Ok with Nintendo claiming ad revenue from Lets plays I thought rather than writing a blog bashing / defending them Iíd do a blog that might be useful to some people.
Now Iím not an expert, Iím not a copyright lawyer, none of what I say now holds legal water in court and shouldnít as gospel or used to prove your rights to someone however itís based on my own experiences. †
†Iím not a lets player, I am however a youtube partner, and I actually mean Iím a partner from before the days when anyone could monetise content, I got the old invitation email from youtube to become a partner. I havenít done a huge amount with my partnership and at present to keep going I have to work out a few things regarding software and licence changes first. However in my short spell on youtube I think Iíve dealt with copyright issues more than anything else and as Lets plays are at their core a copyright issue in waiting weíll start there.
At present Lets plays exist in the copyright grey area, more so than most things.
The argument is that itís a transformative work on the legal side of things. As such transformative works are allowed under fair use, unless itís a machine and you name is Microsoft as Rooster Teeth found out in the early days. The question is how much of a transformative work is it. Valve actually have rules governing the use of source film maker stating that you can make money but you need to make your own characters and props and canít profit off their characters. Thatís Valve saying that.
The Logic argument goes like this. You can play a board game or game of chess and show that on youtube without having to pay royalties to the maker of those. The inventor of footballís family donít receive royalties still for every match of football played and shown on TV not that goes guess what the players. The experience of a game should be in the playing not just the watching, unless youíre Rise to honour on PS2 in which case watch away because itís better than playing it. As games strive to become more like films both budget and spectacle wise itís debatable if theyíre losing the fun factor in playing them, but thats a blog for another day.
How can a game look this good but play so awkwardly, seriously who thought using the thumbsticks only was a good idea for a fighting game ?†
So now you know Lets plays arenít exactly protected by law only logic. Technology is evolving faster than laws can keep up and the digital media copyright act while a compromise itís a compromise where neither side really got their way. Companies can still screw with people doing transformative pieces and yet big companies donít get to fully decide and dictate the rules entirely. However knowing the rules of this work well for you. Basically one of the rules states that if a company wrongly DMCAís you then you are not only entitled to compensation but also all perceived lost revenue and expenses brought about by the DMCA claim. That piece of information alone is a huge cannon for you in reserve.
So are there any games you can legally letís play and not get in trouble ?
Well any game can bet lets played however you need to seek permission first. Starting out expect to have to take time and expect to be contacting companies, most likely PR or sales team to discuss doing a lets play of their game and explaining how youíre seeking their permission because you wish to monetise it. Youíll find companies far more helpful that youíd think if you spin it to make them sound like theyíre getting something out of it, explain why you want to monetise your content to them briefly saying it will help further improve quality going forward. Explaining why is a good thing as not everyone realises that people do need this ad money to improve. Hereís a reviewer called Linkara who hosts a comic book review show talking about ad revenue a bit for you and more specifically ad block.
You see itís not till you start using an ad funding service that you really realise what ads pay and how many people view them in reality. Iíd estimate on my youtube and blog at best 40% of people view the ads, thatís based on view feedback I receive both on the adverts and on the content itself. Heck My blog doesnít even register you reading the article if you have an ad blocker on it only registers that a person visited the place so I can easily look at the individual article views for the day and compare that to the total views. Put it this way, if I lived off my site I might manage one thing off the McDonalds $1 menu a week to live and nothing more, not rent or anything else like that, to get decent pay you need the hits or a contract of sorts with a youtube network. With Blip TV the pay is different to youtube as youtube pays more for ad impressions, a single Ad click can make fifty times what 200 views of the ad make. Iím not even joking thatís impression based adverts. Now True View ads those unskippable 20 second or so one pay more than the skippable ones but still less than an ad impression Blip Pays pretty much a set amount per X views which is the same as youtube networks normal policies (I'll talk about them later )
Congratulations youíre now aware of the stark reality of youtube and if youíre still reading this then you should be someone who should do lets plays as youíre in this for more than the money.
So a lot of you are probably sitting here wondering what the hell are you supposed to do when every game needs permission to lets play it. Well itís not quite true there are at present a few games you can lets play without permission they are:
Scrolls (The upcoming card game by Mojang)
DLC quest live freemium or die
Games by Team Meat, e.g. Super Meat Boy
Amnesia (fictional games)
Magicka (Paradox interactive and other games they make)
League of Legends / Riot games, being in the youtube partner program is classed as sufficient by them, though to be safe Iíd make sure youíre networked for this one.
Beat Hazard Ė fine as long as you include a link to where viewers can buy the game though you then need a license to use the music separately
Chivalry Medieval Warfare
Garyís Mod Ė though its iffy due to Valve model content but still its there.
Kerbal Space program Ė A link and the copyright holders name is sufficient for them
Towns Ė Link to the somewhere the game is sold
Unofficially Guild wars 2, they claim itís against their terms but itís been hinted they have an intentional blind spot when it comes to fan stuff.
