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Worth Reading: 04/25/2014

From the abandoned architecture of World of Warcraft to drowning simulators, there's a little bit of everything this week.

I have a newfound respect for the work that Vinny, Drew, and other video producers are tasked with.

For whatever reason, the videos exported from my computer started having an issue at 10 minutes and 53 seconds--every single time. Weird, right? The original file plays fine on my computer, but the moment it moves through our website, it crops up with an issue at 10 minutes and 53 seconds--every single time. It's like clockwork. Evil clockwork.

Even now, I don't know what's wrong, but the videos work when pumped out of Premiere from the Cards Against Humanity office on another computer. Clearly, something is wrong on my end, though I cannot fathom what I've changed along the way. Maybe I'm haunted.

This story, on its face, isn't particularly interesting, but it goes to show that it's very easy to take what others have become deeply skilled at for granted. The ease at which my colleagues make the complicated seem effortless is years worth of work making the plugging of cables and the editing of videos appear secondhand.

Anyway, I know that's not anything insightful about video games, but I felt like sharing it. It's cool to have a better understanding at why other people are so good at their jobs, you know? I also wish these damn videos worked.

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

It's important to have prominent, openly gay characters in games, but it's just as important to have gay characters who aren't defined by one aspect of their lives.That's what we have with Chrispin Jettingham (that's, uh, one hell of a name) in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Though this part of Jettingham isn't shouted from the rooftops, it informs his personality and place in the story. Besides learning how creative director Adam Bullied gave subtle nods to what was beneath the surface, it's interesting to note how former Capcom employee Keiji Inafune was credited here.

"For Dee-Ay I wanted to avoid having a generic, square jawed, cool headed, Caucasian tough guy, which at the current time is a pervasive trope to the point of homogeneous uniformity. I am also a Canadian liberal, and I was really aware of the issue of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy in American cultural discourse. I read some accounts and started thinking of gay people serving in the military in the context of other 'outsider' subcultures, like immigrants, and it occurred to me that often these people end up being the 'best and the brightest,' and cleave extra close to the stereotype that they are seemingly antithetical too.

"I wanted him to be a strong, smart, decisive, precise soldier who was polite, funny, and and genuinely liked and admired by the people around him. And was also gay."

The industry moves as such a rapid pace, and I suspect we're going to have some truly good historical reporting coming from writers that return to our old stomping grounds. In this case, World of Warcraft remains a viable, active game, but aspects of it have been changed so thoroughly during its lifespan that it's possible to perform digital archaeology. These abandoned cities reflect changes during the ebb and flow of WoW's life, and while it might seem like just an abandoned city, Samantha Nelson is able to weave and interesting tale bout what this says about WoW's evolving design and player behavior.

"These are perfectly preserved digital spaces, so unlike Detroit, they show no physical symptoms of their abandonment. But they are spaces designed for hundreds where it’s possible to wander the streets without seeing a single other player. Computer-controlled characters will still cheerily train you in a new skill or peruse your wares, but the cities still feel desolate.

I go anyway. The emptiness feels appropriate in a place like Silvermoon. I imagine that the haughty Blood Elves discourage the other races from coming to their home. On the rare occasions when another player can be seen wandering the city’s streets, it’s almost always another elf. Maybe they’re drawn back by an appreciation for the space’s beauty. Without other players to distract you by dancing naked or generally bustling around the screen, a visitor can admire details like self-sweeping brooms and golems on patrol. These are the sights that make the place beautiful and magical--and slightly ominous. It’s sad that so few people seem to appreciate its features, but the upshot is a welcome solitude."

If You Click It, It Will Play

These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Ben Kuchera explains how Hearthstone's lack of true communication is a valuable asset.
  • Benoit Paillé showcases his unique approach to superimposing real-life onto video games.
  • Rod Breslau reports on Brandon Kelly, a police officer killed in the Boston bombings.
  • Tom Rudderham highlights how the Oculus Rift helped a cancer patient re-experience the outdoors.
  • Robin Hunicke reflects on how far we've come (and how far we have to go) on diversity.
  • OXM spent time inside the Xbox Live operations center to learn how everything ticks.
  • Mata Haggis writes about how every game has an agenda, vocal or not.
  • Alexander Bruce tries to convey the mental health issues he experienced making Antichamber.
  • Nathan Grayson finds the PAX Diversity Lounge prompted mixed reactions.
  • Liz England uses "The Door Problem" to try and better explain the complexities of development.
  • Lana Polansky has seen the terrifying future of wearable technology.
  • Austin Walker finds himself disappointed at the whiteness of the customization in Animal Crossing.
  • Caryn Vainio is both a game developer and a mom, and writes about why that can be so hard.
Patrick Klepek on Google+
61 Comments
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Edited by EuanDewar
Edited by AMyggen
Posted by cooljammer00

No embedding of Vinny and Rich's PRODUCED panel?

