Game Developers Should Unionize

Time was, I worked at Walmart.  I stocked shelves at night.  It was, hands-down, the worst job I’ve ever had.  Nothing else even comes close.  During training, we had a whole day devoted to the group I was hired with getting a big education in why unions are bad, and those who work for unions are bad, and how we are so much better off because we don’t have a union.  Orwellian as fuck, but that’s how it goes at Walmart.  The corporation is pure evil, so what else did you expect?  Not sad that I lost that job.

Story after story is coming out about how AAA-game publishers are forcing those who work for them into some of the worst working conditions I’ve ever heard.  From the 100-hour work weeks that was uncovered at Rockstar, to the Bioware nightmare while Anthem was in development.  Activision Blizzard treating testers in a way that is subhuman.  EA as well, but EA is so evil that it defies comprehension.

While we’re on that, did you hear the thing about the guy at EA who is just absolutely baffled, for 25 years, why people think that EA is full of “bad guys”?  That just blows my mind.  This dude has seen how the company treats their employees.  He’s seen how they will lay people off when the money isn’t coming in enough instead of treating their employees like they care.  Or how EA treats their consumers as nothing more than cash machines instead of actually trying to give them a quality product.  How about the thing where they try and defend lootboxes as “surprise mechanics” and make a point about how they are part of the pioneering spirit of EA?  This dude can see all that, but is totally baffled as to why people think that EA is full of scum-fucks.  Maybe this dude is so out of touch, but I refuse to buy it.

Apologies for the digression, but that was too good not to talk about.  EA is one of the most evil companies ever.  It hurts me inside that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order looks so good.  Part of me is wondering how EA is going to secretly screw everyone over.  They said no lootboxes, but maybe there is some other “surprise mechanics” in the game.  Fuck EA.

Even CD Projekt Red isn’t immune from this.  There was an expose published about the development of The Witcher 3 and what hell it was for those who were involved.  The company has promised that that kind of thing is not going to happen again.  We’ll see.  I’m always skeptical.  Blame the fact that these companies have a reputation for being liars and treating people like crap.

Which is why I genuinely do believe that game developers, testers, all of those groups should unionize.  It’s LONG since time that they did so.  As we have seen with the lootboxes fiasco, these companies won’t learn from the horrible things they do and will just make excuses.  Hell, there was an article where one head of a company was laughing at the idea of them unionizing.  Since these companies can’t be trusted to do the right thing on their own, it’s time for those who are stuck in this nightmare to step up and band together.

Naturally, there’s the thought about what companies would do if this were to actually happen.  The answer is pretty obvious – not hire anyone associated with the union.  They’d outright tell people that if they unionize, they’ll just fire them and never hire them again.  They know how many people are desperate for a job and would accept their ultimatum of staying out of the union to keep their job.  Gotta love a profession where people live under a constant threat of having no income if they don’t tow the corporate line.  Or with the testers, being treated less than human and paid virtually nothing.

The only way this would work is if enough developers/testers were to get together all at once and make this happen.  It can’t just be a couple of people.  It has to be a large effort.  But it needs to happen.  It should have happened so many years ago.  With gaming getting bigger and bigger, employees need the protection a union brings.  That way these companies can’t pull the bullshit that they do.  There are so many stories of the work environments, the stress levels, the burnout, even suicides in connection to how awful it is.  It’s high time for those in this profession to band together and actually look out for one-another.

What would this mean for gamers?  Several things.  For starters, yearly releases would be a thing of the past.  Less crunch would mean that things would have to be paced out.  Games would be on CDPR time – coming out when they’re done.  Given how unfathomably impatient gamers are (I admit that I am an impatient man myself.  But I accept when there are delays because I want things to come out perfect), this could have a lot of people bitching and moaning about the delays.  They’d have to suck it up and deal.

Because we never see the people who makes games, it’s hard for people to understand the human cost.  In this age of apathy, plenty of people probably don’t care.  It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for people to rationalize not caring about what happens to other people.  With homeless people, it’s just fantastic.  Part of me wants America to just ditch the pretense of empathy and just kill the homeless.  It’s painfully obvious how little people care.  I had to overhear two coworkers talking about how awful it is that they are everywhere.  What would they prefer?  The way I see it, nobody cares, so let’s stop pretending.

Sorry, another digression.  AAA gaming needs to change.  It needed to change years ago, but now more than ever, it’s time for the people being exploited by corporations who treat them like cattle to band together and step up to them.  They would fight tooth and nail against them.  They’d fire, threaten, and make life hell for those who do this.  But in the end, they could succeed.

Part of me is hoping that AAA gaming is gonna have a collapse.  EA is a company that I would LOVE to see brought to heel.  People lament the idea of EA collapsing.  Not me.  I think it’s a great idea.  Maybe one or two of these companies need to topple in order for the rest to learn that they can’t keep being as greedy and scum-sucking as they are in order to survive.  A man can hope.

