Special Report: Adam Baldwinn and InternetAristocrat talk GamerGate on Ed Morrissey Show!

EdMorrisseyShow

First, I just want to include that the views on my blog and in this article are solely those of myself and are not connected to any games reporting outlet for which I produce content.

In what feels like the first high-profile open discussion about GamerGate, Ed Morrissey stated up front that “opponents of this movement were invited to participate […] and did not respond.”  That should tell you something about how they plan to handle this situation, potentially even their confidence in their side of the discussion.  As the host of the show, Ed says also that he is playing the role of the “interested moderator.”  You can find the video on Townhall Media’s YouTube Channel.  I’ve linked it here with the exact time the GamerGate discussion picks up.  The discussion was held on the Ustream for The Ed Morrissey Show, which is featured on Hot Air.com.  He’s a video blogger and conservative grassroots journalist.  He was joined today on his program by Kevin Glass, the managing editor at Townhall.com, Internet Aristocrat, a video blogger whose Quinnspiracy video largely rallied the gamer community, and Adam Baldwinn of Firefly and The Last Ship fame.

The major points that are touched on in the 48-minute discussion were the primary arguments of the #GamerGate movement, the first of which was the ethics being displayed in gaming journalism.  Adam spoke up first saying “I’d like to focus on the most important part [which] is […] companies that are basically in business to make ad revenue providing information to gamers and for them to go to war with gamers over their complaints seems […] professionally suicidal.”  Now Adam is no longer a bystander in the GamerGate discussion and even says that he’s “tried to be neutral as he can” but that he’s clearly taken a position in this discussion.  Cinemablend released an article in late August about Adam’s contribution to The Fine Young Capitalists IndieGoGo campaign supporting women in gaming, and harassment he received in response to tweeting about his contribution.

Adam also commented on the response from major games journalists saying “it’s shocking to see the vitriol and the silence that has descended upon what could be a very productive conversation.”

And honestly, he’s right.  Just today MundaneMatt, a YouTuber whose channel was under direct assault in this controversy, ran a video about four hours ago discussing how games journos are now hiding their Patreon pledges and withdrawing from this discussion.  As for the vitriol: do I really need to reblog that same STILL GROWING list of sites I will refuse to take gaming news from henceforth?

Internet Aristocrat provides a number of eloquent and thorough monologues on GamerGate from start to finish.  He comments, while games reporters are people who like games, we would like more disclosure about their biases and their connections within the games industry.  Ed agrees saying that in the film industry movie critics like movies and go to movies, but what they really need is jounalistic distance.  That is something we are not seeing at all in games.  I have listed the ways that I have supported crowdfund campaigns and I will openly admit that I have accepted review copies of games, but the level of convolution in the games industry is showing a consistent profusion.

Ed mentions to Adam that some of the sites involved have put out disclosure rules on their websites just this week, but Adam responds saying “Well that’s all well and good, but the question now becomes enforcement […] if those policies are not enforced internally, then they’re just pieces of paper.”  And for the most part, supporters of the sites have been pointing at these as the “valid response” and that gamers need to call off the dogs.  Some people are still just lambasting gamers, saying that there is nothing to this “scandal,” labeling gamers as sadistic ‘misogynerds’ wanting only to keep down women in the industry.

But Adam continued, saying “the reason this scandal blew up and what caught my attention was the way the attack came. […] When […] the “twitter inquisition” descends upon you, that’s a tip off that there’s something there.” In my honest opinion, at this point anyone still saying that gamers are off-base is just plugging their heads in the sand and ignoring the facts.

Of course, the next element of the GamerGate discussion came out of Adam’s thoughts. “I can understand why anyone would want to protect someone who’s being attacked or harassed, coming to the defense of your friends: that’s a noble thing.  But it’s really moved beyond [the events] that catalyzed this whole thing.”  And he’s entirely right.  We mostly decry harassment, but this discussion has moved well beyond just chastising a few basement-dwelling misogynists.

The next point covered comes out of Kevin Glass who says “[online media] are maligning the term ‘gamer’ way too broadly, and they’re indicting the entire community for the actions of a smaller group of people.”  Absolutely.  That is only too true.  Adam briefly mentioned the GamerGate Blitzkrieg as I detailed in previous articles, and even seems to have been personally insulted by some things he’s read.  Kevin makes another solid point that “you go into an online community and [the abusive element] is often the loudest group of people there.”  He also says “some people seem to be trying to preserve gaming in a pure, apolitical way that might not be healthy for the game industry.”  I have to agree whole-heartedly with that as well.  As I have said in this blog’s about page and previous reviews, games are a developing art form, and the best way that we can obtaine validation for games as art is to approach broader topics with an open mind.  And many games including Heavy Rain, 4PM and Braid have done so in an entertaining and interesting way.  Even Kevin Glass admits that games like Depression Quest and Gone Home are “counter-intuitive and have socio-political messages that [gamers] aren’t really used to,” but there are approachable and entertaining ways to create amazing games with powerful statements without making them boring to play and difficult to engage but for an elite few.

Honestly, this whole conversation is a wonderful piece and I will love all of these people forever because of the stand they have made and the discussion they’ve had.  Bear in mind, the games journalists have decided to remain silent and removed themselves from the discussion.  If anything is true about social progress, removing yourself from talks guiding it exempts you entirely.  I am not sure if they realize it, but they are damning themselves by not speaking up.  So, please, watch the video and show your support.  Check it out and keep this in mind: we’ve won the first battles of GamerGate and gotten it out to a broader audience.  Now let’s finish the war.  Stay in the fight and stay strong.

Rebuilding Our Culture : Where Do We Go From Here?

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(As a reiteration from my first article) From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material.  Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it.  I will present my findings as objectively as possible.  I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start.  I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet.  Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own. (reiteration ends here)

It’s out there.  Our gaming industry is severely corrupt.  Which makes sense, really.  We’ve all been staring at it directly in its ugly face and shrugged with a desultory sigh at the massive tangled web in front of us.  Why should we do anything else?  We are mostly responsible for the way the industry is now, as gamers.  But with so many of them and so many hands holding up their world, how could anyone dare to do anything?  At that time, we were all just playing games and didn’t want to care about it.  Now the pillars of our own internet community have turned into cruel elder gods, lording their power and cackling maniacally.

As I did in my article earlier today, here is a list of the articles involved in the media blitz attempting to label me, my wife, all of my friends (physical and virtual) and the majority of people I have known as misogynistic men who want to rape and pillage everything good in gaming.  This is my revised list of sites I will no longer visit.

Gamasutra – ‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over

Gamasutra – A Guide to Ending “Gamers”

Ars Technica – The Death of the “Gamers” and the Women Who “Killed” Them

Dan Golding – The End of Gamers

Polygon – An Awful Week to Care About Video Games

Kotaku – We Might be Witnessing the Death of an Identity

The Mary Sue – A Disheartening Account of What is Going On In Games Right Now (And How Adam Baldwin Is Involved)

BetaBeat – Feminist Video Blogger is Driven From Home by Death Threats

Financial Post – Sexism, Misogyny and Online Attacks: It’s a Horrible Time to Consider Yourself a Gamer

Jezebel – Misogynistic Trolls Drive Feminist Video Game Critic From Her Home

The Daily Beast – It’s Dangerous To Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry

The list grew, and so does my disdain.  It is readily apparent that the tag of “gamer” is under direct assault by the gaming press.  I do not support harassment, and engaging in it is disgusting.  Were it that those who harassed Anita and Zoe could be found, it would likely help in some small way.  Recently a bunch of devs and journalists (including myself) got together and signed a petition to speak out against harassment.  Good.  It was signed by all the same people whose journalistic integrity is being called into question.  Not as sure…  PC Gamer tried to pawn it off as being directed at Anita’s harassers, but it is not.  They are now under review for addition to my list.  The petition just says:

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

But there is derision among devs themselves as to whether this is the solution or not.  While I am not inclined to throw out names, I will say that the discussion is on Twitter.  Go see for yourself.  Many who disagree with the “popular crowd’s” petition have been signing a petition by Boogie 2988 entitled Gaming Industry – Please Stop The Hate.  I have signed and fully endorse this petition.  Sign it if you are not a misogynistic neckbeard that squeals with rage when things don’t go your way and sends death/rape threats to people.  I know I’m not.  The complete text of this petition reads the same as that above, with this addendum:

“We are asking indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots. While hate exists in ALL demographics, gamers are no exception.  However like most demographics, most gamers are kind, open minded, good hearted and love our fellow gamers. Stop the hate.”

One thing that is increasingly interesting about this all is the fact that everyone has just accepted male power-fantasy games as the norm for games.  Sure, it is fun to spend a day killing dudes and have extreme social freedom, but that is not all there is to gaming.  At some point, after the thousandth charge in Day of Defeat, someone got bored and wished there was something else to play.  Something fresh, something new!  Maybe even something artistic, or dramatic or made them feel something about who they are.  Something more than just killing dudes.

I’ll admit it: When I was a pubescent boy vibrating with a frenzy of hormones, I soaked it up.  I loved conquering and enslaving cities, laying enemies low and collecting my share of babes and loot, scarcely differentiating between the two.  Some times it is still fun to indulge heroic fantasies, meting out justice to evildoers, but often I want more.  Sometimes I want to laugh out loud, or explore what it means to be human.

Just because I am 28, doesn’t mean I have to give up gaming, but it sure is time gaming grew up with the rest of us.  Considering the audience that games have catered to until now, it’s no wonder their uproarious caterwauling is visible across the internet, but the rest of us are pushing back.

A gamer is what I am, and I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it.  I grew up playing video games and I have been on many adventures and military campaigns.  What I have experienced in games has always been something I take with me because I experience the story alongside the character.

Some years ago, there was a show called Battlestar Galactica based on an older show from the 80’s.  It was so poignant in its messages about culture and society that the actors were invited to speak to high school students at the UN.  While there, on of the actors, Edward James Olmos, said the following:

“You are what you eat, you are what you think and you are what you do.  If you use technology […] to pass the time and get caught up inside of the game world, then you’re going to be in a game world”

Now EJO was using this opportunity to pass on some archaic beliefs about games, and that is they’ll probably destroy your life.  But they cannot even start to understand just how right he was and in what manner.  Some of the ways I think about my job are in the sense of a game.  I sell products to get a higher score, if I sell several products at once it’s called a cross-sale bonus and if my team makes its goals, we get a payout as our loot.  Seriously, this is how I look at my regular job.  Of course, you have to make sure you do it right to suit the customer or you lose some of your hard-earned loot, so integrity is important.  In the occupation of games journalism, however, integrity has fallen by the wayside, and this is the reason for the backlash.

