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Lewzr's blog

2:10 PM on 06.19.2015

The high and low cost of semi-modern gaming

It wasn't so long ago that I would have paid about $60 for a brand new video game. That's the going price these days (here in Canada, it's starting to look more like $70 or $80 for a brand new title, actually, but the less ssaid about that the better). Over the last few years though, that's changed, thanks in part to the fact I've been through some financially dry periods where money has been tight.

But it's also changed because the cost of gaming has changed in a lot of ways too. It used to be that if you didn't want to pay $60 for a video game, the best you could hope to do was wait for it to end up in the discount bin at Walmart where you could nab it for $20, which was a steal. Well, $20 isn't a steal anymore. Thanks to Humble Bundles and Steam Sales and digital distribution, I can't remember the last time I paid much more than $5 for a video game.

There downsides to this, of course. I'm certainly not playing brand new games as they come out. I'm at least six months behind on things, maybe even a year. But I don't mind that so much because my steam library right now is almost 300 games strong, and I haven't played more than maybe a quarter of them if I'm lucky, so I've got plenty of gaming to get through while I wait for current titles to end up in a bundle somewhere, or heavily discounted at one of the handful of annual Steam sales.

Which is what inspired me to write this, actually -- the current Summer Sale going on over at Steam, which I've been checking out daily and which, though I've been tempted a few times, I haven't dropped any money on yet. And I've been trying to figure out why. And I think it's because I'm spoiled.

When I see a game that's $10, even if it used to be $40, I think, "Nah, that's too expensive." If I see a game that's dicounted at 75%, I think, "Well, maybe I should wait until it's 80% or 90% -- I mean, that's still a lot of money." Where it used to be $20 was the point where I felt like I was getting a good deal on something, these days it's more like $5, and even then I'm wondering in the back of my mind how long until I get it for $2.

People like me are probably ruining the gaming economy (or at least not helping it), but I can't help it. It's the way I've been trained now, and it's how the game industry has trained me -- wait long enough, and you can get the game a lot cheaper than if you buy it on day one. And these days, with so many games crippled or broken on day one, who doesn't want to wait six months to a year before dropping some cash on it?

Image courtesy of foto76 at


1:03 PM on 01.24.2008

Space Pr0n: The Fox News / Mass Effect / EA / Sexxing Up Controversy

As I'm sure we're all aware by now, Fox News recently ran a less-than well-informed look at BioWare's Mass Effect, specifically the dirty, dirty sex filled virtual-rape mini games that it doesn't, in fact, contain.

Near as I can tell, there's no sense in retreading topics that have already been surely overtread by now -- that Fox News isn't exactly known for its "Fair and Balanced" coverage, that the so-called experts on the show were anything but, that the round-table discussion at the end of the segment was an embarassing example of just how far into the sand members of the news media are apparently willing to stick their heads. But there is one topic that I think maybe hasn't seen quite the degree of attention that it should.

This attack on Mass Effect isn't *just* an attack on Mass Effect. It's an attack on any attempt to introduce mature, adult topics or situations into video games. Which, as video games attempt to grow into their own as a legitimate art form, is something we'll hopefully start to see more and more of. Assuming reactions like this don't turn developers and publishers off this sort of content.

I blogged a few months back about how games really need to try growing up a little bit, how they need to start treating sex and sexual situations in grown up ways. And even though some of the romance subplot in Mass Effect was a little be cheesy, let's be fair, it's a fricking space opera, some degree of cheese is to be expected. And even with all that cheese, the infamous love scene was still handled in a way that was logical within the confines of the games story and the characters' motivations. It wasn't an excuse to showcase ridiculously proportioned jubblies, it didn't turn sex into a goofy porn-inspired mini-game. It tackled the subject respectfully.

And what does Mass Effect get for its trouble? Contempt from a bunch of people who don't have the foggiest idea what they're talking about.

