All About Thunderstarter
Anyway, I decided not to mark this blog as an editorial. This is the first blog since I got featured on the front page that Im only showing my followers (and, well, whoever else decides to click on the blog) . This is not something that needs to hit the front page. This, my friends, is a rant, but not about games, and not about Gamespot. Its about us.
But first, a little background on myself. I never really have taken the time to talk about me on this blog.
We all know the internet is a harsh, unforgiving place. Im not sure if it was always this way, I wasnt old enough to really get into the use of the net when it was beginning to gain popularity and widespread use in the 90s. Sure, I did go to Pokemon.com when I was 6, but that was more or less the extent of my internet browsing. It wasnt until I was about 13 (6 years ago), when I made this account and this blog, that I would step into the realm of internet *ahem* discourse.
(By the way, Pokemon.com was awesome)
During my first few years here (you can actually go back through my blog history and see a lot of horribly written stuff ) I didnt encounter much of what I see today in terms of the general atmosphere that our lovely community seems to permeate today. I could say something, anything, and the worst attack from another user I would get was being called a fanboy or, sometimes, noob. Perhaps this is because most of my interaction with the community was through the two unions I was active in and the 15 or so bloggers that read my blog/whose blogs I read. Even when commenting on articles I never saw anything that was remotely Feedbackula! worthy.
For those of you who read my blog regularly (THANK YOU, first of all! I write because I love when people read my stuff! ) you know that when I write a post I am either voicing an opinion that will clash with popular opinion or I am presenting an idea I feel could be presented to the community at large and start a good discussion.
Well, as good as a discussion as you can get from the internet.
My issue with this community is that there are quite a few members who have absolutely nothing of value to give to the conversation at large. I am a big propreitor of the idea that, if you have nothing valuable to say, don't say it at all. It just dilutes the conversation and distracts those interacting with each other from the focus of whats being discussed.
Now, when , exactly, is a statement considered of value? Surely this term is too vague for us to even begin to measure discussion by it. Its an opinion, really. Some people feel bigoted statements are of huge value to conversation, while others believe that such bigoted statements need to be supported by a strong argument, evidence and (oh GOD please) good grammar. When I post a blog that clashes against popular opinion (like the first blog of mine to make it to the front page) I will, more often than not, get more personal attacks on my character, intelligence, morals, and personality than actual discussion of my points. This is not to say I dont receive thoughtful discourse (its quite the opposite, actually, most of you following me have given thoughtful comments to my blog) but all of the ideas and conversations will inevitably get buried by those who only wish to vent their rage at me, often without reading my blog first. Its not just me, either, its anyone who has an opinion that could possibly deviate from the norm. Carolyns articles in particular seem to set off a massive fire whenever she posts one of her ideas (which really is a shame). I dont always agree with her, but even if I dont, it doesnt make her opinion invalid, which is what much of the community believes.
I think one of the best examples of worthless comments appears on my blog about Microtransactions (if this is from you, reader, I am not sorry):
"I like paying for cheat codes that were free" "I like pay-to-win games" "I want to encourage game devs to make every game about grinding so everyone will NEED to pay to compete" "I like paying for 'extra' pieces of a game that should've been there in the first place"
Absolutely retarded, people accepting and defending sucking the industry's balls only hurts us consumers
There are so many things wrong with this comment. First of all, his quotes are nothing but conclusions he drew up about me whilst reading (or so I hope) my blog. He put them in quotation marks as if I actually said those things, thinking his argument would become more valid in this way, but it doesnt. Anyone who knows basic argumentative skills knows that a quote cannot be made out of something that has not been said and, on top that, is factually unsupported (and, actually, incorrect). Never once did I indicate that I believed any one of those things, yet this user thought he or she knew me and claimed that I did. This whole comment is an ad hominem attack, that is, its an attack on me personally, and it holds absolutely no argumentative merit. It ignores my points and just goes for me, the writer, trying to drain me of my credibility through direct attacks, and its worthless. This is true for any blog or post and for any user, we all get it and its digusting, and roughly 40% of the posts I see are comprised of such filth (I made that number up, but I think its correct).
I love Feedbackula! because, while its funny, its pointing out something that we tend to ignore; we can sound like **** idiots. I love it, because it puts those who cant write properly or have poor, unstructured and unsupported arguments right in their place. Now, the show does feature a handful of good, thoughtful, well-written comments, but seriously, thats not what were there for. And we all know it.
