Archive for the ‘Player Culture’ Category

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What’s with the Steam hate?

January 21, 2010

Steam is bad? Did I miss something?

So after getting a little addicted to playing Global Agenda and writing a few pieces on the subject for Massively, I started to notice this really odd wave of comments that actually confused me — people who refused to play GA because it was Steam exclusive.  They didn’t want to install Steam or deal with it, because they felt it was getting in the way of their gaming experience.

Some of the comments they had about it were absolutely venomous, such as how it hogged system resources, performed bad installs, updated games slowly, and was generally unwieldy.  When I was reading their comments, I felt like I had gone back in time to the year 2004, when Steam first came into mainstream use with Half-Life 2, and the first “Steam Controversy” was born.

In fact, just as I’m writing this article, I went over and checked the Wikipedia entry on Steam.  Holy shit, talk about being biased.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, Steam is a buggy piece of crap that ruins video games, steals money from developers, and demands the sacrifice of first born children to the “My Games” tab before a game can be run.

Yet, even as I’m typing, Steam is running comfortably in the background, doing whatever it is that it does in the background.  When I want to run a game, I open Steam, double click on the game, and it runs.  Beyond that, Steam offers me some amazing, amazing, amazing deals on games that I’d like to play.  Deals that go above and beyond their 10% discount on a game when you pre-order it.  From the Steam Holiday Sale alone, I was able to buy nice gifts for all of my friends, add 10 more games to my arsenal, and not spend more than 100 bucks for all of it.  The amount of money that I’ve saved through using Steam as my distribution service is just amazing.

So, let me try to wrap my head around some of these reasons for why you shouldn’t use steam.

1. It hogs system resources

So I pulled up the ctrl+alt+delete service menu to see just how much memory Steam takes up when it’s running in the background.  Just so you all know that I’m not making crap up, I put the screenshot off to the side here.  Click it if you need it blown up, as I know it’s pretty tiny.  But, even with the visual evidence, let me break it down for you.

Steam, in this photo, is taking up 8,680k of my memory.  Compare that against Skype, which is taking up 12,236k, iTunes, which is taking up 32,976k, Thunderbird, which is taking a hefty 46,308k, and Google Chrome, the “lightweight browser” that’s taking up a whopping 53,328k over two processes.  For one instance of Google Chrome, I could run Steam six times.  So don’t tell me that Steam is hogging your precious resources, unless you’re running on a really, really small amount of RAM.  I’m running on 2 GB, personally, and Steam does not impact how my games run.

Shit, the only reason I was running iTunes in this screenshot was because I was playing Burnout: Paradise.  And even while running iTunes, Steam, Google Chrome, and Thunderbird, Burnout: Paradise still ran at 60 FPS with everything turned on high.  Don’t tell me Steam ruins how your game runs.

2.  Steam ruins installs

I have 36 games on Steam.  Not one has misinstalled in the entire 4 year history of me using the program.  Either I’m incredibly lucky, or Steam isn’t a rabid misinstaller.

Oh, and if you’re talking about how Steam automatically updates games when the developer pushes out a patch, then that’s not Steam, that’s the developer.  If it updates and breaks your game, I’m sorry, but it really doesn’t happen as often as you want to say it does.  Once again, over my entire history of using Steam (and having 3 different computers, each with a different setup) I’ve never had a game break from an update on Steam.  Ever.

3.  You need to be online to play Steam games

If you’re on dial-up, then this is a legitimate gripe.  It does suck that you have to be online to play a Steam game, as Steam forces game authentication every time you run the game.  However, for the rest of you silly geese who are on broadband, what the fuck are you complaining about?  Sure, this might suck for those of you who have bandwidth caps in other countries, but I don’t see Steam pulling down that much bandwidth when I’m playing.  It’s very light on the bandwidth if you’re not playing an online game.

If you’re in the US, you most likely can’t gripe because we really don’t have bandwidth caps around here.  I’m constantly connected to the internet thanks to the wonderful advent of cable internet.  I’m always online.  If I wasn’t online, I’d pretty much go insane.

Lastly, if you’re bitching about adding Steam and you’re adding it to play an online game, like Global Agenda, then go fuck yourself.  “I have to be online to use Steam” is not a valid excuse when the game you’re playing IS ONLINE ONLY ANYWAYS.