Perhaps the most perverse part of this controversy is the fact that there *are* games out that are much closer to the description that Fox slapped onto Mass Effect. Games where the sole point seems to be getting your virtual avatar a little virtual lovin' from a variety of virtual hotties. So while Fox missed the point by attacking Mass Effect something it isn't even guitly of, they dropped the ball a second time by remaining oblivious to the existence of the sorts of games that are exactly what they accused Mass Effect of being. And while I shudder to imagine how Fox News would have covered Japanese hentai gaming, at least that topic would have given them some excuse for their apparent disgust at the whole thing.

Obviously we've still got a ways to go before adult topics and situations are treated as something more than eye-candy for the lonely, or a way to inspire an awkward stiffy from the gamer who hasn't seen much action lately, but I still think it's someplace the industry needs to start heading towards as we struggle to achieve a greater degree of respect for video games as an art form unto itself. Mass Effect, for all its problems, at least takes one small step in that direction. And for that, they should be commended.   read

3:27 PM on 12.06.2007

C-Blog Oddities

So it seems that if you write a blog post at 3:00 a.m. but decide to keep it hidden so that you can copy-edit in the morning and then make it live, it still ends up posted as of the time that it was originally written, which means that by the time it goes live it's buried somewhere way down on the list of other blogs that have been updated in the last several hours.

Not a huge crisis, but it does mean my last post missed it's brief time on the front page. Not saying it necessarily deserves to be there, or necessarily deserves to have anyone's eyes on it, but I'd like to give it one more chance at a decent life anyway.

You can find it here: The Spawn Campers of Guitar Hero 3.   read

3:00 AM on 12.06.2007

The Spawn Campers of Guitar Hero 3

I'll admit this up front -- I like to play video games, even though I may not always be terribly good at them. Video games, at least at the consumer level are about entertainment, and not competition. Sure, it's always nice to be get a decent score during a Call of Duty 4 match, but even more important is, are you having fun?

And as we all know there are things that other people can do that make the game less fun for the rest of us. Spawn camping, for example. We like to call people who do this sort of thing "douchebags."

Now with a game like Guitar Hero 3, I really didn't think there was much that someone could do to sap my enjoyment from the game. It's a music game. You hold on to the guitar, you hit the notes, you do the best you can do, and if you're by yourself and really into the song, maybe you'll flail your head around and rock out a little bit. Or a lot. Your call.

But I was wrong, of course. You just can never underestimate the will of the douchebags.

I like to play Guitar Hero 3 on hard. I'm not fantastic at it, for sure, but I can mostly hold my own. I'm passable on expert, but on hard I feel like I can hold my own. And who doesn't like to feel that way when they're playing a game online?

So I'll hop into an online match, and I'll select hard, and the guy I'm playing against will select medium, and I'll think, "Okay, that's fair, he wants to feel like he can hold his own. Nothing wrong with that."

Then it'll come to the song selection stage, and I'll try to scroll down to pick a song, but I can't because, I realize, this is best of 1. And the host picks the song.

And then he does. And it's "Through the Fire and Flames."

And I weep.

I used to actually *try* to play this song, but unless you've practiced it to death there's simply no way to keep up to a competent player who's tackling the song on medium. There's no way to win. And they *know* that. That's what makes it so frustrating. It's like being shot in the back of the head the moment you've respawned in the middle of a deathmatch. You can not win.

This is the spawn camping of Guitar Hero 3.

Now I'll usually just quit the match. They'll get the victory they so clearly want, and I'll save my fingers the torture of playing along without any hope at all.

I know there are some solutions to this problem, but they're half-assed at best. Sure, I could restrict my searches for only best of 3 or best of 5 games, but it's a lot harder to find those. I suspect because everyone who's hosting is busy spawn-camping, waiting to fling that horrible song at anyone who crosses their path.

And, sure, I could host my own games, and hope someone stumbles in. And I've done that. And more often than not I get some decent matches that way.

But inevitably, someone comes along with that song. That fucking song.