No words, Viv, I know.

No words, Viv, I know (Found on DeviantArt. Art by Ilikepieism)

Now the big issue is about what we do now that this ivory tower of gaming has erupted like a cesspool atop a live volcano.  Well, I would support a full upheaval of their system, since they are trying to destroy our culture.  And yes, they want it destroyed and, somehow, they will rebuild it atop the bones of gaming to be a little puppet that will do their bidding, bowing down to their every word.  That is not how it works.  As I have, please consider boycotting the sites listed above (Polygon, Kotaku, Ars Technica) and others that refuse to uphold the journalistic integrity they should stand by.  I don’t trust them anymore where once I loved them like my big brothers.  I am not just saying this because it might benefit me, I am saying it because we could hold new faces to this promise easier under the figurative piked heads of their predecessors.  Just putting this out there, though.  I consider myself to be a gamer, but I also think of myself as a hobby journalist.  I am not saying that ALL game journalists are a problem: just the one espousing hate and printing a storm of articles about how gamers are the devil, and gamers are over, etc.

Even Vivian James is coming under attack, and you know what?  I love her.  I am considering getting her tatooed on my arm because she doesn’t represent misogynistic assholes who want to see feminism fume over feminist support for their cause.  Vivian James, at this point, represents female gamers, the accountability of games journalists and, personally, my wife.  Hopefully my daughters will likewise love games like her, even though there is no way they’ll be ginger.  As a result, my wife agreed to dress up in her own version of Vivian’s customary garb and I took a picture of her.  Here is the picture.

I love her

Love my lady

She agreed to do this, not because I tricked or forced her into it, but because she loves games and thinks this whole thing is just stupid.  Not to mention she did a great job with it X D!  Vivian was accepted by The Fine Young Capitalists as a symbol of women in gaming, and here she is, my lady in gaming.  This is what Viv represents.  And she is just as confused by all this as I am.  This is not the story of sexism, it is a story about journalistic integrity.  The Fine Young Capitalists had to deal with their own horrifying ordeal at the hands of the popular crowd of games writers, and now they are almost at their goal of 70,000$ to make game development a reality for female gamers.  To create something that represents them in gaming and what they are capable of.  It is awesome.  Please support them on IndieGoGo, I know we did.  Adam Baldwin did, and he has nothing to do with games, really.  If you like TFYC and what they are doing, and your gamer girls do too, ask them to dress up like VivJ and tweet them with the tag #TFYVivians!

On Reddit, several threads have begun exposing instances of  corruption in games journalism.  There is one here.  Then there are also people on Reddit talking about how we should be taking this situation.  You can read that here.  Not sure that you know how you can contribute, or even how to discuss this situation?  Check out this video, here.  Even just talking about this and propagating about this discussion and what it is really all about will help keep it in the front and center of our culture.  Check out this article about the things you need to know for a thorough update if you aren’t sure!  Ours is a culture of diverse characters and stories, ours is a culture of inclusion and ours is a culture of tolerance.  It is time they learned that.  Just don’t do it in a way that will make #GamerGate look like a group of assholes and don’t do it in a way that is harassing and upsetting.  Most of us dealt with bullying throughout high school, like this guy says, so don’t start throwing it at people.  It sucks.

NYS-tweet

 

<update> One more way that I have been seeing people speaking out against this situation is through the use of #notyourshield.  Essentially, the above statement covers it.  Women and minorities have a voice in gaming.  Theirs is a strong voice that we want to hear.  Gamers accept and celebrate them because they have been here all along.  Games Journos just seem to have this idea in their heads that gamers are actually all just basement-dwelling neckbeards that feel entitled and special.  As a result of moral elitists using minorities and women as a crutch to hide the corruption in games journalism, men and women of all races are now using the hastag to call them out on their shit.  Check it out for yourself.  Seeing this response from gamers and the internet is beautiful.  We all game.  We all love to game.  It brings us together into something bigger than just ourselves, and gives is all a unified element of all our cultures that weaves us together like a tapestry.  Are you really going to fuck with that?  I will leave you with this image I found on the hastag.  It is awesome. </update>

hush

This is all evidence of video games growing up.  Video games are not just for young, adolescent boys, but something enjoyed by men and women of all ages.  My wife has Pokemon X in there.  Sometimes she plays Harvest Moon.  Sometimes she plays Farmville on her iPad.  And there are plenty of others, black people play games, hispanic people play games… anyone you can imagine these days has likely played a videogame.  This is why the gamer will never die: there are too many of us and our culture goes so far beyond just who talks about our games that we don’t need them.  They don’t define us, we define them.  When I heard Wil Wheaton speak at Pax East 2010, I loved him because he said games are an art.  But he also reminded us of one thing: Games don’t divide us, they unite us!  They are a force that brings this diverse group of people together and makes them all relevant to one another.  As a group we are now taking to the internet and saying that this is who we are.  So what if Vivian James was created by 4 Channers, some of which might deserve the flak from Gamasutra and others?  She is a symbol of hope, not hate.  Unlike what the games industry has shown toward us.  I just want to reiterate, not all games journalists are the problem.  There are plenty in the lot.  Just like with gamers, there are just a number of bad apples.  But in the case of major, culture-influencing journalists: there aren’t many good ones right now.  This is directed at them.  Thanks for reading this tirade.  It is, in most ways, a collective release of all my frustration over this.

There is Something Rotten in the State of Gaming

GJshitstorm

From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material.  Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it.  I will present my findings as objectively as possible.  I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start.  I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet.  Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own.

Figuring out where to start with this is difficult as even placing one argument above another in a list-type article could be construed as preferential.  However, since this is turning into a war between gamers and those reporting on the games we love, I will start with the gamers.  Hell, I am a gamer myself.  My biggest concern is the “Death of the Gamer” as it is being coined and the “Death of an Identity”.  On this topic I am a little upset, since I have always called myself a gamer.  I am.  I grew up playing video games and gaming has gotten me through some tough times.  I tried to walk away from it, but it is so key to the things I love that I couldn’t do it.  Across the past couple weeks, however, numerous games reporting sites have put up articles blatantly stating that the Gamer is dead.  I have filtered these through DoNotLink to avoid directing clicks to them.

‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience.  ‘Gamers’ are over. – Gamasutra

A Guide to Ending Gamers – Gamasutra

We Might be Witnessing the Death of an Identity – Kotaku

The Death of the “Gamers” and the Women Who “Killed” Them – Opposable Thumbs

The End of Gamers – Dan Golding

So we’re over?  That’s it?  Honestly this just seems like the most childish smear campaign ever.  Gamers will never be over.  As long as there are games, and people growing up playing them, gamers will be alive and well.  I love how they didn’t say the “death of misogyny in games” or “the cleansing of gamer culture”: They just outright attacked everyone that plays games.  It is disheartening, honestly.  I will no longer be granting these people ad revenue by directing links to their site, I will start using DoNotClick to send readers there without adding to their viewing statistics.

Now they make some valid points here.  Harassment is messed up for any reason.  If anything, people deserve to be allowed to keep some things to themselves, and their personal lives should be the big one.  So, I don’t care who it is, harassing people for any reason is insidious. If you are trying to destroy someone’s credibility, harassing them will only provide them with a wall of anger and hatred to champion a cause against.  This, in turn, only grants them a valid soapbox to stand on, especially if you end up having a serious effect in their real lives.

The most powerful accusations in this situation come from the gamers themselves, actually, and it seems to be the reason gamers are so incensed over this.  These accusations are pretty thoroughly summed up by the Internet Aristocrat, focusing primarily on Zoe Quinn.  When I first saw this guy’s video, I thought he was just another hate-mongering asshat with a silly wig; but seeing some of the evidence presented, he makes a compelling argument.  If any of what he says in his video is remotely correct, then there is definitely something really ugly hiding in games journalism.  Of course, the video also makes some leaps in logic, such as not wondering if the ZoePost Blog was entirely true and not just the rantings of a jilted ex.

Now he says a lot in there, including that Zoe Quinn has single-handedly been able to manipulate all of games journalism with the magic power of her vagina.  Now that is a tall order, but if something wasn’t true about the level of journalistic integrity being called into question, why would Kotaku and Polygon both alter their policies on Journalistic Transparency in response?

Another big name at the center of this controversy is the girl at the top left of the banner for this article.  Her name is Vivian James.  She is a character created by 4chan (note her hair adornment) to represent females in gaming.  She was adopted by The Fine Young Capitalists.  They are creating a Game Jam where female gamers submit game ideas and TFYC work with developers and artists.  These games are then sold and the proceeds go to charity.  The really bizarre thing here is that 4Chan is known for being a haven for those with anti-feminist and anti-inclusion beliefs.  VICE.com recently posted an article about Vivian where they actually defame Vivian as being created for the sole purpose of spiting feminists. I also find her initials mildly comical since they sound like a euphemistic term for a woman’s.. ehem.  You get the gist.  Personally, I like Vivian since she resembles my own wife, who plays 3DS, iPad games and loves Mountain Dew all whilst wearing hoodies.

Major internet games media has a lot to answer for, really, but if there is some element of journalistic integrity that needs to be called into question, it should be openly discussed and investigated.  Harassing people is always wrong, and my heart goes out to those that have suffered in the wake of this shitstorm, because it honestly is a shitstorm.  There are plenty of people, famous and small-time, who want to see this situation calm down and seek to peacefully support progress in the direction of an inclusive gamer culture.  Support The Fine Young Capitalists and their IndieGoGo Campaign. Contact people and tell them it is time for transparency and serious discussion about inclusive gamer culture.  But don’t let the raging flame war continue, because it is hindering progress.  I know that I will no longer be reading Kotaku, RPS, Polygon and others since I no longer know who I will be able to trust.

Some things that have come out of this, however are good.  First, The Fine Young Capitalists are at 71% of their goal.  Second, girls in gaming now have a character, albeit fabricated by 4Channers, that represents them.  Honestly, someone should inspire them to make characters representing various faces contributing to gamer culture and turn it into a webshow.  There is also a petition being signed by developers, gamers, social media outlets and others that calls for combating internet harassment.  I don’t need to tell you that is a good thing, but as long as it is enforced equally there shouldn’t be a problem.  PC Gamer tried to say it was signed to support Anita Sarkeesian, but the letter itself just states:

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

And they are right.  I would have signed this thing myself, but it was closed by the time I found it. (UPDATE: it has come to my attention that I did, in fact, sign this petition.  While some have said it might be a petition of the “major people” involved, the message is still one I wholly endorse. I remember sending my name in, but I also thought I was too late and not important enough anyways. My thanks to Vlak for the ) Finally, and most importantly, people are calling for gaming journalists to be held accountable for their actions.  To this measure, I will share with readers the games and campaigns that I have supported via Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.  Some I have already openly mentioned my contributions to, others not so much.  Either way, here they all are:

Elysian Shadows – I funded them worth 50$ and wrote an article about their game.

