Cash For Sins: The Church Indulgence Returns In A 9Yr-Olds Kickstarter

I periodically will stumble across items that make me do a “double take,” meaning I check it and then I check it once more for good measure, because the thing I saw is hopefully not the thing I think I just saw. Sadly, sometimes it is. This is the case for a recent Kickstarter project where a seemingly supportive mother wants to help her daughter in a charming sibling rivalry against her older brothers. The mean duo of males has ridiculed the girl, stating that her gender is incapable of producing good games. Still, at just 9 years of age, the girl isn’t fazed and with help from mommy dearest, Kickstarter can come to her rescue and send her to RPG Camp, whatever that is, if they can muster the $829.

It’s a noble goal and one we all took to heart, because of the low funds, the charming story and the struggle against adversity that puts us all on the cheering squad for the underdog. That all seems fine; except for a few dodgy tactics of manipulation. However, some of the goals had me taken aback. Now, far be it for me to ask why a sub-$1000 project would need high stakes donations; crazier things have happened. Instead, a first thought occurred that some goals seemed rather unrealistic to a child, even as a goal. For instance, how can you deny or ask someone to alter their vision by creating specific, custom NPCs based on backers that have paid the amount? In a regular setting, sure, but this is a 9 year old we’re asking to play house exactly like we want to. How many times has that ended well in the chronicles of all house playing ever?

Yet, by far the one that took me for that double take was the final tier, the $10,000 powerhouse donation. First off, the amount itself is more than 10 times the funds needed for the project in its entirety. It’s a bit much. Still, that’s not the thing that made it seem odd. Again: Kickstarter can be strange sometimes. No, it’s the fact that one of those prizes states that her brothers will personally apologize to you, the backer, for something you have no involvement in. Rather than just being plain weird, it’s the fact that morality is paired with currency that sickened me. I use a strong term, but it has made a tangible knot in my insides when I read it for what it really was: The literal concept of evil washed away with cash, which is in itself a redundancy of any remorse. The act is solely done to spite and the regret is only achieved when enough funds are acquired.

This was a major turning point in the ancient world with the Church and its concept of “indulgences.” In fact, it’s how the Church got to be the powerful, currency-backed institution it is today and why several branches started detaching from the known concept. Anyone who had sinned could “buy” their way back into the gates of heaven. It was indeed so popular that the Church began breaking down indulgences in fraction, so that poorer people could repay their since in payment plans. It was so ingenious that fractions would never complete, as you’d buy 1/8 of an indulgence, which would then break off in another, smaller fraction and so on. To end this brief history lesson, it was a major catalyst for historic figure Martin Luther to denounce the Church for its greed and notify it of its sober and humble roots. If you follow organized religion today, the new Pope, Francis, has uttered a similar desire.

RPG Maker: A facilitating tool for game development, out on Steam.

What I don’t mention in that history lesson is the revolutionary movements, bloodshed and atrocities that this mentality has brought forth. This is the mentality in that Kickstarter that upset me: the loss of all morality for financial gain, through any means necessary. While the Kickstarter has long since reached its initial mark, I can only hope that it gets shut down for this deplorable action and the many others inside, which will fill the internet shortly.

There are tons of amazing Kickstarter game projects you can back. Developer Craig Stern has come back with Telepath Tactics for the second time and succeeded, but this strategy title can still use your help. More importantly, the glorious open world game Planet Explorers is still seeking funds for its sandbox RPG. You can support it here.

This editorial was originally posted on gg3.be.

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COMIC: Socialism or Capitalism?

There is a certain redeeming quality to having to play Civilization V on a completely decrepit, ancient PC. During turns, it takes the bedazzled adding machine about 10 minutes to process all the other players moves, meaning there’s a lot of downtime. Of course, at first, you spend your time looking at the screen like an addicted idiot, but somewhere down the line you realize you’re wasting your life…more than usual.  So, after doing lots of productive stuff I won’t bore you about, I went back to the drawing board for a second comic.

And you know what? Having inspiration is one thing, but coming up with a fitting title is hard. Therefore, I had to slap one on, because my vision didn’t really have a name. Feel free to think up a better title. It’s a horizontal comic, so you’ll have to click the link for it to get the complete picture.
 



Click here now.


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Valve, Thank 2K And Sid Meier For All This Cash

This is a continuation of this blog.

And there it is: It only took a few days for Steam's devious marketing to crack my 'strong' willpower and make me give in to their consumerist ways. What swayed me? The thing that always gets me: The perfect game.

Thanks to 2K and Sid Meier's incredible genius, I am now the owner of the 2K Complete pack, which holds too many titles indeed. When Steam had a summer achievement to try a demo a few days ago, I tried out Civilization V, just to see how it would run on my ancient rig. To my surprise, it didn't literally melt my PC, like Metro 2033 did (yeah, literally). Not only that, but it immediately hooked me back to the gameplay that Civilization hasn't really changed since its conception. To that I say: Touché, Mr. Meier.




This is what poverty combined with hypocrisy looks like.



The 2K pack came with Civ V and all existing add-ons so far, Civ IV and all add-ons ( which I already owned), Civ III Complete and CivCity Rome. That alone will keep me playing until I'm dead; but it also had some deals I thought made the 80 bucks more than worthwhile. For instance, it has X-com, all Strongholds, but most importantly it features Duke Nukem Forever. Even if it's a horrible game; that's a brand new, full price release! And then overkill it all with both Bioshocks and Mafias, but also Borderlands GOTY Edition and there's really no reason why anyone should pass this up. Especially since there's actually even more; it's somewhat mind-boggling.

It's only a shame that one can't gift a game or two from a pack to more interested souls, because why would I want an NBA franchise game; let alone 2 yearly releases? It would be nice to give away one or two games from a complete line-up, just to share the wealth. But then again, Valve would not make the billions of consumerist cash if they were this friendly; the packs alone are courteous enough.

