Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Need More Questions

Just a reminder that I’ve opened up Gamerhate to user questions. You can ask me anything about the game industry, be as specific or general as you like. Want to know the best way to break into the game industry? I have a few ideas… Want to know what Rob Pardo of Blizzard fame is like to work with? I’ll tell you.

Consider this your chance to learn all the nitty gritty details of the game industry that you can never find from any news site. Honestly it’s just much easier for me to answer questions than develop my own topics, so yes, I’m being lazy. However, in the interests of keeping things interesting, I think it’s better for the topics to come from you guys, so I know I’m not prattling on about something only I care about. This way, I know at least 2 people care.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:15 pm  

Friday, June 27, 2008

Can the News Get Anything Right?
CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and now Gamespot

It wasn’t until I saw Gamespot do a report on a game that I had worked on that I realized just how idiotic the news people really are. Do they know anything about what they’re reporting on, or do they just reach into a blackhole and spew bullshit every time they want to sound like an expert on the subject. What the game industry news reporters have shown me is that they’re extremely bad at faking their knowledge as they’ll say something like “I think” or “Something like” or “I believe” before they start their completely incorrect “fact.”

What scares me is that I know the reporters on CNN and other big news channels are MUCH better at pretending they know what they’re talking about. They can lie without it seeming like they are. All in the name of seeming like they’re informed on the topic at hand.

Isn’t that the point of being a news reporter though? Aren’t you SUPPOSED to be informed about the topic you are discussing? Isn’t it necessary to study the topic and learn about it before you start blabbing on national or local television all about something that may be important information for people to know?

Yes, yes you are supposed to do that. That’s why a reporter is called a reporter. They report the information that they have gathered about a topic. Yet these days I’m beginning to suspect that most reporters don’t do any research before they start droning on about something. Fox news in particular seems to be more about vomiting out their vitriolic opinions on anything and everything without so much as doing a single bit of research. Of course, all of this is particularly true for broadcast news. A medium that up until the last few years, the video game industry has largely avoided.

Yes, now there are on-line broadcast shows like On The Spot at Gamespot, and though G4tv and others beat them to the punch, Gamespot Live seems to suffer from a particularly bad case of uninformed reporters. Particularly irritating is that despite their geeky looks, they seem to have very little understanding of the finer points of gaming, or at least when they open their mouths it appears that way. What’s worse is that they have the person playing the game as they attempt to discuss its finer points, which inevitably ends in that mind numbingly idiotic kind of speech reminiscent of trying to discuss Greek literature with someone getting a blowjob.

Yet despite them actually playing the game as we watch, they still get the majority of information about the game completely wrong. That’s because doing that would require research above and beyond what they’ve done which is simply to play the game for an hour. They don’t know how many levels there are, or boss encounters, or how amazing the story is. They haven’t really done their research at all.

How difficult would it be to get in contact with a member of the development team to get that information straight from the source? Not hard at all… Yet, the broadcast medium reporters don’t do it. Game developers LOVE free press, they would be falling all over themselves to get these people as much information as they wanted on their games. I think it’s time the video game industry’s satellites started getting their shit together. I want our industry to be the one that shows the others how things should be done.

So I’m calling you out game reviewers! Do your damn research before you open your damn mouths. If you don’t know how many levels there are in a game, say you don’t know, but for the love of all that is Unholy, do your damn research so you know the basics!

If you don’t know the following, you shouldn’t be speaking as an authority on any game:

  • The genre and premise of the game.
  • How this game is different from others in its genre (bullet points of features).
  • The average amount of playtime hours.
  • The basic storyline of the whole game.
  • Difficulty settings (if any).
  • Whether it has multiplayer.
  • The platforms the game is on.
  • The release date or expectation thereof (directly from the developer if possible).

Note that specific games may require you to have more information or be familiar with certain aspects of the product itself that are unique. For instance, if you were to talk about Spore, I expect you to have spent more than an hour with the Spore creature creator. =P

You see, one of the things that has always bothered me about real world network news reporters, is that they do not experience the stuff they are talking about. Most of them don’t have the slightest clue about any of the crap they are speaking (aside from embedded and undercover reporters who I have the utmost respect for). As video game reporters, you have the unique opportunity to immerse yourself into the core of every story you do. You can almost become an expert on every topic you are going to discuss on your show simply by spending several hours of your time playing the products that you are going to be talking about. In addition, developers LOVE free press so all you need to do is some elementary research to get a phone number and you can know ANYTHING that people might want to know about the game you will be discussing.

Don’t fucking blow this by being lazy assholes. Do your damn homework like a grownup…

posted by CommanderHate at 5:33 pm  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Historic Presidency?
Voting, Politics and You

I’ve only discussed politics a little since I started this blog, but politics are a very important issue to me. Primarily because they determine the outcome of our economy, how much the government will be watching over our shoulder, and what our future will hold. Most recently I’ve been watching the primaries very carefully.

I initially supported Ron Paul for his anti-government stance. This is what Republicans were originally supposed to be about. Less government, more freedom. Now it would seem Republicans are about Jesus and wiping out foreign countries and making certain the rich people stay richer and the poor people get ass fucked until they bleed out. Libertarians are what Republicans used to be (a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away), which is probably why I identify with that party the most (less government, yay). However, Ron Paul was ultimately rejected as a candidate by the populace at large and the Republicans now have John McCain at their helm.