Goblin Quest – I funded them worth about 50$, but it is based in the UK, so I really gave them 30£.  I haven’t written an article on the tabletop yet, but I am considering doing so once I get my hardback copy of the book.

Beguile – I funded them worth 59$, which was about 65$ Canadian after shipping outside Canada and exchange rates applied.

Redneck Assassin – I funded them worth 15$ since I was really poor at the time.  I haven’t reviewed the game, but I plan to once it is finished.

The Fine Young Capitalists – I funded them worth 25$ and haven’t done an article on them.  I probably won’t write an article, but I think what they are trying to do is noble and pretty freaking cool.

I don’t think there is a problem with supporting campaigns that I like, especially when they’ve made so much already that my contribution is just a drop in the bucket.  From now on I will be posting how much I have contributed and whether I have a plan to do so, but sometimes it is just a spur-of-the-moment decision. And that is honestly it.  This is really all that I have to say about this topic for now, so hopefully it has been informative and gives readers that are still confused about this situation an idea of the arguments on both sides.  There will be more to come, including my own strong-armed opinions, but for now, objective discussion.  As per usual, I will be creating a topic to discuss the situation on my Steam group, Crotchety Gamers United.

Dev Discussion: Modern Gaming and How it’s Evolving

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Today I will feature a discussion that I happened upon on the internet.  Developers were having a heated exchange about an age-old argument that most often causes bloodshed between gamers.  For the sake of constructive intellectual exchange, I will curb my PC bias and look at this objectively.  Note also, Console v PC.  I will make fun of Mac gamers.  That is comedy that writes itself.

Gamers often get into heated debates over which is better: PC or Console gaming.  Console gamers often cite titles and communities as the strongest factors favoring console gaming, while PC gamers will fill your screen with chart after chart displaying the raw power of a PC compared against consoles, or grab screenshots to illustrate the visual differences between the graphics.  While each side certainly has a compelling argument, which really is better and , more importantly, where is it leading us?  This exchange focused more on the evolution of the various facets of the industry, rather than an argument over which is better.  Joining the Crotchety Old Gamer in the discussion, we have three fine gentlemen: Joe Yeats (@ProceduralJOYE via Twitter), a developer from the UK currently working with Autelia LTD on Human Orbit, a procedurally-generated simulator about shaping a computer-controlled utopia.  Max Krieger (@MaxKriegerVG via Twitter), an Indie Game Developer from Chicago and student at DePaul University.  Drake (@DMODP via Twitter), a programmer, designer and writer.  I came late into the discussion, but some very intriguing points were made.  Feel free to join the discussion in the Crotchety Gamers United Steam group!

Lightly paraphrased, Max said that the time-proven model of Mac vs PC illustrates why Console and PC gaming will coexist.  While Drake and myself were somewhat confused by the statement, Max was happy to provide a more detailed explanation on his viewpoint:

“[…] In this age where computing platforms are all headed in the same direction, the differentiating factor that will be key to platform sales remains the image and curated experience of that platform. I used Mac OSX as an example because it shows how illogical this thinking can be – OSX is really cumbersome for a lot of simple tasks, doesn’t play nice with industry standards, and only runs on a very closed line of hardware, but people lap it up because of the image it supports: a creative, media-oriented one that strives for intuitive use over flexibility. Make no mistake, I am not an Apple/OSX fan, but they’re one of the biggest proven examples of the curated platform image in the modern tech industry.”

Max does make a good point.  Essentially, he is saying that the biggest difference between the PC and console crowds is the image they use to represent themselves.  With the development of the Steam Machine, this viewpoint was never better supported.  Steam started as a PC gamer’s wet dream, but recent implementations in the retailer (such as Big Picture mode) reveal a strong push toward console gaming.  Not to mention, the fact that the Steam Machine plans to license its construction out to third parties, which will create a variety of hardware builds, make it a bit of a frankenstein PC-esque Console.  With companies bridging the gap between the two worlds, one has to wonder when the differences will be declared null and void.  Drake had a similar thought process, but with a different approach.

co-exist

 

Drake also did me the favor of elucidating his view:

“The reason people often side with one or the other and not both is […] because they’re polar opposites. They have their own unique control schemes. Consoles and computers are polar opposites not [just] because of their difference in controls, but in their difference of experience. First, [PC gamers] don’t have to move to a different part of the [house] to experience games. They’re right there on the same machine we use for work, surfing the web, social media, etc. Second, [PC gamers] can open windows […] for reference material […] but this is also good from a social standpoint. [PC gamers] can take screenshots and post them [on the internet], we can respond to [people] on our favorite social network, etc.”

So, as you can see, Drake has a solid point, too. Despite consoles, such as PS4, recently enabling access to other forms of media and direct internet streaming capability with the touch of a button, there are still a myriad of things that PC’s can do that still remain unavailable to Console gamers on just their consoles.  Drake continued, elaborating on the features of the console camp:

“I feel consoles are the extremist response-time choice. […] For response-time challenges, the question is: Who can execute the highest number of actions in the shortest amount of time? It provides a completely different experience from computers.”

My personal experience with computers, however is totally different.  The mouse offers pinpoint accuracy while playing a game.  How can you get more direct than pointing at it with your mouse? The answer is getting a touchscreen and pointing yourself.  Of course, Drake had his own response to this:

“[…] A controller’s reaction time is far more demanding. It’s more than clicking a billion times a second. It’s about hitting the right buttons at the right times and getting your fingers everywhere they need to be without looking down at [the device]. Console games often assume the player’s really good at this activity to the point they make [players] do everything all the time. [Console gameing] is about just doing.”

Of course, I would offer that this depends on the player.  I grew up on PC gaming first, so the ‘WASD’ model is practically gospel for me.  Sure, different games have different controls, some even have demanding hotkeys, but use of them is up to you.  You can customize the experience to your own play-style, and the majority of games tend to use the keys immediately adjacent to the ‘WASD’ keys for additional actions where applicable.  Not to mention, the sticks on a controller can’t be as accurate as a mouse.  A mouse is literally point-and-click.  Controller sticks are more indirect.

Joe’s thoughts on this topic were a bit of a combination:

“It’s obvious that some genres are better aided by certain input hardware than others. This is certainly the case with simulators and strategy games, which usually do better with a keyboard and mouse. I don’t think it’s necessary to expound on this.”

Max largely agreed with Drake’s assertion of their differences, but had his own interpretation of how this affects gaming.  The tech he refers to is more the innards and less the interface devices:

precisely

 

Max got more specific in explaining this part of his thought process:

The Playstation 4’s success also may owe itself to [platform image], but it’s too early to tell. Sony has always given the PlayStation brand a mild sense of curation by endorsing or even producing avant-garde titles on the platform, moreso than any other console maker in history. Going forward, this curation may end up being the PS4’s largest difference when PC hardware overtakes it again at an equivalent price point.”

Around here, Joe had some relevant input on the topic:

“The technical boundaries between a console and a desktop machine have become increasingly blurry over the years – but we’re all still pretty sure what they each are and when we make a decision about how we want to play a game, we know how to compare the ‘desktop experience’ to the ‘console experience’. We all know that we can hook our PC up to the TV and use a bluetooth controller for a ‘console-like’ experience: but most of us aren’t going to do that. The reputation and image of the formats has been accrued over a generational time period – we couldn’t shake that easily and there may not even be a good reason to do so (even if all games were available on all platforms). When I play a game on a console, I know that it has been tailored for the specific controller that I’m using, for the hardware that it’s running on. I can expect a reliable game experience without having to faff around. The experience has been designed for me down to the slightest detail. I don’t even have to tweak the graphics settings. I just need to switch on, plug in & tune out.”

The conversation gradually drifted in the direction of mobile gaming.  Drake disagreed that mobile gaming had a different target demographic and said that it targets everyone, presumably everyone with a mobile device.  Of course, just in the virtue that targeting “everyone with a mobile phone” is a task achieved differently than targeting “everyone with a specific console”, it logically follows that it is a different target demographic.  In fact, because of the similar situation of iOS v Android, console and pc gamers might find themselves on either side of the mobile discussion depending on their devices.  In this way mobile almost has a market that is totally separate from, but still noticeably influence by the gaming market comprised by PC and Console gamers.

Of course, Drake also touched on a separate issue that abounds in the mobile gaming market: the quality of games:

greatmobile

Now, before someone starts cluttering the comments sections with cries of Angry Birds adoration, Drake is referring to the fact that simple, casual games, like Angry Birds, currently dominate the mobile market.  And while he is right in that great mobile games are hard to find, they are far from non-existent.  The greatest example of a mobile-specific game that uses its functionality is Ingress.  Read about that game here.  And Ingress isn’t the only one, but, to my knowledge, it is the first.  Windows phones will be able to play QONQR, a game that wants to be Ingress, and X-Tactics, a game that is just like “Fuck Ingress!  And now for something completely different!”  Of course, location-based games are certainly not the only angle mobile gaming could take.  The fact that progressive-thinking developers have tried, and failed, to make augmented reality games more accessible overall shows that we are still a long way from making it work effectively, even with Google Glass.  So, Drake definitely has a point with mobile games being “designed to waste time while you [wait] or short experiences.”

Of course Max breaks back in and asks for a thought experiment:

“[…] If all consoles disappeared overnight, could mobile [gaming] fill their place? Yeah. But they’d have to cater to both convenience and involvement – two contradictory ideas that dilute platform image.”

This is true, but if gaming were to be forced onto mobile devices, I find it believable to find games evolving to replace what was lost – FPSs utilizing the mobile device in question combined with the player’s surroundings, RPGs that focus more on tap-controlled characters, etc.  In short, mobile games wouldn’t stop being the simple, casual games, but these types of games would be joined by an overwhelming number of widely varied games and genres.

There was more discussion about Mac OS vs Windows, of course.  This piece of the discourse was meant to display how the image-focus model has affected other markets aside from gaming.  Max posited that Mac OS continues to sell primarily because it does “normal user” better than Windows. He continued saying that Windows tried to retake that ground by creating Windows 8.  This undermined the “pro” part of Windows, which upset their users. Then, when Windows repaired the alterations to their OS, the image of a “jack-of-all-trades” OS persisted. Max maintained his standpoint, saying “image is everything.”

