FooAtWFU writes: Some clowns and jokers over at 4chan thought it would be a funny idea to put together a web page for a programming language named "C Plus Equality" as a parody of feminism, dismissing OOP as "objectifying" and inheritance as "a tool of the patriarchy". But this parody was apparently too hot to host at Github, which took down the original Github repository after receiving criticism on Twitter, prompting a backlash and inquiry into the role of free speech and censorship on Github's platform. The project has since found a new home on BitBucket, at least for the time being.
FooAtWFU writes: When Monte Cristo released Cities XL in October 2009, the spiffy new feature was the "Planet Offer", a massively-multiplayer world where you could visit other players' cities, trade for resources, and construct special landmarks. A neat idea — but now they're pulling the plug, citing a lack of interest and subscriptions. (Perhaps $9/mo was a trifle steep). Does Monte Cristo's experience mark a speed bump for publishers eager to jump on the MMO bandwagon for an easy stream of subscription revenue? The game was dinged by critics (and many users) for feeling rushed and incomplete at its release (you couldn't even build any public transit) but online features and incremental improvements were touted as its salvation.
FooAtWFU writes: Thursday I recieved a copy of a new computer game: Cities XL, by Monte Cristo. It's been a while since there's been a major new contender in the sim game genre. While SimCity 4 was solid, SimCity societies is widely regarded as an abomination, and Monte Cristo's earlier City Life's game has a class-warfare dynamic which puts it in a space outside your normal vanilla city simulation. So when the demos came out of Cities XL featuring things like big sprawling highway interchanges and massive bridges and skyscrapers and curved roads (it's 2009, about time) it was a breath of fresh air on the scene. The initial reviews were pretty positive, and the extra features like "megastructures" and a real economy and trade between players and everything were gravy. Thus Monte Cristo promised the world, and they might even deliver it... but it's going to be at least 6 months late.
For Cities XL not finished. In fact, it's not even close. The list of 'things that are not available' includes some you'd think would be pretty basic, like: oh, bus stops, railroads, really any transit systems. It's funny: you can see the user interface options for some of these (the "neighbor railroad link" for instance) — you could see them in the demo! — but they're just not there. They haven't been programmed. If not otherwise informed you might wait until your city has a million people in hopes of unlocking the buildings, but they just don't exist. There are other places with pretty slim pickings, too: there is exactly one "park" structure, and it doesn't actually do anything for your city. Moreover it's clear from the 150 megabytes of patches you had to download right out the door that Monte Cristo was shipping this game well before they were finished with it.
And then there's the "Planet Offer". They want you to pay another $80/yr or so in order to let you build 5 cities that connect to their online trade system. So that you can get additional maps to supplement the meager collection they provided to begin with. And so you can get a discount on the imminent ski-resort expansion pack. (Really?) I wasn't in a particularly grand mood after learning about the game's incomplete state, and this "offer" didn't do anything to make it better.
That said, Cities XL is still — somehow — an okay sort of little city building game. The zoning interface is pretty innovative. The roads are decently realistic. You can make some really pretty little city layouts. The online economy's a little clunky yet, with contracts being canceled too abruptly without enough explanation, but I successfully engaged in commodities market arbitrage (doing things like buying heavy industrial output in units of 1 and 2 and selling it to the computer player in lots of 5 at a 66% markup).
I can forgive a few rough edges in multiplayer for a new game, especially an MMO economy, and I can even overlook little things like a memory leak that somehow makes the Trade screen slower than the rest of the game put together, or the fact that over a dozen patches each wanted their own UAC prompt, or that the registration system was somewhat nightmarish. But the combination of these rough edges, multiple major unfinished features, and pushing a "pay us more money" tactic doesn't make the game feel like a good deal. It just makes it feel like you're being nickeled and dimed to death, and throwing good money after bad. Avoid this game until it's picked up a clearer sense of direction.
FooAtWFU writes: Liskula Cohen, a model for Vogue, has successfully sued Google to force them to identify a blogger who called her mean names (such as "skank", "old hag" and "ho") so that she can file a defamation lawsuit. The case could set a dangerous precedent for anonymous speech online. Regrettably, the original blog postings have been taken down.
Fennec writes: "Jeremiah Paleck wasn't too excited about the Vista launch, so he decided to have some fun, creating a sheet of Windows error stickers for A4 sticker paper (informing us gravely, "Error: The operation completed successfully"). BoingBoing and Engadget report, with an image of the sticker neatly placed in a Windows Vista advertisement at a bus stop in Prague. It seems that perhaps Vista's advertising campaign has been infected with a little "viral marketing"..."
Fennec writes: "Amazon.com has launched a beta of a new service called Askville, yet another online answers service, flavored with "Experience Points, Levels, and Quest Coins." These coins will supposedly become useful some day on another Amazon service that's not actually open yet, Questville. If this virtual currency becomes useful, could Askville fill a place between strictly volunteer systems and pay-for-answer services like the now-defunct Google Answers? Or is it destined to fail in the already-saturated online Q&A market?"