Valve Ė taken from their Legal page ďYou are free to monetize your videos via the YouTube partner program and similar programs on other video sharing sites. Please don't ask us to write YouTube and tell them its fine with us to post a particular video using Valve content. It's not possible to respond to each such request. Point them to this page.Ē
Perfect World games
Trion worlds - but its iffy as you need to adhere to certain advert restrictions and set adsense up to fit so the following doesnít happen, no adverts from Trion competitors (so no other MMO, FPS or RTS) No gold farming / farmer adverts. The content of adverts must keep with the ESRB for the game.†
These titles have had their developers pretty much publicly come out and said people can do monetised lets plays of them. Minecraft and Scrolls have specific stipulations with them first you must make it clear you are in no way connect to or speak for the developer (I know obvious right but itís just incase) and secondly you must actually make it your own somehow by at least adding a commentary track to play or doing cool video editing stuff. Essentially the Mojang requirements are that you make it a transformative piece then you can make money as youíve at least done something with it which Iíd say is fair enough as I can see the argument against just plain straight through plays with nothing added being original content as such. Itís kind of shocking to me at least that more indie developers arenít getting on this train officially as hey, itís publicity and as games are seeing coverage really does help them, especially in the Indie scene where people are more likely to not buy your game because theyíve never heard of it than any other perceived monster in the room stealing sales, except pirates, but then the only way to stop Pirates is pretty much to just screw with them as DRM will be cracked in only weeks anyway. Basically if you want to begin as a lets player, youíre best asking indie developers because chances are theyíll not have marketing agents and PR guys breathing down their neck and will go ďYeh sure why notĒ also youíll normally find them easier to contact and quicker to respond.
So now onto general etiquette things once youíve got ready at last. First always make sure you state in video descriptions, the name of the game, who owns it and importantly here that youíve got permission to do it (because you should have got it, if you donít then you canít put this and have little defence initially to stop the video going down). So also record or screen grab a copy of the email giving you permission to lets play the game, place this in an unlisted video, Iíll explain why in a bit. So youíve made sure people know who made the game, what it is and said you are not associated with them and your views do not represent the developers or publishers, they are your own views. Finally having done that itís time to make sure youíre giving your dues to the developer / publisher, add in a link to where people can get the game and link it using a bit url. You see the advantage of placing a bit URL instead of the standard URL is simply this, you can track how many people are going through it to the game, itís a simple process of adding a + after the URL Iíve been lead to believe.
So now how to deal with it still going pear shaped. Your first content ID match. Itís important to stay calm at this point, itís going to happen and if youíve prepared as Iíve set out you should be more than ready to deal with this. Once you hit maybe 1,000 views on a single video expect to see matches begin to show for your videos maybe not even the 1,000 hit one but others too as youíve been noticed and you donít know who by so itís time to carry on and find out.
So firstly check who is claiming the content and what they are claiming, youtube will tell you who is claiming and what part of the video they are claiming. Now you know the publisher and you know the developer for the game, if itís not one of them then search to find out who it is. Like it or not out there are some real nasty pieces of smeg who actually make considerable money out of people by false claiming videos and taking ad revenue because some people just accept it or donít bother fighting them. You will be fighting them, armed with your research into who they are and that they lack a claim, dispute the claim and point out the actual content owners and state you already have permission from them to do this video and that you believe the person now claiming has no rightful claim to the content. After having done that remind them itís illegal to file false DMCA claims if you are not the content owner or associated with them. Most of the copyright leeches will back down at this point because well they know you are in the right and also that you can call in the big guns of youtube or the actual owners against them. Even if theyíre not scared of you, the fact they are claiming ad revenue and ownership of content someone else owns can open them up to the company suing them.
If itís the Publisher / developer dispute the claim stating fair use, pointing out that you have their permission to do this and linking to the unlisted video to show you have this and finally being able to give them referral statistics from the bit URL to prove people are being sent over and that they are potentially getting sales and publicity from your videos. You donít need to go in strong here as chances are itís an auto detection and not the company being dicks and going after you. Iíve had it before on a 5 second audio clip from South Park in a 30 minute video, the South Park creators were actually amazing about it, I disputed and actually got a message apologising for being picked up, removing the claim and how they liked the video and wished me all the best in the future. This is the problem with an automatic system, it canít spot fair use vs blatant copying. So now youíve learned not to rage right away at the company and that the makers of South Park are some of the coolest guys around.
So the next step, most companies will having had the error pointed out, correct it. Not every company but at this point most know youíre either not some sap or that youíve done everything right and are potentially helping them in the case of the actual publishers / developers. However you should know what to do if they decide to not play ball still. On youtube as a verified publisher you have the option to file a dispute, do not do this yet, filing a dispute is the equivalent of taking off and throwing down the gloves and telling the company to take their best shot, by this I mean court, you do not want court. Chances are the company doesnít want court either as if theyíre in the wrong and you fight them, theyíre screwed but itís costly to do this and they have far more resources than you, in the end neither of you will likely truly win.
So what you have to do is contact the company again. Youíve done it once already so donít feel too bad. So write to them, linking your video and pointing out that you believe itís merely a mistake on their part that you have their permission to do this and that youíd appreciate them correcting the issue. Essentially youíre stating what you did in the dispute because you never know it might have been a monkey who checked out the dispute so going directly to the company youíre talking to the organ grinder. Emailing a company can scare the hell out of them because youíre walking up to their own turf as such and calling them to answer, sure the emails are private but youíre approaching them in a way where you are equals. They have no team of lawyers to defend them with emails, they can either respond or not, not responding gives you more ammo as you can say, ďHey look I did what I was meant to and went out my way to sort thisĒ. This ammo companies know can be used against them, not in a court of law but in the public domain. I have dealt with Apple, yes that Apple this way, I had them claiming ownership of a public domain song Iíd used and approached them this way after they blocked my video from being viewable in all but 4 countries world wide. I had disputed and had it rejected so I pointed out how I wanted them to prove to me that they had the right to the song. Having done this I got an email back thanking me for bringing the error to their attention and they would correct it and release the claim immediately. Its best to allow companies at least 2 weeks to reply before carrying on though.