Now, a few of you might say when you open yourself up to a large audience, you are opening yourself up for idiots, too and youd be right. However, this does not mean that we cant hold this community to a higher standard. So what if a 13-year-old can get an account? At 13, most people should know the difference between a good and a bad argument (and hopefully they know how to use good grammar). The internet is not this toxic in every corner. Reddit is a perfect example of this. Going into different subreddits, you can see a lot of great conversation going on. Theres not nearly as much toxicity there as there is here, and I believe thats because each subreddit has reddiquette specific to the subreddit. If a post does not follow the reddiquette, it can be deleted. Id love to see a feature where each user can set up a set of rules that all who comment on their blog must follow. If a user does not follow said rules, the owner of the blog can delete the comment, much like you can someones comment on a picture post on Facebook.
I would like my blog to be an area of at least semi-intelligent discussion about our favorite industry and where its headed. I would like to be able to moderate it, so that only the worthwhile responses show up on my comment section. Its a dream, but one I really, really wish would come true.
So, I got a lot of comments on my previous blog on micro-transactions regarding DLC, and while that wasn't the topic of the blog, it did have a bit of relevance to the conversation I was trying to start (to varying degrees of success). Instead of writing out my thoughts on DLC (as a separate idea from micro-transactions) in the comments of my previous blog, I decided to write them as a new blog because I have a lot to say.
Now, let me get this out there, while I do not care about micro-transactions in my game, I do take a different stance on DLC. I don't hate it by any means. In fact, there's quite a few games where I welcome it. However, there are, of course, companies that abuse the practice of DLC, and I feel that gamers focus far too much on those companies' practices. The general consensus about DLC from what I've seen is that DLC is pure evil and should not be tolerated in games. It's always content that should have been included in the original release of the game and now [insert developer] is nickel and diming its fanbase with content excluded from the original game.
I like DLC when it's done right. And believe me, there are developers out there who do it right.
To me, DLC is a wonderful opportunity for developers to extend a player's time spent with a particular game in a meaningful way. Whether it's adding new missions, maps, characters, or gameplay modes, DLC can make for some surprisingly great experiences in games you might have forgotten about.
Please note that I used the word "opportunity". In no way, shape, or form do I believe that every single piece of DLC out there matches what I believe it should be idealistically. No, for every Fire Emblem: Awakening (a game that makes proper use of DLC) out there we have two Capcom titles that has on-disc DLC. For every Mass Effect 3 we have three shooters that charge $15 for new maps every 2 months.
What I admire in Fire Emblem: Awakening and Mass Effect 3's DLC policy is that there is a mixture of substantial, meaningful free content as well as paid content. I will go into detail into both of these games later, but I want to note that there are many developers out there that should look at these two titles and take notes. There has been some very positive reception for them both.
Fire Emblem: Awakening's DLC exists in two forms: the "bonus box" and the "outer realms". The bonus box is where gamers will receive their free content, and the outer realms is where you can buy DLC maps and challenges. Now, typically a developer would have the bonus box include a sparse amount of content. It would exist only to entice a gamer to buy more DLC maps, but this is not the case with Fire Emblem: Awakening. The bonus box includes (as of today) seven challenge maps, approximately forty recruit-able characters from past Fire Emblem titles (all with their own army for you to fight), two rare weapons for your army to use, and two bonus paralogue (side missions) chapters, where you can recruit villains from the game's main story to your army. And, if we're going to get everything Japan got in their bonus box, there's a hell of a lot more to come. For free.
The DLC that is paid for is quality, as well. It includes maps where you must fight armies comprised entirely of past Fire Emblem characters, maps where you can harvest loads of experience, gold, and legendary weapons, and in Japan there are maps that constitute entirely new storylines. However, even though these maps exist, the game does not feel incomplete without them. They exist to augment your game, rather than dangle a bit of content in front of your face that the game feels incomplete without (ala Resident Evil 5's multiplayer mode).
