Diecast #7: Piracy, APB Reloaded 2, and Activision’s Face

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Apr 2, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 153 comments


On the upside, the podcast is proving to be really popular. On the downside, we seem to be slipping on our production of Spoiler Warning videos. Oops.

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Show notes:

00:30 What’s everyone playing?

Rutskarn is playing BioShock Infinite.

Jarenth is playing BioShock Infinite and Anodyne.

Chris is playing BioShock Infinite.

Josh is recovering from surgery where nope it’s too gross for me to type you’ll have to listen and hear for yourself. The “shattering ribcage” joke was a reference to Surgery Simulator 2013, which is probably the greatest misappropriation of the word “simulator” in the history of games.

Shamus was playing BioShock Infinite and BioShock Infinite.

12:00 Horrible SimCity news this week: Here is the max happiness, max density city with no public services, no jobs, no goods, no resources, no government, no electricity, no hospitals, no crime, no homelessness, and no police. Here is the Something is Wrong With The Offices post that Josh referenced. Here is the video of the broken roads in SimCity. But don’t get worked up, because American McGee thinks everyone needs to calm down.

21:00 Our giant unplanned tangent on piracy.

28:00 Retro City Rampage. Chris was talking about the WiiWare Game. I was talking about ROM City Rampage, which is a theoretical port of the game to N64 NES hardware. Here is the video where he describes doing the port. It’s amazing.

31:00 Remember APB? $100 million to make a crappy, laggy, mechanically boring PvP GTA MMO that closed its doors in 90 days. Then they got an infusion of cash to get the servers back on. And now… now they’re doing a Kickstarter. For a sequel.

The discussion morphs into a conversation about Kickstarter in general. Then it’s a conversation about business start-ups. Note that when I said, “Nobody wants to live in a small town” what I really mean is, “EXTROVERTS don’t want to live in a small town.” I strongly suspect the habit of gathering in massive expensive super-cities is a side-effect of 75% of us being extroverts.

54:00 Activision’s Tech Demo. Here is the duck demo from a few years back.


From The Archives:

153 thoughts on “Diecast #7: Piracy, APB Reloaded 2, and Activision’s Face

  1. Amstrad says:

    Haven’t listened to the audio yet, but that sequence of events for APB isn’t quite correct. Realtime Worlds, the original developers, spent all that money, the game didn’t do as well as expected, Realtime Worlds went into administration, and the servers were shut down. K2 Network, purchased APB and relaunched the game a few months later. K2 Network are now doing a Kickstarter for a game along the lines of what Brink is.

    1. Someone says:

      Yes, Brink, the latest runaway success story in the multiplayer shooter market.

      Does anyone even play that anymore?

      1. Eruanno says:

        I tried playing it during a free Steam weekend some months back.

        Problem #1: The game runs like complete ass on AMD graphics cards.
        Problem #2: There were maybe 20 games online and the game refused to connect me to any of them nor let anyone connect anyone to my game. Fuck.

      2. Kuma says:

        I have a t-shirt… it’s cyan… played the game for not more than an hour or two…

      3. Fawstoar says:

        Does having a ubiquitous (but Genuine!) TF2 hat I got for pre-ordering count as playing it?

        In all honesty I reinstalled it once and played for about 15 minutes before I gradually realized all the various issues with it… some of the design was flawless. Some of it was absolutely awful.

        The classes system felt almost meaningless, there was no good reason to not be the light body-type, the vast majority of weapons were terrible and felt terrible to use save for a few that EVERYONE used.

        The teamwork and customizeability (and setting! Oh my goodness the Ark was a pretty cool place!) could have made for a proper follow-up to Wolf: ET, but I guess something went wrong – not enough playtesting, maybe? – and now we have BRINK, which is meh and bleh and I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

  2. James says:

    Nevertheless, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year for about 65% of publicly traded companies in the United States and for a majority of large corporations in the UK[2] and elsewhere (with notable exceptions Australia, New Zealand and Japan) (wikipedia)

    Otherwise its the last day of March (which was Sunday 31’st this year)

    And if 3.5mill copies at what $60 per unit is a loss then you are not doing things right, all that money on experimental TressFX that doesn’t work properly on AMD and at all really on Nvidea, companies need to find where their are hemorrhaging money and fix that, rather then blame piracy, also fix service issues, i really really really want to watch GoT and i have to wait till i can get the Box set of series 2, let alone watch series 3. THANK GOD i read the books

    1. CTrees says:

      Otherwise its the last day of March

      Not really. The US Federal Government’s fiscal year ends September 30. My company has at least two – one for the parent company (ending March 31) and one for the division I’m in (May 30). Seems like it’s always New Years at work.

      1. krellen says:

        The university that I used to work at had a fiscal year that went from July to June.

        1. Tizzy says:

          I imagine that it’s a pretty standard setup for universities.

    2. Taellosse says:

      Fiscal years can end whenever a given organization wants – there is no hard and fast rule, and there is no legal requirement (at least not in North America or Europe. There might be something elsewhere of which I am unaware). Some places peg it to the calendar year, others, like many game companies and retail establishments, want to make sure their last quarter ends with holiday sales, so have it conclude in the early part of the new year, calendar-wise. Most colleges and universities peg it to their academic calendar, and so have the fiscal year conclude at the end of May or June.

      The only thing you can reliably say about fiscal years is they’re always referenced based on which calendar year they END in. Thus, despite the fact that most of SquareEnix’s fiscal year took place in 2012, because it ends on the last day of March 2013, it is FY13.

  3. Josh, I live in the central valley, which is essentially next door to the bay area and it’s hundred miles between Lodi (where I live) and San Fran. Bay Area to Las Vegas is not a commute sized trip by any stretch. I barely broke even between Stockton and Fremont!

    1. Trix2000 says:

      I live in San Jose and I’d even just call SJ -> San Francisco an annoying (but certainly doable) commute, and that’s only about an hour depending on traffic.

      I am also sad at the fact that San Francisco comes up before San Jose when people think “Silicon Valley”, considering there’s a hell of a lot more stuff around the entire bay area, and not just the penninsula. You can’t help but trip over the huge amount of tech companies that make SJ their home. Then again, the city always struck me as low-key.

      Going back to relevancy, you might be able to manage commuting via plane between Vegas and the bay area (heck, a lot of people go between here and LA – they have like hourly flights through SJC or something) but not driving. You’d spend the entire day driving there and back.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Well, part of the issue is that for what Josh was talking about, moving tech production to someplace where developers can live for half the cost of “tech centers” in trade for 70% of the salary. $1800 a month for a 1 BR apartment (which looks typical for San Jose, at least for places that advertise — YMMV) may be a lot cheaper than $2200 for the same place in San Francisco proper, but the same place in Las Vegas is $750, and that’s for the ones in the GOOD neighborhoods. If you’re willng to live under the approach path for McCarran airport (because you’re working 80 hours a week anyway), that’s $500.

  4. tengokujin says:

    Yeah, kidney stones that size were painful.
    Also, having a catheter for 2 weeks was not pleasant.
    It burned to pee with that thing in.

  5. As someone else who visits Disney with his wife, I’ve actually experienced the technology Chris is referencing. The “dude fish” Chris is referring to is Crush the sea turtle. The attraction is called Turtle Talk with Crush. There’s also an attraction that uses the same technology called Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which creates an entire comedy club routine, complete with lighting and audience participation. While the 3D could use some updating, the effect still manages to fascinate most audiences. I could see the benefit of some super hi-res models, though being non-human characters, there’s less chance of major uncanny valley issues.

  6. Aaron says:

    that surgery simulator is absolutely hilarious…

    and what is the time on the simcity disaster? are we nearing a full month of being a technically broken game?

    1. ENC says:

      How is it broken, exactly?

      The point of a city is what you make of it, but they’re just talking about how someone went for high population (and they failed to mention that the person had other cities supplying jobs; the 1.8m post was on whirlpool).

      The point for most is to make great works; you can’t do that with no income.

      But please, continue thinking it’s broken if that’s what helps you sleep at night.

      I’ve never actually encountered any “””issues””” with this game; it’s an MMORTS, there was downtime for some the first few days (I personally know no one who was affected out of the dozen people I know that bought the game). I don’t exactly understand why it brings all the trolls out because you all seem to think it’s worse than Aliens: Colonial Marines which is a buggy mess (boo hoo the level design changed and the lighting changed; the combat looked god awful before release anyway).

      As for traffic, they failed to mention that taking the avenue would literally make the Sims get their slower.

      1. Deadfast says:

        Oh, really? Obviously nowhere near as neat as what Shamus linked to but here you have a 100% residential city, other than a power plant absolutely no jobs available anywhere, half the town on fire and yet new people keep moving in to replace those that have burned to death and the city actually makes money too.

      2. Zukhramm says:

        Decent trolling attempt, but you reveal yourself in calling it an MMORTS, I’d also suggest using no more than two sets of quotes and refraining from referring to Colonial Marines.

        1. Mistwraithe says:


          I often find myself missing a Like button for posts on Shamus’s website, consider this liked…

      3. Raygereio says:

        I have to say that gravater assigned you an amazingly fitting avatar for that post. The only thing missing is a tiny goatee.

      4. Are they shipping their sewage to other cities via UPS or something?

  7. overpoweredginger says:

    This is primarily directed at Campster (assuming he reads this), but the highest-funded Kickstarter game was Project Eternity with a bit over $4 million dollars. Your point still largely stands, and I think the Torment sequel/reboot might have beaten that, but don’t underestimate the scale of Kickstarter projects. So many surprises can happen.

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      Hm, do we count Star Citizen, by the way? It got an 8.5 million $ total, but of that, only 2.2mil was through kickstarter (6.3m through their own website-campaign). In total numbers, it would be the largest crowdfunded project, but, yeah, not exclusively through KS.

      1. Hydralysk says:

        Actually Star Citizen only made $6,238,563 during it’s joint kickstarter/RSI-site campaign.

