Saturday, April 5, 2008

April [chat]'s Day

Because posting fake news stories is apparently witty.

Mythos Video / Interview

Mythos is Diablo II. Only with modern graphics.

Mythos is free, unlike WoW.

it is still in closed beta right now, but it will be out sometime this summer.

1up show did a segment with the games executive producer. (i cannot seem to get the video to embed.)

Friday, April 4, 2008


This morning my boss sent me a link to and asked if this was something we could do with our online catalog. Upon visiting the site I hit my limit break on rage and my scorn increased by +A LOT.

You see, the website I maintain allows users to view our catalogs as .pdf files., too, displays catalogs as .pdf files. The difference is that employs Flash in their presentation and so includes some aesthetic differences. Which basically means that when viewing a catalog utilizing one can cwick on the widdle corner of a page and make it fwip just like a weal catawog!

And that right there can go FUUUUUUUUUCK ITSELF!

Employing technology to create minor aesthetic tweaks, to find convoluted and needless means by which one may get jackasses to say "Well aren't that neat!" is simply fucking retarded. And if you dedicate you life to the pursuit of creating stupid fucking aesthetic tweaks for the sake of novelty then you can suck my asshole and feast upon the real world equivalent of what you've done with your life: SHIT!

What the internet basically does, greatly simplified, is allow users to store and share information. That's it. What some have done since its inception is to continually drop aesthetic bullshit onto that fundamental structure. People like those at digicatalog do not make something new, they simply modify what already exists. Any jackass can put a .pdf file of their catalog online and allow users to view it; this is not difficult. What has done is employ Flash to change the presentation of the catalog. So while on some sites users can click on the down arrow to view the next page allows users to click on the visual representation of a page and virtually mimic the phenomenal, joyful experience of turning a god damned page.

And in my estimation that's just fucking stupid and a waste of time.

Moreover I do not understand why users find this sort of thing to be compelling. We can turn the pages on real world catalogs and not give a shit. But now that has replicated this action on the tubal interwebs it is suddenly fun and interesting? Go ahead. Go to the site. Load one of their sample catalogs. Now click on the corner of one of the pages and turn the page. See? You can, like, turn the page! It's like turning a real page only online! Isn't that cool?

NO IT'S NO COOL YOU PHENOMINAL DOLT! It's the same thing as pressing an arrow key. Only instead of pushing a button you have to click your mouse on a point and drag it. There is no utility in doing this; there is no advantage to it. It's just an aesthetic difference.

It's just like the fucking Wii. "Hey look! Instead of pressing A I have to shake this thing! AWESOME!" "Hey look! Instead of clicking the down arrow I can click and drag a visual representation of a page! AWESOME!"


It's not useful. It's not advantageous. It's not progression. It's just fucking stupid.

Sure, maybe there is some use for this which is advantageous, sensible and useful. Perhaps this ability to click and drag may one day have a beneficial implementation which is actually more useful than its button clicking equivalent. But turning pages in an online catalog? That's not some awesome, inspiring, breakthrough use of technology.

It's just fucking stupid.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sorry, Bill Fulton. Gaming Needs Assholes.

Fixing Online Gaming Idiocy: A Psychological Approach is a Gamasutra article by Bill Fulton which addresses two points.

1) People need to not be assholes when playing online games.
2) We can modify online games to minimize asshole behavior.

Rather than base the need for an absence of assholes on an appeal to courtesy or etiquette Bill bases the need on economics:

"Because the online behavior of our customers is dramatically reducing our sales, and continues to stunt the growth of our industry. Non-gamers simply don’t love games enough to put up with the crap they get online."

Bill's position is that there is a need to grow the gaming industry. To grow the industry non-gamers (noobs) must be brought into the fold and so the behavior which prevents them from entering must be diminished. Stated simply, assholes need to stop being assholes so that more noobs will play.

