Tuesday, November 29, 2005

First 50 Cent Tries to Sell Drugs to Kids, then Horribly Violent Video Games

In an interview with 1up, the producer of 50 Cent's game says the following about 50 Cent's new game: “you can grab an enemy and steal all of his valuables, leaving both his ego shattered and his pockets empty. Then, you can beat him over the head with your sawed off shotgun until he tells you everything he knows, freeing him of any remaining dignity. Lastly, you can choose to boot him away, giving him false hope of survival as you proceed to blast a hole in his back, which also sends him flying into the path of an oncoming train.” Now, according to Reuters, 50 Cent thinks "parents should buy their children his new video game, rated 'mature' for blood, gore and sexual themes, and use it as a teaching tool."

If there's anyone parents should trust on the effects of violence in video games on children, it's an ex-drug dealer who's been shot several times over drug feuds. According to Wikipedia, 50 Cent insinuates that he either killed or had killed Darryl "Hamo" Baum in revenge for getting shot, so he also is probably a murderer.Despite the fact that he makes money off of every person he convinces to buy his game, I'm sure he's speaking out in favor of his game because it is a learning tool that teaches children the fun, glamor and excitement of being a drug dealer. 50 Cent, you are a real saint, and I salute you for your never-ending quest to educate children.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Reviewers are always right

Reviewers have the very important task of giving game developers feedback and consumers recommendations. It's nice to know that they use their position of power wisely and don't screw over either consumers or developers. Let me enumerate some of the great things reviewers do.
With so many games being ported to multiple platforms, it's great that reviewers don't take the time to review each platform individually. Oftentimes, one may be significantly better than the other, but why waste the readers time with a careful evaluation and comparison of the different versions? Let's use “X-Men: Next Dimension” for PS2 and GameCube as an example. Both reviews on IGN said "The textures on the character models also appear to be using too many shadows and are a tad on the blurry side." The GameCube version has higher resolution textures, so they are significantly less blurry. Same line in both reviews, but different textures. The GameCube review even mentions the menu options in the PS2 version, but the GameCube version had different names.

It's also nice that reviewers are so aware of all the finer points of games. They always claim things are at a high framerate when they are smooth regardless of the actual framerate. So, any effort to get your game to run at 60 fps is wasted if it drops down below 60 on occasion. Sometimes, they make conjectures on how the technology of a game works, and they are completely wrong, but at least they make an effort, right? Isn't that more important than accuracy?

Reviewers are NEVER biased by past successes or failures. If Blizzard were to release a real stinker, I'm sure it'd get EXACTLY the same reviews as if some small developer that has a history of failures released the same game. It's very difficult for people to be unbiased, but reviewers are able to overcome all of these. Likewise, reviewers are never influenced by other reviews out there. There definitely isn't a tendency to conform to other reviews either... People have a tendency to trust a reviewer with an average review, but reviewers aren't afraid to alienate themselves based on their own personal feelings.

Since reviewers are so accurate, reviews are becoming increasingly important to game developers. Warner Bros is going to punish its licensees if they didn't get good enough reviews. So, I applaud Warner Bros for taking the initiative for making the true authorities on game quality the determining factor for developer's financial rewards. They are trying to prevent bad games, which sell based on a license, which I think we can all agree is a good thing. As a game developer, I think Warner Bros idea is reasonable. Developers of bad games that sell well just because of the license shouldn't be rewarded. But should reviewers be the ones with the power? As this article proves, they clearly are the authorities on games, so they are a great choice.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jack Thompson: A Retrospective

Jack Thompson is big news these days in the video game industry. I’ll objectively report on the highlights of his tumultuous career, which includes little known factoids that are often overlooked.

1988: Jack vs. Janet: Round 1: Begin!
Jackieboy ran against Janet Reno for the office of Dade County State Attorney. During a debate, he handed Janet a slip of paper which said: "I, Janet Reno, am a homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual. If you do not respond then you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes." Now, although that technique may have been a good way to pick up chicks in middle school, it doesn’t quite work well in the political debate setting. Janet Reno crumpled up the paper and ignored it... I guess Jack deemed that she is a lesbian... Too bad that doesn’t make her one... He suggested she was a good target for blackmail, and later credited the motivation for all of her decisions to be blackmail.

2000: There are no words to describe this.
Criticized Janet Reno’s steel drum playing ability and her ready access to pitchforks. I really can’t explain this one. You have to read it to believe it.

Early 2005: Lowenstein = Satan?
Compared Lowenstein to many evil people throughout history: Joseph Goebbels (Nazi propagandist), Adolf Hitler, and Saddam Hussein. Geez! I never knew the president of the ESA had the power to do more evil than slaughtering millions of people! Well, according to Jack, he does.

