Trouble Thinking

March 31, 2011

It’s Baseball Season! 2011 Predictions

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — callmegeo @ 11:47 pm

Well, the Giants just lost to the Dodgers, 2 to 1, so it must be baseball season again! Enjoy the 0-1 record and 0.00 ERA Lincecum. I’m sure your teammates were just committing those errors as an opening day prank. On Saturday I’m going to Dodger Stadium for the 3rd game of the series, and my favorite player, Matt Cain, will take the mound. Remember Matt, you play for the Giants and they just LOVE scoring lots of runs, so stick to your motto:

Anyways! Onto my predictions for the 2011 MLB season:

American League Division Winners:

East – Red Sox

Central – Twins

West – A’s

Wildcard – Rays

The Red Sox have great talent, so if they can just STOP the damn pre-game workout drill of attacking Jacoby Ellsbury’s ribs with sledgehammers, things should go well for them. The Twins are the least mediocre of all the AL Central teams, and the A’s only have to compete against 3 other teams in the AL West, and one of those teams is the Seattle Mariners, so… the A’s have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the post season by default. The Rays take the wild card because fuck the goddamn New York Yankees, that’s why. Not only are they assholes, but they’re old, shambling, and CC Sabathia keeps eating the coaching staff.

National League Division Winners:

East – Phillies *sigh*

Central – Reds

West – Giants!

Wildcard – Rockies

The Phillies win the NL East because… well… they have all the good players. I have the feeling that might help them win more games. They’ve also perfected the art of going deep into the postseason and losing, and they wouldn’t want to break with tradition. The Reds win the NL Central because- what’s that? No, the Brewers won’t win. No, they won’t. I don’t care if they have Grienke, he’s a blonde dandy with social anxiety problems who gets hurt playing basketball… and Prince Fielder keeps eating all the baseballs they try to practice with. The Giants win the NL West because they’ll somehow manage to scrape up JUST enough runs to win 90-ish games on the heavily burdened shoulders of their pitching staff. The Rockies are a streaky team. They’ll probably have some crazy winning streak somewhere in the season to bring them just close enough to make it.

Of course, now that these predictions have been published, watch the World Series come down to the Pirates vs. the Orioles. Actually, you know what, I hope it DOES come down to the Pirates and the Orioles, because no franchise can be THAT BAD for THAT LONG without violating the laws of the cosmos.

Kansas City must be a depressing place to be a baseball fan.

In any case, those are my predictions for the 2011 MLB season. I look forward to being proven wrong in an incredibly embarrassing and public manner.

March 30, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Sure Was a Game

Filed under: Game Reviews — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 1:54 pm

It's... right behind me, isn't it?

So I finished up Dragon Age 2, and if I had to boil the experience down to two words I would probably say “No, I can’t do that. Go ahead and kill the hostages.”

Massive spoilers follow , so, you know.

It was basically a good time, most of the time. The only real problems with it were the plot, the role-playing opportunities, and the combat system.

Wait that came out wrong. Basically, like the previous game Dragon Age: Origins, I obsessively completed everything and was glad to have done so but also have just just a completely crazy number of complaints large and small. I’m not really certain that most of them are constructive either, but I’m getting these down on internet anyway because all of the things I’ve ever thought are important to every one of you mouth breathers.

Okay so first a bit of a rundown of the game: Dragon Age 2 is the second in a series of RPGs that I assume is really hoping to be this huge ongoing story, they’re not indicating the sort of three-parter story structure that has become standard when you do well enough to warrant sequels. The game lets you choose to be a mage, rogue, or warrior and then you’re plopped into the shoes of [First Name you choose but no one ever ever uses ever] Hawke. You’re a refugee from the Blight, a Fantasy World Bad Thing that has totally screwed up British Fantasy Place “Ferelden”. So you and your generally prickly and annoying family are forced to hit the trail and head to the port city-state of Kirkwall, where you’ll need to make your name.