You know, I'm probably the last person to ever try to tell someone how to play a video game. We all find different things fun. And as long as we're having a good time, that's all that matters.

But there's a fine, fine line between doing your own thing for the sake of good time and being a douchebag.

Don't be a douchebag.   read

12:16 AM on 11.29.2007

Dear Harmonix: I can start on Monday.

I'm writing this letter not because I'm aware of any openings in your company, but because I'm assuming there must be one -- or will be one very soon -- in your marketing and PR department.

I'm assuming this based on a story I read recently at a some gaming blog. The story itself was focused on the plans for Rock Band's downloadable content, but near the end of the story, there was a very brief reference to the delay in shipping your game to Canada.

According to this explanation, there was not, in fact, a delay, because you only ever intended to launch the game in the United States, rolling it out to other countries later.

This is fair. It's your company and your product, and entirely up to you to decide how you want to roll that product out. There's just one little problem.

]In your press release, dated Oct. 29, 2007, and available at your official website, you indicate something different entirely.

Specifically: "Rock Band is slated for release on Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft® and PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system on November 20, 2007, and on PLAYSTATION®2 computer entertainment system December 18, 2007 in North America."

That's North America.

Which, as much as the United States might like to monopolize the name "America," does include Canada too.

I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here and assuming the mistake wasn't *yours* but is solely the responsibility of someone in your marketing and public relations department. Someone whose departure from your company I am assuming has left an opening for someone like me.

In way of applying for this position, allow me to illustrate the sort of conversation that could have prevented this little PR mistake from occurring. This imaginary conversation is between someone on the Harmonix development team (you) and someone on the Harmonix PR team (me).

DEVELOPMENT: Well, the game is almost ready to ship. It's time to start drafting up some press releases to get the fans all hot and bothered.

PUBLIC RELATIONS: What's the release date?

DEVELOPMENT: November 20, 2007, for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions.

PUBLIC RELATIONS: And in which countries will it be released on that date?

You see that last question there? That's the important one. That's the sort of question you need your PR people asking, because it's those little details that are important. The little details are everything.

I am convinced that I would be a valuable addition to your Public Relations department because of my ability to ask these sorts of critical questions. I look forward to hearing from a representative of your company shortly.

Best Regards,

PS: I know this is basically me just ranting about the very same issue I ranted about here, but I think this one is funnier. Or so I hope. And there's a picture. But no bewbs.   read

4:55 PM on 11.22.2007

More inevitable praise for "Mass Effect"

Yeah, I know, bunches of people are raving about it. It's awesome. You can have interspecies lesbo-sex. Blah blah blah. We've all heard it before. But I can't help but make *some* comment about it anyway.

I picked up Mass Effect on Tuesday night, dropped in my 360 as soon as I got home, and lost most of the evening to the game.

Struggled out of bed at noon on Wednesday, sat down in front of Mass Effect again, and played pretty much through until midnight, losing, thus far, a day and a half to the game.

The odd thing is that, as much as I'm enjoying it, I wouldn't say that I consider it a jaw-droppingly good, stand-out sort of game. I mean, it's good, yes. It's fun, yes (though for some reason, I still find combat a bit of a pain in the arse, even though I'm gradually getting better at it), but is it great? I...don't know.

Odder still is that, in spite of apparently feeling like it's a fun but not entirely brilliant game, there's a part of me that apparently disagrees. When I shut the game off last night and went to bed, I fully intended to set Mass Effect aside during gaming time tonight, and spend a bit more time with the COD4 multiplayer, because I own Mass Effect, and COD4 is (currently) a rental that's due back in about five days.

And yet the only game I've been able to think about all day is Mass Effect.

When I think about what I'll do when I get home at the end of the day, Mass Effect is on my mind.

When I think about gaming, Mass Effect is there.

When I look at the clock, wondering how long it is until I can punch out of here, it's Mass Effect that is giving me a reason for punching out.

So what the heck is up with that?

