Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Penny Arcade redefining Piracy ?

"If I am purchasing games in order to reward their creators, and to ensure that more of these ingenious contraptions are produced, I honestly can't figure out how buying a used game was any better than piracy." - Tycho, Penny Arcade

Wow! Those are strong words.

They're also true.

Now before you start ranting make sure you understand what Tycho is saying, or rather, what he's not saying, because he's not saying buying a used game equals piracy, even if that's what you think he's saying.

Tycho is saying that if your intention is to reward a designer for making an awesome game, buying a used copy of the game has the exact same effect as pirating the game, because if you buy a used game the developer will never see a dime of your money. (Click here for currency conversion rates)

If your intention is to reward the designer then buying a used copy of the game sends the exact same message as if you pirated the game. That's all Tycho is saying.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mafia II - Demo review

I like it, but then that's to be expected. I like the GTA series and Mafia II is essentially GTA Mafia.

The Demo offers you 10 minutes of play (or you can hack the Timer for...er...a more thorough review? Yeah, that works. Nothing like a good rationalization.) within a small portion of the game world, and if you go outside the boundary you "lose" the Demo's linear mission. Fortunately the 10 minutes is the only timer in the Demo so once it's no longer counting down you pretty much have free reign within the Demo, or at least within the Demo's playable area.

One of the things I didn't like was the biased, heavy-handedness of the police. Rounding one corner I had a minor fender bender with another car. The police were perhaps 100 yards ahead of us and both myself and the other car came to a complete stop, but as I looked on the police car's lights came on and the built-in police scanner announced a Hit & Run. The cop car's doors opened and the police began running back towards us, guns drawn.

A Hit & Run? What Hit & Run??? We'd both stopped our cars. There was no Hit & Run!

Then I was being pulled from my car and arrested at gun point, for a non-existent Hit & Run.

Later I would deliberately run in front of a car traveling in front of a police car, and despite being struck & injured and the offending car continuing to drive on in a classic case of Hit & Run...the police did nothing.

Another thing I didn't like was being forced to install Steam along with the Demo. I don't really have any rational reason for not liking Steam, but I object to having to install & run a third party program to play the Demo when that program has absolutely nothing to do with the game (yes, yes. I know Mafia II can be multiplayed via Steam, but that's Mafia II the GAME, not Mafia II the DEMO). That's actually almost enough to turn me off buying the Game, if I'm forced to play it via Steam. And yes, I know I can tweak Steam to run it in Offline Mode but why should I have to? If I only want to play Mafia II as a Single Player game, and only as a Single Player Game, why do I need to install & run a Third-party peer-to-peer client?

But the game is good, or at least the Demo is, and by inference the Game must be, too. After all, it's GTA Mafia. What's not to like?

I liked how 'Cover' worked in combat, with the ability to use Mouse Look to scope out the situation prior to Right-Click/Leaning out to shoot. I also liked that cover wasn't always bullet proof, and that you could still be shot while 'taking cover' if you weren't careful.

If you don't care one way or another about Steam, and if you liked the GTA series, particularly those from III onward, you'll probably like Mafia II. I like it too; I'm just not sure I like it enough to overlook the forced bundling of Steam along with it, even if I do understand why it's been included. Personally, I think the User should have the option of not installing Steam, and being able to play Mafia II as a Single Player-only game.

The Demo isn't enough to convince me to pay full price for Mafia II, but it has reminded me that I never bought GTA IV, and with it being available now for just $20 I might finally add it to my library.

*edit* I did find this amusing. I was experimenting with the hand-to-hand combat system, which is fun, even if it's not Tekken. In fact it's just left-clicking or right-clicking for a light hit or heavy hit, but your avatar does throw combos as you gain the upper hand, or your opponent if you're losing the fight, which is a nice touch. After beating up on a few guys I drew the attention of the police, managed to resist arrest (by beating up the arresting officer), then successfully fled the scene of the crime. However, I was still a Wanted Man and thus prone to attracting attention if a cop saw me, which one did.

While playing you come across the odd tip, and one Tip said to be careful brandishing weapons in Gun Stores because Gun Store owners are armed themselves.

Now it just so happened that I attracted the attention of the local constabulary while outside a Gun Store, and with it being one of the few building you can enter I quickly ducked inside and hid behind the counter. When the cop chased me inside he drew his gun and shot at me...and was promptly blown away by the Gun Store owner.

I doubt the Gun Store owner has become a Wanted Man now himself, but I did find it an amusing touch that he was willing to defend himself against a perceived attack by shooting a police officer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

W101: 60,000 Crowns for US$60



For the next 10 days you can buy 60,000 W101 Crowns for just $60.

