Friday, April 25, 2008

On Stardock, EA, and Vegas 2

Imagine if heroes were an even bigger part of WarCraft 3.
this article has a brief on Demigod as well as Stardock in general.

I have had a huge appreciation for Stardock since they avoid bullcrap DRM and provide a good digital distribution platform. The recent success of Sins of a Solar Empire commercially gives me some hope that the market in general shares a lot of my own personal sentiments on how and what we enjoy.

I never understood the "pc gaming is dead" thing since a solid 80% of my game purchases have always been for the PC, but I agree with what they say about the industry being fundamentally broken. Like the bureaucracy civic of Civilization 4, the games industry in general but especially PC gaming has grown into an unwieldy beast of corruption and waste. Sadly, there's no one small group to which all the blame can be delivered; fortunately, it seems that the industry is fed up with having gamers migrate to the 360 and is actually starting to do something about it.

In other news, I maintained some small piece of respect for EA, understanding that most of the hatred is just because they're large, and because of the inherent problems with largeness. This has been more or less shattered by the decision to release the creature creator for $10 (or a limited "free" demo thereof). This is detestable.

I've read some commentary and the discussion always migrates to microtransactions, but listen: it's not a microtransaction if you don't get anything. This tool is useless without the full game and it comes bundled with the full game. EA is offering to give you some of the game a few months earlier if you're willing to pay more for the total game. This is a critical distinction from actually getting something new or unique or otherwise different from the standard box. Shame on EA, and shame on any rubes that end up actually supporting it.

What's worse, they want us to use it. They need content generated by a large and diverse team to pack with the game when it ships, to properly populate the galaxy at launch. They're leveraging the internet, using us to help make their game better. And they expect us to pay money to do so.

Screw you EA. For the first time since 3DO went defunct, I'm going to start caring who made the game on those should-I-or-shouldn't-I purchases. Ironically, or perhaps predictably, they were founded by the same person, Trip Hawkins, who last I heard is now making mobile games. But I digress, so let's move onto other matters...

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for the PC is pretty abominable. For the love of all gamers everywhere, please, people, when you make a port from a console to a PC, don't just remap the controls onto a keyboard. IT DOESN'T WORK. Things that are intuitive on a console controller aren't on a mouse and keyboard and vice versa. Please stop.

Also absurd is the inability to change guns while reloading. If someone is shooting me in the face, I don't give two PSOne memory cards about putting in a new magazine and chambering a round; I'm dropping that mofo and taking out my sidearm.

This wouldn't be a huge problem except that hitting fire with an empty gun makes it reload. This is a great example of decent mechanics not mixing well. No weapon change while reloading? Reasonable, if annoying. Fire to reload when empty? Quite helpful! But both? I'm in the middle of a fire fight, I'm firing my weapon frantically, I don't have time to watch my bullets. I expect to run dry and switch my weapon, not start reloading while I'm still peeking out of cover. The mixture of the two elements simply doesn't functionally make any sense, and I'm ashamed of the oversight.

Furthermore they hacked the XBox LIVE system of online play to the PC, with the individual PC owners as the game hosts. The entire system is laggy and absurd. As I was led to understand that the true joy of Vegas was the multiplayer, for them to completely botch it on the PC port makes me feel like I payed $50 for a $30 game.

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