Why do game designers do incredibly idiotic things?

You can watch my detailed video about it or read the summary below.

I recently got an SSD and only now realized the full magnitude to something that bothered me a while ago.

The game: The Witcher 3
This game featured plenty of eyebrow-furling things. Some of them got fixed later, but the really stupid stuff actually kept coming. I’ll only focus on one issue here though that has existed all the time since the game was released.

When you load a savegame, you get a simple 2D-animated sequence and a speaker recounts the story position at the time of the savestate. That animation looks a lot like scripted to eventually end in a loop state until the load process has finished.
When it does finish, for a brief moment a regular loading screen pops up, with a nice picture and a loading animation, which looks kinda sloppy, but shows that there actually is an alternative mode for this.

Well, here comes the kicker: To use one example, you watch a loading process where the speaker talks for 18 seconds and the whole process takes 43 seconds until the game has finished loading, with the animated sequence looping for the rest of the time.
Damn, this game has long load times!

No, actually not, it’s just trolling you by deliberately wasting your time. While the devs for some reason decided to later add subtitles to those sequences that you cannot turn off even if you want to because you’re not deaf and have seen that story bit plenty of times anyway, what they never did is AT LEAST add an info telling you when the loading process has finished and you can now enter the game if you press a key. That would be the MINIMUM. That could actually be an optional feature, but not really that important when the loading process isn’t of patience-testing length, which it wouldn’t be without this artificial delay.

Here is another minor example of bad design decisions: The game has super-beautiful graphics, but taking screenshots without UI requires (not-so-ideal) fan mods, while a low-budget indie game shows how it’s done.

Not resetting warranty period after RMA sends a bad message

Looking at implications is a thing I do a lot.

You know how it is common practice in some areas that if you return a defective product you either get a used one as replacement or even if you get a new one the original warranty period continues and is not reset?
This is common, yes, but it is also bad style. What the manufacturer is basically saying is this:

You are not buying a product. You are signing an open-ended usage contract with a minimum guaranteed length. We don’t think our product should be of proper quality and last at least x years, but that you are buying x years of product use. If we keep selling you crap, it is your problem that will haunt you to and beyond the eventual end of the contract. Don’t expect to have a useful product beyond the warranty period.

Why China’s information policy is less worrisome than the Wild West’s

The rogue always likes to divert attention from their malice by accusing others of what he himself does.
Western governments are always eager to condemn China for their policies in regards to information flow. The rogues are the Wild West.

China doesn’t hide it. It is totally open and admitted that they are censoring certain aspects of information flow and beyond. And not only does that openness hint at the nature of the thing, but they have some good reasons for it that would even weaken the condemnations of the Chinese government allegedly merely wanting to stay in power for power’s sake.

The USA are an empire, and the empire uses many different means to expand its influence. That is all a form of war. If no missiles fly, then computer viruses might go to work or people are rallied with lies to topple their democratic government. Just to name a few.
Another weapon of the empire is the spread of culture. And this is the openly stated reason for what the Chinese government does. They are aware that the USA will do whatever they can to slowly convert China, this to the paragon of capitalism huge delicious economy, into a vassal.
Any restrictive policies of China or any other more or less unadmitted enemy of the empire need to be seen in this context. And even this necessary defense reaction against covert aggression is being exploited by the empire and used as a weapon. For they know that if they practice such an onslaught, the people of the target country might eventually become dissatisfied due to the restrictions. And then the empire only needs to succeed in telling the people lies and divert attention away from the true motivations for such measures. Then the people would, in ignorance, fight that which tries to protect them from those very lies and culture of corruption.

Naturally this will not be a pretty process. But in all cases people need to understand the big picture. (And they need to understand that I’m not talking about flatscreen TVs here.)

Now look at what power China has. It is a strong country. They resist the imperialist pressure. But now look at North Korea. They are much less powerful, but are subject to the same pressure. If they didn’t have nukes, they’d be a ‘McDonald’s outpost’ now.

Don’t blame the small party in massively asymmetrical warfare. That’s the rogues’ game.

And now let’s compare China to the USA and its vassals: Daily propaganda, lies, distortions, deceptions, omissions. News media censoring itself, massively, covertly, while spreading the myth of openness and freedom. Again, the rogue keeps talking about that which they don’t feature. Constant repetition hammers it into people’s heads, and egoes are tickled with honeyed words and pleasant self-perceptions.

That is the mark of fascism.

