Top Commented Posts

 By Shamus Nov 24, 2013 142 comments

Paul Spooner and some other folks were musing about what posts on this site have generated the most discussion. Reader Alan was nice enough to put together a MySQL query so that we could find out. The top 20 results, starting with the largest:

  1. Autoblography Part 11: Roller Rinks and Jesus (1034 comments)

    The one time I allowed religion. Not surprising to see this at the top of the list.

  2. Mass Effect 3 Ending Deconstruction (816 comments)

    Really? This is the #2 most talked about post on my site? The ending of Mass Effect 3? I mean, I understand it was a Big Topic when Mass Effect 3 came out, but in the eight years I’ve been running this blog, THAT controversy rates at the top? What about all the rants I wrote about Activision and EA? What about the endless screeds against DRM?

  3. The final strip of DM of the Rings (724 comments)

    Not surprising to see this here. It used to be that I’d regularly get comments on old DM of the Rings posts, but it’s been a few months since the last one. I think the series is finally at rest and everyone that might want to read it has now done so.

  4. Autoblography Part 40: A Word On Education (631 comments)

    The finale to my Autoblography series. Makes sense to have this in the list.

  5. Series that Went on Too Long (562 comments)

    This was a sort of open-ended question to readers, so I can see how it generated a lot of discussion.

  6. Experienced Points: DLC for Dummies (538 comments)
  7. WordPress Plugin: Wavatars (519 comments)

    This one doesn’t REALLY deserve to be on the list. Sure, it has over 500 comments, but most of those are people posting one-word test messages just to see what their avatar looks like. See, years ago I made the plugin to create procedurally-generated little faces you see in the comments. Since then, the feature has been folded into WordPress itself. (Actually, it’s part of Gravatars now.)

  8. Mass Effect 3 Part 1: We Fight or We Doy (517 comments)

    Ah. Another Mass Effect riot. I am starting to suspect that Mass Effect 3 is the Phantom Menace of videogames.

  9. Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Impressions (439 comments)

    Oh come on. BioWare again?

  10. Stolen Pixels #257: The Electronic Artists (430 comments)

    This is the only one of my Stolen Pixels to make the list. I don’t remember this one at all. Something about Electronic Arts, I guess?

    Sigh. Nope. It’s about Mass Effect again.

  11. Science Fiction… in SPACE! (426 comments)

    Hm. Some musings on writing sci-fi.

  12. The Old Republic NDA (424 comments)

    BioWare AGAIN.

  13. Spoiler Warning Season 4 Finale: Don’t Fear the Reaper (419 comments)

    The final episode of Spoiler Warning: Mass Effect 2. I never would have guessed that we spent this much time talking about Mass Effect / BioWare.

  14. Would you have survived in the middle ages? (417 comments)

    A fun little thought experiment.

  15. Skyrim Thieves Guild Part 1 (401 comments)

    See? THIS is the kind of stuff I expected to see in the list. My overlong, super-detailed deconstructions of things. Where is my bit on Fable, or Fable 2? Indigo Prophecy? Those were big projects, thousands of words in length.

  16. The Virus (400 comments)

    Huh. I got a virus a couple of years ago. Forgot about that. For the record, I’m still not running any anti-virus and I’ve been clean since then.

  17. All Word Processors Suck (400 comments)

    That one time I went on a rant because I lost a ton of work in Open Office.

  18. Protect IP / SOPA Act (394 comments)

    Pretty controversial subject. Makes sense to see it here.

  19. Femshep (390 comments)

    And BioWare makes the list for the sixth time, meaning 30% of my top posts are about BioWare. That’s kind of sad.

  20. Diablo III (388 comments)

    A rant about the always-online un-feature of Diablo 3. This was written long before we ever knew what “Error 37″ was. Also, this was before we knew about the shift in tone that killed the game for some.

So that’s what we’ve been talking about. I guess BioWare made the list so often since they underwent a very obvious public transformation from a risky business venture by people who loved characters and lore to a massive enterprise that looks and sounds like most other glossy big-budget development studios. It was a painful change for existing fans.

Still, I kinda wish people had cared about the DRM more. Long-term, I think it’s a more troubling problem with AAA games. Losing BioWare’s talky, thinky, lore-heavy adventure stories is sad. That basically kills off most of a genre for us. But DRM impacts ALL genres of gaming, and the threat lingers. I’m very curious if the coming (and well-deserved) death of Games for Windows LIVE will lead to the deaths of any of the games attached to it.

For me, the worst outcome wouldn’t be that all GFWL titles are patched to work without the service and so people go on acting like activation-based DRM is “no big deal”. The worst thing wouldn’t be if some games died and there was a public outcry. No, the WORST thing would be if some games vanished and barely anyone cared. “Bah. That game is almost five years old! Nobody was playing it anyway. You’re just looking for something to complain about.”

A Hundred!20202We've got 142 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.


  1. Tizzy says:

    I hope that we can have ALL of these discussions all over again here, so that this post breaks all records. Plus, we need to talk about Bioware more.

  2. Yerushalmi says:

    The reason there aren’t as many comments on DRM is because I’d wager virtually nobody reading this blog defends the practice. There are only so many different comments people can leave saying “I agree”.

    • I agree. :)

      Also, Mass Effect was relatively recent, while a lot of your other big deconstructions happened a while ago and to older games. Presumably your site has grown in popularity so it would be more heavily weighted to more recent articles.

      • False Prophet says:

        You’re right. I love going back and reading the Fable and Indigo Prophecy entries, but I didn’t really start reading Twenty Sided until a couple of years ago. It seems silly to go back and add comments to a post that’s years old, especially when it would add little to the discussion.

    • Richard says:

      I agree.

      I suppose there’s only about four main viewpoints, two of which are very hard to defend.

      1) Interesting idea, however it cannot really work so why waste resources trying?

      2) Interesting idea. It doesn’t matter too much care that it cannot really work, as long as it’s unobtrusive so most won’t bother to bypass it.