What I wanted a picture of a monkey in this blog†
If youíre contacting a company other than the developer or publisher, also contact the developer / publisher and tell them whatís happening and ask them to help, after all its someone else who doesnít have permission making money off both yours and their content, companies can enter the fight if they feel itís worth it. I managed to get mockbuster makers The Asylum to help me before after a company put false claims on a video, I did however offer them something in return and it was that if they copyright claimed it Iíd allow them to display adverts or have a share of the revenue. For me I wanted the video up and while I wasnít getting paid for the video it allowed it to stay up and hopefully got The Asylum to realise Iím not that bad and am a reasonable person. They used resources to help me so I was paying them back in a way. If youíve already got permission to do the lets play then the company will not need the concession from you as theyíve given their consent already and itís in their interest to make people aware of needing that consent.
If nothing so far has worked and youíre now seemingly left with only the dispute option. This one is up to you and I have had no experience with this and as it can lead to court you have to consider what it worth to you. At this stage if the developer / publisher hasnít backed down (because no copyright leech will have lasted this long especially if you get the actual owners involved) you have to look at what itís worth to you, as I said I have a video with adverts with ad revenue going to The Asylum because they were good to me and helped fight off a far more aggressive false claim. If you simply want your content out there and for the fans as such and donít care about the money this time then you can let it stay however if youíre running on just that lets play you might consider ending it an stating why to your fans. If you want to take the shouty moral stance without court you can flip the developer and publisher one giant last middle finger. They want your video and ad revenue, well you private the video. Itís a giant screw you as it stop them making anything, they canít stop you doing this either, itís the last great stalemate you can bring it to where no-one wins and they lose your revenue coming in and the free advertising on one cut. Then you can make a video explaining to your fans what happened, what you did to try and sort it out and as such why you wonít be carrying on that content or why itís gone. Well done youíve just managed to make the company look the fool in public and not only stopped them making money off you but probably cost them a fair bit in the good will stakes as they can be seen to not be a company of their word.
So youíre expanding, youíre developing your lets play channel, youíre getting the hits and the revenue you want to expand, what do you do now ?
Well first if youíre doing well itís time to network. In the present youtube system while you earn far more as a private individual it also gives you a lot more legwork as you have to fight every claim and seek that permission. The idea of networks is they do the deals for you. They pay you a set amount per number of hits which will be less than a very loyal audience can make you on ads but by how much depends on your audience.†
Networks for the most part will scout you and approach you if they want. There are some networks you can approach. I believe the networkHappy Cabbie is with does allow you to apply if youíre reaching certain hits and have a certain subscriber count. Picking a network is important, first they need to understand your content and needs from them; second make sure your obligation to them is clear to you, some networks are fine with as and when content while others require a minimum content production. Along with production check the contact length and make sure itís not one of the hellish permanent lifetime contracts some of the less reputable networks are passing round, the standard contract or so I hear is 2 years. Networks are designed to protect you, they are meant to deal with publishers and developers to sort out content deals so you can lets play as you wish without having to worry about copyright fights again. Once in a network if you have a video copyright claimed either falsely or by the publisher / developer your first port of call is your network, you donít dispute the claim just take it to the network. At present Nintendo arenít playing ball with the networks and are still claiming content and as such ad revenue so yeh being in a network isnít protection from everything but it is protection enough for most things.
So now youíve made it all through this article youíre ready to lets play, that is once youíve got the machine that can record content, the copy of fraps and a decent microphone. Hopefully now you know a little more about how to do this thing called lets playing a bit safer and avoid most of the traps holes. Sure you might have to give up on a video or series at one point but itís something that will have to be done and hopefully make the developer / publisher realise you can just walk away if they donít want to play ball.
Happy Lets playing everyone .
So I did lovingly mock the WiiU when it came out and gave a few jibes at Sony with their console reveal but with the Xbox One, well Microsoft you blew the comic potential out the water with this one. So not only did we have a conference where possibly less was shown off than Sony, no big questions were answered or fears put a side. Sure is nice to see Microsoft totally giving people reason to stop asking about the rumours and putting them aside as everyone though, oh wait they didn't.
What we got was very much a "Look what we can do" with a streaming capture system which unlike Sony's wasn't really shown working as such just what appeared to be a demo run of it.
So I decided to give my own take on the reveal and just keep on mocking the thing.
This is my in short impression
The conference was one big smokescreen with very little said and almost playing / delaying for time. They called this conference and everyone sat up and took notice thinking they'd address something and then they didn't
So the buzz word for this presentation and implied one was Innovation and how the Xbox one was innovating, I actually decided to tally up the buzz words I expected to see and marked down every time it was used or implied.
So while we didn't get answers to those rumours about always online, no used games. XBL pricing etc we did get to know the following.
Firstly Microsoft wants us to have a new kind of relationship with our TVs
Now not to be seen as backwards and against progressive relationships or be deemed electronicaphobic I'm happy with my TV as is, heck I'm happy with electronic devices as they are, I use them and that's it.............. damn that makes me sound like an awful human now, I have no idea how to rephrase that either so I'll just leave it and carry on.
The main claim being that with the TV you'll no longer have to change inputs to be able to watch TV or play your games. Strange the Wii U lets you switch too with the controller being a remote and being able to play some games on the pad. Also Most TVs are being designed to allow multiple inputs or you can even get adaptors.
† A TV with two scarts who'd have thought it.
Look this one even has two HDMI ports.
See you can even get adaptors you can change over with a press of a button or ones that override and prioritise signals.