        The counter on the site nowadays has increased to 8.5 mil because latecomers can still upgrade/buy whatever reward tier they want even though the campaign is technically over.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Huh. Well, that explains why the 8.5mil figure felt a bit off the first time I saw it (given that I pitched in the second-to-last week and it was definitely not close to 7/8 million then).

    2. Karthik says:

      Torment’s hovering around $3.4 million with a couple of days left. It might beat Project Eternity, but it’s going to need a real push at the end. On that note, here’s an in-engine proof of concept video they cooked up during their kickstarter to show what they’re aiming for. It already looks better than I expected it to.

      Anyway, my point is: These big projects lose 10% of their funding to Kickstarter/Amazon, and about a fourth to a third of their money in fulfilling backer rewards. So Project Eternity is probably working on a budget of $2.6-2.8 million, which is most likely less than the budget of Baldur’s Gate 2 even without accounting for inflation. And PE promises far more than Baldur’s Gate in every department. So yeah, something about the proposed scale of the bigger Kickstarter projects worries me. I’m not expecting any pleasant surprises.

      1. Thomas says:

        Most Kickstarters hover for the last few weeks and then increase a lot in the last few days, so it should break Eternity (although I don’t want it to)

        Btw do you know what the BG2 budget was? It’d be kinda cool to look at. It’s got the same development time as Project Eternity/Torment were estimating but I guess it’s about the number of staff being brought in to work on the project

        1. Thomas says:

          I found a helpful number. Planescape: Torment sold 73 000 units and ‘made a small profit’ so presumably the budget for that was fairly low. (As a tidbit, Project Eternity had 73 986 backers oooOOOOOooo <Thats how you're meant to do Twilight Zone music right?)

          1. False Prophet says:

            I’m reminded of the old Brian Eno quotation: Only 30,000 people bought the Velvet Underground’s first album. But “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”

  8. Jamas Enright says:

    BTW… “Death of a War Time Mother” … indie developers, get on that!

    1. Syal says:

      I heard it as “Death of War: Time Mother”.

      Also possible: “Death of Wart, I’m Mother.”

      1. Zukhramm says:

        Deatho! Fwart! I’m e mother!

  9. impassiveimperfect says:

    Where’s the link to Jarenth’s review of Anodyne thing???

    Because we’re lazy!

    (Also it’s just generally helpful.)

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m an idiot. The Anodyne link was SUPPOSED to be to his review. We even agreed on this. Then I forgot.


  10. Deadyawn says:

    ROM City Rampage was on the NES not the N64. There’s a pretty significant difference there and it really is super impressive he got it working on an actual 8-bit console.

  11. I am filled with glee at the idea of a podcast devoted entirely to Bioshock Infinite. I loved this game so much that after beating it I bought the season pass DLC not because I wanted the DLC but just because I honestly thought that the game deserved the support.

    Also at what point does Sim City messing up stop being news and just become the accepted normal? Something that is regrettable yet unavoidable somewhat like Rutskarn’s puns.

    1. Syal says:

      I would assume it stops being news shortly after EA apologizes for it.

      1. Steve C says:

        EA is never going to apologize for it. They’ll redefine it as a success and move on. It’s going to stop being news after the 2013 raspberry awards go out. It’s going to stop being relevant long before then.

    2. Raygereio says:

      Also at what point does Sim City messing up stop being news and just become the accepted normal? Something that is regrettable yet unavoidable somewhat like Rutskarn's puns.

      I’d say give it another month and unless there are major new developements Simcity will have faded from news.

      As for it becoming the “accepted normal”, what are your referring to specifically?
      -Poorly implemented and unwanted multiplayer aspects? That’s nothing new. Marketresearch has been telling the industry for a while now that we all want multiplayer in everything. So until someone in power manages to figure out how to actually use marketresearch and how to draw proper conclusions from it, you can continue to expect dumb design calls such as that.
      -A really bad release resulting from general incompetence? Again: nothing new. If a game required access to a server in order to play, it’s a safe bet the release day was a mess for a sizeble percentage of players.
      -DRM? Well, the norm in DRM is what the industry decides it is. Sure, people will bitch, moan and shake their tiny fists. But the game will still sell. And after a while people will have stopped complaining and when the next game comes along with the same or worse DRM they’ll bitch, moan and shake their tiny fists again. But the game will still sell. Don’t believe me? Just look at every single DRM-debacle in the past.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        So I’m guessing next week they can mention the DLC that I read about on RPS? The one that’s an ad for Nissan and basically gives you a building to create happiness out of thin air? Not a major issue if an issue at all but something amusing and vaguely failish and I think it’s about time for people to stop discovering new ways that game is broken.

      2. I honestly wonder how much more they can mess up with Sim City. Seems to be the next natural step is to just replace all digital copies of the game with a virus that fries your computer. Probably the only way it could get worse.

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      Seconded. I’m looking forward to seeing that. It’ll be nice to discuss it in a place where I don’t have to worry about spoilers.

  12. tengokujin says:

    Shamus, did you mean NES, instead of N64? :3

  13. Retsam says:

    “I love this game super huggy much.” I feel like the phrase “super huggy much” is familiar to me from something. Is that a quote?

    (I sometimes fear to ask these questions because sometimes the answer is something that I normally would not want to admit to watching)

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve been saying it for years. Perhaps I’ve said it before on Spoiler Warning.

      I don’t know if I invented it or lifted it from elsewhere.

      1. Taellosse says:

        It seems unlikely you lifted it from elsewhere, unless it was just another person who said it to you. It appears to, at present, be a googlewhack (well, not technically, as strictly speaking a googlewhack is only with 2 words) on this very page, thanks to the comment above.

        So you probably invented the phrase. Congratulations – you have a unique catch-phrase! Quick, trademark it! ;-)

  14. tengokujin says:

    Oh, Chris. Of course you like graphics. Polygons are EMOTIONS. :3

    1. X2-Eliah says:

      But what is emotions? Can there exist emotions? No, says the 2D artist. No, says the level designer. No, says the creative director. Yes, says the engine creator. New game engines are more triangles, which are faces. More faces means more emotions.

      1. Keeshhound says:

        I chose something different… I chose TRESS FX! Where hair would no longer be constrained by graphical inequity! And with the triangles of your face, Emotions can be yours too!

        1. Adam says:

          “no longer constrained by graphical inequality”

          …Or gravity, for that matter.

  15. impassiveimperfect says:

    The impression I got from the Activision tech demo, with the parfait dialogue, was that it was supposed to show off lip-synching, or rather that the face/mouth/lips were able to make the ‘proper’ movements, instead of just open-close-open-close.

  16. X2-Eliah says:

    Random tangent, I’d love to live in a small town. The main reasons not to do that are.. well, a single reason, really – lack of IT-related job prospects. Beyond that, I really prefer smalltowns over bigtowns (better views, closer to nature, less evil people (or just plain less people) and usually cheaper to live in, too).

    1. BeardedDork says:

      I don’t think city size has a whole lot to do with cost of living. The city I live in of about 65,000 (or 80,000 depending on whether you count students or not) has about the same cost of living as Las Vegas. Where as some of the oil-boom towns (barely worth being called towns) in the eastern part of the state have such tremendously high costs of living it is generally cheaper for workers to live anywhere else in the state or neighboring states and camp out or stay in hotels while they work.

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Cost of living is made up of two things: How much it costs to get stuff there, and how much people *want* to live there. There is no place that people in general really like to live that is cheap.

        1. BeardedDork says:

          I don’t think many people “like” to live in eastern Montana, it is very expensive. Conversely (many) people do like to live in Las Vegas, which is comparatively inexpensive. I really don’t think there is a convenient formula for what causes cost of living to be high or low.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            OK, so this being my actual field of expertise, I guess I should comment. Most of the US population does not live in “cities” if by city we mean “the big central cities.” Our biggest city is New York, which has 9 million residents. There are another 11 million residents living in the (much cheaper) surrounding suburbs. This is typical of the American metropolis. Half of Americans live in a metropolis, but not a central city, and this number is increasing as people move from rural areas and central cities both into the suburbs.

            And the cost drops precipitously once you leave the major cities, even if you’re just 30 miles outside of it. On the coasts, this is driven by 2 major factors, regulations and the coast itself. New York has height restrictions, San Francisco has extremely strict zoning, and this drives up the price (I’ve seen one estimate that puts this at half the price of housing in those locations). And the coast -well, inland you can build outward in concentric circles, but the ocean prevents that in New York and San Francisco. You can only build out one direction.

            This is part of the reason it is so much cheaper to live in the South, even in the big cities, like Dallas or Atlanta. There is plenty of available land and they generally have permissive zoning. Also, air conditioning is cheaper than heating, so the “sunbelt” also has that advantage.

            So why locate in these expensive cities? In part, because that’s where everyone else located. Once Silicon Valley became a place for IT, every IT company moved there, and workers who wanted to be in IT went there. So new IT companies who want to work with other IT companies and hire experience IT workers go to Silicon Valley (repeat this story for banking in New York). Though, notably, Silicon Valley is actually pretty reasonable by the standards of California, and it’s hardly got a deathlock on it.

            I’ll stop rambling now.

  17. rrgg says:

    I don’t think “it fails as a simulation” is necessarily the right phrase. There’s really a lot of wiggle room in what you can claim to be an “accurate simulation,” and if someone wanted to say that yes, a city will grow even without any government intervention that’s fine by me (even compared to the alternative being described where a city obviously isn’t realistic unless the mayor runs around coloring it with green, blue, and yellow sharpies). More fair would be “doesn’t work as a game” or “as fun” or “as something the designers put a lot of effort into.”

    1. ENC says:

      They never touted the game to even remotely be a city simulation.

      First people whined about server downtime for 2 days; most MMOs do, but EA went so far as to give us a free bloody game for our troubles and told people in advance so you could get 2 games for the price of 1 at $40.

      Then they whined about sims going to the nearest job when sims going to the same job means people will whine about the gratuitous traffic on the roads as people would write up guides on how to game the system.

      Then they complained about city size when the game was designed to run on 8 year old hardware to achieve maximum market potential due to the friendliness and approachability of the game.