      3) Great idea, I don’t care about the user experience.
      Nobody plays games over six months old anyway, and I don’t care about those customers who don’t have reliable and fast internet access.

      4) Stupid idea.

    • DaveMc says:

      I’d have to concur.

    • Koriantor says:

      I think that your idea has merit

    • Cybron says:

      I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • aldowyn says:

      My thought was that there wasn’t a place for all the DRM/EA/Activision stuff to all collect together, so it’s all spread out over a ton of different posts. I’d say the DLC post is definitely more than tangentially related and placed pretty highly, too.

    • Trix2000 says:

      I DON’T agree!

      …Okay, I might be lying.

    • More importantly, simply chiming in with “I agree” has somehow become “rude” by internet standards. We sadly don’t have a digital group metaphor for enthusiastic applause or spontaneous cheers of assent. It will happen eventually, no doubt, but in the meantime…
      well…
      I guess I’m trying to say “I agree with you.” but didn’t feel comfortable leaving it at that.

      Curses.

    • Thomas says:

      Peer pressure made me agree

    • Scampi says:

      Ha. I’d have guessed the exact opposite…people don’t care all that much about DRM here at all IMHO.
      I’m not even surprised anymore when I read people complain about, say, Origin as a compulsory platform, but still buy the games which are tied to it because, well…they have to, right? Else I’d have to wonder how all these posts about ME3 were not so much about the DRM but about its content, which was by far not as insulting as many tried to sell it as.
      I think most people don’t honestly care about DRM itself, but don’t want more than one of the type on their machines-and we all know pretty good, which one that is, don’t we?

      • Bryan says:

        > because, well…they have to, right?

        Actually, no, they don’t. Or at least, that’s why I haven’t bought anything AAA since approximately Doom 3 (and nothing before that back to UT2k3, and nothing before *that* back to Rune / Descent 3, both off Loki), and I only got D3 after the Linux installer had been released (so several months after it came out).

        Or maybe that’s my answer to “but, well, they have to run Windows, right?”. I keep getting those confused… :-P

        But I’ve been running mostly indie Unity stuff lately — NeonXSZ is the latest. (Finally, someone doing something close to Descent!) And before that, Symphony off GoG, though I had to use wine to do it in that case because they didn’t release a native version (and so obviously GoG didn’t have it).

        • Scampi says:

          Nice:)
          Just to be clear: I haven’t bought AAA titles in a long time, have never had Steam, Origin, UPlay or whatever DRM hell on my machines and my comment is directed at people who complain about DRM measures or whatever, but don’t put their money where their mouth is and still keep buying the products that contain them. If people have such a problem with DRM, it shouldn’t be too hard boycotting those and show the industry that there is no acceptance for DRM, right?
          Apparently, I must be wrong, as people just keep on buying them. It’s not my business telling people what to buy-they can make these decisions for themselves, but at this point I feel there’s that annoying parallel between DRM hate and hate for John Cena, where the online claim is “if Cena wins/if it has DRM, we riot”, but as the product is delivered, everyone is sitting on his arse and gladly accepts what is presented, only to find out the product sucked and noone should have bought it in the first place, even if there was no DRM at all…
          I, for myself, deduce that people feel compelled to accept DRM X for some reason at one point (e.g.: “I had to play ME3, or I’ll never know how the story ends…”) and then don’t find any way of just avoiding products that come with unfavorable conditions. The only way to avoid, say, Origin, would have been to miss out on Sim City, ME3, Battlefield DA2 and such, and apparently, there has been no way anyone could have possible missed out on those, right?

          • Cybron says:

            ‘Gamer culture’ has never been good at actually following through in its complaints, it’s hardly a DRM exclusive thing.

            I’m reminded of the picture of the ‘Boycott CoD Black Ops’ Steam Group, which several members of the group plying CoD Black Ops.

          • Bubble181 says:

            I’ve been active on the ME3 posts, and I feel I know the whole game, but never played it…because of DRM.

      • Bubble181 says:

        Quite so, quite so.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I have the same opinion.

    • Thearpox says:

      I too, agree. The question now is if Shamus does.

    • TMTVL says:

      By my mother’s bootlaces, you’re right.

    • RTBones says:

      Affirmative. I concur.

  3. Galad says:

    I guess at the end of the day, love them or hate them or something in between, you don’t remain indifferent to Bioware.

    Ahh, DMoTR. I’ve read it about five times, and its mention still brings a smile to my face.

    I guess it’s a good time to read the autoblography again :)

  4. TMTVL says:

    Seems like we have a Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage fan.

    The (relative) lack of discussion on certain topics might just be because you said everything that needed to be said.

  5. Jarppi says:

    Shamus, the link for “Protect IP / SOPA Act” leads to “STALKER: Final thoughts”. (33 comments btw.)

    The link should take to page
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=14817
    instead of
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1481

    • Volfram says:

      On the topic of SOPA/PIPA, and trying not to get overtly political(moreso than SOPA and PIPA themselves, anyway) I would like to remind everyone in the US over the next few elections to check to see which politicians on your ballot supported them.

      Ever.

      And if they did, find someone else to vote for, regardless of which party they were.

      This is particularly relevant because some nimrods up there tried(and failed) to revive the bills recently.

      • MichaelG says:

        They are just tacking those provisions into trade agreements and other laws now, to avoid any activists. Read http://www.techdirt.com to keep up with all the action.

        • Volfram says:

          Thanks for the heads-up, should make keeping tabs a little easier.

          • CraigM says:

            I’d also recommend subscribing to the EFF newsletter, they do a pretty good job of keeping an eye out for that stuff. They have been all over the TPP is really a subversive way around this.

            It’s not terribly surprising that the SOPA got as much attention as it did. Whatever your view o the merits of games, and the harm of DRM, it still is easy to compartmentalize. After all not all games use DRM, and not all do so in the same manner. A blanket action like SOPA or PIPA can be far more damaging, as it applies across a far wider spectrum. I’ve never written to my congressman over DRM, but I sure as hell did over THAT monstrosity.

