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Worth Reading 07/26/2013

It's raining everywhere, but take shelter with a new Worth Playing, and a whole set of links to keep you warm.

I’ve had a bunch of people asking me if I know anything about Eurogamer’s report this morning about PlayStation 4 developers allegedly not having access to as much of the machine’s RAM as Sony has previously indicated. The short version? No, I don’t.

The long version? I don’t care. The only specs I care about are the ones that determine whether or not I can run a game, and I have never been a person who finds it remotely interesting to get wound up about what is or isn’t inside of my game boxes. I’m always tickled when the technology press gets wound up over Apple’s decision to keep specs private, and nobody knows what’s really inside its devices until they arrive on the market. Cue the teardown from iFixit.com!

It’s not that specs aren’t important, but I can’t stand the conversation around them. People get wound up over what are, in the grand scheme of a potentially decade-long hardware cycle, meaningless differences. To what end? To spend pages spewing vomit at one another! How come we aren’t talking about how boring the launch lineups for both machines are looking? Because we’re become trained to expect garbage, and so we have nothing else to talk about?

Some PlayStation 4 games will look better than Xbox One games. Some Xbox One games will look better than PlayStation 4 games. Lots of PC games will look better than both. I realize it’s the summer and we’re all excited for the circus the fall is about to bring, but c’mon, get a grip!

I’d rather talk about trading cards on Steam. Ugh. Look what you made me say!

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

I can’t claim to know much about eSports, and it’s becoming increasingly crazy for me to ignore what is a sector of gaming destined for continued growth. I need an angle, though, and so many of the games played in eSports don’t capture my attention. Learning that the US government has granted P-1 athlete visas to League of Legends players, though, is incredibly interesting. Known commentator (and lawyer!) David Phillip “UltraDavid” Graham has written an editorial about what fans should be considering as this potentially becomes more commonplace, and he pitches a potential future where legislation and regulation become a prominent part of gaming. Consider this a primer for a bigger conversation about the topic with Graham, hopefully early next week.

"Most current legislators, judges, and bureaucrats have little reason to think about people who play video games in tournaments. No American legislatures and few courts or government agencies have had to deal with the competitive aspects of video game play. But Riot’s work in securing P-1 visas for LoL players may signal the start of more direct government involvement, whether at the government’s own volition or at the continued behest of private parties."

A firestorm erupted over Twitter earlier this week over comments by designer Jason Rohrer regarding his soon-to-be-released social experiment in MMO form, The Castle Doctrine. Players have a home, a small family, and a vault that starts with $2,000. You’re tasked with building a trap-filled home to prevent other players from killing your family and taking your money, and you must also go out and do the same. Killing the family is optional, but if the wife escapes the house, she leaves with half of the family’s money. As the title implies, The Castle Doctrine is more than just a social puzzle game, and it raises huge questions about whether playing ethically questionable material brands the player as ethically compromised, too. I don’t think that’s true, as I have plenty of problems with horror films I watch on a regular basis. That said, I don’t blame people for having trouble financially supporting people who create content they find objectionable, and Cameron Kunzelman makes a convincing argument, even if I disagree with it.

"Rohrer was “living in a place where [he] didn’t feel safe for the first time in life.” In this model, Rohrer’s safety and the safety of his family trumps the right to life of another human being. Any perceived threat to him or his family is met with a swift judgment on the offending party–he can kill the dog, he can kill the invader. Despite the fact that human beings are capable of speech and therefore can yell things like “get out of my house” or “fuck you” in order to force a would-be burglar to leave, for Rohrer, none of that matters."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Look, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away (And FTL Was Pretty Good!)

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Finally read that article about how the biggest problem in fighting games accessibility is execution… a few years ago I would have agreed…

— Adam Atomic (@ADAMATOMIC) July 22, 2013

…But after playing online for like 100+ hours I can verify that execution is the easy part. The mind games are the real barrier to entry.

— Adam Atomic (@ADAMATOMIC) July 22, 2013

(within reasonable bounds of course - there are games/characters where execution eventually becomes a barrier)

— Adam Atomic (@ADAMATOMIC) July 22, 2013

memorizing canned combos, as hard as that is, is WAY easier than developing a philosophy and then implementing it and keeping your zen cool

— Adam Atomic (@ADAMATOMIC) July 22, 2013

The pages if a novel are like the bars of a cage: they allow us to see life's tigers and monsters up close, without danger.

— Simon Parkin (@SimonParkin) July 24, 2013

The same is true of video games. They allow us to assume the role of people who don't share our beliefs, values or systems of behaviour.

— Simon Parkin (@SimonParkin) July 24, 2013

In games we can play as the thief, the killer, the pervert or the plumber because we can distinguish what is play from what is earnest.

— Simon Parkin (@SimonParkin) July 24, 2013

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by Rasulguhl

I love Worth Reading.

Edited by Gordy
@nardak said:

It is a bit silly for Patrick to take the position that technical details of new consoles arent worth discussing.

That's not what Patrick is saying. He's saying the kind of discussion that's going on is ridiculous and pointless. People are saying that because one system has better hardware, it's a better system. That has never been a deciding factor in any console generation.

