Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ode to Blizzard

You are at the pinnacle of fame,
And we all will love your new game,
It’s Starcraft plus one,
And it might be real fun,
But it’s really just more of the same.

posted by CommanderHate at 6:55 pm  

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Diablo III
Old Writings I Found

I discovered this ancient bit of writing on one of my flash drives. It was a proposal for the story line of Diablo III. To my knowledge they didn’t use anything from it and I wrote it in my spare time, so you can consider it fan fiction (as it likely would be if I were a fan of the Diablo series). This first bit is just a story arc, if anyone is interested I can show you the storypath/gameplay document that I wrote after I got some feedback on this. Who knows if any of this stuff remains in what they’re working on or if they’re still working on the franchise at all…

Diablo III Story Pass 1

The Order took hold quickly after Diablo had fallen and few could believe the wonders that were created in their name. They created vast cities from monster-infested wastelands and soon you could see massive white towers reaching towards the bright sun in every portion of the world. The Order grew deep roots within the communities of our people, and soon there was not a single facet of life that could not be traced back to their awe inspiring ability to bring peace, prosperity and swift justice.

It was this justice that first opened the door to Pandora’s box of secrets. Now that the world had lost its only villain, there was nothing left to stir the realm; no heroes to rise against a mighty foe, no monsters to slay. Only old abandoned tombs and dusty desolate plains remained that held any secrets, though even their secrets were revealed to the Order. The Order had declared all such secrets their own property; with knowledge comes power, and if power were to slip from the Order’s hands, only chaos could ensue. That would never be allowed to happen.

The Order consisted of heroes from the War of Chaos. Those who had slain Diablo and his brothers had come to rule over us all. At their lead was Thanistar the Paladin, the very personage of what was good in the world; he quickly became the leader of the four. Serena the Sorceress developed laws governing the use of magic, and quickly accumulated hordes of magical items, removing them from the hands of the people who had discovered them and were deemed untrustworthy. Krulgar the Callous meted out punishments on a daily basis, his barbarous tribal background gave him natural talent in this area. Azonia of the Amazons brought her vision of justice to the table, which Thanistar appreciated for its violence towards abusers of women, and Krulgar enjoyed for the harsh penalties it required.

There were other heroes who had helped in the slaying of the prime evils, but they had left soon after the deed was finished. Kiral the Necromancer and Dagroth the Druid disappeared the moment the task was done, one to the wilds of the forest, the other to his homeland where his craft would not be looked on with fear and hatred. Ilsana the Assassin disappeared quietly in the night when Thanistar was declared the leader of the Order.

City life was a daily torment of impending fear. Many laws were created everyday, and it was the duty of every citizen to read them on the walls of the great citadels before they did anything else each morning. The penalties were never posted, but the fear of death was felt in every law that passed. The Order hung over the cities as a thinly veiled threat; each citizen felt the clutch of their iron fists. However, it was all in the name of justice and good. Any who would rise against it must be evil, and those who are evil must be destroyed. What were the citizens of such a civilization to do?

The Archangels became a more common sight in the days before the fire ignited. There was much talk of an impending uprising. Something the Archangels seemed to fear more than anything else. The last days were the most fearsome. Tyrriel himself came down to slay lawbreakers and quell uprisings with his fiery blade. That was all that was left, for every murderer had been slain, thieves had no hands with which to steal, the greedy had been struck blind so they could covet no more. However, it was death that was dealt most commonly by the Order and their Archangels. They had no tolerance for the shortcomings of men, but quickly found that our tolerance for them had all but disappeared.

It took only one month for word to reach out to the rest of the world. The fire of freedom spreads quickly when all you know is tyranny. Men and women poured forth from the cities, leaving quickly and quietly to seek out new lives far from the white towers and citadels that marked every city of the Order. This angered the Order greatly, and was seen as a great threat to the law they had worked so hard to establish. An army was called to duty, the Order declared all who had left to be traitors to their cause and claimed that we were all followers of the destroyed demon, Diablo.

We fought like the warriors spoken of in legends for many moons. The war seemed grim, but we used the darkness to our advantage and fought when they least expected battles. Our militia grew smaller by the day, but still we fought on, hoping that they might give up and leave us to our ways. It was not to be.