The narrative is split into three parts, each separated by a time-jump of three years. The idea being to show you the consequences of your actions over a longer timeframe and allow you to see less of a straight “hero arises, defeats big bad” story and more of a story about the life of a particularly cool person.

There’s a framing narrative thing that the whole game is a story being told by one of your companions, Varric, but as they do precisely 2 interesting things with it over the course of the entire game, one at the very beginning, they may as well have not done that at all and just gone with a narrator and no extraneous explanation of the timeskips beyond “and then…”

So let me get down into what I disliked about the game, because what I liked is boring stuff like “it was a pretty well-made version of a genre I enjoy”.

(more…)

March 28, 2011

Rock of Ages is a Fun Looking Game

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 2:20 pm

So there’s finally more information about the next game from the creators of Zeno Clash, Rock of Ages!

I’ve been pretty excited about it for a while, if only because the art design in Zeno Clash was worth the price of admission, and the idea of them taking on a simpler game with similar attention to art design interests me. Zeno Clash was certainly interesting and ambitious, but it was only partly a success in terms of actual fun gameplay, what with a lot of repetition and a cool but slightly wonky combat system. This looks to be a weirder, more puzzle-oriented affair that will be more amenable to repeat visits.

Basically, it’s a game in which you set up defenses to stop a giant boulder from rolling into your castle, and also try to roll a giant boulder into a castle that has set up defenses around itself. It’s got a variety of other modes of varying levels of fun-looking, too! It seems like a mix between those games where you roll a marble down a circuitous path, and well tower defense games. Plus, it’s got a weird unnecessary art-history theme. I like it! Here’s the official explanatory poster:

Gametrailers has recently posted a few cool preview videos here, including an interesting 10-minute walkthrough of a “Tower Offense” match. But I can’t embed because apparently WordPress sucks. Instead, I’ll let you see the trailer and then go watch that movie on your own if you’re smart enough to find it really interesting.

And I guess because you’ve been good, here’s another video with a bit of the two-player game mode where you take turns defending and attacking.

March 25, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Writer Explains Bisexual Romances

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , — Durandal @ 6:30 pm

So this is basically stolen from Eurogamer but:

In Dragon Age 2, the newest Role Playing Game from Bioware, your protagonist can have romantic relationships with their adventuring companions. This exploits a singular benefit of computer-based role playing: your romances don’t involve chatting up your friend across the table playing Sexia, barbarian goddess of destruction.

I guess apparently the characters you can go on a bedroom dungeon delve with aren’t discriminating when it comes to protagonist gender. I mean, I suppose heroics are always sexy.

I like this a lot! I think it’s a completely sensible way to allow players to experience all the content a game has in whatever order they choose. It’s also nice because well, why in the living hell would you bother not doing it? It’s not like it’s any more difficult than changing the pronouns once in a while during the rest of the game dialog. And not for nothing, but if it’s that easy to cater to the entire audience for your game, not doing it is insane.

Some people, basically jerks, have taken offense at the fact that the game doesn’t cater enough to the straight male demographic. I guess their knowledge that a certain lady might, in an alternate universe, be into a lady hero instead of their hunky man hero, is just eating away at them. For instance, a bit of a forum post:

“In every previous BioWare game, I always felt that almost every companion in the game was designed for the male gamer in mind. Every female love interest was always written as a male friend type support character. In Dragon Age 2, I felt like most of the companions were designed to appeal to other groups foremost, Anders and Fenris for gays and Aveline for women given the lack of strong women in games, and that for the straight male gamer, a secondary concern. It makes things very awkward when your male companions keep making passes at you. The fact that a “No Homosexuality” option, which could have been easily implemented, is omitted just proves my point.”

But well, I don’t say it nearly as well as the man who wrote the stuff, David Gaider:

“The romances in the game are not for “the straight male gamer”. They’re for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don’t need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant… and that’s ignoring the idea that they don’t have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The “rights” of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent “right” to get more options than anyone else.

