Archive for the 'Features' Category

Multiple Deployment Options (or how to alienate your fanbase before your game is even out)

this kind of ******** only serves to make me less hyped about the game than I was before

Unfollowed. See you all for the GOTY edition next March, or whenever.

**** you, I’ll rent it instead

These are a selection of responses taken verbatim from a popular games forum, immediately following the announcement that yet another hotly-anticipated game is being released as a variety of different packages, offering differing, exclusive content to the customers of different retailers.
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Blizzard, Diablo 3 and sweatshops – part two

Believe it or not, I’ve had quite a response to my previous piece on Blizzard’s Diablo 3 announcements, what they mean to gold farming, and what gold farming has to do with sweatshops. I say believe it or not, because the responses have been exclusively conveyed to me on other websites and via social media. Rather than, you know, in the comments thread of the actual article. So, as I think that those debates deserve to be aired in public – it’s clear that people disagree with me, and I don’t want my website to pretend otherwise – I’ve collected some of the arguments I’ve heard, and my responses to said arguments.

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Blizzard, Diablo 3, and sweatshops

A few weeks ago developers Littleloud released a game about sweatshops called, funnily enough, Sweatshop. It used tower defence gameplay as a way to get players thinking about the nature of sweatshops, encouraging them into the mindset of a sweatshop manager, even as it reminded them of just how many everyday items come from such places. It was an intelligent, effective piece of edutainment. It’s also a game that certain members of Blizzard would do well to play, perhaps while reading up on gold farming.

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Anger Management #5: Save Games

Let me have them, you massive, massive wankers.

By which I mean: if you are a games developer, or publisher, or distribution platform, or hardware platform, and you decide to restrict your players’ ability to copy, backup or otherwise move their saves around, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you tie your saves to anything which relies on the player being online, or having access to a unique identifier tied to their system, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you conceal the location of your saves, force them to be saved on a specific drive letter ignoring the install path of the game they’re tied to or the location of Windows’ libraries, you are an unforgivable, small-minded cretin.

If you don’t allow the player to easily manage and delete their saves from within the game… well, you’re quite annoying. But I can just about forgive you, so long as the above issues aren’t the case, and all I have to do is browse to an easy to find save directory where my saves are logically laid out and delete from there.
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A Letter

I can’t remember what it was that first attracted me to you. It might have been your good looks – your radiant, glowing veneer. Or perhaps it was your wicked sense of humour and easygoing nature. Whatever it was, you drew me in like a moth to a flame, and I was enraptured.

We had so much fun! We travelled, visited new places, met new people. We even invested our money and bought some property! But even then, there were warning signs: you weren’t hugely talkative – while you had your moments, for the most part you barely communicative, resorting to little more than gestures and grunts. You would sometimes just freeze up and push me away, leaving me to wait while you pulled yourself together. Sometimes after these episodes you would have me re-enact our recent activities, like a child who just wants to do their favourite things over and over again.

And then… then something changed. One day, you decided to throw a grave demand my way, without warning: you wanted me to amass a huge amount of money in a short time, or we would be through. The amount you wanted I shan’t detail, but it was astronomical – far more than I’d ever earned, even if you were to take all of my past earnings together. It was then that I realised I couldn’t abide the situation any longer.

I don’t regret any of the time we spent together – we had a fun time, while it lasted – but I’m afraid this is the end of the line.

So this is it. I’d like to say that it was me and not you, but that would be a lie. Nevertheless, I hope that we can still be friends, Fable III.



A memory of better times

Anger Management #4.1 – Mortality

Okay, the title’s misleading. This isn’t a complaint about mortality in media, or even really an anger management article. This is just an apology for not posting much this fortnight, and a heads up that normal service won’t resume for a week or two. I’m attending a funeral this weekend (leaving Thursday – funeral’s a day’s travel away), and following that I’ve a lot of real work to do, so expect internet silence for a bit.

Anger Management #4: Patches

Actually, as I write this the issue I really want to kick and scream about is that of flaky internet connections. Weekends are for lazing around, idly reading interesting articles and uploading Anger Management. They are not for staring at “This page is not available” screens. Regrettably, however, that’s not a perfect fit for this column. What is a good fit is a discussion on the horrors of an endemic patching culture amongst game developers.

Patching is an everyday activity for PC gamers, not only in the hope of improving the experience of playing the game, but out of necessity should they wish to engage in online play. Rare, if not non-existant, is the retail game which doesn’t receive patches post-release. And PC gamers are no longer alone – many 360 and PS3 games receive patches post-release, and should the player be connected to their respective online services, the machine will not let them play a game until it is completely up to date, patch-wise.

Things were not always this way.
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August 2017
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