Max’s final thoughts on the discussion were pretty broad, but still relevant.

“Ultimately, I believe that the current trend of consuming media in any environment is one that will plateau once our near-omniscient media viewing capabilities lose their novelty. It’s an undeniable phenomenon that certain forms of media are better consumed in certain environments and settings. The biggest obstacle to a unified platform for all gaming is not the tech, nor the interface, but human nature itself – not something that can be so easily overcome. Nobody expected the PS4 to be doing as well as it’s doing right now, and I think that alone is proof enough that human nature has a lot more twists left in the evolution of gaming tech than we expect right now.”

Drake came from another angle, though, saying that games are a form of media.  And if there is one thing that is true now more than ever, it’s that people want their media no matter where they are.

everywhere

Joe broke into the conversation here, pointing out the relevance of the feature of PS4 where it can be played remotely from the Vita.  Drake admitted that he hadn’t tried it, but named a relevant issue with that right off: not every PS4 owner has a PS Vita.  Drake also suggested that the Vita isn’t the best handheld to carry around with you.  Joe threw in some more thoughts of his own regarding the PS Vita.

noway

Drake added saying that it really needs to be a native experience that still feels extremely great. But to do something like that, you’d have to take the ‘app’ structure and generalize the controls, then change the controls so they cater to every device the game might appear on.  He had a lot to say about this especially, and there was also a considerable piece of discussion about porting.  That will be included in another piece since this one is long enough already.

If you’ve made it to this point, please remember, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic!  Come join the discussion on my Steam Group, and let’s see if we can get some interesting exchanges started!

Memories of a Vagabond Should be Repressed

MOAV_logo

 

I would say this is what happens when a game studio doesn’t hire dedicated writers, but looking at the DarkElite Studios website, they have several.  I think one of their staff is even from Blizzard, but even throwing a name like that around did nothing for MOAV.  Certainly one of the worst games that someone is asking money for.  I am not sure why the most terrible games I have played are mostly RPG’s, but this one made me shake my head in disappointment numerous times.  It wasn’t all bad, just mostly.  Come with me as I plow through this clusterfuck of under-utilized potential.  Wow.  What a keynote.

Let me start this review off by naming the many things this game did right.  The music in Memories of a Vagabond was pretty spectacular.  It was appropriate, enjoyable and I often found myself tapping a toe.  Battles often found themselves alongside the usual battle-music, while the boss fights had a badass metal riff going.  Music provided an acceptable variety with a new jam for each area.  Granted, there were one or two recycled songs, but they were still enjoyable.  Another fantastic feature of the game was the art.  If you are feeling nostalgic for the old days of RPG, a la FFVI or  Chronotrigger, this pixel art will definitely feed that craving.  Every sprite is lovingly crafted, the areas are imaginative and exotic and the characters are pretty fancy.  And when I say characters, I mean all the characters.  This leads to anther really great element of the game: its soul-mechanic.  Throughout the game, you get the choice of playing as 4 different characters: warrior, mage, bounty hunter and assassin.  Should you die, you also get the chance to change to another body.  Almost made dying worth your time.  I spent most of my time, however, as the Bounty Hunter.  That honestly concludes everything good that I have to say about this game.  Get your snorkel out, baby.  We’re going down into this shit.

You're right. Not everything on Steam is worth playing after all....

You’re right. Not everything on Steam is worth playing after all…

Oh my godness is right.  I have combed the Dark Elite site looking for evidence that they are primarily made up of people from a non-English-speaking country, but I have found nothing either way.  I can say that it seems they could afford to pay for someone to look over the writing on their site, so there is no reason they shouldn’t have been able to correct the gross errors in their dialogue.  And it is beyond a few adorable mistakes here and there, they literally have numerous instances of the most common errors in the English language.  It seems the editing was either done by someone who is not familiar with English, or the writers just didn’t care.  The main story-writers have  names seemingly of French origin, so I will give them some leeway here.  However, with a dedicated person for text-corrections, I have to wonder if she played through the game even once to pick up on its myriad English faux pas.  I will decorate this article with examples in pictorial form as Vlad the Impaler decorated his castle with corpses: to show others what not to do.  Granted in Vlad’s case, the message was “you should move to another country”.

Moving on from the language and toward the story, I have to say that this seems the biggest gripe I have over low-budget indie games.  They are willing to cut out story and writing in favor of mechanics and coding, which makes some sense on the surface.  Codeslingers are the ones that make the game playable.  Without them the mechanics, engine and other important elements won’t work.  Of course, if you skimp too hard on your writers, as MOAV seems to have done in spades, you get a game that isn’t tolerable.  Some fucking morons and reckless retro fanboys might be willing to overlook such “dispensable polish” as story and language, but one of the things that was so spectacular about retro games like Final Fantasy and Chronotrigger was the level of detail they paid to story, art, music and the entire package.  In this title, you have a game story that is a joke compared to those games.  Your character starts off proposing to his love.  No fault here.  After a night in bed with his beloved where they “sleep” (I rarely believe titles anyways), she is pulled from bed by some evil demon, who then kills you.  After a visit to hell you meet some soul-dealer that will rent you a new body for the low low price of any dignity you soul might possess.  If you chose the old man body, that shit is on you.  Later you find out, pretty unceremoniously, that the soul-dealer and the demon were working together.  The best part is that the soul-dealer is all prophetic when you meet him, then, after time traveling to defeat the demon and save your lady-love, you see him sitting out front the house with the evil demon as if they are both ro-sham-bo-ing for who will steal the broad.  I face-palmed.  Now they aren’t actually doing this, I am being dramatic, but then he turns to you and you shout something like “traitor!” and this soul-dealing demon of fate replies, “look guy, I don’t know who you are, but I have lives to ruin right now.  Take a number and get in line.”  Not an exact quote, a creative paraphrase.

Lift a.. what?  That sounds like it could be gross.  I wouldn't want a demon lifting his "finger" on my wife either...

Lift a.. what? That sounds like it could be gross. I wouldn’t want a demon lifting his “finger” on my wife either…

There is also the matter of your fellow adventurers.  The only one that gets any real explanation is the bunny-girl, who spends a lot of her time early on being inadvertently sexual, and she makes a big deal out of sleeping in a bed with you.  She tells her employer that she wants to explore the world, then you suggest she do it with you, to which she replies “that was my idea.”  So we have some cute, though awkwardly-handled war-of-the-roses banter.  Fun.  The other characters are sort of just lumped into your party after you do a mission with them.  Nothing is said, and you never tell them that you will be fighting demons.  Imagine that conversation “Yea, I am out to find my fiancee, kill a couple eldritch demons of screaming horror, then be home in time for tea.”  It almost feels like this game was getting down to the wire and they didn’t have time to throw in any real material for the characters.  They are all pretty flat, beyond a mission or a little feature here or there.  The hero doesn’t even allow them into the conversation most of the time, occasionally talking at them amidst exploration.  As long as they bring their gear to battle.  Sure, one is a mercenary, but treating that as an excuse to just have a character thrown into the party that sits there and attacks back is just lazy scriptwriting (not the code kind), and makes me think someone didn’t put more than a weekend into it.

There were also a number of 4th-wall breaking elements of the script that felt less like clever little “we’re making a game” jokes, and more like careless writing.  In some places it even felt like an outright refusal to give any fucks and arrogant dick-wagging like they thought they were creating some masterwork.  This is barely a finger painting.  Granted, it was hung on a billion-dollar refrigerator, but Steam needs to learn how to vet its selection.  This just shows low standards.

While we are talking about characters, there is this fiancee.  With all the attention paid to her side of things, she might as well be a Princess Peach life-size sex doll.  At least DLC Quest had the decency to call their lady “Princess McGuffin” and obviate the fact that she is little more than motivation for the hero to act.  I am not one to go all activist on a game, but she is a sex-token that does nothing for indie games and treating women with any kind of respect in gaming.  At the end I thought she would turn out to be the villain, but she just kind of lilts and says how glad she is to see you.  Y’know, like a good little Stepford robot.  See those bodies around on the ground?  They are, as I realized hours later, her fucking family.  The hero pays them no mind, nothing is said about them if you “interact” with them.  There is no dramatic elements drawn from the wholesale slaughter of her family, and they are not explored in any fashion to give you the feeling of them being anything more than randomly selected sprites on a rooftop.  There is a vague dream-sequence that I just now realized includes them, but they say these detached lines and mill about in a spectral manner.  It feels like they are just figments of the dreamworld, and they have as little relevance by now as possible.  Any drama to be gleaned from them is diluted heavily.

Man, these thatch roofs are fucked!

Man, these thatch roofs are fucked!

There is also the matter of ???? island.  Wander to the lower-right edge of the main continent, and you will find a row boat to ???? island.  It has a small town with some guy that buys journals and another lake with a fishing spot, one of two in the game that I found.  Go inside the houses, and the rain follows you.  Sure, there is some thatch roofing involved, but they were never this bad.  Seriously, it is like aliens invaded only to replace their roofs with holograms before disappearing without evidence of having been there.  At this point I realized the entire game is a broken, unfinished mess.  Or so it feels.  It’s almost as if the game has cardboard cut outs stuck up and put out.  Sure, you could argue that publishing unfinished games is now the industry standard for indie games, and you’d be right.  But that is for “pre-release” or “early-release” games, not supposedly completed titles like MOAV.  And with a name attached to this like Blizzard, I have to wonder where that guy’s influence was.  It must have been a case where someone knew the guy and he stood in the room and used their bathroom to give some credentials to the title.  Don’t be fooled.  This is not a piece of mastery, it is a shoddy piece of work that is scarcely better than the games that my friends and I made on pirated copies of RPGMaker 2000 back in middle school.  Before Steam.  Fuck you, shit was tough to come by.

Fuck you, guy.  I will gladly drink whiskey from your skull this night.

Fuck you, guy. I will gladly drink whiskey from your skull this night.