      Then they complain over how much of a ‘failure’ the game is for some… very stupid reason.

      Then they whine when EA keeps patching things to make traffic more efficient like emergency vehicles being able to cut across lanes whenever they feel like it.

      Then they whined about Sims taking the most efficient route which happened to be a dirt road.

      Then they whined about paid-DLC or some such utter crap when EA’s never taken content out of a game to do anything (collector’s edition incentives yes), and SimCity has free DLC.

      I honestly believe it’s just people running their mouth. On reddit, whenever the game is discussed there’s an odd correlation between ‘Valve good EA bad’ vocalists, when Valve use extremely shady and pretty unethical practices in order to their net profit.

      Now, to complain about Bioshock; the shadows are horrendously awful, and the FOV is so low that I feel nauseous after 5 minutes of playing it which has never happened to me in any movie or game before, so I can’t play that game. If steam allowed refunds which they are legally obligated to do (but the ACCC would never act upon it for fear of international backlash from imbeciles) then I would return it in a heartbeat as it is a completely broken and unplayable game.


      This is the worst example that I found 10 minutes into the game

      People complained about Simcity not being useable for 2 days; this game still hasn’t been patched yet to fix this issue that is pretty widespread.

      1. Thomas says:

        Okay, I didn’t necessarily think you were trolling up post but now you’re first sentence about a game whose title is short for Simulated City is

        ‘They never touted the game to even remotely be a city simulation.’

        I think your passion for the subject is making you a little too defensive (and I guess you’ve had to put up with a lot of people ripping into something you like for a couple of weeks now), but it’s hard to not lash out in response instead of engaging with what you’re saying, which is a shame because you could have interesting things to say. But to sway people’s opinions, even if you have Truth on your side, you do need to give them some room and gentleness for their opinions.

      2. Shamus says:

        What? What are you trying to accomplish here? If you didn’t already have 80 approved comments I would have assumed you were just trying to provoke people for laughs and nuked the comment without a second look.

        You’ve posted some provocative stuff, deliberated attacked the SimCity players instead of their ideas, opened up a bunch of side-discussions, and not backed up anything you’ve said. For all your sneering at Reddit, your comment looks pretty much like a classic reddit troll post.

        I can’t even tell if you’re being serious, or ironic, or what you’re doing, but I would encourage you to do things differently in the future.

        1. Syal says:

          Pretty sure it’s all satire, but the absence of a Rickroll link leaves me unsure.

          …hee. Refunds.

      3. Anorak says:

        I can’t even figure out what’s wrong with those screenshots. Bad wall texture on a couple of them, but I honestly can’t see what’s wrong with the one you called the worst example.

        1. Asimech says:

          On the wall of the… booth? The shadow suddenly goes high contrast. I might not be using the right word, but basically on the left it looks like a shadow made by an object further away than on the right. I think that’s it anyway. If the images were any better I would’ve assumed the post is meant as satire.

        2. From what I can see, it looks like the shadows get occasionally rendered differently from one texture map to the other. The first couple of images look fine to me. On this one, I can see where one part of the wall has a hard transition between shadow styles, so yes, it looks video-game-fake.

          If that makes a game unplayable, then being served a home-cooked burger cooked to perfection with every condiment you like in exact proportions is inedible because you can see something tore off a patch of sesame seeds on the bun.

          1. Anorak says:

            Yes, I see now. Easier to see when not on my lunch break, obviously. Even so, it’s not something I picked up on during play myself, so I’m just selectively blind.

            I’d still rather have this than 50 shades of brown.

      4. Asimech says:


        “They never touted the game to even remotely be a city simulation.”

        Aside from the name meaning “a simulation of a city” they did say they were simulating people etc. inside the city. Hence, they did claim it was going to simulate parts of a city.

        “First people whined about server downtime for 2 days; most MMOs do, but EA went so far as to give us a free bloody game for our troubles and told people in advance so you could get 2 games for the price of 1 at $40.”

        It’s not an MMO. MMOs are not just “games that require an internet connection to servers.” They’re games where large amounts of people play together in the same virtual space. In Simcity 2013 the maximum number of people who can be interacting is limited by the maximum number of areas within a region, which is low, and the only gameplay interaction is selling or buying services (electricity etc.)

        This means the amount of data transfer between clients is minor compared to MMOs. Combined with later reveals that the servers don’t run any of the mechanics on their end but are just Cloud storage with anti-cheat the required server capacity should be far lower than MMOs.

        So Simcity 2013 is not an MMO from a gameplay or mechanical perspective. Due to the former people were upset that they were forced to rely on servers that EA then didn’t bother to make sure would be online. Now we get to the offer.

        Offering a free game is nowhere near the same thing as offering a refund, which is what some wanted but didn’t get (some did get them).

        Then there’s a “extended” nature of the offer: it turned it from an apology into a purchase enticement with a retro-active effect. Instead of going “we’re sorry for this mess, here’s something to make up for it” it was a new sales pitch.

        “Then they whined about sims going to the nearest job when sims going to the same job means people will whine about the gratuitous traffic on the roads as people would write up guides on how to game the system.”

        Yeah, some would’ve likely gamed the system. But assuming the system works without it, no-one would’ve been forced to game it. But right now every sim travelling to the same job only to find it occupied means they’re wasting time and building up traffic on the road to that job. It hurts the simulation and the experience for everyone.

        “Then they complained about city size when the game was designed to run on 8 year old hardware to achieve maximum market potential due to the friendliness and approachability of the game.”

        Except it doesn’t run on old hardware all that well and is actually a decent resource hog from what I’ve heard. It could be that the simulations they run are hardware intensive, but that would still mean they lied.

        Never mind that allowing for larger cities doesn’t necessarily translate to being forced to play larger cities.

        “Then they complain over how much of a “˜failure' the game is for some… very stupid reason.”

        Is this the “pathfinding for sims, water, poo & electricity is broken so they can end up in infinite loops” reason or the “my city can be bulldozed by other players without my permission” reason ?

        “Then they whined about paid-DLC or some such utter crap when EA's never taken content out of a game to do anything (collector's edition incentives yes), and SimCity has free DLC.”

        Collector’s Edition and pre-order DLC could reasonably considered “content taken out for sales purposes”. It’s not much of a problem, but I haven’t heard much of a storm about it either.

        “Then they whine when EA keeps patching things to make traffic more efficient like emergency vehicles being able to cut across lanes whenever they feel like it.”

        I haven’t heard a word of anyone complaining about this.

        “Then they whined about Sims taking the most efficient route which happened to be a dirt road.”

        It wasn’t the most efficient route, it was completely packed with traffic and therefore in a jam. The engine looked for the shortest route. I’m pretty sure a developer came out and said that’s what the game does and that they were planning on adding a weighted system.

        “I honestly believe it's just people running their mouth. On reddit, whenever the game is discussed there's an odd correlation between “˜Valve good EA bad' vocalists, when Valve use extremely shady and pretty unethical practices in order to their net profit.”

        Kind of besides the point. “Someone else is doing it too” is not a valid defence. At most it would be hypocrisy on the part of the complainers, but being a hypocrite doesn’t make the argument or complaint itself invalid.

        “People complained about Simcity not being useable for 2 days; this game still hasn't been patched yet to fix this issue that is pretty widespread.”

        It wasn’t just unplayable for 2 days, it’s fundamentally broken. People just didn’t find out about that until after they could actually play it.

        You could, and should, actually try contacting the ACCC. Even if they won’t do anything you’ll at least have tried.

      5. ACman says:


        Dude the game sucks. It’s a skinner-box suburb painter masquerading as a city simulation which didn’t do itself any favours by being unplayable for a week at least, having broken AI and having abysmal pathfinding for something that was approved for release.

        Add in the fact that Maxis essentially lied about individual sim behaviour and hired a completely clueless customer care spokeperson and you have a grade 1 clusternugget.

        If YOU enjoyed the game then that’s nice for YOU…. The general consensus disagrees.

        As for Bioshocks FOV, I agree, it’s awful, The slider should at least go up to 110. I had the same problem with Skyrim, but there are plenty of places that list which .ini file to edit and where. Man up and google it.

        As for the shadows I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve had Elizabeth’s shadow freak me out a few times… The lighting is superb… It’s not a ‘brown’ or ‘grey’ or ‘monotonous green’ shooter, HOORAY!!!

        If lo-res shadow textures are what bother you, and significant server problems and being lied to about depth of simulation and AI don’t, then… you’re weird, or a troll.

      6. Exetera says:

        > They never touted the game to even remotely be a city simulation.
        Here, watch this: City simulation. Simulated city. Sim city. SimCity. Get it?

        > First people whined about server downtime for 2 days; most MMOs do,
        No, most MMOs don’t lose two days at launch all of launch week. But even if they did, SimCity is hardly an MMO – aside from the (stupid, useless) anti-cheat system, SimCity does literally no computations on the servers. They’re just a (broken, insecure) cloud save/load system with a little bit of metadata sharing.

        > Then they complained about city size when the game was designed to run on 8 year old hardware to achieve maximum market potential due to the friendliness and approachability of the game.
        Guess what hardware the original SimCity was designed to run on? This hardware. It even has a cassette player built in. And that game had a lot of processing that the new SimCity doesn’t, namely actually simulating something. And, let’s not forget, bigger cities. So saying that “oh my god, you couldn’t possibly simulate a large city on an eight-year-old machine” rings a bit thuddingly false.

        > Then they complain over how much of a “˜failure' the game is for some… very stupid reason.
        This game sent its publisher’s CEO packing. What more do you want?

        > I honestly believe it's just people running their mouth.
        Oh, I see what’s going on here. Hi, Mr. Riccitello. I see you’ve got a lot of free time these days.

        1. Syal says:

          No, most MMOs don't lose two days at launch all of launch week.

          This once again reminds me; Shamus, you should really add the real strike tags [del][/del] tags to the list of tags.

      7. Keeshhound says:

        I’m pretty sure this is trolling, but every time I try to read it all the way through my brain breaks in a different way and I can’t parse everything together to be sure. It’s like staring at an Escher painting. Well played.

