All posts by Tateru Nino

Strippers versus Evil

Strippers versus evil

There are some games that make me purely ashamed to call myself a gamer. Every entertainment industry has its share of tripe, but in gaming, some of it can be really easy to spot.

The quality of a game is generally inversely proportional to the quantity of breast tissue visible in its advertising and promotional artwork.

It ain’t always so, but that’s sure the way to bet.

Traditionally, Deep Silver’s Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was the go-to example of that, for me (it’s not the only offender, and not even the worst, but I’m singling it out, here). Scantily-clad female characters with breasts as large (or larger) than their heads, bouncing and jiggling their way around the countryside to save the world in ‘armour’ (and I use the term advisedly) that would hardly be out of place in a strip-club, and that just seemingly gets scantier and more lingerie-like as its protection increases.

Puh-lease!

Because heck, a woman can’t go out to battle evil unless she looks like an itinerant underwear model, right? I mean, who is going to face giant spiders or a goblin shaman without stocking up on thigh-stockings, suspender belts and high heels?

To be fair, starting out, at least you get to look like a high-school-girl cosplayer, but it doesn’t take long before the mini-skirt has to go, to be replaced by a g-string.

Worse, I actually liked the game to which this was the regrettable sequel. Quite a bit.

Now, I don’t have an issue with the human body – like most people, I’m pretty fond of them, and I like looking at them, with and without clothes on. I think I can confidently say that you and I both, dear reader, are happy with the overall idea of seeing more naked human bodies in future. That’s all a part of being an adult and having an endocrine system, I’m sure.

That’s not really the problem that I have here.

It’s not even like X-COM: Apocalypse, the third iteration in the X-COM series, where there must have been some bet going as to just how many depictions of female and male genitalia that the art department could work into the in-game artwork without the publisher … errr … let us say “cock-blocking” it (congratulations are in order, I suppose, because it was a lot!).

And even that isn’t my problem.

What the problem is, is that it is demeaning.

Not just that it is demeaning to women – which it most obviously is – but that it’s demeaning to Deep Silver, to (the now defunct) Ascaron who developed it, to the artists, marketers, producers, designers who worked on it, and especially to the games industry (as a whole) and to gamers, to whom they apparently thought this sort of thing would be of broad appeal.

If I had this game in my work history, I’d leave a gap in my CV. I wouldn’t want anyone to know.

Now that I’m done singling out Sacred 2, additional exhibits are – alas – not nearly as uncommon as I’d like. Scarlet Blade comes immediately to mind, or League of Angels.

Now, I’m not saying that demeaning crap like this can’t be made. Freedom of speech and expression cuts both ways. It’s easy to grant that right to speech and expression that we like, agree with and approve of.

It’s when you find the speech and expression to be appalling, offensive and antithetical to your very sensibilities that you have to take a breath and remember that that kind of speech and expression has all the same rights.

That said, I’d like it if some of the people responsible for this sort of thing were to just sit back, take a breath of their own, and consider having some darned respect for women, for gamers, and for the gaming industry.

For a change.

Linden Lab acquires Desura games service

The Linden Lab banner behind the Desura logo

Linden Lab, the makers of shared creative spaces including Second Life, Patterns, Creatorverse, Versu, and dio, today announced that it has acquired Desura, a digital distribution service for PC gamers. The service will continue uninterrupted for current customers and the team and technology become a part of Linden Lab.

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Katawa Shoujo

Review: Katawa Shoujo

A red-headed girl with short hair in a boy's school uniform sits on a table. She has no arms, her sleeves are tied off, and she lifts a forkful of food towards her mouth with her toes.

I blinked back tears, my heart aching in my breast, deeply affected. I opened my post-editor and then I began to write this, dabbing occasionally at my eyes with a tissue.

Katawa Shoujo (translation: “Disability Girl”) is a free, English, Visual Novel game by Four Leaf Studios, which is a collection of talented people scattered around the world. Five years in the making, the game is among the best of its breed, in my opinion.

There are dozens, nay, hundreds of ways this Visual Novel project could have gone awry, turning to mere pap or horribly insensitive trash; instead it is remarkably well thought-out, smart, sensitive, emotional and insightful.

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Bioshock Infinite

Review: Bioshock Infinite

An image of a few of the pieces of the flying city of Columbia, with a statue of Zachary Comstock in the middle

Bioshock Infinite is a story about choices and their consequences, relationships, manipulation, the trousers of time, and how people react to terrible things. It’s also about a finger that is far more significant than it seems.

