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Comment Price is not the only factor to consider (Score 4, Insightful) 225

Remember that even if the real price of new games rise, that doesn't mean a gamer is in a worse situation than he would have been in the past. Quite the opposite in fact.

Today you can play thousands of older titles for very low prices. There are probably 10 times as many freeware games available today as there were 30 years ago. You can get on youtube and watch "Let's Play's" of virtually every popular NES and SNES title for free. Many of these games are only surpassed by current titles in the graphics department.

In other words, it's a great time to be a gamer even if you don't buy a single "new" game.

Comment Follow the Money (Score 1) 104

From TFA:

What we’re seeing with the success of Madden, GTA and Call of Duty on iPad and iPhone is that big brands and big marketing, combined with high production values, creates mindshare that lets them stand out in a crowd. It’s a natural evolution. When the audience size and expected sales justify a publisher like Ubisoft to spend $15m on a TV advertising campaign for their latest Assassin’s Creed mobile app, they will. This will happen.

You'd think this is a joke, but no. Game companies often spend more on advertising than product development.

And this is why I hate commercial games.

Comment Honest Game Reviews: A Procedure (Score 3, Insightful) 148

I don't play games very often anymore, but I've found the easiest way to get an honest opinion of a game is to do the following:

  • Wait for a few months after the game is released (initial or pre-release reviews are always too positive)
  • Go to a game review aggregator site (metacritic, gamerankings, etc)
  • Start reading from the lowest-scoring review, up

That works well.

Reviewers who scored a game low were not compensated by the publisher, almost definitely had to buy the game themselves, and usually point out legitimate flaws instead of glossing over them. It's a great way to innoculate yourself against hype.

Comment Re:So silly. Just remake Quake 3 already! (Score 1) 100

If Id just re-made Quake 3 Arena with updated graphics, but the same gameplay, same customizability, same map-making and mod-ability, 95% of the copies sold would be pirated, just like every PC game. Id probably wouldn't make a profit.

There, fixed that for you. Really, why does the average slashdotter think they know better than the people who do this for a living?

Comment Asymmetric Information Availability (Score 1) 28

Indeed. The real problem with social data today is how asymmetric the availability is... If everyone's lives were 100% public all the time, it would just become the new norm and we would all adapt and deal with it.

But that's not the way it is at all: some people don't show up on the web, some people who don't know what they're doing end up with all sorts of permanent self-incriminating data, and those of us who know the score work hard to ensure we look good through every available channel.

It's this asymmetry that creates unfairness. If I know your dirty secrets but you don't know mine, I have more power than you do.

It's not so much the fact that all the data is stored that matters in this context (whether companies should be allowed to store the stuff without your permission is a topic for another day), it's that some people get it and manage their reputation and many people don't and are exploited. But life isn't fair, and I don't suppose that will never change.

Comment Test Your Bias! (Score 5, Interesting) 548

Test your Free Software bias! If this article had the following summary, would you react differently?

"Just released as part of the latest patch Tuesday for Windows 7 (and we imagine it will appear shortly in Windows Server, too) is a new feature called microsoft-census, which marks its initial release. Curious about what this feature provides, we did some digging and found it's for tracking Windows installations by sending an 'I am alive' ping to Microsoft on a daily basis. When the microsoft-census update is installed, the program is to be added to the daily scheduled tasks to be executed so that each day it will report to Microsoft over HTTP the number of times this system previously sent to Microsoft (this counter is stored locally and with it running on a daily basis it's thereby indicating how many days the Windows 7 installation has been active), the Microsoft distributor channel, the product name as acquired by the system's DMI information, and which Windows release is being used. That's all that microsoft-census does, at least for now. Previously there haven't been such Windows tracking measures attempted by Microsoft."

Comment Real Life Generally Isn't Fun (Score 4, Insightful) 205

The problem with making a realistic or educational game about anything is that real life generally isn't fun. Space, like everything else, is boring. It's mostly empty with a few rocks here or there, all moving in a very predictable patterns. Even the life of an astronaut is pretty boring, they mostly carefully follow checklists that other people have written.

Humans are programmed to enjoy a few kinds of very specific things. People are different, but in order to be fun games have to exploit some subset of the quirky things we enjoy. There have to be stories, characters we can relate to, frequently-changing visuals, interesting soundscapes, or worlds we feel like we have more influence over than the drudgery of our daily lives.

Welding? Not so much.

Comment TFA is sorta right. Key: USE GOOD JUDGEMENT (Score 4, Interesting) 288

I guess the point that TFA is trying to make is that WW2, Vietnam games are tolerated because those are OLD, long-gone wars that don't have much resonance with most people these days. It doesn't get portrayed in the media every day, etc, etc... But games set in unresolved warzones are more tricky because fight hasn't finished and people still have skin in the game.

That's true and all, but I don't think it means you can't make modern conflicts into games. It just means good judgement is much more important. You can't apply some formula, you have to actually think about how you portray each side and how people are going to react. You have to be careful, but there is still a lot of room for creativity.

Comment Actual email from Gabe (Score 5, Informative) 202

Here is the actual email from Gabe that was sent out:



Recently, your Steam account was erroneously banned from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

This was our mistake, and I apologize for any frustration or angst it may have caused you.

The problem was that Steam would fail a signature check between the disk version of a DLL and a latent memory version. This was caused by a combination of conditions occurring while Steam was updating the disk image of a game. This wasn't a game-specific mistake. Steam allows us to manage and reverse these erroneous bans (about 12,000 erroneous bans over two weeks).

We have reversed the ban, restoring your access to the game. In addition, we have given you a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 to give as a gift on Steam, plus a free copy for yourself if you didn't already own the game.

To share your extra copy of Left 4 Dead 2 with a friend, you can 'Manage Gifts and Guest Passes' from the 'Games' Menu in Steam, or visit this article on the Steam Support site for detailed instructions:

To access your own copy of Left 4 Dead 2, visit your library of games in Steam. If you didn't already own the game, it will now be listed among your others there, and is available for download immediately.

Gabe Newell
President, Valve

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