        1. Thomas says:

          The thing is, his points mainly tend to be fairly legitimate (from a particular point of view) and Shamus says he’s posted a lot before and the argument later on about games having a very short shelf-life and there only be so many that can sell at one time forcing the competition to drive up prices and compete to the point where profitability becomes very shaky … thats an interesting idea at least, if not necessarily foolproof.

          I could even make an argument for the ‘not touted as city simulation’ not being a troll. Sim City and the Sims are ultimately not about getting the workings of a city down perfectly. Their aim is to create a sandbox type system with driving factors that’s fun to play and we can parse as being elements of a city. So in a particular way of using ‘simulation’ he might be saying that the weird logic citizens use to find jobs isn’t bad by itself in the same way Sims taking 15 minutes to go to the toilet doesn’t wreck the game.

          So I think the thing is, he could either be a weird, very painstaking (and successful) troll or he could be the sort of person who feels like a lot of elitest gaming complaints are getting a bit sheeplish and is lashing out at that (I go through those phases quite frequently. I put it down to my urge to be counter-culture is strong enough that I end up counter-counter-culture). Both make sense so it’s impossible to tell which it actually is.

      8. tengokujin says:

        If you’re a PC gamer and not using stuff like http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/BioShock_Infinite to tweak the game to betterness, I’m not sure what I can tell you, mate.

        Then again, if you’re playing on a console, all I can say is, “too bad.” :/

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          To be fair I don’t think “you can do that by editing the .ini files” is something that works much in the game’s favour, considering the amount of complaints I’ve seen about Bioshock’s FOV I’d call the fact that it can be adjusted to what so many people consider a reasonable degree an oversight.

          1. tengokujin says:

            After years of editing .ini files, spending an hour, mucking about with graphics settings, before each new game, it’s become almost a requirement for me. Half the time, I enjoy the tweaking more than the game. :p

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      Without going much into politics, one could say that this “simulation” is a fairly strong statement about the effect of government intervention on the populace.
      That said, “doesn't work as a game” seems a safer statement.
      So, basically, I agree.

  18. Any time I hear American McGee complain about piracy, I can’t help thinking he’s upset over the giant pile of fail called “Bad Day L.A.”

    Don’t look up playthroughs or even the intro on YouTube. It’s offensively bad, and not even in a fun way. Yahtzee called it “fondly remembered alongside botched prostate surgery.”*

    * Hi, Josh! How ya doin’?

    1. CTrees says:

      Bad Day L.A. is the first thing I think about whenever I hear American McGee talk about anything. Which pretty much immediately makes me discount his opinions, as no one who would put there name on that has any knowledge of how sane, rational actors approach video games.

  19. rrgg says:

    Also, to jump on the “EA isn’t evil and greedy, just stupid” bandwagon, is it really a good idea to be hyping all the problems with your business model? If a video game company keeps releasing statements that boil down to “oh, we’re losing bajillions of dollars every year to these darn dirty pirates and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” wouldn’t you expect investors to eventually conclude that maybe that business isn’t a sound investment?

    1. ENC says:

      Investors care about the numbers; plain and simple. Once their earnings per share starts to decline and their volatility starts to increase then investors will move elsewhere.

      Fun Fact: Your average American’s pension plan that invests in the stockmarket could very well be buying EA stocks.

      1. Keeshhound says:

        Gonna have to disagree with you there; no who cares about numbers should be investing in EA right now.

      2. “Investors care about the numbers, plain and simple.”

        Which is a lot of the problem with entertainment (and other industries) these days. The endeavors are, at best, a recycling program that just builds on the creativity of previous versions of the same IP, or, at worst, accountants and marketers thinking they know how to produce creative and appealing entertainment.

        When that starts to fail, the answer isn’t with their games being crap, it’s the numbers that are wrong because PIRACY.

        It’s like a conspiracy theorist who just knows that the reason he’s not taken seriously is because the people are mind controlled or too stupid to realize that the reptilians are taking over, not that there might be a major flaw in his entire premise.

      3. ACman says:

        Why? EA’s been posted massive losses (total of about $2 billion) for 4 years before last year. And their stock price is stagnant.

        FY2012 wasn’t all that great either. They just barely made back what they made on R&D and marketing.

        1. ENC says:

          ‘Why? EA's been posted massive losses (total of about $2 billion) for 4 years before last year. And their stock price is stagnant.’

          Please don’t comment on this without reading their reports yourself. They had goodwill impairment of $380m in 2009, and also had other impairment expenses as well.

          That’s on the surface; if I looked deeper I could completely deflate the alarmist-vibe.

    2. Thomas says:

      As far as I understand it, if you don’t release your numbers then everyone will pull out immediately because they assume you’re trying to hide something huge and by hiding it, you’re actively aiming to hurt your investors by stopping them from selling off bad stock.

      If you’re numbers are bad, at least the people can make an informed decision based off them. And numbers can get better again, as long as you show that you’re changing things

  20. rrgg says:

    0:51:50- prediction that Idaho will soon be the software capital of the world.

    I am OK with this.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,you have my sympathies,that really sucks.You should really bump up your beer intake.It helped my father keep his kidneys clean for the last 9 years,after he had a stone removed.About 2 liters per day should do the trick.

    As for simcity,how can you say its a bad game?Look how much fun it is giving us.Would a bad game allow one to make roads go higher than flying planes?

    1. Ciennas says:

      That actually sounds like it’d be really cool- make a worldspace big enough, but set underground, so that walking, climbing, driving and hopping in a plane are all valid methods of getting around.

      Imagine something as massive as say…. Moria, from the trilogy- a space big enough to have dogfights in and around intricately spired buildings and bridges.

      It could be really neat. Ya know. Maybe.

      (The Sim City debale is also fun because we all get to shake our heads and indulge in ‘we told you so’ behaviour. It’s all very theraputic.

  22. Karthik says:

    What Black Isle Kickstarter was Campster talking about? The Wasteland/Torment ones by Brian Fargo? The one by Obsidian? All three of them were among the best run campaigns so far, and have been pretty transparent with their goals, milestones and updates. I believe Wasteland 2 also periodically released their design documents to the public.

    1. Humanoid says:

      None of those, rather it’s the cynical Black Isle brand revival/dead horse resuscitation by the current owners of Interplay, involving no one previously involved with their glory days.


      1. Keeshhound says:

        Much like “Sim City,” little more than a opportunistic ghoul, draped in the skin of a loved one.

      2. bucaneer says:

        It’s actually still ongoing: the page initially had a countdown to 2012-12-21 (I think), but the actual campaign is set to end on December 1st this year. 208 suckers have thrown $6,590 at this painfully obvious trap – sad, really.

      3. Karthik says:

        Wow, I did not even know this existed. What… what are they thinking?

  23. Nyctef says:

    Are you not going to do a Spoiler Warning series for Infinite, then? I hope it’s not redundant after this podcast that’s coming up. Still, looking forward to that :)

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Huh..The publisher expects a game to sell 5 million copies,and it sells only 3,4 million,so its a failure?Why am I suddenly reminded of the 80s game crash?

    Can someone explain to me what is being taught in business schools these days,because it sure seems like history is not there.If it were,this wouldnt be happening again.

    1. This inspires me to make an article (or series of articles, most likely) request from Shamus: HOW A TRIPLE-A GAME FAILS MISERABLY IN SPITE OF HAVING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND TALENTED PEOPLE WORKING ON IT. Or something to that effect.

      For most of us, we have “this game cost $X million to make, and it sold Y copies, which means it’s a failure/success.” There’s a lot of interim steps in between assigning a budget and putting out a game, and that’s where the possible fail states lie. I don’t know if any publisher has ever put out a breakdown of what they spend on which part of the game-making pipeline, and I’m sure fingers get pointed in several directions when things go bad. Still, we’ve had marketing budgets getting too much money be the cause, bad writing, bad coding, buggy engines, etc. be blamed, but where is the most common source of self-destruction?

      Maybe one article per area (coding, art, writing, marketing) that shows where famous failures have happened, and then some kind of summary article showing what appears to need tweaking.

      ‘Tis a thought, but it sounded interesting at 3AM when I typed it.

    2. ENC says:

      You can’t shove hundreds of retail games down someone’s throats with lesser budgets, and modern game companies simply don’t have the infrastructure to move to digital-only. There’s only so much shelf space they can occupy with their games, which means you have to put more money into games if you’re hitting the peak of what you can do like most companies are these days.

      1. Ciennas says:

        Xbox succeeded by virtue of hurling enough money to suffer through the tide of uninterested buyers. Having a couple of killer app exclusives didn’t hurt either.

        They have the capacity to make the jump and be infinitely profitable forever barring unforeseen catastrophe.

        It only takes a model change. Make it so that you don’t have to rely on first week sales for everything, and set your target numbers a little closer to Earth and consensus reality.

        Then, make sure your full back catalog is available on your constantly montiored and fine tuned digital distribution platform.

        Nostalgia is a great cash in- but not in the manner they’re trying. It would be much better to not only make new titles for the brand, but to also revive the older one- a small team of coders could whip through the code and rewrite it to be current compatible in a couple of months at the most.

        Then offer to sell it at a massively discounted price- say five bucks or whatever.

        (Not only is this free advertising for your wonderful selection, it also naturally draws the eye towards the newer titles in the series. A good example of this would be the Halo:Anniversary Edition- it preserved just about everything from the original, added bits to help tie the plot together, and was significantly cheaper then its then current title)

        EA has the rights to a bunch of older games that fans would love to have working on their magic future toys.

        TL;DR- They sure as hell can make the transition, and pulling the older games out of mothballs and updating them to run on newer gen PC’s or consoles is cheaper and less risky then gambling millions on impossible to fulfill sales quotas. Going through legacy code is a hassle, but is still cheap enough that everyone wins.

      2. ACman says:

        Because EA’s strategy of pumping ten’s of millions of dollars into games is sooooo paying off for them.

        EA’s stock price is flat for a reason, them made a grand total profit of 76 million dollars last year. That is nothing compared to what they spent. $2.44 Billion.

