Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – But Can You Do It Like This?

No one is attempting to do what we are doing, in the manner we are doing it, nor being as open about as we are.

Chris Roberts, October Letter from the Chairman

As reported over at Massively OP, Star Citizen having crossed the $200 million mark for crowd funding go a message from Chris Roberts about reaching that milestone.

In his post he warns people not to reduce his project down to just that $200 million number, though that is the attention getting headline for most news sites.

He spends some time going on about the current state of alpha and the upcoming sixth anniversary event of the end of the original Kickstarter campaign (and the fourth anniversary of failing to meet the project deadline set by that Kickstarter I suppose) before getting into thanking everybody for believing in him and his project.

But the paragraph that stands out the most for me is the one that ends with the quote above.  Something about it does not ring true to me.

Is how you build a video game so important that you want to call it out?

I mean, I suppose there are extremes to compare it against.  Mark Pincus has told the tale of all he did to promote FarmVille, a game idea which, among other things, he pretty much stole from another developer.  So I guess saying you’re not as shitty as that is good, though if you’re selling inaccessible real estate and pictures of ship models people might be able to fly at some future date for a game that is in alpha, you are not exactly going to come of as a paragon of virtue, no matter how pure your intentions.

But I don’t think that is what he meant.

I think he was more about how they’re doing this whole project in front of a live audience, sharing details, promised, setbacks, and the reality of software development.  I guess that is something to brag about, though so is writing a novel while on a unicycle or while sitting at a desk while it is on fire.  That you can complete the task is interesting, but you have to ask if it was a method that yielded the best possible output.

People are impatient, the world is changing around you, and most of the audience has no idea how programming remains much more art than science these days.  Sometimes it is better to go off and work on something for a long stretch, then come back when you have some sort of solid foundation.

As for nobody being as open, I think Mark Jacobs and the Camelot Unchained team might have some words on that.

Quote of the Day – The Dumbest Thing Ever Said About PvP

Is combat really fair?

Good god no, you could place a 10yr old player and a brand new player in the same ship, same fittings, same ammo, same rigs and say “go go”. The new player would be dead in seconds…

-Evocationz Adhera, Will Eve Online ever really match any other MMO? Honestly, No.

If skill, experience, and knowledge of the game aren’t supposed to lend you advantage, then what is left?  Should the random number generator determine all outcomes?  Seriously, what else is there that should determine the outcome of PvP, all other things being equal?

Evocationz Adhera is, to use the term of art for the genre, salty about EVE Online.

EVE is, of course, dying, a state of affairs that has been ongoing since not too long after launch.  In fact, we’ll be celebrating the 15th annual “EVE is Dying Day!” in just over a month.

First known occurrence of “EVE is Dying”

But if the devs would only listen Evocationz Adhera has all the answers on how to fix the game… not one of which hasn’t been brought up and thrashed out dozens of times in the past.  But the amateur outsider always knows better than the devs who’ve run a game successfully for a decade and a half, right?

Okay, yes, there are days when CCP doesn’t seem to be fully aware of what the hell is going on in their game as the combined intellect of the player base finds the loopholes in the system a few devs and designers missed.  But some random player complaining that EVE will never compare to WoW and RuneScape is making an exceedingly false comparison. (Not to mention failing to note how many MMOs went down the WoW path and never even hit EVE Online levels of subscribers.)

EVE Online is a PvP game.  CCP has been very clear on that.  Compare EVE Online to other PvP MMOs and it has done very well. 15 years online and having hit a peak of over half a million subscribers puts it well ahead of perennial sandbox favorites like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, both of which tried to change course after launch and yet failed to achieve WoW-like numbers either.

CCP has been pretty clear that they are never going to make any area of space completely safe.  CCP isn’t doing this out of caprice, but because their data say that people who wander off and play the mission running game, the primary PvE element, generally don’t stick around for the long term.

New Player Trajectory

The details were explained at Fanfest 2014 (recorded here) where it was noted that somebody who gets ganked in high sec is actually more likely to stick with the game.

Which isn’t to say some things are not broken.  War Decs have been a bleeding sore for the nearly dozen years I have been playing and no change made has ever made it much better.  Even long time veterans start thinking about change… when they lose something I guess.  You can go peruse /r/eve or the forums and find many things people are complaining about.  But CCP isn’t avoiding radical change because they are ignoring they’re player base.  They are avoiding it because one player’s radical improvement is another player’s game ending move.  That is the problem with the sandbox.  There isn’t a limited set of viable paths in the game, but a multitude of ways to play and killing one in the name of another is always a risk.

And, honestly, EVE is dying.  But it isn’t dying because high sec isn’t safe.  It is dying because it is old and suffers from an accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of old vets.  It is dying because, as a PvP MMO, it has a limited audience to begin with.  It is dying because most people ever likely to invest the considerable time and effort needed to get good at it have already come and gone.  It is dying for the same reason every game dwindles as it ages, people have played it enough and moved on.  Even World of Warcraft is in decline.  Nothing lasts forever.

MMOs are Bizarro World oddities in video games, expecting to live on for years and keep people’s attention in a market that favors new titles.