        • Volfram says:

          If we do, still vote against the guy who supported SOPA/PIPA.

          If we remind politicians that we can get mad at them and fire them when they act up, they’ll stop acting like aristocratic self-important man-children.

          I’ve actually seen a couple of politicians in Colorado get punished for their bad behavior. Their replacements were generally of higher moral fiber.

          Or …any moral fiber…

          • Cap'n Hector says:

            I have a choice when voting in my area – I can vote for a selection of candidates who support SOPA-like stuff or I can vote for a selection of candidates that believe that women can’t make choices and that gays aren’t people.

            This is a terrible choice. Either way I’m going to vote to fuck over someone.

            • Volfram says:

              I would explain exactly what you’re getting wrong about your secondary statement, but it would be in GROSS violation of the “no politics” rule, which technically your disparaging comments are already in violation of.

              That, and the language you’re using indicates that it doesn’t matter what you have to say, you’re already dedicated to the hate.

  6. Vegedus says:

    Bioware being that popular has a lot to do with the demographics of this site. Personally, I learned about this place from a poll on Bioware’s community site, and I bet I’m not the only one. Additionally, this place was originally dedicated to tabletop games. Of which the closest analog in computer games is Bioware or Bethesda games. And the computer games discussed here have most often been RPGs. And I think programmers and more “dedicated” nerds are more often into RPGs than other genre.

    Seems logical to me that we all have an opinion on Bioware.

    • aldowyn says:

      Well, bioware USED to be a close analogue to tabletops. Not any more, even with dragon age and certainly not with mass effect. Obsidian is a closer bet, especially with project eternity in the works.

    • Thomas says:

      One of the reasons I ended up attaching myself to the site was I was trying to find a group of people who also didn’t like ME2 =D

    • CraigM says:

      *Ahem* *points to spreadsheets with graphics deep strategy games*
      You sell short Paradox, Xcom, Civ and Total War games, I know I’m not alone here ;-)

      Also Minecraft/ Kerbal type freeform creativity games.

      Though I think your point is more about how we tend towards things other than mainstream AAA games. Which I would concede.

      Though our favorite games tend to be needless pedantry online! I think I’m winning at the moment. =D

  7. Jokerman says:

    I love you big deconstructions, even though i started coming to your site after you had done most of them (i remember joining just as you were finishing Mass effect 1 SW) I have read all of them and even reread some. I feel in some way Spoiler Warning has slowed them up somewhat, since you want to hold back writing to much and not getting into the situation where you are repeating stuff from the blog (which did happen at times with Fallout 3)

  8. “No, the WORST thing would be if some games vanished and barely anyone cared.”

    This happens a lot, even without obstructive DRM measures. Software that is not profitable or in a copyright mess can easily be lost due to lack of interest.

    It’s already very difficult to find certain old games, and playing them can be troublesome too. It reminds me of the loss of various classic Doctor Who episodes, they weren’t considered important at the time so nobody thought to keep them (or even decent copies).

    Gaming isn’t as old as television, so you would think that we’d be in a better position to preserve things. That’s not always the case though, and I’m not sure how much EA/Activision/etc.. really care about those older games, and how much has been lost that we’re not currently aware of.

    Oddly enough, it’s digital piracy that kept things alive for rather a long time. Before GOG.com and Steam, it was abandonware websites like Abandonia that provided a way to access games that otherwise were not available for purchase (and still do!).

    I found this to be an interesting read: Why History Needs Software Piracy

    It also highlights the issue that the preserved copies of some games (or other software) only provide a particular version. For something like Minecraft, Nethack or Dwarf Fortress, there have been countless different versions with their own additions and changes. Some of these have been well archived, whilst others might be lost forever.

    • Forgot to mention emulation, but without it we might lose a lot of old console games.

      Of course that then brings the problem about the authenticity of the emulated software vs. the original cartridge. How much does it matter that things have been altered to make the emulation work? If we have the SNES version emulated, should we just forget about the Megadrive/Genesis version? and so on.

      • ET says:

        With the right emulation software, the authenticity should be close enough that, for historical/research/student purposes, the software will look and act close enough to get the job done.
        Take, for example, the SNES emulation you mentioned.
        Many emulators for SNES (and other low-res CRT-era consoles for that matter), have the option to simulate the low-res, scanline look of crappy CRT displays.
        A better option, I think, would be to have meta-data stored with the ROMs, which would specify recommendations about screen-level simulation like that, which should be done by the emulation software.
        e.g.
        Mario RPG for the SNES should look like it’s playing on a crap TV by default, but Cyberspeed from 1990s-era PCs should look higher-resolution, since PCs had higher resolutions than most TVs did back then.

        • Phantos says:

          I had no idea that SNES emulators could do that. I wasn’t aware there was a demand for it. I had to test that out for myself, and it actually does a commendable job at imitating old tv sets.

          Thanks for alerting me to this. Granted, I’m going to buy this stuff on the Virtual Console or through legitimate means where I can. But now I’ve got another reason to play through the classics.

        • Syal says:

          Mario RPG for the SNES should look like it’s playing on a crap TV by default

          Strongly disagree. I don’t play old games to remember how ugly my old TV was.

          • ET says:

            Well, “by default” implies you can override it. :P
            I agree with you about not wanting to play old SNES games with crap graphics enabled.
            But for historical/research purposes, that data should definitely be preserved.

            • Syal says:

              “By default” implies I have to override it. I have no objection to it being optional as long as it doesn’t start on.

              (And you can preserve the original experience by preserving one of those old TVs alongside it.)

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              I’ve played a SNES with LOZ:ALTTP on a widescreen TV before, with no scanline stuff.

              Just because in the past they *did* have the scanline stuff doesn’t mean that the ROM should explicitly have it by default.

              TV emulation and software emulation should be separate for historical purposes, so that we *can* preserve both formats.

              I mean, I can play my PS3 on a scanline CRTV with the composite cables.

