GWJ Conference Call Episode 196

Conference Call

Picross 3D, Pokemon SoulSilver, Starcraft 2, Puzzle Quest 2, Moonbase Alpha, Your Real Online Privacy, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Julian, Allen and Lara talk games, online privacy and more than I could possibly recount here. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

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Good Old Games

Eagle Transporter - What rabbit freaked out about.

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Granular Extractor - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:35:29
Homelands (Credit Music) - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:56:14

Comments

I think of Picross 3d as basically minesweeper. Using logic to identify where the good and bad blocks are. Love it. Also, your guys' pronunciation of the title is the first I have heard... I hear it as more of "PICK"-cross : )

I see no reason to hide behind an avatar and a pseudonym, thus my unambiguous screen name.

Chinese net users have so far resisted government calls to require real name registration, so everyone's more or less anonymous online. Despite this, we still have what we call the Human Flesh Search Engine, which we use to track down the big a-holes of the internet, like women who step on kitties (this link is a bit NSF normal people, especially if you like kitties).

But the HFSE has also gone after people less deserving as well. So I guess my point is, if people are determined enough, you really can't hide.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

I see no reason to hide behind an avatar and a pseudonym, thus my unambiguous screen name.

But the HFSE has also gone after people less deserving as well. So I guess my point is, if people are determined enough, you really can't hide.

There would be no need for anonymity on the internet if people behaved like people when on the net, no matter if they are using it professionally or privately. But, as your post also showed, they don't.

So I'd rather have anonymity with hardly any reason for it than no anonymity and the risk of being subjected to whomever chooses to make someone elses life a living hell.

Also, anonymity and privacy are not the same thing. No privacy means no drapes on your windows and always leaving your house's door open. No anonymity means I couldn't go to a public place, a club or a party without everyone knowing who I am.

I could think of a few net activities that could benefit from removing anonymity - before you get ahead of yourselves, none of them are gaming related. But I will always insist on my right to privacy.

I think the biggest problem with people attaching identities to gaming is how important they see the activity. With facebook and it's ilk, you're often dealing with people you know and meet in real life, and most likely a relatively smallish group of people that mean something to you. With a gaming platform you're dealing with anywhere between tens of thousands of people up to potentially millions (Blizzard scale). I can count on one hand the number of people I've met in both meat-space and cyber-space with an MMO, a good few more from more traditional multiplayer gaming but only because I attend LANs.

As just a past time, I don't see many gamers really attaching much importance to the identity of a random person they pass in a game world, or who blew them up with a rocket. Do you check the SteamID of every person you meet in a game? I can't help thinking that because a game is cumulatively worth millions or in the rare cases billions to a company, that they think it is also worth (and there's many ways of measuring worth) that much to the plebs playing the game, when it's only worth a few tens of pounds/dollars/etc to them and there's a lot of similar games out there from other sources. Trying to get people attached to one service is another consideration.

Wasn't that Bobby Kotick quote sarcasm?

Steam Games:
A few great things to say about Steam. My brother finally got his first PC last year. He'd been a console gamer for a couple of decades, but the PC always intimidated him. So I got him some Steam games, including L4D. Steam makes it so easy to install and play games, that he had no problems running them. Now he's fully converted. Add to that that he lives in Spain, and Steam lets me gift things worldwide (unlike D2D). Finally, I bought him Borderlands for $10, HL2 for $5, and Portal for $2 during the summer sale. That's some GREAT gaming for $17. Portal for $2!!! He's already finished it.

Game Music:
Blizzard has almost uniformly great music: Diablo has great dark ambiance, Starcraft is great tech-rock, WoW music has great epic sweep, and even Warcraft 2 is very catchy. The only one that is subpar (on its own) is the Warcraft 3 soundtrack.

cheesycrouton wrote:

Wasn't that Bobby Kotick quote sarcasm?

From http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/2...

Aware of recent criticism of some of his remarks to investors -- remarks about taking the fun out of making video games and working in an environment of skepticism, pessimism and fear, to name a few -- Kotick says that too much brashness means "you can come across as being like a dick."

He particularly addressed his 'taking the fun out of video games' comment: "I wanted to somehow come across in a humorous way that... it wasn't some Wild West lack of process exercise." Nonetheless, he says, he regrets how it was misconstrued.

I think the general feeling was that it's not very respectful of the people working for him, and if he's saying something in a forum where it's going to get reported, he should be more careful of what he's saying.

Part 2 is on the front page of Gamespy right now, but I figured I'd link to the articles anyway.

