The Play's the Thing.

Hello, my intended...

I know it's been a long time since I updated things here with new ranting and whatnot, so I decided to hook you folks up. Thanks for your patience. The man, the myth, the MONSTER that IS Bobo QUITE FIENDISH has been dealing with a load of nonsense pretty much nonstop from various people, and that's been using up much of my time. We all know Bobo works for a living, and this ranting deal is just for 'therapy' and/or 'fun'.

Speaking of 'fun', I think we'll segue into a rant that examines how many of us tech-savvy folks 'enjoy ourselves'... Online gaming. We've all done it in some form or other, from Yahoo Checkers to Unreal Tournament to Command and Conquer. Bobo's never really been a fan of such things, but it's not because he didn't give them a chance. He gave 'em a few, even. We're still not impressed. Most of the 'multiplayer' games I got in the house are for playing on the LAN, because you online gamers are fucking warped.

And if I can say that? Well... Goodnight, nurse.

Let's explain. People (and I use the term loosely) that play these games are grouped in two categories. Sore losers, and sore winners. You win, and people start railing on you for it. Take Unreal, for instance. You get a rocket launcher, you blow the 'enemy' up. You get a steady stream of shyte from said 'enemy' about using it on them. Vulgarities I can deal with, folks, just learn how to SPELL the cuss-words, won't you? And if YOU get YOUR ass 'fragged', then you get an even STEADIER stream of profanity and such about how whomever did it 'owns you'. The funny part, to me anyway, is that they usually use the same tactics to 'own' you that they'd piss and moan nonstop if YOU used on THEM. I've never really been a big first-person-shooter player, and that sort of thing pretty much guarantees I never will be one. I get enough whining and kiddie schoolyard bullshit at the job from people who would do anything to make themselves out to be 'better than I', but at least at the end of the week THEY pay ME. I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to subject myself to that for 'fun', because I simply don't think it is possible to have that experience categorized as such.

It's even worse on the role-playing games, where some people actually further their careers by waiting outside the town for low-level people to come out and try to 'play the game' - and waylay them. Just for the record, I know there's an 'Assassin' class in Diablo II, but that's supposed to be against the monsters. When I play, I usually hook up the other players with stuff from my stash that's no good to me anymore - or at all, since I usually find a ton of Class-Specific stuff for every Class but mine. It's called co-operative play, which is what a fantasy roleplaying game is by definition. You and some other folks against the monsters. It's been that way since the white-box edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and do you know why? Because it works best that way.

For the slow class, the whole point of a game is to have FUN. Hence, the term 'play'. But when people aren't having fun, they stop playing. When nobody's playing, there's no more game. It's very simple. Are you really so pathetic that ruining the game for others is the only way you can get any enjoyment out of it yourself? Do you honestly think having a hacked 99th Level guy that kicks everyone's ass with cheat program weaponry is an accomplishment? It's not, pal. If you don't believe me, go on and put 'I R0x0R on Neverwinter' on a resume'... I don't even bother playing online anymore. I have enough copies of the few games I play that I can play them with people that 'understand' over the home network (or LAN party), and we all have fun.

Soon, the online world is heading for a big shakeup... The console guys are on the way. Now, I don't really bother with playing online with anything but the X-Box, mostly because there's a load of safeguards to make sure the cheaters and such are not getting in. If you have so much as a Gameshark on it, you're locked out. I like a game where I can be sure everyone's playing fair, even considering the 'spoilers' who run backwards on the MotoGP racetrack to crash into you and screw up your lap-time.

I would've mentioned the losers who exploited a glitch in the PPC's on Mechassault to 'target-lock' other mechs, but they've fixed that - so you Madcatters better learn how to aim now. I sure learned, and my favorite is the Hammer Missiles (aka: long-range grenades). The only thing that bugs me about Mechassault is that if the 'Host' starts getting his ass kicked, he'll quit the game and all the kills racked up don't count. Hope they fix that soon... I hate quitters worse than PPC lurkers. Sometimes you lose, folks, it's part of the game. Not that you should sit there when it's four on one and get your ass shot off, mind, but have some class about it. That kinda 'I bail when I start losing' thing is what made SegaNet so problematic. I know it's easy to run up points on the NFL2Kx and NBA2Kx against the AI, but you're stupid if you think you're gonna romp like that on people that play it as much as you do. One of the best hoops games I played went double overtime before I lost 78-74. We fought each other for every bucket hammer and tongs, but at the end of it all we both agreed on one thing. "That was the best game I've ever had online. Thanks."

I'll get around to hooking up my Gamecube and PS2 eventually, but I really haven't seen anything compelling enough to convince me to go buy their online adapters... Everquest? Sims? PSO? Keep trying, fellas... I'm sure you'll think of something eventually, since I finally broke down and bought a PS2 and Gamecube... For now it's the black and green to go online, since they at least have things running I'd play. I'm anticipating a lovely run of quality games, even considering the EO (Easy Offense - Aka: 'idiot controls') on the Capcom vs. SNK game that pretty much spoil it for people that actually learned how to play 'normally' over the numerous releases of Street Fighter and Fatal Fury through the years, and yet can't hope to pull off 'instant' Spinning Piledrivers and Dragon Punches 'manually'. But I digress...

The thing that is online gaming is shaping up into an all-out war between the developers and the system's makers... and we're the spoils.