More than that, I would question anyone deciding they speak for “the straight male gamer” just as much as someone claiming they speak for “all RPG fans”, “all female fans” or even “all gay fans”. You don’t. If you wish to express your personal desires, then do so. I have no doubt that any opinion expressed on these forums is shared by many others, but since none of them have elected a spokesperson you’re better off not trying to be one. If your attempt is to convince BioWare developers, I can tell you that you do in fact make your opinion less convincing by doing so.

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as “political correctness” if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They’re so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don’t see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what’s everyone’s fuss all about? That’s the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

The truth is that making a romance available for both genders is far less costly than creating an entirely new one. Does it create some issues of implementation? Sure– but anything you try on this front is going to have its issues, and inevitably you’ll always leave someone out in the cold. In this case, are all straight males left out in the cold? Not at all. There are romances available for them just the same as anyone else. Not all straight males require that their content be exclusive, after all, and you can see that even on this thread.

Would I do it again? I don’t know. I doubt I would have Anders make the first move again– at the time, I thought that requiring all romances to have Hawke initiate everything was the unrealistic part. Even if someone decides that this makes everyone “unrealistically” bisexual, however, or they can’t handle the idea that the character might be bisexual if they were another PC… I don’t see that as a big concern, to be honest. Romances are never one-size-fits-all, and even for those who don’t mind the sexuality issue there’s no guarantee they’ll find a character they even want to romance. That’s why romances are optional content. It’s such a personal issue that we’ll never be able to please everyone. The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that’s what we tried here.

And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that’s my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.”

March 23, 2011

PAX East: Slam Bolt Scrappers

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 11:54 am

I have a friend who bought a PS3 exclusively for Metal Gear Solid 4. That friend is a stone-cold moron.

Slam Bolt Scrappers, a PSN exclusive, is enough to make me envy him.

It’s… it’s a very weird game.

It's more complciated than it looks.

Okay so, imagine you are playing Tetris. This is easy so far. Alright now instead of trying to keep the tower from growing, you’re trying to build the tower. Also, you get to choose what shape the blocks will be in. Also! You have to kill demons by controlling a little flying man in order to get those pieces. And if you feel like it you can take the fight directly to the other team (I played a game with two teams of two) and beat them up with your avatar. And as you build the tower, different color blocks create different mechanisms. For instance, Red blocks will form rocket launchers if you slot enough of them together, which then shoot at the other team’s tower and if they manage to totally kill it you win.

I think that explanation may have fallen apart at some point.

Basically though, the important thing about playing Slam Bolt Scrappers is that it’s great fun to be confused by it, but at the same time it really rewarded figuring out the mechanics. I’ll come clean: my team totally lost the round I played at PAX. But it was mostly because while we were flailing, the other team had figured out that because our tower had so few offensive emplacements, they could completely ignore defense, and go straight for as many red blocks in as many clever designs as they could manage. Our towers remained the same size for a bit, but their lasers and rockets dropped bits off of ours and knocked our little avatars out of the sky more than was necessarily called for, causing us to go even more on the defensive. The few times we blew bits off their tower, the blocks fell into some new and exciting deadly configuration.

I could find very little to dislike about the game, frankly. I will say that it took slightly too long to play in my opinion. A round was about 8-10 minutes I think, which was still quite fun but dragged a bit (particularly for my useless hangers on who were relegated to watching). It’s also a bit of a mish-mash, and it’s sort of confusing. But then again, part of the fun was flailing about until you figured out the clever little rules that came into play during different situations.
So basically: super fun game for all of you who bought a PS3 that you should definitely buy.

March 21, 2011

Blinky: Sad, Creepy Sci-Fi Short

Filed under: Movies — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 7:15 pm

Hey, so this is a cool thing I just got shown today:

It’s about 12 minutes, and really solidly well done. Very classic sort of sci-fi, really nice understated special effects work.

