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Duke_51 Blog

No Sympathy for the Devil? (Xbox Screwups)

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By now most are probably aware of Don Mattrick suggesting that those without a stable internet connection should buy a 360. While I can see the logic in this statement (at least from his perspective), it's caused an uproar from the internet, once again. And of course, it isn't unwarranted.

Despite that, I can't help but feel pity for Microsoft. It seems to me like they're in the same position now that Sony was in back in 2006 - in each case, both MS and Sony had released two successful consoles and felt like they were untouchable, and they both ended up paying for it as a result. Sony lagged behind Microsoft for a while in the current generation, and only in the latter half of the PS3's life cycle did it hit its stride and recover from its rocky launch. I get the feeling that the same will be true for the Xbone. It's clearly unpopular right now, but once it has a chance to recover from its errors I don't think it will be a wholly unpopular choice.

And this brings to light another factor: Sony had to be humbled, and screw up, and make mistakes to get to the position they're in now. After the giant success that was the PS2, they likely got way too ahead of themselves and were too cocky. Now that they've had that experience, they've bettered themselves because of it - and now they have the popular consensus with the PS4. The Xbox is only now just going into this awkward phase, but my guess is that once it comes out of it, it will once again be comparable to the hugely popular 360.

I realize that with the hype that E3 brings it's easy for people to get excited, but just remember, the Xbox had to make a few mistakes at some point to really be successful, just like Sony did. In the end, I feel like the Xbone we're seeing now is the result of hot headedness and Microsoft's underestimation of Sony. Now that they've had this experience, let's hope they won't make the same mistake again, and give us another console that's as good as the 360. So let's not go too hard on Microsoft. I'm not asking you to support DRM or even to buy an Xbone, but we should all be careful not to get too overzealous when it comes to these "console wars." Microsoft screwed up - it will only be in vain if they don't learn something from that mistake - and of course, that is just my humble opinion.

For now though, it seems like the PS4 is in the best position.

Regarding a Half Life movie

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There has been talk for some time now about the possibility of a Half Life film being released in the future. A lot of fan films have been done already following the adventures of Gordon Freeman, such as this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvgEx1g9dW4

One thing I feel is that if a Half Life movie were to come out, the setup for Half Life 2 (as opposed to the original game) would make for a much more interesting, story driven film. To me, the story in the first Half Life felt like more of an excuse to let you shoot at aliens, but the second game drew on some really interesting plot points from the likes of stories such as 1984 and Brazil, for example.

Though it came out after Half Life 2, a film that comes to mind when discussing the story of this game is Children of Men. Similarly to HL2, the population is unable to reproduce, though in this film it is because of a disease and not because of a suppresion field. There are also simliarities with the likes of an authoritarian government controlling the Earth's population, punishing people for even the most minor of infractions. Again, much like Half Life 2, a resistance movement crops up and fights against the antagonist.

It's a formula that seems to make for a great story - the suppressed masses rebelling against their oppressive overlords. I feel like if a Half Life movie were ever to be released, there could be a potential for a really awesome story that would go beyond action sequences and special effects, which to me, is what made Children of Men such a great movie.

children1.jpg

Like Gordon Freeman, the protagonist in Children of Men is an everyman who gets caught up in a plot to rescue humanity. This is one of the things that, to me, makes Gordon Freeman such a neat protagonist. He isn't an action hero or a soldier, he's a scientist just trying to get through a day at work when this mess becomes his responsibility. I think that while the various fan films such as the one posted above are good, they focus almost too much on action sequences computer graphics. Oftentimes though, the best way to make something hit really close to home is to use less special effects. Doing this results in a very gritty, realistic looking film. Children of Men did this right, and some parts of this movie were enough to make you squeamish because of how real it seemed - much different than, say, a Michael Bay movie. Yes, brilliant CGI action sequences are impressive, but oftentimes it's so far fetched that it's hard to accept it as reality. Children of Men suspended my disbelief when watching it though.

I feel that if a Half Life movie were to be made, it should follow the formula of Children of Men - gritty, realistic, and story driven. If the story were to focus on the Half Life 1 narrative, it may come off as simply another haunted-house style movie, like Alien, for instance, which I don't have anything against... but I believe there is something quite special with the story presented in Half Life 2 - it has that dystopic/Orwellian/1984 aura about it, which is really quite immersive.

That is why it's my humble opinion that if they do make a Half Life movie, they should make it a Half Life 2 movie.

Online Animosity

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We've all witnessed this being members of Gamespot, lurkers on Youtube and partakers in online games. Wherever people go online, it seems there's this strange tendency to act like a complete tool towards strangers who probably don't deserve whatever criticism they're getting. But, why? What is it about a keyboard and a computer screen that makes people more inclined to act viciously towards one another? Granted, there are people who behave this way to complete strangers in the real world (I've had the pleasure of dealing with these people, working in retail some time ago...), but there's a seemingly greater amount of people on the internet exhibiting this kind of behaviour than there are in the real world (at least as far as interaction with strangers goes).

We've all been in the situation of getting called out or sworn at because we screwed up, or didn't know how to play, or didn't kill that guy, etc. etc. Most of us have likely been on the other side of this scenario as well, and I admit that in some interactions with some people on the internet, I have to hold back the urge to express myself a little more... "creatively." Of course, completely going off the rails doesn't do much to help your argument, for the most part it just makes you seem hysterical and you come off as a blabbering idiot. That's not to say that being passionate about a topic is detrimental to your argument, but a person who is flat out livid can't be received as being very rational. If you're trying to argue something, you have to do it in a civil, calm and collected manner if you expect people to take you seriously.

So then, what is it about hiding behind a computer screen that makes us so brave to behave in these ways? Anonymity is almost definitely a factor, but I feel that this says something about society as a whole. People on the internet say what's on their mind, even if what they have to say is offensive or racist or rude. Watch an episode of Feedbackula and you'll see dozens of examples of this. I think what this has to say about us is that if we were completely open about how we feel about a certain topic all of the time, real life would be imbued with the craziness that happens on the internet. The reason that most people aren't open about how they feel in the real world is because they lack confidence. On the internet, confidence isn't even a factor. There's no need to worry about your reputation because people can only identify you by your screenname.

Of course, there's also nothing anyone can do when someone's swearing at someone else for being a noob on Call of Duty. In the real world, acting like this might lead to violence, which is why we often hear online arguments ending with "give me your address so I can beat you up," or, something along those lines.

Anyways, if everybody followed Wheaton's Law, and applied this both to the internet and the real world, there would be no cause for this discussion. The internet seems to bring out the darkest, nastiest sides of people, which is an important repercussion of the freedom that comes with the internet. We see this happen with just about every review that gets put out on this website: someone doesn't like the score a game gets, and the reviewer gets some of the most vicious verbal (or rather, typed) assaults I've ever read. The same thing goes for a lot of the articles that are posted here. Just because a person has freedom of speech doesn't mean they have the right to abuse their freedom. If your rights are something you abuse, and something that you use to incite hatred to an undeserving person, then you don't deserve to have those freedoms, in my opinion.

Another thing is this: we should all make the effort to interact with people on the internet as we would in the real world. If a person isn't brave enough to say something to somebody walking down the street, they shouldn't be saying it on the internet either.