As a side note, I find it incredibly amusing that Barack Obama is the prominent figure on both the democratic and republican web pages. It almost doesn’t matter who the Republican candidate is… In addition, the Republican website is entirely about showing the democratic nominee in as negative a light as possible, while the democratic one is about showing the democratic nominee in a positive light. I find it incredibly lame that a political party would go entirely for a smear campaign instead of telling us what they would do right… That makes me wonder what their real agenda is. =P

In 2004 I was pro-Howard Dean because he was the only candidate who wasn’t owned by a lobbyist group or ten. Dean’s money came from web donations from normal people and his policies made a lot of sense. Take care of the people, stop corporations from having the upper hand on everyone and get the government to have some damn fiscal responsibility (Bush had already put us billions into the hole, which sucked after Clinton had gotten us so close to being out of the hole). Yet people laughed at Howard Dean as a candidate, and instead of looking at his policies, the vast majority of people mocked his (over)excitement during a political rally and made him look like a clown. I always seem to be backing the people who are the least corrupt by politics, and they always seem to get laughed out of the political race. I guess, in a really sad way, that makes sense.

However, 2008 has shaped up to be the most promising election to date. We had a woman and an african american as the potential democratic nominees. Barack Obama has won the primary now and is the first ever african american candidate running from a major political party (the only other one I know of was Frederick Douglas in 1872, a former slave, who ran for VP with Victoria Woodhull running for President under the Equal Rights Party, she was the first female to run for the presidency). Have we come a long way?

That remains to be seen, as a lot of the voting in the democratic primaries seemed to be split along racial lines. I like to think that both black and white voters are just voting for the candidate they think is best based on their political stances, but that’s a little too far on the side of optimism for my taste. At the very least I hope that people agree with all his economic and political talking points if they are voting for him, rather than because his skin is closer to the same shade as theirs.

That being said, I am voting for him and my skin is about as white as it gets without becoming translucent. There are a number of reasons for this, the primary ones being that I have researched the issues and I agree the most with Obama’s policies. The secondary reason is that he seems the least corrupted by his political dealings. He also got a lot of his money from web donations as opposed to lobbyists and corporations. I don’t like the idea that our president can be bought (like our last one clearly was).

Anyways, this is a historic event in our country. We’re finally at a point where both a woman and an african american were taken seriously as presidential candidates. I expect record numbers of voters to come out for the presidential election given that a precedent has already been set for shaking up our political system. Who knows, maybe in 8 more years we’ll be ready for a whole new political party to take the limelight (Libertarians or the Green party perhaps).

Either way, the onus is now on you to make a decision based on what’s best for you and the country. If you haven’t realized it by now, the Republican party has steadily become a corrupt entity hell bent on twisting the United States towards feeding their corporate greed. Capitalism is all well and good, but the government of the United States should not be directly feeding corporate entities at the expense of the health and welfare of its own citizens (particularly entities that are owned or tied to people IN THE FRIGGIN GOVERNMENT).

So I want you to answer this question aloud (if you can) right now. Just say the first thing that comes to mind. Who are you voting for in the coming election?

Did you answer that yet? It’s important your answer is spontaneous…

Okay…

So if you said the following: “I am voting Republican,” or “I am voting Democrat,” or “I am voting insert_political_party,” you have made the biggest error you can possibly make when it comes to making an informed decision in a voting process. The error is that you are voting for a party instead of a candidate. The presidency is one person, their political party is almost irrelevant, that person will be helping make decisions for the U.S. of A. Not the political party they happen to belong to.

It’s also very telling if someone says they’re voting for a political party instead of an actual candidate, because that means that either they haven’t researched the candidates (and thus their opinion is uninformed) or they intend to vote for their political party REGARDLESS of who the candidate of that party is. This is the worst thing you could ever do, because you are basically casting your vote for someone you don’t even like just because you believe that you are of a certain political party. This is worrisome to me so I have a little homework assignment for you.

I want you to take a good hard look at what you actually believe and make sure that the reasons you believe those things are because you honestly think that way. You would be amazed how many people can’t reason through their own beliefs.

As an example: If you believe abortion is wrong because your parents said it was wrong or because your political party says it is wrong, you have not really thought about abortion. If you believe it is wrong because abortion is murdering something that will eventually become a human being, you’re probably actually thinking about it in real terms. I personally believe in abortion because a baby is technically a parasite within a woman’s body and should have no rights of its own until it is able to survive without using her body to do it. If I were a woman I might feel differently, but as a man I have no idea what the whole baby growing inside you thing feels like so if they want to get it out of them, let ’em. Their body, their right, etc. And yeah yeah yeah, I wouldn’t care if my parents aborted me, I wouldn’t be alive to give a shit about that. For all I know, my not being born could have brought about a renaissance of humanity, but I think I’m giving myself far too much credit.
I digress…

The point is this. To make an informed decision, you must be informed. To pick a proper candidate you must stop looking at race, pin wearing, political party, etc, and actually learn what the candidates intend to do when they are president. When you find a candidate that you agree with, VOTE FOR THEM! If you choose a candidate for any other reason, you are making a mockery of the reason we have a voting system in the first place. To pick the people we honestly believe should be running our country.

