schemes

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.

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The Powerpuff Girls being lawful stupid

There are various Powerpuff Girls episodes that I could comment on about how much is wrong with them, but there is one where the theme of it bugs me so much because it has a connection to what’s going wrong in real life, so I’d like to elaborate:

The episode is “Bought and Scold”. This is one messed-up Powerpuff Girls epispode. But as I hinted at, it also shows how messed up the world can be and how easy it can be to fool people in the most obvious way and get away with it. (e.g. with the “monetary system” pyramid scheme)

Here’s what happened:
Princess, the spoiled brat of a rich father, becomes mayor. Her daddy bought the office from the mayor. This could be seen as very cynical, since it’s not legit at all. But this is still just the realm of usual PPG writing simplicity, since you just have to accept that the mayor is also pretty much the owner of the city.
The Ganggreen Gang starts harassing kids in school and the PPG learn that Princess has become mayor and officially declared crime legal. Tons of crime-committing and voluntary freeing of prison inmates ensues. This is where it begins to really get messed up. Because the prisoners are serving their prison sentence for crimes they committed when they were still illegal. So now one has to assume that the new law is meant retroactively.

The PPG have a total mind blockage and are sad that they can’t do anything. While I despair watching this, because they could just beat up Princess and throw her in jail, since that’s not a crime anymore. This would have resolved the situation immediately and in a very ironic way, or you could even call it Salomonic wisdom.
But it didn’t happen, and this is like a metaphor for the world where people are so much trapped in an authority-follower mindset that they are unable to just do what is right and make that their authority. Too scared to take responsibility for their actions. That mindset reveals how many so-called law-abiding citizens are actually anarchists, since they freely accept tyrants as legit, while they’d have plenty of reasons not to do so. They are basically the villains, the crooks. … We are all anarchists at the core. If we choose to give up our freedoms, that is our own decision.

So eventually the PPG realize a solution: They steal all the stuff from Princess’ residence, thus making her become the victim of her own new law. Not really what I had hoped for, because this is what happens next:
Princess is all whiny and wants the stuff back to avoid making her dad angry, so she writes a new law making crime illegal again. At this point they finally ruined the opportunity to unmake all the idiocy, since they again acknowledged the legitimacy of the usurpation of the mayor office, which makes the PPG villains, too. (Unless you consider buying the mayor office legal, which you could do in the context of the show and it would still make the episode messed up.) Well, anyway, with the new law they go out and start punishing and rounding up. Not only reactively, but they also for example beat up the Ganggreen Gang that was at the time just chilling on a playground. So this sends the message that the new law, too, is to be understood retroactively, making all past committed actions of malice crimes, too.

But THEN the writers break with this very principle that has been validated twice in the episode:
Princess wants all the stuff back before her dad wakes up and makes trouble, but the PPG claim that they made everything right but that apparently none of the crooks took her stuff. She then realizes that the PPG were the ones who took her stuff and talks about having them arrested, and then comes the whammy: They say she can’t do that since they took her stuff while crime was legal, so she can’t do anything and all her stuff is the PPG’s now! And now it’s Princess’ turn to have a total mind blockage. She begs she’d do anything and thus she gives up the mayor office and gets her stuff back.

Isn’t that blackmail? Or bribery? That’s not unlike how Princess got the mayor position in the first place.
So is crime legal now, or not?
The PPG would have to put themselves in jail now. The outrageous hypocrisy: Obeying the law when it’s crooked, but not obeying that same law when it doesn’t serve your own agenda.

The truth is: Monarchy, democracy, republic, dictatorship, theocracy … they’re all built on anarchy. They’re all ideas offered to the people that you can follow or not, but it’s your decision. Many democracies these days are actually anarchist bully-style oppression schemes where a complicit majority doesn’t allow the minority to live high values of humaneness. Where it’s “Vote Dick Tator for President!”.

It’s really sad when superheroes are protrayed as easy victims of such mind games. Especially superheroes like the PPG who so often like to resolve issues by beating people up. I couldn’t even comfortably call them lawful neutral, since they don’t have a proper understanding of the law. They are more like lawful stupid, at least in this episode. And that’s a problem that so many people share and why we have so much suffering in the world.

P.S.: Ms. Keane is generally the icon of what is wrong with many teachers and how much harm they are doing. But that’s another story.