And now traitor politicians try to enforce a free trade agreement (TTIP) with that fascist system while insulting the people who oppose it AND letting them pay for TTIP propaganda ads with their tax money. It is disgusting, and people swallow too much of this crap. Too afraid of repressions from their government. Another trait of a fascist country.
Just like the mafia can bully business owners into compliance, the government mafia, the great crime syndicate, has bullied people into submission. They might speak, they might act, but only when it is allowed to, not when it is right and should be allowed to.

The Cruel God Fallacy

Some people say things like: How can God allow such horrific suffering? I thought he is loving.

Some people greatly enjoy watching/reading Game of Thrones, or any other kind of great drama, with death and emotional agony and all that.
Do people say how the creators are so cruel and condemn them? No. People enjoy drama. Because it touches them emotionally. Pleasantly and unpleasantly. Feeling is the key; it is favored. It makes people relate. The writers themselves might be very emotionally attached to their works. And there the big picture is what matters. They love the whole thing and don’t (necessarily) play favorites.

Now how can you (being a part of God’s creation) imply that God has any different relationship with his creation? He, too, appreciates a good show/story, exploration of an experience. And thus life is enriched with emotions, without which life would literally feel dead.
And you cannot have one pole without the other. Even if you could, then the exploration would not be perfect. The exploration of infinite possibilities. Because that is the positive message in the fact that anything can exist, no matter how horrible: It demonstrates those infinite possibilities actively at work. Anything could happen. And when you embrace that, it opens your heart, and when you open your heart to it, you can enjoy it.
That’s the irony of profound wisdom: Bad stuff will happen till the end of time, but if you don’t conditionalize the good stuff based on the bad stuff, then the latter loses power over you. This is a lesson that cannot be understood. It can only be experienced, felt, internalized. Don’t expect it to be quick or easy. It just happens when you move towards it. Which means not subjecting it to conditions, because that’s a good way to slow it down. That’s not at all what love is about.
If you manage to love the whole work of art, you will have an understanding with the creator. And that is something, haha.

This is, as all paths of overcoming suffering, about releasing the mind’s control.
Love will always be your loyal ally, and fear will always be your fierce enemy. Do your best not to collude with the enemy. You have the absolutely most powerful ally at your disposal.
But don’t worry, there is no dead end. When fear really gets you, it will make love become so much more worth giving attention.

Scold people for doing bad things if you like, but scolding God seems silly.
Who do you think you are? 😉

Don’t torture yourself.

Discretion – a dying art?

I found two things in one day that helped me allay worries about my donations request for what I do, have done, will be doing, my fledgling endeavors at self-fulfillment.

The first one is something that reminded me of the fact that there are people who upload shows on Piratebay and then advertise their frickin’ Facebook page and ask for follows! (That changes the whole thing quite a bit, just as it does when someone uses a pirated Photoshop not for testing/practice/private hobby but for profit. – As a for-profit brony media site was caught doing a while ago.)

I found a Youtube channel (through Youtube’s “related channels” advertising section) that has nothing but uploads of unaltered snippets of MLP episodes. (Thus no creative contribution whatsoever, merely providing of content.) And there I found a Patreon link where the channel owner was presenting the following case:
– He(or she) has got a job.
– That job no longer leaves time or motivation for uploading those snippets. (As if such isn’t the absolute minimum of effort possible.)
– Sadly(!) he also can’t monetize that copyrighted material because Hasbro does. (That implied intention made me go WTF.)

I don’t even know what word fits this mindset, but lack of discretion comes close. Such discretion enables that five can be called even sometimes and both sides get along if they can find an elegant compromise.
These extremes will contribute the most to (re)building the fear that makes businesses like Hasbro so protective – especially considering that said Youtube channel also uses a character name like a brand name, like an official representation.
(There’s a related thing where people just re-upload other people’s music to populate their channel and call themselves “music promoter”. Further audacity points if they have a disclaimer á la “Tell me if I should remove something ans I will” that signals they didn’t even check whether they are allowed to.)

Man! Apparently my standards were way too high, causing myself unnecessary worry, at least in comparison to some stuff that is going on in the open.

Well, and the second thing today that further solidified the message was this:

http://www.horse-news.net/2015/12/blackgryph0n-michelle-creber-now.html

I recommend reading the whole thing including all comments, because it is a multi-faceted issue. But the critique is at least to some degree justified.

I guess I would have a sprawling career by now if I had approached things like that. Instead I’m dealing with a severe imbalance between what I am capable of and what I was able to put into motion. (And going the hard way towards making stuff happen.)