So do your research, I’ll see you at the voting booths.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:47 pm  

Friday, May 23, 2008

Satellites of the Game Industry
Voice Actors and Writers and Publishers, Oh My!

About 10 to 15 years ago, when a group of people would work on a game, they could expect to see royalties for the number of copies sold. Typically it was written into their contract and rather than the company absorbing all that and then deciding whether or not to hand out that money as “bonuses,” the money would go straight to the actual designers, artists and programmers. Yes, straight to their homes in fact, so that even if they quit, the hard work they put into the game was not for naught. They would get those checks no matter what company they worked at, even if it was a competitor to the company they originally made the game for.

A friend of mine recently told me that he got the last royalty check for a game he worked on 15 years ago. One I had never heard of, and it occurred to me that despite having worked on about 5 games that have sold well over a million copies each, I will never see another dime for those games because I don’t work at that game company anymore. With all of the grueling hours that goes into those games, you’d think that we would get some sort of personal stake in its outcome. Some companies do have a bonus system, but the bonuses typically only come if the company as a whole is considered profitable, and as we all know, once a company starts making a lot of money, they usually start expanding explosively. There goes your bonuses.

What is worse though, is that if you ever leave that company, all of the hard work and creativity you put into making that game is pretty much lost. Even if that game goes on to sell another 5 million units, you will never see a dime.

It’s rather odd to have seen how quickly the game industry went from a group of creative individuals pouring their hearts and souls into a game, to a corporate entity that uses and discards its talent like paper towels. Quite literally they will wait until a game is pouring blood from every seam and then throw every developer they have on top of it to try and seep up the mess. Yet, no sooner has that game hit store shelves that everyone finds themselves walked outside of the office only to discover they’ve all been let go. I’d like to say that the number of companies that does that is low, but it’s actually still surprisingly high. Even the ones that don’t lay off everyone still do a lot of layoffs whenever a project ends or whenever they can’t seem to find a project. It’s all to stay afloat I suppose.

So we developers who take these risks with the companies. We who sacrifice nights and weekends (often without extra pay) to make a game that we think is something special. How is it that we are not attached to the income of the end product? Why is it that we don’t see a dime if our game does well unless the company we work for deems us worthy of a bonus (pending profitability and what not). In the movie industry, the actors make money based on how well the dvds sell, or if their tv series gets another season. If a sequel is signed for a game we created, we don’t see any extra pay (although we get to keep getting a paycheck). Yet, we don’t really complain about it.

Why is that? All this work and effort and if our game goes on to sell millions of copies we don’t necessarily see any of that money, yet we continue to work in this industry. Well, we must like it. Despite the long hours and hard work, we must. I believe we must.

So it is with great disdain that I look upon the voice actors and writers who moan and complain about not getting residuals for the game. I sympathize a bit, I do, but seriously, fuck you guys. I’ve seen your work schedule. It’s about 40 hours of a voice actor’s time, maybe. Yet you get more than my yearly salary for that… And on top of that, you want residuals for the game? Fuck you. Writers work for about 3-6 months on the game, from home, yet get twice over my YEARLY salary. You want residuals too? Fuck you.

No one puts in more effort and time into these games than the designers, programmers and artists who make them. Voice acting is almost an afterthought. I long for the day when a computer generated voice rivals a human one so that we never have to use you bastards again. Writers? Pah, game designers have long been better at writing for games than you fools. You just can’t grasp some of the core ideas of what game writing is (not all of you, just most, particularly the hollywood types who want residuals).

So to any of you tangential people in the game industry who want residual payments from games. Seriously, go screw yourselves. If the developers themselves don’t get it, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. Now if you fight for the developers getting residuals, then you might have a chance, but until that day, just shut-up. You guys honestly don’t seem to have even the faintest grasp of what we put ourselves through to make those games.

I’ve left out publishers on purpose for now. I just realized that they’re a whole other ball of wax… =P

posted by CommanderHate at 12:37 am  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stop Uwe Boll
The Petition Needs YOU!

If you haven’t heard, Uwe Boll said that he would stop making movies if a million people asked. Last I checked the petition was just over 200,000, up about 150,000 when I first signed. We need to make a million signatures, if for no other reason than to humiliate Uwe Boll for being a gigantic fucktard.

In case you are not in the know or somehow have managed to avoid all of his horrifically bad movies, Uwe Boll is almost single handedly responsible for the glut of mind numbingly awful video game movies that have come out in the past 10 years. How he managed to continually gain access to new video game licenses is beyond me as anyone who would actually hand this monster the license to make another game movie after the horrors that were Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead would have to be a brain amputee. Yet somehow, he managed to get Bloodrayne and Dungeon Siege. I can only assume all the contracts were signed many years ago all at the same time using the blood of sacrificial babies while Satan watched over the proceedings and nodded in approval.

It’s not that I hate Uwe Boll as a person… Okay, I do hate him as a person… But his films are absolute shit and he thinks they are great. They are proven to be pieces of crap and yet he accuses other directors (like Michael Bay) of being crap. Uwe Boll is the crap that craps crap… If the feces were anymore concentrated within him, it would form a black hole that would destroy the universe.