Julian's MAME cabinet articles at Gamespy: Part 1 and part 2.

Game Music:

YES! to Planescape; throw in the early Fallouts for more great ambient music by the same composer. Heroes of Might and Magic had really catchy music for the first few games.

I'm wondering what people's opinions are about the idea of privacy literacy? In other words, teaching people about how to think critically about and maintain their own information and their own "brand" online? And especially, what the gaming community and even game development, can contribute to this issue/need, which obviously goes far beyond gaming? As a librarian who teaches information literacy to college students in the US, I see a giant need for systematic privacy literacy training, and gaming as having great potential to grab people's attention in creating teachable moments in this vein. What say you?

disobedientlib wrote:

I'm wondering what people's opinions are about the idea of privacy literacy? In other words, teaching people about how to think critically about and maintain their own information and their own "brand" online? And especially, what the gaming community and even game development, can contribute to this issue/need, which obviously goes far beyond gaming? As a librarian who teaches information literacy to college students in the US, I see a giant need for systematic privacy literacy training, and gaming as having great potential to grab people's attention in creating teachable moments in this vein. What say you?

Part of the problem is that any terms you teach people can become instantly co-opted by people who run social networking sites. Facebook has released "privacy controls" that make it seem like you're locking down your privacy when in fact you're allowing new data to be exposed. The really important stuff they don't let you control.

So privacy is only as good as the tools they give you. Sometimes privacy advice is "don't use Facebook".

http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the...

This presentation really highlights the problem of face book integration in games and forums. My real world friends aren't in the same group as my gaming friends, which aren't in the same group as my medieval show group, which are completely different from the people I work with and the people at University.

As things go, I'd like to keep these people apart.

Just touching on the background music concept, if you're looking for something to play in the background of your RL gaming sessions you should check out Dargaard. There's lots to choose from and it always makes its way into our Magic and D&D sessions.

http://www.myspace.com/dargaard

Facebook is like a cellphone group list. You shouldn't be friending anyone who you don't want to keep close on a personal level, and you can't post everything in there. Posting things on Facebook is like holding a megaphone to your mouth - virtually everything you say is intentionally public.

If you need multiple groups, my suggestion is to create multiple exclusive Facebook accounts. Facebook doesn't care what you enter as your name. You can log into Facebook as Megatron and it'll be totally alright with that.

Games with cutscenes you can't skip? Mass Effect 2. That intro cut scene is just unacceptably long and totally unskippable. In fact, many game cut scene intros today don't allow you to skip them when you're starting up a new game, whereas you could, before. I blame console gaming.

I see the request for skippable cutscenes as a band-aid for much larger problems of pacing and checkpoint placement in games. You shouldn't have to be in a situation where you even think about skipping a cutscene anyway.

If you're immediately reloading from a fail state, then I really feel like the game should be designed in such a way to recognize that particular situation and not even bother replaying the cutscene at all. And it's not like this "feature" requires a great deal of technical sophistication to pull off.

That whole Moonbase Alpha discussion kind of went to a weird, weird place.

I don't know what the rest of the crew were thinking of, but when they said 'Moonbase Alpha'; just as Julian, my first thought was "Oh, a Space 1999 game? How would that work?".

LarryC wrote:

Games with cutscenes you can't skip? Mass Effect 2. That intro cut scene is just unacceptably long and totally unskippable. In fact, many game cut scene intros today don't allow you to skip them when you're starting up a new game, whereas you could, before. I blame console gaming.

Borderlands is also guilty of that whenever you start a new character. So frustrating.

I had Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 when I was a kid too! It was a very cool ship that many of my Star Wars figures used at the time. One thing that made it so cool was that the front pod and the jets from the back came off to form a smaller ship. I went back recently to watch the old Space 1999 shows and now realize that they were very bad!

The thought I had on the Blizzard-RealID debacle was described by Cory. GWJ moderators exist to make sure the expectations of the site are met. It sounds like Blizzard wants to change the reputation/environment of its forums. Does Blizzard not currently enforce these expectations on Battle.net because it's difficult to grandfather a type of behavior in? Because they're worried about losing some paying customers? Do they not have enough moderators for their community size?

The most persuasive bit I found on why RealID is a bad idea is the post PennyArcade linked to on Metafilter, here.

edit: Not a Battle.net member, so I"m speaking in total ignorance here. At least, until I buy Starcraft II.

From now on, Lara must have at least three drinks before appearing on the podcast.