Kiral the Necromancer joined us when we needed him most. Though must of us feared him, he was the most reasonable man we had spoken with in ages. He believed that the chaos caused by Diablo was a necessary evil. Without destruction or terror, the Order had turned upon its own peoples’ minor troubles. Without the Order to fight, Diablo and his minions would destroy the world. Kiral seemed to understand the larger picture. He told us that we would play a large part in things to come, and that in the end we would win our former lives back. However, before that could happen, we must join with forces we once believed to be unimaginably chaotic and evil. We were confused and afraid, but Kiral’s words rung true in our hearts and it left us much to think upon.

When the Archangels joined the fray, all hope seemed lost. Fire rained down on our camps, friends were turned to dust before our very eyes. It was clear that there was no way to victory on our own. When Diablo died, something had occurred that no one had expected: A crucial piece of the world had been lost, a balance had been destroyed. Though Kiral told us that Diablo yet lived on…

A desperate plan was formed and we set out to complete it immediately. We followed the path of the heroes that now tormented our days and dreams, and those that had left us to our fate. Through the depths of hell itself we descended, but there was little to fear now. The flames had died down in their mentor’s absence, but still they burned on. The demons and monsters had long been destroyed to the very last one. Only a few historians and archaeologists remained to decipher the runes of the past. They were easily brushed aside as we raced towards our goal, knowing full well that the armies of the Order were more desperate than ever to stop us. The Archangels had been right, but it was their tyranny that pushed us to this end.

The forge of Haephestus lay undisturbed from when Thanistar had destroyed the soulstone, the final link that Diablo still held in the world. That was what everyone believed, but Kiral seemed to understand something about the basic nature of the prime evils.

“They can never be destroyed, not by man, and not by any Angel. Only the creator of all this could do so, and it would never do that.”

Kiral began to gather the fragments of soul stone strewn about the floor of the forge. Each piece shimmered with its own sickening red light, and the hair began to rise on all our necks. Kiral’s words rung true as we felt the fear grasping our hearts at the sight of the gathered soul dust. From the shadows all around us we could see something stir, or attempt to stir, but there was nothing there. Kiral pushed the last bits of the soul stone into the pile.

“From what was crushed, arise anew! Without terror, the Angels turn upon each other for fear of boredom! Without destruction, justice slays its own and is unjust! Without chaos, law lights the way to genocide! Diablo! Cow the Order and show them how petty they have become! Hear our call, rise again to show the world what it is to fear!”

Green fire burst from the Necromancer’s hands and consumed the soul dust into ash. Shadows swirled around the room and furtively gathered around us, seeking a way towards the red fire that now rose into the air. All seemed dark as the shadows filled the area leaving us in complete darkness, but then, ever so slowly, the shadows receded to the center of the room and an eerie red light poured over us. Fear struck our hearts as Diablo stepped forth with an ear-shattering roar unlike any we had ever heard before. The Lord of Terror was reborn and with him, the hope of freedom.

posted by CommanderHate at 6:26 pm  

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ode To The Collective

Your company is destined to fail,
No deal can possibly bail,
You’re in debt to your ass,
Your games are a pass,
But your stupidity will always prevail.

posted by CommanderHate at 11:40 pm  

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  

Monday, February 25, 2008

Game Design as Art
Why I Hate Most Indie Games

While I certainly value the opinions of other designers. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve lost sight of what games are really supposed to be about. While I can certainly appreciate the offerings of games such as Passage and Marriage, what they don’t offer is a lot of fun. Once you’ve figured them out, they’re pretty much done. Marriage held my attention the longest, but once I read the developer’s notes about what the intended meaning was, it was pretty much over for me (I won’t ruin it for you though). I got what he was trying to say with the game and then moved on.