4.  You can’t sell Steam games back to the retailer or to someone else

No, and you can’t sell PC games to GameStop either.  If you don’t want to use Steam because you want to sell your games, then just don’t use Steam.  But for online only games (like Global Agenda) then you really can’t resell the game anyway because it’s tied to your account.  Once again, go fuck yourself. *smiles and thumbs up*

5. Steam is a trojan horse

Thanks alot, Direct2Drive, for making this really shitty comparison.  Sorry that your download service doesn’t offer a community panel, IM and voice chat services, automatic updates that don’t suck, and competitive deals.

Steam is not a trojan horse.  If anything, steam (and integrating games into Steamworks) lets developers utilize Steam’s anti-cheat platform, their auto-update functionality, matchmaking and lobbies functions, and the very cool Steam Cloud which lets you keep your game saves and profiles online and take them wherever you go.  As long as you’re logged into Steam, you get your games and your saves.  Very cool.

So, if you’re still into hating Steam, then you’re still pretty much stuck in 2004.  If you still really don’t want to use the program, then my advice is to just not use it and shut up about it.  Go off to Direct2Drive or go shop at GameStop — you still have those options.

As for me, I’ll be enjoying the Steam Cloud and my legion of affordable games.

~Sera

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Gaming Journalism vs. Real Journalism vs. Media Journalism

January 13, 2010

So there seems to be this interesting wave going through the blogging community regarding the state of gaming journalism.  It seems to be the usual “gaming journalists aren’t real journalists because they have opinions” tomfoolery that seems to rise and fall every once in a while.  It’s not the first time that this subject has come up, and it certainly won’t be the last.

But sitting down to think about it got me on an interesting train of thought — one where I actually began to think about gaming journalism against topics like “real journalism,” aka, news, and journalism that focuses explicitly on media forms.  Not “the media” mind you… journalism that centers on the entertainment industry or perhaps books.

Now, mind you, I’m in a very lucky position.  I have training as a “real journalist” thanks to my college writing track and I work for a MMO news website where we take pride in our integrity and, for the most part, post our news articles (not our op-ed columns) without bias.  We say what happens, we try to make it interesting to read, and that’s it.

Yet, even with our stances, you wouldn’t believe how many times we’re accused of being opinionated in our news posts, or how many times we’re yelled at by a reader for “manipulating” them with yellow journalism.  And that leads me to the problem that separates our news from other media outlets — fanboyism.

Make no mistake — we’re a culture founded on being competitive.  Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to World of Warcraft and beyond, we love trying to one up one another.  We’ve always taken our competitions to more meta-grounds, such as our irrational need to proclaim one game as “vastly superior” to another.  (See: World of Warcraft vs. Aion vs. Warhammer vs. Whatever Floats Your Boat.  The odd need to proclaim a game as shit.)  I personally thinks that this taints our view of our media in two ways: from the staff side and from the reader side.

Let me, first of all, back up Brian “PsychoChild” Green‘s assessment of my sister site — Joystiq.  When they wrote up their notice that Near Death Studios was going under, their post was a little caustic for a rote news article.  (Especially when you compare it to Massively’s coverage, and we’re sister sites.)  Obviously Randy Nelson was using Joystiq’s standard style of being slight cheeky and acidic in every post, but it seems to resonate harshly in this article.  These are the times when fanboyism is very clear and very unwelcome in a journalistic style.  Now, I can’t fault Randy… what he wrote is simply the site’s style and he stuck to it.  It works for them and it gains them readers, but it does certainly taint the idea of rote journalism for the rest of us.

However, the side that people aren’t noting or talking about is the stupid shit I have to listen to every day when we at Massively try to do our jobs professionally and to a more neutral standard.  When we talk about all of the games that surround us, we get accused of being biased simply because we talked about X game.  If we talk about a smaller game, obviously we’re being paid off by a developer to talk about it, such as when we cover Eskil Steenberg’s Love.  Other times, if we cover a story that negatively affects a company, we’re being the big evil media site who’s out to smash the little guy.

Honestly, when I and the rest of the staff pick up a story, we do it because we believe it to be newsworthy and of interest to our target audience.  The two key tenants of our target audience.  Hell, we even make sure that we’re trying to talk about all games in the industry, even the ones that people don’t exactly love to death.  Why?  Because that’s what being fair means — we give page space to everyone.  Is it always equal page space?  No, because not all games generate news at an equal rate. Yet, because our audience reacts with a very competitive edge and hates to see anyone offend their game of choice, we are accused of “assumed bias.”