Anyway, Evocationz Adhera’s comments are hardly new or very moving and seem steeped in resentment.  I feel like you get to the real nugget at the end of the post.

Take me for instance, 3 years of Eve Online videos, not once has CCP plugged me. It seem’s CCP cares about money and not it’s player base.

I’m going to guess that is the real salt.  Anyway, Evocationz Adhera is looking to provoke, yet cannot abide disagreement, deleting my comment taking issue with a few items in their post.  That, of course, is the real tell, somebody complaining about others not listening to them yet having no interest in hearing from anybody else.  What goes around comes around I suppose.

Addendum: Since the post to which I linked was addressed to #tweetfleet in the title, it has gotten some additional reactions:

Quote of the Day – Satire is Dead

Always predict the worst and you’ll be hailed as a prophet.

-Tom Lehrer, quoting a friend

I don’t have an agenda when it comes to Steam.  I tend to take it as it is in my own fatalistic way.  But sometimes this stuff writes itself.

The Timeline:

Thursday – Anything goes on Steam, even if we hate it.  The only exceptions are things that are illegal or straight up trolling.

Saturday – Well, yes, there may be some correlation between things we don’t like and what we’re going to call trolling.

Monday – Hey, we’re bringing Steam to the People’s Republic of China!

Yes, because of the laws there Valve won’t actually own Steam in China.  Their partner, Perfect World Entertainment will be the majority shareholder.

Still I just find it a strange and/or amusing bit of timing to have the company go from declaring openness one day to lending their name to a service in China, where the game lineup will be anything but open, just a few days later.

I’m hoping the next thing I write about Steam will be in regards to the summer sale.

Quote of the Day – The Trolling Loophole

We rejected Active Shooter because it was a troll, designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence…

-Doug Lombardi, Interview with Ars Technica

Earlier in the week we saw the blog post from Steam announcing its new “anything goes” policy towards what sort of games will be allowed on the service.  I wrote about that myself and linked out to just about everybody else who did as well.

For me the most outrageous aspect of the whole thing was probably Steam’s line on whether allowing a game on their service constituted an endorsement of that game and its content and, whether you can take seriously their personal rejection of a controversial or offensive game while they also take a cut of the sales price.  There is, at best, a conflict of interest there and, at worst, a transparent and hypocritical attempt to protect their reputation from the consequences of their choices.  Because, in the end, Steam makes those choices and profits from them.

The only thing things that would keep a game of Steam with this new policy would be actual illegality or “straight up trolling.”

Determining what is legal is a minefield in and of itself given the number of jurisdictions Steam serves.  And we have already seen discreet jurisdictions that believe their laws apply to the whole world.  So at the end of my last post on the topic I wondered if this alone might cause Steam’s policy to remain effectively unchanged.

What I tended to discount was the concept of “straight up trolling.”  After all, what is trolling?  It seems to mean different things to different people.  How far does somebody have to go to be a troll.  I see people get called trolls for seemingly innocuous things or for even just disagreeing with people.  So where would Valve stand on trolling?  What does the word mean to them?

Well, we got some insight into that in the article linked at the top.  The game Active Shooter won’t be making it onto Steam because it falls into the troll category.  Is this Steam’s out?  Will they be able to vote their conscience by declaring things they don’t like as trolls?  Will anything controversial end up tagged as such?

I suspect Valve is going to be pressed as to what constitutes a troll.  There are some hints in that article, but nothing like a firm line drawn to separate the trolls from the flock.  I mean, if you’re going to make “zero effort cash grab” a measure, I’m going to point at some titles already on the store and ask how they’re still allowed.

I also strongly suspect that Valve will never want to, or perhaps even be able to, make a definitive set of rules as to what makes the cut and what does not.  In part, that is due to how humans behave.  The moment you draw a line somebody will step right up to it just to test you.  This is why EULAs and Terms of Service documents for online games always give the game companies an out, a free hand to punish or ban people for circumstances unforeseen, and why the rules of conduct are almost always annoyingly vague.

Which brings me back to their blog post earlier in the week.  Why bother sapping their credibility with claims that they’ll let games on their service that they’ll hate as much as some of their players if, in the end, they’re as like as not still going to refuse the same games after the policy change as they did before?

Quote of the Day – We Just Work Here

The Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate and don’t think should exist…

-Erik Johnson, Who Gets to be on the Steam Store

It has come to this.  In the face of some questions and minor controversies Valve has decided that they won’t judge what goes on their Steam service.  Aside from items that are “…are illegal, or straight up trolling…” anything goes on Steam now.

I have to admit that my initial gut reaction was one of surprise at the idea that the barrier to entry for getting a game on Steam could be any lower or, in a situation where something like 35 new titles show up on the service every day (up from 25 a day in 2017), that more titles would in any way be better for anybody.  The Steam store is already full of titles I don’t think should exists, not because they offend me, but because they are just poorly conceived and badly executed.  Adding the loathsome and offensive is not going make things better.

