Archive for the ‘the Mario generation’ Category

My Tribe, Right or Wrong

October 31, 2014 - 2:54 pm 46 Comments

So, after what feels like years and has actually been about two and a half months, I’m finally going to talk about Gamergate. I’ve been neck deep in this shit since the first Reddit post went up since it hits gaming, feminism, and has now somehow invaded my gunnie and libertarian circles as well, which means basically every fucking social circle I’m in either directly or tangentially save roller derby is freaking the fuck out about it and I can’t really go anywhere to get away from it without total social isolation. And I only get to skate twice a week right now. So I’m finally irritated enough to Say My Piece. And therefore jump in with both feet. Which means I’m going to be engaging in the Comment Wars for what I consider the stupidest cultural conflict since Chickfildammerung. Yes I am self-aware about this personal flaw.

First off- I agree with pretty much everything Ken said. Therefore I’m not necessarily going to address every point I actually agree with, nor exhaustively source everything as he’s already done most of it and I’m busy as fuck this weekend and can’t spend all day on this. I realize asking you to Read The Whole Thing is unreasonable, but before you launch a broadside at me about uncritically supporting “Social Justice Warriors” or accepting every claim made about threats and doxxing with automatic acceptance rather than sourcing, I’d appreciate it if you’d save us both the trouble of me calling you a lazy dumbass and check to see if the answer’s already there first. Hi Ken. I’m a fangirl.

So, going to go with the Arguments I Have Seen That Make Me Facepalm. If you haven’t made this argument? It ain’t about you. And frankly, most of my objections are political rather than feministy, given my biggest source of incredulity is seeing this from libertarian circles.

1. “Actually it’s about ethics in gaming journalism”

Sorry Cholly but no it ain’t, or at least “Gamergate” isn’t. The whole ridiculous mess started when Zoe Quinn’s angry ex made a post on Reddit about how she was crazy and cheated on him and, this is the important bit, slept with a Kotaku reviewer to get a good review for her indie game Depression Quest. Except this claim is trivially easy to verify as total fabrication, because no one at Kotaku ever reviewed the damn game. This takes about ten seconds on Google to figure out.

Gaming journalism is a fucking joke and could use some ethics. But you know what? This has been true for the entire history of its EXISTENCE. I’ve been seeing banner ads on sites with positive reviews of a game advertising the freaking game, with the ad ON THE REVIEW, for as long as there have been online gaming journalism and banner ads. Every gamer who hasn’t been living in an actual cave knows reviews from any “game journalist” who isn’t completely independent and getting paid nothing are bought and sold, mostly by major gaming companies.

So I think I’m pretty justified in regarding “it’s really about ethics” in a “scandal” that started with a completely bogus claim about a game developer whose game has been free to play since its inception who happens to be female, involves wide-scale doxxing, harassment, and rape/death threats, and not with any element of the actual long-standing problem, as raw steaming bullshit. Sure, some of the people making this claim may be totally sincere. But with respect, y’all have picked the wrong tag and moment in history to attach your outrage to. In theory this maybe shouldn’t matter because the validity of an argument shouldn’t be affected by those things; in practice yes it fucking does. None of us are impressed when an anti-gun advocate chooses the night of a mass shooting, done by a shooter with stolen or illegally possessed guns who was a known nutjob, to rant about legal CCW. And we aren’t wrong to level the blood-dancing charge then.

2. “I haven’t been following anything about this until just now, and I’m not a gamer and don’t play video games, but this is obviously just another case of SJWs picking something to manufacture outrage about”

Hey, thanks for admitting right up front that you have no fucking idea what you’re talking about, then. I’m glad you weighed in to register your literally ignorant opinion! “It must all be stupid bullshit because I think these people are whiny SJWs and some SJWs were mean to me/my friend once” is the definition of reflexive tribalism. Which I loathe.