Honestly though, he doesn’t seem to know anything about movies. He just imitates what others have done and thinks that it’s good. Dungeon Siege mirrored Lord of the Rings (POORLY) on just about every scene that it had. All that he managed to do was make me snicker sullenly as I noticed how badly he was imitating Peter Jackson’s epic. I guess that’s a step up from the outright derisive laughter I eschewed onto House of the Dead (which I caught on tv before I knew what awful really was). But if the best you can do is copy Lord of the Rings shittily, why are you making movies in the first place? Find your own fucking creative vision you talentless hack…

So listen up people, if you ever respected video games as an entertainment medium, you will do your part to help stop this monster from ever making a film again (even if the effort itself is semi-futile). He is a detriment to all forms of entertainment, and it pains me that he’s simultaneously able to destroy movies and video games. Stop him… STOP HIM!

Sign the petition!

posted by CommanderHate at 6:29 pm  

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Racist Games
They’re Pretty Damn Rare

I think this is really telling of the difference between the gamer generation and the rest of the world. We as gamers don’t really see race. When we play Crackdown or GTA3, does it matter if we’re the black character? No, he looks cool. We don’t see race, we see a cool character that we want to play as. When we played Resident Evil 4, did we see Spaniards? No, we saw people infected with a deadly virus that could not be reversed and they were trying to kill us.


Is Resident Evil 5 any different? No, because we as gamers don’t see race. We see beyond that, because to us, it’s irrelevant. There are some clichés in games, but I think that games, far more than movies and tv shows has done the most to break races out of their stereotypes and point to a racially irrelevant future.

Games like Mass Effect do an amazing job of teaching us about racial hatred without explicitly saying it. For instance, the Krogans are a warrior race that is on the verge of extinction, but you learn of their extremely violent history. In fact, the majority of the other races seems to fear the Krogan’s and appreciate the fact that they’re on the verge of extinction. By the end of the story you realize that they’re not inherently evil and that the unleashing of a deadly virus that made their birth rate rapidly decline (in effect a biological warfare induced genocide) was absolutely wrong (assuming you even got the Krogan guy in your party). There are many racial themes in Mass Effect and many of them could be applied to real world racial situations. The overarching theme of the game is racial solidarity against a greater evil (unless you decide to be a racist douchebag, but you will feel like a racist douchebag if you go that route, unless you’re a sociopath in which case you’ve got problems far beyond the meager offerings of video games).

The point being, that in games, there are people who are typically bad guys, and those bad guys are often killed by the hero. When gamers play these games, they don’t really care what race the good guy or the bad guy is, they just want to kill the bad guy. Are we teaching kids something when the bad guy is always a particular race? Yeah, we probably would be. Fortunately we tend to vary up the race of the bad guy because to gamers, it’s really irrelevant unless it’s important to the story.

So what happens if you disallow the bad guys from being of a particular race? Well, you’re going to see the same race in the bad guy role, being shot, in every single game. What race will it be? Well, I bet dimes to dollars that it’s going to be white guys, because hating whitey is still the “in thing.” What will that teach people? To hate white people… Self-loathing is already a common problem in the white community, but I’m not even going to speak to that (right now) because it’s irrelevant to the main issue.

To gamers, race in a game is irrelevant as long as you don’t make a big issue of it. If you make people think that there’s something relevant about the zombies in RE5 being all black (despite no one giving a shit that the zombies in RE4 were all Spanish, guess they were close enough to white that it didn’t matter), then people are going to read INTO that and think that the game is being racist. As soon as you say that, people playing it see it in a new light and think, maybe there is something to it. So then race becomes an issue for the game even though it was never intended to be.

You see, the moment you start saying: “They’re being racist” is the same moment that you segregate one race from another. That’s right, all you dumbasses who are saying that things are racially motivated are the ones who are allowing racism to continue. If you want race to be a non-issue, only bring it up when there’s actually a problem. One game where the setting happens to be in Africa is not a problem. Resident Evil 5 is set in an African nation… OF COURSE THE ZOMBIES ARE GOING TO BE AFRICAN! It’s the same as RE4 where they were all Spanish… Cause it was set in SPAIN!

This isn’t rocket science people. Making race an issue when it isn’t an issue makes you the person segregating one race from another, which means that YOU ARE THE RACIST!

The End.

posted by CommanderHate at 11:21 am  

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sony
Confidence or Arrogance?

So the PS3 seems to finally be taking an upswing. Largely I think this was due to Sony’s silence as opposed to some change in how they were dealing with the public. Their commercials have been nothing short of surreal creepy stupidity, with even their latest endeavors making me wince with their bizarre styling and wannabe Rock Star mentality. Are we supposed to think the PS3 will make us EXTREME!? Perhaps the 3 in PS3 is actually meant to be a backwards E in 31337 speak representing how extreme they really are.

Who really cares though? They’ve got a few good games coming, some are exclusive and Blu-Ray has apparently won the High Definition DVD war. Kudos to Sony.

Yet I still find them distasteful and ultimately evil as a corporate entity. It has a lot to do with how they’ve treated consumers in the past. Their displeasure at people not liking the square button sticking on the PSP made them go back to the drawing board. So they could think of the perfect phrase to tell consumers that they were morons. Here is what they said:

“There may be people that complain about its usability, but that’s something which users and game software developers will have to adapt to.”

