-The best blog post I've read this year is 's three-part dissection of the interface problems in Mass Effect. In exacting detail, and with illustrative screenshots, Krystian pores over the numerous bad decisions, both large and small, that make playing Mass Effect such a trial. Upon reading this series, I realized two things:
- Dragon Age's interface is a marked improvement over Mass Effect's.
- Dragon Age's interface is still terrible.
-The crew at Gamers with Jobs are such sharp and perceptive writers that when they go wrong, you can almost hear the needle scratching off the record. Sean "Elysium" Sands writes in "A Dirge for the Sinking Ship" that gamers are inadvertently hastening the demise of high-quality, original games by making stupid demands and engaging in silly boycotts. Elysium himself admits to an "unfocussed rage," which is something of an understatement. I think I understand his sentiment, but his logic is baffling.
The linchpin of his argument is that people who complain about day-one DLC in Dragon Age are shortsighted and greedy. Certainly nobody would argue that the game, as it shipped, is lacking content. That's part of why people are upset, I think. You just spent $60 on a new game, thinking you'll settle in for 50 hours or so, and within about 5 hours of play an NPC is hitting you up for actual money. I am not outraged by this, but I think gamers are well within their rights not to buy it, and to let the company know why. That's how the market is supposed to work.
Elysium's larger, self-defeating argument is that if we want to avoid a future with crippled retail products and day-one DLC, then we are obligated to... buy day-one DLC. Well, I don't buy that. Publishers aren't stupid. The way to ensure more games like Dragon Age is to buy Dragon Age. The way to ensure more DLC is to buy DLC. And for the dubious efficacy of things like boycotts -- especially half-hearted ones -- it does work when gamers make their voices heard. The infamous horse armor from Oblivion is the go-to example of stupid, overpriced DLC, and what happened there? There was an outcry, Bethesda responded, and future add-ons were more fairly priced and offered a greater value.
Nearly all of the examples Elysium points to as games we'll be missing out on in the future -- remember, the future after we haven't bought Dragon Age DLC -- are strange ones. Mirror's Edge was a fine idea but a bad game. Ghostbusters was all right, nothing special, and hardly an example of what I'd call a risky game. Brutal Legend was inspired, but a mess. The Riddick remake was great, but it was a remake of a commercially successful title, which tells me that they've already sheared that sheep as much as they're going to.
And then -- Dead Space? Uncharted 2? Fallout 3? Borderlands? We're afraid there won't be more games like these? These are all huge hits. They're all packed with great content on the disc, full experiences in themselves, with some optional DLC if you're into that sort of thing. I guarantee you that we will be seeing more games like these. And if the concern is that we'll only be seeing games like these, which is to say sequels to these games, well, some of them are sequels already. Besides which, these are all games that have come out in the past year, not long-forgotten relics of a more creative era.
There is something to the argument that the à la carte model prohibits systemic support for smaller and riskier projects -- there are so many niche cable television channels today because subscribers have so little choice in which ones we get, so we end up pooling our money for all of them. But a simple look at the state of independent games, especially through digital distribution platforms like Steam, would seem to put the lie to that, too. Anyway, I'd really recommend you read the piece and the top-notch comments thread that follows. Many great points have been made on both sides.
-This is making the rounds. And it is very funny.