Mass Effect 3 does what most multiplayer-focused games (NOT that Mass Effect is multiplayer-focused) should do with its multiplayer DLC and makes it completely free. I remember when I used to have my Xbox 360 and was a frequent player of Halo: Reach and feeling cheated when I had to fork over $15 for 3 new multiplayer maps (for the record, I never paid for it). Or even in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (when I used to play those games), when extra maps meant extra money. At the time, it was an OK practice in my eyes because I didn't really see the issue with charging for the time the CoD devs spent making those new maps. After seeing how Mass Effect 3 handled their multiplayer DLC, I don't understand why other devs won't follow suit. Clearly you can make your new maps, characters and weapons free and not lose any money, otherwise Bioware wouldn't be doing it. The only time I ever paid for new maps was in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and I will never do it again after my experience with Mass Effect 3's surprisingly good multiplayer.
Say what you want about Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC, From Ashes (I do think it should have come with the initial price tag, but some people were OK with it being paid-for. The game does feel incomplete without Javik.) but it does its paid-for DLC, for the most part, correctly. It's substantial, and that's what we should be asking for when paying for something. Quality can be debated upon (I think Leviathan and Omega were sub-par) but one cannot argue that the game feels incomplete without them.
DLC is done incorrectly when it is clear that some desirable part of the game has been arbitrarily withheld from the players in order to make some more money off of it. Capcom is the most frequent offender of this scheme, with many of their titles having DLC that's already on-disc, but blocked off from the players (unless they pay). It's unfair to fans of the game, whether it be holding off two fighters from Marvel vs Capcom 3 or multiplayer mode in Resident Evil 5. The game is complete, we just can't play the whole thing unless we play $5 or $10 more. That's cheating, and that's what I have a problem with.
What's ultimately abusive about on-disc DLC is that what's usually withheld is something that gamers will really want. It becomes irresistible because of its relatively low price, and people will buy into it. I admit, I did buy Jill and Shuma-Gorath in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 because I hated seeing two grayed out portraits in their places on the character select screen.
What I feel is really important to remember when talking about DLC is that not all DLC is bad (even though that's the popular opinion). The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a wonderful example of a game where both good and bad DLC exist. Yes, there was that really crappy Horse Armor DLC, but there were also full-on expansions available (ala The Shivering Isles) that allowed you to spend more time in the game's universe, something that many people valued. If done right, DLC can be a very good thing, and I feel we need to stop focusing on the bad.
With Dead Space 3's release, the hot-button topic of microtransactions in AAA titles has been resurfaced again by gamers. Yes, paying an extra dollar for a significant in-game bonus has stirred up more anger among gamers about the current state of their favorite industry (right when you thought nothing else could piss 'em off, too). I guess I can see why...people can now pay for what are essentially the new form of cheat codes. It's obviously a cash from the publishers who do it, but I seriously don't care. And I seriously don't see why other people do.
To understand my point, we should probably talk about the origin of microtransaction-based games; social networks. Games such as Mafia Wars and Farmville are completely free to play, and have a focus on social interaction with your friends who play the game. You can play them and be completely free of the worry of having to pay a dime to be successful, but there's a cost. In these games, you may have an energy bar that lets you perform X amount of actions when full, and once it depletes you must wait an hour or so before it fully regenerates. In others, you must wait for certain tasks to be completed, and if you wait too long to come back and collect on those tasks you may be punished. In order to offset those drawbacks, the game would offer players a chance to buy an item with real money that would make it easier for them to play the game and speed up their progress. The items are never expensive...usually costing around a dollar each...but if you have a game that, say, 50 million people play (I'm guessing here) and 5 million of them (10%) pay a dollar every day for a new item, you have some serious profit. That's why companies like the much-loathed Zynga are so successful, they have a host of these games that have a large userbase, and even though the majority of players don't pay, the amount of people that do really adds up.
That Windmill will take 24 hours to build, but if you pay $1 it will build INSTANTLY!
Now, while gamers hated games such as Farmville (because, really, what don't gamers hate?) for being obvious cash-grabs (although they probably didn't even bother with playing them), they didn't have as much of an effect on the industry until recently. EA, the big bad evil devil satan publisher of the video game world, has suddenly included microtransactions in many of their new games, and has announced that they intend to implement them into more, sparking an outcry among gamers.
My question is this: why? Why do they care?
Mass Effect 3's multiplayer has a microtransaction system that lets players pay for booster packs that include new armor, characters, and weapons, but they could just earn them from playing the multiplayer enough.