Posted by MelficeVKM

@patrickklepek It's cool that you're taking an interest in the fighting game community! Good on you. I agree with those tweets about fighting game execution. Many of my fighting game friends are stuck on that weird low-intermediate level, where they can pull off combos but can't actually play the rest of the game (the parts people tend to overlook: footsies, mindgames, looking for the opponent's habits and patterns, pressuring the opponent to react in a certain way, etc). When they play or watch others play, all they focus on is the combos and ignore all the other aspects; with a lot of these people equating the neutral game to rock paper scissors instead of actually paying attention to what's going on during that time.

From this point (in my experience, at least) a lot of people end up quitting, give up on improving altogether, or end up sitting in training mode all the time and not playing the core game. It's sad to see people put in such effort and not get to the most rewarding part of fighting games!

It'd be great to see fighting games make a real effort to teach players how to play, and understand what's going on. In their current state, it feels like FGs hide these mechanics / concepts behind a veil, and I honestly don't know why they do it. They may have gotten away with it before, but now that the competitive side of FGs has blown up from 2009 and continues to do so, hopefully they'll feel pressured enough to make an attempt.

I thought I knew where I was going with this, but I guess I don't. My point's in there somewhere lol. Sorry for the ramble!

Posted by MormonWarrior

On Adam Atomic's comments, I'd generally agree, but it reminds me of when people say that slow, emotional music compositions are harder to play than fast, technical ones ultimately because you have to feel them. I think that's something you're ultimately born with and that can't be wholly trained. Those who are really, really good at Street Fighter or Dota or Starcraft have a lot of practice and technical skill, but also the "mindgames" just come naturally to them. Professional tennis players are very technically competent but also keep their cool in high-stress situations. It's a gift and comes naturally. The technical part is the hard part, honestly, unless you don't have the talent. And then it might not come at all, ever.

Posted by Corvak

As an avid PC gamer - I agree 100% on the specs thing.

Any PC gamer will tell you, big multiplatform games will develop to the lowest common denominator, as long as that denominator holds more than 30% of the home console market. The Xbox 360 is this benchmark for the current generation. Multiplatform games were developed to the Xbox 360's capability, and ported to other platforms, to varying degrees of success, largely due to the differences between CPU designs. PCs may come in a million flavours, but 99% of them have the same thing at their core - something you can't always count on in proprietary hardware.

And, PC gamers contend with companies like Intel, AMD and nVidia - hawking specs at us every time we consider an upgrade - and frankly 80% of them are completely irrelevant. When broken down through real world testing, this year's new nVidia card is maybe 20% faster than last year's. And after the $300 barrier is crossed, cards generally run a game at 1920x1080 (1080p) at well over the usual 60fps. If you're running three screens, or pushing for insane framerates...well...you probably have enough money to not care about this sort of thing.

On an unreleased console, specs are purely marketing fluff, because until we can see these machines running the same game side by side, we have no idea what these specs mean in terms of what we really care about, game performance. Also, those guys who keep comparing PC specs to console specs really need to stop. Like, now.

Somehow, I think we can count on most developers to provide PS4 games that will run on a PS4, regardless of how much RAM it is using.

Posted by 2kings

Patrick, I have been making a pretty good amount of money with those trading cards and I really want to read what you think about them and what you are or are not doing with them. Please?

Posted by BisonHero

@elwoodan said:

Really like the play between the Parkin quotes and The Castle Doctrine article.

I guess, what I don't understand, is why the article's writer is so against the home defense aspect of the game. someone breaking into your home seems, to me, a very clear violation of your personal safety, its one thing to attack a person who you think is following you or is up to no good, and quite another to stop a person who has broken into your home. There is no ambiguity there, and I would agree that the person who as initiated the breach of my personal safety has given up their right to personal safety.

The only case I can think of as 'justified' home invasion would be in a life or death situation where breaking in was the only way to save a life, and if your present (and able to respond to someone breaking a window) you should be equally able to respond to furious pounding on the door.

Big thank you to the article's author though, I hadn't really ever thought about this issue in these terms before.

I believe the writer's position is that because statistically few home invasions occur where anyone gets murdered, it's a bit of an overreaction to go "Stranger in my house? Better murder him." The writer is saying that it's not really self defense, because it's more likely that the guy in your house is just a burglar who wanted to make off with your jewellery and Xbox and mistakenly thought you weren't at home. Again, supposedly the statistics bear out that few burglars ever end up harming the occupant of the home, so in the vast majority of cases, if you just catch the dude in your house and go "Who the fuck are you? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!" and look real mad, most guys would just run. Now suddenly you're safe, your family is safe, and nobody had to die. Few burglars are actually stone cold killers that will just shoot house occupants in the face.

Overall, the guy's point seems to be "Sure, he is breaking the law by breaking into your house, but what gives you the right to end his life?" He's trying to take your stuff, but there is no guarantee that he is actually a threat to your personal safety.

On the one hand, I see his point, but on the other hand, all the castle doctrine/stand your ground laws exist in the first place because some very small percentage of break-ins end violently, and that scares the bejeezus out of everybody, so in some places you're allowed to murder a home invader on the 5% chance that he is capable of murder and not just a cowardly burglar.