Overall, this game is pretty easy, non-complex and has a storyline with as much depth as a snack cracker.  The characters mostly feel like cardboard stand-ups and the language and writing is so god-awful unprofessional that I almost puked.  I feel like this is what CoD players see at the epitome of RPG gaming, because the other RPGs are too “complicated and wordy” for their tiny brains, although I am certain they would phrase that “fagit gamez for FAGGITZ!”  The best parts of this game are the music and the art, which seemed to get all of the attention.  The mechanics have a lot of potential, especially the soul-changing concept, but that could have been better employed.  I would have liked to see the developers give each body a different story that you had to help sort out before being able to find your own lady and resolve your own quest.  Instead, this plays like a twelve-year-old raging through the world after his sex-bot is taken, bashing in the heads of any nebulous foe that appears until he gets strong enough to fight the last bad guy.  There was also a battle arena, but that was literally like putting up a sign saying “grind here.  we were too lazy to make an actual game.”  I didn’t even bother to try fighting in there.  Another point of interest.  I didn’t want to purchase the services of the mercenary in the beginning, thinking “hey, the devs might have added more interesting and involved characters later.”  I mean, all I did with this guy was meet him and get his axe in exchange for armor.  Then at the end, each character gets a nostalgic little send-off, which would be great, except that there was no bonding with the characters.  There was no interaction.  Just, “I helped you so you’re now my friend that will help me get my sex-doll back.”  This game costs money , too.  It is currently 5.99$ on Steam.  5.99$!!!!  I wouldn’t give them a turd in a blanket for this game, let alone 5.99$.  This game should be 0.12$ on itch.io or Desura, not cluttering up Steam and making it dirty.  Not recommended, but you are certainly welcome to make your own judgments on this one.  Steam needs to get some standards, this game is evidence.

The Forest, Sandboxing With Naked Cannibals

TF_logo

 

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  When in The Forest, you run like a Kenyan or die like a dog.  In fact, I am pretty sure most dogs have better deaths, but I am not here to debate that shit with you.  The Forest is fucking brutal, and you feel it every bleeding second.  It starts with your character pulling himself from a plane crash covered in blood and it ends… well.. I haven’t seen it end happily yet.  But the title screen shows two heads tied up on a stake with intestines that connect through the mouths and wraps around the necks.  And they are upside down.  Yea, shit gets nasty.  This game is also in pre-release, so remember that there is a lot that is still missing.

At the start you are on a plane ride from a presumably civilized location to god knows where when the plane is ripped in half rather suddenly.  It’s not exactly like there is a fucking smidgen of turbulence, just a loud bang like something hits the plane.  I am going to venture a guess here and say that someone threw a homing spear and it tore the plane in half.  With all the bodies and everything that seem to litter the forest, the locals have some kind of vastly successful marketing campaign that lures in hapless morons so they don’t go hungry.  Cause cannibals can’t eat each other!  That’s how they get diseases!  On the plane with you is a little kid.  He is cuddling your arm until the plane breaks apart, then he is white-knuckling the arm rests.  When you come to, you are laying in the aisle and this mostly-naked wildman is standing over the kid.  No worries, he picks up the kid’s bloodied body and carries him off into the untamed wilderness.  It’s ok, though.  Plenty of happy-endings start that way, right?  I am sure he ends up in a Disney-Pixar plot line where his father’s death in the plane crash is the tear-jerking opening.  And the fucked up reality is that I am really fighting cannibals and mutants in the woods for years to come.  Magical.

Don't worry, kid.  It's more aero-dynamic without the front!  We'll just get there faster!

Don’t worry, kid. It’s more aero-dynamic without the front! We’ll just get there faster!

Once you are able to get up, you need to look around you.  This is likely the last solid chance you get to search the wreck.  All about you there is soda, booze, some food and a cellphone.  This cellphone is very important because it sets a keynote for what useless, shitty inventory items look like.  It doesn’t really do anything except tell you the weather, the temperature and how far you’ve walked.  Let me repeat that: In a game where you spend your time OUTSIDE IN THE FUCKING WILDERNESS you are given a goddamn cellphone – a separately programmed mechanic – that tells you if you are cold and what the weather is like.  Of course, that step-counting feature is the major point, I think.  It lets you know just how many steps you take to get between the forest line where you cut trees, spot natives and run for your fucking life.  Naturally, useless.

Now, I died numerous fucking times right out of the gate.  The game tells you to page through a survival guide and see how it might help you, and it does at first, but it fails to mention there are cannibals creeping up behind you preparing to gnaw your ears off.  Like chewy little snacks…  I started right next to a cannibal village the first few times, and walked right in just like “Hey guys, nice grass huts!”  They tore me apart.  The second time I kept my distance, and they overwhelmed me before I had the chance to build a fire.  Strangely, fire is what keep these loonies at bay.  They see it and back off like, “SHIT! He has gypsy magic!!”  Before getting the fire together, though, the guide has you build a little stick shelter to sleep in.  This is how you save your game, so it’s important, but don’t sleep right away.  You’ll wake up at night with cannibals gnawing on those delicious ears again.  The last tutorial shows you two plants: a blueberry bush and a bush with black-colored berries on it.  I specify because the first is edible, the second will fucking kill you.  Important.  And these are not the only edible plants in the game, just two of them.  The rest you have to figure out by trial-and-error!  And I mean, most survival books are specific to a section of the world or a continent and give you a wide variety of things to eat in those places.  Whoever wrote this book just kind of implies that there are other things out there you can and cannot eat: either madly sadistic or profoundly lazy.  Not to mention, you can eat certain animals in this game but not others.  Why can I eat rabbits and lizards but not the fucking frogs and birds?  And why not the shark that washed up on the beach?  I know I would be using that for days.  Just cook it up really really well and add some salt from distilled seawater.  Maybe some seaweed for flavor.

Each year hundreds of people survive in the wilderness, except you.  You're fucked.

Each year hundreds of people survive in the wilderness – except you.  You’re fucked.

This is one of those places that the game is still vastly unfinished.  I am sure that there will be more added to this book given time, but right now it is pretty useless for finding food.  Your best bet is killing animals for food anyway, clearly not a game made by vegans.  Although there is a vegan mode where the cannibals won’t eat you.  Makes it a little easier.  The primary role of the book is to help you build things.  Those ghost-walls you see up there are what happens when you place something.  It creates an image of what you are building and you bring materials over to it, building into the image.  Really neat, overall.  Of course, you need to be careful where you place things.  A ghost-image cannot be removed right now, not that I could find anyway.  Then there is the matter of cancelling an object.  Say, you want to build a fire.  In your panic to avoid slipping into the stomachs of cannibals, you accidentally select the head-on-a-stake effigy.  You’ll have to go back into the book and then exit or select something else to cancel the head.  Now I was panicked, and that is the story of how I got a head-on-a-stake next to my cooking pit.  It’s a little unsettling, but it’s a great conversational piece that adds seasoning to my skinned rabbits and lizards.  The most frustrating element of building is you have to look back into the book every time you want to plan out a section of wall or build a fire.  This makes sense the first time, but it gets old after the thousandth fucking time.  I would have memorized the best method for building a fire after having to read the book a bazillion times.  Early on all your construction should be fueled by soda and candy bars you got from the crash and luggage around it.  This gives you food and energy enough to get a good bit of a citadel plannedand built before the cannibals become too much of a problem.

O, yea, effigies?  That shit is fucked up.  One way to keep cannibals at bay aside from filling your camp with campfires is to set up little effigies.  Effigy is a nice term though.  Really, you are creating survivalist outsider art with the limbs of your fallen foes.  Fucked up and brutal.  The best part is, they only keep the fuckers back as long as they are on fire, which they stay lit for like, an half hour at most?  Then there was this problem I had where it was raining almost constantly.  So, apparently I am in a sub-tropical rainforest.  Those aren’t fucking common, but they exist.  This might help me pin point where The Forest takes place.  There seem to be no tropical plants that I can determine, and there is a shore.  The natives like taking body parts and wearing them like feathers plucked from a peacock.  The animals tend to be small and there are a lot of lizards.  At first I would think Russia, but there aren’t any wolves and it can’t be Africa since no one is black.  That would be racist.  Then again, nobody looks asian, but some pacific islanders look white, right?  Best guess, this takes place in Oceania, not too far from New Zealand.  What likely happened is all the hipsters and vegans banished the meat-eating people to an island and there they went fucking crazy and started eating people.  Of course, that was years ago, so they’ve all but forgotten about them except in stories and tales.  This is why you find hikers and campsites out here where no one in their right fucking mind could ever consider camping.  I assume they are hikers because they are miles from any roads and there aren’t any off-roading jeeps or anything.  Then again, they could have come in by plane, given there is a lake nearby and the seashore is accessible.

There is also an interesting crafting system that reminds me of the Zork games where you combine different things to create something else, like a bottle of booze and a rag makes a molotov cocktail.  Of course, there aren’t a lot of recipes to figure out at the moment.  The survival book naturally doesn’t tell you how to build any of these things, either.  I remember reading the military Field Manual on wilderness survival, and that shit is comprehensive.  I would have bought a better manual if I were this guy.

Welcome to my home, you can have a seat over by the head-on-a-spike.  His name is Wilson.

Welcome to my home, you can have a seat over by the flaming head-on-a-spike. His name is Wilson.

Of course the cannibals in this game are the early enemies and the source of a lot of fun.  Before the mutants come and ruin your life, the cannibals are just funny as shit.  First off, they run around shrieking and generally acting like they think they’re zombies.  They’re all naked, including the women, so seeing some boobies every once in a while is nice, even if they are weird and dirty.  Remember all the booze from earlier?  Use a few of those bottles to make molotov cocktails, and let it rip.  These things take out cannibals like nobody’s business.  You’ll need the rest of the booze to make bombs for use against the mutants.  When you die, you also go to this fucking cave full of terrifying shit, but I don’t want to talk about that again.  The least the bastards could do is just let you die.  It really does say a lot about a game, too, when you can take one guy’s arm and smack his friends to death with it.  There is a little problem with killing enemies with fire, though.  The enemies will die and their corpses remain standing.. and breathing.  You can smash them apart with your axe, and the legs even stay there.  Then there are the women.  Sometimes you will kill them with fire and they will change from a hairless weirdo to a woman with hair.  Then you smash them apart like a blood balloon and their body parts turn into male body parts.  It is just a little weird.  All the mechanics are there, but the models and art have to catch up.  Generally this game screwed up where Minecraft excelled.  The Forest chose some spectacular graphics not realizing that all that detail leaves HUGE fucking holes.  There are so many graphics bugs in the game that going into them at length is its own fucking essay.  Minecraft had crappy graphics that were ridiculous by comparison to other games at the time.  But it worked and did its job so well that it is a gaming sensation.  The graphics were simple and clean.  This allowed the developers to move on to other, more important things, thus Minecraft had more to start with than The Forest.  Right now, this is a great game, and 14.99$ on Steam is pretty reasonable for where it is in development.  I would wait a bit on this game, though, if you expect a good and complete game.  Should you choose to invest right now (and I would advise waiting until it goes on sale again), don’t wander too deep into The Forest and it’s still pretty fun.

