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Stop Giving Peter Molyneux Money

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Normally I wouldn't publish a conversation and call it an editorial. Then again, normally game designers don't vomit in a plastic case, shrink wrap it, and call it a videogame. When Peter Molyneux gets involved with, well, anything those lines get a little blurred. I was talking to none other than MusicalMac (of the GameSpot mod team) on the issue, and our thoughts were rather similar. It's not that I have anything personally against Peter Molyneux, really he made Populous and Dungeon Keeper, so he deserves a little credit - it's that whatever talent he has is characteristically sidetracked by his unique ability to be completely distracted by utterly boring things.

Take Fable 2 for instance, Molyneux has spent more time at press discussing the "pet dog mechanic" than any other aspect of the game. At a certain point, you just want to stop and ask "Peter, Fable 2 is a role-playing game, shouldn't your focus be on the story, characters, and world more than on how often some mongrel will pee on your shoes?" Really, the fact that a dog may, after several hours of absence, charge out of the woods to aid me in combat (presumably by biting my enemies in the shins) does little to edify my involvement in the world of Fable.

"Is today the day Fluffy returns?" Who cares?

When you factor in a host of new "casino-st yle" minigames releasing prior to Fable 2, the rather short gameplay length, and the emphasis on a handful of character possibilities (buy any house, get pregnant with anyone's child!) over true customization, combat, and storyline, well it doesn't sit right with me. That isn't to say I'm opposed to freedom (in fact, I love it) but openness is only interesting when it's matched with an engaging world (Fallout 2) and not so much when I'm wandering a hollow landscape populated with stock characters (Oblivion). Peter Molyneux has accomplished something unique with Fable 2, in making a game where you can roleplay as an unwed teenage mother, gambling her last dollar to get food for her baby, sound utterly uninteresting.

And thus, my conversation with MusicalMac:

Subrosian - The video review of Fable 2 would be me beating up Peter Molyneux. Fable 2 does not sit right with me.

MusicalMac - I could stand to watch 15 or 20 minutes of Molyneux beatings. Fable 2 also does not sit right with me.

Subrosian - Three minigames where you "earn money" for Fable 2 on XBLA...

MusicalMac - I'm not looking forward to... "interesting one button combat" what? Has one button combat ever been... interesting?

Subrosian - Uhhh, no?

MusicalMac - Correct!

Subrosian - Even Mario has two-button combat: jump and fireball

MusicalMac - Three if you count the spin jump from Super Mario on the SNES

Subrosian - True

MusicalMac - So there you have it. Peter - stop it.

Subrosian - And it's [super mario world] not even an RPG, which revolves around combat. He's a stoner, we just need to come out and say it - Peter Molyneux has a fascination with uninteresting things. Or, at the very least, impractical things.

MusicalMac - It doesn't matter how well you can sell it, Peter - boxed poo still stinks once opened. It only gets worse when you subject it to lasers and spinning things.

Subrosian - *laughs* The achievements are going to be tied to earning enough money to buy every house, town, shop, et cetera in the game.

Musicalmac - There, the Publisher is happy...

Subrosian - Look, let's just shoot Peter Molyneux - he's so high he won't notice anyway. *

MusicalMac - He may be high, but Fable 1 wasn't a total bust. Fishing was fun.

Subrosian - If I want to fish, I'll play Animal Crossing - the characters are deeper than Fable's

MusicalMac - Touche.

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And there you have it. Sure, I could get into a lengthy discussion about how the idea of multi-game integration has been done before, discuss the ethics of charging an additional $15 (three arcade games at 400 points each) for minigames that seem like they could have been included with the game, or perhaps a timeline of Molyneux's decline from glory - but then I'd be as boring as Peter. As they say "keep on trucking" - and don't forget to bring your pillow to the Fable 2 launch party - a late night release of a boring game - it's cliche - but "hell-o snooze fest!"


*Editor's Note: I do not actually advocate gun violence against Peter Molyneux. Besides, if we leave him alone for long enough he's bound to bore himself to death.

I Called It

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Microsoft has got no mercy. Fable 2, Ninja Gaiden 2, Gears of War 2, XNA - BOOM! Headshot. Not just "oh you can see how it works tomorrow". No, turn on your 360 - you can start seeing the future today. If you're just joining us, you've been living in the dark age before Microsoft decided GDC is the next E3, and blew our goddamn minds. Tomorrow and Friday are going to rock, hell, I'm taking Friday off just to watch coverage, because this is friggin' sweet.