Bioshock Infinite is equal parts drama, horror, and The Outer Limits, spiced with flashbacks, flashforwards and Disney-Princess moments and littered with foreshadowings for those of you keeping score at home. And then, there’s the other stuff.

All of this is punctuated with violence. Not just any violence, but visceral, gory, ridiculous violence – The Evil Dead (1981) sort of violence, punctuating the story like a series of hand-crafted parodic set-pieces. Jarring, overdone, outré, overly-gamey, and yet, for all my distaste for the intricately-crafted bloodbaths of this single-path shooter, it remains that it is arguably vital to the core of the story.

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Linden Lab Launches a New Platform for Character-Driven Interactive Fiction: Versu for iPad

Versu - Linden Lab, Maker of Shared Creative Spaces

Linden Lab, the makers of shared creative spaces including Second Life®, PatternsTM, CreatorverseTM, and dioTM, today announced the launch of Versu, a new character-driven interactive fiction platform that immerses readers in living stories. Versu is available for free today for iPad on the App Store. Versions for Android devices will be released soon.

A product of Linden Lab’s acquisition of LittleTextPeople earlier this year, Versu provides unique narrative experiences in which the reader is an integral part of character-driven interactive stories. In Versu, you take on a character with distinct preferences, concerns, and desires, as you explore and change a story through your decisions and interactions with other characters. The characters you encounter are endowed with sophisticated artificial intelligence and have their own unique personalities, motivations, and emotional reactions as you interact with them. The decisions you make and how you treat other characters define your character in the story and influence the narrative, giving each title the potential for many unique experiences to explore. In the future, the tool set used to build these immersive stories will be made available to users, enabling readers to insert their own characters and scenes into the narratives they explore.

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King of the hole

A collection of banknotes and coins from various countries

Over the past several years, there have been three major players in the console market, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

A console-maker has a number of avenues for drawing revenue from its console. It charges for console development kits, and code-signing, which allows it to pull a share of all third-party games revenue. It can charge network subscription fees to draw ongoing revenue from the console’s customers, it can produce its own first-party games with a greater margin than third-party developers, and – of course – it sells the actual console hardware and accessories. In short, the console-maker has the most opportunity to pull revenue from every part of the console ecosystem.

So, how much actual profit does that amount to for a console-maker? Well, in the case of Microsoft and Sony, the simple answer is none at all.

Sony’s console division hasn’t generated any profit since the Playstation 2, and Microsoft’s console division has never made a profit.

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Guns, violence, video-games, and the media

"Don't blame [GTA San Andreas logo], 'cos it ain't San Andreas' fault"

Within mere minutes of any mass-shooting, the media (and assorted interest groups) are keen to tell you why the shooter(s) did what they did. In the recent shooting at Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, everyone was keen to explain in detail exactly why Adam Lanza murdered a bunch of people and then killed himself.

Of course, since (at the time) they didn’t even have the right name, the various motivations espoused for Lanza’s killing-spree were nothing more than purest fabrication. Fantasy and lies, basically. If anyone actually has gotten it right (and the truth will probably never be known) then it was only by accident – not by any great feats of journalism, investigation, facts, statistics, or deductive reasoning.

Violent video-games (in fact, just video-games generally) once again take pride-of-place as the culprit for this incident, and that’s demonstrably a load of hooey. I won’t try to tell you why Adam Lanza (or many of these other mass-shooters) did what he did, or what would have made things better – I don’t have authoritative information on that – but I can show you that video-games are not to blame.

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Miasmata

Play it now – Miasmata

Alice Liddell with a flamingo and the words "Play it now!"Day four

This-morning, I had climbed a rise to take bearings on some landmarks, to see if I could figure their precise locations. One distant spire (what is it? A lighthouse? One of the primitive statues, perhaps? I do not know) was obscured by some trees, and I took a few steps sideways to try to get a better view.

That was a mistake.

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Minecraft maker, Mojang, sued for patent infringement by plaintiff who can’t spell “Minecraft”

A scene from Minecraft, showing swampland, sand and water

Uniloc USA Inc, and Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. have today filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District Court of Texas against Minecraft maker Mojang, asserting patent infringement of US Patent 6857067.

The patent in question essentially appears to cover just about all forms of DRM and targets Minecraft on Android devices, as these devices call home to see if they’re authorised to run, and that’s a big no-no according to this patent.

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