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Politics

Election photo
Election

The National Video Game Arcade's election event is reading your tweets


I hope they're hamburgers
May 05
// Joe Parlock
It’s almost that time again. Time for the great British-and-also-Northern-Irish-people to filter in to the polling stations, tick little bits of paper, and then have no change ever come about as a result. It’s tim...
Threats in D.C. photo
Threats in D.C.

#GamerGate get-together sabotaged by threats


Social event in Washington D.C. ruined
May 04
// Jonathan Holmes
[Photo via Daddy_Warpig.] A recent #GamerGate-themed meetup organized by "critic of contemporary feminism" Christina Hoff Sommers and political pundit/wonk Milo Yiannopoulos was put to a disturbing and sudden e...
Senran Kagura photo
Senran Kagura

Fake VR boob goggles showed me that 'two party politics' are no good for gaming


Maybe it was inevitable
Mar 31
// Jonathan Holmes
Last week, Steven Hansen did a news story about some fake boob-infused videogame consoles that Marvelous made up to promote the next Senran Kagura game. I did a video about those videos for our YouTube channel, and it w...
Tropes vs Women photo
Tropes vs Women

New Tropes vs Women series Positive Female Characters debuts


Checkmate, Link!
Mar 31
// Jed Whitaker
Everyone's favorite feminist Anita Sarkeesian is back and this time with a new sub-series of Tropes vs Women in Gaming called Positive Female Characters. In the debut episode Anita takes a look at the main character fro...
GDC photo
GDC

Seen at GDC: Game development is for whites only


Diversity (or lack thereof) gets the stink finger
Mar 04
// Robert Summa
Spotted around the happenings of this year's Game Developers Conference was a sticker that tells us game development is for whites only. Diversity in game development (especially amongst the sexes) continues to be a hot-butto...
38 Studios lawsuit photo
38 Studios lawsuit

Judge okays first settlement in 38 Studios lawsuit


$4.4 million agreement between Rhode Island EDC and bond attorney approved
Jul 27
// Kyle MacGregor
A judge has approved the first settlement in Rhode Island's lawsuit over the ill-fated $75 million deal that brought Kingdoms of Amalur developer 38 Studios to the state in 2010. The ruling from Superior Court Judge Mich...
Obama and The Witcher photo
Obama and The Witcher

Thanks Obama: U.S. President mentions The Witcher in visit to Poland


Admits he is 'not very good at videogames'
Jun 03
// Darren Nakamura
Public relations in the videogame industry can be grueling. There are hundreds of contacts to keep, thousands of emails to send, and even after all of that, there is no guarantee that an outlet will pick up the story. So much...
Metro dev relocates HQ photo
Metro dev relocates HQ

Metro studio 4A Games moving headquarters out of Ukraine


A second studio to be opened on Malta
May 13
// Kyle MacGregor
Metro: Last Light developer 4A Games is in the process of opening a second studio on the island nation of Malta. The new location will serve as the company's headquarters moving forward, while the existing studio in Kiev, Ukr...
Politics photo
Politics

Anti-game senator Leland Yee arrested on fraud, gun trafficking charges


Sweet irony
Mar 27
// Jordan Devore
California state senator Leland Yee was arrested Wednesday on charges of honest services fraud and gun trafficking. A vocal opponent of violent videogames, Yee should be no stranger to long-time Destructoid readers given his ...
Battlefield photo
Battlefield

China bans Battlefield 4


Surprise, surprise
Dec 28
// Harry Monogenis
I remember browsing the Origin store a few days ago to see if EA was going to at least try and compete with Steam's Holiday Sale when I came across the Battlefield 4: China Rising expansion in the 'New Releases' sec...
BioShock Infinite photo
BioShock Infinite

The Tea Party doesn't understand BioShock Infinite


Conservative group confuses satire with propaganda
Dec 16
// Alessandro Fillari
Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. It's not every day when an ultra-c...
38 Studios photo
38 Studios