I recommend watching it fullscreen, so as to feel most creeped out by that robot’s face.

March 17, 2011

PAX East: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 8:38 pm

Oh no, baby. These abs are allll real. Of course, my hugs will crush your spine like paper.

So, the one panel we actually stood in line for at PAX was Deus Ex: Human Revolution, coming out in August from Eidos Montreal. This is because me and Chris both played the living shit out of the first game. I’ve honestly spent more time on the demo for Deus Ex than I have completing several full games.

To me, the original Deus Ex seemed like the future of gaming. It wasn’t the world’s greatest shooter (enemy AI was completely laughable), and it wasn’t the world’s most intricate stealth game (hide behind boxes was the law and the whole of the law), or the world’s most in-depth RPG but it was all of those things. And all of those things were really fun to do! The majority of the nostalgia about the game is focused on the multiple mission options allowing you to stealthily get by people without killing them, but I think the part that made it great was that all of those options are pretty viable and interesting. Everyone talks up the stealthy infiltration of Liberty Island without mentioning that one of your possible starting weapons was a massive goddamn rocket launcher. You could, if you so chose, blast the living heck out of everything put in your path. You could also win an epic boss fight in 3 seconds by remembering a bit of dialogue from a while back. And whatever you chose to do, you could kit out your character just the way you wanted and see how awesome that made the next fight/sneaky bit. I know the moment I got the ability to explode missiles before they hit me, I couldn’t stop laughing at the pathetic humans attempting to stop my berserk cyborg rampage. The sheer level of attention put in to making you feel badass for figuring out your clever solution to a problem was impressive. Rather than feeling like a kludgy assemblage of disparate parts, every gameplay “pillar” tended to enhance the others whether directly or simply by providing an interesting contrast.

Combine all that with a rather fine, if slightly disjointed and poorly acted, little story of intrigue and some very well-done twists and moments of surprisingly poignant characterization and the game stands the test of time. Seriously, go back and buy it if you haven’t already. It’s like $10. Make yourself a sandwich for lunch today and give it a shot. It’s on Steam.

So. Given all that rampant nostalgia, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am super Deus Excited for Human Revolution. How was the panel? Glad you asked:

It began with a sweet movie showing off the basic storyline and giving us a vision of Detroit in a utopian future where it is a futuristic dystopia instead of just a modern one. Then, a man who bore a strange resemblance to a young David Spade coming on stage to introduce himself as a Community Manager which pretty much means guy who doesn’t yell at people for asking really awful questions. He introduced the two people who would be showing off the game, Game Director Jean-Francois Ducas and Art Director Jonathan Jacques-Belletête. The format was the designer would play the opening mission of the game, and the art guy would talk about what was happening and why.

A few elements of the playthrough stood out to me:

– You recharge your batteries (seriously, there are little cell-phone style battery indicators that drain with power usage) using power bars specially designed for cyborgs. Awesome.

– Incidental character dialogue seems pretty decently acted overall. More than a few characters were willing to chat for a long time about the situation, and there were a few nice little tableau scenes where people discuss things like whether or not it was a good idea to shoot that guy because now we’re all going to go to jail for so much longer.

– They showed off the stealthy options for the most part in this demo, and they seem pretty nicely done to be honest. It’s based on noise and sight-lines, and seems pretty simple but effective. You hide behind things to not be seen, and you move slowly to not be heard. You can grab a stealth augmentation that makes you basically invisible for 5-10 seconds, but it doesn’t make you inaudible, so people will still come check things out if you’re making too much noise.

– The AI seemed slightly too easily confounded by stealthiness. For the most part, it worked pretty organically. They check over their shoulders, see things out of the corner of their eyes, and hear odd noises if you’re not careful. They do, however, come over one at a time after announcing that they heard something, and it appears that taking cover behind something makes the AI basically not see you unless they come to the other side of the object and then turn around. That caused a few laughs, as the AI stood inches from the player, and then said “Must have been nothing!” and turned around.

