says:

    I feel ever so slightly guilty for having an ad-blocker now :( In fairness I find it most useful to block annoying avatars on forums.

  24. Jim Rossignol says:

    We’d need a huge number of people to subscribe before we could even consider not running ads. RPS is already a massive investment in time and money, and to reading whinging about adverts – the only practical method for keeping this site on the internet – breaks my heart every time I see it.

    I’ve never adblocked and don’t intend to. The sites that run noxious pop up stuff I simply don’t visit.

    • terry says:

      I have RPS whitelisted in my Adblocker for this reason. Also I like UGG boots.

    • Grunt says:

      …I wasn’t aware you took donations. Only $2 (currently £1.32) a month?

      BARGAIN. :)

    • the wiseass says:

      The ads on this site aren’t that annoying and for the most part gaming related. So it’s okay, really. I know you guys want to make some bucks with this service and that’s okay too. I want to support you people and that is why I don’t block your (relatively decent) ads.
      And yes, writing meaningful stuff take quite a bit of time, but don’t tell me this site is a “massive investment in money”. Buying some web-space and a domain doesn’t really cost that much and the WordPress CMS is neither complicated nor does it cost any money (even if I think, considering the numerous website-bugs, that you guys would be better off using drupal).

    • Jon says:

      Have just whitelisted RPS and will subscribe in a moment.

    • Jon says:

      @thewiseass I’d say it’s less that doing RPS costs the boys money but it’s more lost revenue for what they post on RPS. As freelance journalists anything they write *could* be used to pay this week’s gas bill, if they post it to RPS then they’ve essentially worked for free.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      @thewiseass, Jon nails it. We’ve sunk massive amounts of writing into this site. That’s money to us.

      And yes, setting up a website is cheap and easy, but don’t patronise me. I know what we’ve gone through to keep this site working, and we’d have folded long ago without constant support from Positive internet and others. There’s been a very real cost to get this site to the stage it is now at, which I’ve very pleased with, but also enormously grateful for.

    • Gap Gen says:

      How much would you have to charge for a hypothetical system where subscribers don’t see adverts?

      That said, most of the time RPS adverts don’t bother me. I was just curious.

    • Jon says:

      I’ve got a freelancer for a sister-in-law so I understand parts of the business – the monopoly Bath has on the business and the unusual working day [twitter updates at 4am for example].

    • Wulf says:

      Do you run NoScript, Jim?

    • sexyresults says:

      Well I subscribe and don’t block ads, does that mean I get a hug or something?

    • Vinraith says:

      So that would be a hug with sexy results?

  25. the wiseass says:

    @Jon
    I disagree. Being a Freelancer you only get so much work. What better thing is there to do than invest in your forced free-time and run your own ad-based website? The more traffic you get, the better your revenue and I’d say RPS generates enough traffic to make it profitable. So writing an article on here is an investment in traffic, which in return generates ad-income.
    link to quantcast.com
    I’m not patronizing anyone, I know it’s not easy to get a website off the ground, even if it is one of the best gaming websites around. But this website isn’t running on pure altruism either.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I wish that were true. Right now it’s far, far more profitable for me personally to sell work off than it is to put it on RPS. Of course, I want to own something and not have to write everything according to someone else’s editorial agenda, which is why RPS exists.

      One day, hopefully, RPS will be as profitable as you suggest, but that doesn’t mean the years we’ve spent building it up haven’t had a cost.

      And no, it’s not running on altruism, which is why I feel the need to get arsey whenever the topic of ad-blocking comes up :)

    • the wiseass says:

      Profits require investments. I’ve yet to come by a project that generates profit and didn’t require some form of upfront cost. I dunno how much this site generates, but it seems enough to make it worthwhile even if it could always be more of course. Besides a well respected website like this also comes with certain non monetary advantages for its maintainers I bet (like making a name for yourselves)?

      I’m sorry I didn’t want to sound like a spoiled brat or so. I’m fine with how you guys are running this Site and I’m grateful for its existence. So I wish you guys all the best luck.

    • jarvoll says:

      Whoah – 20,000 visitors per day? RPS is waaaaay bigger than I thought it was!

    • Jon says:

      What caused their daily traffic to quadruple on the 18th of Feb though?

    • Dean says:

      While there is only so much freelance work to go around, the reason RPS is so awesome is that it’s written by four of the top PC games writers in the industry. Not to inflate their egos too much, but I imagine there’s a fair bit of demand for their copy. They’ve been at this for a long time, know the industry inside-out, have a lot of respect from developers and so on.

      RPS ain’t four university students messing about and writing about games in their free time.

    • cliffski says:

      The main reason RPS is so good is it is primarily original content featuring on PC games. You don’t get that many places. Kotaku, Slashdot, bluesnews, digg, all these sites do is just copy and paste other peoples work.
      RPS actually does the proper journalistic grunt work where you spedn hours interviewing people.
      Much to my distress, that is currently the exception rather than the rule.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Jon

      Feb 18th sounds about the right time for the Ubi DRM nonsense first being announced.

      Every cloud and all that!

  26. Gromit says:

    Did Bioware really wonder while making DAO “Is the PC market dead?” That just baffles me.

  27. bonuswavepilot says:

    Hurrah, more Brooker!

    Just got onto Screenwipe this week (yeah, ok, ok, don’t think its ever been on telly here in the convict colony) and I’m enjoying it immensely. Nothing like someone with a good line in erudite vitriol.

  28. nayon says:

    Not the ad blocking thing. Come on. link to techdirt.com

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “Along those lines, if you are running a media site, if you’re having trouble making money, it’s your fault. Don’t blame your readers. Don’t blame your community by telling them they’re “devastating” a site by blocking ads or failing to pay for a paywall. As the producers of that site, it’s your responsibility to do things to get that site paid for. ”

      Like, say, telling people that turning off Adblock will make us more money?

      It’s not an either/or thing. Mentioning adblock is part of a whole range of responses to trying to moneterize a site.

      Of course, I don’t believe the post for a second. It’s a more subtle version of the anti-ad-block post. All the info is there, but he comes across as loving and caring towards the community. It’s a pretty lie, and well played, if you want to take that route. I frankly think it pretty duplicitous.

      Really basic hard maths: 30-40% of RPS readers use adblock. If they didn’t, we’d be making that percentage more money. I understand, of course, why they do it – though only really for our European ads which we’re trying to do something about – but it doesn’t change that fact.

      Regarding wiseass: To take one small feature, if we did the Solium Infernum Diary for any of the mags we’d normally write for, we’d be looking at a couple of grand’s worth of writing. One feature alone, we’ve lost that amount of money. Three years of our lives isn’t a free thing. It has made all of RPS financially worse off. That we think it’ll pay off in the long term is why we do it. It is a business.

      Regarding the size of RPS: Bigger than you may think. 500,000 uniques a month.

      KG

    • nayon says:

      Just to be clear, I don’t use an ad blocker. Even when there are ads that really annoy me, I can deal with them. However my post was against the article. I just wanted to present two sides of the argument. My general point was that people would adblock less if the ads were less annoying. On some sites I get really bad ads, which make me close the site without reading and never return. RPS is usually not too bad with ads. Don’t take my post against RPS. I mean no disrespect.

    • the wiseass says:

      @Kieron

      Would there even be any big media outlets willing to pay a couple o’ grand worth of money for such a Solium Inferno feature? Because honestly I kind of doubt that.

    • Dinger says:

      Yes. I was gonna say that. This site is awesome because no publisher’s gonna pay a couple thousand for that SI feature, but I’m more than happy to give you my ad revenue for it, and link my friends to it as a fine piece of gaming narrative. Who knows, one day, I might even subscribe.

      Someone above suggested hosting locally the ads. That would solve a lot fo problems: in my experience, most of the slowdown on loading web pages is due to the adservers. On the other hand, there’s one issue it won’t solve: how to pay per impression.

