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Everything posted by Zederick

  1. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    Oh god, yeah, I saw that one. I can only imagine the toll it takes on a person, especially when it happens over the course of weeks. Anita Sarkeesian must be made of titanium. I didn't get any death threats this time*, but then again, I'm not showing the utter audacity of disagreeing while being a woman. * My team did get plenty of death threats when we were working on Fallout 3, including at least one very graphic comic. Eastern Europe takes its Fallout very seriously, but not as seriously as 4chan seems to take its misogyny.
  2. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    I tried standing up to them on Twitter. It went... poorly. It's a very special feeling to be shouted down by randos on Twitter, with 30+ notifications per minute, where most of the people derating you have accounts that mysteriously are only 3 days old yet have over 1000 #GamerGate #NotYourShiled posts. I'm going to step away from Twitter and take a shower for a bit. Possibly while drinking a bottle of whiskey.
  3. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    The really frustrating thing is that this is largely an orchestrated action of 4chan, which has been behind this harassment for weeks, back when it was just targeted at Zoe Quinn. There are screenshots of 4chan posts planning the whole #NotYourShiled tag as a "special jamming op" to have minority posters (and people who are experienced "shitposters" who with fake accounts) join together to undermine "Social Justice Warriors" in gaming. Which apparently means women in game journalism and anyone who defends them or points out how strange it is that they only seem to go after women.
  4. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    I dunno. I keep asking myself that question when I go to work in AAA after all the studio layoffs. I just stick with it and try to improve things, but that's because games are a vocation for me. But maybe that'd be different if I had any marketable skill outside of narrative design.
  5. "Ethics and Journalistic Integrity"

    I started poking my head out of my game of Civ about 8 hours ago, and made the mistake of kicking the beehive on Twitter. It's been a frustrating 8 hours. The thing that pisses me off about this--other than the obvious, general horribleness of harassment and driving off of talented voices in our community--is how many genuine (seeming) people were duped into supporting what has always been a sexist witch hunt from the start. Going back as far as when I first stood up for Zoe, I had a friend who was "just raising some ethics concerns" about Zoe Quinn, and I know he actually meant well. And even 8 hours ago, when I was looking on Twitter to figure out all this #GamerGate #notyourshield nonsense, there were rational-sounding, seemingly-human people were defending their genuine interest in journalistic ethics and intersectional definitions of gaming. And I agree, there are problems in games journalism, especially in how AAA plays most of the press. But there's plenty of hay to be made there, but somehow they're still just talking about a couple women (and guys they can try to use to shame the women). And now that there's evidence of 4chan planning the #NotYourShield tag as a "Special Jamming Op", with bullet points like "Equality is our word against the SJWs we paint as extremists." It might as well have a headline reading "Breaking News: These Guys Really Are As Horrible As You Thought." https://twitter.com/kunikos/status/507390649180508160 Anyway, the moral of my story is that I should have realized to just come to the Idle Thumbs forums for all my gaming news. *advertising jingle*
  6. 7 Grand Steps