GDC 2008 Speculation

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New Xbox 360 Bundle / SKU

Evidence:

1. Major retailers are out of Xbox 360s, and receiving only small shipments. Target, Best Buy, EBGames, GameStop, all out. All Best Buys in the state of Florida are extremely low or out of Xbox 360s, including the Halo 3 Edition. Target has only limited availability at select stores.

2. Microsoft just launched a Halo 3 Bundle in China, with a pack-in controller, and a copy of Halo 3.

3. The Game Developer's Conference is February 18 - 22.

4. Major games, such as GTA IV, will be two months away as of GDC, and we will see several major game announcements.

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Could all of this point to new bundles or SKUs at GDC? It's a possibility - it's unlikely Microsoft would gamble away profits by price cutting, but packing in a popular game such as Halo 3 could help them maintain momentum. What do you think?

Laughing at Sin

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This is taken from the Read Me file of Sins of a Solar Empire. You really can't make this stuff up.

Kevin V is a Salty Tart (intended solely as a compliment)

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Pulled from his recent forays into System Wars:

Yes, Microsoft paid us to use 360 box art, as they pay us off for a lot of other odds and ends, which explains why I drive a Beamer, eat caviar daily, and take my private jet to work. It's a lifestyle I'd only hitherto dreamed about. Kevin-V




[QUOTE="dracula_16"]Obviously it's inflated. Kevin V is probably just afraid he'll get fired if he's honest.Kevin-V


Yeah. I live on pins and needles every day wondering if the chopping block is coming...





[QUOTE="Udsen"]Kevin VanOrd rating a game LOWER than other sites? Wow! :shock:Kevin-V


I know--he overrates everything.

It's the next best thing to waking up and finding "lack of common sense" becoming a ban-able offense under the TOU. Bravo! Anyone who says GameSpot lacks a sense of humor or a soul hasn't been paying attention. Of course, y'know Kevin now they're going to come up with a whole new batch of conspiracy theories. I can see it now "Kevin-V flops Halo Wars just to spite system wars!"

Ah well, just a little bit of cleverness pulled from the asylum walls. What's next, Ricardo Torres making a topic in System Wars (hint hint)? I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Work Together to Improve Our Community

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I set an arbitrary date for finding a glimmer of hope in GameSpot: January 31, 2008. It's a new year, and the worst of the Gerstmann incident should be behind us. Alex Navarro leaving takes a toll on us all, a far greater one on the staff than any user, but it is still a departure that fills us all with sadness. The faith that once held the community together is thin, and regardless of events in the past, we are all at odds.

Worse still for individual community members, we've seen the departure of our own little "staff". Active posters like JustPlainLucas, Omni-Slash, Fastesttruck, and Sentinelrv taking leave, or detaching themselves from the community. We've seen this not only as a shift in our mod staff, but a shift in the spirit of the community as well. Newer moderators are inexperienced, and hard pressed to develop the community rapport their predecessors held.

Yet neither the Terms of Use nor the moderation load are the real issue. Other sites, such as Game Trailers, have allowed swearing, personal insults, and R-rated pictures for years, and have not developed a better community for it. The issue is the loss of community leadership, and the lack of faith we've seen in GameSpot post-Gerstmanngate. As important a member of the community that Gerstmann, Navarro and the other writers who departed were, there remain dozens of other staff members who have provided the backbone for the site, and who are taking the brunt out our displeasure.

Ultimately, restoring the site's atmosphere to its former glory is not a task for C|NET - no amount of moderator or admin intervention would replace what is most needed - a desire in the hearts of the community to rebuild. We, as the members have GameSpot, have the ability to create the change we seek. Recently I took my own small "first step" by working with CaseyWegner and CakeOrrDeath to update the sorely outdated "Welcome and Information" thread for System Wars. After the endeavour, I noticed that there are dozens of other stickies, all over the site, all of which could use a loving hand in updating. In fact, much of the work that needs to be done on GameSpot - user reviewing, producing videos, cleaning up stickies, answering common questions, and the like could be taken upon by us!

As we enter deeper into 2008, I make a call for the change we most need - an influx of responsibility, of new leaders stepping up to fill the void. I'll do my part to become a sticky-updater, but who will fill Sentinel's shoes, and become the champion for Unions? Who will help guide Off-Topic towards humor and camaraderie? Who will help System Wars recover its light-hearted debate? Ultimately, these positions are open, and waiting for you.

As cliche as it sounds, let's stop the whining, and negativity. Nothing will be accomplished by it, C|NET doesn't post in the forums, and we're only hurting the people we care most about - the community, ourselves, and our beloved GameSpot staff. Restoring the site starts with us, and it starts today.