– Non-stealth gameplay seems pretty solid! Like the original, I don’t think it’s going to win Best FPS Ever awards, but it was solidly engaging, satisfyingly lethal looking, and used a pretty simple cover system that will hopefully highlight how awesome you become late-game if you choose a bunch of combat augmentations. They only showed off the more generic weaponry, but they promised a “BFG” and some other weird weapons as the game progressed.

– NO SWORD. NO SWORD EVER. Well, except the cool arm-blade things. There were about 20 people who asked about that.

– The Augmentation screen seemed interesting. Once again, you pick a part of the body first, then you pick from a series of possible cybernetic augmentations. This system has been altered a bit though. They provide a pretty complete “tech tree” of what you can get up front, so you won’t be just sort of guessing whether you’ll want to pursue a certain line of augmentations.

– You won’t be getting all your new augs from stuff dropped around the level. Instead, you’ll be getting “points” based on mission performance, levelling up, and other factors (and well, occasionally stuff dropped around the level). These will be your currency for unlocking/upgrading. They explained that it’s supposed to reflect the idea that your augs are all “on” at the start of the game, but you only become comfortable manipulating them over time, and that’s reflected by your unlocking them. They likened it to a baby having arms and legs for a while before they coordinate anything with them.

– Hacking, although they only showed the simpler levels of it, seemed really interesting. It’s a game whereby you need to get from a starting point to an ending point through a series of “Nodes” with branching lanes connecting them. Go the wrong direction, or take too long, and you might end up having security activate and chase you down. Like I said with the Mini-Games article a year ago, it seems to tick all the right aspects. It’s something that takes a bit of skill to do, can be done quickly, and provides a reasonable way to “cheat” if you find it boring. Plus, the game design itself means that you can avoid this mini-game almost all the time if you’re willing to just run and gun, or gather the right intel.

– Takedowns are really neat! I mean, okay, they’re a bit old-hat by this point. But it’s a much much better way of dealing with stealth gameplay for minor-to-middling mistakes. Now, when someone finds you snooping in a room you’re not supposed to be in, you can snap their neck instead of circle-strafing while they run for the guards and then deciding to reload your save anyway.

– They mentioned that they’re still balancing everything out, trying to find the fun level. So guard perception distances, whether or not things take energy to do, and a few other configuration tweaks are all under discussion.

– They mentioned wanting it to feel “Deus Ex” like 3, maybe 5 billion times.

– This is a really really pretty game. The art design is choice. Even elements that make no sense, like easy-access swing-up vents, are stylish and well-considered given the gameplay.

– They didn’t show off the “conversation warfare” but they did mention a system that seemed basically similar to hacking: you can either know exactly what the person’s feelings/motivations are by finding things in the environment and talking to people, or you can sort of brute-force it with augs that give you a social advantage. Or you know, shoot them. The emphasis on multiple gameplay pillars seems really solid throughout.

– There are three difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, and Deus Ex

That’s about all I can think of for the panel! The presenters were really nice guys, they answered a lot of questions and showed off a pretty big chunk of gameplay. I’m more excited than ever for this game, guys. You should be too!

Here’s a shitty video someone took at the panel! Possibly without authorization! It shows a small chunk of the gameplay.


 

March 16, 2011

PAX East: Brink

Filed under: Game News — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 6:23 pm

So, I’ll say this right now: my friends were dead goddamn weight at this event.

“OOOOooooohhhh” they said “ooooh we don’t want to wait something like an hour or more in order to play a game we’ve never heard of just because you want to give it a shot.”

“OOooooohh”

Also, they were shitty photographers.