The point being, that while these “games” might have their own intrinsic value. They’re nothing more than a couple minutes of ponderous thought followed by… nothing. The replayability is practically nil. What I take umbrage with is the smugness with which certain indie developers present their games and thoughts. Neither Marriage or Passage are guilty of this, but the creator of Braid most definitely is. With a certain smugness he states the following: “if you force people to have what you deem is the maximum-quality experience, you remove the potential for them to have all the other experiences, many of which were probably better than the one you mistakenly chose as the best. ”

The argument here is that if you remove all the parts of the game that aren’t headed towards the best end-user experience, you’re robbing that user of all the other experiences they may have had with the game. Do you remember playing Street Fighter 2 on your Genesis on the hardest difficulty setting? Or not being able to save your game in Super Mario Brothers on the NES (not to mention Bubble Bobble, omfg)? Was it fun when you died and lost hours of progress? Was it a fun experience when you got slaughtered by the computer in SF2 because it CHEATS on the hardest difficulty?

I seem to remember attempting to break my controllers on several occasions while playing certain games. The frustration inherent in a game of Contra when played how it was originally intended (without the 30 life Konami code UUDDLRLRBAstart) is enough to send an adolescent into a fit of rage and an adult on a murder spree. Is that the alternate experience that Jonathon Blow is so jazzed on revitalizing in games? Passage and Marriage are interesting games, but I played them about three times each and I never need to play them again. Certainly they never reached the frustration levels of some of our old school games, but neither did they approach a level of fun anywhere near what I had in Portal, Mass Effect, or World of Warcraft.

What I take particular umbrage with is the assumption that stripping away bad experiences makes the game somehow less. Portal is an amazing game (by any standard) and does have an indie feel to it, but went through a ridiculous amount of quality assurance testing to make certain that there would be a very low level of frustration for the end user. Valve did such an amazing job with portal, that I think their standards should become the standards for the entirety of the game industry (wishful thinking). Throughout Portal I was consistently amazed by the variety of things I could do using such simple tools, and pushed to the edge of my reasoning capabilities by the awesome puzzles. Yet I was never really frustrated with the game, even when doing their advanced puzzle set. Portal, in my mind, is perfection as far as games are concerned.

That’s where Mr. Blow’s argument falls flat. Portal does have a correct way to advance through the game, and Valve’s focus testing is what streamlined the removal of all the things that could confuse the player from that path and added in things to help them think the proper way. That fine tuning is what made the final game so damn good. While Marriage and Passage (among other indie games) have given me some food for thought, none of them have given me more than a moment’s pause. They make their point and they bring up some interesting ideas for interpretation, but ultimately the gameplay is not what I would consider fun, or even worthwhile. Isn’t that what a game is supposed to be? Fun and worth playing repeatedly?

I think that this new development of “art as games” needs a new classification. One that partially removes it from the standard definition of games (which to me means a fun, interactive and usually competitive experience). Cinema has many distinct forms of film which games currently borrow from (Horror, sci-fi, fantasy, etc), but games also have the definitions of the styles of gameplay we’re accustomed to (FPS, Side Scroller, RPG, etc). Should indie games have their own classification of style? Perhaps, art?

I don’t know what we should call them, but I hope they get their own designation soon so I know what to avoid. Art games are not unlike going to the art gallery or museum. You look at the painting for five minutes, give it some thought and then move on. Maybe I’m exactly the sort of Neanderthal gamer that Mr.Blow dislikes, but I think that the vast majority of gamers feel the same way. Call them popcorn games or what have you, but Portal is just fun, and the fact that they stripped away all the frustrating possibilities only made the game better, not worse.

I for one look forward to playing Braid for several minutes, pondering what I just experienced for a few minutes more, and then discarding it and forgetting it ever existed.

posted by CommanderHate at 6:32 pm  

Friday, February 22, 2008

Game Design Haiku

Design is not hard.

You just make cool ideas.

Oh wait it’s not fun.

posted by CommanderHate at 7:00 pm  

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Fate of Dean Polreno

Dean awoke with a splitting headache. He was laying on his stomach flat on the floor.

“What the hell,” he said.

A string of drool stretched out as he slowly lifted himself to his knees. He couldn’t remember what had happened, how he had gotten there or why his head hurt. That’s when he noticed that he wasn’t alone.

All around him people were moving. Not just moving, but dancing and talking and having a good time. When was the last time Dean had been to a party? He couldn’t recall, but he knew it had been a very long time. A pang of self-consciousness struck him and he wiped at the drool. Then he noticed that he was dressed quite well.