Also with the tv segment we got the watch the whole thing be controlled by the Kinect voice recognition system and motions. It should be noted that Kinect 2 will included as default with all consoles so that's going to add nicely to the price, also the controller was n't shown being used to navigate. Look I'm the guy who hates touch screen for the most part, I have a kindle Fire HD and use it but other than that many things I prefer using remotes for. changing the inputs on my TV at home is no chore, I don't need my xbox to do that or be my TV guide. I use either the electronic one built in or an online side I like for listings.†
What we saw is a console which is very dependent on TVs to work, trying to take over their function........ oh dear this is just as many have suggested.
secondly we learned how much the kinect 2 can do
the big announcement being that†ďIt can read your heartbeatĒ
ok so it looks like they've improved the thing and let it track more. The problem is we don't know if the damn thing works any better as more points and trackable things means it could be more easily confused unless you have a big open space the size of the stage. Also the "better with kinect" idea was hinted to be going a step further and forcing kinect use. Remember how people moaned about waggle mechanics in Wii games, oddly something I had and still have little objection to as its kind of part of the controller function. Well some games might require you to make motions while using the controller, you know like that game that did it so well, Steel†Battalion†[/sarcasm]. So now you're having to use two†separate†control methods. The example given of raising a controller infront of you to raise a shield, for the love of the great green arkleseizure just stick it on one of the buttons there's enough we don't need a whole extra control method to supplement the controller.†
If there was one thing I could praise the Wii on its the controller, I love that thing, the split controller design was perfect for me as it didn't force my hands into a certain spot or make it feel like they were too cramped or too stretched.
We also saw a look at the new controller with its "New" internal battery, just like the PS3 pads have. Now if you've got a Microsoft play and charge kit, you'll probably join me in saying you hope their internal battery is better than the play and charge one otherwise expect to be playing plugged in within 6 months or buying a new controller / paying to have the battery replaced.
Xbox Live is being expanded now in the presentation the implication was that more people on Live and expanding it that way is making it better. Strange because the more people on live the more people like this I run into.
The reality that was suggested more than outright said was a very simple one.†
What was being claimed an an innovation here really isn't going to sound that impressive to PC users or many console users who know about certain companies actions. Dedicated servers available from Microsoft for companies to use, for a fee of course. No doubt an†exorbitant fee which will mean companies won't want to, this would also explain why EA are suddenly so keen on this partnership as no doubt they'll get a better deal on them.
Its good to see this finally coming to console "about bloody time" some people will no doubt say. The question is will this cost us more ?
What was mentioned was how live was bringing†ďExciting new ways to play and have funĒ†
There will be a new COD
well we kind of all knew this was happening but still it was shown off and we were expected to clap and applaud for this†supposed†upgrade its getting.†
what got me about this section was trotting the idea of adding a dog you'll care about into the game.†
Seems such an innovation right ?
Seriously the way they were talking was that this was some grand new concept no-one had ever come up with, I don't know if I should ask if they've been talking with Peter Molyneux or completely ignoring him and his work.
Oh and calling it now, the dog dies at some point and we'll have PETA up in arms again because its COD.
Ok so then they said about dynamic maps with changing landscapes, that must be new right ?
Red Faction already blows simple map changes away
Look just because Red Faction has retired you don't get to claim others innovations as your own and present them as new.
There were some other parts of the Call of Duty Ghosts Presentation I particularly enjoyed and feel I should highlight.
Gameplay drives Tech" Which lead to a moment I seriously thought I was watching David Cage talking for Sony again as they proceeded to show off how much better and more detailed the game gets, because um Immersion = gameplay or something ? Sorry just as you can't improve a terrible story by making it look shinier you can improve gameplay itself by just making the game look better.
Side by side comparison" during which they showed one clip then the other. You want a side by side comparison, here's one even a monkey like me can do, oh and its of the New Resident Evil game (Well new to consoles other than the hand held) so enjoy.
It really did seem like someone should have explained that side by side term first to the PR team before letting them loose with it. Well if you know them at least you know what to buy them for Christmas, a good dictionary.
Also the claims saying they could show how much better their game had become graphically. In an industry where bullshots (faked photos and enhances ones often running on PC) are so common now, to claim you can show how much better you game is, you might as well just say "We've improved our technology so much that we can make even better bullshots to fool you people".†
So what else did we learn ?
-Halo is getting a TV series and that needed 343 industries to come on because um.... they make Halo games now ? Oh and Spielberg was on
-EA is going to be using an engine called ignite now, which as consumers have only just put away the pitchfolks and torches is a little soon to risk such a name but whatever.
-You can Skype Video call, which with Kinect controlling things and voice activation is a good reason to not sign up for skype or you might end up calling someone you know accidentally while not suitable, or you know posting to facebook or something.
-It has a blue ray drive†
Oh and we learned what its innovative look would be here it is:
Sorry Wrong picture, how could I mistake the innovative design choices
So what things were left out ?
-The price or any pricing model, sure they're probably waiting on sony then they'll try to beat them but come on this would have been nice to know
-A†justification†behind the name, I mean if they're going for the nintendo angle as in Wii (We) and Wii U (We universe) then I don't think One is the best approach as One tends to invoke the thoughts of *read in dodgey German accent* "One Nation unified under one Leader" so before I break Godwins law fully I'd better get another point out.
-What these other game are, 15 exclusive games you say, well the Ouya claimed about 300 exclusives to its console or something mad like that, saying you have them makes us neither believe you nor want the.[/li]
-Indie developers - with the killing of XNA and the creators club, cutting most of the Windows 8 phone app developers off too its rather disheartening to not see it replaced and hear nothing about indie games and maybe not being such complete gits to their developers in future.