 

 

The Fall, Protocol Bypass Complex

Fall_logo

 

After buying this game at a discount along with some other games on Steam, I left it in my library, planning to look into it later and thinking it looked amusing.  Fast forward to a Sunday night, playing DnD with my friends, and two of those particular gentlemen start off on a gaming discussion.  I mean, I was typing furiously about games while slicing into dudes with a greatsword. Why not?  Artistic games came into the conversation, and they were off about various titles they enjoyed.  Then Jon swings a verbal hand across my face and tells me about The Fall.  He and Jay were proselytizing at length about this game. “Have you heard of it?” I drew a dull stare at the ceiling.  “No” I stated blankly. “It’s this game where you are an AI in a battlesuit and you have to override your functions to control them by putting your pilot in direct danger.” (this is where the little man in my head climbs the step ladder into my brain and pulls the chain to a light that flickers, dimly at first, to life) “OH YEA!” I exclaimed, “I bought that on Steam! So, it’s good?”  The look I received from those gentlemen told me it was an experience.  It was spectacular.  Thereby I have come to this article to concur with these allegations. And I do concur, most righteously.

The Fall is about the necessity of rules.  What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules?  First, we talk about the game and if you are interested, we go deeper.  For that there will be spoilers, but fear not, I’ll warn you.  Let’s do this.

In The Fall you are an AI inside a suit.  After re-entering the atmosphere of a planet Master Chief-style, you awake in a dark cave.  Before breaking the surface, however, something significant happens: to keep the suit’s pilot from liquefying upon impact, the suit’s AI is allowed to activate the Anti-matter shield and protect the pilot.  Now this is the key point of the game.  If you go into the esc menu, hit operating parameters.  You’ll notice that there are several functions that are disabled, health monitoring of the pilot is damaged, but, most notably, the Anti-matter shielding has recently been activated.  The suit’s AI, whom you control in the game, is unable to access various functions of the suit without the pilot’s permission.  The pilot, however, has just re-entered the fucking atmosphere in a goddamn battle-suit.  That is obviously not the preferred method of atmospheric entry for a human body, so the pilot is a little unconscious at the moment.  Granted, the health-monitoring systems of the suit are knocked out, so we don’t even know if he’s still alive!  The AI doesn’t hear anything from her pilot so she decides to head out for the medical facilities to revive the pilot.  In the operating parameters there are three laws, based on the universal laws of Asimov governing robots: Must not misrepresent reality. Must be obedient. Must protect active pilot.

So easy a caveman could understand them

So simple a caveman could understand them

Now ARID, our AI babe, has some obstacles.  She has a pretty specific set of parameters with the addendum that her own systems cannot be accessed without permission from the pilot EXCEPT to protect the pilot from immediate danger.  Got it.  That is a pretty fucking important except, too.  There are a lot of problems that Arid encounters on this planet, most notably others trying to depurpose (destroy) her.  In order to maintain her own relevance and purpose, Arid has to get her pilot to the medical facilities.  To achieve this, she needs those restricted systems.  This means she has to put the pilot into imminent danger in order to override the systems and gain access.  How can this be allowed?  Well it is a matter of priorities and logic.  I have to protect the pilot.  My pilot is dying.  To properly protect the pilot from the danger of death, I must get him to the medical facilities. To get him to the med fac, I need to access restricted systems.  I can only access those systems if my pilot is in imminent danger from which those systems could save him, therefore, I have to put my pilot in imminent danger in order to gain access to those systems and save his life.  Fucking syllogisms.  Read that last sentence again: in order to save my pilot, I have to put him in danger.  Yea.  Begin decompiling, mother fucker.

This game defines the often decontextualized term “slippery slope”, except in this one, you were the pebble that started the avalanche.  Another fun little maxim this game hints at is the phrase “good intentions pave the road to hell”.  Shelley’s Frankenstein made it a thing, and that story made a habit of referencing Paradise Lost, a story about Satan falling from grace with God.  Arid invokes this maxim every time someone asks her about her primary function:

I am the A.R.I.D. onboard a Mark-7 combat suit.  My intentions are peaceful

– Arid, The Fall

I submit that this is the jumping point for the titular “fall” in The Fall.  Alright with the fucking literature lecture, back to the damn game.

From darkness you emerge...

From darkness you emerge…

The Fall as a game is still a lot of fun.  It blends a number of ludic features, those features generating the enjoyable and fun part of a game (or its most game-like features, if you will permit me), with its logic.  There are two genres at work here: Puzzle platformer and action shooter.  I don’t know how they fucking thought of this shit, but the game style literally changes with the flip of a switch.  You start off with a malfunctioning gun, but at least the flashlight still works fine.  Using this flashlight, you can uncover various points of interest.  Literally.  It is like someone took a little fucking stamp and left these tiny magnifying glass icons everywhere.  These icons tell you what you need to know about your surroundings.  They’re also how you will interact with the environment to solve puzzles.  A lot of the puzzles are pretty simple, some are tough and require thought.  I had to look up the solution to one puzzle, but I still beat the game in about 3.5 hours.

Once you get a working pistol, you can switch to the laser sight, which is combat mode.  In combat mode, you can get behind cover, vault over obstacles and bust a cap in some robotic motha’ fucka’s.  Your primary enemies are the security droids of the facility in which you’ve crash landed.  These are all droids that are following their primary functions perfectly, and this efficiency is maintained by the sinister caretaker.  You meet this guy early on in an interrogation chamber and he dogs you the entire way, throwing legions of robotic foes to sidetrack you every time you get hard on a solid lead in moving on to the next area of the game.  Combat is fun and challenging, despite the 2D look of the game.  It doesn’t feel forced and it makes sense, and you’re not jumping on anyone’s fucking head, either.  Another facet of combat is the ability to perform sneak attacks.  This is also pretty cool, since Arid grabs the enemy from behind, rips out their power core and uses it to power her pilot’s suit.  It is a neat and useful maneuver that adds to the gameplay.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

Everything about the look of this game is well done.  First you have the art: every level and area is well-designed and interesting.  Your eyes will never get bored.  There is a lot of passion poured into every fucking detail of this game, and it comes through.  Each moment you are guided by the soft-blue light of Arid’s mask.  Then there is the music.  It goes from dark, ambient groans to shoot-em-up techno as soon as you launch into a fight.  It fits and it gives a sense of foreboding throughout the game.  The sound is well done.  All of the voice actors are believable and well-recorded and the sounds themselves fit each scenario seamlessly.  Everything about this game is polished and lovely, except for the odd “walking through a wall of rubble into an open dark chasm”.  That only happened once, and it wasn’t a big deal.  I just realized it wasn’t a thing, because everything else in this game is so well put together, I thought it was an actual room, or something.  This game is well made and thought-evoking.  It brings an experience that is tough to live up to.  It was also funded on kickstarter, too, so I am glad it beat a bowl of fucking potato salad.  You can pick it up on Steam for only 9.99$, and I highly recommend it.  The ending is a piece of work that will make your jaw drop.  So, on to the spoilers.

A lot of Jesus imagery in this game

A lot of Jesus imagery in this game…

 

And to tell you why, I will be issuing more spoilers than a car part company.  We have to go deeper.

DO NOT FUCKING PROCEED IF YOU WANT TO FIGURE THE ENDING OUT YOURSELF!!!!!!

There, bold, italics, centered on its own line: there is nothing that anyone can do to tell me I didn’t warn you.  Now, why all the Jesus stuff?  Well, to do that, we have to tell you the ending.  So you spend all your time in The Fall trying to get your pilot, Colonel Josephs, to the medical facilities.  Arid’s health monitoring system is damaged, so she just assumes that the pilot is not responding because he is unconscious.  She never investigates further.  In the name of saving your human pilot, you deactivate and drain all the power from hundreds of stored droids (which the mainframe AI calls killing them), kill a hive queen of these hive slugs and kill some fish that can bite through metal.  You are also dogged by the Caretaker, an insidious droid that seems to be nailing humans to crucifixes, dissecting them and all kinds of other mean and nasty things.  However, he is functioning fine.  He was just left as the sole caretaker of a facility forgotten by its owners, so he keeps on doing what he is supposed to be doing: making the facility more efficient.  Those people were not efficient, especially after some of them were abandoned at the facility (check out the carving in the front desk in the lobby c/o Levi the ex-maintenance guy) and the Caretaker depurposed them.  As for the dissections, he was doing to the people what he might do to the robots: look for salvageable parts.  It’s just a messier prospect when you are filled with sloshy, meaty bits.

So you do all of this in the name of Colonel Josephs, the man in the suit.  Arid only invokes the name of the man in the suit toward the end, when the mainframe AI tells her not to change her parameters in the lab.  This is apparently necessary to finish the last task in a repurposing evaluation, to make it so she can lie.  You know, misrepresent reality?  One of her most basic principles?  She gets to the medical bay, gets scanned and what does she find out?  The man in the suit was never there.  She is malfunctioning after all.  Took her a while to get there.

How does this relate to Jesus?  Arid does some pretty horrible things (killing various animals, destroying the last dying remnants of an ancient facility, violating some corpses and even removing the power core for another actual soldier in a combat suit) for the sake of the man in the suit.  She doesn’t know he is there, and since the health monitoring systems are damaged, she just assumes he is in there.  And toward the end this man in the suit even has a name.  She truly believes Josephs is there.  Despite this belief, she was willing to put him in mortal danger.  He would have been the one that died, not her.  He becomes a sort of sacrifice that redeems Arid of her sins (or faults in programming).  Josephs represents something that Arid is willing to sacrifice everything for.  Something she believes in to the point where she is willing to destroy the elements of her basic programming that bind her and give her purpose.  That is really poignant, too.  Just as Lucifer was willing to defy the tenets of God to enact his own agenda, Arid is willing to supplant the laws governing robots, created by Isaac Asimov, to achieve her own imaginary goal of saving Josephs.  The humans on the cross represent a non-existant ideal for which Arid risks it all.  And the theoretical man in Arid’s suit is the one she is ready to put in danger to override her systems, so she is, in effect, using her belief in this man to breakdown the basic rules of her existence.  Yea.  Just let that shit percolate for a minute.