A black suit, tailor fit judging by how smooth it felt when he stood up. A fancy red neck tie and polished Aldo shoes made him stare at himself in wonder. He could never have afforded these. At least, not under any normal circumstances. Yet he couldn’t remember why that was. Why couldn’t he afford these things? Why was this so out of the ordinary?

“How are you doing this fine evening, Mr.Polreno,” asked a well dressed gentleman carrying a tray of puff pastries.

“Would you care for an hors d’oeuvre?”

“No, no thank you. Where am I?”

“You sir, are at the finest party that ever was or will be. It’s only a few hours more so I suggest you enjoy it while you can. Everyone is on their best behavior,” said the waiter with a slight undertone of disdain.

Dean had always been good at picking up that sort of thing. When anyone would speak to him directly he could pick out anger, resentment or disdain in an instant. He could read emotions in people as though they were printed in bold red ink on their face.

“Yeah… Thanks… I’ll try to enjoy it,” said Dean. He felt resentment begin to build inside him. This had always been his problem before. He wasn’t sure before what, but he knew that he had issues with anger.

He tried to calm down, but the words of the waiter rang in his ears. Everyone else is on their “best behavior,” therefore, Dean was obviously misbehaving in some way. At least, that was the implication that Dean had picked up on. Dean walked over to the drinks table where some fanciful girls in dresses were standing around a punch bowl. Dean needed a drink.

“That’s why I don’t use Mexican cleaners anymore,” said one snobby girl in a black cocktail dress.

“Well I can’t disagree that they have a tendency to steal, but you could always just keep your valuables in the safe. I can’t find white people who clean as well as the Mexicans,” said another snobby girl in a white sequined number.

Dean felt his face flush with anger. He hated racists. It was almost as if they had sensed his Hispanic heritage and launched right into this conversation just to piss him off.

“Excuse me, I’d like to get a drink… If you don’t mind,” said Dean.

“Oh, well I suppose you have to keep hydrated on the job,” said the woman in the black cocktail dress with just a hint of sarcasm. She turned to her friend and gave a subtle wink which Dean caught out of the corner of his eye.

“When you’re done, could you pick up my fur from the coat room? I’m thinking of leaving the party soon,” said the girl in the white dress. Dean’s head began to throb at that one. He put down the glass he had been picking up and turned to her.

“I’m not your fucking coat fetcher.”

Dean turned away from the table and walked towards the open doors of the veranda. He needed to get some air and let the anger leak out of him. This was always a problem, he thought. He had worked hard to fix this. He just needed to let go and relax, but it was not to be.

On the marble veranda there were several gentlemen in tuxedos smoking cigars. Dean always hated cigars. He thought he remembered punching someone in the face for daring to light one up near him, but the memory slipped away so he wasn’t sure. These men inspired great hatred in Dean and he wasn’t even sure why. They all had distinguished features, very well groomed and manicured beards and mustaches on a few, eagle noses on two more, and of all the things in the world, one was wearing a monocle. A god damned monocle, thought Dean.

One of the men stopped Dean before he could get too far, causing him to inhale a great deal more cigar smoke than he would have liked.

“Excuse me, but I was wondering if you could settle an argument for us.”

Dean was suspicious and didn’t like the tone with which the man had spoken, much less the fact that the man had placed two finger tips into Dean’s right shoulder in order to stop him from moving.

“What the hell do you want, man,” said Dean, his voice starting to seethe out anger as he spoke through clenched teeth.

“My friends and I were arguing about rap music. You see, we think that all people of Hispanic or African descent indulge in the fantasy of become a rap artist.”

“You have to got to be kidding me,” said Dean. The whole thing was ridiculous. Why was he even at this party? Nothing was making sense, and these… Fucking racists were just hounding the hell out of him.

“Well my friends and I were wondering if you could rap for us, you do know some rap songs, don’t you? Probably made a few of your own? Tried to be a rap artist, yes?”

Dean’s whole world went red. He had tried his hand at recording some rap songs once, but that was like an ancient dream. This was the proverbial straw. He lashed out with his fists and dropped the snooty man to the ground with a single punch. The monocle went spinning into the air and shattered on the floor. Suddenly, the lights went out and Dean lost consciousness.