Am I in denial about this game for some reason? Am I trying to pretend that it isn't as good as it is? What the heck would be the point of that? Am I going with the "Yeah, it was okay, I guess," attitude just to try to be different? Absurd.

More than likely, Mass Effect works on some *other* level. More subconscious one. It is, perhaps, a fine example of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you look too closely at the individual components, if you find their flaws, you'll not notice how magical the entire experience can be. And maybe it's that magical experience that I've stumbled upon entirely by accident.

And maybe it's the just the promise of hot, inter-species lesbo-sex. That could be too, I guess.   read

2:25 AM on 11.13.2007

Dear Harmonix: It's called "planning."

Dear Harmonix.

I came into this whole rhythm game thing a little late. I didn't have a PS2, so I couldn't get on the Guitar Hero bandwagon, but by the time Guitar Hero 2 was coming for the Xbox 360, I'd heard enough about the game that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Of course, I had to wait, because there were supply issues. Plus I live in Canada, so there were bigger supply issues. Not sure exactly what they were. Maybe you were misinformed that we Canadians are actually in the 21st century, with automobiles and airplanes and the internet and stuff like that, and so maybe you were trying to sled-dog the Guitar Hero 2 shipments to us. I'm not sure.

Either way, I finally got my hands on a copy earlier this year, and I gotta say, I fell immediately in love with it. Psychotically (though in an entirely platonic way) in love. Seriously. Ask my 360's blog about it.

And then I heard about Rock Band, and I think I almost died.

I've been a gamer for years. I played Doom on my 386. Shooters and RPGs have been my gaming style of choice for more than half my life. My lust for rhythm games is a testament to the awesomeness of your company and the products you develop.

So then I hear, a week or so ago, that you might have some difficulty keeping up with the demand for the game leading up to Christmas. I hear that you might not have quite enough inventory.

And I, that's odd. I mean, the interest in Rock Band has been pretty solid since its announcement. There's been a lot of coverage here on the Internet -- and there's a lot of gamers and, I suspect, game developers who are familiar with this whole internet thing. So it seems kind of strange that you wouldn't be aware of the rabid, foaming, demand for this game. And it seems sort of odd that you wouldn't, you know, put in the extra effort to meet that demand.

Then tonight I read that not having the supply to meet the demand is the least of my problems. I read that, up here in the great white north, Rock Band is delayed until Dec. 17. And that's just...god, I don't even know what to say about that.

One of the stories I read said something about having to create bilingual game cases -- that contain both english and french. But, seriously, come on, if you're translation staff is going to require four weeks to complete that project, I think it's possible that you've hired the wrong people. Maybe some germans or spaniards or something. Because there is no way it should take that long.

Another story I read speculated that what would have and should have been Canadian shipments of Rock Band have now been diverted back into the US to meet the demand that your current level of production is not able to meet. Which comes back to what I said earlier: Did you not notice that there was a rabid, foaming, passionate desire for your game? Did you not think it was maybe a good idea to produce enough copies to meet that rabid, foaming, passionate desire?

I know, it's your game, and you can do with it as you will. You could ship every copy to gaum. You could stick in a warehouse and never release it to the public. And if you should decide to keep out of Canada until Dec. 17 -- which, apparently, you have -- then that's your decision too. It's just that the whole thing just seems so tragically preventable.

Best regards,
Lewzr   read

8:40 PM on 09.30.2007

Game Experience May Change During Online Play. Bitch.

I always smile a little bit inside when I read the ESRB warning on games that says "Game Experience May Change During Online Play." I smile because I know what it is they're trying to say, even if they're afraid to come right out and say it.

I'm sure the rest of you know exactly what they're trying to say too.

It's something like, "While you may enjoy playing this game in solo mode, in the comfort of your own, be warned that when you open up the magic tubes of the Internet and find your way online, your game experience may suddenly include being smacked around by 12-year-olds who are intent on calling you a bitch, a fucktard, a cockbite, or any other sort of vulgarity they can piece together in their still-developing frontal lobes. Have fun, and be careful out there. Cockbite."