One of the most interesting triumphs of this game is how they made Arid so human without adding a human.  She makes frequent “self-evaluations” and often comes to the conclusion that she needs to be formatted and serviced before being returned to her dock.  In human terms “I am not doing the right thing, I need to stop and look at this, I need my head checked!”  But then the screen has a moment of electronic spazzing and she corrects herself stating that these things were necessary to save Josephs, she is doing this to save him.  She is robotically reassuring herself against what she recognizes as the invalidity of her own actions and programming.  The main difference, though, is that people don’t always take these personal self-evaluations and look at themselves.  It is often too painful, and in Arid’s case it is no different.  She just performs it on a more logical level, being an AI in a robot suit and all.

This is something that we’ve seen time and again in real life: people changing the rules to make them suit an end that they deem as sacred.  Holy wars, for example.  They’ve gone by many names: crusades, jihads or whatever.  These are terrible things done in the name of a sacred ideal.  Arid is an excellent choice of name to this degree since Arid means “devoid of moisture”.  To allow a bit of poetic latitude to Over the Moon, it would mean devoid of anything, specifically true purpose.  Not just devoid of the moisture created by a human body.  And this relates to Frankenstein really well.  Take that Arid to mean moistureless, like a corpse reanimated.  They wouldn’t be juicy, especially if they were kept in embalming fluid like Dr. Frankenstein’s body parts undoubtedly were.  Just like the good Doctor, Arid sacrifices her basic tenets and uses good intentions to justify some horrible actions.  And in both cases the being left is a monster that wreaks havoc on an arguably torn world.  But it is the world that the characters in the story have.  It is self-sustaining, to a point, if far from perfect.  Who are these two to destroy what it has become?

I am bound by nothing...

I am bound by nothing…

So at the end, when Arid, by her own words, is bound by nothing, she tears off the helmet of the suit and show that she is empty.  That is the answer to the question at the beginning of this article.  What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules? I wanted to phrase it “What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules for an imaginary purpose?” but that is a little too suggestive.  I mean you need the chance to play it yourself to really get the full effect.

Arid represents the purpose of intention when it is backed by meaningless goals.  It doesn’t matter what you intend to do, if you violate everything to include the basic laws of your own life to uphold a universal concept of sacredness, you are exactly what you are bound by: nothing.

If you have read this far, I apologize and thank you for hearing me out.  It is a lot to read.

Q-Bert Rebooted, Reviving a Classic

QBERT

 

When I was a kid my parents had a Commodore 64.  It was this huge beast of a monitor with a fucking keyboard you could kill a man with.  I never played NES becase I was too busy with the awesomeness of this thing.  It’s 8-bit graphics and massive display loomed over us as we poured hours into it.  We played The Hulk, a game where you typed commands to the green rage machine as he was tied to a chair with a bomb ticking to destruction.  Incidentally, Hulk could not cry for mommy.  Hulk not know mommy.  We played Centipede and Space Invaders, but none of them hooked me in like Q*Bert.  I had no fucking clue what Q*Bert was, but I figured he was an alien like ET.  He hopped around this mountain of colored blocks, of which I never made it past the first or second levels, and was continually thwarted by these fucking green dudes, pink snakes and bouncing red balls.  But I tried and tried.  It was the first love-hate relationship I had ever known.  This machine was forgotten when we got the SNES, relegated to the back of the attic.  I remember that we would still use the monitor years and years later for Nintendo 64 and Xbox, when Halo 2 came out.  It was the last game I was to play on it before the last lights in the machine finally died out.

Nowadays my cellphone has exponentially better processing power than that stone-age piece of machinery, but nothing aggravated me more than the games it presented me with.  Modern games are much easier, walks in the park by comparison.  And some asshole had the idea to reboot Q*Bert.  I fucking hate you guy.  Not because this ruined a game from my childhood, it didn’t.  More because this game ruined my tiny little mind with a rage I had never before known, and now it’s back.  Just as frustrating as ever.  And I love it.  You could even skip this article to the last paragraph and not miss much, just a great time and fun and love for a character from my childhood.  Yup!

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

Upon loading up the game, you will see that Q*Bert has given you the option of torture.  Play the original arcade game (not recommended for the feint of heart nor the weak of constitution) or the modern game mode.  Q*Bert is a game about jumping on blocks to change their color.  Somebody put this fuzzy (?) little alien on it, basically so it would sell, I’d wager.  Now, when you choose the modern game mode, it eases you in.  First level, jump on blocks to change the color, avoid some balls.  No big.  Then they add the snakes and the rainbow discs.  When you see the pink ball fall from the top, you know it’ll turn into a snake, rather than just falling off the edge of the board.  Hop onto a rainbow disc, though and it’ll carry you to the top.  I guess it was those discs that really made me think he was an alien.  They’re like his little UFOs you know?  But then shit gets really aggravating with these little sunglass-clad green dude that change the color of your blocks.  AND THEN there are these little horned things that chase you around the board alongside the snakes!  Shit gets frustrating pretty easily.

Q*Bert’s newest features involve a character select screen where you can pick which alien guy or girl you want to play.  Given you’ve had time to amass some gems, you can choose any of a number of cool and fancy Q*Berts, so I chose this Q*Nicorn that farts out a shiny rainbow everywhere it goes.  Magical!  There is also a level progression screen, which has asteroids a various locations that require a certain number of stars to progress.  Each star is obtained by finishing a level one of three ways: finish the fucking level, finish the level by a certain time and finish the level with a certain number of points.  I found myself quickly cursing at the screen as some of the early levels have you jump on the blocks twice to get them to the appropriate color.  Then those fucking green dudes come along and ruin EVERYTHING!

I'm going to kill your family you little green shit!

I’m going to kill your fucking family you little green shit!

It really is a rage-inductively fun game, if you are into puzzlers.  Q*Bert is a classic puzzler that will really make you consider the path you take to traverse a given field.  Needless to say, a straight line is never the fucking answer.  This early videogame is one that makes the challenges of the Portal franchise seem like an over-narrated piece of cake.  While Q*Bert Rebooted steps you up gradually to the insane scramble of the original game, it still employs new elements of gaming to make you want to bash your monitor in.

There is also something really odd about Q*Bert.  While his original form looked a little wary the rebooted version of Q*Bert looks positively concerned.  His eyes have this look like he’s thinking “Are we really going to play this again?  You really sure you want this?”  Just look into the furrowed brow and saucer eyes.  He looks saddened by something and reluctant to even exist.  Granted, when you fuck up, Q*Bert curses his head off so bad, that it needs to be censored.  And why shouldn’t he?  His life is one of coloring OCD, jumping on blocks to make them just the right hue while he’s dogged by snakes, falling balls, green dudes that FUCK UP HIS WORK REGULARLY and who knows what else!  Seriously there are no words that can fully encapsulate my rage for those slick little green shits.  Then it hit me.  When you Game Over Q*Bert says “bye bye”.  This makes sense since you will be walking away from the screen to count to ten and squeeze a stress ball into flaccid submission.  But what else does he say, huh?  That’s just alien gibberish, right? FUCK NO, MAN!  Q*Bert is saying “What’s the object of it all” impassively implying that he knows it’s all pointless.  Like he knows that jumping on blocks and being constantly driven by your OCD to make everything perfect is a crappy way to live.  That’s pretty fucking heavy coming from a simple puzzle game, like some shit I expect to find in Q*Bert’s suicide letter after he jumps off the level for the last time!  But he can’t even kill himself since he’ll just be put right back up on top to continue.  Like his very existence is one of pure resignation to the fact that he must (not can, wants to, chooses to, should, would, likes to) but fucking must complete these boards.  But why?  Why does he have to?  My guess is that if you beat the game, Q*Bert will be left in peace to do what Q*Bert does when you’re not making him color blocks.  I guess that would be hang out in the endless void of space, just hopping around.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

So I guess you might have skipped the rest of this article since we all know what Q*Bert is really about. ::: whistles innocently :::  So, yea, it’s a fun game full of great colors, cute characters and shiny objects.  Give this to children, cause like, I played it as a kid, and I turned out great!  Good times!  Great price, too!  Only 4.99$ on Steam to support a classic of videogaming!  Go and get it!  Honestly, there is nothing about this game that would ever make me mad.  Those green guys can be a little frustrating, but hot dog!  You’ve got to have some challenge, hey?  So go on, get this title and don’t say I didn’t warn you… about the great time you will undoubtedly have!

Dear Game Informer: You’re a Fucking Asshole

gibastard

 

Game Informer is a major gaming magazine that is apparently written by assholes.  Now, the reason I receive it is because my wife got the Powerup rewards card at Gamestop.  This was when she got our 3DS ‘s and Pokemon X and Y.  I pick it up and peruse it whenever it comes in, and it often shows me some surprisingly good indie games I hadn’t yet heard about.  But this month was different.  This month I got to pages 28-29 of the July 2014 issue and was met with this woven monstrosity called “The Indie Game Flowchart”.  I would tell you that IndieDevs are the sole reason for true ingenuity and without those with the balls to run free in the capitalist wilds, there would never be any innovation or progress in gaming at all.  We would all be playing COD and WOW rip-offs.  This is a rage article of crotchety proportions, so if you don’t like it, fuck off.  Game Informer needs to sit down and shut the fuck up.

This article, written by some mimsy tart named Joe Juba, has this text blurb to start you off:

If you want to make an indie game, you need to be driven by passion.  Maybe you want to tell a personal story, or experiment with a never-before-seen genre.  Realizing this dream might require years of work and your life savings, but it could be worth the struggle.  What is your reward at the end of the journey?  Follow our flowchart to find out.  You might earn instant credibility, vast wealth, or cheap statuettes from an indusrty awards show.

– Joe Jube, Game Informer, Issue July 2014, Page 28

You might think “O, that’s not so bad!  He just gave the indie devs some credit for drive and passion.  Not to mention experimenting with genres and some other things!”  Honestly, sure, he does, but then he cheapens it with a giant flowchart that mocks the entirety of Indie Developers and what the real goal is as an IndieDev.  While the article is a comedy-rag with sarcasm dripping from its pages, one should keep in mind that comedy is a form of philosophy where they cause you to laugh by showing you the truth (in this case Juba’s perception of the truth) and making you see it in an entertaining light.  Just watch Louie C.K. or George Karlin.  Hell, nearly every comic uses elements of real-life in their shows, and that makes them artists in a way.  This is just flat-out mockery of a people who have no real centralized way of responding.