-Patching cost ? Nintendo are killing them, Sony are thinking of doing it so will Microsoft
-DRM, is it always online, can it play pre-owned games, sure they actually even mentioned taking your Xbox round to a friends house but is this going to be left behind and all force cloud gaming on us. heck the idea of the cloud usage suggests it might be heavily online†focused.†
-If you're playing Call of Duty and shout fuck at the screen will kinect switch to the XXX rated TV ?[/li]
So how much of a joke was the conference really ?
Yes really it was that much of one that I nearly got a house on the bingo card.
Was the console called One because it plans to be the only one left standing.
Whatever came out of this the brand and console certainly didn't come out looking like this "One"
Well I've been hugely negative throughout most of this post so I suppose I should say something positive that came out of the conference.
So who came out better from this press conference ?
What you don't believe me ?
That above is Sony's share price as of today, look at the huge peak, looks like Microsoft didn't even convince the markets and investors this time which they could have run with and probably just ignored gamers for a longer period. But no the investors are seemingly backing Sony now too.
It could have been worse and I should probabaly end on a good point so here at least this never happened. †For a moment there I really thought this was going to happen with 343 on stage.
OK I said I was staying clear of this but with no sign of Tropes vs Women part two I decided to broach this subject again and ask what is a very difficult question.
Should artistic vision be censored due to perceived sexism ?
What triggered this article were recent controversies around gaming and one game I tend to pay some attention to still. Smite.
The initial trigger point was the introduction of the goddess Neith to the game, this led to a number of people calling sexism from the roof tops. Calling for Hirez to apologise and for them to stop. For those who arenít aware Smite is based on Gods fighting. Here is a depiction of Neith found in actual art next to one from smite (on the right).
Note: to make sure no-one gets offended by nudity I've inserted boobies in appropriate places again in any picture that displays them.
Another such one being the representation of the goddess Kali† again hereís the art and the Smite versions.
The one on the left is actually apparently a depiction found in some temples†
Now while Iíll happily say that the case for Remember Me highlights an issue with people being asked to compromise an artistic vision to gain perceived better sales. Thatís obviously wrong however people are calling objectification from the rooftops and with the latest Jimquisition deciding to tackle the half naked male idea and put forward that it was idealistic and no objectification I realise one slight argument which hasnít been brought out yet.
If we take the idea that games are a form of art as such artistic freedom should be allowed with them then can we truly claim that art should be changed because of its potential objectification. A running joke on the comedy series Allo Allo is a painting named the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. If I went down to my local art gallery itís quite possibly they would have nude female forms on display in the paintings and those nudes would be of that times perception of female perfection. The big stumbling block this claim of objectification now has to face is not that itís equally done but that in a way its asking for a form of censorship to be placed on art. However if you wish to claim video games arenít art then they actually lose the protection the idea of art gives them in terms of themes and narratives and as such no longer being creative expression can and will be censored by anyone interested in pushing their agenda.
So while some moral crusaders will claim that removing the perceived objectification is worth it the question must be what cost will it be to remove the objectification they see as present. Will it create a precedent for anyone trying to censor and remove any content they deem inappropriate or offensive?† †
So while the argument being made is that men arenít being objectified because they are being shown as targets or goals but that by reducing them to a simple set of goals meant to be our own goals or to use the approach of the ideal man. Male characters are just as objectified as a set of characteristics then a physical representation of these. The idea of objectification is youíre turning something into an object but with male characters youíre reducing them to a list of desirable ideals. The difference between male and female characters the female characters are being turned to display physical ideals while male are displaying psychological ideals......... to an extent as this breaks down when you look at essentially a crazed serial killer in the form of Kratos. The argument goes that those traits possessed by male characters are positive traits. Now look at the media, is not the idea of physical ideals present too ? Pick up any gossip magazine and I can almost guarantee there will be a story on a Celeb who has either had work done, doesnít look good or who has let themselves go or got back in shape either publically ridiculing them or praising them. Down to a point the difference is the form the ideals take in the expression of them, be it physical or mental.
So relating this back to art as such characters are a physical or mental expression in part of their creators. If someone is forever drawing boobs then the response of ďdude you need to get laid or somethingĒ seems a fairly valid one. A response that doesnít is to turn to that person and tell them they canít produce their art anymore because it offends someone.
So if we are to consider videogames as art Iíd encourage you to happily defend the Fallen Madonnaís big boobs. However if games arenít art as such then Iíd encourage you to defend any attempt to censor them. The big twist as such being how well this was shown up in the Dragon Crown controversy, the artists explained the reasoning behind the character models and suddenly the issues wasnít such a huge issue. You see hereís the funny thing, art is subjective, I have mentioned before how I hate Damien Hursts work (His work is presently on at my Local art gallery as the featured exhibit of all things) however because I hate it doesnít mean I should be calling for his head on a spike, like with many who disagree with female character models I actually brush off my objection to an extent. The reason is hey itís my opinion if people want it then Iím not stopping them throwing their money at it. I donít find the generic ideals put forward by society as to the perfect woman to match my own opinion on this, for those who know me in reality they can attest to this no doubt however when expressed in art Iím not going to be calling for a ban on them.
Now this may come off seeming like Iím completely against the debate, Iím not as just like any form of art its meant to be discussed and trying to impose an arbitrary set of rules is actually removing the creative freedom, so while Iíll defend an artistís right to draw overly busty female characters Iíll also defend artists rights to draw characters such as Helga from Clayfighters
Heck Iíd even defend an artistís right to draw this guy.
It doesnít mean I agree with the drawing but that it shouldnít be locked away, the idea behind the debate being that some artists will realise itís ok to draw differently and express different things in their chosen art. We donít need every female character to be the same as if you do try to apply an arbitrary set of rules youíre actually simply reinforcing the problem youíre trying to prevent as saying no character can be sexualised would remove the idea of different artistic expressions and again force artists to be working within a box after fighting to destroy the previous box because it didnít match your specific taste in cardboard.