July 22nd, 2005: Believe everything you hear
Someone told Jack that the Sims had “full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair”. Jack promptly complained to everyone he could. How many times can you cry wolf before you lose your credibility?

August 3rd, 2005: Really HOT coffee
Jack claimed there was some cheat code that unlocked all sorts of dirty things in GTA: San Andreas... It didn’t exist, so he promptly dropped that complaint.

August 19th, 2005: Jack was called a douchebag
This buddy icon was posted on badassbuddy.bolt.com. Jack contacted the NYPD and FBI to investigate this “threat”. I’m sure the FBI has them working round the clock on that case.

October 10th, 2005: Satire is very tricky
Along the same lines of Jonathan Swift’s modest proposal, Jack proposed a rather disgusting game and was going to donate money to Paul Eibeler’s (Take Two’s chairman) charity of choice if it was made.

October 17th, 2005: It's better to give than receive
Turns out that the charity part was just a joke. According to Jack, us gamers are too stupid to realize that. He’s so right. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten babies after reading Swift’s “Modest Proposal”. Crap! Hindsight is 20-20. Luckily, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins followed through on Jackie’s broken promise (err... I mean, clever joke) and donated $10,000 in Jack’s name to the ESA Foundation believing that to be the charity that Eibeler would have chosen. I’m guessing Jack wasn’t happy about that because the ESA Foundation is a charitable foundation from the ESA; the very ESA that has supposed evildoer Lowenstein at the helm... In response, he faxed the Penny Arcade people as well as some press places a letter supposedly sent to the Seattle Police Department complaining about the “harassment” from the Penny Arcadians. The Seattle Police Department never got that fax...

November 8th, 2005: Jack Thompson Witnessed GTA Kill People?
Apparently, the defendant team of lawyers in the Alabama GTA lawsuit thought Jack Thompson's press release smear campaign was against legal ethics, and the judge was considering removing him, so Wacky-Jackie took the initiative and removed himself with a lame-ass excuse. He also indicated that he expects to serve as a witness... What did he witness? Was he there that fateful day when GTA started whispering "kill everyone" to the gamer? Does he know anything about video games? Adolescent psychology? Last I checked, he was just a muckraking laywer who likes to threaten more than practice actual law.

Present: Sue, sue, sue!
He’s busy threatening lawsuits against everyone. Scott Ramsoomair over at VGCats, Mike and Jerry at Penny Arcade, practically anyone who speaks ill of him. If I’m lucky, he’ll threaten me with a lawsuit. Defamation of character? Libel? Slander? I'm sure it'll hold up in court. Maybe he should sue www.wikipedia.org because that’s where I got most of my information. Someone should ride the trend and start making t-shirts that say “Jack Thompson threatened to sue me and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”. He could then threaten to sue everyone who bought one, thus fulfilling the prophetic shirt... So, Jack, if you read this and would like to sue, please post a message on my blog. I’m sure my readers would like to hear your ridiculous threats, and I'm sure my lawyer could use a good laugh.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The future of management

You know what the main problem with the game development industry is these days? The BIG G does! It’s management. There isn’t enough of it. We are going about this all wrong. Some games have over a hundred employees, and I’m betting most of those aren’t managers. That’s COMPLETELY the wrong approach. We need projects with MORE management. We’ll create a really sophisticated structure with levels and levels of management and clear responsibilities. At the top will be the visionary. He’ll come up with the high-level concept like “clone Halo”. He’ll give useful feedback like “make it more fun” and “this isn’t cool enough”. Below him, we have the chairmen of the right and left sides of the screen. Each one is responsible for all the bugs, gameplay and art that fall on their half of the screen. They both are responsible for the board of directors (which of course has a chairman) that includes director of fun, director of ripping other games off, director of doing nothing, director of time wasting, and director of scheduling. Below these directors, we have the subdirectors. The subdirectors are below the board of directors, but are in charge of the individual departments. So, there’s a subdirector of art, animation, production, management (an integral department to making a game), programming and design. Below, them are the leads. The leads are broken up into many important categories. Each department will have a lead for each character or enemy, a lead for each type of object, and a lead for each level. Below that, there are several sub leads. The subleads work on specifying EXACTLY what they want in the game. They lead the subsubleads who write exact specifications for not only what is wanted, but how to do it. Then, all the work can be done by one completely unskilled person. This person doesn’t need to know how to use Maya at all. They can just follow the step by step instructions provided by the art subsublead assigned to that particular object. No programming experience? No problem! The document will tell them exactly what they need to type!

Why will this work? So much time in game development is wasted on reimplementing features because inexperienced people are making incorrect decisions. With so many great directors, they’ll know exactly what is necessary first, so they’ll be able to boil the problem of making a good game down to its simple elements. It’ll be so simple and easy that one unskilled person will be able to make the entire game when oversaw by 50 directors.