      An old version of Adblock used to let you nuke flash crap with a right mouse click. That was for me the perfect solution. I let folks have their ads, but if a site blocks my reading the text with stupid animations, that sight loses its right to deliver to me. I mean, honestly, how can anyone seriously thing that annoying people is an effective ad tactic?

    • Wulf says:

      @KG

      I’ve gained a huge amount of respect for you over these past few months, but I don’t think you have all the facts in regards to the mechanics of ads, since some of the readers who seem to be blocking ads could simply be blocking the scripts behind the ads using something like NoScript. NoScript stops the script from executing — of course — and therefore that ad doesn’t tick over with a recognised view, because the script doesn’t fire.

      So there are people who might be using NoScript for the safety of their computer, viewing the ads, and yet you might see no benefit from those viewed ads. And using NoScript is perfectly reasonable, really, with all the Firefox exploits in the wild at the moment it’s not unreasonable to think that an unscrupulous ad might try to use one of these to slip something into the system. This risk is increased 100fold with IE, but it’s arisk with Opera, Chrome, and everything else too, since no form of software is completely exploit-proof, and since the humble browser is at the most risk of contamination due to its direct contact with so much of the Internet, that’s the most likely vector of entry.

      So yes, a lot of people use NoScript, but the end result of this is that it doesn’t allow ads to work properly. The end result is a vicious cycle, because the ad providers absolutely cannot (and will not) guarantee the safety of their ads, just as YouTube can’t stop copyright infringement, there’s too much to cover and they’d be losing money if they overdid it, and the user doesn’t want malicious code running on their system.

      This is why I feel that the system of ads is flawed, because it requires the user to not only remove any ad blockers they might have, but to further execute any scripts that accompany the ad. Some will allow this to happen, some won’t, some will be completely witless as to the execution of scripts, some will be witless as to how NoScript and similar solutions effect the situation.

      In my eyes, ads aren’t a great way to make money. If RPS required a subscription, even around the area of $5/$10, I could live with that if there were no ads.

    • Starky says:

      Wulf has the crux of it for most savvy users, I run both Ad-block Plus, and No Script, the former for my own sanity when surfing the wild (for all those annoying flashing ads with sound and rubbish, those flash ads that make even my 3Gig Quad core have to work hard.
      The Latter because I refuse to open my system up to cross site scripting, for simple security – Almost all malware infections these days are caused by exactly that, usually snuck into some kind of ad – more so I don’t want unknown companies tracking my internet usage, not that I’m -that- bothered about privacy online (I’m under no such illusion that it even exists) – It’s more that I’d rather not have them dump crap on my computer (mainly tracking cookies) that I have to clean out.
      So, while I’m happy to see ads and support RPS, I will not allow them from an external service – or any ad service that requires scripting.
      I’m not sorry over this, no more than I’m sorry for pausing sky+ while I make a coffee then skipping over the ads upon my return.
      So, bottom line is to support you guys I’ll whitelist ads on RPS – but I will NOT whitelist some ad-companies external system, because that whitelists it everywhere, not just on RPS (often requiring 2-3 whitelistings before you can actually see an ad because these things run in a chain, one loading the next) – and that’s too much risk.

    • Wulf says:

      @Starky

      Exactly.

      It’s surprising how few people realise how much risk is introduced to their system when they simply whitelist the script-servers and the ads for a site they want to support. I can understand the sentiment, and it is a very noble sentiment. I like noble. I also like ethical. I do realise it’s unethical not to support a site like RPS if I’m actually making use of their content and bandwidth. All of this I accept as a given. However, understanding all of this, I have enough to deal with on a daily basis as-is, and I won’t degrade my quality of life further by having to deal with the crap that doing so would heap on me.

      That really sounds like an incredibly selfish thing to say, and I do feel guilty about it (hence my continued apologies), but that’s why I refuse to whitelist these script servers. The thing is, RPS is worth the money, and I think that if they featured an ad-free site design as part of a subscription offer… well, they’d have a lot of subscribers. Just look at how many sites out there do that, and again, I’ve talked to site providers about this due to concerns I’ve had in the past, it’s definitely the better route from all that I’ve heard.

      I admit, none of those sites were as big as RPS, but if RPS were to charge $5/6 a month for an adless site, then I imagine that would cover all the funds they’d get from advertising anyway. I’m really curious if RPS would be up for this as an option, and whether I’m being idealistic or whether $5/6 really would cover the same amount of money they’d get from me if I were viewing ads. The thing is, it comes down to this: The ad companies can pay them or I can pay them.

      If I pay them, there are three bonuses:

      1. I don’t have to view those nasty things, therefore I have peace of mind in regards to security.
      2. I don’t have to feel guilty about potential freeloading, because they’re getting that money regardless.
      3. RPS isn’t getting dirty money, and I say dirty money because of questionable ad provider practises.

      That’s all boons with no caveats! Isn’t it?

    • Starky says:

      See I don’t feel guilty – as harsh as it may sound it’s not my responsibility to ensure the profitability of any website or service.

      Yes I really like RPS, but I like dozens if not hundreds of sites equally, and there is no way I can afford to financially support all of them, so I choose to support none. That’s just the nature of the web.
      I understand the plight of the RPS writers, and sympathize but hundreds of websites are suffering the same – the solution isn’t going to come in the form of subscriptions or donations – that might save a few, and maybe RPS will be one of them – but the reality is many, if not most of the websites, especially those in blog format such as RPS will die.

      Other methods may be the key, maybe making a deal with online digital distributors, to offer links to buy games mentioned on RPS with RPS getting a cut.
      So long as it is done honestly, Like Lewie P does over at savvygamer, I don’t see a problem with it.

      Obviously I don’t have the answers, I don’t think anyone does – which is why so many online publications big and small are scrambling about trying to find revanue, many of them sinking to the depths of advertisement agencies that require me to adblock/noscript of which RPS is a casualty of.

      I don’t mind subtle ads, I don’t even mind clicking them sometimes (when I remember) if they are served locally from the website I am looking at, and not flashing, beeping, CPU eating monstrosities.

      I’ve heard many people say that if I block ads I should stop reading and consuming resources – but does that really help? Isn’t it better for a website to have a reader that adblocks and find some way to turn that into revenue, than lose readership?

      All I know is if RPS or any site required me to disable noscript (and allow external ads) to view the content, I’d simply stop reading the website – that choice lies with the site admin of the various websites I regularly read.
      My choice is what level of intrusion I will allow.

      I’m not going to feel guilty over having a line I’ll not except websites crossing, but I’d not blame them for refusing to serve me content for having that line.

      As much as I love reading RPS, if it was the choice of allowing those external ads (with the risk they carry), or never reading RPS again, I’d choose the latter. That is my choice.

      RPS’s choice (and other websites like arstechnica) is whether or not they are going to allow me to read their content regardless and/or find another way to turn my views into cash.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Wiseass:

      1) You’d be surprised. Various mags have ran long AARs. Tom’s amazing Gal Civ article, written as part of his day job, was turned into a book for front mounting on PCG. Shorter form AARs have ran – I dare say we could get at least 6 pages out of it at Gamer, which would be 700 quid or so. Four long form articles at Eurogamer – Like John’s Bastardly KOTOR piece – would be about 500. All bar Tom’s are shorter, but works of the same character.

      2) It’s Irrelevant whether we could sell it. We could have spent the efort on writing that amount to write features that would have sold. With the effort of my portion alone, I could have written a 300-500 quid feature piece off it. Our time and attention is a resource. We spent it on doing the AAR. We could have spent it on something we could have sold. Frankly, when I was primarily a games journalist, I was in the blessed position where pretty much anything I wanted to write, I could sell.

