I called Skyrim UI devs child-raping Hitlers once.

I wasn’t going to post about this, but between the lack of any posting here, and how this snowball down shit mountain continues to roll, here we go. Buckle up because a few snowflakes are going to melt in the below fire-hot take (that is a self-identifying sentence, did you get it?)

Catch up on what’s happening over at Az’s site, including some of my initial thoughts on the issue. Overall, anytime someone is fired, 99% of the time its justified. Companies don’t go through the pain and cost of firing someone just for kicks, and especially at larger companies (which Anet is), even someone with an ax to grind (which isn’t the case here) will have a very hard time and risk a lot to fire someone without proper justification. I state this because whenever one of these “I was falsely fired!” stories pops up, its smart to always go into them with heavy skepticism for what the ‘victim’ is claiming.

In this case the situation is all the easier to see because of Price’s actions after being fired, to say nothing about the fact that there is no gray area around what she did; all of her statements are online, and they clearly show what happened (the fired male dev has deleted tweets related to this, for what that’s worth). You can’t straight-up attack customers as a rep for a company, in any business, and ESPECIALLY not when the initial interaction was harmless and you massively escalated it.

Which gets me to the point of this post; the twisting of that interaction into something far more. I read Polygon, not because its awesome, but because most other gaming sites are pure garbage. But in this case, Polygon has gone far off the deep end, with this article perhaps being the worst yet.

It starts off with the far, far stretch that the initial suggestion by Deroir was in any way offensive, and piles on to that stretch by pushing the fact that since Price is a female, suggestions towards her need to be phrased differently than towards a male game dev. Think on that for one second while keeping the word ‘equality’ in your mind. Continue to keep that word in mind and read this quote from Polygon:

“Players who think they know more than they actually do about development are common, and the belief isn’t always rooted in sexism. But Deroir’s lack of empathy for what happened throughout this controversy is notable.”

Basically, what happened here is what has been happening in gaming since gaming started; someone played a game, and said “X would be better if it was Y”. Every single gaming blog, this one included, does this (and often times far, far more aggressively than what Deroir did), and not once have I scaled back, or ramped up, a criticism because of the gender of the game dev (or if its Friday, a fellow blogger, just to be fully inclusive of who and why we flame people online). Again, equality.

Which isn’t to suggest the world is all roses and inequality doesn’t exist, and most certainly does. But stories like this are classic ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenarios. This isn’t an example of sexism in the gaming world (hell, a male and female employee got fired here, equality!), and so it dilutes the real issue. Actual victims of sexism look at Price the same way abuse victims look at people who misuse the #metoo movement; you aren’t helping, you are actually causing harm.

Then Polygon doubles down on this by adding a quote from someone who, from a very brief review, appears to be a professional ‘boy cried wolf’ artist, Adrienne Massanari. Her profile picture is a female with short hair holding a cat. Stereotypes, why do they exist?

“Why would people want to talk to anyone at all? But on some level, they need to have these social media presences, and be contactable. But this proves that people can be punished if you’re a woman and speaking out about an area of your expertise. It’s so predictable in a way, and that’s what makes me so angry.”

Let’s break the above down. Why would people want to talk online? Because they want interaction. That’s it. That’s literally the only reason to post on Twitter. For others to see what you write/think and react.

Second line, this ‘need’ for being online in social media. Was that part of Price’s contract with Anet? She’s not a community rep, right? So no, Price wasn’t online because of Anet, she was/is online because that’s a choice she made. Choices have consequences. If I was too thin-skinned to deal with the (hilarious) hate of others online, you know what I’d do? I’d get the fuck off the internet. I wouldn’t stay online and cry wolf or play the victim.

Third line, which builds on the false assumption that Price is online because Anet put a gun to her head and told her “Tweet about work and respond to fans, or get fired!”, and makes the immediate jump that Price got the response she got not because she is a dev posting about a game online, but because she is a female. Keep in mind, even in this exact story, a male game dev also got fired.

The agenda being pushed here that this is an issue about gender, and not inappropriate employee conduct, isn’t coming from Reddit. It’s not coming from people who want to tear down females in gaming or elsewhere. Gender was introduced, and continues to be pushed, by Price, and now by people claiming to be feminists, people who claim they want equality.