Posted by huss

That really is one hell of a name.

Posted by KingdanglerBK

Thanks Patrick, I read, see!

Edited by cthomer5000

Errant Signal is so good. My favorite 'serious analysis' video game content on the web.

Posted by fisk0
Edited by arustysumo

That WoW article is cool because just a couple of weeks ago I tried getting into WoW because of a friend and there was an eerie but nice vibe as I wondered the ghost towns that are the starter areas.

Posted by Vorpal

Man, the Super Mario World camera logic video was really interesting. I don't think I'll be able to play the game again without noticing when the camera moves/locks.

Posted by Video_Game_King

So.....we gonna find out what that thing was, Dave Lang?

Posted by Tajasaurus

why that lady throw detroit immediately under the bus like that?

Posted by cthomer5000

So.....we gonna find out what that thing was, Dave Lang?

If i had to guess, it was the story he told on UPF Chicago. Cosmic coincidence regarding burger establishments.

Edited by Video_Game_King

@cthomer5000:

Did he run into H Jon Benjamin at a place called Bob's Burgers? And was there any butt-touching involved? I'm not a subscriber.

Posted by Bistromath

Empty cities/zones?

Everquest goes even deeper for that kind of thing.

So many expansions.

Posted by Roboculus92

OH FUCK ME THIS LOOKS AMAZING. SHIT, I'M GONNA HAVE TO GO LISTEN TO UNSILENT DEATH 10 TIMES IN A ROW JUST TO GET OVER HOW RAD I THINK THIS CONCEPT IS

It looks pretty neat. Excited to see how it turns out.

Edited by c_rakestraw

No embedding of Vinny and Rich's PRODUCED panel?

They recorded it? Link please.

Posted by pocketroid

I watched Alexander Bruce's GDC talk earlier today, and it reminded of other darker tales of indie game development hardship like Phil Fish. It's too bad that these people get so burnt out that they don't want to make games anymore. It takes a lot to learn how to anything the first time. But if you do it again, it gets easier every time. These people who give up after their first go are daunted by the past rather than the reality of the future.

But I feel like they'll get out of their slump and make something great and fun in a much shorter period, and enjoy doing it. Such creative, inspiring people shouldn't go to waste like that.

Posted by cooljammer00

@cooljammer00 said:

No embedding of Vinny and Rich's PRODUCED panel?

They recorded it? Link please.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-zDXLGiN7E&feature=youtu.be

cc: @patrickklepek

Posted by c_rakestraw
Posted by SteadyingMeat

I've played through the Bloof Elf starting zone a number of times now, and it's always super depressing whenever I have to go to Silvermoon just because of how empty and lifeless it is. It's almost creepy. But it's also kinda relaxing in a way.

Edited by Yummylee

Axton (Commando Class) from Borderlands 2 is also bisexual, as revealed by Anthony Burch. Anywhoo it's always neat in reading all these little backstories writers have come up with for their video game characters. Though with that said, both Axton and Dee-Ay are still one-dimensional characters, and Dee-Ay in particular is apart of one of the worst and most sloppily put together games I've played in recent memory, with both a terrible story and forgettable characters across the board, even by Resident Evil standards.

In terms of LGBT characters that are engaging characters without their sexuality defining their every action, Bill from The Last of Us is a much better example.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

For the record Patrick, I really do want to watch the archive of you breaking while playing Blair Witch, since I only caught the tail end of your misery. No video problems can stand in my way of desiring that.

Edited by cikame

This might be stretching it slightly, but Volgin in MGS3 is a manly dude who likes men, but in more extreme ways...

Posted by IronPrefect

Thanks Patrick

Posted by Levius

I have to strongly disagree with the Kutchera article. As someone who plays Magic Online some of my best memories are laughing at incomprehensible old mechanics in Momir Basic, chewing over the outcome of draft tournaments and even lightly jibing people salty over my lucky runs. All with complete strangers and I have never had a really bad experience. I think it's sad such a big game has such little trust in its audience, and that they choose to dehumanise their audience to the point they are basically complex AI characters from the players point of view. We should not let the toxic minority destroy human interaction on the internet.

Edited by Neonie

Wow that lady DOES look like a man. Holy shit.

Posted by SolongWrex

why that lady throw detroit immediately under the bus like that?

The quote is from the middle of the article. It makes more sense in context.