Here's one problem with Bill's argument: Assholes hate noobs. So, really, Bill Fulton has provided assholes with not a reason to stop but rather motivation to continue. The more assholes act like assholes the more noobs they will drive away. Assholes do not want to grow the gaming industry, to inundate their beloved pastime with a bunch of god damned noobs. Assholes are comfortable with the way things are. Despite this, though, developers do attempt to control behavior.

In the article Bill highlights features which stymie asshole behavior such as text filtering, decreased awards for team kills, group kick systems, and social networks. Bill maintains the position that game developers need to implement systems which prohibit or decrease asshole behavior and so make games more appealing to noobs who do not like assholes.

Unfortunately, part of the appeal of online gaming is its asshole accommodating nature. Online gaming allows a user to be their self, to not be restricted by real-world repercussions of their actions. An individual cannot call their boss a "dickless fag son of a syphilitic whore" without suffering consequences. But in an online game one may freely lash out at the anonymous players with whom one interacts.

And that is a good thing.

Part of the appeal of games is the escapism they afford the user. If a person finds the real world to be stressful or constricting they may escape to an online game and so find relaxation and a more enjoyable, comfortable experience. Part of that feeling of escapism is that online games are not subject to the social rules of the real world. The anonymity of online games and their open-ended nature allow users to call one another "dick flossing fags" without suffering repercussions due to the common understanding of the nature of the game. We do not need to feign respect and courtesy in online games at all times since players accustomed to online gaming understand that the insults, threats, and baseless personal attacks are not actually personal but rather the venting of stressed individuals who utilize games as a means of relaxation and stress relief.

Sure, game developers can attempt to stymie their faithful users and tailor the social components of games to noobs and individuals unfamiliar with online gaming. It makes sense from a business perspective for one to grow one's market.

But I think one also need maintain a realistic appreciation of the history of online gaming and the manner by which it grew to its current status. Certainly developers may repress users whose small talk includes Holocaust infanticide jokes as they grasp at fresh blood from the Hello Kitty crowd. But it may behoove developers in the long run to remain beholden to the users who have remained faithful for years rather than abandon their fanbase in an attempt to court a bunch of god damned noobs.

Sorry, Bill Fulton. You gotta' dance with the one who brung ya.

Mike Gravel Postmodern Man, Insane


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Zero Punctuation: Army of Two

Giles Whittell hates Video Games.

So Giles Whittell hates video games. I know this because in his own nuanced way he said so:

"I hate video games, on or offline. I hate the way they suck real people into fake worlds and hold on to them for decades at a time. I hate being made to feel hateful for saying so, and I hate being told to immerse myself in them before passing judgment, because it feels like being told to immerse myself in smack and teenage pregnancy before passing judgment on them."

You see, like smack and teenage pregnancy video games are of such a nature that they require no personal experience upon which to base an opinion. One may hate video games as a result of not experience or knowledge but rather hyperbole. However, this hatred of video games is not based upon their being wrong or bad. Oh, no.

"This is not because of anything wrong or bad about video games or heroin or teenage parents. It's not even because of game-induced homicide or web-grooming of little girls by perverts - serious problems, but statistically low-risk. It's because, compared with everything else on offer in a kid's life, video games and heroin and teenage pregnancy are a colossal waste of time."

First, let me say that I agree with Giles Whittell. Teenage pregnancy is not "wrong or bad". Rather, the only reasonable position to maintain regarding teenage pregnancy is that it is a "colossal waste of time". That being said one need ask what is not a colossal waste of time. And to answer that question I must, sadly, abandon my sardonic guise and rather focus upon discerning what the god damned fuck is wrong with Giles "Get off my lawn" Whittell.

Time can only be "wasted" if it is spent in a manner which does not aid one in achieving a stated goal; it is, like everything else, contextual. If one's task is to play Crisis Core and one plays Crisis Core then one is not wasting time. That is simply what those words mean.