So, I didn’t actually get to enjoy the sheer splendor of playing Brink (scheduled for May 20th 2011 release, developed by Splash Damage) for real. I was relegated to peering over shoulders like some sort of street urchin. That said, it looked really nice. I love the art style, I liked the way the game looked in motion, and I liked that people seemed to pick it up pretty quick. People had 20 minutes to play, and most of them managed to get decent in that amount of time.

In honor of my look-but-don’t-play experience, I will treat you loyal readers to a bunch of Brink footage that’s come out since the last time I mentioned the game.

First off, a trailer emphasizing the cool stuff you can do as different classes:

The character customization is really quite crazy. Unnecessarily so. But I love giant elaborate character customization systems so that is just gravy.

Annnd here’s something nifty with a bunch of the guns featured in the game:

Honestly though, you know what excites me most about this game? I’ve heard characters with like a dozen accents. It fits the setting, it’s an under-appreciated aspect of customizing a character, and it’s just neat.

March 15, 2011

Etsy Privacy Concern Update: Etsypocalypse

Filed under: News, The Internet — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 4:34 pm

Update: So a lot of the sites that reported on this issue are basically calling it solved. Etsy admins have made buyer feedback private, solving the privacy problem. There are a couple of issues with that. First of all, that doesn’t really alter the basic indecency of their making all this shit opt-out instead of opt-in. That was an insulting violation of trust, and a blatant attempt to sneak some shit under the radar because they weren’t certain it would fly if they informed everyone. Second of all, some sellers I’ve spoken to say this fix makes feedback basically useless, as it’s now completely unaccountable and therefore pretty exploitable. Though honestly I don’t know much about the seller end of things. They said it sucked like eBay now, if that helps. Third, this doesn’t really do anything about the release of the real names of anyone who signed up with their actual name. The thing is, the real fix would be pretty simple: don’t try to be facebook, and ditch the real names being public. People can put their real name in their handle if they want.

There’s also the fact that this change came only after disgruntled Etsy users fled to other forums to complain, and drummed up dozens of articles on the subject. Doesn’t really inspire the sort of trust they seem to be asking people to give them.

 

To sum up: Etsy is a site where people buy and sell artwork/random crap. They recently decided the way to riches was becoming a shitty low-rent version of Facebook, getting people to use real names if at all possible, encouraging that you join “circles” with friends and buyers and sellers and whatnot. Then, they decided to finally pull the switch and make usernames and other information easily searchable with a feature called “people search”. Now, if you gave your real name to Etsy at any point ever, your likes and dislikes and feedback and basically everything tied to your Etsy account can be searched for on Google. Even if you didn’t bother giving your real name, if you gave your real email address people can now find you and link it with say, Linkedin, Facebook, whatever. Essentially, if you signed up with Etsy without your spam account and a fake name, now you’re paying for it.

And it’s opt-out! Which means that by default, if you have ever purchased anything on Etsy or sold anything on Etsy, no matter when you did it, your information is now startlingly public. They make the argument that because they emailed all their members (though it isn’t clear they even did that as many people report not getting one), they should be in the clear. However, they only emailed people about slight updates to the privacy policy in January, and told them that changes coming down the line were something they’d have to watch for on the forums when they were asked what exactly was happening in February. In fact, here’s the exact email:

Hello!

We recently launched a new feature, Circles, that lets you connect with other people on Etsy. When you add someone to your Etsy circle, you can follow along with their favorites in your activity feed. It’s illuminating!

Right now it’s hard to find people you know on Etsy, and that’s sad. Well, we’re changing that. We’re making it easy to connect your email address book to Etsy, so we can find people you know who are also members.

(If you don’t want people you know to be able to find you, you will be able easily to opt out through your account privacy settings.)

We’re letting you know about this in advance, and will be launching this feature in mid-February.

We have also revised our Privacy Policy in anticipation of this feature. You can review our Privacy Policy here: http://www.etsy.com/policy/privacy

If you have any questions or comments, please visit http://www.etsy.com/contact to get in touch.