3. “Women and gay people/minorities should expect this kind of reaction when they invade gaming”

Fuck you. We didn’t “invade”. I’ve got thick calluses on both thumbs, need to replace both of my PS3 controllers because I’ve worn them out and they’re starting to get flaky, spend a lot of time PC gaming too, and I’ve been playing video games since 1988. When I started games were aimed at kids, not young men specifically, and certainly not “straight white dudes”. Somewhere in the mid nineties the gaming industry made the decision that since they comprised their biggest market share so far as they could tell, it was a waste of time to develop and market for anyone else. (You can actually read about the specific market study that they latched onto for this if you Google for a bit.) We’re not newcomers; the gaming industry left us. But we didn’t leave; we just didn’t have much of a voice. Then since that entire generation that grew up gaming with the first home consoles is now old enough to have jobs in gaming and writing about games, we do. The guys that felt gaming was theirs just aren’t able to go through life thinking we don’t exist anymore.

Most gamers are in their 30s (coincidentally born around that early eighties time!) and nearly half are female. You can sputter all you want about female gamers not playing “real games” (which seem to be exclusively defined by these people as games targeted very narrowly at straight white young men), but we’re just as much the consumers of games as these guys are. We pays our money: we’re the market too. This is how markets WORK- or at least it’s how free markets do.

4. “Getting harassed is just what happens in games, guys do it to each other too, it’s happened to me, harden up”

“Women get disproportionately harassed” != “men never get harassed”. Most female gamers- and for that matter internet pundits- have experience with what happens when they go under an identifiably female identity and what happens when they go under a male or gender-neutral one. (Which, in gaming, is always assumed to be male.) When I’m playing online I don’t go around saying “I’M A WOMAN” or “I’M A DUDE” unless it becomes relevant to some discussion, but I do favor roles and classes that are always assumed to be male. (I play tanks and heavy-armor melee.) There IS a difference, a big one, in how I get treated when I don’t have that “must be a guy” assumption operating. I still get shit-talked and trolled (which I cheerfully hand right back), but it’s not nearly as intense, as personal, or as flat-out mean. All the female gamers I know have had pretty much the same experience, if their experience in gaming and internetting is at all extensive. Because you, the guy, at whom this stuff isn’t directed, have one experience, doesn’t mean yours is at all applicable to someone else, let alone overrides it. (And before it comes out, yes I am aware men have experiences women simply don’t too.)

Can we please acknowledge that though rape and death threats happen to everyone, it’s pretty disproportionately men to women and not the other way around? I’ve never actually seen an SJW do this to a gamergater, but I’ve seen LOTS the other way around. And please call me when there’s a mass shooting of men by a woman outraged about men rather than a man outraged about women and “feminists” shooting women. (Marc Lepine, George Sodini, Eliot Rodgers.)

5. “SJWs are trying to drive men out of the industry/out of gaming and must be opposed at every turn!”

Orly? Show me. I’m quite serious here. I’ve never seen an anti-gamergater suggest that straight white men, or all men, be driven out, let alone advocated for government force of law to step in and help them do it.

Oh, but they’ve called for boycotts, and said some really mean things about those gamers, and stereotyped, and attacked a lot of aspects of the gaming industry as it is? THIS IS HOW FREE SPEECH AND THE FREE MARKET FUCKING WORK! This is my huge political objection, right here. Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism, it certainly doesn’t mean freedom from pointed criticism, it doesn’t mean freedom from mockery, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean protection from social consequences for speech, whether it’s deserved or not. Yes, this applies to the SJWs too.

What it DOESN’T apply to is threats, of organized harassment explicitly aimed at driving devs out of the industry altogether (which as Ken points out has happened repeatedly), and while still well within the bounds of that free speech, pressuring advertisers into pulling out of anyplace that criticizes you kinda skeezy too as a response to criticism. (AGAIN: this applies to the SJWs too.)

And when the people running under your flag are doing this repeatedly, claiming victimhood while they do EXACTLY what they’re (falsely) accusing their opponents of doing in the name of pre-emptive self-defense, and you’re standing by going “well it’s unfair to paint a movement by its extremists” while they’re getting real-world traction enough to drive people out of their jobs or out of their homes and get the FBI involved, twice- sorry but I’m not going to take you seriously. Is this the hill you’re really going to die on? There are no other trenches in your culture war to set up in that don’t contain people fighting a war against women in general in what they think is their domain? When Islamists do this shit we call it terrorism, not trolling.

When female game developers and programmers aren’t a single-digit percentage of the industry anymore, maybe then I might begin taking seriously the notion that they’re “taking over”. Or better yet? Over 50%. You know, reflective of our actual population. (Before I hear about it: NO I am not fucking advocating any sort of intervention to make this happen, I’m just horselaughing at the notion that there’s an actual takeover or persecution campaign against men of any sort.)