Posted by nERVEcenter

The Burning Crusade felt like an expansion dreamed up during an art jam. Literally everything they made indicated some kind of wild artistic objective. It's like they sat down and said, "Azeroth so far has been cool, but all of the cities and raids and dungeons have been brown and rather drab. BC should be none of those things. You all have a blank check to create whatever you want to influence the direction of this expansion."

And boom. We end up with cities like Silvermoon, zones like the Azuremyst and Bloodmyst Isles or Netherstorm, raids like Tempest Keep and Black Temple.

Northrend, in many ways, felt like it was trying to preserve some of that crazy beauty. Zul'drak, Ulduar, the Grizzly Hills, all of them had some absolutely eye-popping sights to see, but most zones were much more heavily grounded in reality; Grizzly Hills felt like it was bridging the gap, in fact.

And Pandaria...man, Pandaria is drop-dead gorgeous. It's gonna be a shame when we move on to Draenor and the Vale is completely devoid of players, the Jade Forest just another random leveling zone you leave halfway through.

So glad everything is all still around to see. Most people I meet in the game don't even seem to appreciate the presence of any of it, though, which is sad.

Posted by TheCheese33

Hover: Revolt of Gamers might be the worst name I've ever heard? Also, making the government "anti-videogames" instead of "anti-graffiti" like Jet Set Radio or "anti-books" like Fahrenheit 451 feels like a concept slightly ahead of its time, in a bad way. Jet Set Radio is about threatening creation, while Fahrenheit 451 is about threatening the spread of ideas. Gamers don't create, they consume, and we still have a long way to go before games even approach the breadth of ideas found in a novel, song or film.

The game itself looks solid, though. And sign me up if they raise enough for the Jet Set Radio composer to come aboard.

Edited by Wampa1

@yummylee: I know it's probably unfair but it just makes me think it's a last minute grab to try and give a garbage game some kind of relevance. There are no characters in that game, you could tell me all of The Umbrella team were gay or that Hunk is really a woman in the "backstory" and I can't argue it, but at some point I think you should state it in the game or at least hint at it if you care at all about fleshing people out TLOU being a prime example for sure.

Posted by cthomer5000

Hover: Revolt of Gamers might be the worst name I've ever heard? Also, making the government "anti-videogames" instead of "anti-graffiti" like Jet Set Radio or "anti-books" like Fahrenheit 451 feels like a concept slightly ahead of its time, in a bad way. Jet Set Radio is about threatening creation, while Fahrenheit 451 is about threatening the spread of ideas. Gamers don't create, they consume, and we still have a long way to go before games even approach the breadth of ideas found in a novel, song or film.

The game itself looks solid, though. And sign me up if they raise enough for the Jet Set Radio composer to come aboard.

Yeah it looks fantastic but the name, and the fact that they really have developed this "lore" about the anti-gamer thing is just profoundly stupid. I may end up backing it, but man.... how did that even get past one conversation? It's a really lousy premise.

Edited by Cogzwell

The Blood Elf starting zone hit me so hard as a young teen. the music and visuals of Silvermoon and Eversong Woods still haunt me to this day to the point where I often dream of the architecture and atmosphere of those areas.

Edited by Yummylee

@wampa1 said:

@yummylee: I know it's probably unfair but it just makes me think it's a last minute grab to try and give a garbage game some kind of relevance. There are no characters in that game, you could tell me all of The Umbrella team were gay or that Hunk is really a woman in the "backstory" and I can't argue it, but at some point I think you should state it in the game or at least hint at it if you care at all about fleshing people out TLOU being a prime example for sure.

Yeah, I see what you mean. Plus, it's weird because the whole point of this 'reveal' is to of course focus on the fact that it doesn't matter; characters shouldn't need to wear their sexuality on their sleeve unless the story is specifically centred around it and is one of the themes, which... lol ORC's story is as flat as A4 paper. So... suddenly going around exclaiming that your character is gay kinda goes against that a little.

And besides, it's not like any of this backstory he's created suddenly enhances ORC's cast in any noticeable way. It's cool to see that he at least had some notable ideas for his characters, but if none of it is then portrayed in any way amidst the actual story then... at most all it amounts to is some bits of trivia. ''Did You Know that this one-dimensional soldier guy is gay??'' Er, no I didn't... neat, I guess?

Like for Lupo, it appears that he wrote her as a late 30s single mother of 3, which honestly sounds pretty interesting for a cold-blooded Umbrella operative and could have given her some memorability, if they actually explored that in any way.