Until next time, a quote,

“It’s been a day of firsts.” – Lt. Richard Winters, Band of Brothers

Peace out,

Maverick

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The Unending Attack on Cyberpunk 2077 Continues

A few years ago, TJ Kirk made a video called “NUANCE IS DEAD (AND SJWs PISS ON ITS GRAVE).  In the video, he contends that one thing that is continually lost in the world of modern discourse is nuance.  The social justice community abhors nuance.  I’m convinced they throw the social justice equivalent of Holy Water at it, hoping to banish it to the 9th Dimension.  There was an article a while back called “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” in The New Yorker.  I saw that and realized that nowhere is a more perfect encapsulation of the world we live in than that.  Fuck the context of whatever we have a problem with.  It doesn’t matter!

Nowhere has this belief structure become more clear to me than in the unending problems that gaming journalism has with Cyberpunk 2077.  I said in my last post talking about this that the games journalism has a real problem with anything that could be fun now.  If it looks fun, they have to find a way to hate on it.  What’s baffling is why they chose this game.  Probably for the same reason as Anita Sarkeesian went after gaming in the first place.  Because it’s easy clicks.  Everybody is talking about it.  Everybody wants to respond.  Speaking of that two-bit con artist, she’s been trying to capitalize on all this too by getting CD Projekt Red to hire her on as a consultant.  Fuck that noise!

When Matt Cox wrote his context-free article about Cyberpunk 2077, I figured this would end there.  After all, why would Rock, Paper, Shotgun want to retread old ground?  Turns out, I was 100% wrong.  Now the chief of the entire publication, John Walker, is throwing his two-cents into the ring.  He decided to respond to Mike Pondsmith’s defense of Cyberpunk 2077 and by extension CD Projekt Red, with a rebuttal on what Pondsmith stated regarding why the gang called the Animals isn’t racist.  For those who don’t know, it’s because Pondsmith said it’s because they consider themselves fast, powerful, and dangerous.  The name is meant to be an analogue to the fact that they want to be more animal than human, through cybernetics and the narcotic they imbibe, “juice.”  Walker had his own take on that defense.

I love the argument that says “this can’t be racist because the imaginary people we made up made the decisions!”

Unbelievable.  That isn’t what Pondsmith said, you stupid twat!  It wasn’t the imaginary people in the game who made the decision to call themselves the Animals.  Pondsmith, as the creator of the entire FUCKING CONCEPT, made that the reason that these characters, who are mixed-race (as was made clear in another part of Pondsmith’s defense), go by this name for their gang is because of their desire to be fierce and powerful, like a wild animal that is untamed.  He’s saying that you all are taking this shit WAY out of context in order to bolster a narrative.  Guess Walker’s bullshit argument really backed that up, didn’t it?

Instead of looking at all the ways that the term Animal can be used, you immediately jump to the most racist interpretation of all.  Ever see a boxing match or an MMA fight and hear people describe the guy who is beating the living shit out of an opponent as an animal?  Calling someone an animal can describe how they are in bed.  A person who is malicious and does horrible things without remorse can be described as an animal.  Pondsmith outright told you where the context of this came from, and your refutation of that statement is – you’re wrong.  Yeah, I’m sure the guy who created this entire fucking universe that CD Projekt Red is basing this game on is wrong.  Because you say so.  Your opinion holds more weight than that of the creator of this entire IP.  The ego of this fucking retard is pretty mind-boggling.  Maybe, just maybe, you jumping to a racist interpretation of this says more about you than it does about Mike.

But it doesn’t end there, folks!  He continues by trying to make a point about those who defend what Pondsmith said.

Extraordinary work by the overnight Twitter goblins.  Those who spend most their lives screeching about “anti-white racism” suddenly changing their worldviews and believing it impossible that a person of color can make a bad argument regarding racist tropes.

Although let’s be fair to the *dozens* who genuinely didn’t understand the difference between real and imaginary people.

Fuck you, you smug, egotistical troglodyte.  First of all – where have I EVER talked about “anti-white racism”?  Please, do tell.  I’ve talked about how Black Lives Matter had its fair share of problems, back when that was a thing.  But I have said that ANYONE can be racist.  There are racists of all colors, everywhere.  Nothing about my worldview changed defending what Pondsmith said.  I just love how you follow that up with a declaration about how your opinion is the right one.  Yours.  The creator of the franchise that you are insulting?  He doesn’t know shit.  YOU are the enlightened one.  Can you see Texas up there on your high horse, you narcissistic pseudo-intellectual?

And yeah, I can tell the difference between real and imaginary people.  Unlike you, who I’m sure only spends your time with the most vivacious of intellectual peers, who you can have sniffing your farts like it’s rose oil, I have friends of all kinds.  I have salt-of-the-earth friends, pretentious pseudo-intellectual friends (though not like you.  They have personalities that don’t reek of ego), and everything in-between.  I spend time with them, outside of gaming worlds.  It’s important to me.  But hey, might as well insult the people who are socially awkward while you’re busy morally grand-standing.  I wanna punch this pretentious piece of shit so hard right in his stupid fucking face.  What an asshole.  And not in the fun way, but in the “fuck this dude” way.