I point out: even 4chan has banned gamergate discussions. Why? Because those threads have extensive doxxing and coordinated harassment planning in them. Which is one of those few things 4chan doesn’t permit. When fucking 4chan has disavowed you because of your shitty tactics, it’s time to re-evaluate your life choices and choice of allies in particular.

6. “SJWs have attacked us on x front so we must fight them here too regardless of how it started”

Combined with the above especially, I’m not necessarily going to call you a misogynist unless you otherwise show me that you are, but I am going to call you a hypocrite. As well as point out that this is the “Billy hit me first” school of argument that really we all should have outgrown in middle school.

And as my last salvo: before you pull out “judging by a few extremists”, please direct me to the gamergaters who are taking all of the above seriously and speaking strongly against them. And I really don’t mean Bendilin Spurr, the guy who claimed gamergate was against harassment and also produced the “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” interactive web game.

To recap: it’s a movement with a completely incoherent argument started by an obvious lie, infested by doxxers and people doing something we normally define as terrorism when it’s people we don’t identify with in some way, championed by libertarians who apparently don’t see a problem with the fact that the actual “fight” is against people using speech and the free market to advance their interests. For the crime of disrespecting a self-described identity group, whose reaction is incidentally proving that much of what they say about misogyny in the gaming culture is completely correct.

Beautiful. I’ll even hand you a flag to plant on that hill. Defend it to your last breath.

Santa Fe Comic Con 2014

October 26, 2014 - 12:19 pm 6 Comments

Santa Fe took a look around and noticed that every two-bit one-horse town in the nation was holding comic conventions and was raking in mad bank from a bunch of nerds with disposable income, and decided to hop on the bandwagon. The inaugural SF Comic Con was held at the Buffalo Thunder casino….in Pojoque, which is about 15 minutes away from Nerd Ranch, so you’re damn skippy we went. It was pretty small, which was to be expected for a first run in a fairly low-density part of the state/nation, but it was a lot of fun. There were a few teething issues that’ll likely be resolved for next year, but the crowd had a great energy, and everybody was incredibly friendly. And that’s coming from someone who hates crowds. I even got into the spirit of things.
If you want blood.... we got it!

I’ve got a hard time being objective about it since I know where every tiny flaw and compromise is, but overall I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out. Didn’t win anything, but didn’t expect to either. And the costumes that won, I didn’t lose, I got beat fair and square.

The costume was definitely a hit with the crowd; I think easily a couple hundred people asked to take my picture (and if anybody sees any across the web, or happens to have been one of the people there who took one, throw the link in comments!). I terrified a couple of toddlers (Note: HUGE SUCCESS), and got a ton of compliments ranging from the calm to the wildly enthusiastic (one, explaining to a friend: “This badass is the fucker WHO RIPS THE SKIN OFF PEOPLE!”) LabRat is convinced I was a close 2nd on the popular vote contest.

I think I’m going to make a few minor tweaks based on how yesterday went and probably trot it back out for the bigger Albuquerque con in January.

Game Nerd Breakdown

April 8, 2014 - 2:43 pm 12 Comments

Over on the book of faces, Tam posted a kill shot from our last raid night. Naturally, this brought all the nerds a-runnin’, and quickly derailed Tam’s victory pose into a discussion of game mechanics and a more meta discussion on interface design. So basically take this as warning that if you’re not into gaming or whatnot you may as well knock off here.

A commenter correctly observed that there appeared to be a metric shitload of information present on Tam’s display. Various players agreed that yes, in fact there was, and it got a bit conversational about how that information is managed, displayed, and how it scaled from zero to ALL THE THINGS. LabRat did a rundown of her interface, which caught on. I was going to do a rundown of mine, and then my browser crashed and ate about 1300 words worth of explanation, causing me to say many unkind things about many things before sobbing openly and starting over. Since it came out to such a firehose of gamer nerdism, I figured why not share it here.