Equality here is a game dev talking online, and a subsection of fans flaming them, at times hyper-aggressively. Welcome to game dev, and welcome to the internet. If you believe you can solve the issue of people being asshats online (or in real life for that matter), please hold your breath until that happens, thanks! Inequality, and treating people differently based on gender, is looking at something that has been happening since Pacman, and trying to segregate female game devs into this corner, and male devs into another, with special rules for the females. That, more than anything else in this entire situation, is highly offensive and sets back progress towards equality.

Finally, Polygon is empowering, or at least giving fuel, to those on Reddit and the Internet who actually believe a mob can get someone falsely fired, when they frame this story as an example of a female being fired for ‘speaking her mind’ and people online getting her fired. If someone doesn’t have the time to fully dig into the situation, perhaps they only scan the headline and make the assumption that something like that actually happened. That actually is dangerous, in the same vein that ‘fake news’ is dangerous. Spreading false information, even if its just a click-bait title and the context of the article states otherwise, is a real problem, and unlike “people being mean online”, is fixable. Price is a lost cause based on her actions, and people like Adrienne are always going to be around, but Polygon should be better here.

Posted in Blogroll, Guild Wars, Mass Media, MMO design, Rant | 2 Comments

PUBG: The Event Pass is good

Let’s talk about the event pass for PUBG, shall we?

For those that don’t follow the game, the event pass costs $10 and lasts for 28 days. During that time, you have a large set of objectives/achievements to go after, some daily, some weekly, and some that run the length of the pass. Each time you complete one, you earn XP, and the more XP you earn, the higher your level and the more rewards you unlock. All rewards are cosmetics, some permanent, some temporary.

Here is why I like it. Of all the ways devs can come up with to fund a game you like, selling cosmetics is the best. They don’t effect gameplay, and they don’t consume too much dev time, all while usually making your game look more interesting and variety, regardless of whether you buy or not.

The event pass is also basically PUBG adding an optional subscription to the game, and again I’m a big fan of that model vs invasive F2P models. Combine the two and its a home run IMO, with the only people really upset about this being (guessing but not really) kids who can’t afford it and now either have to go to their parents for some money, or head to Reddit and bitch about it.

The different missions that come up can, should you choose, spice up your game a little. For example, normally you want to just kill someone, but if a mission asks you to do so with a pistol, suddenly that’s on your mind now. And it’s a risk/reward thing; if you mess around too much trying to force the issue, perhaps you go too far and get yourself killed in what would otherwise be an easily winnable situation. I did exactly that last night, where I needed to kill someone with a pan, so instead of finishing off someone with a gun, I went swinging, giving an enemy teammate just enough time to kill me. Of course this being PUBG, you care only until the match ends, and then queue up again and nothing really matters (so much so that ranked play isn’t even enabled on the newest map, and basically no one cares).

The addition of the pass, and the new map, as made playing the game with a squad a lot of fun again, and I could see that continuing going forward. Development should increase in pace thanks to the extra funding (and the motivation to keep people paying month to month), and because everyone now has some long-term (monthly) goals to go after, its additional encouragement to log in and play a few rounds nightly.

The execution isn’t perfect yet however. Sometimes you won’t get credit for a mission even though you did it, and some of the missions have been a real fun-sponge of a mess (get top 3 without killing anyone, how fun…). Luckily changes have already been made, both in fixing broken missions and removing/editing the funsponge stuff.

Good first step for PUBG, and one that I expect to only improve in the coming months.

Posted in PUBG, Review, RMT | 2 Comments

Fantasy Football is here again, join up

Quick note: We have two potential spots in our blog reader Fantasy Football league. If you are interested in joining, drop a note here (with a valid email) or email me.

Posted in Random

Total War: Warhammer DLC is pretty great too

I wrote before about my enjoyment of Total War: Warhammer 2, and how while basically a reskin of the first game, its a reskin worth the $60 price tag. Today I’m going to talk about how the DLC is also worth buying.

DLC in TW:W2 (and TW:W1 DLC, that can also be used in the second game) basically comes in two flavors. The cheaper ($8 or so) of the two are Lord packs, which give you new main characters for existing factions. The more expensive ($18) DLC are armies, which give you a new faction and all the trimmings that go with them. Both work for me, especially lately. Bonus points for the developers here: even if you don’t own the DLC, the new stuff will appear in your game, you just can’t play as the new lords/armies. So even if you don’t buy a DLC, the devs spending time on it still gives your base game more variety, which is very nice.