      3) What do you do for a living, sir? I’d like to give you some advice on it. Obviously I don’t know anything about it, but I’d like you to know how ridiculously out of order you’re being here.

      KG

    • the wiseass says:

      @ Kieron:
      Its funny how seldom one reads such features in most of the mainstream media. I have yet to come across a major gaming magazine featuring a six page long article on Solium Infernum, Runman, Aquaria or most other indie games (at least where I come from, it may be different in the UK). It is a simple rule of paid media, you publish what people are interested in and most indie games simply do not generate enough public interest to justify a six page long feature on a “minor” game. Yes there may be exceptions but these only confirm the general rule.
      So yes, my question was purely based on curiosity and on what I am usually able to read on several gaming websites and magazines. There is no need to be insulting as I think I made sure that I was not criticizing you guys for running this website which I enjoy a lot :(
      And lastly, my business is none of your concern, but if I would tell you I’d gladly discuss it with you even if you’d knew nothing about it. Take it easy, I’m actually grateful for the insights you guys are sharing with us on here. So consider me enlighted :)

    • Dean says:

      Last months’ UK PC Gamer had six pages on Spelunky, so yes it happens.

    • sexyresults says:

      An Australian PC gamer mag had about 6 pages on a source mod last year. wiseass, why the chip on the shoulder?

    • MJS says:

      Those multi-page features, as well as the other mods/community stuff (much better reading about them in some published form that trawling through internet forums to find the next great HL & UT mod) were the real reasons why I read PC gamer 5-6 years ago, most of the time I didn’t care about the reviews aside from maybe 1 or 2 per issue and with getting easy internet access around that time the ‘news’ would be several weeks out of date by the time I picked up a copy. The features such as Kieron’s own Angband mini adventure blog thing and Tom Francis’ EVE undercover scam plot I still remember to this day and on the occasional trip home I now and again root out these old copies from under my bed to re-read such articles.

      RPS with such similar articles is something that every other day or so I enjoy going onto and while the subscription is a pitiful amount of money per month I wish there was more incentive for me and other people to subscribe, even at a higher price, all I know about that what you constantly get from it is a newsletter once a month or something and that in one of the podcasts prior to Christmas it was mentioned you were hoping to expand on it.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Wiseass: Sorry – I was reading your questions with a tone of open disbelief and sarcasm rather than how you mean them.

      KG

  29. Stu says:

    Phoenix, eh? Well, it seems like as good a moment as any to plug this remix I did of 1901:

  30. Psychopompy says:

    @Jon

    Probably all that silly Valve stuff last month.

  31. Mr. Taxman says:

    How many sites complain about ad-blockers depriving them of money, but then don’t declare ad-revenue as a form of income; depriving the poor government of their hard-earned tax?

    /Tosser

  32. hmmrf says:

    The thing with the ads is:
    I don’t use an adblocker, but I (normally. right now I’m surfing with Chromium) use Noscript, for security purposes. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust RPS for example, but I don’t trust (most of) the rest of the web, and I don’t trust the code ad companies put on websites. So for that reason many sites don’t earn money from me visiting.

    Guess I should visit RPS with Chromium more often ;)
    (Although I’m already a subscriber as well)

    • Wulf says:

      Problem with something like NoScript is that it likely stops the ad providers from utilising the scripts they use to tell whether the ad is being viewed, so it’s basically the same as blocking the ads.

      Even those who use NoScript without an ad blocker are actually still stopping the recognition process from happening, at least, most probably. I’ve noticed that most ad sites use scripts for this, and I’ve had a nose at these scripts, so I can only imagine that without them ad views just don’t count.

  33. invisiblejesus says:

    Not much to disagree with on the Ars piece, but I was surprised by the statement “We made the mistake of assuming that everyone who is blocking ads at Ars is doing so with malice.” Wow… talk about being out of touch with how most people think about the internet. Still, they’re doing the right thing by talking about it and educating their viewers, and by admitting they were mistaken. I was just a little taken aback that professionals would jump right to that conclusion.

    • Wulf says:

      Not to mention that there are perfectly valid reasons for blocking ads, just as there are valid reasons for using NoScript: One doesn’t care to have one’s system flooded with ad/spy/malware, and it’s pretty much a long known truth that ad servers are more responsible for serving these up than anything else. Even more so than porn sites, I’d dare say.

      Frankly, I’d love to see all ad-supported sites adopt a subscription system, as I’d be very happy to pay the sites I like, just as I pay for the indie games I like.

  34. Wulf says:

    I’ll get to the rest of the Papers in due course, but there’s something I wanted to reply to right away…

    I block ads.

    I have also subscribed (and would not object if RPS raised the subscription price).

    I would prefer a required subscription for some/all content over ads.

    I have a very valid reason for this. I don’t know whether anyone has ever noticed this about me, but computer upkeep is very important to me, and I tend to play things very safe. I invariably own a computer that can outperform computers with superior hardware, furthermore, I’ve never had a single piece of malware on my computer, regardless of which of my computers I’m talking about. I was a Linux user for a long time simply because I didn’t trust Windows’ “security” so much (it’s better these days).

    What’s the number one way for letting malware into a system on the web? Ads. That’s the number one way. Whether we’re talking ActiveX exploits or exploits that exist in Firefox, Opera, or anything. It’s either AdBlocking, or using NoScript for the site, which is probably going to break how the ads detect that I’m viewing them, anyway. So NoScript is just as bad as an ad blocker for that reason.

    The thing is, there’s no way anyone can control what an ad server serves up, and if they unwittingly serve up an ad that has some form of spyware embedded in it, well… there’s not much anyone can do. Suffice it to say, I am not at all a very trusting person, but I am a good judge of character. I trust RPS completely, but I don’t trust ads, and I never will. And to be honest, I think that’s perfectly reasonable.

    At the end of the day, the only software that’s running on this shrine of a computer is simply the software I wish to have running, and nothing more. I use a number of tools to ensure this is the case, including stuff like ProcessGuard, and this is probably a little redundant as I’ve never really had cause for concern, but I figure I’m better paranoid than sorry, and I don’t like having a false sense of security.

    I realise that there’s no way of stopping inevitable damage, but I want to do all that I can do to reduce the eventuality, to postpone it, to prevent the ways in which it can happen. NoScript and ad blocking is just one of the ways I do this. That’ll never change, and therefore that’s why I prefer to pay for content rather than put up with ads.

  35. redrain85 says:

    I don’t mind the ads, except when they’re for something like Xbox Live. Seeing that on RPS is just . . . so wrong.

    Well that, and the types of ads where if you accidentally move your mouse cursor over them: they take over your screen with a popup and some kind of gigantic animation. Grrrrrrrrrr.

  36. Wulf says:

    On a related-but-not-exactly-the-same-topic (which is why I didn’t reply to my own post with it)…

    How many people would object to a $5/$10 subscription cost?

    How many people would object if content like the Neptune’s Pride Diary were subscriber only?

    If subscribing meant extra content and a site design that didn’t include ads, would you do it?

    I’ve seen many other sites adopt this system, where subscribing for about the $5/$10 mark gives extra content and removes the ads, and according to the site maintainers it’s actually been a very lucrative practise, even more so than ads, because it’s a reliable income stream.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      It’s a good question. For myself… one of the main things I look for from a games site is community, so about the only things that could coax a subscription fee out of me would be community-related things. A stronger and more aggressive moderation policy is the only specific that comes to mind. That said, I wouldn’t feel slighted if a reasonable amount of content became subscriber-only, even if it meant I’d lose access to it.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      I’m a subscriber (and occasional donor) myself, but I’d object to subscriber-only content. It would fundamentally change my disposition towards the site, to be honest.

    • Sagan says:

      @ Wulf:

      I’m opposed to subscriber only content. It just doesn’t feel right.
      Also there might be real reasons against it. For example, that other websites couldn’t link to your content any more.
      Also I can’t subscribe because Paypal won’t let me for some weird reason in their system.