This is a screenshot from in-combat, annotated badly because I suck at gimp. I’ll try to stay somewhat meta so what I’m looking at and why is more important than the game/class specific mechanic in game-terms. I play a rogue, a melee dps (damage-per-second) class. My entire raison d’etre is to pump out damage on the enemy. I have very limited ability to self-heal, and substantially less damage resistance than a tank (though broadly more than a healer), with a few tools available to mitigate incoming damage if used properly.

No, there are not many like it.

A is my unit frame. Mine is the game default because I don’t rely on it terribly much. Green bar is my health, green text is incoming healing. Fun fact, showing this shot to LabRat, neither of us had any idea where that healing was coming from and I had to look it up (turns out it’s a racial passive skill I’d forgotten I even had). The yellow bar is energy, my primary resource, also tracked by the yellow bar in the central box marked 47. Anything I do in combat consumes energy at various costs per skill, and it regenerates fairly rapidly over time on its own, sometimes aided by chance-based “procs”.

B is my target, a training dummy which is exactly what it sounds like. Also game default because the useful information I’ve replicated in more sensible/useful places and don’t care enough to change it there. The three red dots on its portrait’s right are combo points, more on those shortly.

C and D are cooldowns. These are things I can trigger to increase my damage output for a short time, which are then unavailable for a while. The greyed out C means it has been activated, and the 39.4 is how many seconds until I can use it again. Since D is in color, it’s available to use.

E and F are “Fix this, dumbass” indicators. E is present because in this shot, I have not applied a poison to my weapon, which is a major source of my damage output but only lasts an hour between applications. It can expire in combat, and if it goes unremedied all of a sudden I go from useful to burden. F means that the enemy has not had its armor weakend. There are multiple classes that can do this, including my own, but it needs to be done by *someone* so there’s an indicator up for me if nobody has done it yet.

G, both left and right, is a proc, a chance based event to let me use an attack at a reduced (free in this case) cost. The big ( ) slashes are the game default indicator, the stabby box is my redundant indicator because it’s a short window to take advantage of the proc and I really need to get on that.

H is whether or not my interrupt ability is available. This can stop an enemy from casting some types of spells, but has a short cooldown on use. It’s short enough I find it more useful to be a binary present/not present icon rather than tracking time till available like on C and D.

I is the list of buffs and debuffs on my character. In a group, this would condense down to a single box with an X applied out of Y available count for buffs available from other party members, but some proc-based ones such as the left-most four would still appear separate. Unmodified since I can’t control the proc-based ones, and they don’t impact what I’m actively doing in combat (other than the Really Big one at G), and the party buffs are dealt with before combat starts, ideally.

J is just my area minimap. Unmodified, but ringed by icons to access the settings for a bunch of the addons I run.

Coming back in to the central box on the screen, this is all of the most vital data I need to run combat. The bar marked Rupture is a timer counting down. This is an class specific ability I need to keep active on the enemy if combat is of any noteworthy duration. The bar marked Slice and Dice is likewise a countdown timer, but instead for a buff I apply to myself that’s a major source of damage output increase. The initial duration of both is determined by how many combo points, the green, yellow, and orange boxes between the timers, I have when I do it.

The combo points are my secondary resource. They’re generated by doing “builder” moves at the cost of energy. Five is the maximum, although there’s a player-choice mechanic to tweak that a little bit just for more complexity/flexibility depending on how you like to play it. These are spent with big burst damage moves called finishers. They don’t necessarily actually finish the boss, but it’s a big whack of damage.

The red bar with 99 then a huge number is enemy health in both percent form and total hit points remaining. I track it redundantly here because after it’s hurt badly enough, I get to use a different move as my combo point builder that increases my damage output. This phase of the fight is called “rush-down,” and happens at different points for different classes. During rush-down phases, bigger enemies tend to change their mechanics to become more dangerous with sort of desperation tactics. Not all classes get rush-down tools, but they’re huge increases to damage output for those that do.

Chat window is in the lower left, and the box marked DPS in the lower right is my e-peen meter. That tracks how much damage everybody in a group is pumping out either for a given fight or overall (it can track other metrics for other classes, too). There’s another meter that comes up when I am in a group fight that shows how much threat I have, i.e. how important the enemy considers me in priority for who to squish. Damage output is a major factor in threat generation, though far from the only one. Tanks get moves specifically designed to generate more threat than my raw damage output, but that isn’t to say I won’t pull threat from a tank if I just unload carelessly. Or intentionally, since it can be fun to annoy tanks if I think I can survive being the monster’s focus for a while.

