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Yeah, I know, it's an essay. So skip the parts you don't care about.

You know that weird kid in high school who was ignored by everyone? Quiet, smart, had a few friends, never went to parties or anything?

That was me. I had a few friends, but not many. I was bullied once or twice but there weren't many people who really felt like picking on me. I got good enough grades, but didn't care enough to continually get straight A's. I was good at math, science, art, and english, but failed miserably in social studies.

I first got to experience Windows XP on a laptop that my parents bought for me for college in 2004 - prior to that, my parents had avoided computers enough to stay stuck in Windows 98 with a 56k connection.

I went to college (Bethel University in St. Paul, MN) in the fall of 2004 as an Applied Physics major. In 2005, I was hired as an IT support guy in my college's library. That semester, I took my first computer science course. That summer, I built my first computer (Athlon 64, 2GB of RAM, GeForce 6600GT). The next year at school, I switched to a computer science major. Within a year, I was using linux as my main operating system. By my senior year, I had stopped using Windows altogether.

As a result of my awkward growth in computer knowledge, I have gaps in my knowledge. Weird ones.

In gaming, I grew up with Mortal Kombat, Primal Rage, The Legacy of Kain, Hitman, Thief, Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex, Vagrant Story, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, Neverwinter Nights, and a number of other, less memorable games. I continue to enjoy these and consider the current generation of gaming kind of half-assed, with the occasional exception (Demon's Souls being the most notable).

I am a PC gamer with my occasional stints into console gaming entirely taken up by the PS3, although I can't say I've been willing to touch the thing since Sony removed linux support.

In the end, I can best be described as a linux-focused traditional gamer. I love the classics and any game that is willing to use a more classic formula. I play all of my Windows games using Wine on linux. I even maintain the Dungeons and Dragons Online page on WineHQ's AppDB. It's not much, but it's what I have time for.

I now work as a python and C developer, postgresql database administrator, and (occasionally) linux systems administrator at a company named Consistent State.

4:43 PM on 02.10.2011

Are you seriously trying to compare physical objects to abstract ideas? Really?

You go to a store to buy a chair and you can sit in one for a while, test it out. Feel what it's made of. You can't always tell how good it is from that bit, but you generally get a pretty good idea.

You go to a store to buy a video game and you get three 2cm by 2.5cm screenshots to base its worth on. Same thing with movies. You usually don't even get that with music CDs.

Piracy cannot be compared to stealing, because they are not the same. Even in the absolute worst case, piracy can only be compared to looking at a chair, deciding you want one, taking a few pictures of it, and then hiring your friend (or some asian children) to make a copy of it from raw materials for a very small fraction of the price (which the company who makes the chair will never see) - but it cannot be compared to actually taking an object from someone else.

People who pirate rarely do so on a "I want to get free stuff" basis. Normally, at least in my experience, they pirate on a "I want to try stuff out before I buy it because large corporations tend to release feces to make money and I don't want to pay money for feces"

In these cases, it could be looked at buying the chair and using it for a while, then returning it. Or, in the best of cases, it could be looked at as demoing the chair in the store to see if it's worth the price. Granted, you're demoing the chair without permission, but still.

The point I'm trying to make is that none of these are considered thievery. Illegal in many cases, sure, but not to the extent of thievery.

In the end, the problem is that you're paying money for someone to share their idea with you. The problem there is that a person who shares his idea can't exactly say, "Now, you can't share this idea with anyone else, because if you do, I'll sue you." Sharing an idea is a very difficult way to make money, and I'm not entirely sure that the way we purchase things is ready for it. I mean, paying money for stuff is great, but paying money for non-stuff is a little weird.

Maybe the solution is to pay for imaginary stuff with imaginary money? I really don't know. The open source industry is finally figuring out how to handle software, but when it comes to games, well there's no real organization that's going to hire a bunch of people to add a feature or three to a video game.

Anyway, stop trying to compare the two. Just stop. It makes you look like a complete moron to the people who actually know what they're talking about.

(Started as a comment on the Two Worlds II review, but it got long)

I'm the odd one out who desperately wanted to love Oblivion but found that I hated it and still consider it among the worst games of the decade due to:


The "enemies level with you" idea effectively eliminated the RPG elements, because there was no way to make your character more powerful - leveling up or getting new loot just meant that your enemies leveled up or got new loot, too. Effectively, this is doing the exact same thing as the FPS games that give you new skills and/or weapons throughout the game - the FPS gives you stuff and then promptly makes its enemies tougher.

For a game that most people still claim is an RPG, this is at least as bad as the recharging health that has become the norm in FPS games - in much the same way, the tension is gone. Recharging health removed those tension-filled stints where you had 5 HP and needed to play flawlessly for a few minutes until you found a medkit or health station, while having enemies' levels match the player's level got rid of that worry that you might be about to take on some incredibly powerful monstrosity, and it also took away the satisfaction of finally getting to a high enough level where you could go in and take your revenge.

It had too crappy a combat system to be called an action game. If all of the RPG elements are being dumbed down to the level of an FPS, then the combat system needs to be compared to an FPS. After all, the primary reason to play a shooter is to have fun killing things. But Bethesda couldn't even get that right - the combat AI presented no challenge, the various attacks that you could pull off were uninteresting and required too many button presses to be efficient, and to top it all off you couldn't even fight on a horse.

The animations were so bad that they made graphics that looked amazing in screenshots fall to the point where games from 2000 seemed prettier when presented in videos or in game. I'm not huge on graphics, but animations are important to even me - when a company focuses so much on textures and polygon count that they forget to make their polygons rotate at the hips to do a diagonal strafe, it reminds me of the earliest 3D games, in early Playstation days. Yes, the original. Anyone ranting about how good Oblivion looks needs to stop looking at screenshots and start playing in third person - it's about as appealing as a fresh, steaming pile of dog poo on top of your kitchen table.

It offered to let you play as characters that were to become absolutely useless later on. I mean, admittedly, I'm a bit off the beaten path in that I love to play monk characters, but really, in a world with magic, what's preventing a mage who is studied in close combat from coating his fists in a magical flame or something? Could we at least get some sort of magical buff to our fists that lets us deal damage to ghosts? I'm happy playing a heavily underpowered character, but when there's something that the character should, by all rights, be able to do, I would really appreciate it if that thing is at least possible.


What we're effectively left with is an unbalanced fantasy FPS with a horrible combat system, no multiplayer, and graphics that were only impressive in screenshots. After 250 mods (about 15 GB worth, I think), I finally had a playable game, but by that point my enjoyment had been castrated by previous attempts to play to the point where I couldn't even finish playing the modded game.

But Two Worlds II actually has me very interested. If it's a little more classic RPG with a sense of humor and has a world even half as detailed as Oblivion, I'm going to enjoy it. If it has a better combat system and unarmed combat isn't completely worthless, I'll probably love it. The online multiplayer is just icing on the cake.

Plus, the animations look much better than Oblivion's. The reviews all say Two Worlds II's animations are half-assed, but from what I've seen, the character at least points his feet in the direction he's trying to walk.

*cracks knuckles* Time to get TWII working in Wine.