I fucking love how we have two white people telling black people how to feel about this.  Meanwhile, there’s that hilarious video of the two Haitian guys singing the praises of the game and talking about how great it was to hear Creole and it was so authentic that they didn’t need subtitles.  That video is just awesome, and the genuine love and excitement that those guys have is heart-warming.  We live in this magical era where people not associated with any racial group they are defending is telling that racial group how to feel.  How fucking racist is that?  I am alone in thinking this?  Who are you, John Walker or Matt Cox, to be dictating to black people how black people should feel?  What are your black credentials?  I remember when Tim Black gave PaulsEgo his Black Card on The Drunken Peasants for his sick rap work.  Have you gotten your Black Card?  If so, can Tim Black take it back?  I don’t think you deserve it.

We live in a glorious age where people assume that they are the great divine intellect who can teach that unwashed masses that truth.  I’ve long contended that social justice is a religion, and shit like this proves me right.  The prophets of the faith are more enlightened than the people they are trying to speak for.  They can speak for you because they have the blessing of the figures of this faith.  The masses hear their words and accept it as truth.  Meanwhile, you have atheists like me who think that all of that is bullshit, and believe that all religion should go the way of the dodo.

Here’s what scares me about all this – I don’t know how much of it that CD Projekt Red takes seriously.  From what I’ve seen, it seems like they’re standing their ground.  I love that.  I hope that’s the case, because we need more creative people willing to defend their creation from the ego-jobs like these two cocksuckers at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  But I don’t know if they will keep doing so.  Or if they will start fearing the worst from all the negative coverage and bow to it.  I hope not.  I really fucking do.

Until next time, a quote,

“Mike Pondsmith is gonna be so upset when he finds out he’s oppressing himself.” – Justin Whang

Peace out,

Maverick

CD Projekt Red is Alt-Right Now…?

A while back, I wrote a post talking about how I hate that “leftist” is an all-encompassing term that is bandied about by right-wing people when they want to just disregard the opinion some liberal like myself has.  It’s an easy line to go to when you have no argument of your own.  I mean, I’m a liberal, and I don’t agree with social justice culture.  Does that make me a leftist?  I think we should have universal healthcare because insurance in this country is a fucking scam.  I think there should be common sense gun control that in no way involves taking conservatives guns.  Forgive me for wanting to try and keep guns out of the mentally unstable that our country clearly gives no fucks about.  I think freedom of speech is a good thing.  I think that deplatforming is wrong.  So am I a leftist?

I bring this up because we live in this world of buzzwords.  Everything needs a good buzzword.  The regressive-left and the far-right do this in equal measure.  Terms like Nazi, cuck, soyboy, fascist, misogynist, SJW.  They are all terms used to just put people into a peg that they can then not even bother responding to.  All of those terms, by the way, mean nothing anymore.  Neither side is innocent in this game of one-upsmanship to have that next big term that is able to hurt the feelings of the side they don’t like.  The only difference is that mainstream media accepts the far-left terms without any real objection.  They don’t play this game, but use the terminology of it just fine.

Which brings me to CD Projekt Red.  This year, they pretty much won E3 when Keanu Reeves debuted in their latest trailer for their magnum opus, Cyberpunk 2077.  Then he came on stage and damn-near broke the Internet. With the premiere of this game 10 months away, fans hype is at a fever pitch.  As it should be.  This studio is showing that they are willing to go distances that no one else has gone, in order to give players content that they have never seen anything like before.  Their last project is regarded as one of the best games of this console generation, and rightly so.

However, while they are basking in the afterglow of gamers cumming in their pants for their latest project and salivating like Pavlovian dogs for the next gameplay drop, it seems that not everybody is on the hype bandwagon.  We got a very small, but very vocal group of naysayers who, as far as I’m concerned, hate fun.  They hate it.  What’s more, they hate when people have it.  The more fun people have, the more they hate the living shit out of something.  The cooler something looks to the mass audiences, the more they think – fuck this!  So they take to their rag publications and Twitter accounts to make sure you know how the next big thing that everyone wants is a giant pile of shit that you are a bad person for wanting.

Don’t believe me?  Well, it’s not exactly a mystery how they were shit-talking The Witcher 3 when it was coming out.  A game centered around a book series that took the vast majority of its inspiration from Slavic mythology didn’t exactly translate to lots of black people.  Who knew?  So yeah, the game is naturally racist.  Oh, and you can have sex with women in the game, so it’s misogynistic too. Why not any men you can fuck?  I always kind of assumed Dandelion was gay, but whatever.