              Does that mean PS3 ROMs in the future should by default be played as if it’s on a scanline TV?

    • ET says:

      That article’s a good read.
      One point, that I think would be hotly contested*, would be leaving DRM-free copies of software with the library of congress, or some other large library, for that software which seeks copyright protection.
      It’s definitely good long-term for society at large, but there would be a huge level of trust needed, that that library won’t give out that software before the copyright term expires, or have it stolen, etc.
      I’m sure it could be done, but dang, what’s to stop some underpaid librarian taking a bribe to give away a copy of my software to, for example, The Pirate Bay?

      * Well, more so than any alteration which isn’t directly helping copyright holders scrape more money out of the decades of selling the same thing over and over…

      • Bryan says:

        …Before the copyright term expires?

        So, *ever*, then?

        Grmbl grmbl stupid Mickey Mouse, Disney grmbl, expanding the term of a copyright forever…

        • ET says:

          Well, that article did mention a shortening of copyright term to 20 years. :)
          Another article I read – actually, I think it might have been a white paper – suggested 10 years, with optional renewals to extend it to a total of 15, 20, 25 years, with increasing monetary fees and also more stringent requirements to prove that your work deserves the extra time.

          • Bryan says:

            Here’s where I admit I didn’t actually read the article. :-/

            But yeah, a 20-year term would definitely help that a *lot*. As long as it’s not tied to the life of the owner, which 90% of the time is a company, which will “live” approximately forever… (Which it’s not today, I don’t believe. Though I don’t know how “works for hire” interact with that “life of the author” thing. Hmm.)

      • Ciennas says:

        Of course, you forget that there is ZERO MONEY in hacking the software to post to a pirate site. I doubt there will be many if any cases of some software getting bribed out of the library.

        Now, an underpaid clerk posting it themself? Almost certainly. But is it really a big deal if somebody releases a five year old title that’s not even on the shelves anymore?

        The companies will claim that’s so, but we as a species recognize when an argument’s full of crap.

        • ET says:

          You assume that the only reason to bribe someone is if you’re going to be making money off of something.
          As a counter-example, let’s say Microsoft is coming out with the next version of Windows, or Microsoft Office.
          It might be easier to slip $50 to someone, who otherwise would not care to or know how to pirate it themselves, to give you the DRM-free version of Microsoft’s product.
          Sure, you could break the protection yourself, but $50 might be a good tradeoff in time vs money.
          Although it might be even easier long-term, to get a job at such a library, since humans are easy to social-engineer out of their passwords, and then you’d have access to all of the DRM-free stuff for as long as you could rip it off without getting caught.

    • aldowyn says:

      I think there was a Polygon feature on an organisation devoted to archiving games quite a while back.

    • Steve C says:

      The BBC had a policy of recording over tape and reusing it. Monty Python was only saved because Terry Gilliam bought the tape before they were wiped.

      BTW 11 original Doctor Who episodes were discovered in Nigeria last month.

      • Richard says:

        They did this because videotape was really expensive.

        Most of the episodes that were saved, survived because they’d been copied to film for distribution.

        Much like today – in the average business, tape backups of data from a few years ago are probably still available, while hard disk space storing all but the most obviously important data at the time has been ‘reclaimed’ and reused.

        • Steve C says:

          The BBC taped over stuff like the Apollo landings. Tape wasn’t *that* expensive. Nothing is that expensive. They could have been made out of solid gold and it still would have been worth keeping. Instead of taping over them with a horse track race. (Yes they actually did that.)

          There’s really no excuse for their shortsightedness and stupidity.

        • Humanoid says:

          And then there’s willful destruction – MGM infamously bought the rights to the play Gaslight, four years after an earlier British film adaptation of it, and tried to have all existence of the earlier film destroyed as to prevent competition.

          I raise this example because despite their efforts, the original survived to get a Blu-ray release last week. So this one at least has a happy ending.

  9. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Perhaps the lower numbers of comments share causes: not just that people don’t care so much about the topic, but that they share in enough of your opinion that there’s not a lot more to say? It’s not like people are going to argue that DRM is good, so all that’s left is talking between the camps of “DRM is inevitably and intractably evil” and “DRM can be made acceptable with sufficient sweetening”. Until someone comes up with something to rival Steam that is different from Steam, we’re not going to see a whole lot more discussion other than “I agree!”

    • Syal says:

      Another factor to consider is how long it was before the next post. A post that was the front page for a week is probably going to have more comments than one that was bumped down after a day or so.

      • ET says:

        Yeah, I think this might be the case too.
        Shamus could probably compute some stats, to see if having another post on the site early, reduces the number of comments on the post from the day before (or 2 or 3 days, etc).
        I know that a couple times, I get home on a Friday, thinking “Oh, boy! I get to catch up on Shamus’ stuff!”, then immediately think “Oh no! There’s an interesting topic of conversation in yesterday’s post, but now there’s already another post on the top of the site.”.
        Would be interesting to see if there’s a measurable effect, or if this is just confirmation bias on my part.

        • Syal says:

          I know the only times I post on an article more than three days old are either when it’s still the most recent article, or when I’m actively arguing with someone in an older topic and neither of us have given up yet.

  10. Somniorum says:

    “Where is my bit on Fable, or Fable 2? Indigo Prophecy?”

    If it makes you feel any better, while I don’t believe I ever commented on it, what actually brought me here in the first place was your dissection of Fable 2, which was so bloody amazing I couldn’t help but stick around to see what else this Shamus Young guy had to say. Generally, I’ve loved your posts about stuff like this (including your account of the Thieves’ Guild quest).

    A lot of the time I won’t make comments on threads because they already have tons of comments as it is when I get there – I don’t feel that I have anything much to contribute that other people haven’t already said.