While this whole thing is unique to me, perhaps the *most* individual aspect are the rows of buttons along the bottom. I use a keyboard with 18 macro buttons off to the left, and a mouse with another 12 aligned in a thumb-grid, and on my main character there, every one of them has a use. Those bars map all sorts of utility skills and spells for faster access than clicking them (which is still available as a redundant access to the tool). The bar with the buttons marked 1 through – are my most combat-critical things, though not sorted by numeric priority but a more organic process as I leveled the character, with a dash of standardization across all my characters (for instance 5 is *always* my interrupt button).

Finally, the bar at the very top of the screen is supplemental information: where I am, how much bag space I have, etc.

And this is what happens when I have nothing better to do in an afternoon than nerd out about warcrack. Which for all that complexity remains…. a game. I don’t think Pong had quite this many tweaks.

What’s This Button Do?

June 27, 2013 - 3:14 pm 9 Comments

So, as we’re clearly in the filler-or-nothing mode of content, still, it’s my turn to dust off the keys for a bit. For those of you who aren’t warcraft/gaming nerds, go ahead and just pretend it’s status quo and there’s no post. For the rest of you, if you’re happy with your gaming set up, you can probably do the same, because all I’m going to talk about today are mice.

For those who do like warcraft, you’ve probably noticed, “Hey, there’s a metric shitload of things I would like to have quick access to!”, possibly during a raid while a boss is nomming on your face, possibly during pvp while a rogue is making your life miserable. I too found myself in one or both of those situations, and so when I saw the Razer Naga I was all over it. Once integrated into my setup, it quickly became indispensable, though over time it was not without its flaws. The thumb-grid was extremely useful and after a bit of practice reasonably intuitive, but the scroll wheel flat-out sucked on ice; this was the naga’s biggest flaw. Frequently using the wheel to scroll a web page down, the jittery little shit would wind up scrolling up. There was also no side-to-side tilt on the scroll wheel, which is not a dealbreaker, but incredibly useful for in-game movement.

As the naga was first to the scene with this enormous raft of helper buttons, I accepted the limitations and went on about my way. Until one day, Amazon made an actual useful suggestion with their “other people looking at X liked Y” section, the Logitech G600. What’s that? A giant raft of buttons, plus a couple more, and a tilting scroll wheel from a company that specializes in mice and keyboards? Oh hells yeah.

So I jumped on it. And overall, I have to say the logitech is the superior shitloads-of-buttons mouse. For starters, the scroll wheel is not even a little bit flakey, and the tilt function to it covers that shortcoming from the naga. Otherwise, it’s basically the same mouse but with a few minor differences that manage to change and improve the quality of life surprisingly well. Where the naga’s thumb grid is laid out on one convex grid, the g600 instead uses two concave depressions on the side to arrange slightly larger buttons. After getting used to muscle memory of “slide two buttons back, one over to do _______” with the naga, this new arrangement made finding the right button even faster. This also means a couple of buttons I didn’t use for much of anything on the naga were now easier enough to find to take over Vital Functions. It also feels somewhat larger in the hand than the naga – that’s a pro for me, but probably a con for the smaller handed.

Neither mouse really wins in the configuration software department, but the logitech sucks less because you don’t need to create an account to configure anything, or be online, and the profile is stored in the mouse itself, rather than in the software. In the minus column for the logitech, one of the buttons is, for my use at least, more of a pain in the rear than an asset. The far right button, the “g-shift” key, is designed to be essentially like the shift key on a keyboard, and be a on/off to modify the function of other keys. Out of the box, it changes the mouse’s sensitivity on the fly, which, uh, sucks, to put it mildly, when your nice zippy responsive mouse suddenly drives the cursor like molasses in January because you cycled out of the top end of the sensitivity and back down to the sludge setting. The two buttons behind the scroll wheel did the same thing, which was particularly festive when configuring VuhDo for my priest to use those for healing. And it’s ridiculously easy to hit by accident. Even with that button remapped to something more innocuous, I still find myself brushing it occasionally while holding my push-to-talk button and cutting myself off mid-instruction/rant/dirty joke.