What are their gripes with Cyberpunk 2077?  Well, it’s unimaginative in the combat department, for one thing.  The combat mechanics are old hat and suck.  The transhumanism element is non-existent because the presenter at a closed-door E3 event showing off the latest gameplay didn’t give one of these people the answers he specifically wanted.  It’s sexist because the trailer showed a MAN!  Fuck men!  Oh, and it’s transphobic because of…an advertisement…?  Okay.  There was this one little other thing about all of this that one Twitter user named @quatoria said – that CD Projekt Red is…an alt-right company?  What?  What proof does this twat-nugget have for this?

Welcome to another term that is now being bandied about by the regressive left with plenty of vigor.  The media at large joins in the fun.  And just like every other buzzword used throughout the modern Internet, it has less and less meaning with every usage.  Just another term for those that they disagree with and don’t want to have to respond to on a level playing field.

So now they can attack an entire development team because they feel personally offended.  To hell with just not playing the game.  These fuckers don’t play video games anyway (all their articles begin with them talking about what games they play.  That’s how you know it’s bullshit).  And if they do, it’s begrudgingly.  No, instead of just not partaking in entertainment that they don’t like, or making their own entertainment (it’s not like it’s hard.  There are plenty of engines out there if they want to make their own content.  Oh right, that creates work simulators like Sunset), instead they have to shit on what other people want, for the sole purpose of having these developers cater to them.

The social justice community attacks against Cyberpunk 2077 have grown so loud that Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the tabletop RPG that this game is based on, came out and gave a very fierce defense on Reddit ripping a social justice post to pieces for stating that he had no involvement in this game, that the Animals gang is racist, and that Voodoo Boys is racist, in both cases for them being black.  It was pretty great stuff.  He then attacked the people who claimed that they should be the ones telling black people how they should feel about stuff, claiming that these people are acting like allies while treating him and those like him as if they’re children.  His bit about Thanksgiving dinner was just too good.  Go check that out.

It kills me inside how many developers are harassed and attacked by people who Mike Pondsmith says are well-meaning, but who I believe are just two-faced ideologues in sheep’s clothing.  All because you don’t like something that they created.  You don’t like something that you are under NO obligation to partake in.  You don’t have to play this game.  There is a vast plethora of other things to do.  You can play a different game.  You can go outside and…since it’s gonna be April when this game comes out, watch the leaves coming out on the trees.  You can go for a walk.  You can play with your dog/cat.  There are a thousand things you can do that don’t involve this game.  But no.  Instead you attempt to create a climate of disdain around this game and those who make it.  You cast aspersions of their political views, because you don’t like their product!  Who the fuck do these people think they are?!

I hope CD Projekt Red doesn’t take this shit too seriously.  The vast majority of people are in love with this game.  Go to ANY of the trailers and see the ratings of Like to Dislike.  It’s so far one-sided that it’s insane.  Everyone wants this game.  EVERYONE.  Keanu Reeves had people screaming that he was breath-taking.  These people who are attacking them are people who have no dog in this fight.  There’s hard data to show that social justice types don’t actually play much in the way of games.  I loved that article on Polygon a while back where this one journalist talked about how bored he was at a big game press event because it was all about video games and not about politics or something they viewed as serious.

Market forces say that people are looking for something new and exciting and unlike anything else they’ve played before.  This game looks to be that way.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  Already pre-ordered.

Until next time, a quote,

“Yeah, but since when does someone have a clue about what they want?” – God, Bruce Almighty

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Questions About Cyberpunk 2077

I know that I wrote in a post that people shouldn’t get aboard the hype train too much because that’s where insane crunch like the 100 hour work weeks at Rockstar comes from, but I can’t help it!  This game has me on the line, and every piece of news that comes out is magic to me.  I’ve watched the 48 minute gameplay demo 1000 times by now.  I hang on every detail.  I could go on about it for days.  But there are a few things that really catch my eye.  Things that I cannot get out of my head.  Now, I know that I’m some rando WordPress blogger who once aspired to legit journalism, so the chances of getting these answered if virtually nil, but I’m gonna put them out there and see what, if anything, comes back.  Here are my top 10 questions about Cyberpunk 2077.

10. How is shopping with street vendors gonna work?
I couldn’t help but notice all the vendors in this game.  There was a pizza place, a guy selling defective equipment, but there is one in-particular that caught my eye – the dude selling vinyl albums.  Can I buy from that dude?!  How about pizza dude?  How much of the vendor culture am I gonna be able to interact with?  There was a bit where a dude is trying to sell you a camera, and you had the ability to say yes.  Does that mean that all sorts of people selling all sorts of stuff is gonna be open to the player?  Oh, and speaking of the vinyl…

9. Are you gonna be able to have a playlist at home?
Assuming that you can buy some of those vinyl albums, can you make your own music setup at home?  How many kinds of music will be represented?  I wanna make my character a pretentious net-runner, so some electronic or spin on classical would be rad.  Thinking Deadmau5 would go well in this universe, or some ATTLAS for the quieter moments.  Their style seems absolutely perfect for the kind of game that this is.

