Letters to the Editor

Editor’s Choice


In response to “Wandering Stars” from The Escapist Forum: This “A-Team of video-game design” sounds awesome. Makes me wonder how much better the quality of games would be if they were an international organization. Or are they? I seriously can’t get it out my head that it’s just four guys speeding around in a van to save the day from poor video-game concepts.



In response to “Leveling the Playing Field” from The Escapist Forum: At some point the tax break is, like the silver bullet reference, just a symbol for people. Even if the ultimate benefits are negligible it helps people feel like they’re doing a good job and that the country they’re in does care and support them. More substantive than a gift basket, less useful than a scholarship program for the computer sciences.

Every bit counts I guess.

L.B. Jeffries

In general tax breaks are bad under these circumstances, as the article pointed out along with tax breaks come a demand that the goverment[sic] be given an increasing say in what is produced. This leads to more censorship when we’re already having trouble getting violence, and sexual content through the process unmolested. Not to mention the fact that attention-whoring nitwits are trying to bring racial issues into games and nearly EVERY game from Drakensang to Resident Evil 5 to Street Fighter IV has has at least a mild accusation of racism thrown at it in the last few years. Tax breaks of course means that the same overblown standards of political correctness that apply to other media (and oftentimes ruin it as many have criticized) will be applied to games.

Drakensang for example got the question about “where are all the black folks” in a game loosely based on ancient Germany… and this despite the prescence[sic] of an Arabic race of Spellcasters (playable). This leading to a discussion on at least one forum about “how dark someone needs to be to be black” and whether deep urban slang and an attitude is needed for it to not be a racist depiction. Detracting of course from any discussion about the game itself.

The goverment gets involved, and next thing you know we’ve got Fifty Cent stomping around the ancient world, firing his crossbow sideways “Gangsta style” despite the obvious implausible technique that would imply… Laugh if you want, and even think that the stereotype above is in it’s own way racist. HOWEVER that is exactly where things are going to go with video game “affirmitive[sic] action” which is going to come about with goverment involvement at least in the US (and I can assume the same would apply in Europe if they adapted to the same standards).

As far as the industry succeeding, well it comes down to the fact that the corperate[sic] process has never been good at producing original works. That takes the “bedroom coders” so to speak. As more money is involved corperations are less likely to take risks, but the longer they keep spewing out the same stuff the more they need those risks to be taken. The problem is compounded when YESTERDAY’s “bedroom coder”, long since out of viable ideas, has an office and is defending his job against the young turks, and uses his reputation to turn out mediocre product after mediocre product with the company figuring “ahh well, he’s breaking even, maybe genius will strike again”.

Letting the current game companies fall is ultimatly[sic] good for the game industry. The demand will still be there, it will simply mean new companies will rise to replace them, with their own generation of “Bedroom programmers” providing the inspiration. Propping up the game industry just means more people buying the GRAQ/Unreal/Havoc engines, reskinning them, and turning out more and more derivitive[sic] crud.


What an incredibly biased article!

Della Rocca is American, and most American’s think any tax breaks is the dastardly road to a socialist state (cf: Therumancer’s inaccurate and ill informed raving above)

There are no facts, figures or direct quotes in the article at all, just a vague reference to some survey.

And where’s the counterpoint? Where’s mention of the positive things tax breaks supply to an industry? Where’s the argument of the cultural dominance of the USA and how tax breaks can support varied cultures and smaller studios?


Editor’s note: Jason Della Rocca is a Canadian, born in Montreal.


In response to “An Elite Presence” from The Escapist Forum: I am also old enough to remember playing Elite on my Amstrad CPC6128. It was probably the first game which required prolonged playtime, but rewarded it with a genuine feeling of progression. I remember competing with friends who played the game on their machines – we were all wondering how cool it would be to fight each other with the ships we piloted. These days, all the things promised by Elite are widespread features, yet none of today’s games seem to offer the same kind of experience.

Funnily enough, when trying to come up with games offering a comparable experience to that of Elite, the only ones that come to mind are Captive and its sequel Liberation, by Antony Crowther, ie. another British programmer. Coincidence?


Bedroom programmers definitely helped out the games industry we know today. Heck, some of those games got turned into amazing franchises today. Take Prince of Persia for example. A marvel of a game, which was so ludicrously hard to complete, but some did, and it was hailed a technical dream thanks to an amazing game play premise, realistic gameplay, and smooth graphics.

Also some of the text based games of the time helped improve vast imaginations of the time, which not only helped people think of better stories when playing “dungeons and dragons”, but also would have broadened the imaginations of the game developers we know and love today, and who do we thank for all this? The brave souls who worked in their bedroom making games with the change in their pocket.



In response to “Yak to the Future” from The Escapist Forum: I have to say I’m not convinced. I’m not convinced that zany, off-the-wall games really resonate with the public at large. As much as arcade game designs are returning and gaming is coming full circle I don’t think that people will suddently [sic] start being interested in something they’ve been ignoring in the old arcade days already. Then again I’m one of those people who had Tempest 2000 for the PC and even at 5DM considered it a waste of money (gave it away as a gift later on).


Alright dammit, I’ve got to step in and defend this guy. First off, the light synthesizer is one of the most influential programs in consumer computing I can think of. His was the first, and now it’s been replicated on PS1-3, XBox 1 and 360, Winamp in various incarnations, even Windows Media Player and Apple iTunes. And I applaud the man for taking our concept of gaming into the more abstract areas of perception, whether by using his light synthesis code to create a dreamy atmosphere or by replacing characters with livestock, it all manages to take the piss out of games that lately have been too interested in realism and remind us that anything is possible with a computer. I for one would much rather play Halo reskinned as Hayfield: the Llama Farmer’s Legacy.

Second, watching the Google conference video linked in the article, Minter goes into a little more detail about The Zone and I think from the standpoint of interactivity this is a crucial point. There are a lot of games people have told me to play that I’ve tried and set down after just a couple levels because the INPUT barrier between the game and myself was too difficult. Sometimes it’s more than that even, the game might handle just fine but the design elements (for example TOO MANY CUTSCENES or lots of QUICKTIME EVENTS) just don’t make it interesting to play. Games like Counter-strike kept me hooked for so long (TOO long) because it puts you in the zone: the graphics feed the sound feed the player feed the game, it all works in a loop and the response between the player and the game is so fluid and rewarding that even when the game is whooping your ass you don’t want to stop playing it. This feedback loop is a point that Minter makes that I don’t think should be missed, and I have a feeling his updates of arcade games are more than just reskins, but also more finely tuned experiences.

300lb. Samoan

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