      If I could subscribe, I would also subscribe if it was 5$ a month. But not much more. Maybe RPS should just give you a choice between 2$ or 5$ a month for your subscription. There wouldn’t be a difference between the two. It is only a matter of how much you want to give.

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith

      Fair enough.

      I’m just wondering if there’s a middle-ground, or an ideal scenario, one that would make those who simply really hate ad providers and RPS happy, and expose freeloaders for who they are. Frankly, I’d toss $5 at RPS a month if it were simply for an ad-free design alone. I mean, would they really make more than $5 a month off me if I didn’t keep the nefarious ad providers away from my precious computer?

      So, how about $5/6 a month then for an ad-free site? Does that sound reasonable? And yes, I really would put my money where my mouth is in regards to this, I’m not a freeloader, or a parasite, I just REALLY hate ad providers.

      Sorry RPS.

    • Atalanta says:

      @Wulf –

      I’d object. I subscribed this morning (I’ve been meaning to for a while, and this whole discussion finally got me off my lazy rear). Things like the SI and Neptune’s Pride diaries are a big part of why I did, but I almost certainly wouldn’t have subscribed solely to gain access to them.

      I think offering a choice between two or three subscription amounts is a good idea.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      At present I subscribe and, as often as not, turn adblock on. I leave it off when I can, but whenever something obnoxious pops up I flip it back on and often forget to turn it off again for quite awhile. I’d happily pay $5 for an ad free site, yes.

    • Wulf says:

      @lanta

      Yep, I covered that in my reply to Vinraith.

      Basically, I suggested a subscription option of around $5/$6 (or more, if they get more than that from the ads) for an adless version of the site. And that way all guilt is removed for those who do subscribe.

    • Bowlby says:

      I wouldn’t object to a subscriber model for extra content and no ads, but I also wouldn’t pay for it, either.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Basically, I suggested a subscription option of around $5/$6 (or more, if they get more than that from the ads) for an adless version of the site. And that way all guilt is removed for those who do subscribe.
      But with the subscriber system thus moderated, it’s no use whatsoever. People can still get an ad-less version of RPS by turning on their plugins, as you do. So they can pay for an ad-less version, or for the same service they can… not pay? Subscribing to RPS is pretty much a donation under both systems.
      To be honest, a subscription model wouldn’t help RPS any. What it needs is a larger (and possibly wider) reader base, so the ad-phobic neurotics who apparently currently make up the readers have less of an impact. It’ll come with time, I’m certain.

    • cs says:

      I think subscriptions would work better if there was some sort of tangible bonus. Having some content being exclusive wouldn’t be considered a bonus, since most people think of text on the web as being something that’s always free. Anything behind a paywall is just going to be ignored by 95+ percent of your audience.

      So I would think subscriptions could be increased by giving the customers something they wouldn’t normally get elsewhere. Things like 10 to 20 percent discounts on certain indie games. Guaranteed invitations to closed betas. Early release of demos before they’re available to the general public. Subscribers with 6 or 12 months paid would get some great t-shirts with suitably ironic designs that have something to do with gaming. Maintain a subscriber-only downloads area with some hard-to-find freeware, utilities, and possibly HD videos. Plus subscriber-only forums and matchmaking services, in addition to the already free forum areas.

      Considering that this site does a lot to make the gaming public aware of what would otherwise be little-known independent titles, I would think deals like that wouldn’t be hard to arrange without compromising the site’s editorial integrity.

      I suppose what I’m describing is something along the lines of Gamespy, but I think something like that done with a focus on independents would work.

    • Wulf says:

      @Lilly

      “[…] ad-phobic neurotics […]”

      Man, I would hate to have to service your computer, I truly would. I’ve unfortunately met one too many people with your attitude, the sort of people who’re blissfully ignorant of the nature and inherent risks of technology, the kind of person that believes all threats are imaginary and that there’s no point in taking any sort of precaution. Usually it’s the kind of person who has so much money that they don’t need any sense. It’s also usually the same kind of person that thinks there’s no harm in opening email attachments.

      Before flippantly slagging off people and trying to make them look like some underclass of the Internet you might want to consider that those who choose to block scripts for their security have perfectly logical and rational reasons for doing so, none of which you may have considered due to a lack of the broader knowledge of computer use that those people have.

      The adoption of ad services throughout the Internet is a big problem, and new ideas need to come into play in order to supersede something that — at its core — is a horrible system, new methods of bringing in revenue that don’t force a reader to put their computer at risk. Whilst a subscription model might not be the best answer, it’s still a better answer than a content provider sitting on their laurels and relying on ad-based revenue.

      The reason I suggested what I did was so that RPS would give us the permission to have an ad-free site, under a higher subscription tier. Sort of an agreement wherein if we supply the same amount of income as the ad revenue, we can go without the ads and not be freeloaders or parasites for it.

      Once people eventually become more educated and less ignorant to the nature of technology and its inherent risks, the size of the reader-base won’t matter, because no one’s going to want to take those risks, unless they just have more money than sense. People with more money than sense can just throw money at poor computer maintenance types to clean up their messes for them, but I’m hoping that that sort of person is in the minority here, and that we primarily have an intelligent community who understand their computers and care about their upkeep, otherwise we might as well just own consoles (where little to no maintenance is required).

      So the long and the short of it is that the ad providers have been fuelled by an engine of ignorance thus far, and eventually the only stubborn holdouts are going to be those who’re intent on remaining ignorant and doing their computers harm, but even their ignorance can’t last forever… I hope.

    • drewski says:

      As a current subscriber, I don’t think I’d pay a higher subscription price. I can justify the current price on the basis that it’s cheaper than a magazine, but also insubstantial, and that whilst there’s a lot of stuff I do like, there’s also a lot of stuff I don’t. And whilst the writing and news are fantastic, they’re also not always relevant.

      If you start charging similar amounts to print magazines, suddenly the flaws in RPS become much harder to overlook. I can buy PC gaming mags for not much more than US$5 and they have bright shiny pictures and competitions and hardware reviews and 6 page review spreads and all sorts of nifty stuff that I’d probably take over RPS for that price, despite the quality of writing here.

    • Wulf says:

      @cs

      Not a bad idea.

      They could have something like:

      $2 – This is a base donation, and will get you invites to some betas, and a few offers, stuff of the sort, but if the amount we have to give is limited, you won’t be ‘preferred’.
      $6 – This is the same as the above, but with our consent to block the ads of our site (or possibly an ad-free version of the site, whichever).
      $12 – This will give you access to our subscriber-only area, which has HD videos, early access to some demos, discounts, competitions, and will mark you as ‘preferred’ wherever we have a limited amount of beta keys.

      Something like that could work!

    • Wulf says:

      @Drewski

      The trick is getting the right price/reward ratio then. But remember, these prices are in dollars, and the average gaming rag in the UK costs £5-6, which would be almost equivalent to the highest donation tier I mentioned. $6 is still far less than a gaming magazine, at least in the UK.

    • drewski says:

      I’m not sure there’s really all that much in the way of reward for subscribers. The newsletter is nice, but otherwise you’re basically just getting the odd beta key invite and as someone who doesn’t play, and has no interest in, betas, I’m really only subscribing to support the content.

      I don’t claim to be the standard subscriber model or anything, but I do question how many people will actually be prepared to pay prices similar to a magazine subscription for the type of content RPS can reasonably provide as premium.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I like CS’ and Wulf’s ideas on this. They might actually give me an incentive to subscribe. The biggest challenge really would be to create that sense of exclusivity for subscribers without alienating regular visitors. The Hivemind knows the industry better than I do, I suspect, so I imagine they could come up with better ideas to make that happen than I could.