According to Tesh that's enough Crowns to buy every zone currently in the game. In other words, for the same price as a 12-month Sub you can get permanent access to every zone currently in the game (I say 'currently' because a new zone is already in the works). But don't take Tesh's and my word for it, check for yourself.

Wizard City = 3,000 Crowns
Krokotopia = 11,895 Crowns
Grizzleheim = 9,975 Crowns
Marleybone = 12,000 Crowns
Moo Shu = 10,800 Crowns
& Dragonspyre = 10,800 Crowns

That's a Grand Total of 57,470 Crowns.

Two years ago I quit playing World of Warcraft, and for less than the price of two 6-month WoW Subs I bought my son and I each a 12-month W101 sub. I find it amusing that I just quit WoW for the second time, and once again am considering replacing it with a Wizard 101 subscription, but this time with what is essentially a life-time sub.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Greed and Dishonesty

One of our favorite places to visit, especially during the hotter weather, are the self-serve, Soft-Serve Yogurt Houses, where you get to create your own Soft-Serve Yogurt Sundae with as much or as little Yogurt and as many toppings as you'd like, within reason of course.

The way these places work is you grab yourself a tub, fill it with the yogurt (or don't, as in don't fill it) of your choice, or yogurts if you want to mix flavors. You add some toppings - or not; it's your choice - then the clerk weighs your sundae because you pay per ounce, so the more you cram into your tub, the heavier it is, and the more you pay. Quite fair, in my opinion. Just want a little? Pay a little. Want to pig out? Then you'll pay for it, now and later.

We always get the smaller of the two tubs which might hold a pint of yogurt if you filled it, but we never do. (The bigger tub is probably around 50% larger than the smaller one.). Sometimes I've filled my tub a little over halfway but for the most part we'll put a couple of coils of yogurt in the bottom then throw a few toppings on, and between the four of us we'll usually pay around $6-$8.

We frequently see other patrons also taking the smaller tub, but unlike us they'll fill it almost to the top with yogurt then hit the toppings bar and by the time they've finished you'd think there had been an earthquake. They've left so little room for toppings, but are so determined to get toppings on and, I guess, "get their moneys worth" that they'll scoop on the toppings only to have them fall off every which way (but loose. Great movie, by the way; one of my favorites). So they fill their small tub up with yogurt until it's almost overflowing, then add toppings until it is...and why are we always surprised when their single tub of yogurt rings up for as much as the four of ours?

You look at their concoction and wonder why they don't just take a big tub and half fill it instead. They'd still pay the same price for the same amount of yogurt and toppings but it wouldn't be spilling out all over the place. Except you also know that if they did take the bigger tub they'd still do exactly the same thing. So they either have no self-control - which is doubtful or they would use the bigger tub - or their greed has them convinced that by overloading their smaller tub they're "sticking it to the man"

"You're not ripping me off, Mr. Yogurt-Man! I'm filling my tub to the top. You hear me, Mr. Yogurt-Man? To. The. Top! Yeah!"

The cafeteria at my work has a salad bar. It's the kind where you get your own box and make your own salad, and like the Yogurt Houses you used to have to pay for however much you took.

But then Management made a change and suddenly a small carton of salad was just $4 while a larger carton was $6, for as much salad as you can cram into it, within reason of course. But 'reason' is overrated because just as greedy people overload their yogurt tubs, my greedy coworkers would likewise fill their salad carton so full that the cashier couldn't close the tabs on top. It was understood that the tabs needed to close or you'd pay extra but I guess some of coworkers still filled their carton To. The. Top! By which I mean over-filled it so the tabs couldn't close.

So Management replaced the cartons with clear plastic boxes. The kind with a hinge, with equal sized top & bottom (or is it bottom & top?) It doesn't matter because whichever way you flip it your box still looks the same, with the same sized bottom and the same sized top. The price is also the same but if you figure you now get less salad for the same price because the 'top' is now just halfway up the container, you'd be right.

I mentioned that to my cashier when I got my salad today, that the box is smaller now.

"No, it's the same size," she said.

I explained to her that we couldn't fill it like we could with the old cartons and that's when I learned of my greedy & dishonest coworkers who tried to "stick it to the man" and deliberately over-filled their cartons. And when those greedy, dishonest people came in and saw their cartons had been replaced by plastic containers, and they realized they couldn't get as much salad as before, that "the man was ripping them off!" do you think they still got a salad? Probably not; they probably went somewhere else.

In the short term they might have "won". They got a few extra pieces of lettuce or tomato at no additional cost, but in the long term they will never see deals like that $4 salad. Their own greed has made sure of that. They still lose, just like we all do.

He who dies with the most toys...still dies. - Random T. Shirt