        That’s a return on investment of 3%…… That sucks.

        And they lost about 2 billion dollars during the previous 4 years.

        They need to do something different.

        You’ve got several posts here that seem to be reflexively defending EA claiming they need to do what they do to make money….. BUT THEY DON’T MAKE MONEY.

        1. Ciennas says:

          Pardon, friend. Are you talking to me, or ENC there?

          Because I wasn’t suggesting anything more then delegating a bit of capita to running maintenance on legacy code: EA certainly could get away with that. If they have billions to throw around, a hundred thousand or so a year to slowly rerelease all the old classics shouldn’t be a big problem.

          In their case, it would probably be a blessing; all the IP they have collecting dust could use a chance to shine again, and distract people from how many mistakes they made. All they have to do is price it right (lower then it was when new, like Hollywood does for there older titles.)

          EA needs to show that it understands the audience who is actually paying them for stuff. This sounded to me like a good way for them to do that.

          Is my idea silly somehow?

          1. ACman says:

            I was talking to ENC. If you look there is a line that separates our comments rather than mine being enclosed in yours.

            He seems to be claiming that big publishers HAVE to put tens of millions into games to compete with the other publishers that are putting tens of millions of dollars into games to compete over shelf space in Target.

            Even if that’s true it’s not a strategy that’s working for them. They’re spending 2 billion a year on RND and marketing and over the last 5 years they’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

            Regarding your idea, no it isn’t silly. EA’s propped up by Madden, FIFA and Battlefield. Stuff that is, or is going to be, just roster updates that does move off shelves. If they spruced up some of their sleeper hits and then made them $40 dollar releases maybe that would help.

            But they can’t keep competing with this roulette mentality that seems to involve betting that if you put enough shiny bells and whistles on a game and then hoping that it will sell more than 2 or 3 million copies just to break even. Budget less and aim lower. If you go an look at the original dead space it was a commercial success with 1 million sales at full price and then a further million after. Now Dead Space 3 is expected to sell 5 million copies to be considered successful.

            There is nothing forseeable in the future that is going to match the likes of Halo, COD, BattleField, FIFA, Madden, WoW, Guitar Hero or Dance Central. Matching those games is a pipe dream that will only occur with some confluence of social factors causing those games to be popular that will be impossible to predict.

            1. ENC says:

              They're spending 2 billion a year on RND and marketing and over the last 5 years they've lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

              700 million on advertising, 1.2bn on new games.

              Saying they’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars without dissecting their financial reports is also incredibly naive for the intended discussion, but okay. Neither you nor I know whether they changed reporting methods, whether they were restructuring, or whathaveyou. I’ve only glanced at their reports for 10 minutes to know what I know.

              ‘But they can't keep competing with this roulette mentality that seems to involve betting that if you put enough shiny bells and whistles on a game and then hoping that it will sell more than 2 or 3 million copies just to break even. Budget less and aim lower. If you go an look at the original dead space it was a commercial success with 1 million sales at full price and then a further million after.’

              Except that requires an enormous restructure to accomplish this. For example, 100 devs with say 20 artists can’t suddenly become 5 20 man teams. Devs don’t scale linearly, so you have to either take on enormous amounts of new people (good luck getting the capital/loan for that; it’d be impossible) or fire off many, which in turn reduces potential profit.

              By the way, Simcity is $40. $60 from Origin, but $40 from pretty much everywhere else. They also gave away 900,000 games with that. Pretty groovy that they’re already selling games for $40 and less, eh?

              ME3 was $30 a week after release, Crysis 3 was $40, and the likes. They do sell games that cheap with huge budgets, so what’s the new argument against them?

              By the way, you need either all games to be big or all games to be small; there really isn’t a middle ground with 2-3 big and dozens upon dozens small. If all the bigs were to fail your company would tank, whereas with say 6-7 big the chances of that happening are minute. If you have all small, then your net profit margin is going to tank.

        2. ENC says:

          EA's stock price is flat for a reason, them made a grand total profit of 76 million dollars last year. That is nothing compared to what they spent. $2.44 Billion.

          That's a return on investment of 3%…… That sucks.

          Do you… do you know any actual business terms? Net Profit is what you’re looking for, not ‘grand’. Their EPS is also higher than that.

          You also look at their reports with an enormous bias and are very shallow about it. I suggest you read a commerce textbook or too before trying to read their reports as you’re just spouting financial statement figures without the foggiest what they mean.

          You haven’t accounted for development mismatch between the years leading to a game being created and when its sales are coming in, you aren’t accounting for restructuring changes ($320m across 2 years), you aren’t accounting for any acquisitons during the time (I honestly don’t remember if they had any in 2012), goodwill impairment (of $370m in 2009)

          Please do some research beforehand so you know what terms you should use for your argument. Do you even know what goodwill is?

        3. ENC says:

          “On May 7, 2012, we announced a plan of restructuring to align our cost structure with our ongoing digital
          transformation. Under this plan, we anticipate reducing our workforce and incurring other costs. We expect the
          majority of these actions to be completed by September 30, 2012.
          In connection with this plan, we anticipate incurring approximately $40 million in total costs, of which
          approximately $31 million will result in future cash expenditures. All of these charges are expected to occur
          during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. These costs will consist of severance and other employee-related
          costs (approximately $23 million), license termination costs (approximately $11 million) and other costs
          (approximately $6 million).”

          They are downsizing as well, forgot to mention that part.

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      The reason the expected sales figures for Tomb Raider approached 5 million was not because of brand name or the qualities of the game. Erase all such notions because they aren’t true.

      The problem with Square-Enix actually wasn’t with the games Eidos published, (ie Hitman, Tomb Raider, Sleeping Gods, and Human Revolution). Those games actually made profits.

      The problem comes from SE’s Eastern Division. Games like the recent Final Fantasy games haven’t been doing terribly well. FF 14 in particular was a colossal failure because it was a stupid idea from the outset made worse by terrible game design. Because those games weren’t doing so well, they tried to shift the burden on the Western Division. While these games did well, they didn’t do nearly well enough to cover those failures.

      It’s their own fault. They’ve none to blame but themselves for spending too much money and spending too much times with their thumbs up their asses while the fans of their games give up and move on to greener pastures.

      1. Ciennas says:

        Fourteen… Which was that one again? The protagonist was a gender flipped Cloud look alike named Lightning, right?

        And you had to walk in a straight line for fifty some odd hours, right?

        If this is the wrong one or an incomplete list, please tell me. If I’ve gotten it right, please tell me that as well. I’m curious.

        (Also, perhaps Squeenix should just have their eastern division move on to doing CG movies for studios. They do beautiful looking work. Even if there script writing is kinda wonky, if Advent Children was anything to go by.)

        1. 14 was the MMO that was such a monumental failure the company apologized for it, changed most of the development team, and proceeded to spend years re-working it. 13 was the linear game that received a lukewarm reception, yet keeps getting sequels.

        2. impassiveimperfect says:

          No, Lightning and co were in Thirteen.

          And is it the only one that does that? :P

          FFXIV was an mmorpg that…kinda failed. Link to tvtropes ‘ObviousBeta’ and all that.

          This is what happens when you leave the page sitting there for half an hour. You snooze, you lose indeed :'(

        3. Thomas says:

          Also, the Eastern studios do do cutscenes for everyone else. I’m pretty sure the Human Revolution cutscenes ended up working like that

  25. bucaneer says:

    OK, Rutskarn, was the “family history of being hit by freight trains” a Don Hertzfeldt reference? Because it sounded like a Don Hertzfeldt reference.

  26. Harry says:

    I just posted this to Shamus’s twitter, but I thought I’d post it in a comment here as well: The new DLC for SimCity is literally just an advertisement for Nissan.

    It’s a Nissan charge station that doesn’t use up power (!) and adds instant happiness to everyone in the city, because there was no way a company like Nissan would want its advertisement to actually cause any NEGATIVE effects! It’s just an insta-win building with no interesting decisions to be made about it, no trade-offs to make. Its an advertisement that’s also a cheat that also actually hampers gameplay (or whatever “gameplay” SimCity has, anyway).

    I was listening to the Diecast’s “SimCity breaks in new and interesting ways” segment when I found it, and it made me feel like I was living in some kind of absurdist nightmare. This segment of your surely truly might last forever.

    1. Raygereio says:

      I can’t stop laughing at this. It even comes with a Happy Nissan Leaf Owners statistic

      The best thing is that it requires no power. I’m picturing an emergency EA-Nissan meeting when some QA-guy said he had to plop down extra coal power plants to power his leaf stations.

      1. Hitchmeister says:

        Oh look, a nice cheap way to make sims happy. Except as Megabumtopia has already demonstrated, you can keep nearly 2 million sims happy with NOTHING.

      2. Trithne says:

        I like how it’s measured as people/day. Just like houses and jobs, sims only possess their cars as long as they are in them.

    2. Nick Lester Bell says:

      But it’s free? Being free makes it instantly okay doesn’t it? You can’t complain about free, can you?

      (Yes, yes you can)

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I think Josh could tell us a few things about it, I’m pretty sure he gets those stones free of charge…

  27. Shamus, I know you are probably sick of this by now but.
    The new background, while very cool indeed, there is something off about the saturation (or lack of it in places).

    Compare with this example http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/842/dicebgexample.png/

    I used Paint.net, made a white opaque layer (but something off-white would work too), on top of that (layer 2) the dice from the bottom of your site/pages, adjusted their opacity to where it “felt” right.

    Even though both images have around the same number of colors (around 5800 individual colors), my example seem to have less saturation issues.

    If you could do something similar with your background that would be perfect. It is especially the yellow and red dice that struggle a bit.
    Perhaps a off-white background towards yellow (aka warm white) might improve the saturation for the yellow and red dice?