      Also, regarding CS’ comment about Gamespy: the problem with Gamespy isn’t that they tried to offer a bad service. The problem is they tried to offer a good service, but did a very bad job of it. I could see RPS making a similar offering but doing it right.

    • Vinraith says:

      Everyone in this conversation realizes that Wulf’s $2 level IS the current subscription system, right?

    • JuJuCam says:

      The irony is if this were a console-focussed site I’d wager the readership would be less computer savvy and therefore less inclined to adblock and generate more ad revenue.

      Personally I tried adblocking once but at the time most of my favourite websites looked broken without ads. So now I don’t and I cruise around the internet unprotected because I live fast and loose like that. I’d rather not worry than live in fear, personally, and when things inevitably go wrong with my system I have no qualms about nuking the lot and starting over.

      In terms of RPS specifically, I spend 95% of my time on this site reading down comments where there are no ads. They just aren’t offensive to me. And if I’m looking websites that do scream advertising at me from every available surface then I’ve probably got other things to worry about.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Jujucam: Same here, the only ads I get are the GOG and Gamersgate ones. The ads you get vary by region though, and clearly folks from other regions are getting different ads.

    • Wulf says:

      @invisiblejesus

      Indeed. I agree with you pretty much count for count. I think some of us would be willing to support RPS anyway, but having some exclusivity and rewards for doing so to an extent would be very nice. And I agree, they’re smart blokes, they could figure it out.

      @Vinraith

      Thanks for pointing that out! It’s appreciated.

      @JuJuCam

      That’s the point I made to Lil.

      See, if you’re blissfully ignorant, you just are, and that’s that. The only way you could actually have that mindset is if you actually didn’t know. If your computer was just shut down tomorrow, then your opinion would change.

      Those of us with the knowledge deal with our fear by putting necessary precautions in place, and whilst there is no way (at all) to be completely secure, it is nice to have safety nets. We can then browse around with peace of mind, knowing that we’ve covered as many bases as we can, and if that something does get us it’s going to have to be damned clever to do so.

      Myself, I use a virus scanner that’s always in the top 10 of virus.gr’s list, I use ProcessGuard on top of that, and a number of other tricks that would probably go over the heads of most, and then I feel happy. The only way to be completely fearless is to be completely ignorant. And I can’t be ignorant in regards to anything. If one is ignorant in regards to sex, one gets an STD. If one is ignorant in regards to the Internet, one’s computer gets an STD (sort of, it’s what malware reminds me of, anyway).

      And this is a battle between the witful (not a word, I know) and the witless, wherein one side is stubborn and the other is begging them to listen for their own good. I can’t force someone to not be witless, as that would be unethical in and of itself, but I do try to convince people to listen. Because the thing is, ignorance is bad in regards to everything, and it’s all fine, love, sunshine, roses, daffodils, lollipops, and rainbows until someone shoots someone in the eye, or they get an STD, or their computer ends up with some debilitating form of malware that’s capable of trashing the hardware (yes, that can happen, and even a format doesn’t magically solve everything as there are forms of malware that can hide in firmware).

      So some people can live like that, in total ignorance of what might happen from one day to the next, but I can’t. I like to avoid STDs, shooting people in the eye, and malware alike.

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Wulf

      Sign me up with the blissfully semi-ignorant along with Juju and Invisiblejesus

      I trust my antivirus, anti spyware and general common sense at not clicking on silly things to get me by, Also if my computer shutdown tomorrow I’d still be blissfully ignorant. Adverts on websites probably wouldn’t be top of the list of me stabbing in the dark at what had gone wrong. That’s not so much ignorance as trust. The precautions I have taken are supposed to take care of my PC, at least that’s what they tell me, so I’d naturally assume the problem lay elsewhere.

      I’m sure you’d reckon that this is vergin into the dangerous territory of willful ignorance instead of blissful ignorance – but you’ve got to draw a line somewhere where you believe that whatever efforts you’ve made are adequate. Otherwise, to bring back in your analogy, you’re just left with abstinence, And that just ain’t fun!

    • Wulf says:

      @LambChops

      I’d buy into that, except… what I do takes very little effort, even a lazy person could do it, and it protects me from almost every vector of attack. Despite this, I get to enjoy as much of the Internet as any other person, so no abstinence here (unless someone’s going about their security wrong).

      Really, all it comes down to is fear of whatever effort might be involved. Simple as.

      If you can lock your house at night, you can secure your PC properly. And really, not bothering to secure your PC properly is the same as not locking your house, because if you don’t then someone can just wander in and steal all your stuff. Except with the Internet the damages are greater and the chances are less that the crook will be caught.

      For a little effort, the payoff is worth it. But you are showing wilful ignorance, and I cannot take that away from you, I’m not even going to try. What you choose to do is up to you, and I understand the fear of effort, the fear of lack of knowledge, and the fear that you might do it wrong. All I ask is the same understanding in return. I don’t expect anyone to take up my ways, I just don’t want to be treated as some kind of neurotic for bothering to lock my house/PC properly.

      That’s all.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m going to put this debate to rest with one post, I think I need to at this point. Please, stick with me, and I’ll do my best to make this as clear as possible.

      Let’s say that someone slips a bit of cross-site scripting into an ad, every time that ad displays it could attempt to find a vector of entry into your computer, and therefore every time you view it you’re placing yourself at risk. Then, when the correct vector is found, they’re in, and when they’re in, they’re in.

      You think that data corruption or hardware death is the worst of your worries? No.

      The thing is, there are criminal groups out there who put together software designed to collect information, such groups are considered such a threat that even Governments are taking notice due to all the fraud involved. And if this finds the correct angle of entry to get into your personal network, then what? They can nose around all your personal data, your email addresses, they could get your credit card information, logins, they could even dig out blackmail material.

      And all because you didn’t care to secure your PC. Not securing your PC is like not securing your house, and all the risks are there. By not having a secured PC you’re just inviting people to waltz in and steal your stuff, all of it, and this is the kind of thing that can lead to identity theft, even, this is the kind of stuff where — if they get sensitive enough info — you could be landed in trouble due to someone wandering around the Internet with your face, using your credentials.

      This is the kind of seminar that I and many other computer savvy people and technicians have given the average computer user before, but it needs to be given again. And let’s say that you find your bank account cleared out one day, what then? The only person you can blame is yourself, really.

      All you can do is minimise the risks, but to not even try to minimise the risks is tantamount to idiocy.

    • Wulf says:

      Last one, then I’m calling it quits with this for tonight.

      I can’t change people who don’t want to change, and I can’t really disparage choices people want to make, but all I’m saying is that you should care. To go to this degree of effort, I’m not doing this for me now, I’m doing this because there are people I like here and I think they should be taking notice. I think you should use NoScript, I think you should secure your computer as much as you possibly can against every threat.

      When the worst happens, and it’s your fault, it’s going to be crashing. But I can’t change people, all I can do is speak my mind and be honest, the choice has to be down to the person, and I will respect their choice even if I can’t agree with it, even if I think it’s kind of stupid, but the thing is… if you don’t put in the effort to try, you’re going to get hurt eventually. And that’ll be a damn shame. :|

    • Wulf says:

      AUUUGH, I just got so emotionally involved in this, I made an appeal to emotion! >.< That was stupid of me. Okay, that's it, I'm going to bed. Sorry about that.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Wulf, I doubt any of us are saying that we surf completely insecurely, I just think that the level of security that you deem appropriate goes above and beyond what most of us consider appropriate. Ads and self-running scripts aren’t a vector of attack that I would consider to do irreparable damage, and if the websites I visit use ad revenue to mitigate the cost of me accessing the data on the server, then I would simply rather not block the ads.

      Trust me, I’ve seen the impact that malware can have on a system over a long period. I just trust that I won’t fall prey to it because I have no interest in the types of website and internet activity that propagates it.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I wasn’t begrudging anyone their ad-block, not at all. To be honest, I’ve never used one because I can’t be bothered. All I meant to say was that the majority of internet users are (I reckon, obviously) like me, and either fairly ignorant or completely uninterested.