8. How much of the character’s back-story are you gonna be able to make?
During the intro to the gameplay demo, you saw that there is a personal history section.  In the pen-and-paper RPG days, you could fill in the backstory.  So my question is, since you have made very clear that you are keeping it as loyal to that old-school system and mythos as you can, how much can I put in?  I mean, the options probably have to be limited, since otherwise you’d have games crashing under their own complication, but I want to know.  And while we’re on the topic of the mythos…

7. Will there be an in-game codex for the lore?
I REALLY wanna be able to learn about the history of this game.  One of my favorite things in the Mass Effect games (at least the first three good ones) was the codex.  Anytime I wanted to learn something new about the world, the aliens, the tech, I could look at the codex and study.  Hell, everyone’s favorite part of the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC was reading the random entries about all the characters.  Will I have such a thing in the game itself?  I saw that we have a computer.  Will it be there?  Oh, which is a nice segway to…

6. When will we get to see the computer?
Given the HUD and how stuff all seems to be there, I’m curious how the computer is going to be integrated into the game.  On the touch-screen gizmo on your window, you could check your messages there.  How is this going to work?  Cyberpunk email sounds kinda fun.  Not to mention, give me a place I can go and pour over the codex while listening to my music and you have me all over your game.  No joke, I will learn everything there is to know.

5. How will relationships work in this game?
I saw in the trailer that V wakes up with a rando dude.  Way too much facial hair for my liking, but whatever floats her boat.  I notice that you didn’t seem to set up taking the dude to bed?  Since I am probably gonna have a bi character (true to myself), am I gonna have some sort of way of interacting when I want them to come over for a booty call?  Not to mention, is the game gonna choose for me as this seemed to when that happens, and with whom?  You’ve said that interactions with the people are gonna be broad, but in terms of this, I am looking for some specifics.

4. For those who wanna play quiet, what will the options be?
As previously stated, I wanna be a net-runner, and would prefer to have a play style where I can talk my way out.  Don’t get me wrong, violence is fun, and getting to have crazy weapons to do so sounds great.  In another play-through, I probably will have a character who is all about shooting everything until it’s dead.  But starting out, I wanna be able to play the clever character with tech being my first line of defense.  With that in mind, I am curious to see what the play styles will be and what kinds of upgrades I can do in order to play that way.

3. Is there gonna be some kind of system to keep track of the player’s relationship to the various factions?
You’ve talked about how what you do is going to leave a mark in the various factions of the game.  That’s great!  I loves it.  Get me some Fallout: New Vegas action going on in manipulating allegiances.  But I am curious to know if there will be a system of some kind to keep track of where I stand with various elements of the city, if at all.  Like those creepy Maelstrom gangers and the Corpo pieces of shit that I will be undercutting.  My net-running is gonna be used against them in a big way.  I love the idea that what I do will change the way the world interacts with me, but it would be nice to have some sort of way of knowing where I stand with X group before I have a mission where I have to interact with them.

2. How is the katana gonna work?!
I couldn’t help but notice that when you go into the armory in the game, one of the slots that is available is for a goddamn katana!  Wants!  But that got me to thinking – since this is a first-person game, how is it going to work with that?  Genuinely curious.  First-person blade weapons has been a HUGE area of hit-or-miss throughout the years.  I’m more than a little curious what your take is going to be.  Not to mention, can we upgrade the blade?  Make it all electric like Raiden’s from Metal Gear Rising?  Since I wanna be a net-runner, with a focus on being quiet and stealthy, big guns don’t do much for me.  But this caught my eye.

1. When am I gonna be able to download that song by Johnny Silverhand?!
Please, for the love of Groj, tell me that some of the music in this game is coming to iTunes.  It would genuinely disappoint me if it wasn’t.  That song featured in the trailer is part of the reason I am hooked.  I wanna let my inner punk go nuts to that!  I get the feeling that Johnny Silverhand might be my “Personal Hero” character, though Blackhand is in the running.  I know who those characters represented are.  I’ve been doing my research on the source material.  So yeah, when can I get my hands on that song?!

So yeah, those are my questions.  Gonna send these over to CD Projekt RED and Cyberpunk 2077‘s Twitter pages and see if I can get a response.  Not holding my breath, but you never know.  I got Focus Home Interactive to respond to me with my First Take on their new game, A Plague Tale: Innocence.  So maybe I can with these guys too.  I’m a firm believer in the rumor that the game is coming out in 2019, with all they’ve said about making sure it’s optimized with current consoles, it would have to.  2020 is gonna be the beginning of a new generation.  What are your questions?  Let me know in the comments.  If I can get a response from them, I will definitely keep you posted.