You’re receiving this email because you registered on Etsy.com with this email address.

Thanks!
The Etsy Team

This is a service-related message from Etsy.com. Etsy’s headquarters are located at 55 Washington Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY, USA, 11201

They emailed a ton of people (me included) at old addresses that aren’t being checked anymore. It’s the halfest of ass-coverings possible, and speaks to a pretty immense lack of basic ability to understand that other humans are actually there and not just ticks on a balance sheet.

I find it interesting to contrast the experience of one of the sellers with the creeping privacy issues with the PR from Etsy on one of the comment threads. Basically, the seller describes privacy issues that began with Etsy encouraging people to fill in and display their real name to create a “community”, and ended with them doing this silly opt-out BS. They hated it because it got in the way of actually selling things, and came at the expense of other features that would have been more useful to develop.

The PR guy said:

We encourage the use of your real name and the sharing of your purchases and favorites because Etsy is a handmade marketplace where people connect and exchange. Part of being “handmade” is knowing who you’re connecting with — who you’re buying from, and who’s buying from you. Real people buy from other real people on Etsy. It’s different than buying from a retail site, and the rules followed by traditional retail sites do not always apply. We actually want to change how commerce works, and provide a platform for more meaningful and mindful transactions. You can call us hippies if you want, but we’re not nefarious and we’re not violating the trust of our members.

That’s some high-quality BS. Basically “we want to exploit your relationships like Facebook does”.

Since then, a few things have happened:

Etsy has decided to make feedback from sellers about buyers invisible. It in no way addresses the People Search privacy concerns, and makes Etsy a less useful place for sellers as they can no longer figure out whether or not a buyer is trustworthy. They also announced plans to address privacy concerns in the near future. Not like, rolling back the service that no one wants and everyone is a bit creeped out by, but something. Soon, too! They promise not more than days and days after the damage has been done.

Also, lot of sites that aren’t kickin’ rad members of the new media elite finally got around to reporting on this.

For more see:

Ars Technica, one of the first big sites to pick up the story. Also has some interesting stuff in the comments section, as we see the first attempts at damage control by Etsy president Rob Kalin

BoingBoing, Blog of note, has a short blurb that mostly references the Ars posting, but also fields some comments from Rob and disgruntled Ex Etsy users.

Consumerist, big-time consumer info blog, was understandably piqued by the news.

Forbes, big-time actual for real business news thing, giving a pretty reasoned and well investigated take from the perspective of possible business ramifications. Interestingly, according to the article “An FTC decision from an incident at Gateway Computers in 2004 specifies that companies must get opt-in consent from users before making a material change to privacy policies. An email sent out notifying customers of a change likely doesn’t count.” That’s really sensible! I wonder if anyone has ever actually been made aware of this fact.

MSNBC, third-place but still pretty serious giant news organization, even got in on the story!

Regretsy is just kind of funny, if occasionally NSFW.

PAX East Impressions!

Filed under: Interesting Things, News, The Internet, Video Games — Tags: , , , , , — Durandal @ 9:00 am

 

 

 

What’s PAX East, you say? Generally a good time is what!

PAX is a convention the was begun in 2004 by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, better known as Gabe and Tycho, creators of the smash hit webcomic “Penny Arcade”. Basically, there have been some industry conventions and expos geared more towards insiders and press for a variety of game-related things for a long time, the big ones I know about are E3 for videogames, Gencon for tabletop/card/board games and the San Diego Comic-Con for comic books (and games and movies and…)

So, being giant dorks with an enormous and dedicated fanbase that shared a passion for a variety of games, Gabe and Tycho figured hey why not hold a just “we all pretty much like games” convention?  The first year drew a (relatively) small number of people, about 3,000. People were generally entertained, a massive LAN party was held, and a game competition called the Omegathon began the tradition of holding a tournament that featured an eclectic variety of games, in keeping with the spirit of the thing (the first round of the initial Omegathon was a dice game, the last was Pong).
So, good times. It grew, though. Shit did it grow. It’s sitting pretty at about 90,000 attendees in Washington and has spun off recently, producing PAX East in Boston in 2010. PAX East began at 50,000 attendees and has also grown crazy a lot. Between the original PAX (now called PAX Prime) and PAX East, basically almost 150,000 people attend these things over the course of the year.

