Aug 052011

This was a big week for fans of loot-whoring RPGs, yeah?

Diablo III to have always-on DRM, no modding, real-money transactions: Let’s not beat around the bush here or buy in to Blizzard’s frankly insulting rationalizations for the always-online requirement. These are not choices in favor of optimization, they represent DRM that can only make the single-player experience worse. The no-modding choice in particular takes a dump on one of the great advantages of the PC. I can’t say I care one way or another about paying real money for digital swords, nor would it matter: that ship has sailed, returned to harbor laden with riches from distant lands, and sailed again. This is a case where I can vote with my dollars, though, so Runic Games probably owes Activision-Blizzard a thank-you note. The story’s amusing coda is presented by Blizzard’s Robert Bridenbecker, whose bewildered response to the outcry is so larded with PR-speak it barely seems like a communication from a human being.

Borderlands 2 coming in fiscal 2013, nobody surprised: As I mentioned recently, Borderlands is a decent enough title, but I don’t feel any real pull to move forward in it. The graybrown wasteland of Pandora isn’t a place I feel particularly interested in exploring, and Borderlands is missing some elements that helped make Diablo and its myriad clones such compelling lootfests. I’m more interested in this to see if Gearbox can bounce back from the poor reception of Duke Nukem Forever. “More of the same” might not be enough to accomplish that.

Randy Pitchford is a dick: An interesting subplot to that Borderlands announcement is Randy Pitchford’s response to the first story broken about the game (before the official announcement was made), which was to deny that the game was in development and to call the story “shoddy journalism”. Obviously, it can be a little jarring when news you meant to keep under wraps breaks before the planned PR cycle. In these situations, however, a simple “no comment” will suffice, unless you are a tremendous jackass, in which case I guess the plan is to lie and then call the reporter a poopyhead. Part of the reason games journalism sucks is that gamers don’t demand (or reward) better. But another important part is that game developers want it to suck, because crappy journalism puts them in control, and when they lose control they freak out.

Phantom corporation funds Romney: Reportedly, a company popped into existence, gave a pro-Romney super PAC $1 million, then promptly dissolved. Now that the template is established, we should expect more of these shenanigans on both sides, a completely predictable outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and Republican filibustering of the DISCLOSE act. At last, we will learn how much it costs to buy a Presidency, though we may never know exactly which corporations made the purchase.

Now Playing:
Catherine – I am not feeling it. Only on the third night, but thus far it feels like a contrived, poorly-paced slice-of-life anime stapled unceremoniously to an unrelated block puzzler for no real reason. I hate all the characters and honestly don’t care what happens to Vincent.
Deus Ex – Have I ever mentioned that I really like Deus Ex? I really like Deus Ex.

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