As for commentary on the Brown/Creber case, the whole document pretty much speaks for itself, but I’d like to point out again how that case is very much like Drawponies, showing how much of people’s moral outrage is actually fueled by personal agenda and how much that determins popularity. If other people (with a popular name, too – guess where it came from) in the same business feel stepped on their toes, they will tweet about it and the issue becomes big. But when it’s like in the case of The Living Tombstone and charity song collabs, one musician doesn’t want to badmouth another one in fear of becoming the target of the same critique, yet all restraint falls away when it’s about money and influence, about business.

Every crisis, every drama is a result of tensions and thus inherently justified to happen, as a means for finding better ways. This view is part of practicing acceptance of everything that emerges. Even if you fight something, it could still either mean you accept the experience or you resist.

Why it is OK to negatively criticize a free game

You’ve probably read it a couple of times. There’s a free game, say, on Steam, and people complain about stuff and then others talk down to them, claiming since it’s a free game, they are bad people.

So let me widen the perceptual horizon here.

Justified critique is totally fine, especially considering that a freely published game, especially on a highly-frequented platform like Steam, is often a promotion instrument, a skill demo, so it’s not exactly for the pure love of the world. You’de be surprised how many people are way more egoistically motivated than they pretend to be. But you’d only be surprised when you find out, and you only find out when you can manage to put them to the test. (I’m digressing slightly here.)
Furthermore, critique is free consulting, so they’re actually getting a good deal. I mean, there are game devs who are totally inept design-wise, publish a piece of crap of a game, then collect the tons of critique and get to work implementing the suggestions and thus don’t need to be anything but a hacker monkey who is being force-fed with game design training. That business scheme seems especially popular with early access. People will even pay for crap and on top of that give you free consulting services, all fueled by the hope that the game becomes great one day.
In the most extreme case, an early access game is little more than: “OK, I made an empty world space. Pay up, then I’ll allow you to tell me what you want in it and I’ll put it there. (Unless I don’t want to.) Isn’t that great? Your own personal ideas implemented in a totally not generic game. Your ego must be so st(r)oked right now. Buy your own little piece of immortality today!
And the next day there’s an empty space with a pickaxe and a zombie.

I was inspired to write this when I learned about a free Steam game (Serena) that had some issues related to Steam being crap and Valve not caring (the usual), and I read up about the game, and it’s advertised as “…the result of a massive collaborative effort between dozens of fans and designers of adventure games.” while when you press ESC that story-progression-type game immediately quits, without so much as a confirmation dialogue. Unbelievable? Well, I’ve seen some wacky things. Totally justified to go “Dude! What the hell?!

Speaking of incompetence: Is there any major internet business that hasn’t made it its mission to destroy any usability? As I am writing this, I have to switch between Visual and HTML view, because HTML view doesn’t have quick formatting, but requires me to add code manually, while Visual doesn’t know what a line break is (!), yet in HTML view it doesn’t even need/show the code for it.
I’m not even gonna explain how to do it more elegantly. They need to figure such basics out themselves. My consulting services aren’t for free, since my expertise is apparently scarce.

The silliness of consumers purchasing M-DISCs

Clever business move to offer archival-tech optical media (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-DISC) to the consumer market. But I have to chuckle/facepalm when I read people mentioning how their 10 years old burned CDs aren’t readable anymore, so now, in the year 2015 where optical media are close to suffering the same fate that the floppy disc once did, people are paying insane prices for optical discs that will reliably last hundreds of years. What a comedy. For much less they could have transferred their data to fresh media if it’s so important to them to not just store them on a flash drive or hadddisk. And who knows? Maybe their old discs would still be alright if they had bought quality ones back then.

BTW this isn’t even relevant to people who still play their music from CDs, because M-DISCs are available for DVD and BD only. And pressed CDs have good longevity anyway, so you’ll have your originals as archive for a long time.

Even in the area of professional archival storage there are good technology competitors to optical M-DISC media. This is a niche technology, very useful for a very small number of applications. And not a surprise that such things come towards the end of a technology’s life. Because it’s business – focused on profit, not on usefulness. Shows how well it works to sell people stuff they don’t need.