It's no different really from a lot of the main Resident Evil characters. Chris for example has some intriguing backstory that implies he has problems with authority and maybe even suffers from anger issues... yet because it literally serves no purpose nor is acknowledged within the games themselves it doesn't really matter.

I can understand if maybe he decided to bring it all up out of frustration. He may not say as such, but the idea that maybe he was frustrated that all of his ideas weren't in any way reflected in the game for the characters is understandable and would have made for a more interesting topic. Yet instead, he's citing Capcom as being sort of progressive because of this as well, because they allowed him to keep Dee-Ay as gay. But given that nobody would have even known anyway without the writer 'shouting from the rooftops', it's no surprise why Capcom didn't really care.

Ironically enough because Dee-Ay is such a thinly written character, him being gay is actually the primary character trait I will now think of should he ever somehow crop up into conversation again. If he was a better developed character, then him being revealed as gay would have simply been another aspect of what is already a hypothetically well-rounded individual.

Posted by TerraTempest

Holy Fuck that Hover game looks amazing.

Posted by bjorno

reppin that porpentine, rock n roll mfer

Edited by Mr_Creeper

Sorta' glad the issue with the video's was on Patrick's end. I was getting worried there was an issue with my connection or browser or something.

Edited by fred2265

Contested space looks cool

Posted by AngeTheDude

God patrick shut the fuck up with your liberal bullshit. ITS SO IMPORTANT THAT THIS VIDEO GAME HAS AN OPENLY GAY CHARACTER!!! THIS IS SO FUCKING HISTORIC. In 100 YEARS PEOPLE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THE GAY CHARACTER. DID I MENTION THEY DONT MAKE IT A BIG DEAL THAT HE IS GAY?

Seriously dude. Shut. the. fuck. up. If your going to revert back to writing like a high school english student who just discovered politics I'm not coming to this website anymore. Every week its some new fucking psuedo intellectual bullshit from you. If you want to talk about games, great. If you want to talk about how its important to have gay autistic transgender female atheist characters in video games, please, keep it to yourself.

Nobody is oppressed in America. There is no war for politeness in internet comments. There is just you pretending you are making a difference but in reality you are just writing cringy high school level nonsense on the internet. To be honest its no better than the 'rude' comments you waste time battling.

Uh oh, someone let grandpa onto the internet again!

Posted by balambfish

@pplus0440 said:

God patrick shut the fuck up with your liberal bullshit. ITS SO IMPORTANT THAT THIS VIDEO GAME HAS AN OPENLY GAY CHARACTER!!! THIS IS SO FUCKING HISTORIC. In 100 YEARS PEOPLE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THE GAY CHARACTER. DID I MENTION THEY DONT MAKE IT A BIG DEAL THAT HE IS GAY?

Seriously dude. Shut. the. fuck. up. If your going to revert back to writing like a high school english student who just discovered politics I'm not coming to this website anymore. Every week its some new fucking psuedo intellectual bullshit from you. If you want to talk about games, great. If you want to talk about how its important to have gay autistic transgender female atheist characters in video games, please, keep it to yourself.

Nobody is oppressed in America. There is no war for politeness in internet comments. There is just you pretending you are making a difference but in reality you are just writing cringy high school level nonsense on the internet. To be honest its no better than the 'rude' comments you waste time battling.

I can't believe Rush Limbaugh reads Giant Bomb.

Posted by Wampa1

@yummylee: I think the one time they even reference anyones back story in the game is a quick nod between Vector and Hunk that they know each other, Lupo might have a few lines calling her team mates cubs or something too? But yeah it's all meaningless. Resident Evil is one of those franchises that really makes you realise you care far more about the back story and how it should affect characters than anyone who is developing the game does. I mean I know Barry Burton sent his family away so he could help fight Umbrella but is he ever even referenced in the main series again? Or Chris' Airforce background? Really the main shock here is either of us putting enough time in to ORC to even be aware of any of this..

Posted by Lysergica33

I actually kind of agree with @pplus0440 to a certain extent. I don't agree with the tone of his message, but I think there's a point there to be made.

I get that people are campaigning for equality and all that in this specific area a lot these days, and that to get equality you have to push to make small statements like having a gay character in what is arguably one of the worst Resi games ever. Drops build into rivers and all that, yadda yadda..
But the end result of all of this should be that people are treated as equals. And you know what equality looks like?
"Mom, Dad? I'm gay." "That's nice, dear."
"Giantbomb community... This game has a gay character" "Yeah cool carry on"
What I'm saying here is that it shouldn't be a big deal. The fact that a character is gay isn't really worthy of an article, especially when it's a shitty character in a shitty game that nobody gives a shit about.
I realise this is an industry that has a certain set of values instilled into it at the top, so any progress that is made on this front is immediately publicised to make sure the impact is well and truly felt, but at the end of the day, the cynic in me just can't be fucking bothered. He's gay, great, who gives a shit?
I'm straight, do any of you give a shit?