One of the things that got better in TW:W2 compared to the first game is variety. In the first, all of the Vampire main characters started in the same spot, so really the only difference between who you played was some character-specific stuff and the starting units. The same was true for most (all?) other factions. Not great, and really limited replayability. In TW:W2, things are different. Most lords start in very different locations, which means you get to experience the early game of a faction against different enemies. You get to see how, for example, Skaven deal with elves using early-game units compared to dealing with orcs or the undead. It really, really feels like playing a different faction, even though it uses the same overall units, mechanics, and map.

Now to the DLC. The Tomb Kings army is fantastic, not only because it gives you a new army, but one that mechanically is radically different from all others. Tomb Kings don’t pay to buy or upkeep units, instead all but the most basic units have a hard cap, one that can be increased via buildings. This is huge for two reasons. One, it encourages you to actually use all 20 slots in each army at all times, even if you fill them with fodder units. Two, losing said fodder no longer feels bad, since replacing them is free (beyond the turn or two to recruit them). That ‘feels right’ for the army; leaders of the undead would throw cheap skeletons in waves at the enemy, not really caring if they are lost.

This also means that gold is used only for upgrading towns, and here again the faction is very different. While with most armies you get a decent chunk of gold per turn, Tomb King income is far more limited, and their buildings tend to be more expensive. This means you will likely have plenty of towns with empty slots or buildings that can be upgraded, and ‘what’ to upgrade is suddenly a much bigger choice. Even more so because of the unit restrictions mechanic; each time you build a building that, say, allows you to recruit skeleton archers, you also increase the overall cap on how many you can use. This means that its actually beneficial to build the same army buildings in multiple holdings, something that isn’t really true for other factions. And because Tomb Kings also have some nice utility buildings, every slot in a town is suddenly a much bigger choice on what to build. I love that.

Another DLC worth mentioning is one from TW:W1, “The King and the Warlord”, which adds a new dwarf and greenskins lord to the game. I’ve not played the dwarf yet, but the greenskin lord, a goblin, is really interesting. You start far from the traditional greenskin starting point, and you can only recruit goblins until you recapture your traditional home, far to the east. The lord gives large boosts to goblin units, so an all-goblin army isn’t actually terrible, and you get to see some of their units, like fanatics, really shine.

What I’m really enjoying about the DLC is the starting spot; you are surrounded by Dwarves, the Empire, and to the south, the Wood Elves. Dwarves the goblins can handle, and they do very well against the Empire, but the Wood Elves just shred you. Their ranged attacks murder your own archers, they run faster than most your units so you can’t catch them and force melee, and their melee units are often much better than your own. Oh and they have big ass Treemen that your poor little goblins can’t even scratch. Right now I’m avoiding the Wood Elves as much as possible, or when they come into my territory, hope for an ambush to surround and murder-zone them. That works, usually…

So yes, I’m very happy with Total War: Warhammer 2, and continue to throw money at it willingly.

Posted in Random | 3 Comments

I am no longer fanatical about games

Back in the day I was all in on consuming every last bit of info for an upcoming game. We (bloggers) almost all did it for Warhammer Online, but I’ve done it many times for many titles in the past. Analyzing every screen shot, watching every interview or preview, diving deep deep into forums about the game, the works. In some ways, that part of gaming can be more fun than actually playing the game, which says a lot about both the games and the fans…

Today I just don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do that though, even for titles I’m really excited about. I still believe Crowfall will be a fun MMO, but its literally been years since I’ve kept up with its development, and can’t even bother to log into the alpha/beta/whatever that is happening right now. I invested real money in Pillars of Eternity 2, and I didn’t bother reading most of the updates prior to its release. And now today, I ‘know enough’ about Fallout76 to (mostly) stop caring about new info.

On Fallout76 specifically, do I know exactly what the game will be? Not really, no. I’m still unsure (and I suspect so are the devs) about how far the multiplayer vs letting you solo thing will go. Can you actually solo in the traditional definition of that term? If I want to play it exclusively co-op, can I do that even prior to the release of private servers? Does it have ‘real’ Fallout stories/quests, or is everything far more shallow and short-looped? Beta will answer most if not all of that, and then things will change anyway because that’s how games are these days.

But I know enough about Fallout76 to know I’ll most likely buy it (short of beta feedback being a total disaster). I can’t buy the special edition since that’s sold out, and the game isn’t on Steam (yet?), but it has my attention enough with what I have seen to remain interested, if from the outside sometimes looking in.