My thing with microtransactions is that they're completely optional and have no direct effect on the game if you decide not to use them. You want to look around for tungsten in Dead Space 3 for free? Go ahead! You'd prefer to grind up credits in Mass Effect 3? Sure! Go for it! Do it! The game is still there in its entirety, completely available to everyone who purchases it. Honestly. You can still craft the weapons and upgrades you need in Dead Space 3 without paying for extra tungsten, and you can still unlock every character and every gun in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer without paying a dime for a booster pack.
These microtransactions are, essentially, glorified cheat codes. Remember cheat codes? Those things that were really popular up until this generation? Did anybody else notice that, even in single-player games, cheat codes seem to have fallen off the map? Game Informer used to have a "CHEATS" section, but that was removed a few years back because there were simply no cheats to publish. G4 (may it rest in peace) used to have an entire television program dedicated to cheat codes called, you guessed it, Cheat! Now, one could argue that the rise of multiplayer made cheat codes obsolete (they would destroy game balance entirely), but even in most single-player games and campaigns they just up and disappeared.
Now, let me ask you a question. If a game had cheat codes, were you a frequent user of them? If not, then what's bothering you about microtransactions? Just like you opted out of cheat codes, you're opting out of paying for bonuses. You still have your full-featured game. You can still play it and beat it however many times you want. You can still sell it second-hand (unless you bought it digitally). Really, these microtransactions have no effect on your game if you don't choose to use them.
If you were a frequent user of cheat codes, I still don't see the complaints of the prospects of maybe having to pay for them now. They've been largely absent from games over the past generation, and that doesn't seem to have stopped anyone from playing. They're back now in their cheating glory, but, guess what, now you'll have to pay some money to cheat.
And before you tell me that I'm an EA apologist and blah, blah, blah, I'm not. I'm just a rational thinker here. I absolutely hate what they did to Bioware and the ending of Mass Effect 3 and I don't like that they have a reactive business model, rather than a proactive one. I would like to see EA dissolve and release all of the developers under their umbrella, but until that happens we're going to have to put up with their money-grabbing.
Some of you will claim that the eventual result of EA's use of microtransactions will be full-fledged, AAA $60 games will have systems like those of Mafia Wars and Farmville. We'll only be able to play 2 levels of a game in 24 hours, and in order to play more we'll have to buy an energy pack for $.99.
Except that won't happen. As soulless as EA is, it's aware that gamers will react extremely negatively to a $60 that employed such a model and would sell a miniscule number of copies. The microtransactions they currently employ are small little boosts that effect your game, and your game only. What's the issue?
And, let's be honest, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people who cry out against the microtransactions have used them at least once or twice. That's why EA will keep using them, gamers are purchasing them. Really, it's nobody's fault but ours that EA will keep this up. I admit, I have paid a grand total of $5 into Mass Effect 3's microtransaction system because I wanted to see if I could get a rare character without having to play 3 matches first. Does my getting a rare character hurt other players? No, the multiplayer is co-op, so, in fact, it almost helps my teammates if I get a rare character.
So, yeah, I don't see what the big deal is. Until a game like World of Warcraft offers legendary items for money, microtransactions can exist and I still won't give a single sh*t.
My Recent Reviews
A KH vid focusing on Organisation XII using Perfect Insanity by Disturbed.
A tribute video to KH+KH2 using Through the Fire and the Flames by dragonforce
A tribute to KH2 using My Last Breath by Evanescense.
Apr 15, 2013 5:51 pm GMTThunderstarter posted in the topic Can't post comments on Gamespot articles or my blog. on the Moderation Clarification Station (formerly Ask the Mods) board
Mar 24, 2013 5:08 am GMTThunderstarter began Following The Last of Us
Mar 20, 2013 8:02 am GMTThunderstarter posted a new blog entry entitled Beware: The Community is Toxic!
Mar 7, 2013 4:08 am GMTThunderstarter gave The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series a score of 9.0
Mar 6, 2013 4:42 pm GMTThunderstarter gave Fire Emblem: Awakening a score of 9.0
Mar 6, 2013 4:42 pm GMTThunderstarter gave The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a score of 6.5
Mar 6, 2013 4:41 pm GMTThunderstarter gave XCOM: Enemy Unknown a score of 8.0
Mar 6, 2013 4:41 pm GMTThunderstarter gave Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 a score of 8.0
Mar 6, 2013 4:41 pm GMTThunderstarter gave Antichamber a score of 8.0
Mar 6, 2013 6:14 am GMTThunderstarter posted a new blog entry entitled DLC and How to Do It Right
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