On top of completely failing to provide what anyone could consider a satisfactory customer experience with the SimCity debacle it has also come to light that there is a massive security hole in Origin; EA's digital distribution service and trojan DRM.
The exploit involves using custom URL's, which origin uses to launch games, to sneak a malicious DLL files onto your system. A similar problem was discovered to exist in Valve's Steam client last year. Both issues are, as yet, to be addressed.
Similarly an exploit in EA's free to play Battlefield game has been discovered, If you are using Windows XP or Windows 2003 and are running the Battlefield free to play game. Again, a malicious URL can be used to execute the game. Because of how the free to play games update system works it will load a “MOD” that is actually several files, one of which is a .BAT file which can be used to wreak havoc on vulnerable systems.
Revealed at last weeks Black Hat security conference in Amsterdam, these security breaches in conjunction with the failure of SimCity's fundamental service paints a picture of gross contempt for consumers on the part of EA. These security holes were discovered in February but information about various security problems inherent in the use of URL's in handling game launch shortcuts has been floating around since the same security flaw was found in Steam last year.
Still more examples of EA's failures to provide adequate service for their customers continue to arise. EA's insistence on using always on-line DRM to sate their ravenous paranoia about the effects of piracy. The main effect that customers have noticed from piracy in the case of SimCity is a better game experience if they did so themselves.
I've heard of side scrolling adventures but I've never heard of a top to bottom scrolling adventure. UNTILL NOW!
Scrollin' Adventure is a “Rock n' Scroll World-Wide-WEBSCAPADE”. Brought to you by the good folks at College Humour and submitted by Caldwell Tanner is a browser based adventure game where you play the roll of a silent and nameless protagonist. Your anonymity leaves endless opportunity for role play as you journey through various zones you find yourself with numerous challenges to overcome and nothing but your humble mouse to defend yourself. Some might say that the puzzles are kind of trial and error and that the controls can be kind of repetitive but I found the whole experience to be quite therapeutic in that regard.
The monotony of the overall calm and steady game-play is peppered with a few moments of true tension as you decide to either avoid pitfalls such as the Click Me Cat or the Free iPads Cat or take the chance for a potentially massive payout (such as a FREE iPAD!). Some may say that the combat has little in the way of diversity but I found the system to be entirely in keeping with the overall tone of the game. Once you reach the truly terrifying Scroll Troll (artfully rendered in PixelArt) and deftly deal with that situation you will see exactly what I mean.
Narrated on your journey by an unnamed, yet remarkably witty, story teller who doubles as the fundamental driving force of the game, this raconteur alternates between gentle encouragement and vicious derision depending on your performance. The result of which is a burning desire to achieve. Much as one strives to satisfy a disappointed father figures vicarious dreams and aspirations.
The writing really isn't all heavy and preachy though. SA demonstrates some of the finest comedy game writing I have seen since the likes of Sam and Max. Once you reach the “Wintermediary” stage you know that you are truly dealing with an incorrigible comedic talent.
This free game is funded by in game advertisement which sounds terrible but is actually seamlessly blended into the overall aesthetic of the interface. In fact I completely missed the advert for “Jynx body yoghurt” on my first play through.
While a truly engaging and immersive experience Scrollin' Adventure IS a little on the short side, taking approximately 10 minutes to complete. But for what it is, it is a truly thought provoking creative, imaginative and, in a lot of ways, satirical take on gaming and the gaming industry as a whole. LOVED the final boss.
Games have a problem. A lot of the time they aren't about anything. And often, the ones that are about SOMETHING aren't about anything important. With development budgets that stretch into the millions and $60 price tags I frankly find it insulting that the money I spend on games, that often promise lofty features such as “deep and immersive story telling” or an “emotional experience”, rarely deliver in these areas.
Well something has happened. In recent years indie developers have really been giving it their all to take up the slack that the triple A developers have been all too happy to pave over with advertising money.
Depression Quest is a new game brought to you by the compulsively creative Zoe Quinn and the games critic Patrick Lindsey with music by Isaac Schankler. Depression Quest is more of a browser based interactive story book than a game really but certainly falls into the category of a gamified story book.
If you have any personal experience of living with depression you will find something profoundly relatable in the “Over 40k words of interactive fiction“. And if you have ever been close to someone with depression or with a different experience of depression from your own, you will find yourself coming out the other side with a greater understanding of their plight.
It takes a good hour to complete a play-through and its free to play at their website. There is a pay-what-you-want option which I strongly encourage you to use. A portion of the proceeds will go to supporting iFred “a charity that aims to fight back against depression and the stigma against it.”
In Depression Quest you play as a nameless “mid-twenties human being” (I guess it was going to be gender neutral at one point) who struggles with depression. As the story unfolds you make decisions about how you're going to deal with various situations, mainly related to social functions and interactions with other people including your girlfriend and family and how best to function in the world with the constant obstacle of your condition.
At the bottom of the page there is a 3 part summary which displays the status and efficacy of your condition, treatment (if any) and medication (if any).
The decisions you make as you proceed through the, well thought out narrative, guide, not only where the story will take you, but also, depending on how you feel as a result of the consequences of those decisions, what options are open to you at all.
You can't go from “make an excuse to stay home” to “Socialize enthusiastically” from one question to the next. Illustrating how, while suffering depression, its not a matter of whether or not you take these avenues but instead how it feels like many of the possibilities in life are not even open to you at all.
This extends to the point where if you make a few destructive decisions you can quickly find yourself in a downward spiral that makes you unwilling to seek professional help or even talk to those closest to you about your problems thus reinforcing the destructive downward spiral you set yourself on.
There are a few criticisms to be made though. There are a few typo's and syntax errors peppered throughout the story (which is entirely text based) and I have a hard time believing that people so close to you would ever be under the impression that “you just get a little sad sometimes” is an acceptable explanation for your quite clearly depressive behaviour. In reality they perhaps may not exactly KNOW but at the same time would understand that there's more to it than just being a little sad sometimes.
Nitpicking aside I believe that Depression Quest achieved exactly what it set out to do and is something of a triumph in story telling while carrying an important message.
*has struggled with emotional problems from an early age*