    Has anyone else been playing 7 Grand Steps by Mousechief? They just allowed early purchase, which gets you a very complete beta, and I've been playing it in extended, many-hour sessions that rival those long nights of playing "just one more turn" of Civ. It took me about 10 to 15 minutes to really get a hang of the mechanics and basic strategy, but once the idea of tokens representing wealth/ideas/opportunities gelled, I found myself getting engrossed in the generational ups-and-downs of my family. I cheered when my ancestor discovered mathematics, and for generations afterwards, I made sure to teach my children mathematics with pride. I saw my family struggle as farm workers, move up to generals of the king's army, and fall back down to being shepherds. And I learned to do whatever I could to avoid having too many kids. While the actual mechanics of the game aren't terribly complicated (and can be rather obfuscated at times), it does an amazing job at generating a procedural story - much like the Civ or Sim City games, but on a much more personal scale, looking at a single family through the ages, rather than a full nation or city. It's something I've been very interested in for a while, considering my background in open-world games and emergent narrative, and I'm glad to see more games and more game writer/designers exploring its potentials. Anyone else been spending time in this game?
  7. Theoretically, a multi-video of Spelunky could show each player on a single, static map of each level, with each of them running around that level simultaneously. But that would take a fair amount of video-editing to really compile: you'd want to construct a "background image" of the level from the footage of each player, then track their individual video-feed as they scroll through it, and then properly blend the video when their paths inevitably intersect. A good programmer might be able to automate such a thing. I'm sure if Derek Yu really wanted to, he could set up something that could make it easier (even if it was just releasing the maps the day after each daily challenge). Hell, if there's enough interest in something like that, it might be worth asking him.
  8. There's only one way the Card Hunter pizza-girl storyline can progress: After all of Gary (the DM's) lies about what they're doing downstairs, Melvin (the jerky brother) needs to try to embarrass them by revealing that they're playing Card Hunter. Then Karen (the pizza-girl) can reveal that she's an expert Card Hunter player... and that it's so much more fun when you're playing it with a bunch of friends, as she introduces co-op multiplayer. Ball's in your court, Blue Manchu. Make it happen. =}
  9. I know the '90s were a time of strange FMV gaming dead-ends, especially on the 3DO, but Duelin' Firemen seems like such a strange beast that Idle Thumbs must know about it. Yes, even despite the fact that it was never released and exists only as the strangest game trailer ever made: With cameos by Rudy Ray Moore, Tony Hawk, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Dr. Timothy Leary. All it needs is Jeff Goldblum.
  10. It wasn't a matter of "think of the children"; They never declared that people who enjoyed the game were morally unfit or harmful to society. I think they just find a tone of ridiculous violence to be gross and off-putting to them, which is their prerogative. Also, while the plot of Borderlands 2 is (deliberately) shallow, I give it seriously high marks for quality of writing, humor, and character. Anthony Burch and his team did some excellent work and made it far surpass the original's half-done tone and clumsy references.
  11. Oh, there are huge differences between BL2 and SR3, definitely. I'm just saying that they both share a common tone of "self-aware ridiculous violence" which they simultaneously embrace and critique. How well they may succeed at doing the latter while so gleefully doing the former is a subjective matter left to the player. Personally, it's a reason I enjoy both games, but then again, I'm a big fan of postmodernism like that; in the same way the Old Spice ads used absurd extremes of "manliness" to advertise to both those who were irritated by such ad campaigns and to those who didn't see them as a joke, or the way fans of the Colbert Report include both people who love satire of conservatives and conservatives who don't realize it's satire. Anyway, I remember the Thumbs saying they were turned off of Borderlands 2 because of the early scene where you kill a bunch of bandits and Claptrap responds "Minion, what have you done?! These were human beings with lives and families and--I'm totally kidding. Screw those guys!" If that sort of tone will put a person off of Borderlands 2, they're probably not going to enjoy the tone of the Saint's Row games.
  12. And even more than that, each outfit is available for either gender, too. But I can see how the ridiculous violence and gleeful dumbness could turn people off, despite all of the other positives. If a person doesn't like Borderlands 2 for those reasons, they're probably not going to like Saint's Row, and that's their choice to make.
  13. That's a totally legitimate reason to be put off by the series - it is ridiculously violent, to a degree that I'd call "cartoonish" if it wasn't so gory (much like Borderlands). Of course, the sociopathic feel is perfectly in keeping with the story and overall theme of SR3, which is all about the ridiculous power invested in celebrities - with people starstruck to see you on the street even as you pile-drive their friends, or police demanding that you "sign and put down your gun." Also, their use of music is consistently good throughout; the "Power" use is spot-on for the theme, but one of the endings also makes amazing use of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For a Hero."
  14. The thing about the Saint's Row games (particularly 3, and hopefully 4) is that their story and gameplay perfectly mesh, in exactly the way that GTA's never do. Saint's Row has every bit as many weird activities and bizarre results of playing around in the open world, but rather than try to tell an unrelated story of renouncing violence that flies in the face of the gameplay, it tells a story about runaway celebrity and fame, and the excesses and distractions that come from them. Even more importantly, Saint's Row is entirely aware of how much of a self-parody it is, and it owns every moment of it - often while sneaking in subtle humor between the big, blatant dildo-jokes. If you're even slightly interested, I recommend giving Saint's Row 3 a chance (especially if you pick it up through the Humble Deep Silver Bundle). If you don't get a kick out of a tutorial mission where you help a movie star prepare to star as you in your own bio-pic by taking him on a bank robbery where you hide your identity by wearing Mardi Gras masks of your own faces, then I suppose the series just isn't for you.
  15. GTA V