Both mice are nerd approved on the grounds of the thumb-grid. The naga’s scroll wheel, after getting back to one that works properly on the g600, would now definitely be a deal breaker for me though, and the current iteration of razer software utterly blows. Got a lot of skills or macros you need in a hurry? There’s worse ways to go about getting to ‘em.

Unexpected Sights

July 28, 2012 - 3:40 pm 3 Comments

Some people you really don’t expect to see playing Mario Kart Wii. Let alone being that damn good at it that quickly.

…though it’s gratifying to see that some phenomenon are universal.

Trouble Brewing

May 16, 2012 - 8:46 pm 26 Comments

Because content only a few people will care about beats no content…

Stingray plays a subtlety rogue. I play a protection paladin. He has the legendary daggers. Right now he is making me take full advantage of the fact that I have two taunts and a threat/damage wipe.

Rogues to be emergency offtanks in next expansion

I’ll hurt the first son of a bitch who gives it to him.

Thinkyless Linky

May 11, 2012 - 7:06 pm 11 Comments

Fashion It So, which has been distracting me thoroughly and hilariously for the last two days and looks to keep right on truckin’ through the weekend until I run out of archive. The thing about pretty much all incarnations of Trek is that it’s like a lasagna of good, bad, and cheesy, and the bad and the cheesy are actually as much a part of the appeal as the good. It’s kind of like a stadium hot dog in that sense. You take your servings of bad with the good because it’s part of the experience, and wouldn’t be the same without it. The people writing this blog are watching Trek for pretty much exactly the same basic reason I am, except vastly more focused on the costuming choices.

25 Minutes of Cave Johnson

So the context for this is the folks at Valve had Cave Johnson’s voice actor record a whole bunch of new lines for a new level creator downloadable content package for Portal 2, so that the lines play more or less at random at the beginning of created levels. That’s actually not really important, nor is having played any Portal game ever or knowing who the hell Cave Johnson is. This is all of those lines stitched together in a 25 minute sequence. The experience of hitting “play” on this is like having a mad scientist CEO who took acting lessons from the William Shatner school of scenery chewing come into your work space and emit a stream of consciousness. It’s the best background to reading my news feeds I have ever experienced. chariots chariots

David Sunflower Seeds now comes with a reclosable zip-top bag, so you don’t have to rip an awkwardly sized hole in it that you optimistically try to crumple closed after you’re done with your feed seed bag for the moment. Stingray, who always has various seed and nut bags in various stages of consumption strewn around his desk because he is actually a parrot, is very excited about this.

LF Raiders

February 24, 2012 - 9:56 pm Comments Off

Because every once in awhile, it works.

Steamwheedle Cartel-US, Hordeside, Reprisal, 10 man runs, two teams, one on Wed-Fri and one on Tue-Thursday, 8:45 server start time, two hour run time. We need a healer for the Tuesday-Thursday team, and could broadly use more DPS for either, as we’re running low on people that can be consistent and more padding is better than fishing around for alts. A tank, especially one with a strong DPS offspec, wouldn’t be unwelcome either. Warlocks, priests, and hunters are particularly welcome. A resto or elemental shaman would be particularly welcome for Tu/Thu but not so much Wed/Fri.

Ping Thraps, Jujutan, or Emming on that server/faction if interested. Or here.

I Was Busy Tonight

January 27, 2012 - 8:18 pm Comments Off

And this will mean jackall to 99% of you. Occupy Nerd Ranch!

U mad, Bro?

YO JOE!

QFT

October 21, 2011 - 3:47 pm Comments Off

*peers* Are you there? We’re not. Blizzcon started today. We’re alternately playing with Tank*, eating popcorn, and making fun of Chris Metzen.

So here’s someone else’s snark to fill your time:

A: What do you think of Ron Paul’s budget plan to gut all research?

B: We’ve all played Civ IV. Sure, you’re strapped for cash now, but cutting back will kill your tech tree, and the next thing you know “China has completed Space Ship Stasis Chamber” and Julius Caesar is trying to eat your face.

New blogger, old friend. Not much there yet but there will be.

*One of the things that cemented his name was friend and guildmate Vertel commenting, on hearing of the wasp attack, “Bear tanks with his FACE. …. Actually that kinda works.” He always has resembled a polar bear cub more than anything else…