    Amyway, back on topic.
    Love the podcasts! :)

  28. kyoodle says:

    During the duck demo chat i thought you were talking about Super Rub a Dub, that was actually quite fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqxLKlB2MX8
    They may have overdone the duck puns though…

  29. Alex Yedidovich says:

    The APB Kickstarter is actually not about the money. You are right the APB guys have the proper access to capital. What they probably don’t have is access to a silly amount of marketing that launching a multiplayer only game requires. Doing a Kickstarter is essentially “free” marketing for these guys. I heard about it here and on the Escapist( I’m sure other sites are also covering it). That is their pay-off, not the measly 300 grand. They are probably sitting on a budget of around five to ten million and just want to spend a little less on marketing and get a few pre-orders in.

    1. Thomas says:

      That makes it worse really. They’re offering $10 000 tiers for a marketing stunt. There’s already been people who put down $2 500 on it :(

      Actually brings up a wider point. I think developers should stop offering the higher tiers. People shouldn’t be spending ten grand on these games no matter how much they want them to happen and I’m worried about how badly burnt you’re going to feel if a project capsizes.

  30. Hitchmeister says:

    I figured out what that Activision tech demo is for. It’s for Bethesda style RPG games where whenever you stat a conversation with an NPC they grab your camera and force you into an extreme close-up of the NPC’s face. Now lovingly rendered in obsessive detail so you can count every blemish and whisker. All the while the face will very poorly attempt to mimick the sort of micro-expressions that real people exhibit all the time. Except they’ll be programmed by the same people who can’t match the voice during the actual conversation to the street chatter from a few seconds before. They’ll only have like a 5 second loop of idle animation while you’re trying to decide which of the poorly worded and stupid dialog options will come closest to expressing what you want and advancing the plot in a somewhat desirable direction and every NPC will use the same routine so all of them seem to have the same bizarre and immersion-breaking nervous ticks. All for the low low cost of being a few dozen thousand copies from being profitable despite being a top 10 selling game for the year.

    Actually, when Shamus was alluding to the most emotionally investing game of last year and whether or not it needed this facial technology, my first thought was not The Walking Dead. But then thinking about it, Shamus may not have played Journey.

  31. Cybron says:

    1. Sorry Chris, I can’t feel sorry for you. At this point you should know better than to buy an EA game.

    2. That NES port is pretty incredible. I’ve been learning 6502 (the NES assembly language) in my spare time and that’s super impressive.

    3. It’s hilarious (and sad) that the state of games visual may be outpacing that of games writing.

  32. Paul Spooner says:

    Piracy is a really interesting issue. It’s a polarizing topic, tied to a lot of money, and effects nearly everyone in the society, and is regulated by the government… which makes it indistinguishable from politics. Thus it’s hard to talk about here, which is strange considering how often you (Shamus) bring it up. Not so often now-a-days, but here it is again, so let’s tackle this.

    I’m about to make an extended metaphor. Stick with me.
    Digital media is a lot like a billboard sitting by the freeway; anyone can enjoy it pretty much for free. Digital media under protection of intellectual property laws is like that same billboard, but it’s illegal to look at it without paying for a “looking at the billboard” license; It’s nearly impossible to police, and is basically the same as asking for donations. DRM is like putting the billboard inside a building; It makes it much harder to enjoy the media, but is also much easier to police. Piracy is like taking a picture of the billboard (and maybe putting up your own billboard); This is only worth the effort if the original media is somehow obstructed.
    Some people like to put up billboards. They want to get paid for it. What’s the best way to make money putting up billboards? No one knows.

    1. Ciennas says:

      Piracy is still wrong though.

      The real way to punish bad publishers is to have nothing to do with them at all. If you play the game through piracy, they can ignore your complaints and simultaneously justify having worse restrictions. Everyone loses.

      (The grey area, though still win-lose, of pirating the working version after purchasing it, just tells them that people both put up with it, and then see your piracy to justify more onerous restrictions.)

      It’s tragic to lose cool ideas or good experiences with otherwise exemplary gameplay, but the cost of not ignoring them to death or change of policy is much too high, though often not thought of.

      (Like our trouble with medicines leaking out of our bodies and back into our water supply. It’s going to bite us in the butt eventually, but it’s otherwise invisible problem.)

      1. Mike S. says:

        I’d put pirating out of print games as another gray area (morally– legally it’s still a copyright violation). My nephew recently developed an interest in Grim Fandango from seeing YouTube videos of it. It’s thoroughly out of print and hasn’t made it to places like GOG or Steam. Used copies are available, and given that he was willing to save up and pay for it I decided that a) he’d probably value it more that way and b) it’s better to let him develop the habit of paying for games he wants to play, rather than teaching him to download stuff willy-nilly.

        That said, if used copies had been going for a hundred bucks instead of thirty-odd, I don’t think it would have been a major sin to download it. The money isn’t going to the author or developer and so isn’t providing an incentive for future games, or a reward for this one. The copyright holder (presumably LucasArts till today, now Disney directly) is evidently not motivated to sell it, even to the the minimal extent of making it available to GOG and its ilk. So the harm done even in principle is pretty close to nil.

        (Which, alas, doesn’t stop the act from being liable for statutory damages of $750 to $30,000, or up to $150,000 if it’s found to be willful.)

        1. Ciennas says:

          Oh yeah, I agree- out of print is the other grey area, of several.

          (Another good murky area is the similar ‘I never had a chance to legitimately purchase it anyway’. Not often usable in the US or most of Europe, but some markets could bring it up.)

          In this case though, it’s an act of they’d have to pursue it, and if they’re unwilling to reprint it, then they are unlikely to bother pursuing those who ‘keep the tapes circulating’ as it were.

          In other words, I’m not sure if you’re commiting piracy. We’d have to have somebody who cares enough to pursue it from the IP owner side.

          Hopefully not a patent troll.

      2. Paul Spooner says:

        “Piracy is still wrong though.”

        I’ve defined “piracy” in the metaphor fairly clearly. But I’ve not touched on “wrong”, and been quite careful in so doing. Piracy is certainly illegal. I’m not disputing that. However, there are quite a few things that are illegal but which many people clearly do not consider “wrong”. Conversely, there are many things which are legal that many do consider to be “wrong”. Since we (in this discussion) don’t have any explicit grounds for right and wrong, and the implicit grounds are varied and vast, I can not make any meaningful assumptions about what you mean. In addition you have offered no support to the point. Thus the only response I can give is is to ask these four questions.

        What do you mean by “wrong”?
        How do you know piracy is wrong?
        What difference does it make if it is wrong?
        What if you are mistaken about it being wrong?

        And (just for clarity) I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you. But I’m not agreeing either. I have yet to discern quite what it is that you are saying. My agreement is in a quantum superposition until then.

        As far as your other points go, we are in agreement. The best method for an individual is to ignore those who make unreasonable demands. However, the government has chosen to NOT ignore this matter, thus acting against your advice. This makes the issue a political one, and thus (alas) all too easily inflamed. Should the discussion veer toward ideal legislation and the purpose of the law and intellectual property rights? Should we be self-righteous on the web?

        You decide!

        1. Ciennas says:

          No. We’re not going through legalistic stuff.

          Stealing is not the exact same thing as pirating, but it is distinctly similar. From the perspective of the pirate, it is very distinct- you haven’t hurt anyone, or deprived anybody else who wants the product of it, but you have a copy that was never paid for by anyone.

          From the perspective of the content creators and fananciers, they are the same- somebody failed to pay you money for a thing that you really need them to give you money for.

          It doesn’t matter if it gives them free advertising- glowing word of mouth is worthless if you went bankrupt waiting for it to build.

          There are areas where morality is indistinct- see my point about abandonware above.

          But my point was simply about poisoning the well you drink from- if we want them to have DRM that is either not there or not particularly onerous, then you have to demonstrate why it is better to leave well enough as it is. Any downloads are perceived as a lost meal, or a lost car payment- and if they survive to make the next product, they will try harder to lock it down, in an effort to curb lost sales.

          (It doesn’t matter that it’s self defeating- nobody likes to take defeat lying down. Human nature is big on that.)

          Nobody can prevent all piracy, but there is a personality type that will try. Giving them ammunition to justify their stance is ultimately going to drag us all down.

          Less time and money are given to making the game bigger or cooler or better written, or better playtested, because more money is being spent on buying more locks to protect yourself from bankruptcy.

          Everyone loses, because the game devs and publishers tell their friends who also work in the field.

          Companies should not make Piracy look appealing, but the customers should not make SecuROM or its ilk look appealing.

          (EDIT: There is a line where the company is chasing the wind. EA and Activision’s Always on policy is a good example. You could say that my reaction is similar to the onlookers in this xckd, since you mentioned him:


          (EDIT EDIT: If you want to complain about companies having too much influence in political matters, that is indeed a land mine laden topic. I agree, however. Companies stomp over a lot of individual rights that they shouldn’t. It’s another frustrating quirk of human nature. While fascinating to study, it’s awful to live in.)

          1. Abnaxis says:

            In trying to maintain the tone of this discussion, I am not really saying whether piracy is wrong or not. I just have a couple of counter-points:

            I think a fundamental flaw with your position is that you assume that publishers will somehow know that one more person downloaded their game illegally. In reality, nobody has anything remotely approaching reliable data regarding piracy. If a software company were really interested, they could hire a Ph D in statistics who could then design a study to find a more concrete confidence interval for how many people are pirating and why they are pirating. It would probably cost somewhere in the half-million- to million-dollar range and probably not come up with particularly conclusive information even then.

            Obviously, companies aren’t going to do that. Instead, they are just going to look at online metrics and take them as gospel, without any concern over how many numbers represent individual pirates versus how many are the same person making multiple downloads or how many people are downloading because the pirated product is superior.

            What I’m getting at is, it doesn’t matter how many people actually pirate, estimates of piracy will always be so egregiously bad that companies will conclude that piracy is a problem. To extend Paul’s metaphor, the companies see all the cars driving down the road, and without any better metric to judge by, all the company can do is assume the drivers are illegally looking at billboards without a license.

            The only number companies can know with any reliability is their sales numbers, which look the same whether you abstain or pirate. Your behavior as a non-consumer will not steer publishers’ business decisions.