    (ps: When I clicked the link for the Diablo III “shift in tone” I was greeted by a video with a bunch of wee kids playing soccer :P Thought it was the actual video before I realised it was an ad)

  11. krellen says:

    Might be interesting (but it also might yield no difference) to compare this list to a similar list compiled by views; how many comments a post gets is a reflection of how controversial/interesting the subject of the conversations raised by the post are, and not necessarily a judgement of how popular the subject of the post itself was.

    • ET says:

      Hmm…this leads me to a suggestion for Sham-Wow.
      Give us a rating system for articles!
      That way, the number of comments and/or word count can be used as a rough estimate of how controversial a topic is, and then we can have cold, calculating numbers to decide how popular a topic is.

      e.g.
      Number of visitors who rated Article X as:
      5 stars: 750
      4 stars: 200
      3 stars: 12
      2 stars: 1
      1 star: 61

      Probably would be best to hide this info from site visitors, to prevent people gaming the system, or the existing opinions affecting the voting of new people. :)

  12. SecretSmoke says:

    I’ve read pretty much every post on the site, but I tend not to leave comments, I just like watching the discussion unfold. (Any way to track how many readers a given topic had? Might be interesting to see the read/comment ratio for a given topic.)

  13. Cybron says:

    Let’s just assume that your DRM posts get no comments because everyone knows you’re right and they have nothing to add because your argument is already flawless.

  14. aldowyn says:

    And you wonder why so many of us are so tired of talking about it. It’s been a year and a half since ME3 came out and I STILL feel wary about starting my ME2 LP back up because of the vitriol that always shows up.

  15. John Beltman says:

    “I think the series is finally at rest and everyone that might want to read it has now done so.”

    I hope not. I plan on telling my grandchildren about it. It is still the one thing that I can’t read at work because it makes me laugh out loud.

    Thank you very much.

  16. Dev Null says:

    Still, I kinda wish people had cared about the DRM more

    I’m not sure that’s a fair conclusion; more comments _might_ mean more controversial, not that more people care. Maybe everyone agrees with you but your audience is too well-mannered to make “me too” posts?

    • Syal says:

      Also stuff like The Old Republic brought in a whole bunch of Outsiders with Opinions about Fings. I don’t think there are a lot of trolls Googling DRM.

      Makes me want to know where the RPG Codex post falls.

  17. Thanks for the plug! I’m glad it provided some interesting results.
    I’d also be glad to have one one-hundredth of the comments on the least of the listed posts. I guess I’m less than one one-hundredth of a writer and a person as you. Or a hundred times harder to understand or relate to.

    I jest. Obviously “number of comments” isn’t directly correlated to “quality of content”, but even so it’s tempting to think of it that way. And of course a series will have less comments per-post than a single post topic. Plus a sequence of similar topic posts will dilute this even more as people feel like they have already weighed in on the topic. With all that in mind, it’s surprising that the Bioware posts “rank” so highly. Your speculations above as to why seem likely.

    • Heaven Smile says:

      “I jest. Obviously “number of comments” isn’t directly correlated to “quality of content””

      Exactly. Is true that there ARE lots of comments in those articles, but there may be different reasons as for why it is:
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MetaphoricallyTrue?from=Main.JediTruth

      “A billboard for Rebecca Black touted that her Friday video had over 100 million views on YouTube, trying to make it look like she was popular. While the part about the views is true, most of the people who watched it clicked the dislike button. ”

      Also, i found the lack of Sim City news disturbing, let us fix that with some nostalgia for failures:

      “A senior producer at EA-Maxis commented on the somewhat rocky launch of the 2013 SimCity, stating “What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn’t want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join.” While that may have been technically true, it glossed over the fact that the major source of complaints was the need to log onto a cloud server in order to play what was, ostensibly, a single-player game in the first place; let alone having set up servers with a population cap (either due to hardware limitations or software issues) that was estimated to be between as much as twenty to as little as five percent of even the number of users that preordered.”

      Much better.

  18. Caffiene says:

    I agree with comments above.

    Comments are not a reflection of quality, enthusiasm, or enjoyment of the post. In fact, in my own case I would suggest the graph of comment likelihood to quality/enjoyment is something like a bell curve:

    At the bottom end, basic site maintenance posts or reposts of old Spoiler Warning episodes, etc dont really need much comment. In the middle range, various topics on which I feel competent/authoritative and have thoughts that I dont feel were covered are likely to get a comment. At the high end, the post will have given me new things to think about which I hadnt previously imagined and/or couldnt have articulated myself, and will have been comprehensive and covered everything to my satisfaction.

    I realise that it is nice to have a thriving, talkative community. But to be completely honest thats not what I come here for. I come here to read things that I dont believe the general community is usually competent enough to discuss in a valuable way.

    Movies have a similar effect, imo: A moderately good movie will have some unanswered questions, what-ifs and potential improvements to discuss with my friends. A really good movie will have a reaction of merely “whoa…”

  19. Thomas says:

    I would be interested in seeing a most viewed articles list if that’s ever at all possible =D I expect it would throw up a surprisingly different list of results

  20. Duoae says:

    The thing about DRM is that there’s not much to talk about, really. Either you agree or disagree or don’t care.

    If you agree then you just end up repeating the points of the article: “Right on, bro!” and so forth.

    If you disagree then you have mostly orthogonal talking points to the other side: “Not all downloads correlate to a lost sale!” vs “Downloading is wrong whether you intend to play the game or not.”

    If you don’t care… well, there’s even less reason to post.

  21. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Given the explosion of Kickstarters to revive old franchises and create spiritual successors (most notably Obsidian’s Project Eternity) I like to think we’re in a bit of a resurgence for old-Bioware-style games. If those titles prove successful–and I think Obsidian’s at least will, since unlike Bioware they’ve yet to allow themselves to be absorbed by a AAA publisher and they therefore have the creative freedom to do it to their satisfaction–we can expect more going forward.

    Not to mention the revival of Baldur’s Gate in the HD releases and the fairly prominent Dragon Age games which, for all their flaws, at least create genre awareness and open the door for similar titles to find an audience.