That’s pretty messed up.

Then they basically declared that the PC was dead when they said:

“The PlayStation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC.”

Hilarity in and of itself, but that was made even funnier by their next lie. They wanted us to believe that their product was flying off shelves and people everywhere were unable to find it, when anyone could see that there were plenty of PS3s in pretty much every store that carried them.

Now they want us to believe that they’ve changed. They’re not arrogant, they’re just confident and we’ve all got it wrong. In the latest issue of EGM I’ve read an interesting interview with Peter Dille (the VP of marketing for SOE America). In his concluding statements he says the following:

“I think our attitude has always been one of confidence, and that hasn’t really changed as we sit here in January of ’08.”
-Peter Dille

You know, it’s funny, I don’t think you’ve changed either Sony, and what’s so damned funny about it is that the rest of the interview showcases exactly why you haven’t changed. You may call it confidence, but I don’t think anyone can interpret the things you’ve said as anything but arrogance. Where to begin…

In response to the interviewer’s first question (“Doesn’t the Wii’s success validate going in a less-pricey, less technical direction with hardware?”), Peter says this:

“…some of these guys- to use a metaphor- they were stepping out on us and having a bit of an affair with the Wii. It’s a great way to tide them over before they have to make that commitment to a next generation system.”
-Peter Dille

Impressive Peter… So not only is the Wii an archaic and silly toy, the people who enjoy playing with their Wii are apparently only temporarily stepping away from your fold. They will soon come back with smeared lipstick and a mild STD to suck at the massive cock of Sony’s hardware. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of the gamers who enjoy the Wii have NO INTEREST in your overpriced hardware. They don’t need Blu-Ray, and they don’t need your 6 million dollar games (of which we haven’t seen anything really spectacular yet). The people who went to the Wii aren’t cheating on you, they’re giving you the finger using their Wiimote.

Then he goes on to say:

“I think whether motion control is a long-term trend remains to be seen.”
-Peter Dille

I’m practically speechless (hah). The Wii has mopped the floor not just with Sony, but with pretty much everyone. The Wii is THE TOP DOG! The people have spoken and motion control is a fun and innovative tool that allows people to play games in a more accessible than normal way. Not only is he displaying arrogance about what the game market is pretty much screaming in his ear, he’s basically telling the consumers that he doesn’t care what they want, Sony is going their own way. Sadly they have enough money to buy their way to the top and that’s exactly what they’re on track to doing…

Of course what we’re forgetting is that Sony does have a meager form of motion control on their machine, it’s the Six-Axis. When asked about the lack of Sixaxis support in most games and the abysmal game Lair:

“Lair was a good one as well. It didn’t review particularly well, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the Sixaxis.”
-Peter Dille

NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SIXAXIS?! Are you freaking kidding me? I don’t recall reading a single solitary review that didn’t state something similar to: Had this used conventional controls I might have enjoyed it a lot more, but the requirement of the Sixaxis made it frustrating as fuck! Lair’s failure had EVERYTHING to do with the Sixaxis, but leave it to Sony to not own up to their mistakes (they’re the ones who made the developer put in the Sixaxis and wouldn’t let them have alternative control schemes). So we complained about the Sixaxis controls and basically told Sony we hate it, what does good old Pete think about that?

“I think sometimes gamers are a little bit impatient and don’t understand how game companies make the products that come to market – understand the lead times that are required.”
-Peter Dille

There Sony goes again. Insulting their own consumer base. Now we’re too impatient and too stupid to understand how games are made. Yes, it’s now OUR fault that the Sixaxis has been an utter failure thus far. We were the ones who put the gun to Sony’s head and said: You better make Lair FORCE SIXAXIS CONTROLS and release it way before they’ve been polished. That’s how dumb we are. Damn consumers, always ruining games and new control schemes…

“I think we get painted a lot as a company that doesn’t listen or is arrogant.”
-Peter Dille

Are you really surprised Peter? Clearly Sony hasn’t been listening, and throughout your interview I saw nothing but echoes of Sony’s past arrogance. Yet, you give the best answer as to why you’re painted by consumers as deaf and arrogant when you say this:

“I can assure you that we don’t approach the market by paying too much attention to what our competition is doing. We’ve got our own plans. We’ll execute that plan and we’re very confident in it.”
-Peter Dille

You just said it yourself… You don’t watch the competition. You aren’t listening to consumers. Sony has its own plans and come hell or high water, they’re going to execute that plan no matter what anyone says or thinks. You don’t care about the consumer’s thoughts, and whenever you respond to us, it’s with disbelief that we could be so stupid as to not understand your ingenious designs.

Well, that’s bullshit. The truth is the only reason you have suceeded and the only reason you will ever succeed is because you have the money to buy a superior position and push your technology and platform. I eventually plan to buy a PS3, not because of your marketing (which is freaking awful, they should fire you immediately Peter), but because I do want a high definition DVD player, and the PS3 is the cheapest one on the market. Eventually there might even be games I want to play on your damn machine, but you never won me over with your “confidence.” In fact, if it weren’t for how arrogant you are, I might have bought a PS3 a while ago, but your demeanor as a company just sickens me and makes me want to see you fail with every fiber of my being.