            1. Ciennas says:

              But they do. We both know they’re wrong to pursue these extremes, but they feel forced to- those metrics are very compelling evidence that people are getting copies of their work without paying them for their hard work.

              (Even the MPAA, much as I hate them for it, kind of have a point. I just wish they’d stop poisoning their own products to preach at paying customers to do it.)

              That’s the long and short: if you are acquiring a copy of someone’s work without paying for it, and it wasn’t gifted, then you have done wrong.

              Because you have stolen somebody else’s pay. They can’t afford to pay bills or eat, because you took it without asking or compensating them for it.

              (A good Terry Pratchett quote comes to mind. “Seldom Do bankers starve when the banks fail.”

              In fact… go get a copy of Going Postal. There’s a long speech in their that I think summarizes my position.)

              Are there problems in the current system? Hell yes. But…
              If you had a neighbor who kept ‘borrowing’ your tools, you would install a lock on your garage door. If he picks the lock, you would get a motion detector. If he disables the tracker, etc…

              And while you fight this increasingly determined neighbor (Who sees the locks as a challenge, and is ignoring easier to get tools for the challenge,) you fail to get any more useful work done, because all of your time and attention is on the guy who keeps ‘borrowing’ things from you.

              The neighbor is in the wrong here. They took things without asking, and then have the nerve to look surprised when people yell at them or throw them in jail, or stop inviting them to parties.

              Why should we expect a corporation to act any differently then us? We call the police when people make free with our stuff, or if we’re extra fancy, hire a night guard. They do the same basic premises, but scaled up.

              There are those who are paranoid and hire the security guard even if they could be shown that all they’re doing is wasting money, and creating a problem where there was none.

              But denying someone payment is the same as stealing from them, because they still get starved out.

              (There are always alternatives. Make your own tools, or go to a neighbor who offers some up freely.)

              EDIT: I tried to link to the appropriate page on Google books, but it won’t let me reach it. Suffice to say, the full speech is beautiful. You may find it quoted on the tvtropes page for Going Postal . It is under the heading ‘Deconstruction’

              1. Alan says:

                No. Copyright infringement is not the same as stealing from someone. The victim is different and the harm is different.

                If I shoplift a copy of Madden ’13 from Best Buy, who is out money? EA? Hardly. EA is enjoying Best Buy’s money for that game. To an extent it’s good for EA; that copy on Best Buy’s shelf could have been returned unsold; now it’s a guaranteed sale from EA’s perspective. Now Best Buy is clearly out the $20 or so they paid. It possible their insurer will be out part of that. Either way, the company can clearly claim it as a loss on their taxes. The company as risk, Best Buy, uses various anti-theft systems: security cameras, RFID on the games, locks, and more to defend against this loss. When I buy a copy, all of these defenses disappear; it’s no longer Best Buy’s problem.

                If I download an infringing copy of Madden ’13, who is out money? Who gets to claim the loss on their taxes or file an insurance claim? No one. Now, there is potential loss to the companies; conceivably I might have purchased a copy had an infringing copy not been available. I might have paid full price (loss of $50?), I might have waited until it was on clearance next year (loss of $10), I might have never acquired a copy or I might have borrowed a friend’s copy (loss of $0). That’s a key figure we don’t know. Maybe the impact is severe and game developers are living in cardboard boxes. Maybe it’s negligible and the shoplifting is a more serious impact.

                Or back to the wildly inappropriate tool theft comparison, if my neighbor is somehow making copies of tools from my garage at no cost to me, I don’t give a shit and certainly wouldn’t engage in any defensive measures. Now the tool manufacturers might object and quite reasonably argue that as a result the tools must be more expensive so they can build DNA testers into them that bar other people from using them, make it impossible to sell them at a yard sale, prohibit me from loaning them to my neighbor, ensure that my massive tool collection becomes useless the moment I die, and every once in a while malfunction and deny me access to them. That seems entirely reasonable to me.

                “…if you are acquiring a copy of someone's work without paying for it, and it wasn't gifted, then you have done wrong.”

                Mind you, that’s built on several non-obvious assumptions, including that government granted monopolies that restrict what I can do with things I paid for are themselves ethical. I agree that copyright is a good thing, that the benefits outweigh the loss of freedoms, but it’s a bit jump to go straight to wrong.

                1. Ciennas says:

                  Fair enough. Here are my assumptions:

                  1) An item created for sale to customers is meant to be sold. without that exchange of money (Or similarly usable goods, but we don’t live in a barter economy), there is no incentive for the item to be created.
                  -Relatedly, the money ‘lost’ might not be obvious, but sooner or later somebody has to pick up the tab. maybe we all split the profit lost. The production house could probably claim the loss, because a merchant would not buy a product they can’t sell.

                  2) If you are making use of someone’s work/game/product/service/bar and grill/etc, then neglect to pay them for the use, against their clearly stated wishes for payment, then you have stolen resources from them. Maybe nothing easily quantifiable, but at its most basic, they have less resource than when they started on this endeavor and nothing to show for it.
                  -Seriously, this is the part no one seems to understand. If you don’t want the service for whatever reason, then why bother pirating it? Especially games. The best solution to Onerous DRM is actually the easiest: Do nothing. No sale= no support for bad policies. If you feel the need to feel superior, explain how you would love to purchase the game- if only they listened to your demands.

                  (an unreasonable demand in this case is give you a free copy, since that undermines the whole point for the people who constructed it.)

                  3)Nothing in life is free. Companies and individuals live and die by their ability to remain solvent. If you buy the game at a reduced price or get a copy from a friend, it doesn’t matter- the company still made money off of the product at some point. I’m sure they would love for you to have both paid full price on launch day, but you chose not to. big whoop. I never complained about that. First Sale Doctrine is a perfectly sensible decision.

                  TL;DR- Good work should be rewarded. If you’re willing to use it, you should be willing to compensate the creator for making a thing you couldn’t, or wouldn’t. That is the entire basis on which we operate. Subverting that is bad for everyone. You’d better have a damn good reason for subverting that simple rule. (There are lives on the line, for example.)

                  (Also, nice job mangling my toolshed metaphor. We all know that analogies fall apart past a certain point when comparing physical media to digital.. You don’t have to be a smartass about it. Especially since I agree with you. The companies who get over protective of their goods invites trouble and scorn, and it’s totally deserved. I’m just saying their actions are not inscrutable, here. You’d do similar in their shoes, I do believe. People get cranky and nervous when you start threatening their ability to be solvent, and that drives them to despicable lengths.

                  This does not change that piracy is still a problem, and it doesn’t excuse it.)

                  4) If the rules are stacked against you, change the game. If you think your options are have terrible malware or pirate, you are trapped in false dichotomy. Ignore them to death. Or wait until nobody cares and no one’s livelihood is at stake, feel free to chart the grey waters of abandonware and out of print media.

                  Honestly, I’m not sure why you feel like you HAVE to do something.

                  1. bucaneer says:

                    I think your view of piracy lacks crucial nuance. From what I see, you’re basically pitting two options against each other: the “pay up front, receive product” one, and “pirate it, never pay”. It ignores many ways in which file sharing affects the real world.

                    First of all, the concept of “product” is rather out of place in digital context. It got here by inertia, carried over from CDs, floppies, tapes and what have you, where each copy is tied to a physical object, but detached from the physical media, a piece of data does not (and cannot, if take into account all the copying between different forms of memory inside a PC) exist as a single copy. It is not “a product” because you can effortlessly and at virtually no cost produce infinite copies of it and distribute them – again, freely and effortlessly – to an infinite number of other people. The idea of a digital product is at best a metaphor that works only as long as people (content producers and users alike) want to believe that it works.

                    Paul Spooner’s metaphor of a billboard in the OP, or the metaphor of a busker playing in a busy street to masses of passers by who may or may not be willing to give the busker any money, work better in a digital world. Content producers should shift their focus from trying to get people to pay up front for “a product” and towards trying to collect money from people who have tried and enjoyed their work. Games industry is probably doing best at this, if only because digital retailers like Steam seem to understand the issue, whereas movie industry appears to think that if they ignore it, this internet fad will just go away and let them get on with selling pieces of plastic.

                    The “pirates just try things out before they buy” anecdote gets repeated a lot in arguments like this, but since I’ve paid for many things I originally got from torrents I think I get a right to repeat it again. This is one of cases your view of piracy doesn’t cover: what if I torrent an album, like it and then buy a legal version? Or perhaps, I download an album in FLAC, pay for a legal download of an mp3 version of it because there is no way to purchase FLAC, never download the mp3s and continue to listen to the illegal version? Or maybe I pirate an album and like it so much that I end up buying every album the band releases from that point on, even though I never get around to paying for that first album for one reason or another? In each of these cases, am I a pirate or not? Do I start out as a pirate but stop being one at some point, do I remain a pirate even after paying, or does paying retroactively cancel out the piracy?

                    Should people who create content that are interesting to other people be rewarded? Absolutely. Is taking things without ever paying anything back bad? Yes. Is piracy (as the term is broadly applied to cover all file sharing) inherently bad? No. I think it’s merely a shape that the market can embrace in order to reap the benefits of digital distribution.

                    1. Ciennas says:

                      Good point. I was deliberately ignoring that group because the issue was cluttered enough with just pirate/don’t pirate.

                      But there you go, you’re correct- giving somebody the money for their work is wonderful. It would totally negate the harm of pirating, aside from the download being used as a justification for worse restrictions, legal, software or otherwise down the line.

                      The real problem on that front is the people who want a demo, and are forced to pirate in order to answer a number of questions, ranging from hardware capability to compatibility with personal tastes.

                      That’s a problem companies really need to address. It would stop a number of justifiable but potentially ethically dubious downloads.

                      But the counterside, and the one I’m so confused over, is the group that downloads for free, never pays the creator, and then get confused when people get angry at them. This group has no right to be angry about DRM.

                      It does however create a never ending cycle of counterattacks on both sides. Zero sum games between these two groups make everybody else suffer needlessly.

                      (It’s a case of “I don’t care who started it, I’m going to finish it!” Both sides blame the other for their actions, and neither is willing to give ground. Alas, we all suffer.)