Until next time, a quote,

“Got the chrome in the bloodstream
Got a hot red metal soul,
I’m out looking for action,
Guess I’m on a roll.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: Gaming Culture Needs to Change, for the Devs’ Sake

I’m sure you all read the stories that came out about how Rockstar has been working their staff to verifiably insane degrees.  100 hour work weeks is ridiculous.  A 60 hour work week is already bananas, but now add another full work week to that.  No rational person can handle that.  But the worst part is that this is nothing new.  Horror stories coming out of EA are old news by this point.  Same with Ubisoft.  In fact, it is a known fact within the gaming industry that there are very few companies that don’t engage in this sort of behavior.  It’s a tragedy, really.  And it’s because of this that I think there needs to be some changes

It bugs me when I see in the comments on these articles that devs shouldn’t complain.  After all, they make big money, right?  So what if they are a little inconvenienced?  The rationale of people who have never had that level of crunch before.  I used to work retail.  At Target.  The management there was shit, so at the end of EVERY SINGLE DAY, we were out late.  Why?  Because we would have to work overtime in order to get all the shit that needed to be finished done.  All because management didn’t know how to handle people.  It sucked the life out of us when each and every night we are getting out almost an hour late.  It’s long about midnight when we are heading home.  Now I imagine that feeling, seven days a week, where you work 16 hour days.  No sane person can live that way.

But why does gaming culture need to change?  What did we do?  I mean, isn’t this a thing where the people involved need to unionize or the government needs to have stricter regulations?  Sure, those things do need to happen.  However, there is a deeper cause that people aren’t seeming to see.  It is a problem that goes beyond the gamers who are part of it.  There is a corporate problem.  So don’t think I’m pointing the fingers at gamers specifically.  The entire industry needs a shift, and soon.

This problem comes from the hype cycle.  The yearly release cycle.  Gamers get so rabid for new released.  I’m guilty of this as well.  I have been hanging on every piece of news that comes out about Cyberpunk 2077.  I am one of the people who believes the theory going around that the game is going to be released in 2019.  Especially since the devs say they have worked overtime to optimize the game to current consoles.  They have made very clear that as amazing as that gameplay trailer looked, it did so on tech that current consoles can handle.  It was a huge news story where they said they aren’t shooting for a next-gen release.  That and some of the bits about leaked info, I am reasonably certain.

That being said, if Cyberpunk 2077 did come out in 2020, as much as that would be a bit of a bummer for me, I’d be okay with it.  If it means that the devs could have a working life that doesn’t push them to these extremes, I would be perfectly fine with it.  In fact, when I get news that a game I want is being pushed back, that generally makes me happy, because it means the devs are doing their best to make sure everything is done well and it is the best it can be.

A sentiment that cannot be seen among the rest of gaming culture.  For example, if Rockstar had come out and said that Red Dead Redemption II had to be delayed for months or even longer in order to not have to crunch like this, what do you think the reaction would be?  It would be outrage.  Fan rage would be everywhere.  Shit-posts left and right.  People saying that the devs shouldn’t complain so much.  You know I’m right.

When I started this, I said that gamers aren’t the only ones to blame for this, and I wasn’t lying.  The truth is that the publishers are too.  Not only do huge corporations set hard deadlines that push people, but they also make the hype culture go out of control.  A lot of people blame Bioware for the end of Mass Effect 3 being as bad as it is, but the reality is that that had less to do with them and more to do with EA setting a hard deadline to when the game had to be released.  So they just cut corners and used the first draft of the ending written by some rando dude.  This story isn’t new.

There is something to be said for how Bethesda does thing. Typically, they don’t even announce games until they are almost ready, and when they are reasonably certain that this is when they will be ready.  It’s a good strategy.  Instead of dragging the hype cycle out, they can concentrate it into something that is damn-near orgasmic.  It’s impressive, to say the least.  Even if I don’t like all their game, their strategy of giving devs time to work without taxing them, waiting until they know it’s gonna be ready in time, that’s the right approach.

But these companies also like to get the hype train rolling too. They want to get gamers salivating and putting in those pre-orders.  That’s how the money gets made.  It works.  It really does.  I have been guilty of buying into it myself.  I like to think that I’m more stable about this stuff now, but like I said, I hang on all the news that comes out about Cyberpunk 2077.  It’s addicting.  Especially when I know that the developer has a pedigree for quality that I can tell they aren’t shying away from now.

All of this being said, there does need to be a change.  Gaming culture is becoming unsustainable.  We need to start treating these developers like human beings and having human expectations for them.  I guarantee, it would see the industry be better for it, even if games took longer to make.  We can afford for them to take the time.

Until next time, a quote,

“Got the chrome in the bloodstream
Got a hot red metal soul,
I’m out looking for action,
Guess I’m on a roll.” – Johnny Silverhand, Cyberpunk 2077

Peace out,

Maverick

Is Politics in Gaming Bad?

I know that I recently railed against an article by Kotaku about the new Spider-Man game and how it wasn’t political enough for the person writing it.  And I stand by that, trust and believe.  However, when Ubisoft was just recently quoted as saying that a political message in gaming is bad for business in a very absolute way, that got me to thinking about this concept in a broader sense.  Are political messages in gaming bad?  On the merits, are they a bad thing?