I hope you fail… But yes, I’m still buying your damn PS3.

posted by CommanderHate at 2:03 am  

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

World of Warcraft : The Widow Maker

World of Warcraft breaking up marriages is nothing new (at least not to me). However, I seriously question whether or not World of Warcraft or any MMORPG is the actual cause of the problem. You see, in all of these cases where we see a news story about a game breaking up a marriage or relationship, we only see one side. The poor weepy widow who has lost their significant other to a game. I have to wonder what the argument of the other side might be given that no one ever asks them.

Being a gamer myself I’ve been in a few situations where I was accused of choosing a game over my significant other (S.O. for short). In every situation where that accusation was made, I had chosen to play the game because my S.O. was busy doing their own thing. Sometimes beading (an insidious hobby btw which invariably ends with beads all over the damn carpet), sometimes reading, sometimes knitting, and occasionally other bizarre things that women think they should do because they aren’t pregnant or currently indisposed with a child or a pet that takes the place of a child.

It’s funny how a woman won’t even care what you’re doing until you’re actually enjoying yourself doing something else. Of all the things that women like to do in their spare time, they will drop every single one of them in a heartbeat if their man is enjoying doing something on his own, and then begin bugging him until he stops what he’s doing and pays attention to them. What’s funny is how this aligns with the basic rules of attracting women. You don’t want to be constantly available to them, cause they’ll get bored. However, if you feign disinterest, they will immediately become interested in why you are not interested in them. Sadly this carries over into the relationship.

Why is he not paying attention to me?! It’s that damn game, World of Warcraft! It’s destroying our marriage, boo friggin hoo.

Ladies, it’s called a hobby. You have many of them and when your man wants to play some grabass with you while you’re doing your hobby, you get annoyed as all hell. Why is it then that you think when your man is enjoying his own hobby, that you can suddenly interrupt it to get some attention without it causing any problems? Well, primarily because most women are hypocrites, but also because you generally think your time is more valuable than anything your hubby might be doing. What you fail to remember is that when he wanted some loving, you weren’t paying attention because you were too busy reading the latest Cosmo…

It’s a two way street. If you want your hobby time to be uninterrupted, let him have his. If it’s really a huge issue, schedule that time. But just because someone wants to take a couple hours out of their day to enjoy a game doesn’t mean they don’t care about you anymore. The fact of the matter is, all men know that once you pump that first kid out, you’re never going to pay any attention to us again. So let us have our little escape world. Once you finally get your precious embryo, the only Vag we’ll be seeing for the next year is on a computer screen. You’ll be lucky if we’re just playing World of Warcraft.

And to you, Jocelyn, who lost your husband to World of Warcraft. Setting the criteria of your next boyfriend not being a gamer is pretty stupid, given you yourself are a gamer. I’m sure you’d much prefer an alcoholic or a pederast to a gamer at this point, but there are many forms of addiction in this world. Your real issue was picking a guy who had addictive behavior patterns. I’m sure there were indicators before World of Warcraft which you overlooked. There are a lot of guys who play games who know when to put the game down, but given I’ve only seen your side of the breakup with your husband, I have to wonder what your part in things was… It’s easy to blame a game, it’s harder to analyze what actually went wrong and correct them because that would require taking responsibility for your own part in what happened. Maybe you were giving him shit all the time and he used WoW as an escape to get away from your constant whining?

Truth is, I don’t have any idea what happened in your marriage, but blaming games or gamers in general is stupid. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own damn actions. World of Warcraft didn’t end your marriage. Your husband chose to do something more fun than hang out with you. Now why would WoW be more fun than you? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but the next guy you’re with. I’d be willing to bet he’ll find something more entertaining than you as well, and since you won’t date gamers, I bet it won’t be games.

posted by CommanderHate at 6:35 pm  

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

“It’s not my fault.”
Taking Responsibility in the Game Industry

It’s not uncommon for people to not want to have their mistakes rubbed in their face. Sadly, some people are so defensive about it that they pretend that they never made any mistakes. This sort of defensiveness sometimes ends up as continual lying and before you know it, you see people living in a delusional world where they’ve never made an error, yet for some reason, everything they’ve touched turns to shit. What’s funny, or perhaps morbid, is that after a while, these people no longer realize they’re doing it anymore. It’s just second nature to them. They can’t see outside their own little box.

It’s funny to see things from a Quality Assurance point of view, because when you’re in QA you are generating a list of the mistakes that other people make. There’s no real feeling behind it. You aren’t appointing blame. You’re just doing your job, finding an error in the game, writing a report and sending it off to be assigned to the proper person (or if you’re in charge, assigning the bug yourself). What was odd is when the bug would come back with some nasty sniping comment directed at the tester. Some real vitriol would be in those messages. On occasion the bug had been slightly incorrect, or the steps weren’t good enough to reproduce the effect, but often the bug is perfect and the only reason that it came back was that the person it was assigned to had taken some personal offense at having a bug assigned to them and was taking it out on the tester.