In short, what I’m saying is that the nature of our very culture taints how we read our news.  Because of how opinionated we get as a culture, when others talk rationally, we see that as opinionated out of a defensive mechanism.  It’s really unfortunate.

As to comparing our journalism to physical news coverage or entertainment news, it’s extremely hard.  Physical news coverage doesn’t have the same level of opinion contained within it.  You can’t say, “Man, I loved it when they covered that presidential election.  That presidential election was the best sequel ever.”  People don’t have that same type of reaction to the news.  News happens, you talk about it to others, and that’s that.  You can’t undo what actually happened.  (You can spin it, however… and that’s what so many “real media” outlets are being accused of nowadays — heavy spin.)

As to entertainment news, once again, we don’t have that same type of rivalry with movie companies.  You usually don’t say, “Shit!  Guillermo Del Toro is way more badass than Peter Jackson!” or “Lord of the Rings really kicked Harry Potters ass.  Harry Potter shouldn’t even be in the fantasy genre.  Who the fuck subscribes to that shit anymore?”  What happens is that people go out, view the movie, form an opinion if they liked it or not, and go on their way.  Case closed.  They don’t compare and contrast (even the critics) nearly as much as we do in the gaming industry.  We, in the industry, feel that every freakin’ game needs to be compared to some other game in that genre and how it’s either X much better or X much worse.  And I’m not saying we do it as critics… players do this every single day without even thinking about it.  We’re all freakin’ critics around here.  Competitive critics who have to be right.

But even the entertainment news has problems… how many times do we call them “Rag Magazines” when they pry into the personal lives of actors and actresses?  How much is that media industry stained with useless gossip that most people brush off as petty?

So let me finish out with this clear cut statement — stop fucking comparing game journalism to other forms of journalism, as if you’re putting other forms of journalism on a pedestal.  They all have their problems and it all comes down to people, as a group, calling every form of media “opinionated and biased.”  Someone says the gaming media is tainted with opinion and bias.  Someone else says mainstream media is full of spin and mistruths.  And someone else calls entertainment media a bunch of petty star chasers or unreliable critics.

Guess what everyone?  All this tells us is that we’re all opinionated and we’re all biased. Whoops.

~Sera

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It’s fantasy, and I can indulge in it

November 28, 2009

My Avatar -- 100% not like me and 110% impossible IRL

After writing this week’s Anti-Aliased and looking at all of the comments (and how many hits it’s getting, hoo-boy) I started to think about how all of this pertains to me as a person.  Why did I choose this argument?  Why am I not offended by women with huge knockers?  What does this say about me as a trandgendered person?  Do I want to be like those women on the video game boxes?

When I looked into myself, I found my answer.  I back up these unrealistic depictions because they are unrealistic depictions.  Shit, I’ve even wrote some into my stories on purpose and I’ve certainly made my share of breast-tastic characters.

In short, I like fantasy because it’s fantasy — nothing more.

I wouldn’t want a cup size of 34FF in real life, but I have to say it’s fun to be able to create something like that and enjoy it temporarily in a virtual world.  Just like I wouldn’t be an extreme, cold-hearted bitch in real life, yet most of my MMO RP characters are cold-hearted bitches.

It’s an escape, and it’s a fun escape.  When we keep trying to see something bad in these things, we’re only really destroying the dreams of ourselves and others.  I guess I put it on the same level as someone who tells me not to read Harry Potter because it’s about witches and warlocks.  It’s silly.  Certainly you may not like it, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read it / make avatars like that / enjoy my imagination.

As an aside — one of the commenters on this week’s Anti-Aliased said that I would be offended if transgendered people were shown in an exaggerated manner in video games, simply because  it would “finally hit home” that exaggerated depictions are bad.

To answer that, um, isn’t that how transgendered people are normally portrayed in the media?  We’re always these super sexy girls who try to lure men into dirty, penis filled traps.  We’re never normal women.  Yet, you don’t see me rioting in the streets over that issue.  Honestly, I’m usually the first one laughing at those jokes because I know it’s exactly not how it is depicted.

Maybe I’m a weird person who isn’t easily offended by anything.  All I know is that I love fantasy.  I love using my imagination to draw up fun characters, and I never, ever want to sacrifice my imagination simply because the masses say I’m wrong.