CD Projekt Red has said that there are going to be an inherently political side to their game, and to me that makes perfect sense.  Cyberpunk, as a genre, has a political edge to it.  Watch Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell and tell me I’m wrong.  Whether it be the nature of an underclass society and what it means to be free, or a world where everyone is integrated with tech and asking what it means to be human anymore, respectively.  Telling stories about a world where there is unfairness and the punk can go from no one to someone like the story in Cyberpunk 2077 has a political edge to it by its nature.  So why are people saying that politics in gaming is bad on the merits of it?

Well, part of it is because, in recent years, political messages in gaming has not been even-handed.  It’s all about how you approach it.  Too many games have just shoved its politics down your throat and had the games media to back it up if you complained.  That’s not good story-telling.

Some of my favorite movies have political messages.  Recently, I talked about a really great film called Eye in the Sky.  It had a ton of political themes going at once, but was so even-handed with it that I was genuinely impressed.  It doesn’t tell you how to think, just gives you the narrative and lets you come to your own conclusions.  Were they in the right for getting that little girl killed in order to take out someone who is about to do a suicide bombing?  I say yes, but I’m sure plenty of other people say no.  And that’s an interesting debate to have.  I would have that debate and enjoy it.

What are some of your favorite stories?  The ones that really clicked with you?  Think about the politics of those stories.  In Lord of the Rings, you had the prejudice of Gimli against elves being contrasted by his growing friendship with Legolas.  In Final Fantasy X you have the corruption of the church, and the hatred of an atheist society that still wants to help the world.  In the first (and only good) season of Psycho-Pass, you have the cruelty of a system that judges people and dispenses justice as cruelly as the system does so.  All of these stories had politics in them as a major theme, and all of them are well-regarded.

Of course, then we get the contrasting opposite of this.  You get the Battlefield V kind, where it has a woman with one arm in the British military in World War II.  People were right to get pissed about that.  It’s blatantly ridiculous, and it was done for the specific purpose of selling a narrative.  And if you didn’t like that narrative, you are a horrible bigot.  That’s pretty much the definitive of not being even-handed.

It’s telling that The Last of Us: Part II didn’t get as much blow-back.  Mostly because Naughty Dog was content to just put their next story idea and one of the messages it has out there and not go on about it.  Sure, for a little while, games media was all about it.  But even games media didn’t come that hard to their defense.  After all, most were assuming that the India lesbian is gonna be dead at some point in the story, given the depressing nature of the narrative.  Maybe that’s because, while Neil Druckmann has SJW tendencies, he still does his best to make good stories.  But there’s something to be said about putting something out into the world and letting people judge it on its merits.  And you can see this in the positive ratings on the trailer in question.

The point I’m making is that if you want politics in something, don’t just shy away from that.  But you have to approach it in an even-handed way.  Put the politics of a world you’re creating out there and let the player/viewer come to their own conclusions about it.  That’s how you do it in a way that doesn’t piss people off.  I know, novel concept to games media, who will bitch and moan about politics in gaming not being blatant enough for them.  Subtlety is a lost art to the creatively bankrupt, talentless hacks at Kotaku.

Until next time, a quote,

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” – H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal

Here’s a game that I’ve been keeping a cursory eye on, but haven’t really gone into too much because I didn’t know exactly how I felt about it.  I was not the biggest fan of CD Projekt Red’s last game, The Witcher 3.  Not because I thought it was bad.  Far from it.  I just didn’t have much engagement because it’s connected to a franchise with a TON of lore and story baggage that I had no connection with.  So while it objectively was fantastic, I was bored stiff because of that.  However, here we have a new game with a connection to a franchise that has more to do with pen-and-paper RPG games than anything else.  So it’s basically a blank slate, and CD Projekt Red has promised the lore will be flushed out.

Still, it was something of a distant look until I FINALLY got around to watching their REALLY long game-play reveal.  I’m going to be putting the video here so you can follow along, but it’s 48 minutes long.  If you don’t have the time, I understand.  Instead of going through bit by bit, I’m going to talk about the things that really stick out to me.  Let’s get down to it.

We start off with this really cool narrator telling us that we get to customize our character.  I am all about this!  But looking at the character select screen, can we ditch the pixelization over the fun bits, when it is so obvious they are wearing underwear?  I am nine kinds of in love with the aesthetic of this game.  It lives up to its namesake.  The menus all have that retro-futuristic appearance, and that just tickles me pink.  As an hardcore fan of Blade Runner, this warms the cockles of my heart.

It’s also pretty great that we get to set up a ton of stuff in respect to our backstory, and the narrator says that all of this stuff plays a role in how our game plays.  For once, I am almost positive this is on the level.  After all, it’s CD Projekt Red we’re talking about here.  Definitely hoping the customization options are deep.  I want to turn my character into someone wholly unique.  I also love me some scars and some ink, so hopefully I get a ton of those to play with as well.  Kinda hoping we can add more ink as the narrative goes along.  Looking at the stats, I am definitely gonna be a tech person, with a focus on infiltrator stuff rather than combat.  The narrator says there are no pre-selected class systems, so you can choose how you play.  I dig it.