Poll: Half of voters want to default on 38 Studios loan


Hurry, imagine away the $90 million debt!
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
A majority of Rhode Islanders are in favor of becoming ostriches, burying their heads in the sand, and pretending the debt incurred from the state's ill-fated loan to Kingdoms of Amalur developer 38 Studios no longer exists, ...
High Voltage Software photo
High Voltage Software

The Conduit developer seeking tax incentives in Illinois


High Voltage Software appears from the woodwork
Nov 06
// Kyle MacGregor
High Voltage Software is seeking tax credits from the Illinois state legislature, according to a report surrounding a number of companies looking for incentives currently stalled by a veto from governor Pat Quinn over a lack ...
Politics photo
Politics

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden inspired by videogames


Like game hereos, some are forced to do difficult things for the greater good
Oct 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Videogames were reportedly the inspiration behind what's been billed the most significant leak of classified information in US History. In an interview with The Advocate, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald spoke to the motiva...
38 Studios photo
38 Studios

Court battle over 38 Studios begins in Rhode Island


RIEDC v. Wells Fargo Securities LLC is underway
Oct 13
// Kyle MacGregor
The trial between 38 Studios founder Curt Schilling and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has begun. Opening arguments from both sides were made Friday in Rhode Island Super Court, The Providence Journal repor...
Kingdoms of Amalur photo
Kingdoms of Amalur

Rhode Island governor allegedly forced 38 Studios closure


Former RIEDC director backs up criticism of government inaction
Oct 06
// Kyle MacGregor
The former head of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has accused the state's governor, Lincoln Chafee, of preventing 38 studios' attempts to avoid bankruptcy, the Boston Globe reports.  Keith Stokes, the ...
GTAV gubernatorial race photo
GTAV gubernatorial race

Grand theft subtlety: GTAV governor candidates are awful


"I hate immigrants, the crippled; I can't stand unions, cops, old ladies"
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Grand Theft Auto V is getting gubernatorial with these two political campaign videos. Former actor and stuntman Jock Stanley (above) is running against incumbent liberal and "successfully divorced school teacher" Sue Murry (...
Kickstarter photo
Kickstarter

St. Christopher's is in lockdown in a new adventure game


Kickstarter campaign for an adventure game set in a UK private school
Jun 24
// Alasdair Duncan
If you're going to attract people to backing your Kickstarter for an adventure game, then promising "no meaningless fetch quests, no mazes and no pixel hunts" is a good way to do it. The St. Christopher's School Lockdow...
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Biden: No legal reason why 'violent' games can't be taxed


Vice President tells Reverend Asshole that'd be just fine
May 14
// Jim Sterling
Vice President Joe Biden recently had a meeting with religious leaders to discuss gun control, and violent media was discussed. God forbid we don't obfuscate the gun discussion with more demented strawmen.  Reverend Fran...
Electronic Arts photo
Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts distancing itself from gun manufacturers


Plans to use branded weapons without licenses going forward
May 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Electronic Arts is distancing itself from the gun industry. Well, sort of. The publisher plans to cut ties with gun manufacturers while still using branded weapons in its future titles. In the past, EA has approached gun comp...