I said before that I think gamers are underachievers given what "underachiever" means. And I still think that. But are there not many other hobbies the participants in which are underachievers? Are there not many other tasks which are just as "wasteful" as video games? How are video games more wasteful than watching movies or television, than sport fucking, than any other hobby one might have? If after work I play World of Warcraft for two hours how is that time more wasted than if I watched reruns of West Wing for two hours? Personally? I tend to think that watching movies or television is more wasteful than video games; at least after playing WoW for two hours I have something to show for it, contextual and meaningless though it may be. I say this not to argue that since other people underachieve gamers are somehow less underachievers but rather to illustrate the point that Giles Whittell is being unfairly selective in his poorly composed ranting.

"But _J_," you may say, "why raise all this hay? Giles Whittell is not saying that video games are uniquely wasteful, that they are somehow more wasteful than watching movies or throwing firecrackers at cats!"

Oh no?

"Compared with everything else on offer in a kid's life, video games and heroin and teenage pregnancy are a colossal waste of time."

According to Giles Whittell video games, heroin, and teenage pregnancy are uniquely wasteful of time "compared with everything else on offer in a kid's life". Everything else! Ever! Shut up! Get off his lawn!

Sure, we could assume that Giles Whittell did not literally mean what he wrote, that he, if his prose is any indication, has only a passing familiarity with the written word. The problem is that Giles Whittell is an author. He writes travel guides and everything! So as someone who writes, using that term loosely, for a living we must assume that Giles Whittell meant what he wrote. Teenage pregnancy and heroin are a waste of time (and that quality is their only problem), videogames are a waste of time, and everything else is not a waste of time.

And just because it makes me laugh I'm going to end with the final sentence from Shitty Whittell's article:

"Meanwhile, I want my kids to overdose on wind, rain, mud, gravy, tents, mountains and overcooked bacon. (Oh, and do their homework.) Why is that suddenly so weird?"

Gee, I dunno. Why is it weird that a parent would want to expose their kids to the elements and overdosed them on bacon and gravy rather than sit with them in one's living room and play Civ 4? That seems like a perfectly reasonable position to maintain.

You fucking dolt.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Madeline Neumann

Madeline Neumann, an 11 year old girl, died from diabetic ketoacidosis after her parents prayed for her instead of seeking medical attention.

Read the articles if you want. Defend or berate the parents if you must. Feel free to reprimand the parents while defending religion; engage in the mental gymnastics required to self-servingly ignore the situation and fabricate a meandering stream of illogic through which you can paddle your shoddy raft of incompetence and ignorance. Do whatever you like with this story.

Save one thing.

Madeline Neumann, an 11 year old girl, is dead because of her parent's belief in the power of prayer alone, the belief that all things are possible through Jesus Christ, the belief that a new and better and truer way of living in the world can be found through an embrace of the doctrines of antiquity and the clinging to an idea of a more perfect, loving, caring deity whose powers and love transcend the mundane abilities of our flawed human existence.

Madeline Neumann is dead as a result of her parent's faith in Jesus Christ.

Do not ignore or forget that.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bots, Glider, and WoW

Glider is a botting program for World of Warcraft which plays one's WoW character for them. Blizzard has recently decided to crack down on Glider and so legally put a stop to it. This legal action has sparked a debate regarding bots and the utilization thereof.

The simple solution to this conflict is that using Glider violates the World of Warcraft EULA and so Blizzard ought to be able to shut down Glider. However, rather than focus on the legal components of the story and cite to one another sections of the EULA I think a more interesting discussion could be had by focusing on the reasons for which people use Glider and the impact of Glider on the WoW community.

What do you think? Is it problematic for Glider to turn WoW into Progress Quest? Are players justified in using a botting program to bypass the need to farm gold and items? Is use of Glider indicative of some flaw in the game? Ought Blizzard offer its own version of Glider?

Feel free to take your replies beyond WoW. What of botting itself? What of, by extension, the utilization of codes, exploits, character builders, or other means by which players bypass certain aspects of the game?