We see our first mission, and get to rescue a woman who is butt-naked from a bathtub filled with ice.  Again, CD Projekt Red, and they have a pedigree of not shying away from the swanky stuff.  They are European, after all.  I say that all devs should be European and Asian.  Americans are too pussy to go the distance like this.  After the first mission, I see our girl waking up with our comrade.  The narrator says that relationships are something you get to make on your own, and I’m glad about that.  Don’t get me wrong, Jackie is a badass bro.  I could do missions and shit with him all day.  But not sure he’s fuckable material.  Also don’t know if he is that guy for male and female character.  Makes me wonder what the differences will be between them in terms of options for relationships.  Is sexuality a set in stone thing, or is that open to character choice?  Lots of things to think about.

This apartment makes my inner cyberpunk nerd squeee a little.  So much yes!  Suddenly wanna hit up Deckard and see if we can find some replicants.  I couldn’t help but notice in the armory in her place that there is a slot for a fucking katana!  I want my katana!  Wanna hack some people up.  Or, because I am really favoring the subtle infiltration style, I wanna be able to silently kill people with it.  Customize the blade a la Metal Gear Rising.

Heading out of the place, the city looks unbelievable.  Some definite inspiration from Dredd, but that is just fine by me too.  The inhalers thing clearly came from that as well.  So many people tagged.  Was really hoping we’d to get see inside the weapon’s shop.  Seemed that dude has a quest to offer us too.  Getting off at the elevator, I see there are a ton of vendors.  Here’s my question – how many of these people can I visit?  There is a guy selling music, and that definitely appeals to me.  Vinyl records.  Love it.  Had a person in my life who has vinyl, as well as a player.  It’s pretty good stuff.  Makes some kinds of music sound more real.  Everything is so processed now.  The narrator talks about how believable the city is, making the team sound very “humble” in the process.  Whatevs.  With how beautiful this game looks, they’ve earned some bragging rights.  Street cred, as the game has it.

As we meet with the provider of our next mission – Dexter DeShawn, I’m seeing that the game has a broad array of groups that we get to interact with.  There are the corporate people, the criminal elite, the smuggling types who are involved with this mission, and since there is a crime scene we walk past, potentially the cops?  One of my favorite parts of Fallout: New Vegas was how many different groups there were that you could get involved with.  All of which changed how the ending played out.  Makes me want to play with the politics of this game and see where that takes me.

We get our job from Dex and go to our ripperdoc to get some cybernetics.  Here is where I am so stoked.  The trailers for this game have had things like a woman who removed her entire jaw while doing her makeup.  How far can I go with this?  I saw a post saying that if you over-cyborg yourself, it does affect you over the course of the game.  Still, eager to find that fine line.  Or at least see what kinda crazy shit I can get.  The narrator says we can get illegal cybernetics that let me do all sorts of bananas shit.  Hell yeah!

The driving in this game can go from third to first-person.  I would probably do third-person, if for no other reason than to take in the gorgeous landscape of this game.  Really itching to see the night cycle.  Narrator said the day and night cycle are dynamic.  Oh how a man can dream.  When we’re negotiating with the corpo bitch, I can’t help but notice that the language in this game is so foul.  Kinda love it.  After all, the word “Punk” is in the name.  Foul language goes with that territory.  Just watch any of the great films in that class.  Not the cyberpunk class, but punk.  Lots of foul-mouthed assholes.

Player gets their job, which results in them heading over to the Maelstrom hide-out.  The first thing to notice about this guys is all the tech integration.  It’s freaky.  The narrator tells you that you can choose how you go about missions.  I am all about that.  I want to be an infiltrator, of sorts, but wouldn’t mind taking the approach of being able to talk my way out of a bad situation.  Though, not sure it’s worth it with the creepy borg people who have all the glowing eyes and shit.  The head dude looks like he ripped out the front of his face to replace it all with tech.  That’s creepy with a capitol C.

We get some stuff showing off cool combat abilities, but that’s just window dressing for me.  Especially since this person isn’t into the whole tech angle the way I want to be.  They are into the engineer side.  Neat, I guess.  After blasting your way through, you get out, only to be met by corpo bitch.  She tells you that this is how it is, and you head over to Dexter DeShawn’s club to make the drop-off of the creepy spider-drone.  Why did we not have the drone assisting us in combat?  That’s so weird.  We took the time to get it up and moving, but not explore how it can help me out?  So weird.

All things considered, this looks awesome.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to feel like I live in the world of Blade Runner, and now I get the opportunity.  We’ll see what happens next.

Initial Verdict
Jack in my brain, ripperdoc!

Peace out,

Maverick