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

At start is says “So you want to be an indie. What is the first priority?”  Move on to the first offense, “Fun, good gameplay“.  The next box after that just says “wrong” and directs you to the other option out of the gate “A cool art style.”  Now stop right there you fucking pricks.  Did you just see that?  With a quick flick of the goddamn wrist, this slimy little fuck says that indie games as a whole do not have fun, good gameplay and rely on art style.  FUCK NO!  I can name plenty of games off the top of my head in varying genres that have great gameplay with great art all the way to shit art and fabulous gameplay.  Minecraft, for instance, has arguably simplistic art.  Most Super Nintendo titles had more advanced textures.  The gameplay is the redeeming part of this game, and spawned several genres.  THAT was the work of one fucking guy in a goddamn basement, NOT the result of the industry’s method-at-large, which is typically “who fucking cares how mindless the gameplay is, just art it up with pretty graphics and fantastic visuals so that no on notices.”  Want another?  Sure.  Hard Reset.  That is a game with some pretty graphics, great ambiance and an artistic method of doing cut-scenes in a comic book style.  The gameplay, however, is a ton of fun, allowing you to blow shit up and use a variety of weapons with the same two “guns” and elminating the question of where you keep that bazooka.  Sure, the story is a little confusing at times, but Half-life 2 had as much story as a mass-murderer does.  Shit, Call of Fucking Duty has less story, but that is punching the retarded kid there.  I don’t know where Joe Juba thinks he gets carte blanche to say what he wants about the indie culture, but he is writing for a major fucking magazine.  That, along side his little opening to this masterpiece of douche-baggery, automatically takes away any credibility he truly has with the indie culture.  But he goes on, so, too, must I.

From that box you also see “it needs…” You can go to “blocks like minecraft” and that takes you to the minecraft clones.  This path ends in the Copy-cat award, success by association.  That is a bit funny, but the devs in those games are getting a little short-changed.  Often, the best way to get to new shades of genres are to take the major genre elements of something successful and apply them to other facets and ideas not explored by the majorly referenced work.  This is done all the time with fantasy, with Lord of the Rings as a start, and brings you to people like George R.R. Martin writing dark fantasy worlds that owe their lives and allegiance to Tolkien.  The next major issue I have with this article of short-selling +9000 is “first-person..” leads to “shooter” which leads to the David and Goliath Award, Call of Duty will destroy you.  STOP RIGHT THERE YOU SHITTY LITTLE FUCKFACE!  So, you’re telling me all first-person shooters are in direct competition with COD?  Your taste in games obviously has a diversity comparable to Iceland’s gene pool.  One massive collection of similar-looking people with a few sharply-contrasted elements floating around to emphasize the main body.  Hard Reset and ZenoClash are two indie FPS’s that are nothing like COD and thank god for it!  These titles add elements of diversity to a stagnant pool of genre degeneracy that is characterized by vastly acclaimed titles like Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, Black Ops, Battlefield…  Seeing some similarities?  And the best part is, the moment that this genre drifts away from the Call of Douchebags FPS standard of “kill da bad guy soljers” it drops in funding, quality and standards.  Don’t believe me?  Thief.  As if I needed to expound further this guy does a way better job at explaining the game’s shortcomings than I could here.  And he tries to defend it with lengthy diatribes of legitimately interesting discussion about how the game could have been better.  Genre diversity is a must, and indie FPS’s offer way more in this respect.

Another off-shoot from that “cool art style” box leads you to “A living painting. Like Braid, but with…” and this section leading to the ‘Too Indie, What about gameplay?’ endpoint that dominates the center of the first page.  This placement is no fucking accident.  This is the way that mainstream gaming stereotypes the indie gaming culture.  I do appreciate their implication that this is the home of the extremist indie games, and thereby not the bulk of them, but this still puts a smear on the community as a whole.  These are apparently the representative items of indie culture that the most people will understand and, thus, it is in a plce that the most people will read, with the bulk of readers giggling a bit here then moving on to their Culla’ Doodie circle jerks.  In this section they include Braid, and a number of weird modifiers.  They also catch these outliers by having First-Person also lead to “Pretentious Interactive Narrative Experience“, which is arguably a way of saying “artistic game experience”.  But another place first-person takes you is were you bought by Valve, in which case you end up at the “Gamer darling Award, Please stop saying the cake is a lie” or elsewhere.  If you say no, it moves on to the next page and “years later”.  This implies that every indie title will take years to complete.  This brings you to “Perfect! You project has the green light! When will it release?”  Two options after: One year, which leads to a delay show at PAX then the second selection, which is two years.  Then another delay show at PAX, and then four years.  This means, fuck you, even if you think that your game will release in a year, after years and not getting bought by Valve, you’ll actually take four years and tons of personal delays to make your game.  That is degraging.  Sure, it may happen to some, but this seems to imply that indie developers cannot adequately structure time schedules.  Because the major industry has ben SOOOOOO fucking good at doing that! Right?  By the way, what was the release date of Half-life 3 again?  Whatever, just play Duke Nukem Forever and you’ll start to get an idea.  In fact, just read this fucking Cracked article.  That should tell you.

But let me skip over to another point of contention.  Following side-scrolling games takes you to the inevitability of “Wait a minute… are you already a major developer?”  One option (No, then keep at it!) takes you to the aforementioned “years later” situation.  The other 2 are “Does Double-Fine count?” and “Yes”.  Yea, you see where I am going with this now.  This gets you to Nice Try, Decades of experience isn’t indie.  FUCK YOU!  You sit there and say that to me?! I wanted to just type a string of random angry characters but quivered with rage for a few moments instead.  Where do you get off saying that indie developers cannot have decades of experience? Do you realize that Sword of the Stars was made by people from Rockstar?  Just because they have been around for a while, doesn’t mean they are not indie.  My understanding is the Double-Fine got to mainstream game dev and backed out because they wanted, I don’t know, some GODDAMN FREEDOM!

Moving right along, there is this other endpoint of Indie Foul! That’s not how this works.  Among the things that lead here are third-person roguelikes with crop-farming and carefully crafted dungeons and collectible creatures.  That takes you to “Look, I don’t know what “roguelike” means”  There are also apparently Third-person roguelikes with spaceships and no permadeath, which also leads here.  Fuck you.  Now we need perma-death in spaceship games to be good?  Fuck you.  My angriest path here leads through the thoroughly convoluted “third-person zombie survival games funded by independent modders who have a well-organized business plan”.  This is apparently no one, as this goes to Indie Foul.  fuck you. again.  The option aside a well-organized business plan is apparently “who get massive community support” and this just has to be a joke.  Having these as separate options basically states that crowd-funding is not part of a well-organized business plan.  Honestly, asking the gaming community to fund your project isn’t the most sure-fire way to get it done, but Kickstarter is for gamedevs that have great ideas and none of the money required.  So I also suggest that, yes, crowd-funding can be a good element of a well-organized business plan.  Other ways to indie foul include an old-school RPG inspired by some N64 RPG’s with retro sprites that was considered as an Ouya exclusive.  There is also a mainstream audience that leads to Indie Foul, but that tells me that this guy thinks the main element of “indie” gaming is that only a couple assholes like it.  This is even more heavily implied by the statement that aiming precise challenges at a few dozen masochists will be enough to get your project the green light.  I am not sure which planet this Joe Juba asshole comes from, but it is one where “indie” means “pretentious dicks that think they know better” rather than, you know, independent.  Indie games can be aimed at mainstream audiences.  The retro style that many take on these days are made to appeal to what a lot of us older gamers played as children.  Oh, I am sorry, not every spoiled-rotten little rat bastard was able to buy games when I was a kid.  In fact, when I was your age, playing games made you the socially awkward nerd that got beat on.  On last path that takes you to Indie Foul! is Border Control Simulator.  I would say this is a jab at all those weird simulator like Rock Simulator, Streetsweeper Simulator and Papers, Please, but those games are a new genre that deals with allowing you to literally live different aspects of real-life.

So now your game is finished.  There are now three results for you left, having dodged the sweeping two-page morass outlined by some ass.  The only thing left is the name.  Three options: First, you can go with something slimy and geometric, like “Gooptahedron”.  The next thing is “that’s free to play, isn’t it?“.  The only selection is yes, or hell yes.  This leads you to the Zero Credibility Award, Money (is not equal to) Quality, which is the only place Joe Juba deserves to be classified.  Granted, he starts off with that whole gooptahedron crack, but this is the only location on the indie flowchart that features free-to-play games.  I can think of a couple really good free-to-play games.  Immediately I am reminded of Gear Up, a multi-player tank-shooter.  So, tell me, you relentless shit, are you saying that all F2P indie games have zero credibility as indie games? Fuck you, again, indie is not about money, it is about independence.  The other two options out of game-finishing are a weird sentence fragement and a single vague word.  Your game is then a success.  Either you say Fuck it, I quit, where you earn the Something Fishy Award, Don’t forget to cancel the sequel and the most insulting thing on this shit-sheet: “beg for money on Kickstarter and try again.”  Yup.  BEG for money you worthless little worms!  Then you can go back to start to begin again.  O, and you remember how, apparently, it takes four years after previous years of delaying to get it done?  Yea, that path leads here, too.

Now, if you read all the way to the end of this article, I give you a lot of credit.  This is a long wall-of-rage-text article with few visual stops.  The point I am making is as follows:  This convoluted two-page spread is just an insidious mockery that attempts to rob the indie gaming and indie developer community of its main source of undeniable respect.  Indie Devs want freedom.  Freedom from major developers to develop as they please, without the back-burner rejection that these types of games would receive from mainstream companies entrenched in the FPS standard, or whatever standard they prefer.  Indie means independent, and that scares the mainstream companies and their little turd-sniffing employees, such as Joe Juba.  Not because they think  we want to be like them and want the money that comes with it, but because we want nothing to do with them, we want to do what we want, and accept the money that comes with it.  This is where indie developers get their real power.  Alongside the fact that indie games are the testing ground for new and interesting concepts that push the industry forward and bend the boundaries of virtual experience like minecraft, which spawned crafting games and survival games like Rust.  For this reason, Indie Gaming is the source of true gaming diversity.  We don’t want our options to be between WoW, CoD and Assassin’s Creed without recourse.   We’re not a bunch of pretentious dorks sitting in a corner of a lunchroom wearing goofy glasses and handlebar mustaches making fun of the “cool COD kids”.  We are a collection of like-minded individuals that are tired of the same old horse shit that mainstream gaming presents.  We are tired of graphically fluorescent games with shit story lines or inept game-play.  We are ready to take gaming into our own hands.  And that scares the ever-loving shit out of them.  If I ever needed physical proof that mainstream gaming resents the indie community to the level that you might call it hate, this is it.