  22. Vipermagi says:

    At least one group of gamers will make a fuss about losing online features due to GFWL being murdered: Dark Souls players. While the setup isn’t as… functional as that of Demon’s and the upcoming Dark 2, online play is a big part of what makes Dark Souls such a good game. Both co-op and PvP are a Big Thing, and some PvP components are even very relevant to the lore.
    People still play Demon’s Souls today. I seriously doubt Dark Souls will fall off the map any time soon, even with a sequel incoming.

    Of course, the players are mostly looking towards From Software – not Microsoft/DRM. It’s not From’s decision to kill off the online functionality, but they are the ones that would have to find a new solution. I’m just hoping people understand that From isn’t (solely) to blame for the situation.

  23. Still here says:

    For what it’s worth, the main reason you hooked me as a reader was your DRM stance. I bought a console primarily because it let me play games that otherwise would have had online activation.

  24. Shamus: “I’m still not running any anti-virus and I’ve been clean since then.”

    How do you know? I mean, do you run some kind of malware/spyware scanner or are you just running about, shields down? Because viruses (and their ilk) don’t always turn your PC into a popup factory or slow everything to a crawl like they used to.

    • Shamus says:

      Yeah, every once in a while I run some scanner and then uninstall it again.

      Really, I’d love to leave one installed but they are all so piggish and domineering. You can’t just scan when you please and update when you like. They pester and scan and auto-run and serve as a constant distraction and hassle.

      • Scampi says:

        Really? Not that I’d like to be thought of as someone responsible for product placement, but I used some versions of Comodo IS for several years now (on different machines) and it appears to be as unintrusive as can be and sufficiently reliable for my causes (what means it was equal or superior to some commercial anti virus programs I tried). I deactivated automated scans, updates and run it in game mode so it doesn’t interfere with playing games, watching movies etc.
        Just in case you’d like to try one, this one I might recommend.

      • I’ve had good luck with ESET’s Nod32 antivirus. You have to pay a yearly fee, but the GUI takes up only 3,012K, and the service uses 114,424K, with no CPU load. You can turn off the scan function or do it whenever you want.

        I switched to it after it made a top ten list several years ago, and I had gotten sick and tired of Symantec and Norton hogging resources and being generally awful programs.

        Your mileage may vary, but for free, our household has liked AVAST! for the most part, aside from the come-ons they give my elderly mother-in-law, who hasn’t learned the trick of finding the “no, update for free” instead of the “buy now for only half your fixed income” buttons.

      • ET says:

        ClamWin is a free port of the Clam antivirus software.
        It’s got an annoying little balloon-notification in Windows 7 when it updates, but you can hide those, with the built-in functionality of Windows 7.
        Not sure how well/if it runs on other versions of Windows.
        It’s pretty unobtrusive program, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that it’s open source. :)

        • ET says:

          Oh, forgot to mention, scanning is 100% manual (right-click on file(s) and hit “scan with clamwin”) unless you set up some scheduled scans.
          It’s had a couple problems where the script to update the virus database, was broken between updates.
          So, for about 3 months, I had to manually download the virus database files, but other than that I’ve had a very good experience with it.
          You can also shut off auto-updates with a checkmark in the config window.
          I think it might be the type of scanner which would work for you, Shamus.

          • Steve C says:

            I also use ClamWin and had the same problem but only for a few minutes. All you had to do was download the newer version of the program instead of just the definitions and everything would be fixed.

      • Alan says:

        I’ve found Microsoft Security Essentials (for XP, Vista, 7) to be inoffensive.

        • Blake says:

          I was about to say I run without any anti virus stuff, but I actually do have MSE active on my machines, so I’ll give my vote to it too.

        • Humanoid says:

          I don’t mind it either (or the Win8 equivalent, Windows Defender), but the user has to bear in mind that it was deliberately designed to be the poorest performing anti-virus. If that sounds irrational, the reason is because it’s the only way they could release such a thing without repeating the whole Internet Explorer anti-trust controversy all over again.

          But yeah, I run it myself, in combination with MalwareBytes, which is not an anti-virus, strictly speaking. I even upgraded to the paid version because it’s a one-time fee, unlike conventional anti-virus.

          It is slightly baffling to me why no reputable AV companies try that approach to selling. Sure, there’s the argument that it’s bad business to provide the update service in perpetuity without being compensated for it, but MalwareBytes does the same and does okay. And there’s the free products that take money neither upfront nor on an ongoing basis, so surely there’s some middle ground to be had there. And I’d happily pay it – after all, I’m one of those people who have no problem paying for WinRAR after the evaluation period technically expired.

          • Mike says:

            “deliberately designed to be the poorest performing anti-virus”

            That’s not precisely true.

            What the article actually says is that Microsoft took resources they had been using to game the tests (which the rest of the industry does) and instead now has tasked those resources to detect emerging threats. It also mentions that Microsoft has begun providing that data to the rest of the industry.

            Basically MS is doing the same thing with MSE/Defender as Google is doing with Chrome and IE Chrome Frame: They aren’t trying to win the marketplace, they’re just trying to provide a reasonably competitive baseline that can push the rest of the marketplace along, and make sure that all of their customers have a way to get the best experience possible.

          • Andrew_C says:

            I’m not sure about that. It was originally based on GiantAV, which was a lesser known but reasonably well regarded AV back in the day. MS bought them out and early version of Security Essentials still included bits of the GiantAV branding. It wouldn’t surprise me if MS haven’t being assigning as many people to maintain it as they could have, though.

            Also, as Mike says above gaming the tests is a huge part of the AV business, IF MS have decided to stop doing that and concentrate on actually write a decent AV, tat’s actually good news

      • lethal_guitar says:

        Regarding the topic of anti virus programs, and whether they’re any good, I’d like to mention this Codinghorror article.

        Personally, I also don’t use any anti virus anymore. In the end, no such program can protect you from zero day exploits anyway, and it slows down performance quite a lot (the article I linked has some benchmark results).

