12 Reasons Magic in Skyrim Sucks
I’m kind of wishing I’d taken a different angle with my column this week. I wanted to talk about why EA is a badly run company, but I’m worried we’re going to get dragged into an argument over the definition of “greed”. I’ve run into this debate before, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not preemptively deflecting it.
In short: Some people say “greed” meaning “wanting more when you don’t need more”. So, asking for a raise when you already make the standard salary for your field and have enough to live on, or raising prices when your company is already solvent would both count as “greed”. The OTHER definition is a sort of monomaniacal pursuit of more, even when it results in making less. So if you charge $50 for a hamburger when the restaurant next door only charges $5, that’s greedy.
My mental definition of greed is #1, and I’m basically accusing EA of #2. If your mental definition is already #2, then I suppose the article will come off as strangely self-refuting: “EA’s problem isn’t greed, it’s that they’re greedy!”
Anyway, I know I’ve played this tune in the past, but the recent Dungeon Keeper fiasco drove me to write about it again. My beef isn’t that EA made a stupid shallow bastardization of a classic game to make money, (although that is a problem) it’s that they did so in a way that isn’t even clever or profitable. The game begins haranguing you for money before you’ve even settled in, before you’re even invested in it. A well-designed game would let you build half your dungeon and amass a bunch of (actually worthless) in-game gold, and then gradually ramp up the money required to keep going.
“I can’t quit now! Look how far I’ve come! Oh, it’s only a dollar to keep going. That’s reasonable, right?”
Then four days later:
“I can’t quit now! I’ve put a week into this and I’m so close to the next milestone! Oh, it’s only another five bucks to get rid of these messages for a whole day? I guess that’s fair. Say, I wonder how much I’ve spent so far…?”
Instead, Dungeon Keeper just starts panhandling before you’ve even settled in. I could understand some clueless indie making this blunder, but EA should know better.
My grief is reminiscent of my problems with Taco Bell back when I was a young man. I wasn’t mad that I was an overworked, underpaid peon. I was mad that all the corner-cutting was for nothing. If you’re going to screw me, the least you could do is make sure you’re not going to be hurting yourself in the process.
12 Reasons Magic in Skyrim Sucks
Bethesda felt the need to jam a morality system into Fallout 3, and they blew it. Good and evil make no sense and the moral compass points sideways.
A Star is Born
Remember the superhero MMO from 2009? Neither does anyone else. It was dumb. So dumb I was compelled to write this.
Programming Language for Games
Game developer Jon Blow is making a programming language just for games. Why is he doing this, and what will it mean for game development?
The product of fandom run unchecked, this novel began as a short story and grew into something of a cult hit.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.