    Is it just me, or do these three trailers just read as "Here are the three types of players we hope to target: middle-aged guys who feel smothered by real life, 'urban' youth, and trolls"? Don't get me wrong; I'm sure it'll be a good game. But I'm pretty much a Saint's Row fan for life, so maybe I'm a little biased.
  16. BioShock Infinite

    Brought over from the Episode 101 thread, since it seemed more appropriate here: Are we at a point where we aren't spoiler-tagging the ending yet? I feel like someone coming to this thread ought to know what they're getting into by now, but I'll tag it just to be sure. I mean, I totally dig that it's a good emotional end, but by the laws they've established, it just doesn't work.
  17. Perhaps we should move this to the Bioshock: Infinite thread. There's some good conversation going on here about representation in games and I don't really want to derail it by posting a billion spoiler tags. I'll post a reply there.
  18. Then we agreed on that, AND IT BLEW THE MIND OF THE UNIVERSE.
  19. (emphasis mine) I really disagree about the idea that racism is irrelevant to the story of B:I. It's treated irrelevantly, but it's still the origin of the major conflict and a major piece of set dressing in the location. The idea that racism and actual historical massacres were brought into the story just to help develop the connection between the two (white) main characters is actually worse than it just being dropped partway through. But I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on the whole issue. Here's to enjoying future podcasts and agreeing on other subjects! (Edit: highlight added to the original quote about racism's relevance to the story in response to edit complaint below in response to this post and ARGH I THOUGHT WE WERE DONE WITH THIS DANCE LET'S ALL JUST PLAY FTL AND BE HAPPY INSTEAD.)
  20. Their presentation of racism reminds me of the time I strangled a kitten to death with my bare hands. Racism is put forth as the origin of the player's problems, constantly depicted everywhere through the game, and used as a excuse for why the violence in the game is justified (at least at first), but then they don't deal with it at all. After being such a major issue in the game - to the point where they have a museum and murals dedicated to it - they sweep it under the rug when they're done using it. As Chris said, you can't use a big issue like that and then not deal with it. Now, many gamers may not notice or mind - in fact, if they find the subject awkward and uncomfortable, they may be quietly happy not to deal with it. But there are people in the world who find that racism highly relevant to real-world problems they face on a daily basis - and when it's brought up casually and then dismissed, it's shocking and insulting and problematic. It would be like casually beginning a conversation with animal torture and then wondering why people are upset with you. =} (Footnote: No, of course I never strangled a kitten, and I apologize for bringing it up. I needed something horrible and provocative to demonstrate using an issue to get the audience's attention and then not saying anything about it afterwards. Something that could perhaps be described as "Bio-shocking.")
  21. If a game (or comic, or movie, etc) doesn't want to Say Something about a subject, it shouldn't bring them up. On the subject of raising these large issues and then not addressing them, I have to go back to one of my favorite quotes from Emily Short about games and meaning: "The trick about working in an artistic medium is that you typically wind up saying something whether you mean to or not. So it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and think about what that is." By making this a game so heavily based on societal racism, particularly one character's regret and shame about actions at Wounded Knee, and then totally ignore that in favor of sci-fi shenanigans suggests that it's not really a problem that should be cared about. By claiming that the racist leader of a repressive society is equally evil as the violent revolutionary fighting for her people's freedom because they're both violent, they're saying that the oppressed are just as bad as the oppressors--in addition to being lazy storytelling by leaning on an unfair trope of moral equivalence. I'm sure they absolutely didn't mean to convey those messages, but that's what happens when you bring up big, problematic issues and then don't bother to say something about them. Right now, at the end of the game, Anyway, sorry to harp on this, especially since it raises the dread spectre of ludonarrative dissonance, but I spend a lot of time thinking about this, since it's literally my job.
  22. It's a nice concept, but it just doesn't work, even by the game's internal fiction. I mean, it's a very pretty idea, but it falls apart the moment you actually start considering it. And that's before getting into the unpleasantness of it casually bringing up a bunch of heavy themes (racism in America, morality of fighting against it< religious zealotry and brainwashing) and then entirely punting on the idea of treating them with depth and respect. And, of course, the fact that the narrative and the gameplay are deeply at odds against each other. Sorry to rant, but it drives me crazy that so many sources are praising it as a good story without realizing that the story doesn't actually work.
  23. I've done a lot of analysis/complaining about Bioshock: Infinite in the B:I thread elsewhere, but it wasn't until I heard the thumbs' saying some of these things out loud that I had the following stupid revelation. God, I hope that wasn't their reason for naming him that.
  24. BioShock Infinite