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I HATE INCONSISTENCY

November 9, 2009
dudewtf

Ummmm... what?

Hey everyone!  Sorry guys, I’ve been so busy with project for Massively and other sources that I just haven’t had time to blog!  I feel bad, because I have a couple things I really wanted to talk about, but I felt that this topic was the best thing I could vent on to get me back in the mood of talking again — Champions microtransactions.

But, I’m afraid that saying that line is surely a misnomer.  I’m not for or against the Champions Online C-Store at heart.   I don’t intend to buy anything out of the shop, even when they gave me 400 points to spend in it thanks to my GameStop pre-order package.  Likewise, I’m kinda happy it’s there, just in case I do need an emergency respec and I don’t feel like earning one or waiting for a free one to be handed out.

No, what I’m pissed about is the inconsistency of people regarding microtransactions.  Specifically: World of Warcraft versus Champions.

I alluded to my opinion briefly in my last Anti-Aliased, but I’m so fired up about this issue that I think it really deserves its own blog post.  I hate the fact that people let World of Warcraft get away with fucking murder while they go off and rail on Champions.

To give my case a visual illustration, I like to compare this to the South Park episode where Cartman tries to use “psychic powers” to catch a serial killer.  While he tries to help the police department, the South Park police keep missing the HORRIBLY CREEPY DUDE standing in the bikini and blood covered poncho at every crime scene.  They even sometimes stare at the real killer, only to brush him off while they persecute someone else because Cartman said they were the killer.

Warcraft has come out with 10 dollar pets.  10 FUCKING dollar pets.  Not one dollar, not two dollars, no 10 fucking dollars.  I don’t know any virtual pet you could possibly offer me that’s worth 10 dollars of my cash.  It’s a disgustingly high price point, yet people are sitting there and staring at these stupid pets saying, “You know, I really kinda want that.”  Warcraft’s allure and “OMGMMO” status are somehow blinding people from noticing how ungodly expensive this is when compared to…

Champions Online.  The same Champions Online that outraged people when they offered extra costumes at 3 dollars a set.  Or action figure vanity pets for 2 dollars.  Or, even worse, the favoribly priced $12.50 retcon.  No, somehow this game is trying to steal all of your hard earned cash so Cryptic can roll around with it in their pool of money.

No one seems to notice WoW sitting over there, happily peddling 20 dollar server transfers, 30 dollar faction changes, or these stupid 10 dollar pets on top of their 15 dollar a month subscription.  Everyone’s too busy being outraged over Cryptic asking people for 2 bucks on top of their subscription fees.  I even brought this up in Anti-Aliased, and people were blinded enough to tell me that “What WoW offered wasn’t the same as microtransactions.”

I’m sorry, you’re right.  IT COSTS MORE THAN “MICRO” IN WARCRAFT.

But these are the same people who denounce microtransaction item stores.  The same people who spew forth the notion that MTs ruin the quality of the game because developers are too busy putting their work into making MT items and not the game itself.

They don’t care (or notice) that Cryptic only offered five new costumes and a few icon sets versus the 5 events, new monsters, brand new powerset (Celestial powers), new PvP battleground, and new world PvP introduced in Blood Moon.  Not to mention the changes to the game’s weather and skybox to make the place look absolutely creepy.  Somehow, those 5 whole costumes detracted from Blood Moon’s content, even when Blood Moon offered way more than most holiday events.

Let me be clear — I don’t fight for Cryptic because I’m some rabid fangirl of Champions Online or because I’m getting “paid off” by them.  I fight for them because I think they’re getting the short end of the stick when it comes to public opinion.  I fight for them because I find the lengths people go to somehow denounce them insane, especially when World of Warcraft does the same damn thing Champions did, only 10 times worse, and everyone’s ok with it.

Do I sound like a broken record at this point?  Probably, but I keep saying this shit in different ways because if I don’t, some idiot is going to come in here and attempt to contradict me because I didn’t cover all my bases.  So let me be clear one last time.

HATE THE COMPANY THAT IS COMPLETELY RIPPING YOU OFF, NOT THE ONE THAT’S MILDLY RIPPING YOU OFF.  OR, BETTER YET, HATE THEM BOTH.  HAVE SOME DAMN CONSISTENCY, PLEASE.

*clears throat and walks off*

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Dragon*Con City of Heroes Panel — Courtesy CoH Podcast!