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Feel free to post your comments and ideas as to things we can do, as a community, to restore the shine to a site we care about.

I Have Chosen Darkness

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In appreciation of Fox New's declaration that gamers are the evil spawn of the devil (not really -actually they implied they were morally bankrupt violence mongering, sex-pushers) and claims that videogames are "Satan's Sudoku", I declare this coming week (January 27 - February 2) to be an International Week of Evil. I've modified my profile to represent this.

Here are some fun examples to get you started:

My Profile

Alter Ego

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Yes, it's just a ridiculous excuse to use Photoshop, intended entirely for fun.

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Once you've completed your profile, icon, et cetera - post a comment, I'll try and create a showcase of some of the best examples.

Mass Effect - Sex Controversy

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Introduction

Fox News recently held something you could call a "debate" (if you have a twisted sense of humor) on the subject of the sexual content in Mass Effect.

Link

It's unbelievable for a number of reasons, the most concerning (to me) is the degree to which the entire staff was ignorant of the game. Had a single person on their "expert" panel played any recent game, let alone Mass Effect? Was a single gamer given their free reign to speak? What bothered me was the attitude towards sex in gaming *in general* though. Why is violent content allowed to exist as a choice for gamers, yet sexual content is not? What is the fear? Why is this double-standard acceptable?

Response

Violence is the destruction of life - it brings pain, suffering, and unhappiness. Violence taints all aspects of our lives that it touches - conversation, physical interactions, and yes, even love. Child abuse, spousal abuse, fights, murder, war - these are the end results of violence. Amongst all rational systems of religion, philosophy, and morality, we see violence represented the same way - as something only as a last resort - as an action and way of thinking that brings us harm. Violence is part of hatred, a dark emotion that brings only destruction.

Sex is the act of the creation and expression of life. It is inherently an action that celebrates the physical joy of being human. It is an act of solidarity, an act of love, an act of pleasure. And while religious, philosophical, and moral thinking differ on the right time, place, and partners for us to engage in the act with, the all agree that sex is a part of human life. We may not see eye-to-eye on the details of it, but all can agree we are thankful to our parents for birthing us, and thankful in the expression of human life. Sex is part of love, an emotion that brings humans together in joy and enlightenment.

Is that so hard to face? Is it really that scary for a parent to say to a child "look, these are my beliefs on sex, I want to share them with you so you understand the way of the world, so you're equipped to make good moral decisions for yourself"? It's not hard, it really isn't - but we've created such a mystique around a word - a word that really isn't that scary - that we've allowed the media a hot, view-generating ticket.

In the media, we see the opposite - violence is glorified, murders, war, beatings, all discussed, drooled over, and shown on repeat with accompanying video reels and photographs. Violence is celebrated - serial killers and wars are the stuff of the front page. And sex? Sex is a scandal, always a scandal - a teacher honestly answering where babies come from is fired, or a videogame like Mass Effect considered taboo because "if it's there children will find it". We see news programs act as though depictions of the naked human body are the greatest social ill - as though "children will always choose to look at it, therefore it is scandalous that it even exists".

Such things bother me, they bother me on a deep level because they strike me as utterly insane - the rantings of irrational people. When someone denounces the existence of sex, they strike me as celebrating death. What's so wrong with a teenage boy finding a Playboy? Is it the existence of pornography that parents really fear - or the possibility that their son or daughter will choose to watch it? Aren't they really saying "I fear my son or daughter will make choices I would not like them to make?" Yet when are these parents talking to their children? They are in the courtroom, on TV, in the newspaper, telling me how to think and feel about my own life, legislating laws for my own children, and ultimately not the one place they need to be - at home, with their own children, sharing their own beliefs.

It grows tiresome - Mass Effect isn't the first game to face this media treatment - but it's a reminder that we still live in a country with a Puritan denial that the human body is naked beneath clothing; a genuine revulsion of the human body. I fear this point of view - as I fear all things that seek to destroy truth. Ultimately, this is about choice, out of thousands of games released last year, one features the option to participate in two minutes of sexual activity - the ultimate test of your parenting skills would be for you to not buy it if you feel that content is immoral for your child to view - and for you to explain to your children *why* you would like them to avoid such content. If you cannot do that, you have far more to fear than digitally rendered snippets of a nude alien, and far more to fear from the violence and hatred of the world that arise from the ignorance you are damning your children with by keeping them in the dark about basic human biology.

I don't know what else to say - there's no bottom to the kind of depression seeing this kind of ignorance in your fellow man brings about.