Here's to you, shallow materialism. You have won this round and I'm officially relying on charity to eat this month. Luckily, I have games to keep me distracted from retching hunger and poverty.

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Steam Wants Me In The Poorhouse


It's official! My first purchase through Steam has finally clamored my descent into absolute destitution. Being able to purchase things at the drop of a (TF2 reference) hat is by far the worst idea ever for consumers. And I mean that only in the sense that our sense of fickle consumerism makes us buy much more than we need. Cue my newest additions.

 


 


As you can see, I'm finally the proud owner of Torchlight, where I can act out my Hack 'n Slash (now Action RPG) dreams. Just for the hell of it and because Steam suckered me in with their low, low price, I also bought into Tropico 3. And I didn't just go for the regular one, oh no; Steam marketing agents know exactly how to get sheep like me in line. Ergo, I went for the complete package, since I was going to go for it down the line anyway.

 


 


So here we are, mere moments before my irresponsible spending ushers in my downfall. With a digital outlet that lets me legally own all the games I want for pennies, I'm bound to be on the streets before long. This is all because my low impulse control is no match for a fraudulent need for materialism. I'm a consumer whore, but at least I'm upfront about it. None if this is necessary, but I do it anyway.

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DARKSPORE - Preview

The universe of Darkspore has seen genetic manipulation grow severely out of hand. At first, Crogenitors scientists were content with creating the ultimate army of genetically superior creatures, known as Living Weapons. But then they discovered Exponential DNA; a substance so powerful, it could alter and perfect normal DNA at enormous speeds; making evolution seem like a joke. But as all tampering with nature goes, it would be soon enough that Living Weapons crafted with this E-DNA took a turn for the worst. As the E-DNA was very unstable, it began mutating out of the control of the scientists and soon, the beasts affected turned into Darkspore.

As more creatures were affected, the galaxy began to grow dire and soon a war emerged where the Crogenitor race was easily outmatched by the natural selection they had started. In their final hour, the scientists hid away select groups of Living Weapons throughout the galaxy, together with a program that would ultimately stabilize this E-DNA.  These chosen warriors would later rise back up and fight the Darkspore usurpation with their stabilized, new, evolved state. And while it’s not completely logical that the Darkspore couldn’t locate these hideouts during aeons of research; such is the premise of the game. 


  An early shot of my Wraith Living Weapon in Darkspore, complete with flying shoulders.

Darkspore is partially the sequel to Maxis Software’s 2008 hit Spore, but without the cutesy and with a severe twist. More oriented on combat, a set story and character customization, this action RPG builds on its predecessor, but then leaves all the evolutionary build-up behind. Now, the goal is to eradicate the world of the dark threat and to aid you, you will get the help from legendary Crogenitor champions. Divided into 3 classes and then split again into 5 genetic types, these heroes scattered throughout the universe will help you in your quest, as you collect and change between them in a group of 3 beasts. Activated abilities create support or powerful suppressing attacks to aid the party. Also, each hero will have a passive ability to aid them with a specific trait, such as an advanced critical hit rate.   And as you progress, the abilities of your team will become more in tune with each other and you’ll be able to combine some special feats together.

Before each stage, you can view some information about the planet’s enemies and adapt towards their weaknesses if necessary.  To keep you engaged in the game, there are a few systems to ensure a maxed out gameplay experience. For instance, you can redeem rewards or keep playing to get a chance at much better rewards. Of course, loot hounds will always push themselves and go further into the increasing challenge without redeeming objects.  Furthermore, a medal system increases the drop rate even more with set goals, such as defeating all enemies, which honors players that don’t simply rush towards the end goal. This all works very well and keeps the pace as fast as you’d like yourself. Although, in co-operative play players will require to communicate as to not frustrate others.
   

  Living Weapon Vex in-game in Darkspore. He can actually pop out of the face mask.
 
The genetic elements each have their own strength and thus switching between heroes during gameplay can be quite the advantage. Luckily, this is only a button press away and so combat remains fluent throughout playthrough. Additionally, there are equipment and items to be found, which may also contain a certain genetic type to aid that particular hero. A level and power system create an additional customization. This is all pretty well implemented and the constant action sense of combat is therefore quite consistent. Attacks and abilities are easily performed and are divided in a clear interface.  Also, movement throughout a map is fairly straight forward. So, the action RPG feel is always present in your party of heroes. Later, you’ll also be able to collect new heroes and upgrade these to your liking.


Darkspore wouldn’t be a decent successor if the Editor from the original Spore wasn’t present and thus upgrades also come with their own customization. As you unlock more equipment and such, more customization options can create a unique hero for each character. Again, you can fiddle away at all sides and thicken, lengthen, widen, shorten and do all sorts of manipulation to the smallest amount of details on the Living Weapons. This is basically half the fun of the Spore concept and many will spend countless of hours just building a hero to their liking. But this is also a clever way of creating a deeper connection between players and their party, as nothing is as empathizing as a creature made with your own two hands. Personally, I enjoyed creating mini-tanks out of each creature the best I could.


  It's about to go down in Darkspore. Ready your Area abilities!

The premise of Darkspore does look intriguing. Visually, the game still looks appealing, but promises to add a lot more flash than the original with all abilities and such available. If anything, Darkspore looks to be a promising RPG twist that could potentially offer a lot of unique gameplay with all customizations, classes and genetic types in mind. With all those combinations and added equipment, the individual aspect of each playthrough could well create countless hours of gameplay fun. The action orientation of the game can only benefit this. Darkspore is highly addictive in all its facets and may well gobble up all of your free time if you let it. Be on the lookout for its launch on March 29.


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