October 18, 2009

So Chooch and Viv from the CoH Podcast have gotten their audio of the City of Heroes panel at Dragon*Con up on their website!  It’s pretty epic, as I got to chair the discussion because I was apparently the most knowledgeable one there about the game.  But, it was an honor to be in a room with so many great people.  The City of Heroes fanbase is TREMENDOUSLY AWESOME, and I can’t stress that enough.

But, before I go any further, I need to get some stuff out of the way:

First of all, GIGANTIC THANKS to Douglas Allan from the Paragonian Knights and Mark Brinkman from Central Nexus.  Without those two helping with the panel, I would have been screwed.  They came on at the last minute, unprepared, and did a killer job with answering everyone’s questions and offering insightful commentary on the fly.  THANKS SO MUCH!!!!! ❤

Second of all, big thanks to Chooch and Viv for coming by the City of Heroes panel at Dragon*Con 2009 and recording it.  It was an awesome idea as there was some seriously great discussion during that panel.

So, without further ado, if you want to listen to the panel and pretend you’re at Dragon*Con, go jump over to CoH Podcast’s site and listen in on their latest podcast!

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Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

October 16, 2009
Squak!

Squak!

So I jumped into the MAG pre-order beta today.  I can’t say anything about the game thanks to an NDA agreement that’s in place right now, but I can certainly still bitch about the community — an aspect of the game that has really nothing to do with the game.

Raven Corporation.  They’re idiots.  No, really, they are.

Now, normally I don’t believe forumfallout.  People say silly things, like “Raven Corporation really sucks.”  (For those of you who don’t know, when you start up MAG, you have three factions to choose from — VALOR, Raven Corporation, and Seryi Volk Executive Response (S.V.E.R.).  Raven is the technologically correct European faction, VALOR is made up of ex-US Military who are looking for work in the private sector as mercs, and S.V.E.R. is the biggest bunch of rag tag Russians with guns you can get in one place outside of Moscow.)

I heard them decrying the faction I was interested in, but I really didn’t care.  Raven looks crazy awesome technological, they wear all black, and plus you can make so many awesome bird names for your clan.  Steel Talon Company, Razor Wing Division, Blackbeak Company — those names sound awesome.

So I kept reading the forums, like the silly person I am.  I began reading the threads that said things like, “S.V.E.R. stands for Super Vicious, Eats Raven.”  Or how VALOR made sure that Raven remembered they were French.  It was a hardcore hate on Raven fest.  Geesh, why bag on Raven so bad, right?

Well, I’ll tell you why bag on Raven so bad.   Holy. Shit.  Dumb.

Of a squad of 8 people tonight, 3 of us were actively TRYING TO DO THINGS.  The other 5 were picking their noses at the spawn point.  S.V.E.R. didn’t win two matches in a row because they were good — they won because it’s really easy to overwhelm a team when half of their people are AFK.  Crap, I was holding S.V.E.R. off of our position during one match using a sniper rifle at close range, unscoped, while running.  I got five kills doing that.  Five.

This is, of course, not counting the lovely way people would drift in front of our APC when we were driving into the battlefield.  The ones who had headsets would then bitch when we ran them over, and our squad leader would say the same thing every time — “Here’s an idea, DON’T WALK IN FRONT OF THE APC.”  This wasn’t rocket science.  When you hear the loud engine behind you and you hear the horn, you get off the road.  Ta daa.

I would forgive them if they got run over once or twice.  Or if the APC was moving really fast and they couldn’t get out of the way in time.  Nope.  It wasn’t either of those things.  The APC was moving very slowly, sometimes turning, and they would walk right in front of it.  Duh.  Duh duh duh.

So, to be honest, I’m not making this post to scare people away from Raven Corporation.  No.  Not at all.  I’m making this post because I would like SMART TEAMMATES.  So if you think you’re halfway decent at FPSes and you promise not to be a complete tool… PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF CAKE JOIN RAVEN.

That’s about it.

(Also… if anyone wants to make a clan… let me know.  I’d like to make a group of intelligent Raven Corporation players. :D)

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I bought Darkfall

July 14, 2009

Like I said yesterday… I’m sorry.

I’m on the North American server. I like to think that it makes a world of difference.

Will be posting up impressions when I have them.

So far all I can say is that I got called “a dumb cunt” in the first two minutes of gameplay. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.