So I say let the Fallen Madonna have her big boobies because if thatís the artists vision then thatís them making exactly what they wanted. Sure it might not appeal to our specific taste but then again, its art itís not meant to. If you want to argue then kindly put out your point without calling for the artists balls and or ovaries, comparing them to the Devil or claiming they are the scourge of gaming.
If you want art thatís tailor made I suggest you commission the artist yourself next time.
So I got a request to do a review again. Now for the developer and those of you reading this Iíve decided to make this a little different. So while you read this review thereís a drinking game to accompany it.
First get a fairly strong alcohol to make into cocktails and another you can use for shots.
Now every time I say the word broken or unfinished take a drink
Every time I say I raged out, take shot
Every time I mention the game bugged out on me take a drink
Every time I yell an obscenity finish your drink
Simple enough right ?
So†Planetary Shield, a game with a fairly simple premise. You play a space station defending the Earth from meteorites.
To start off I feel I should give some positive feedback about the game.....................................um........................................................................give me a minute...............................................................................................Iíll have something in a moment...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Itís not Zombies Zombie everywhere, that counts right ? What do you mean no, fine Iíll think of another reason.
Yeh Iíve got noth.............. wait Iíve got something, itís at least a somewhat original idea and not a pong clone.
The problem is†Planetary Shield†feels like a broken half finished game. Thereís ideas there but none of them actually seem to work for the game. Itís so unfinished I really feel I need to fully deconstruct each problem here. The very first problem is the initial language selection, all credit to the developer they are Spanish and yet they managed far better use of the English language than I do here, however when it comes to practical game design decisions it falls down. You see on the language selection screen †the darker option is the one selected, this lead to me actually starting the game in Spanish and having to restart.
So having got over that little hurdle I started playing and my reaction was ďWhat am I playing this game canít be a finished productĒ you see while the meteorites look good enough, in motion they seem like placeholder animations that werenít meant for the final game. Each Meteorite has approximately 8 frames of animation for it rotating, this creates a rather jarring jittery rotation that seems very unnatural and screams ďthis is a video gameĒ to you.
Next is a slightly broken mechanic which requires you to guide the rescue ships into the green evacuation portal. This sounds fine until you find that the games is missing a certain feature, one which for me is vital, it only works on 16 by 9 TVs not 4 by 3 and thereís no option to set a TV safe zone. Consequently I could not see the green escape portal on the side as the picture expanded beyond the screen as such. This feels like either an oversight or another sign of the game being not quite complete and ready for release. Worse still due to this problem another problem can be found. A problem which lead to me ragequitting the game early on. You see part of the programming requires you to get an escape ship through the portal, once a certain number are through it then brings in the ďBossĒ and allows you to advance a level. However if you repeatedly fail the get the escape ship out because you canít see the portal the game keeps going. Due to the design of the game you need to reach level 5 before you can save your progress to pick up again later. With the game not letting you advance until either a certain amount of failed rescue ships go or you manage 1-2 ships passing I managed to get the game to run for 45 minutes and only reach level 2. What this means is the game could run for over an hour and half before you can reach a point to continue from. Itís no secret I enjoy playing DOTA 2 but even that understands games going much beyond an hour in one session are a bit stupid† so by the hour mark itís normally near the end game. To have a game where itís possible to get to level 5 in actually only 20 minutes if you play well but being able to stretch that time to over an hour and a half is unacceptable and a sign of an unfinished or broken mechanic.
(If you view the trailer further down you'll be able to see the rescue ship and the gates. On my screen I couldn't see those so it was guess work)
During me first attempt at playing this, before I rage quit. I remembered thinking at the end of the first level ďImagine if there were a boss what would it be in this game ? A Giant Meteorite of courseĒ, can you guess what the boss at the end of each level is ? If you said a Giant Octopus youíd be wrong and rather silly, it is a giant meteorite which takes multiple hits to break up, then each part thatís broken off also takes multiple hits. Well this boss thing is a cool idea except even on the easy early levels by the time it takes enough hits to break up its close enough to pose a threat especially as each part that breaks off takes multiple hits. During later playthroughs I made if further in and you realise how important the use of missiles are in this section, that nicely segways into the subject of the missiles. While a nice idea having missiles as power ups they really do have limited use, not only do you have to actually hit the missile to detonate it but it has its own travel time so you have to not only time the missile to intercept but your own shot to make sure its explodes in time. Due to the speed of the ďBossĒ rocks itís very easy to take considerable damage due to a missile arriving too late. The other power ups include healing the defence shield and making the shield invulnerable, the problem is the shield being invulnerable actives on pick up so you canít simply save it till youíre in trouble this seems at best poorly thought out, at worst broken or unfinished.
On my second attempt at a playthrough on easy I made it to level 6. On level two or three the fairly large rocks get smaller rocks added in and you realise while the previous levels were just passable the strange ever so slight ark on the shots means your aim, until you adapt, is always slightly off so youíll find you miss a lot. With the smaller rocks your aim being slightly off becomes more of an issue. Level 6 however introduces even smaller faster moving rocks where seemingly if you miss a single shot you will lose. Heck I wonder if even hitting one rock per shot youíd be able to finish the level due to the speed and quantity of rocks. Add to this a very slight issue with hitboxes not working correctly when one rock passes another and the game really does have issues. After 5 attempts at completing level 6 I rage quit again. I have since been back and tried for 30 minutes to pass level 6 I got no further and my reaction was ďOK Iíve had about a bloody nough of this game it can go f&%# itselfĒ and I rage quit again.