Gotta jump in and thank you all for intelligently discussing the whole RealID privacy issue and explaining clearly just how dumb Blizzard is being and why. I suspect Kotick is too busy wallowing in a jacuzzi filled with cash to listen to anyone, but I hope that at least some developers listen and understand that this is not a bunch of anonymous "OMG I quit" forum posts, but there are actually a whole bunch their paying customers who have considered this and decided that they don't want this.

Those Space 1999 Eagle toys? I sooo wanted one of those, until I discovered Lego Space and realized that I could build things that looked kinda similar and (more importantly) blow them into lots of pieces!

Polliwog wrote:

The thought I had on the Blizzard-RealID debacle was described by Cory. GWJ moderators exist to make sure the expectations of the site are met. It sounds like Blizzard wants to change the reputation/environment of its forums. Does Blizzard not currently enforce these expectations on Battle.net because it's difficult to grandfather a type of behavior in? Because they're worried about losing some paying customers? Do they not have enough moderators for their community size?

The most persuasive bit I found on why RealID is a bad idea is the post PennyArcade linked to on Metafilter, here.

edit: Not a Battle.net member, so I"m speaking in total ignorance here. At least, until I buy Starcraft II.

Read this post, and I don't buy the second incorrect assumption. What would happen is you would hear about one or a few cases where people actually did get stalked in real life, and then suddenly that means it's a growing trend, even though 99.999% of the time nothing happened.

Still, suddenly requiring real-name IDs is a bad idea. A system like Amazon's might make more sense, where you tie real names to influence. Make the real name ID a badge of respect and trust, rather than making it mandatory. I don't know how the forums work, but it should probably have a merit system that allows users improve their status based on the quality of their comments. For those willing to use their real name, others would value their opinions more because they instill greater trust by doing so.

Not sure if any of this makes sense for WoW forums. But if Blizzard's end goal is to get people to use real name IDs, then it needs to make people want to use their real names, can't just force it. Give them a carrot.

I guess I'm just not clear on why getting people to use real names is a desirable thing to begin with. The majority of people on the Internet aren't going to try to look me up IRL. To you guys here, it doesn't make any difference whether I go by hbi2k or by Frank Jones (not my real name). What matters is what I do here. If there were any reason for me to divulge personally identifiable information-- if one of you wanted to mail me something, for example-- I could make a decision on whether or not to do so. There's no particular benefit for us all to go by real names en masse.

Realistically, I don't see how real names increase accountability. If I were to troll, the consequences are the same regardless of whether I'm doing it under an assumed identity or a real name: a ban in a community with good moderators, or little or nothing in a community without.

The chance of some nutcase doing some nutcase thing with my real name might be small, but why take even a small chance if there's no benefit to doing so?

hbi2k:

It's not the nutcases you need to be worried about. It's the processor and identity thieves.

Shack70 wrote:

I had Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 when I was a kid too! It was a very cool ship that many of my Star Wars figures used at the time. One thing that made it so cool was that the front pod and the jets from the back came off to form a smaller ship.

Yes yes yes!!!

Shack70 wrote:

I went back recently to watch the old Space 1999 shows and now realize that they were very bad!

No no no!!! They were brilliant! Sure the pacing was slow, but they were basing the pace of 2001! It was the bomb. I will not tolerate dissent!

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Read this post, and I don't buy the second incorrect assumption. What would happen is you would hear about one or a few cases where people actually did get stalked in real life, and then suddenly that means it's a growing trend, even though 99.999% of the time nothing happened.

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal. What she described was almost exactly my experience playing WoW, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that it is very much the same for other women who have also played an MMO where their gender has become common knowledge within a group or guild.

I hate to say it, but it's more common than most people would like to think.

Amoebic wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

Read this post, and I don't buy the second incorrect assumption. What would happen is you would hear about one or a few cases where people actually did get stalked in real life, and then suddenly that means it's a growing trend, even though 99.999% of the time nothing happened.

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal. What she described was almost exactly my experience playing WoW, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that it is very much the same for other women who have also played an MMO where their gender has become common knowledge within a group or guild.

I hate to say it, but it's more common than most people would like to think.

Fair enough, although what you say seems to prove my point that anyone determined enough will find you, anonymity or not. Not that that makes Blizzard's attempt any less of a bad idea, though.

Shack70 wrote:

I went back recently to watch the old Space 1999 shows and now realize that they were very bad!

Heresy!

Some impressions (sort of) of Moonbase Alpha from RPS here

Oh man, I didn't get gifted 3(!) copies, but being bought Beat Hazard was nearly enough to put in the 'tears of manliness' thread. This place is awesome.