      And this is why RPS and Ars have a problem – because they attract readers who are interested in the security of their computer, and aren’t ignorant. It’s a shame they suffer for it, but the only way around it is more readers.

    • MikeArthur says:

      Let’s say that someone slips a bit of cross-site scripting into an ad, every time that ad displays it could attempt to find a vector of entry into your computer

      Equating not having NoScript installed with having your banking details stolen is pretty long stretch. People lose authentication information from other badly protected sites through cross-site scripting, it doesn’t in any way give them a “vector of entry into your computer”.

      This is scaremongering at its worst. I’m a software engineer and have done security work for some fairly serious customers and haven’t run a virus checker in four years, don’t scan for spyware, don’t use NoScript and use IE on occasion. I’m yet to pick up anything.

      Seriously, this level of exaggeration is stupid. When you combine it with using it as a justification for crippling sites income then it’s pretty dickish really. What do you do for a living? I really hope you don’t get paid for this awful advice.

    • Wulf says:

      @Mike

      See, that shows what you know, or don’t, about the vulnerabilities in the software you use. It’s not a stretch at all, it just seems like it might be because you don’t have a complete understanding of the software you use. The amount of times that a little cross-scripting and a little social engineering has completely screwed people over… people lose accounts on an almost daily basis, and it’s because of a lack of knowledge.

      You can play Mr. Sunshine if you like and insist that everything is always going to be fine regardless of a lack of protection, and that a simple bit of cross-site scripting couldn’t hurt you, but if that bit of cross-site scripting was designed to target a specific vulnerability in your browser that lead tot he execution of code, then you’d be very wrong, wouldn’t you?

      But that’s the problem, I’m dealing with a vast majority who believe — for whatever arbitrary reasons — that they’re totally secure, and that software vulnerabilities don’t exist. Even Firefox has been getting some scary day one vulnerabilities of late, and stuff that could lead to exactly what I’m talking about.

      Maybe this hasn’t occurred to you, but here’s a bit of logic: NoScript exists for a reason, if its existence wasn’t necessary then it wouldn’t exist.

      I’m going to step back from this now because I’m not going to be able to combat the ignorance of “HAW HAW HAW, NOTHING CAN HURT MEEEEEEEEEE!!!”, I’ve learned that in the past, there’s just nothing you can do. But perhaps my words have opened the eyes of a few, in which case it’ll be worth it. Still though, it’s just not healthy to try to argue with the wilfully ignorant, it’s not good for one’s mental health. It’s like trying to argue with someone who believes that somehow they’re immune to STDs, some people just refuse to be informed.

      What can you do, eh?

    • MikeArthur says:

      See, that shows what you know, or don’t, about the vulnerabilities in the software you use. It’s not a stretch at all, it just seems like it might be because you don’t have a complete understanding of the software you use. The amount of times that a little cross-scripting and a little social engineering has completely screwed people over… people lose accounts on an almost daily basis, and it’s because of a lack of knowledge.

      I know plenty about the software I use. I pay attention to the vulnerabilities in the browser I use (Google Chrome) and don’t use Firefox for some of the reasons you state. The security model for extensions and the amount of 0-day vulnerabilities they have and the record for being hacked by white-hats means that it’s really not a particularly secure browser to use. I don’t pretend everything will be fine but I know that social engineering and trusting sites poorly is what causes attacks. I’ve seen no evidence to believe that any site I frequent stores enough dangerous information in a session cookie for a decent XSS attack to affect me. Disabling Javascript as a whole is a pretty ludicrous alternative. If my browser has a 0-day arbitrary code execution vulnerability then I’m pretty sure they’d be usually be able to craft that in other ways than just Javascript (unless the bug is in the JS engine itself) and it frequently seems this occurs in the HTML engine so maybe you should disable HTML?

      I don’t believe I’m totally secure, as I said, I’m a software engineer and I know all software has bugs, that’s why I actually pay attention to them and use a browser with a decent sandbox model, added cookie protection and less 0-day security vulnerabilities than Firefox. Disagreeing with you doesn’t make me ignorant and neither my consulting clients or employer seems to think I’m ignorant about security either. NoScript’s existence does not justify your argument. Does the “disable images” feature in a browser mean everyone should turn them off? I’ve used NoScript before for testing sites that I developed that needed no-Javascript fallbacks. Doesn’t mean everyone should have it installed.

      If you really care about security, arguably you should be using OpenBSD, running your browser as a different user or in a VM and have no plugins installed. Oh wait, that’s secure but a complete pain in the arse and unrealistic for most end users. You make compromises and so do I. Your choice of using Firefox and NoScript is not The Right One, it’s just an option.

  37. Dominic White says:

    The Chris Hecker thing keeps coming back, more and more in horrible detail. I just got yelled at by someone for suggesting that they play games because they’re games they want to play, and that trophies and achievement points don’t actually mean anything.

    They also want every PS3 developer to go back and patch pre-trophy games to hand out shiny gold stars at every point, and they refuse to play these older games until they do.

    It’s a growing plague. A mind-melting addiction. People who genuinely don’t play games for entertainment anymore. They just want shiny gold stars given to them every hour or so.

  38. Dan Lawrence says:

    Might be worth doing a seperate RPS post about how to whitelist RPS from adblockers and NoScript like the very extensive arsTechnica followup to their adblocker story. Also, this kind of information should probably be permenantly archived somewhere on the site (‘Hey readers?’).

    Ars how to whitelist follow up

    I also second the idea of investigating making subscribing to RPS include the benefit of removing ads. More options os always better.

    I’ve never found the ads on RPS irritating and I trust you guys to use reputable advertisers who won’t infect my PC.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Definitely agreed with this. I think educating your audience is probably going to be the most useful approach to the ad thing, and certainly the most painless.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m all for whitelisting them in an ad blocker, but in NoScript? Never.

      Are RPS reputable? Yes, very.

      Is there one, single web advertising organisation out there that hasn’t pulled an incredibly disreputable embedded-evil stunt at some point? Uh, Google text ads. And that’s about it.

      I completely trust RPS and want to give them my money, I absolutely cannot bring myself to trust an ad provider. My apologies (and they are sincere) to RPS and anyone who disagrees with me, but there’s just been too much burn in regards to this in the past. It’s like the Internet’s StarForce, nowhere near as bad (potentially) but still risky.

    • drewski says:

      Is there any point whitelisting a site in adblocker if you’re not going to also whitelist it in noscript? I’m happy to allow sites I approve of, and wish to support, display ads, but not scripts.

      I kinda think the internet advertising model is broken – Ars Technica make the point that it is distinguished on the basis of potential and actuality, but when you’re measuring of actuality relies on something as potentially nefarious as scripts, you’re turning off a large proportion of your potential customers at the beginning. I think websites need to find a way to monetise page views without relying on invasive ads. If they can’t do that, then I’m not sure I have all that much sympathy for their plight – I shouldn’t have to risk my computer’s security to provide income for websites.

  39. Guildenstern says:

    For some reason I’m seeing an ad that implores me to “stop obamacare”. Which really pisses me off… And I’m not even in the US to boot!

    • invisiblejesus says:

      That’s weird, I am in the US and I’m not seeing anything like that. Why would someone even run an ad like that outside the US?

    • Guildenstern says:

      I guess it’s because I read US political news sometimes. And after page reload it’s “Sarah for 2012” ad. Sheesh…

    • Guildenstern says:

      Amount of info this ad companies gather on you is quite scary, actually.