The bottom line is that many game developers resist support for Microsoft's X-Box Live service, because MS 'controls' it. You pay for the XBL service, and you can play any game that supports it ON said service. Notable developers that balk at this are Electronic Arts and Eidos, who refuse to support online play on Xbox. Why? Because EA has it's own 3P servers (pay per play), and feel supporting Xbox will cut into their lucrative gouging of the gaming public. Let's not forget how EA kicked out all the Madden 2002 players so they would HAVE to buy Madden 2003 to still play online football. It still amazes me that people think Microsoft is the Evil Empire, when it's clearly not... Well, at least not in this case - especially by comparison to the rapacious developers that oppose XBL.

Bill and the Gang are still Darth Vader XP, mind, but that's another issue for another time... Heh.

Don't get me wrong, Electronic Arts and I go way back... I was buying their stuff on the Commodore64, for crying out loud, and that continued up until recently - specifically, their telling me that I couldn't play the $50 Need for Speed: Motor City Online at ALL unless I paid them $10 a month to be on their servers. Then we get into all the 'additional costs' such as being charged REAL MONEY for things in the GAME. I haven't bought an EA game since. Back in the day, games like Mail Order Monsters, Archon and Adventure Construction Set were my favorite things to do on computer besides homework. The last EA game I bought was American McGee's Alice in Wonderland, and while I like the concept, the execution sucks (no gamepad support, even two years later?) and generally isn't going to improve, ever. Don't get me started on what a wasteland they've made of the Madden Football with that 'card' bullshit. Hey, fans, you can use these cards to stick your opponent up the ass! Make them need 20 yards per first down, and give them only three tries! Kick a field goal from your own endzone! Total bullshit. They've been coasting on the Madden series since 1997, and innovation such as what got them their success in the first place is long since out the window.

Eidos is notable for creating Lara Croft, Queen of Impossible Polygon Boobs and a cartload of shitty games starring her. Dudes, spend a little less on making them rounder, and a little more on user interface... Some people want to PLAY something when it calls itself a game - not jerk off to the cutscenes and boxart. Eidos hasn't been a contender in years, mostly because of sticking to the 'add a new skin to the same old game' modus of 'updating'. If anyone's ever played any of Eidos' not-starring the QIPB, such as 'Fighting Force', then you know as well as I do that a system's not gonna tank if such as THEY don't support it. Let's consider their lovely Tomb Raider games for Sega Saturn, and that wonderful Fighting Force 64 on Nintendo 64 as how much help they are to a system's survival.

Sony's model, interestingly enough, is based on their Everguest deal. New game = New monthly fee. This is more 'developer friendly' since Sony basically lets the developers charge whatever they like, as long as they kick back a percentage to them. If the gamer doesn't like it, fuck 'em. This brings to mind one of my favorite lines from Rodney Dangerfield's 'Back to School'...

"Fuck ME? Hey, Vonnegut, do you read lips? FUCK YOU!"

It's not that I don't feel that one should pay for a good game - but how many times are you supposed to do that? And does the timer stop when you don't play the damn thing? Of course not. People, gaming is a hobby. Really. Does anyone that DOESN'T live in their parent's fucking basement have the time to play all these things enough to feel they've justified the cost? No, clearly not.

Let's consider these costs for a moment - feel free to roll your eyes or blush, as necessary: These prices are current as of 3/16/03, and are from the respective websites of the highwaymen - er, companies - in question:

These guys go the elf-bimbo on the box route as well... They're pretty much saying you folks are all pathetic losers that will never have a girlfriend - and fucking FORGET ever getting one that looks like this one unless you hit the Lotto. But we'll let you have her... All you want. C'mon, stud... She's got 200 years of practice, and can make some pud like you squirt just by LOOKING at you. Step right up.

Sweet Christmas, thassa lotta loot. So, we can see pretty clearly WHY they'd rather be in charge of gouging their clients than submit to any 'flat-fee' setup for gaming. People, do you know why these game makers get away with such nonsense? You let them. Now, I'm not saying that you're a bunch of mooks for getting sucked into the online equivalent of a clip-joint hotel, but if you're feeling kinda mad that I'm pulling your cards like this, maybe you should aim that flame at the people that are CRAMMING you instead of the guy that explained that they're doing it. Or not. I love getting angry e-mails from people whose nerves I've struck. Use lots of profanity, too. I like that stuff... Everybody wants to have fun, and some of you just pay a little extra for it. Blame me, if you want; I know you won't blame yourselves.

But you know something? A game is meant to be a release from one's daily grind. A smidge of escapism from the workaday fuss and bother, if you will. I don't object to that. It's when you 'lose yourself' in it to the point that you're pissing away the rent money to get some 'magic item' on EBay, or spending six hours at a time 'n00b hunting' to set yourself up somewhere as being 'important' that I find a little disturbing. When you tie your self-worth to how 'good' a character you have in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, well, that's just sad. What's sadder is that I've seen it a million times as an ex-Gamemaster for various pen-and-paper games, and most people STILL refuse to 'get it'.

That character you put so much effort and trouble into? It's just writing on a piece of paper (or, today, a collection of ones and zeros). It's not really YOU. You're not really THEM. It's only a game. You'll enjoy yourself a lot more when you can accept that, and until then - go play somewhere else. We really don't need the hassle.

You're welcome. See you SOON.