I think it's a fair thing to include on the warning label. I mean, if the game developers designed a game that was intended for Teen audiences, with Teen content, they shouldn't be penalized just because a bunch of teens decide to use 4-letter-words when playing online because it makes them feel, you know, like they have a big penis or something.

In fact -- and this is getting off topic a little -- I sort of though the "Experience May Change" disclaimer should have covered things like the Hot Coffee mod, and the Oblivion nude patch, that forced rating changes for those games a few years back. Sure, in both cases there was existing code in the game that people were able to exploit to suddenly create some exciting (or creepy) pixelated porn in your gaming life, but the developers didn't ever intend for that content to appear in the finished product. Those items were either leftovers from earlier builds of the game, or little jokes that individual developers probably snuck in temporarily to get a giggle from the guy in the next cubicle. It's not Rockstar's fault that some decided to hack their game apart and stumble upon that minute little bit of porn. It's not Bathesda's fault that someone figured out they could run around as a topless warrior with the help of a tiny little patch. They game, as delivered, and as intended by the developers got the rating it did, and the rating should have remained the same, regardless of what anyone was able to hack out of the game.

But I digress.

As much as I think the online game experience should not be something that game developers are held accountable for -- because, really, there's not way they could control that -- I am beginning to think that the online game experience is something that reviewers should be taking into account when writing about games.

And by "online game experience" I'm not talking about its network code, or how efficient it's matchmaking and lobby system are, or whether or not it has too many or too few online-associated achievements. I'm talking about the sorts of people you're going to play against, and specifically, are they a bunch of ass-hats?

Lets be honest with each other. Certain games attract a certain type of online gamer. And, just as an example, something like Halo 3 tends to a pull a lot of the smack-talking, high-pitched, not-quite-through puberty crowd that a fair number of people I know would prefer to avoid.

I'm not really dissing on Halo 3 either. I bought it, and I'm not regretting the purchase. I've put in a good chunk of hours with friends online, have a lot of good times, and getting a lot of good laughs out of it. But my interaction with the public, matchmaking side of it has been limited, because of the sort of gamers you tend to run into.

Now I'm not trying to say that there's anything wrong with those types playing a video game, or playing a video game in the way they want to. They can and they should be able to buy Halo 3, play Halo 3, and call anyone they want to a bitch. All I'm saying is...if that's what the online game experience is going to be like, hey, reviewers, let's tell the public. That way I, as a consumer, can decide if that's a game I want to buy.

The online experience is a pretty major part of most games these days. I think it's more than worth covering every facet of that experience.   read

1:41 AM on 09.18.2007

Teh Bewbs: Now with more bewbs

Because someone suggested it, and because I should have done it in the first place, I've updated my previous post with a handful of photos, complete with insightful and socially relevant captions. Enjoy.   read

5:13 PM on 09.17.2007

Teh bewbs or not teh bewbs: Sex in games

I'm sort of disappointed that no one felt any need to comment on my zombie-PCXL posting, but not entirely surprised, as I was ranting about the resurrection of a 7-year-old magazine. Although it's worth noting that if PCXL -- in its original incarnation -- were still around today, I imagine it would be enjoyed by a good number of D-toid's readership.

Anyway, moving along to something dear to the hearts of PC Accelerator's former editorial staff (and readership) -- Sex and video games.

Sex in games has been around for about as long as the gaming industry itself, dating back to softporn text adventures (which, I'm sure, would have been the pinnacle of interactive titilation at the time), all the way up to today's often-more-than-mildly-creepy hentai games. But as the debate over whether games can and should be considered "art" rages stronger with each passing week, I can't help but wonder if there might be room for a more tasteful, more respectful, and (as much as I hate to say it) more artistic approach to weaving sex and sexuality into our virtual worlds.

You know when certain Hollywood actresses talk about how they'd be willing to do a nude scene if it was artistically vital to the film's story? Okay, that's often horsecrap, given some of the nude scenes some of these actresses have done, but that idea, that a video game could approach the idea of sex in a mature way, is what I'm going for.