    If I wanted to be charitable, my interpretation of Comstock's motivation would go as follows: 1) Booker-PreStory does horrible things at Wounded Knee and as a Pinkerton and internalizes some pretty bad attitudes about racism/classism 2) Booker-PreStory feels remorse about them but isn't sure how to handle it 3) Booker-PreStory tries to wipe them away by being born again, literally choosing a new name and identity: Comstock 4) Comstock, now thinks he's all clean and knows what's best. With the zeal of the newly converted, he forms a new society. 5) BUT! Comstock is heavily in denial about the attitudes he's still internalized, and those attitudes get incorporated into this new society. 6) Comstock still has some very unresolved anger issues about what he did, but he's so heavily disassociated himself from his actions that he puts the blame for them on the society that left behind. 7) SOLUTION: Get vengeance on that society! Surely that will absolve him of his own misdeeds - and justify his creation of a new, EVEN WORSE society based on those same principles! 3a) ALTERNATE REALITY: Rather than taking an easy out of baptism and pretending everything's better, Booker-PrePlayer is tormented by what he's become, turns to drinking/gambling/etc and eventually-sorta faces his past and tries to do something tangible to make up for them (as the game would like us to feel Booker-Player does over the course of the game, even though it kinda doesn't work at all like that). Now, that's reading a lot into what's presented in the text, but it does make for an interesting study of a character and of the cycle of societal bigotry, internalization, shame, and perpetuation of those same evils. If the game had delved deeper into that, it could have been a satisfying treatment of a Big Issue, while also presenting a realistic villain (ie "one that doesn't think they're evil"). It's like writing a story that ends with a character's death: you have to earn that sh*t or else it's just a cheap emotional ploy that doesn't respect the gravity of the actual subject. Don't use it if you're not ready to get your hands dirty and earn it. I have to wonder how much of that was a result of the messiness of game production -- Levine said they cut "5 games worth of content", which may explain how the story made some leaps all over the place and rarely seems to deal with any of the issues it calls out.
  25. BioShock Infinite

    The story has four major problems as far as I'm concerned. My apologies in advance for going all SUPER-PICKY-WRITER on it. Sure, I'm over-analyzing the story. But if you're going to get praised on your brilliant story, it ought to stand up to analysis. That said, the game really was astoundingly beautiful. Nothing but sincere praise for everyone involved in the art, sound, and level-design.