And one of them was me! I was there! That’s what you should take away from this: it was important this year because I was there. Some other people I knew were there too, but they shouldn’t really figure in your opinion. They were there as dressing, mostly.

It was a nice time!

Initial impressions:

Pros:

-Really crazy big convention center, plenty of room for all the events

-Many interesting games on display on the Expo floor space with various levels of actually having shit to do at them. Some were tiny little booths where you could try an indie game on a Calecovision (Fez still isn’t out, and yet looks to be fucking finished), and some were humongous ridiculous extravagances without actually having anything anyone could play.

-A huge room dedicated to tabletop gaming stuff, including a “library” where we could try out games that crazy people who are super into boardgames buy that cost like $90

-The “Freeplay” area, though we only used it for like 40 minutes, was really pretty great. Just check out a game and some controllers, take it to a console in set up in another room, and hang out with friends. It was pretty fun to wind down there after they closed the main expo floor.

-There’s a charity that passes out cookies for donations. That was awesome.

-There was a stage for Dance Central, a game designed to test the limits of your shame, which was pretty entertaining to walk by.

-The one presentation we all went to, the Deus Ex panel, was pretty excellent.

-Brink. Brink Brink Brink Brink. I never actually stood in line to play because the Hangers On were pretty insistent that waiting an hour for a game they didn’t care about was somehow rude but it looked completely sweet.

-The Enforcers, a sort of ad-hoc community policing/organizing group were all pretty nice and helpful!

-We figured out that so long as we got at least 3 free shirts, the con paid for itself (assuming $15 per shirt)!

-Other people in attendance were generally very amiable, if shy!

-Getting to see shit earlier and in more detail than normal people makes you feel like a wizard!

Cons:

-Lines were insane, like Disney World. I got to play exactly a single game for actuals, because a group of four people isn’t going to just stop for an hour because one of us saw something interesting

-The panels on Saturday just weren’t really interesting. I mean, seeing a demo of Deus Ex was pretty neat because well shit that’s the game that powered my tiny heart for like 2 years when I was 12, but a lot of the ones I looked at seemed to be some form of “we show you something you saw already on Gametrailers”. I wouldn’t have minded more panels not promoting something. I was disappointed I missed the “You’re not a game designer” one.

-There was a lot of wasted space, and a ton of crowding. The Portal line snaked around the booth twice.

-There was way too little signposting, making it hard to find places. And I mean the entrance from the T and the actual main entrance queue were on opposite ends of the building. Also, it was tough to tell where shit was/what shit was on the expo floor. The space on the expo floor was very cluttered, and there wasn’t a clear design to the layout. Some booths were unclear about whether or not there was anything playable at them (*cough* Portal. The free shirt made up for it)

-Lots of events are really long and mutually exclusive. My friends and I could have played one game of D&D for funsies, but it would have meant missing absolutely all other content at the expo.

-Everything needed more space/consoles/computers/whatever. Because literally the entire crowd basically wanted a go at all the things there, there wasn’t ever a lull in any of the lines.

-The lack of a cookie brigade in my everyday life, now that it is apparent, is heart-wrenching.

Overall, it was a pretty positive experience. Fun times, good crowd, lots to see, and no one went home with any bruises. It was uniquely congenial, feeling like something put together more as a party than a trade show. I highly recommend that if you’re into anything remotely like a game, you check it out next March.

I’ll post in detail about a couple of things over the week! In the meantime, you won’t see those posts because I will not have made them yet.

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