28 June 2012

Self-entitled giant fart of a human

And so the circle was complete. Destruction rained down and everything was laid clean.... Oh, wait, you're still in the period before the divine wrath!

So, John Walker, of RockPaperShotgun fame has decided that its in his remit as "serious PC game journalist" to ridicule and disparage anyone with a differing opinion to his own. This article has nothing but superficial analysis of the improvements given by Bioware's re-release of the ending of Mass Effect 3 and instead mostly houses a completely open malevolence towards those who are truly critical of games (certainly not the games press!). At the same time, those whose reactions were unwarranted were succinctly lumped in with those which were actually pretty reasonable - giving John a x4 combo in dismissing the majority of adult conversation in order to concentrate on the minority who wanted the firstborn of each Bioware employee. I mean, it's Daily Mail stuff - completely playing to the lowest common denominator. Worst still, it's depressing and insulting to see this drivel posted on RPS and it reads like his emotional attachment to a game or studio overrode his critical thinking and analysis.

 I acknowledge there were plot holes, perhaps even mistakes, but not being a self-entitled giant fart of a human, I find that I’m able to accept that the ending of something does not have to meet my preconceived expectations, nor wrap up everything I’ve encountered in a neat bow – heck, I can even hate it – without requiring it be changed

You know, I don't think that if you disagree or are unhappy with a product or piece of art means that you require it to be changed. In fact, I distinctly remember seeing that it was a tiny minority of the ME3 consumers who were asking for the changes. The rest just ridiculed the endings because of their plot holes, their literary failings and general lack of effort. Those people did not accept the endings as they were produced or offered.... and yet are not part of those hateful bastardised demons that deviate from my worldview.... oh, wait. SORRY! I seem to have gotten myself confused with John Walker. What I meant to say was that you can be unhappy or criticise a work of art or product based on its merit and worthiness and that approach does not undermine your personal feelings on that product or piece of art. You could even state, for the record, that you would do it differently or that you would prefer that it was done in such and such a way.... and that would not impact negatively on your ability to comment on the situation.

Worse still, I'm not seeing the "giant f-you" that Mr Walker writes about. Bioware explained some stuff and left their original things in place just like they said they woul-Oh wait, they actually provided a cop-out "f-you starchild" option just like many people asked for.... Okay, let's not dwell on this point.

They always mostly did, in fairness. A lot of people seemed to come unstuck here because the Catalyst contradicted himself, and his arguments were flawed. Guess what: the Catalyst contradicted himself, and his arguments were flawed. A creature with near infinite power done fucked up, and it’s Shepard’s appearance on the platform with him that reveals this. It’s why you get to choose.

Yeah, I don't buy it. A flawed argument is flawed regardless of whether you or any protagonist is around to hear it. This is the equivalent of the tree falling in a forest making a sound if no one hears it, argument. If we take the universe at face value - if we decide that we are scientists - then we know that the tree always makes a sound because of the friction and interplay between its components during the fall and in the impact with the ground. In the same way, any race that was able to build a robotic race would have been capable of logic. The starchild's arguments are devoid of logic - demonstratably so.... this is not the case of an all-powerful being shown to be flawed, it's the equivalent of a newbie programmer having a static number reported for a random number generator.... aka The Sony Mistake.

This is the instrument of an author who does not understand logic and who does not understand an emotional moment within a storyline. Emotional moments, those in which the protagonist prevails against the "other" in a test of wits and language are based on logic and they are also based on being able to converse with the same metrics and languages. This doesn't happen in the Starchild exchange. It is revealed that the mastermind behind the whole reaper movement is loony, illogical and immature. None of those attributes would ever be associated with a robotic or synthetic race. It just doesn't make any sense.

I think BioWare have done an absolutely stunning job here. They’ve maintained their integrity and their vision, they’ve stuck to the ending they wanted to tell, but they’ve been contrite enough to fix genuine mistakes. They’ve embellished upon what they already had, and in doing so have made things feel more meaningful without tying stupid bows to every thread. They’ve clearly spent a fortune doing it, and it’s yours for free.

Yet, if they had done this in the first place would there have been as much of an outcry? There's an argument to be made that they released the game with the ending half-baked. Having people hail the new ending as the better version only validates this. The old ending was incomplete, regardless of how you felt emotionally... otherwise, logically, you would not feel as John felt in that last paragraph above.

7 June 2012

The worth of IP...

Pursuant to this article and this commentary on the article, I've got some thoughts on the expectation of your customers and the worth of IP:

On the other side of the coin, I can’t help agree with him somewhat on this point: “ Also what Steam does might be teaching the customer that “I might not want it in the first month, but if I look at it in four or five months, I’ll get one of those weekend sales and I’ll buy it at that time at 75 percent off.”

If this is a problem then it's another sign of the software and game industries thinking they are special and above all other commodities and services businesses ever in existence in the world. Plenty of people see a price and think - well, i'll get it when it gets cheaper.... And we think like that, not because we're trained to think like that through experiencing sales; we think like that because that's what happens in life. Things get cheaper over time - they get older, less relevant (yes, even software) and are therefore worth less in value.

Not to mention that the whole concept that IP is worth whatever the creator/publisher thinks it's worth is complete and utter rubbish. Whatever you create, whatever you make - it's only worth what people are willing to pay for it. I think a song i just wrotre (i'm making this up, now) is worth €100 per listen - it's just that god damn awesome! However, I can guarantee you that no one in their right mind would pay that price for that experience (well, okay maybe some rich people with questionable mental acuity might)...

Back to digital releases: By definition, DRMed, time-limited software you buy on Steam, Origin and any other digital distro is worth less because you don't control it. I could, if i wanted, still play Doom on my computer - I have the data, I have the disc (and diskettes). They're on me, they're my responsibility. I also have the Steam copy of Doom too.... but if Steam goes down, closes doors/shutters then I can't play it, it's gone. It's their responsibility. That automatically devalues the hell out of what I'm willing to pay for something.

So, dear Reader, I put it to you that it is not the sales that are training us to want or expect to pay less... it's the quality of the experiences we're slowly getting as digital comes into its full glory. All those shut-down music services.... all those shuttered online portions of games (that are apparently so integral to the experience!).... DRM schemes that break, stop us from playing our games or just generally degrade the experience. We learn and we remember our treatment, our experiences.

Want to complain about consumers wanting to pay less for your product? Then make sure the product you're offering is worth to the consumer what you want them to pay for it.