  40. sebmojo says:

    Two points:

    1. The mind-meltingly awful Bioware/EA advertising strategy for ME2 and DA:O might just have been very smart indeed.

    2. Deus Ex was a deeply flawed game in many ways – ugly, clunky, a complete failure in the world simulation it aspired to (that club with the three robotically jiggling patrons, hideous blocky architecture) and was constantly hitting you over the head with its gameplay conceits like an inept mugger with an Unreal engine devkit. I still loved it for all that, but come on people.

    • Wulf says:

      Totally agreed on both points.

      The Bioware/EA thing actually got on my nerves with Dragon Age: Origins, because there the very first form of DLC did cost the player, and worse there was this annoying bastard who’d wander into my camp and advertise. I despised him.

      However, with Mass Effect 2, they actually seemed to understand what players wanted and how to combat piracy, though I think EA had a hand in this, because EA has been a rather intelligent company of late, when they turned over a new leaf (and meant it) they started to impress me, and have continued to since.

      The thing with the Mass Effect 2 system is that it rewards the player for having bought the game, it doesn’t say “Hey, you’ve bought the game, now here’s more content for you to BUY. Har-har, because, you know, we don’t support our customers. You’re just holding onto our money for us!” like Dragon Age did, instead it says “You matter to us, we really appreciate that you bought our game, and we’re going to continue to support that game with some free content. We want you to like us, just as you like Valve. And we figure that if we support our game post-purchase with the odd bit of content, you’ll be more inclined to like us and buy our entertainment wares in the future. It’s good business sense to be your friend.”. EA is trying to be Valve, bless ’em, and frankly I support that.

      Keep this up, EA, and I could really very much begin to like you.

      And in regards to Deus Ex, in fairness, it did have a few unique concepts, but it overused them to death, it did innovate, but it didn’t innovate that much. To be honest, Thief was my Deus Ex, and Thief was much better than Deus Ex at all the Thief-like things that Deus Ex did. For me, Ion Storm’s high point was Anachronox, not Deus Ex.

  41. Langman says:

    Just to say I have Firefox/noscript which does indeed block some of the adverts on here by default (sorry guys, security comes first) but I’ve chosen *not* to adblock the gog & gamersgate adverts because they’re unobtrusive & small.

    I imagine that’s the exact same scenario a lot of Firefox visitors here share. I’m also unemployed at the moment and in no position to be paying subscriptions for here or anywhere, so I guess I’m in the naughty category.

    I may one day subscribe to RPS when my cashflow problems go away, it’s a site I appreciate, but I will *never* allow adverts on my browser that run scripts. Whatever the website.

    • MikeArthur says:

      Javascript has become an essential part of so many parts of the web, it’s stupidly paranoid to say you aren’t willing to tolerate it for adverts (or anything else). Regardless of your justification, you are still getting something for free that other people are spending time and effort creating and have asked you to support and you are refusing.

      You’re being that guy. Everyone knows that guy, he’s the one who underpays his share when splitting a restaurant bill. He’s the guy that conveniently disappears when it’s his round. Who doesn’t have enough change when you need to split a taxi. Don’t be that guy.

    • Langman says:

      @MikeArthur

      No.

      I’m ‘one of those guys’ who hasn’t had a single malware or virus on his PC in the last 3 years by being vigilant when it comes to not allowing adverts to run scripts on his browser (amongst other measures).

      You seem to have ignored what I said about potentially being a subscriber to RPS down the line and being okay with non-script adverts.

      By all means, carry on living in your dream world and referring to me as being paranoid. Meanwhile, I’ll carry on browsing the net in safety.

    • Langman says:

      And don’t try and pull the whole ‘I know what I’m talking about, I do this for a living therefore all discussion is over’ nonsense that I see you’ve done elsewhere on here. I know for a fact many people have had issues with scripts in adverts, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes.

    • MikeArthur says:

      You said that you may subscribe, not that you will. €2 a month is a tiny amount of money so I’m not terribly sympathetic.

      You are still paranoid. I don’t pull the “I’m a software engineer, shut up I know more than you” to silence people disagreeing me but rather so people don’t think that installing NoScript is necessary. You do what you like, I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve never had a virus or malware in a long time either and I don’t run a virus checker or any other 3rd-party security tool on my system or disable Javascript.

      I still don’t think you justify being a freeloader by saying you might subscribe one day. Put your money where your mouth is and feel free to use NoScript.

    • Langman says:

      No, I’m really not being paranoid here, I’m being sensible. And I’m not freeloading.

      Freeloading would be something like accessing a subscription-only web service by nefarious means. This, as it stands, is a ‘public’ website. Sensible people who don’t allow advert scripts will always make up a fairly large portion of the viewers in its current format.

      It’s a simple fact – there’s very little point even debating it since it won’t change. The only way round it is for them to go fully down the subscription business model for extra content. Otherwise this is all academic.

      And who are you to be so presumptuous about what I can/can’t spend my money on? You don’t know anything about my situation.

    • Langman says:

      If anything, the inexorable rise of Firefox/Noscript internet usage could gradually reduce the portion of visitors who allow scripted adverts to register while browsing here, and similar websites.

      So, unless changes are made to the way adverts are sourced and hosted allowing some of us to loosen the shackles on our advert habits, websites like these may end up having no choice but to go down the full subscription path if it really does become a problem of making it financially viable.

      This kind of discussion is far more fruitful than arguing over what’s sensible and what’s paranoid, it’s too far gone to do anything about that now. Noscript, and other variants, are here to stay.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “Freeloading would be something like accessing a subscription-only web service by nefarious means.”

      No…

      Oxford English Dictionary: “A person who takes advantage of others’ generosity without giving anything in return.”

      You’re a freeloader, like it or lump it. And it’s somewhat ludicrous to get uppity about your “situation,” given that unblocking the ads costs nothing. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty here, but your justifications are delusional.

    • Langman says:

      What are you talking about? Have you actually read anything I’ve written?

      I don’t block all the adds, only the ones with scripts. And why would I decide to suddenly reverse that policy when clearly it’s something I believe is the right thing?

      Your response makes no sense.

    • Langman says:

      And the whole freeloading issue is pretty mute – come on, this is the internet. There are hundreds of public websites I could donate to if I wanted, it just isn’t practical.

      Either they’re making their publications public or they make them private via subscription. Don’t expect me to feel guilty for viewing them without donating – there may come a time when I subscribe, but none of this will affect my decision to surf the web sensibly and avoid scripted adverts in the meantime.

    • Langman says:

      EDIT: I meant ‘moot’. ¬_¬

    • MikeArthur says:

      The “they haven’t stopped me viewing it for free so I’m morally justified” doesn’t really fly. As I said, you aren’t breaking the law but you are being That Guy. You’re the guy that goes to a charity event where it says “recommended donation” rather than a charge and you don’t put anything in. That’s fine, do you what you want but don’t try to say it doesn’t make you a freeloader. It does, you are getting something for free and providing nothing in return and you are being asked to allow ads to run and refusing to do so.

    • Langman says:

      No.

      I am allowing ads to run, just not ones that include scripts. Like the sensible internet user I am.

      Etc..

      Are you even capable of looking at the bigger picture here? I’m getting the impression you can’t.

    • Langman says:

      …this isn’t about debating the merits of adblocking/noscripting, or whinging & moaning that lots of users choose to rather be safe than sorry, it’s about accepting that Noscript browsing is a fact of internet life and only going to become more prevalent as a default browsing method for those who are made aware of it.

      Therefore, the debate should be about what the solution is going to be looking down the line. What kinds of subscription-based strategies should there be, how are independent blog/websites going to develop 2 years from now, where will this all be 5 years from now, etc.

      Squabbling over the practise of using Noscript is like arguing that 1+1=3. It’s totally pointless and wasted time. Website owners/bloggers/journos need to look at the bigger picture in terms of making a living longterm (and I imagine the RPS guys are doing this).