Posted in beta, Crowfall, Fallout 3, Rant, Warhammer Online | 5 Comments

Hard mode is often the right mode

I’ve long preached that difficulty can bring out the best in games, and today I have another example.

I’ve been playing Total War: Warhammer 2 for a bit now, first finishing a game with the High Elves on Normal, and then playing a game ‘long enough’ with the Skaven on Hard. After the Skaven game I was feeling a bit bored, and unsure if I was going to keep playing. Then, on a whim, I started up an Undead game (Mortal Empires) on Legendary, and got my ass kicked. It was great.

Legendary difficulty is not only harder in terms of the rules, but is also forced Iron-Man mode, meaning you can’t save and reload. This is especially important to keep not just the difficulty up, but the tension. The game is no longer about correctly beating a single battle or having a good turn, but about managing the larger picture at all times. Without Iron Man, if you made a mistake a few turns ago, like say sending your main army in the wrong direction, you can simply go back to an older save and ‘fix’ that mistake, right? And while that keeps your game going, it really just covers up the fact that you made a mistake, and you aren’t likely to learn from it.

The same basic principle applies to everything else in the game. On lesser difficulties, if you manage your settlements in a non-optimal way, you might not notice, since you can brute force past the inefficiency. It’s only when every little decision counts, and you are surviving by the skin of your teeth turn to turn, that you really take the time to realize its sometimes NOT the right decision to upgrade something, or that you really shouldn’t just build the same stuff in every town because it seems to be working.

The increased challenge also applies to battles. In an easier game, if you win that’s usually enough. In a life-or-death game, HOW you win is also critical. You likely can’t afford to be sloppy and lose a unit, and the cleaner you win a battle, the more likely you are to survive the next one, as you no longer have the luxury of just sitting around for an extra turn to recover. Suddenly you start paying more attention to the fact that spear units are good vs larger enemies, see the real value in skirmish archers, and protect your higher tier and veteran units like precious gifts. You start to really agonize over how to specialize your heroes and lords, and getting a good magical items isn’t a ‘hey neat’ event, but something that can actually turn your game around.

Finally, the fact that you do start over when a game goes south, rather than reload a few turns back, hammers home how many important decisions you make each turn. I’ve now restarted a Skaven campaign a dozen times, and due to that have seen just how much small changes in how you do things have a big impact down the road.

Don’t rob yourself of quality entertainment and being able to see all the little details developers have put into their games, play on hard!

Posted in Random | 2 Comments

Fallout76 is a real Fallout game!

Perhaps its just me, but was this the first E3 in years that mattered? Perhaps in years past big news happened for console plebs, but this year a lot of big announcements happened for the master race. The biggest two for me are the details about Fallout76, and the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6.

The ES6 announcement is important for two reasons. One, it finally puts to rest the idea that since ESO exists, we can’t have a real ES game. Two, I think the fact that it was announced means ES6 is further along than most are predicting right now. Not this year of course, but it would not shock me if we see ES6 in 2019. Bethesda traditionally doesn’t do the whole ‘announce game, release in 5 years’ bit.

I’m thrilled about the info we got for Fallout76. I’m glad that ‘leak’ about the game being Fallout ARK was wrong. I’m glad Fallout76 is a ‘real’ Fallout game. And I think I get where the multiplayer thing is going. In all Fallout games, you always had a companion, right? I think (hope) that the twist here is rather than an NPC companion, the game is designed around your companions (now more than one) being real people. I’m perfectly fine with that, for a number of reasons.

They stated you can play solo, which means content isn’t hard-coded to be played with others. That’s good. They also said the game doesn’t support hundreds of players, so there won’t be a focus on content designed for a large number of people. That’s also good and more along the lines of traditional Fallout content. They didn’t say if PvP was in the game at all, but I suspect it might be a ‘tacked on’ feature for people who want to enable it, which itself might be worth messing around with if the basebuilding and shooting gameplay are improved over Fallout 4.

Right now I expect that Fallout76 will be a game that I will enjoy solo, and potentially also play it co-op with a friend or the wife (we have been looking for a game to play together for a long time now). I’m debating getting the collectors edition too. That glow-in-the-dark map is pretty sweet, and I do have some shelf space for that helmet…

Posted in Fallout 3, Mass Media, The Elder Scrolls Online | 11 Comments