Dean heard the voice speaking through him like it was traveling over an ocean wave. It wavered here and there even though he knew the source was solid. His head was swimming even though he knew he hadn’t been punched. Suddenly a rush of alertness hit Dean. His eyes snapped open and awareness came to him in tsunami like waves.

“It’s unfortunate, Dean Polreno. That you’ve failed this third test of mental stability. Your rage was off the charts yet again. Sadly, our policy at this time is to only attempt the test three times over the course of 10 years.”

10 years, Dean lamented. He had been in prison 10 years for aggravated assault. He had endured thousands upon thousands of hours of psychological retraining to work on his anger issues.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Polreno, that we have been unable to rehabilitate you. The penalty for three failures is death.”

Why couldn’t he be nice? Why did someone mocking his heritage piss him off so much? Why couldn’t he let it go?

“You know why, Mr.Polreno.”

They were in his head!

“A great man once said, your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. Words are just words Mr.Polreno. You of all people should know that since we’ve tried so hard to bring you back to proper society. Freedom of speech is the most sacred right in our world, and we cannot abide people being silenced. We must stop that at any cost. You understand this now, as that was the core of your training. Yet, you still couldn’t stop yourself from hurting that man just because of what he said.”

“But he touched me,” Dean cried out.

“He pushed me, with those two stupid stick fingers of his.”

Dean saw the Officer of Speech Freedom step into the light.

“Really now, Mr.Polreno. Have you learned nothing at all?”

The Officer sighed heavily.

“Goodbye, Dean Polreno. Your words and thoughts have been recorded for posterity in the records of Speech Freedom. People will study them long after you are gone. I hope that gives you some solace.”

The Officer of Speech Freedom pushed a small red button on Dean’s chair. A lethal liquid was introduced to his IV and Dean’s vision began to dim. His last thoughts were this.

“Fuck you.”

posted by CommanderHate at 8:31 pm  

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

HD-DVD is Dead
Damn you Sony

Well, I guess it was inevitable but Sony has finally won the high definition DVD format war. With Toshiba abandoning its own format, there’s really no competition left to stand against Blu-Ray. It’s too bad cause I was really enjoying this particular technological war.

The color coding was perfect. Blu-Ray went with blue boxes for everything so it was easy to see in stores. So naturally, HD-DVD went with the red box. It was like some sort of mockery of the democratic system. Though I personally would have made Blu-Ray the Red Republicans and HD-DVD the Blue Democrats since Toshiba was sort of the format of choice whereas Sony was just buying everyone out to convert them to their format. It was also Sony that stonewalled the talks of combining the two technologies.

It’s funny how this reminds me of the original reason to buy a Playstation 2 when it was first coming out. Even then it was severely overpriced, but DVDs were the new big thing. The PS2 played DVD movies, and it just happened to be one of the cheapest DVD players on the market at the time. It became highly coveted as a result (despite not having any good games for about a year or more). People would flip out when a PS2 was offered as a prize at some stupid company raffle. Probably because it was so overpriced.

Anyways, now that Blu-Ray has won the format war, that pretty much opens the door for PS3 domination of the game market again. Despite its expensive nature, if you want to get maximum use out of your high def tv, you need a high definition movie player. The PS3 is the cheapest one on the market at the moment. Plus it plays games…

What sucks is that Blu-Ray is also the more expensive DVD format. In Sony’s hands, it will become practically intolerable. They love to charge all sorts of fees for people using their format, so expect Blu-Ray DVD prices to stay high for a very long time (even as the manufacturing costs decrease). That’s just Sony’s way. Sony has been quite arrogant for a long time and I was really hoping that they’d lose this format war and eat a bit of humble pie. But I guess it wasn’t to be.

There is one glimmer of hope though. Digital distribution could surpass all disc media formats and come to the forefront fairly soon. The 360 already allows high definition TV shows to be downloaded directly. TiVo now allows you to record shows in high def, and they also allow you to download movies from Amazon.com directly to your TiVo over any internet connection. We are an inherently lazy people, and digital distribution really rubs us in all the right areas. Imagine never having to get up off your couch to put a new disc into the DVD player… You just turn on your 360 or TiVo using the wireless remote, select the movie from a list and hit play. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it, you can already do it, right now.