                      But yeah. formats that its not available in are a grey area, as is ACTUALLY purchasing the thing you downloaded first, or purchasing it after you downloaded it. Unfortunately, there is the fact that a company can freak out and justify worse restrictions regardless of your intent; they can only see the download, not the later sale.

                  2. Alan says:

                    We agree in part. I want cool stuff to exist and I have money. Other people want to make cool stuff, but would like to pay the rent. I do have an obligation to support people making cool stuff I want.

                    But I absolutely reject the idea that by taking a copy of someone else’s creation without paying I’ve somehow stolen resources from them. Just because I enjoyed a performance by a busker doesn’t mean that I’ve somehow stolen from them if I don’t toss some money in their hat.

                    It’s the future and, like it or not, we’re all buskers. Copyright was once relatively easy to enforce; it was an obscure law that only those rare few with printing presses cared about. Now you need to enforce it on every single person; you need to reach into their homes, into the very products they purchase and declare that while copying this set of bits is okay, copying that set of bits is bad.

                    You’re not just fighting technological advances, you are fighting human nature itself. People want to share things they like, especially if they can do so at negligible cost to themselves. Arguing that sharing is bad, and that what they do in the privacy of their own home is subject to the preferences of someone halfway across the country is doomed.

                    We’ll adapt. I want games and have money. Other people have the ability to make games and want money. We’ll work it out. I have faith that the free market can survive with less regulations. The future is going to be weird. We’ll have a combination of donations, unnecessary purchases, crowdfunding (what was one “the ransom model”), and more, probably including things that don’t yet exist. But we’ll make it work. There is disruption, and it’s going to suck for a lot of people. But the disruption is already happening and it can’t be stopped; you’re fighting technological advancement and human nature. Protecting the old assumptions about how creators survive is a hopeless task.

                    (Strictly speaking, it’s not a hopeless task. I believe you can indefinitely protect the old models. It will involve crippling technological advance and crushing free speech, anonymity, and privacy. It will make the US’s war on drugs appear reasonable. That cost is too high, so I reject it.)

                    If you create things today, you’re a busker. Make good things. Encourage your fans to support you, however you can. Encourage a sense of obligation in your fans. But don’t worry that many people don’t provide support; there isn’t anything you can do about it anyway.

                    1. Ciennas says:

                      I don’t think one necesarily leads to the other. It would require both sides of this fight to back down.

                      On the corporate side:
                      -Stop fighting to remove First Sale Doctrine. Removing it does nothing good for anyone.
                      -Stop deliberately sabotaging your customers efforts to use the things they purchased how they want. If they want to play a game offline, the better be able to. No good can come from selling malware disguised as a game or ‘service’.
                      -Related, stop blowing money on absurd zero win policieis like always on DRM and other such melarkey. Spend it instead on making a better product.
                      -in short, do not make your customers regret doing business with you legitimately.

                      On the consumer side:
                      -Stop acquiring currently being sold this second products for free just because you want it really bad. This does not engender good feelings in investors or developers, who will make a shoddier product from lack of funds. Buy or do not Buy. Any other relationship with businesses is overcomplicating things.
                      -You want an out of print game? Go find it, and good luck if the IP owner suddenly decides they care.
                      -Support the full company. buy the game however you like, but make sure you’re actually sending the right signals. The Old Guard has the ball, and their business model isn’t nearly so outdated as you think. (Before you say a word, I agree. They’re overdoing the control freak issues.)
                      -Make companies want your money and your approval. This means actually abstaining from the cool thing that’s out, if it comes with nasty and unfriendly malware hidden on it.

                      (I know that humans are selfish. But I also know that piracy has precious little to do with sharing the cool new toy and more with getting a cool new toy for free. Not the cracker teams, mind- they like bragging about besting the security system, and want to share their triumph. rather, its the end user of their efforts. I don’t think they’re big on sharing.)

                      If both sides calmed down and started treating each other with respect and common courtesy again, we could all walk away a lot richer- some in experiences, the other in wallet.

                      How could we lose?

                  3. Abnaxis says:

                    Something you still haven’t made clear to me, is what the incremental harm to the publisher is between “no sale,” and “pirated.” The net result is exactly the same–the publisher loses whatever revenue they would have gotten from a sale. And, as I’ve said multiple times, whether the lost sale is from boycott or pirates, the publisher is going to conclude that it’s from pirates.

                    Another critical point that I think you are missing is that regardless of whether you pay or not your money doesn’t actually go to the creators, it goes to a publisher. Back when we needed disks to play games, publishers actually provided a service to end-users. Since then, they have become a zero-value-added (or even negative-value-added) cost to the final product from the perspective of consumers.

                    While I don’t think piracy is right, I don’t think trying to force people to pay using special interest lobbying and draconian DRM when you do nothing useful is right either. Torrents transformed publishers from a critical piece in the supply chain to a useless middle-men, and they have fought tooth-and-nail to artificially justify their existence so they can keep raking in cash without contributing anything.

                    To me, the question of prate vs. not-pirate isn’t one of “do you find piracy acceptable?” it’s one of “which of these two practices do you approve of less?”

                    1. Ciennas says:

                      Publishers do stuff with a game too.

                      Restrictions are occasionally necessary, and a good publisher both advertises the game, and makes sure that it stays on target and on budget.

                      A bad publisher forces out crap, but a good one acts like a reasonable authority figure without somebody to tell them to stay on task, some people will endlessly strip out a game or product and rebuild it and never improve. Like Duke Nuke’em Forever, before it was bought out and forced to finish.

                      You’re forgetting that a publisher is not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s true that they make mistakes and occasionally miss a hit, but they’re not inherently bad.

                      And you keep mistaking my support of the system for support of the bad things that they’re doing with it. It’s not a bad mechanism, somebody is just trying to use it to bad ends.

                      (Also, no disc does not equal better. I like a physical library that I can store and not worry about having to find later. It just equals less moving parts.)

                      And to answer you- yes, they will always justify bad sales with piracy, for the same reason you wouldn’t like to admit you screwed the pooch in some way or released something people weren’t ready for yet.

                      That still doesn’t make it right- because if they can’t find the numbers to back up their claims, then suddenly they crash and burn and have to admit defeat instead of being able to say ‘look! They liked it enough to pirate!’

                      If for example, if they sold shy of their goal, and the piracy numbers that they can drum up (Inflated by legitimate backups and whatever or not,) and they find that the number is still significantly lower than what they claim, then they wind up with egg on their face. They don’t have enough of a leg to stand on.

                      Publishers are a good thing. We just spend all day hearing about the bad things they do, because nobody cares when you do things right.

              2. Abnaxis says:

                I…think you’re completely missing my point. Or at least, you spent two sentences addressing my point, followed by a long post going off on a tangent.

                My post wasn’t worried about the moral implications of piracy. I’m only concerned with the view that it will somehow make a difference in company behavior if people boycott instead of pirating. It won’t. The only metric they have for piracy is seeds on torrents, which a completely bunk measure. I could spend thousands of words going into why this number is very far removed from the number of people actually committing piracy. But that’s all anybody has so they’re going to go with it.

                Even if there were a concerted effort to boycott a game due to DRM, it would never send the right message to publishers. All they would do is look at the number of people sharing files (legally, in many cases) and conclude that it was all due to piracy. No amount of good behavior can make up for the fact that it is empirically impossible to measure how many pirates there actually are. Regardless of how many people are actually pirating, it will always look like there are more and companies will always feel like they need to respond to it.

                1. Ciennas says:

                  Legal filesharing? You sir, have me intrigued. Do you mean utilizing the torrents as a backup?

                  I thought everyone understood that the Piracy part is downloading a game for free that they don’t already own.

                  And yeah, sorry. I’m really really good at tangenting. I missed the middle paragraph and didn’t realize it until I just now reread it.

                  1. Abnaxis says:

                    Contrary to what EULAs would like to try and pull, if you own a license for a piece of software you’re allowed to make a backup. You’re allowed to acquire a DRM-free version. You’re allowed to move it from one machine to another. You’re allowed to sell that license to someone else.

                    Companies can try to stop you from doing all of these things, but you are legally allowed to use torrents for any of these purposes.

                    1. Ciennas says:

                      Right. I have not mentioned any of that anywhere in my arguments. It’s the folk who DIDN’T buy the product. That’s when it’s piracy. Not buying a thing that they need money from is bad.

                      I have no qualm with people using backups No CD cracks or what have you- it’s the ‘not paying for it at all’ part that bugs me.

  33. HiEv says:

    Rutskarn: “See, I just don’t understand how any kind of loving God can give someone a disposition towards kidney stones. That’s like… That’s like having a family history of being hit by freight trains.”

    As an atheist who’s had a couple absurdly painful kidney stones, I couldn’t agree more. :-/

    1. Klay F. says:

      That’s easy, there is no “Loving” god. God is a bored player sitting at a computer. :)

  34. Adam says:

    On the subject of Tomb Raider being a stupendously-successful failure:

    How much money could they have saved if they hadn’t bothered trying to incorporate the HairFX or whatever it was called?

  35. Artur CalDazar says:

    I think I looked like a madman laughing so much while listening to this on the train, the SimCity stuff in particular.

  36. Talby says:

    Welcome to the Die Cast, where we talk about Josh’s agonizing kidney stones. Also games.

  37. The Jake says:

    I looked around in the comments of this and some other Die Cast episodes and I couldn’t see/find if there is an RSS feed for the podcast? I would love to have a feed I could direct download with, but I cannot find it. Any help would be appreciated, as I just would like to know. thanks.

  38. ArihDnana says:

    wow 9mm kidney stone. i have passed 32 kidney stones too so i feel your pain dude

  39. scowdich says:

    Nobody will probably see this, but I thought I’d add a quick note:
    Shamus mentioned that he might as well live in Flint, Michigan over the Valley because the cost of living is better. Seeing as it’s one of the worst places to live in the country (in terms of quality of living, crime rate, municipal services, etc)…have fun!

  40. These are truly enormous ideas in concerning blogging.
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