What often ends up happening in those situations is the bug will bounce back and forth a few times without any action actually occurring. Time is wasted on both the QA end and (more importantly, honestly) the developer side. Had the developer simply taken the bug at face value and attempted to solve the problem, none of that time would be wasted. That isn’t to say there aren’t stupid bugs (I’ve seen more than my fair share), but when the bug is good and the developer is having a bad day and just bouncing everything to avoid the obvious problem, there’s something else going on.

It’s that moment of doubt where you think to yourself, “I couldn’t possibly have done that wrong,” or “That simply cannot be the problem,” or “That’s not my fault,” that’s when the delusion begins. Everyone does those though. It’s when you continue to do it for every problem that comes up that things start to fall apart. That’s when the delusion becomes the person’s reality. These people also tend to become good at deflecting blame onto others, or simply avoiding blame altogether. Some are so good at it that management thinks that they have spotless records or some such non-sense (no one is perfect, come on people). Then they get promoted and before you know it, your boss is the one deflecting blame down onto you.

That only happens at extremely poorly run companies (i.e. companies that will soon be out of business), or large corporations where the mismanagement of a few is inconsequential. It is extremely rare to see such things in a smaller game company because they simply can’t survive when that sort of crap is going on (which is why I personally always want to be at a company that’s under 50 employees). What this sort of behavior stops is productivity. Thinking like this from developers means things aren’t getting fixed and from management, it not only prevents things from being fixed, it completely destroys morale. So how can it be prevented?

Some people are simply beyond saving, and to them I say, watch out because if you ever do lose your job and need to find a new one, it is a very small industry and you will be remembered. That’s not a threat, that’s just how it is. I’ve been a victim of my own reputation on more than one occasion, but my problem areas are well defined and I know exactly what they are; not owning up to my actions is definitely not my problem (I should probably learn to lie, quite honestly).

However, there are many of you who have started down this path of blamelessness and still recognize when you’re passing the buck or deflecting the obvious bug on your plate. To you I say, examine why you’re doing it first. Is the hint of sarcasm you’re detecting on the bug really there or are you painting your own picture of a QA guy laughing while poking holes in your code or level or what not? Chances are, they’re just doing their job, and you should just do yours. You can add a smart ass comment, you can correct the speculation from the tester in a smarmy way, but fix the problem, don’t let it fester on and waste everyone’s time (cause it’s your time too).

For those who made it to management and are still somehow able to recognize that they are deflecting blame (and I know this is incredibly rare, but I’m hoping there’s a few), you need to step back and think about how you’re affecting the entirety of the company when you do these things. If you’re at the top of a company and you won’t admit when there’s a problem, you’re destroying your own company. How many times have we seen a leader of a company give a speech that completely destroys the morale of everyone at the company when it was supposed to have the exact opposite effect. It’s because they don’t understand that the decisions they’ve made thus far were completely wrong. Imagine slogging through your 2nd movie related game, hating every second of it, and then being told by the owner that they’re trying to set up multi contract deals so they can do the next movie game and its consequent sequels. You’d quit… Or at least start a serious job hunt. But that’s okay because when it’s so high up in the chain, the whole company will be gone soon enough.

A little bit lower down the chain there are the leads on a project. When a lead is blameless, it’s the people directly under them that suffer and the product that suffers the most. A lead who can’t recognize their own poor decisions and own up to them will lay blame all over the people below them by saying the implementation of their ideas is where the failure occurred. Now that can often be true, but we’re talking about the case of the blameless lead. Which means that the problem is with the original idea and not the implementation. So now a whole team of people will waste hours trying to make the original idea (which is a failure) work. When it doesn’t work again, the finger is pointed again at the implementers and nothing will be fixed. The only way the problem will be solved is if the implementers just change the idea and fix that problem on their end, in which case the lead will take credit and destroy the morale of their team even further.

A game I once worked on was meant to be a puzzle/adventure style game based on a popular book/movie. The book/movie involved a lot of puzzle elements which worked great with the game. However, a problem developed because one of the owners insisted that there be a combat mechanic in the game. There was one or two incidents of fighting in the book and movie, but this person wanted a combat mechanic that would be one of the main focuses of the game. This game failed, primarily due to the obtuse combat mechanic in a game based on a non-combat license. Did the owner ever admit that combat was a poor focus for an adventure/puzzle game? Of course not, in fact, that person said that the combat mechanic is the only reason any copies of the game were sold. The power of delusion…

When a producer is blameless, there’s a serious problem. The problem is that a producer doesn’t actually produce anything of their own for the final product (funny, huh). They make others produce things for them. If the end product turns out well, they get kudos, if it turns out poorly, they’ve clearly failed, right? If production is failing at any aspect of production and deflecting blame, what do you do? How do you even know they are failing?

The best way to know that production is failing at their job is to see how much overtime the development team has to work. If they’re burning both ends of the candle all the time, production has failed at scheduling. If the game is crap, then production has failed at quality control. You see, production’s responsibility is the final product. If they don’t schedule people properly and make sure that proper care is taken to ensure the quality of the game, then the fault is theirs. Yet, they’re the first to point fingers at everyone else. If the game sucks, it must be design, or programming or art. If the game is behind schedule then production thinks that design, programming and art must put in more hours. Does production put in more hours? Typically, no, but they should be sweating late nights rescheduling everything so no one has to work overtime. Sadly, after a schedule is first made, you’ll probably never see another draft (unless you have a good producer). It’s funny but in 10 years I’ve only met one producer who would actually take responsibility for this and apologize to people who had to work overtime. Then would talk with that person about what could be cut without harming the game (involving the lead of course) and then rescheduling them out so they don’t have to work overtime. It was an amazing thing and sadly an incredibly rare thing.