Not trying to beef with anyone (or Patrick for that matter, I like the guy,) just my 2 cents on the matter.

That all said, looks to be some good stuff this week!

Posted by RedRavN

@yummylee: Yeah I agree that it seems weird to put a character from operation raccoon city on a pedestal for good writing. Gay or straight that game was kind of bad and no amount of diversity is going to make up for that.

I think this quote from the article is interesting. "I wanted him to be a strong, smart, decisive, precise soldier who was polite, funny, and and genuinely liked and admired by the people around him. And was also gay." So basically the person wanted a gay version of like every video game protagonist ever with no traits to set him apart from other leading characters but homosexuality. Just creating a gay version of nathan drake is not compelling and seems like the kind of thing anyone with any real writing talent would want to avoid.

I wish game creators and writers would just write nuanced and compelling characters rather than focus so heavily on primary traits. In so many games its like here's the comic relief character, heres the bitchy character, heres the science nerd character. Also, maybe i'm missing something here but unless a character's sexuality is part of the game's story or serves some sort of narrative theme or purpose then why bring it up at all? In a game like raccoon city how is a little blurb in an optional file about a character's sexual preference or if they have kids or not even relevant? Is that what passes for character writing in games now? This is also not mentioning that most peoples experience with that game consisted of awkward shooting, getting lost, having the game crash, having the sound bug out, and repetitive grinding and then saying "well at least RE6 will be better than this mess of a game". Then RE6 comes out and everyone is like "but at least we got to play as this super cool gay dude in raccoon city!" Except this never happened because no one liked raccoon city and anyone that played it seemed to forget everything about it pretty quick.

Posted by midnightgreen20

@lysergica33: I hear you on that and agree. In the end nothing should really matter about what the character is as far as race, gender, etc. The only thing that should matter is whether or not the character fit well with the story and has a good arc throughout the plot. I haven't played Raccoon City, but I'm gonna take a guess that him being gay had almost nothing to do with the story? It's a Resident Evil plot, and those stories are never really that good anyway. But if it was a character that just so happens to be gay, then yeah the story is pointless. The only thing to take away is to put a mark on the scoreboard for a gay character in video games.

Posted by Asmo917

@amatureidiot: I find this interesting. I've largely avoided on-line multiplayer gaming for years because of the toxicity of the various communities. Hearthstone's approach to player communication has made it one of the few games I've jumped into with no hesitation. I've also been frustrated by the system too. I was playing a game yesterday where I was behind in health and tempo but not out of the game yet...and the End Turn button bugged out. All I could do was hit "Sorry" and hope the other player didn't think I was trying to drag out the game to get him to quit. Still, I find the "Oops" and "Well Played" buttons sufficient for when I screw up and my opponent makes a nice play. I wonder if some of the WPs thrown my way are sarcastic, but I'll take that ambiguity over a stream of invective and insults. I don't think the system is perfect, but if it's more welcoming to players who would otherwise pass, I see that as a net positive.

Posted by SuicideFLip

Just a heads up, Patrick. Sean Collier is the cop who was killed in the manhunt in Boston after the bombing. Brandon Kelly is his friend that the writer talked to.

Posted by Homelessbird

@lysergica33: I think it's just fine that you don't give a shit. But given the "tone" of the frothing, rabid nonsense post that you're referencing, I think you've just seen an example of why it's still a thing that gets talked and written about.

It's nice that you don't care whether video game characters are gay or not - it's just clear that there are a lot of people who do, on both sides of the discussion.

At the end of the day, it's still a small portion of this post. I don't really see why it needs to be excised and never talked about.

Posted by Levius

@asmo917: Yeah, I can see why the limited interaction can be helpful, and Magic Online is by no means perfect, there are occurrences of people forcing other players to go through the motions where they have just plain won without any chance of winning and outright abuse. I think the price of entry ( $14 for the Arena analogue) and the complexity barrier can skew the audience a little older, so I don't think it is a bad as most, I've seen people PM me after a match just to say gg for example. I guess I'm an idealist, but I just hate the idea of letting the worst of the audience take away basic human interaction and scare away people like you.

Posted by Asmo917

@amatureidiot: To be fair, another 50% of what's keeping me out of MTG Online is the fact that after almost 15 years away from playing regularly, I look at a keyword and say "What the fuck does THAT mean?" more times than I feel comfortable.

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