And not that it would be relevant due to what I just pointed out, but even their marketing is deceptive, too. (As marketing so often is.) They advertise more than 1000 years of data storage, but if you dig a little for details, you learn that that doesn’t mean error-free. The time span in which you can call it virtually guaranteed that all data is still safely readable is significantly lower. … Yeah, the horribly truth is that in 100 years from now you might have to go through the hassle of transferring all your M-DISC data to quantum crystal storage, haha. What a drag. … Oh wait, in 100 years you’re dead! … And in 1000 years your distant offspring won’t even remember there ever was such a thing as M-DISCs, because even the few organisations who once made use of them will have switched to a different technology long ago. If the organisations still exist.

Fear seeks fear, love seeks love

Imagine a rich man, driving expensive cars and everything. Some people would say: “You should give me some of your money, you have so much and I so little.” They arrogantly, in mental convenience, disregard any possible hardships that person might have gone through to make it happen. Yes, there are many rich people who got it through ruthlessness and uncaring, but you don’t know a stranger’s story. Maybe the guy with the feeling of entitlement even would have been rich himself if he hadn’t spent all his money. Maybe he has led a relatively enjoyable life, but still wants more.
Imagine the added difficulty that such envious people can pose for your efforts to fulfill a dream. Those who choose to live the problem are often the ones expecting the cure to stoop to their level and join them in their misery so that it doesn’t cause them mental inconvenience. The same mental inconvenience that made them choose to live the problem.
(Right now I remember a symbolically related scene from What Dreams May Come.)

I am not rich, but I have other qualities that have equally been under attack for as long as I can think back. I always had a fine sense for the smell of something rotten in people and an equal sensitivity that made it impossible for me to give in to that like many others do.
And such people are not satisfied with making my life a hell with their silly jealousy, but further burden me with their envious resentment for still exerting the strength to defend the best in me against their very repression efforts. The more I suffer under it, the more they claim it unnatural and unreasonable to resist their barrage. They hate that I make their weakness visible to them through exemplary contrast. By this they are sliding down further in their own hell, too, and feed their nemesis. I don’t like filling that role at all, but it is not my choice. All I want is to be myself; the best that I can be. Those who are too inflexible to accept that can just fuck off, for they only cause me more grief. The more they build their castle of avoidance, the more difficult it might be to figure them out. It is an impressive castle, after all. But a cold one. And any effort you invest in them they can shatter in an instant.

I had virtue and they tried to destroy my self-respect. They made me a virtuous altruist. Eventually I became too sick of their shit. They made me a virtuous egotist. Now they’re really fucked. Because now they’re not only in misery, but alone in their misery; without help. I am alone in my virtue. Not caring for those who have shown to not deserve it will be a win for those who do deserve it, and thus for me, too.
Very many people are just too damn inept to comprehend win-win situations.
Well, no surprise there. As I often point out: Fear makes stupid.

Have you ever tried to make yourself less intelligent? You can’t with love. But fear does it all the time. If fear is your enemy and not your friend, don’t even try. You will only torture yourself.

People may not know that they fell. They don’t want to know. They see themselves in pressing, relentless action and consider themselves daring and courageous, not realizing when they have built or invited a strong fear-motivation for themselves that keeps them busy with building their cold castle. They are merely productive.

In some people you can only feel it. In others you can also see it.

We don’t need people to do more. We need people to realize what they are doing.

The Mary Sue of SF/fantasy races

Wikipedia: “In fan fiction, a Mary Sue or, in case of a male character, Gary Stu or Marty Stu is an idealized character, often but not necessarily an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment.”

Humans – In many works of science fiction and fantasy in general they could be considered the Mary Sue race, in a special way, through relation to others. (Because as soon as there is a race that puts humans to shame, the common definition wouldn’t work anymore. But such a race could still be a clichée. I just couldn’t find a better way to name this trope.)

I understand that often alien races are a tool for reflecting certain human traits for closer examination and exploration of specific aspects, e.g. for showing us the mirror, but it can also be considered lazy writing and could even fuel a certain hubris.
Did you notice how other races are often just a sub-section of human cultures/psyche/behavior etc.? People would ask things like “What is this race like?” Imagine an ET visitor asked you to tell him what humans are like, what kind of a species they are. Weird question, isn’t it?
It reminds me of how in Star Trek they eventually loosened that view and fixed some of the clichée when they revealed that “warrior Klingons” was just the generalized assumption because Starfleet had mostly just interacted with their military and thus in their narrow-mindedness probably never have considered that there are wise, peaceful Klingon teachers and all kinds of people like that. In a way, here the evolution of Star Trek lore over time serves its own exploration of human nature and our experience of life.