Are there blameless designers, programmers and artists? Well of course there are, but they’re in a position where their mistakes are obvious to everyone. When they don’t take responsibility for their actions, they’re eventually going to be fired. It’s funny how you almost have to be a management position to be able to get away with such silly crap. Does it come from laziness once you rise to a position of power? Were they always this way or did it develop only after they got into a spot where they could get away with it?

I really don’t know the answer to that, but to everyone out there who thinks that their shit doesn’t stink. Get over it, we all make mistakes. What sets apart a good developer from a bad one, is the ability to admit their mistakes and thus learn from them. If you never learn, you will always, always, always, fail.

posted by CommanderHate at 10:38 pm  

Friday, February 8, 2008

Murder, and Bullying and Sex simulators, oh my!
They’re making monsters of our children…

It’s not new for people to blame the latest form of entertainment for the corruption of our children. Games depict murder and celebrate violence, therefore they must make people murderous little miscreants. Right? Well, it’s really an ages old argument, games are just the latest victim in a long history of people shirking responsibility for their own actions and the actions of their children.

What sucks is that it becomes a largely political matter, and people who have no real understanding of the subject matter (in this case, video games) will spout off non-sense that they think is true despite having no factual evidence to back it up. The majority of the studies that have gone into this have been half-assed and almost always have an opposing study that proves exactly the opposite. The truth is, none of that crap matters. If you don’t want your kids playing games, don’t let them play games, but don’t be surprised when they become social outcasts in school because they aren’t keeping up with the times. You may as well go live in a commune given the rise of technology in modern years.

People have been blaming all forms of entertainment for “corrupting” our youth since time immemorial. They still ban books from schools to this very day. Yes, these books deal with harsh topics like racism, murder and drugs, but is shielding your kid from them really going to help? Why not use it as a teaching opportunity? Read the book WITH your kid and TALK about the parts that you want them to have a deeper understanding of. It’s called being a good parent, look it up.

As to games, the same rules apply. Play the game with your kid and you can put any spin on violence and sexuality that you want. If you don’t want them playing violent or sexual games, don’t buy it for them. You can easily read up on any game they want via the internet and if you think the content is questionable, you can DISCUSS it with your child. Is it so hard to talk to your kids that you need the federal government to come in and ban anything that they might play, see or read so you don’t have to think about it? It’s honestly quite pathetic to see.

Even more pathetic is when the news media and politicians try to sensationalize things to the point of insanity. Maybe you saw the absolutely ridiculous report on Fox News about Mass Effect? I’ve played through Mass Effect, and I got the sex scene (in my case a lesbian sex scene cause I like to play female characters). Not only is it many hours deep into a game that can be quite difficult (making it doubtful that a kid who might be warped by such content could even get to it) but it’s the tamest “pornography” (and I use that term VERY loosely) that I’ve ever seen.

If your kid wanted to see porn it’s really not that hard. If you have a computer with an active internet connection, all they have to do is type “boobs” into a google search and hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button. Boom, they’ve got boobs in their face. The fact of the matter is, you can’t hide this stuff from them. If they don’t see it at home, they’ll see it at school. If they don’t see it there, they’ll go to a friend’s house. You can’t protect them from the world, because the world is where we live. These are all topics they’re going to face as they grow up and you know who should talk to them about it? You, the parent.

We have the ESRB to warn you about video game violence. If you really want to avoid even the remote possibility that your is kid seeing something that’s hard to explain, use the ESRB ratings to determine whether or not to buy a game. E for Everyone means it’s a pretty safe game and our game ratings are no different than movie ratings (and I know you have movies in your home, probably porn, you sick bastards, hehe).

You might argue that games are for kids. Well, that’s simply not true. Games (much like movies, tv and books) are for EVERYBODY. The average age of a gamer is 33 years old and they’ve been playing game for 12 years (according to the ESA). Those aren’t kids, those are adults, so why are you trying to tell adults what can and can’t be in their games? Adults make these games too, I’m one of them, and while I consider young adults (teens) sensibilities and what messages I’m portraying, I’m also trying to tell a story that would enthrall an audience member of any age. Sometimes that involves mature themes (which is why we end up with a teen rating) but unelss it’s relevant to my game I don’t try to cram a sex scene in there. I guess, perhaps Rockstar might do that, but that’s why their games are rated Mature, so that YOU can read the box and NOT purchase the game for your kid.

Stop shirking your responsibility as a parent and watch what your kids are doing. There are bad books, bad tv shows, bad movies and bad games, but you can’t just go around banning everything you think is inappropriate. You are the filter for those kids, so you need to go over that stuff with them. When you do that is up to you, and until you do, you need to be the one watching what they’re reading, watching and playing. You’re the parent, so parent your damn kids and if you don’t do that, then I hope you’re not surprised when they bring an automatic pistol to school and start laying waste to other people’s kids who had enough sense to teach their kids right from wrong.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:59 pm  
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