And maybe we're already there, but for the life of me, I can't think of where I've seen it. Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball? A jiggle-fest, to be sure, but a fairly immature one at that. And besides, it's not sex, it's just trying to be sexy. And also sort of creepy. Which it's probably not trying to be, come to think of it. The creepy is more of an unfortunate side-effect.

What about something like Fable? It certainly wanted to *try* dealing with complicated subjects, but its approach to sex were either annoying wife-maintenance moments, or a giggling, innuendo-filled, cross-dressing experience. Again, not the sort of serious, mature, approach to sex that I'm looking for.

Believe it or not, one of the best implemented sex-moments may have been in GTA: San Andreas. Sure, the whole dating, back to her place gimmick was a bit of a pain, but at least it felt like a real moment, that tastefully faded to black at just the right degree of innuendo to make sure you knew what was going down.

Then, of course, the whole "Hot Coffee" mod thing sort of ruined that tastefulness, but turning San Andreas sex into an incredibly unsettling mini-game (speaking of which, whichever developer or developers had a hand in that, you might want to keep it off your resume).

Maybe it's the larger-than-life nature of games and gaming that it difficult to implement sex in this way. Is it possible to create a larger-than-life-virtual sex experience that isn't either so over-the-top that it becomes comedy, or so in your face that it becomes porn? Worse yet, does the looming terror of the dreaded AO rating keep developers from properly exploring this facet of their work? Is sex in games destined to remain as fap-fodder for those bored of streaming porn?

All I know for sure is this -- as much as I loved Bioshock, and as much it's one of the strongest arguments for "games as art" that I've yet seen, I'm glad it was, as far as I could tell, sex-free. Big Daddy getting all intimate is not something I need to see.

Ever.   read

6:06 PM on 09.13.2007

PCXL: Sometimes dead is better...

Here's the problem with bringing things back from the dead -- for the most part, you usually get something that's all rotten and smells bad and wants to eat your brains, even if it was something beautiful and magical and wonderful in the first place. 40 years of film have shown us this simple fact: the living dead are a bad, bad thing.

I encountered the living dead someplace rather unexpected last week -- Seven-Eleven. I had stopped in for a slurpee and was browsing the magazine rack, looking for the current OXM, curious what sort of demos the current issue was sporting, when I saw a magazine branded with four letters I never expected to see on a magazine ever again.


PCXL (or as it was then officially titled, PC Accelerator), for those of you unfamiliar, was, simply put, the very finest magazine that has ever existed. It combined a love of games with a Maxim-Magazine-esque love of half-naked women and sarcastic / cynical snark. It died after only a few years in 2000, because they had a habit of ripping bad games a new one, which didn't sit well with their advertisers. And anyone in the publishing industry knows, it's the advertisers who write your paychecks. Or it's the advertisers who write the checks that go into the bank account where you paychecks are written from.

Seven years later, and here, in Seven-Eleven, was a magazine sporting the shortened form of the name of the best magazine to ever live. And after a quick thumb-through, I realized that this was not just a coincidence. This magazine actually WAS attempting to breath life into the PCXL brand again.

So I bought it. I bought it even though I was pretty sure that it was destined for failure. I bought it because, however slim, there was a possibility that they had managed to recapture the magic of the original.

As it turns out, the possibility was just to slim. PCXL is a shadow of what PC Accelerator was. And as much I expected it, it still sort of breaks my heart.

I'm not sure exactly where to place the blame. It seems obvious that the writers who worked on it were familiar with the original, and were fond enough of the original to include enough loving homages. And it was nice to see a handful of former PC Accelerator writers pop by to discuss that magazine's heritage. But once it moved out of the realm of homage and tried to generate its own, fresh, PCXL-style content, it fell painfully on its twisted, ravaged, zombie-face.