So you can have your little blue laser technology Sony. You can overprice your stupid product out of the market too. You can also keep your lame blu-ray DVDs at a high premium if you want. I for one, have moved straight to the digital model and while I will sorely miss the workout of getting up to change the disc in my DVD player, I won’t miss your arrogance and your overpricing, Sony.

If I were a betting man, I’d start investing heavily into colostomy bags and dialysis machines…

posted by CommanderHate at 6:30 pm  

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  

Friday, February 15, 2008

Assassin’s Creed
It’s just a bad game…

When I first read all the negative reviews about Assassin’s Creed, I was pretty skeptical. I’ve seen reviewers pan good games before for trivial and stupid reasons. Warcraft 3 was once touted as having “too much game design” by a reputable video game magazine. That’s pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, so it was with a wary eye that I looked over the Assassin’s Creed claims of boring repetitive gameplay.

So much so that when given a gift certificate by a good friend, I decided to pick up a copy of the game. I’ve always loved stealthy assassin style games. I often play rogues in World of Warcraft. It should be a fun experience, right?

After making the biggest plot point reveal in the first five minutes of the game, I was unleashed onto their world. A world where stealthily killing someone will cause everyone around you to immediately lock onto you and begin trying to impale you on their swords, no matter how slow you move. You have no smoke bombs, no fun assassin tools. Just your hidden blade (with which you can either stab people quietly or in a giant leap attack), throwing daggers, and a sword which means you failed at stealth. Which btw, they force you to fail everytime you actually assassinate someone cool.

So what happens when people spot you (which btw, walking at more than a snails pace apparently translates into hired assassin back in Jerusalem)? Well, you run… you run and you run and you climb and you break line of sight with the town guards who can climb anything you can btw. Then you either jump in a bale of hay, sit next to two other townsfolk on a bench, or hide in a roof-top carpet kiosk. That’s the stealth portion of the game… Once you’ve hidden in one of those three things, no one will see you until you walk out of it and start moving at a faster clip than a legless rabbit.

So between forcing you to walk slowly to avoid detection, immediately alerting everyone around you everytime you assassinate someone (with no chance of hiding the body), and the only real method of subterfuge being running away and hiding in one of three types of hiding spots, it’s no wonder that I was bored after 2 hours of playing. I never even accomplished anything really cool. I was hoping that I’d be able to just walk around the town, interact with some citizens, assassinate some guards to advance the plotline… But no, you do one of three things to get to the high profile assassination where you gank a guy, listen to him talk for 10 minutes and then either sword everyone to death or run like a bitch.

Which is fun, for an hour… But then they needed to switch it up. How about a mission where I have to assassinate guards in key locations so another group of spies can get into the city. Or maybe a mission where I have to assassinate 3 templar in under 10 minutes using a stealthily shod mare? Or a mission where a group of invaders are sieging my castle, and I must sneak into their ranks and start taking out their commanders at night without alerting anyone?

Nope, sorry. You have three things you can do in each category. 3 ways to kill someone (stealthy, sword, thrown dagger), 3 ways to hide once they’ve seen it (bench, hay and carpet kiosk), and 3 ways to gather info (pickpocket, eavesdrop, or pummel blabbermouth). They’re all… okay once or twice. But this is the entirety of the game with no variation.

I suppose my disappointment with this was directly linked to my love of ganking people in new and fun ways. Crackdown satisfied that in a lot of ways. I always felt like I was building towards something, and I was always finding new horrible way to kill people (and eventually very large groups of people). Assassin’s Creed I just sort of… held the stick in the direction I wanted to go and the guy went there. It even looked nice, but I never felt like I had any real control. The combat itself always felt muddy too. About the only time I ever really enjoyed myself in Assassin’s Creed is in the 6 second interval between initiating a stealth kill and it finishing. The rest was just an exercise in frustration and unfun gameplay.

Assassin’s Creed – C+

    Pros:
  • Pretty world.
  • Easy to figure out.
  • Fun concept.
    • Cons:
  • No fun of mastery.
  • Poor story reveals.
  • Gameplay becomes drudgery (and I like MMOS).
  • posted by CommanderHate at 10:23 pm  
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