        • ET says:

          Yeah, the best defense against viruses is good user habits, plus not running as admin.
          That article links to the Dancing Bunnies Problem.
          i.e. Users are going to click on whatever they need to, just to get to the content that they want to watch, be it some “joke” software, actual cute bunnies, porn, or whatever.
          Heck, I’ve succumb to the DBP, and I was part-way through my freaking Comp Sci degree when it happened!

      • Steve C says:

        I’m like you Shamus. I suggest a portable virus scanner. There are many but here’s free a package that scan when you please and update when you like and never at any other time.

    • lethal_guitar says:

      Regarding the topic of anti virus programs, and whether they’re any good, I’d like to mention this Codinghorror article.

      Personally, I also don’t use any anti virus anymore. In the end, no such program can protect you from zero day exploits anyway, and it slows down performance quite a lot (the article I linked has some benchmark results).

      And whenever I really want to scan a file, I can use something like http://www.virustotal.com, which combines the results of multiple scanners.

      • Humanoid says:

        Not a criticism as such, but I’m happy to see the age of that article, and more specifically, the arrival of the mainstream SSD in the interim. The impact of active protection now is happily something that’s only measured in benchmarks and not in actual user experience.

        That said, I’m not sure I follow the logic of non zero-day protection leading to the dismissal of the product altogether. Besides, heuristic methods mean that isn’t a strictly true assertion anyway.

        • ET says:

          Wouldn’t the performance hit depend on the throughput (B/s) more than the response time (s) for a particular drive?
          I know SSDs have are very snappy for random reads, but their throughput is worse than spinning disks, at least last time I checked.
          I suppose the performance would depend on what’s being scanned:
          - lots of small files: SSD wins
          - few large files: spinning disks win

      • Is there a more recent article of a similar nature? 2007 is recent in human years, but in software version years…

  25. ehlijen says:

    So now that you’ve linked those articles again in a new one, they are likely to get at least a small temporary boost in in posting popularity, no?

    So by wondering about why so many of them are about Bioware or EA, you’ve ensured they will continue to be on the top for at least a little while longer :p

  26. Noumenon72 says:

    How could Alan make a MySQL query without having all the code from your site for table names?

    What did the query look like, can you copy and paste it?

    • Click the link under “Musing about” in the OP above for details.
      Basically, WordPress has a standard database format that nearly no-one bothers to muck with. Horay for standardized libraries and database schema! The disadvantage being that if a malicious bot can make it through the security layer, it knows exactly what to do to make your life miserable. Well, not your life, but whoever is maintaining the site.

  27. Heaven Smile says:

    Some music:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP-h2aNrzNA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWzD7FAYhQw

    “Really? This is the #2 most talked about post on my site? The ending of Mass Effect 3? I mean, I understand it was a Big Topic when Mass Effect 3 came out, but in the eight years I’ve been running this blog, THAT controversy rates at the top? What about all the rants I wrote about Activision and EA? What about the endless screeds against DRM?”

    You still dont get it do you? things like DRM and all kinds of shitty practices from the industry in general (or Activision and EA) is EXPECTED. After all, all other mediums have shitty practices, so games are not an exception to the rule.

    In fact, there is nothing to be said about DRM and other whimsically unpleasant practices of the industry because we already know they suck since day one. If you want extra comments on those topics, they will ALL be like: “Yes Shamus. I agree with you.”, and that’s it. What is there to discuss other than flat out stop TALKING and start DOING shit, like boycotting companies to stop doing that?

    But you know what it WASN’T expected? betrayal.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF_Ca45JRFs

    It is said by many many people (from philosophers like Arthur Schopenhauer and critics like Roger Ebert) that the work of an Artist, and the creation of sublime art (High Art) was the noblest of human undertakings. And artists, especially musicians, were the high priests of civilization. A great responsibility, is it? to create a work that will guide and enlighten humanity to a better tomorrow.

    But then, if that is true, if there is such responsibility, why are artist acting like complete manchilds? Aren’t they supposed to be our saviors? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PrimaDonnaDirector

    THIS is what the Bioware fans experienced. The trust that they gave to Bioware, founded many years of good work, is not completely gone. But not only that, Bioware pretended that what they say didn’t happen, that its OUR fault for not “getting it”, not THEIR fault. The Artist has become just as entitled and childish as the audience they are supposed to save. See for yourself at 1:05:01:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GbYLegVsBo
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoMadFromTheRevelation

    This is the first bitter taste of “Artistic Integrity” that has been abused in other mediums but not in ours (not in THIS magnitude at least). It is expected for the sky to be blue, for things to fall down because of gravity, for taxes to haunt you, for EA to make Shovel-ware while saying they have the best interest in people, for QTE to suck, but not for the Artist to say fuck you and get away with it because “The audience is always entitled and wrong”. For such betrayal there are NOT ENOUGH WORDS. Period.

    This is not a “Really?”, this….is history. This must NOT be repeated. There are laws and such to prevent the customer from being robbed blind (in most cases) when EA acts like a greedy bastard, but there is no defense for the Nihilism (maybe Nietzsche) you are going to get after completing ME3, nor there will be refunds for it. After all, Art is subjective, isn’t it? its too broad to have any rules, let alone laws to prevent this abuse of power that the “Auteur Theory” is giving to this manchildren (i remind you that Schopenhauer more or less said that they are supposed to be our Messiahs. Yeah….right)

    But lets step back for a moment. You are asking us to pay attention to the other problems because they are more “serious”. Really? does the following words ring a bell to you? Verizon, Pay Pal, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Ticketmaster, Google. Those are worst than EA and Activision in terms of damages to society (or even crimes against humanity), and they weren’t the ONLY candidates on the “Worst Company of America”. The misery that EA spreads (and the game industry) pales in comparison to the others. So why not focus on the real threats instead?

    Well, because EA most likely WILL do the same as those IF given the chance. Better to catch the problem early, i guess. Isn’t that right? Ur-Quan Korh-Ah and your “Eternal Doctrine”?