The primary feature -- if it could be said to have one -- which was an interview with the Frag Dolls, was embarassingly bad, with the first two pages made up of the sort-of insulting questions that you'd expect from any other publication. Sure, PC Accelerator loved showing photos of half-naked women, and they would have been all over coverage of the Frag Dolls if they were still around, but no one would have wasted even a single column trying to figure out if chicks really game. Of course they game. Now tell us how we can have sex with you.

Beyond the Frag Dolls feature, PCXL is surprisingly light on content. Big photos with short stories, lists of geek toys, a few single-page blurbs on upcoming games, and before you know it, the whole mess is over.

It's not a terribly bad magazine. It's only problem is that the legacy it's trying to live up to is so much greater that what it could conceivably pull off. And maybe I'm just spoiled, maybe I've been getting too much of my gaming content from the 'Net, where the spirit of PC Accelerator seems to be far stronger. Maybe the print publishing industry has gotten to be so boring and vanilla that PCXL is a fine example of something risky and cutting edge. And if that *is* the case, then it's no wonder they couldn't get more former staff-members to chime in on the new PCXL. Because they'd be embarrassed at the association.

PC Accelerator was a magazine that died far, far too soon. But that doesn't change the fact that it did die. It is dead. And it should remain in the ground. This rotting, fetid corpse that PC Gamer has decided to dig up should be put back in the ground and left there, where we can honour its memory.   read

5:06 PM on 08.16.2007

Does id still have it?

With the release of Bioshock only a few days away, and a little glimpse into id Software's new engine / game "Rage" only a week or so behind us, I can't help but reminisce a little about the (arguable) father of the first person shooter, and wonder to myself, "Is id still relevant?"

There was a time, of course, where every little thing they did sent ripples through the gaming industry. Wolfenstein was like a revolution in gaming. Doom took it to the next level. And then Quake -- ah, Quake -- among the first true 3D shooters. The game alone was a reason to upgrade your computer, to get a faster processor, to look at a better video card. And QuakeWorld helped launch the internet gaming frenzy that is still frenzying to this day.

Quake 2 didn't make quite the same impact, technologically, but its online component eventually became even stronger than its predecessor's. Mods by the dozen, by the hundred started to appear. You could have your deathmatch in just about any flavour you liked.

Id went online only with Quake 3, but faced tough competition from Unreal Tournament, which many thought -- myself included -- was a superior product. Around the same time, Half Life came along and, from almost out the blue, upped the ante considerably on what an engaging, first-person shoot could and *should* be.

Attempting to return to their roots, id annouced that they were developing a sequal to their genre-defining hit Doom -- a game that would be even more tense and frightening than the original, thanks to the significant change in technology in the intervening years.

People were excited. People were drooling all over themselves for the game. A NEW DOOM -- A DOOM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. OH MY TEH GODZ.

And then it was released. And it was...meh. Meanwhile, everyone was humping Half Life 2 -- and it's hard to blame them. It'd be hard to develop a compelling argument that it WASN'T a better game.

And now it's 2007. Id is still alive, still hard at work, this time on something new. Something called RAGE. It looks pretty, to be sure. It's tech is obviously solid. But I still can't shake the feeling that, as much as I *want* to care about it, I just don't. It's been years since id did anything revolutionary with a game (beyond the engine), and as much as I'd like to think RAGE will do something spectacular, so far all we know is that it's got vehicles. Which is, uh...yeah, been there, done that.

I used to experience little gaming orgasms everytime a representative from id opened their mouth, everytime a new screenshot was released. They were gaming gods. But they just...they lost it. Maybe they jumped the shark. Maybe the put the focus on the tech and not the game. Maybe gaming just zigged while they were busy zagging.

I'm not sure exactly what happened. But I'm pretty sure that something did. And while we, as gamers, might be better for it (because we're getting stuff like Bioshock -- fuck yeah!), id is poorer. They haven't become a joke to the industry yet, at least. But they're definitely middle of the road. And far from the industry-defining all-stars they once were.   read

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