I suppose I can appreciate Valve’s issue.  The whole Steam thing seems to have gotten away from them.  It has gone from a service to host their games to DRM for some quality titles like Civilization V to a way for some select outsiders to get onto a popular online service to a desire to be the biggest source of unfiltered video garbage games on the internet pretty fast as the platform seems to be an unending source of success (and revenue) for Valve, to the point that they just don’t make games anymore so far as I can tell.

They’re a victim, in a way, of their own success and now the idea that they can police every bit of software is daunting as subjective decisions can’t be made by Gabe, or people who report directly to Gabe, or people who report to people who report to Gabe any more.  Now there are a bunch of people, distant from the core of the company, charged with making value judgements that no doubt vary wildly with the personal context and experience of each individual.

You probably have to either reign things in drastically or just let go at this point.

Still, I don’t buy into everything they’re saying.  This for example:

It also means that the games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve’s values

That is going to prove to be some prime, grade A bullshit in the long run.  If you sell porn, cigarettes, or alcohol in a store that you own, if you make money off of those items, while claiming that they don’t reflect your values, that is a straight up self-deluded evasion.  The owner of the store doesn’t get to distance themself from the items they sell like it was all happening to somebody else.  At best, it says that money is all you value.  Cashing the checks while saying you don’t support something is just hypocrisy.

And since Valve has pretty much declared open season for things that will offend, things that do not reflect their values, I am going to bet that somebody is even now planning to see just how far that sentiment goes.  I hesitate to speculate as to what somebody might try to pass off as a game, but somebody will come up with something so horrible that it will make the press and cast Valve in a bad light.  Some people just want to see the world burn.

And then the policy will change again.  Something will come along that will force them to change.  Something will be bad enough to cause internet level outrage and then the change will be forced upon them.  I give it until September 1, 2018 before something like that happens.

[I’m going to put that in my calendar so I can come back to it if I am wrong.]

[Addendum (June 25, 2018): Since Steam showed just days after this post that they were set to use “trolling” as their loophole to reject games they do not like, I will just admit that this isn’t going to happen right now.  More the fool I for believing them I suppose.]

In the mean time, if I were running Origin, and I could get my mind off of how to screw over the customers for just a bit, I might think about running some easy ads about how “family friendly” the service is relative to the cesspool that is Steam.

I might even think about really pushing a 3rd party program for the service with an eye to maybe poaching some studios from Steam with the promise of both not being lost in the forest of endless titles and being on a wholesome service that doesn’t include whatever edge cases people are going to try to push onto Steam now.

It has come to this, a viable plan to push Origin as a good alternative to Steam.

I will say, if nothing else, that Valve has shown itself to be adaptable in the past and generally doesn’t double down on decisions that go bad.  They might change course before the inevitable bad press, like when they really get down to having to decide what is illegal in every jurisdiction they serve, a problem they cop to in that blog post as well.  It might end up being better to just make some value judgements, protect the brand, and not try to be the sales point for all possible video games.

Also posting about this news from Steam:

 

Quote of the Day – Satan Speaks on Lockboxes

So, gaming industry, if your aim is to bring down the jackboot of government regulation on loot mechanics and destroy what was once a source of joy to millions of gamers, you’re doing a bangup job.

Satan, “guest” post at The Psychology of Video Games

The quote just sums up how lockboxes feel to me, but the real meat is in the five tricks video games can… and have… borrowed from casinos in order to hook people into spending on what is merely a hair’s breadth away from gambling before the law.

Exploiting the holidays isn’t even on the list, thank Overwatch!

Anyway, the linked article is worth a short time it takes to read.  I am sure you will recognize some, if not all, of the practices listed.

Quote of the Day – Sisyphean Task

Devs promise to change Battlefront II until players are happy

-Ars Technica article title

It is the rare headline that gets me to laugh out loud, but this one managed it.

EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II woes around lockboxes and pay to win and the game in general continue unabated.  I’m not keen on EA when they’re having a good day… since a “good day” at EA usually means buying a studio they’ll close down sooner or later or screwing up a long treasured franchise… so this has been amusing to watch from the sidelines.

Fun created here… on an Orca graveyard!

Starting with what seemed to be like a “land war in Asia” grade mistake where players could unlock things either by playing or paying using the same currency, allowing players to immediately calculate an hours/money comparison, made more grievous by having it in a PvP shooter.  So the rage online was epic and the EA response on Reddit became the most down-voted item ever.  Call Guinness, we have another video game record for the books!

EA stuck to their guns… for a bit, then suddenly dropped the price of unlocks by a whopping 75% while trying to put all of this in back in the bottle by promising… well… you can see the quote above.  My immediate reaction on Twitter was:

I guess the devs ought to be familiar with Hell already, working for EA as they do.

At this point EA can only hope to fix enough so that the review scores from the big sites… which are all on hold right now, so the current Meta Critic score of 79 is based on four sites, three of which I would call “minor” and a fourth I haven’t heard of… won’t tank.  But good luck making any of the vocal members of their audience happy at this point.  On that front the pooch has already been well and truly screwed.  Anything short of removing lockboxes completely… and EA won’t ever do that… will fail to meet their stated goal.

Anyway, we shall see if anything is learned here.