What my three ragequits highlight is a poor design choice to only allow you to pick up from every 5 levels in. Even playing on easy level 6 was hard for me. Combine that with the potential issue of levels dragging out and what small appeal the game had dies off very quickly as you canít just play it in short bursts it demands 20 minute minimum up to possible an hour and a half at a time. There may be more to this game that Iím missing but playing as an immovable space station firing energy shots at rocks is a pretty boring game after more than a couple of levels at a time. You can play offline co-op though Iím not sure if that would make the game any better. If the game were to have shorter levels it would be fine or if it let you pick up from any level but the spacing is a huge problem and as such kills any pace.
As I have mentioned I found the slight curve / drop on the shot to be a problem along with other aspects and playing on easy I mentioned I only made it to level 6 and had at least three attempts to pass it before giving up entirely. Itís quite possible the game is merely imbalanced and unfinished being balanced only around co-op play. However it may also be a case of the developer becoming too good at their own game. I mean I was playing on easy mode and being butchered. On the PS2 Iíve finished both Stuntman games even 100% finishing ignition (Iím working on 100% for the 360 version too). Iím not averse to hard games or a challenge, after all I did complete Ravenholm in Half Life 2 without firing a single shot and only using physics objects and the gravity gun. To find a game this hard suggests a real problem especially as the game has 25 levels and level 6 on easy was dong me in. The game does also have a hard mode for the super masochistic amongst my readership who want the gaming experience of playing till their thumbs bleed and only getting 1 level further in.
Now some final complaints to add to this pile. I actually broke the game once, now you might think itís weird considering I have said before I normally contact developers if I find bugs like this. In this case Iím not because my Spanish isnít up to much as from the email request for this well letís just say whoever emailed me was not the person who translated the game so it would probably do little good. I somehow left the game and ended up back at the menu, however the game just locked up and pressing A did nothing on any menu option. I only had it happen once but that bug is there. Finally the death scene is a little long running between 30 seconds and a minute of unskippable cutscene showing the earth being hit and exploding.
Verdict:†Good now hopefully the developer is too drunk to rage at me because he requested this review and Iíve just torn his game a new one pretty much. Luckily thereís a chance I wonít be raged at as the developers first language is English, unluckily I think at lead the developer or one in the team can translate. So let me say I feel bad for the developer having to read his game being ripped apart here and I did read a translation of the developers website so I do feel bad for stomping on a dream here but just as my dream is to marry Kate Beckingsale sometimes people are always capable of that dream. In this case while I donít doubt as a development studio that[font=Arial, sans-serif]†[/font][font='Helvetica Neue Light', HelveticaNeue-Light, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]AxouxereGames[/font]†could improve†the quality of games in its future titles however Iím reviewing the one presented here.
For being a seemingly unfinished, glitch, unblanaced mess of a game there can only be one result here.
My verdict is to avoid this one like I avoided saying ďThe only†Deep Impact†this game left was a negative oneĒ, until now.
Review Bit:†so who here has heard of or played the game†Cut the Rope†?
here,†go play a bit of it on Chrome for free because you know, itís kind of a fun little game
Now youíve done that let me talk about this blatant rip off of the entire concept in the form of†Hungry Dinosaur.†
The game is add supported to make its money rather than microtransaction supported or payed like cut the rope but that doesnít help the fact the game is absolutely damn awful. The physics engine used doesnít actually function fully and the levels seemingly havenít been designed in such a way to compensate for the engine. Consequently some levels I believe are actually impossible to three star. Thatís fine though right as the whole idea of cut the rope is not just the three stars but to get a highscore too.†Hungry Dinosaur†has no high score system, you collect the three stars and thatís it, level done, no reason to go back. So how does this game compensate for the lack of high score systems ? A lot of levels is how. Thereís four sections as such each with 25 levels. To unlock the first new area the game claims you need 50 stars. Guess what ? The game lies, you actually need 50 stars and to finish all of the levels in the previous section to carry on and have got 50 stars.
From the first two areas I played which is all I could bring myself to play they take the ideas and mechanics of cut the rope wholesale and then simply adjust the visuals slightly. So the first area is bubbles and spikes the second is instead of air blowers, little fish that blow air. Even the visual stylingís seem copied: the levels seem like theyíre set in boxes, the different ones even have the same themed colours found in cut the rope with the first being a brownish box and the second blue.
The games further problems are: that it doesnít look that great, the ropes look very blurry almost and low quality; the physics engine and previously mentioned doesnít seem functional to the job; the level design often causes you to have to rely on lucky swings and bounces rather than the sense of a skilled move in Cut the Rope. The games own logic also seems a bit off with instead of sweets you trying to feed the dinosaur meat so why do the spikes break a piece of meat ? Are these ropes the meat is attached to or bungee cords as it bounces up and down ?
Furthering the level design problem is the issue on some levels youíre required to tap or cut a rope near a function button. Now while the†kindle fire†is quite accurate it does make it hard when you have about 1cm between cutting the right rope and hitting the rest button and resetting the level. One level seeing me reset 5 times by accident due to this.
One final complaint is that while in Cut the Rope the music and sound effects are kind of charming, in†Hungry Dinosaurthe sound and music are annoying. I had to trun the music off within 3 levels and the dinosaur sound effects in 6 as the sound effects seem to have been taken from a budget kids dinosaur toy with sound effects.
One last complaint for luck, the game only runs portrait so you can play it landscape no matter how much you want to.