      It’s quite simple: this website is effectively public right now, I’m not dependent on it enough at the moment to donate, and I choose to browse the web in safety with Noscript enabled. Only someone with a major chip on their shoulder would accuse that person of ‘freeloading’; I mean, does the concept of freeloading even apply to the internet? Especially over something as obtuse as using Noscript? Seems rather OTT to me.

      It just seems to be the obvious answer, if you have a web presence (which RPS definitely has), just go all in and make it subscription-only with perhaps some paired-down preview articles to entice new members. Offer a stark choice.

      Naturally, if in the meantime some of your advertising is going to include scripts, a portion of your viewers will obviously block them. It’s as simple as ABC.

  42. FhnuZoag says:

    I wish there’s some sort of ‘lite’ filterset out there – an adblock filterset that blocks only the truly terrible and annoying ads. It’s a shame, but the default implementation is usually just too zealous.

  43. Ninjas says:

    As soon as that tart from IGN got on the stage I walked out. IGN is not qualified to judge one of my turds, let alone indie games.

  44. EthZee says:

    I don’t use Adblock. I use Flashblock, however, as flash-based adverts slow my laptop to a crawl; they are the spawn of some lower-planes demon, to be sure.
    I’m fairly stingy with my cash, anyway, so a small slab of pixels will not convince me to purchase things, no matter how rapidly it changes colour or flashes. But I don’t mind having visible adverts if it means that I’m able to view the content on this webpage (and others like it) for free. You can’t all be the BBC, after all.

  45. drewski says:

    I completely agree about Invisible War. It’s unnecessarily derided. And the Greasel Pit is possibly my favourite level or map of any game anywhere, it’s brilliantly realised and genuinely atmospheric. I almost bought the soundtrack, it impressed me so much.

    As for ads – well, I can see Ars Technica’s point. But I think their experiment was a little foolish. Blocking people who block ads is only going to limit the amount of people that view your website – you’re essentially denying yourself subscribers because yuo’re denying yourself potential customers. The cost of providing content to people blocking ads is, more or less, a cost of doing business on the internet. If you don’t like it, nobody is forcing you to provide a site.

    I wish more sites offered a subscription option, though – it makes me feel a lot less guilty about blocking ads if I can contribute to a site some other way.

  46. manveruppd says:

    Hey Mr. Gillen, thanks for the Women In Space Program link. There IS a film you can watch about that, in fact! It’s a documentary called “She should have gone to the Moon”: link to imdb.com

    Well, I say “documentary”, but the movie consisted of:

    1. An interview with one of the WISP alumni, Jerri Truhill, a very grandmotherly-looking lady with some fascinating stories to tell, and
    2. Footage of a lady in a flightsuit and helmet overlaid by a phone interview with Jerri Truhill.
    3. Stock NASA footage of guys messing about with rockets, none of which were women or had anything to do with WISP, overlaid by commentary by the filmmaker.

    The grandmotherly nearly-astronaut lady had some very interesting things to say about the programme, covering not just the medical/performance aspects of the programme, but also giving some very valuable insight on the institutional sexism that led to the scrapping of the project. From what she said, there seems to have been some support for the WISP ladies both within the space agency and the Air Force. They were all crack civilian pilots so many of their male counterparts viewed them with a degree camaraderie. It seems that most of the resistance came from politicians further up the food chain, and she claimed that she had once seen a memo written by someone in NASA speaking positively about the progress of the programme, with a handwritten note in Lyndon Jonnson’s hand in the margin saying “Let’s put a stop to this nonsense right now”.

    I found Jerri Truhill’s claims interesting, especially since they give a very different picture from what other accounts of the story do. If would’ve been really fascinating to have seen some of the documents she mentioned, especially that memo. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t make any effort at all to corroborate or cross-reference her claims, didn’t try to unearth any bits of paper that shed light on the story, and didn’t seek quotes from any NASA or government officials from back then who may have been involved in the story. It was, in fact, a documentary without any documents.

    In the Q&A with the director right after the show, I pointed this out to her, and she said that this was deliberate because she wanted the movie to “not just be about Jerri Truhill, but about MY journey TO Jerri Truhill”. At that point I’m ashamed to say I got a angry at her and made a bit of a scene, because I thought it was a really interesting subject and I felt that she did a total disservice to it, turning a fascinating story into a narcissistic exercise in puking Art Council money into a bog.

    So, I’d suggest you watch that movie, but I’m afraid the half-page article you linked to provided a lot more information than the ONE-HOUR LONG documentary did.

  47. Supertonic says:

    Extrinsic rewards in gaming (aka 400 points for grooming your dog in crappy fb game)

    I have to agree with this article, though the focus here is on achievements in console games. The problem is however much more cynically exploited with casual gaming, in particular the shitty facebook games where you have to run a farm or groom a dog or whatever. It’s almost all repetitive dull tasks and ooooh you get a shiny gold coin for clicking a million times (drag-multiple-selection anyone?). There’s no skill in these games, just repetition and reward. Pavlovian bollocks basically. People are becoming little more than trained rats pushing a button for food.

    While reward in games is useful, the problem I have with these games is that EVERYTHING is rewarded, and that there is no substance to the games, no challenge. It’s all an exercise in getting points, buying in-game money, getting your friends to join so you get more points (oooh and the advertisers give the game makers more money and they get more personal details) etc. It’s not gaming. It’s ruining gaming. I say end Facebook now before it’s too late.

  48. bill says:

    I totally agree with the first page of that Deus Ex article, but I’m not sure I agree with the second page (about IW).
    IW wasn’t a bad game. I played it late enough that I didn’t expect it to be Deus Ex, and as such I mostly enjoyed it. But now I remember almost nothing about it. Deus Ex 1, I remember so much. I do have a vague memory of the story being cliched and disappointing, but then again Deus Ex’s storyline wasn’t stunning.

    What was great about Deus Ex was the feeling of freedom it gave you. Every area FELT big. You could approach things in lots of different ways, and try different techniques. Things didn’t feel linear. IW felt linear. Sure, there were lots of apparent choices, but you could tell from the start that they were mostly cosmetic, and the small areas made everything feel much more constrained and directed.

    The things people complain about (unified ammo, biomods, inventory) aren’t the problem. The only problem with them was that they made everything feel even more simplified. If the levels and gameplay of IW had held up to DE then those changes wouldn’t have mattered.
    I actually prefered the Biomod system as, much like Plasmids, it allowed you to experiment and re-spec your character – to try different combinations.
    I did dislike that they removed the options to modify your weapons, as i enjoyed that part of DE.

    But the main problem with IW was that it was so limited. In places it was basically a corridor shooter… and options other than blasting became much less viable.

    I’m playing Bioshock1 for the first time right now, and it feels a lot like IW. It has a lot of the elements of IW/DE/SS2, but the implementation is much more Linear Shooter. There are options like stealth, hacking, etc… but in the end you know where to go and have to blast to get there. That’s what IW felt like. DE felt like places you could explore, in almost any order you wanted, and how you wanted.
    Of course it helps that Bioshock has a much more original and interesting setting, characters and story than IW.

    In short, I don’t really care if they have unified ammo, biomods or a cover system in DE3. But if it feels like IW or Bioshock then i’m going to be very disappointed.
    I’m not sure it has much to do with “consolization”, it has more to do with design choices.

    • drewski says:

      That’s probably the first criticism of Invisible War that I could even comprehend. Most of them, I just roll my eyes and chalk it up to AIM syndrome but that is, to some extent, legitimate.

  49. Pod says:

    a) Costik’s continually use of “Intellectual Discontinuity” is lolsome
    b) That “top 5 games” thing was terrible and not in the slightest bit funny.
    c) That guy’s tux looked like a “Footballer’s Tux” rather than a proper, classy James Bond style one.

  50. bbot says:

    You were at ECCC? Man!

    I always put off the Sunday Papers because it results in a storm of new tabs. Alas.