    I think you have better chance to ignite the discussion of you tackle the main points that people use to defend shitty practices of the companies. As presented on this video (“Why EA Treats You Like A Little Bitch”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaAH-cv2ybo) there are the following:
    1)Business exist to make money.
    2)EA has no obligation to the customer or the market.
    3)EA only needs to answer to the share holders.

    These are the counters that the video present and elaborates:
    1)Make money to make games Vs make games to make money.
    2)Companies are not immoral machines.
    3)Profit is not king.

    Remember, if you want to convince people to give a crap about this, you got to attack the central point they bring up. You GOT to convince people that trying to keep the developers they like alive, will ALSO keep EA alive as well:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Graham%27s_Hierarchy_of_Disagreement.svg

    • Heaven Smile says:

      “The trust that they gave to Bioware, founded many years of good work, is not completely gone”

      For some reason i didn’t edit it properly. Lets fix this:
      “The trust that they gave to Bioware, founded BY many years of good work, is NOW completely gone”

    • Cybron says:

      I find it hard to take seriously any attempt at a dramatic rant that links to TVTropes.

      • Heaven Smile says:

        You can use Wikipedia to double check. After all, they get paid to make sure the facts are presented properly with sources and everything, despite its “free to edit” nature. Do not forget that Shamus ALSO uses Tv Tropes in several occasions, if you know where to look.

        So, any legitimate observation, besides you saying nothing?

        Also, Anita Sarkeesiam uses Tv Tropes for her “Academic Presentations™” (thanks MovieBob!). If that is enough for her “work” to be academic to everyone, then you shouldn’t have a problem accepting mine.

      • Heaven Smile says:

        Oh, and Smudboy (who Shamus recommended here in the final episode of ME3 season) also uses TvTropes for his work. Like on this Tides of Numenera video about Combat in Real Time with pause Vs Turn Based Combat:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yscCbjg33xk

  28. Retsam says:

    Started rereading some of the comments on the religion post, and have to say that was one of the best (most interesting, most respectful, least bile, etc) internet discussions on religion I’ve had.

    I actually wouldn’t mind if that happened again.

  29. Ilseroth says:

    While I know it has little relevance except maybe to the DRM arguments… GOD I hate uplay so damn much. I bought a game on steam, and if it was a steam game I’d be able to play it no problems, but no even though it is on steam, i have to go through UPlay as well… how much DRM do they need? Then after installing and setting up Uplay they ask me for a CD key, I got input it, the one steam gave me is invalid, so now I have to wait for stupid support (since I can’t call anyone to just get it fixed) to email me back with a code that actually works which means I can’t just *play* the game I just bought…. BLAAARGH.

    Sorry, had to rant somewhere, feel a little better now… Hows it going guys?

    • ET says:

      Yeah, that sounds like a large problem for Valve.
      Honestly, if I were them, I’d force developers/publishers to only use Steam as DRM, for copies distributed on Steam.
      Hmm…actually, that would probably have problems if those people then tried to use the game through the other types of DRM.
      e.g.
      Buy on Steam, uplay gets bypassed, player then has to go through uplay anyways 6 months later.
      or
      Buy on Steam, play single player, can’t log into multiplayer, since it uses other DRM which was bypassed.
      If Valve silently did the other DRM on the player’s behalf behind the scenes…that might cause problems too, especially if the player needs a username for the other DRM.
      Hmm…
      I think what we need is a federated set of DRMs, so that, for example, if you’re registered through Steam, it counts for uplay, BattleNet, etc etc.
      Maybe something like OpenID, but for games?
      HEck, I think even OpenID by itself might work, although I don’t know how easy it is to get it set up with your payment stuff, like VISA or your Paypal account.

  30. Josh says:

    Wow, one of my posts is in the top ten. How about that?

  31. Heaven Smile says:

    Speaking of SOPA, PIPA,(6 hours later)… and CISPA, here is ANOTHER attempt of having control over the series of tubes. A kill switch:
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/11/internet-phone-kill-switch-explained

    • ET says:

      From the article:
      “At this point, so much of our critical infrastructure runs on the internet that a ‘kill switch’ would do more harm than anything short of a nuclear strike. [...] The benefit of people being able to communicate on their cellphones in times of crisis is enormous, and cutting that off is in and of itself potentially very dangerous.” – Eva Galperin EFF

      A million times this!
      Practically everything runs through IP now.
      I just hope Canada isn’t considering something similar. :|

  32. Andrew_C says:

    On the subject of GFWL closing and games not working properly, Fallout 3 won’t even start without GFWL installed, even if you don’t use GFWL. Fortunately there is a fake dll available which you can drop in the fallout 3 directory and FOMM includes this.

    But how many people know of that? Especially when as far as I know Bethesda haven’t patched GFWL out and don’t intend to.

    Other games I know of that won’t work without GFWL and aren’t receiving patches are the Codemasters racing games like Colin McRae Rally: Dirt 2 and Dirt 3. Basically any Codemasters title older than 2 years, as far as I can tell.

  33. Mike Shikle says:

    “Losing BioWare’s talky, thinky, lore-heavy adventure stories is sad. That basically kills off most of a genre for us.”

    Are there really No alternatives anymore? I’ve been looking for something imersive and character driven for months, if I replay Jempire or Kotor one more time I might go insane. There Must be another company that makes comparable titles?

    • Heaven Smile says:

      Some music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oCg5tDrHB4

      You can play Planescape Torment, IJI, Sacrifice, Deadly Premonition (the limited animation REALLY reminds me of the “Bioware Dummy Acting™”), Yume Nikki, Bastion, Tyrian 2000, Heroes 3 of Might And Magic, MDK2 (written by Bioware), Turgor/The Void/Tension, Legacy of Kain, Killer7, Grim Fandango, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, Metroid Prime series, Earthbound, Seiken Densetsu 3, Star Control 2, Psychonauts.

      Take you pick. There is no shortage of character driven Citizen Kanes.

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