Verdict:††It may be free but I say avoid this as if Time = money this is a waste of your time and therefore your money. Donít download this app not even to try as I think any add money going to this company would just be going to show support for what is a blatantly unoriginal idea aping a more successful one. If you want to play cut the rope just buy it or play the free Chrome app version. Either is better.†
Format:†Android, reviewed on the Kindle Fire HD (game also avaliable on IOS)
Cost:†Free Ad supported
Review bit:††So weíve done a†Cut the Rope†clone now for the obligatory†Mario†clone
Ok this game is far less of a clone than others as it does mix up the gameplay a little.
You play Lep who due to a tornado has lost his gold stash so you set out to get it back. Gameplay for the most part is a standard platformer, the difference between this and your standard Mario game being instead of power ups giving you more hits you have a health system. Yes you can take three hits before you die and you restore health by collecting, what else but, shamrocks. The differences from†Mario†other than the health system are: you can throw pinecones at enemies rather than just jump on them also the enemies that retreat into their shells when hit canít themselves be used as weapons.
As such there are no real power ups in the game so I personally found levels became stale fairly quick other than the odd automatically running stage. Mostly the difference is the aesthetic of the levels and sometimes slightly different obstacles.
Donít get me wrong this is a†Mario†clone game as the aesthetics could have been simply ripped right† from any title. The blocks in game can as youíd expect be smashed by jumping at them with the yellow / organey ones giving items, normally shamrocks. Also the enemy idea of one squishy one that splats when you jump on it and one that goes back into its own shell its very clearly Mario
Other than the whole ďItís a†Mario†cloneĒ I do have two minor issues and one big issue with the game.
Firstly the controls are place such that as a level ends adverts come up just where the controls were and as such more than once I nearly ended up clicking an advert and opening a new window. The second issue is the controls donít feel quite as precise as they need to, they feel just ever so slightly floaty leading some deaths feeling unfair. The big issue I have is on a certain level you have to use the pine cones to break through a wall, now while I had plenty of the damn things itís possible to run out and as such find yourself unable to continue due to previous actions in the game.
Verdict:†Iím guessing if you had the beer goggles on you could mistake this for a†Mario†game. Though in the morning your wake up look over and feel a slight sense of regret over what you did the night before. Iím not going to recommend this game, nor am I going to say itís a huge broken piece of rubbish to be avoided. Also I hear there is a sequel and that actually might do more things different
Name:†MaxAwesome†(hey thatís how the titleís written on my Kindle fire)
Format:†Android, reviewed on the Kindle Fire HD (Also†available†on IOS)
Cost:†Free, ad and micro transaction supported
Review bit:†Joe Danger, a game Iíve never actually played but was apparently a rather underground hit. Turns out it wasnít a case of putting a attempt at a cute character into†Trials HD†like I initially thought a long time ago. Anyway with†Joe Danger†getting a sequel it was inevitable that someone would go and make an Android rip off version of it. Having not played the original I canít bash this one for how unoriginal the ideas are or how much was lifted wholesale from†Joe Danger.
In†Max Awesome†you play Max Awesome (Durrr) a stuntman, and itís your job to complete the obstacle course like levels and complete certain objectives on each level. Objectives range from time attacks to collecting certain items or hitting certain targets to stunt score targets. Each completed objective gives you Awesome, yes thatís the currency of this game, I now forgive any developer for just calling their currency Money as this shows how stupid some currency names can be. The Various items in the store can as far as Iím aware all be bought with in game currency, should you wish to work to get it.
What this means instead is I can bash the game on its own rather unfortunate list of failures. However before I do that its time to throw out a good point for the game. The art direction and style isnít bad. Thatís the best youíre getting. No really thatís it.
So the bad points, oh my the bad points. Firstly the game is designed to get you to spend money, Iíve played most of Trials HD and got through at least all the Easy and Medium tracks and a good portion of hard getting perfect, I struggled on the first few levels to make the times. The unlockables can cut anything from 0.1 to 1.5 seconds off your time and believe me that makes a huge difference. There are also further items that increase your end of level pay outs and score multipliers for score based levels. Without buying anything the game is quite hard and as you need to progress to get currency to buy things, the game is balanced around getting people to buy something by making the game itself harder and more annoying and full of tedious repetition to get you to simply pay up. Next the game is add supported and Microtransaction supported. I believe you can pay £1 to remove the adverts but why not simply charge for the app...... oh wait less people would pick it up and get so annoyed by the adverts theyíd pay that £1 to remove them. The Problem with the adverts is they pop up right before the level starts often you can see the level loaded then suddenly full screen pop up advert for you.
Next the game is mechanically flawed to an extent and the level design actually illustrates these flaws more. Certain parts of the level can find you getting stuck and being unable to continue, other areas have you doing almost blind jumps which on your first play of the level will lead to you being killed.
To put the ass cherry on this turd pie there is a section which sees you race fellow stuntmen, not a multiplayer mode but part of the campaign. So how do you think these would go down ? Some epic race on the track ? Some grand ballet as two stuntman duke it out ? Well I doubt youíd imagine youíd be racing along the level against a cardboard cut out representation of the opponent that bypasses every obstacle and just goes in a straight line to the finish.
Verdict:†MaxAwesome†is far from it, as such from me I say avoid like everyone somehow avoids knowing of the Taurus stunt awards and mainstream TV avoids every showing them here in the UK. Screw the Oscars I want to see the awards for stunt performers already.† Oh yeh†Max Awesome.... itís a bad game designed to get customers to pay and if I were more familiar with the Joe Danger games Iíd probably be far more furious about this one. though at least the game plays better than in the trailer................. yeh that really is the official trailer too.†