SimCity, Colonial Marines, and The Silence

Apr 23 // Jim Sterling
The trouble with games media -- and indeed most news-based media -- is that it's predominantly reactionary. If there is action in the industry, the bloggers and journalists can react. Conversely, without action, there can be no reaction. During SimCity's launch, Electronic Arts and EA Maxis made all sorts of statements and promises -- activities we could react to, in order to keep the story going and add to the pressure being applied to the companies involved.  As soon as EA and Maxis keep their heads down, however, the story largely goes away, almost instantly. After all, most of the information comes directly from the companies, so if they stop giving out, there's nothing to take. A number of outlets can continue to ask for comments from these companies, but with launch period over and a reduced need for promotion, the chances of getting a response start shrinking at a rapid pace. Rock, Paper, Shotgun learned this -- it's attempted to get a comment repeatedly, but to no avail. Neither EA nor Maxis have to say anything anymore -- they had their SimCity launch, they got their money, now they just need to sit back and let the bad press shrivel into oblivion.  Aliens: Colonial Marines is another fine example. During launch, there was plenty to dig up about what I still maintain is one of the most fascinating screw-ups in recent videogame memory. At first, it was amazing to see how deep the rabbit hole went, to try and work out how six years of Gearbox time led to such an unfinished mess of a game, attempting to fathom how much of the project was outsourced to TimeGate, and who developed what. But during this time, Gearbox was largely maintaining a stonewall of silence, and even outspoken developer Randy Pitchford limited himself to a tiny handful of Twitter outbursts.  Nowadays, Pitchford spends his time retweeting positive comments about Colonial Marines, talking up the fanbase and boasting about how many people like it. As negative coverage dries up, these tactics begin to succeed, rewriting the narrative to shut out the criticism and portray a story where only positivity exists. People like me, who covered the debacle extensively, get referred to as harmful individuals, out to personally injure the studio for some vindictive agenda. This is the second major problem with covering these kinds of controversial games -- do it enough, and publishers start to paint you as a lunatic.  We saw this recently with Peter Moore, responding preemptively to its "victory" in The Consumerist's Worst Company of America competition. Moore, having already guessed EA would clinch the prize, wrote a blog demonizing EA's critics, suggesting that most people who dislike the company are homophobes angry about Mass Effect's same-sex romance, or irrational maniacs upset over certain athletes appearing on Madden box art. While EA maintains total silence over legitimate complaints -- such as knowingly launching a game that would be broken by design -- Moore pens self-serving fan fiction in which EA's raked over the coals exclusively by bigots and bedlamites.  The real kicker is, if you want to keep these stories alive, if you care about industry bullshit and feel it's too important to simply forget, you have no choice but to reinforce the publisher's narrative and look like a vindictive crackpot. After all, if publishers are staying quiet, if they're ignoring your requests for comments, what can you do? At that point, your options are limited, and mostly involve inventing new articles from whole cloth -- be it a no-news post that simply reminds people a certain problem still exists, or finding some contrived way to pen a "fresh" op-ed on things people already know about. At that point, you end up becoming the very fanatic publishers say you are.  Most writers don't want to do that. They don't want to become some raving demagogue, and I do find it hard to blame them. Some games writers want to just write about the software and blot out the seedy surroundings -- and I get that. Hell, many readers want that, and I understand it completely. In fact, if you cover a topic too many times, most readers will start a backlash, which is another issue that cripples one's ability to keep the pressure on.  A cat may love being petted, but if you do it to the point of over-stimulation, they start to bite the hand that's stroking, and no matter how passionate gamers are about a subject -- they will grow tired of it in time. It's a natural reaction, and one that I can't blame anybody for, especially in an age of information overload, where news moves quickly and no subject can stick around for long.  Once a reader has had his or her fill of a topic, the backlash begins. The shitstorm surrounding SOPA was exciting to most people for a while, but it required a lot of coverage to truly communicate how vile it was, and a lot of coverage -- in the Internet age of aggressive apathy -- is too much coverage. It didn't take long for comments to go from intrigued to lethargic, with calls for Destructoid to "let it go" and "move on" and "just go back to talking about videogames." Be it about online passes, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Electronic Arts or harmful legislation, I've been told to "get over it" more than I can adequately remember. I've gotten told to "get over" almost everything I continue to care about, and I dare say it's a familiar phrase to anybody who's talked about a certain controversial subject for a long enough amount of time. Sadly, that's exactly what publishers bank on. It's just what they're waiting for. All they have to do is batten down the hatches, erect the flame shield, and wait for the community to turn on itself, to split between those who have gotten over it, and those who need to get over it. Eventually, apathy wins, everybody gets over it, and the publisher can hype its next unfinished piece of shit, that the cycle may begin anew.  So what can be done? Nothing, probably. Just keep on keeping on. However, I do hope that those who do "get over" these things, and angrily demand others join them, understand that they're essentially a brick in the publisher's stonewall. Nobody is obligated to be angry and indignant -- I would not be so arrogant as to demand any reader or fellow writer take up arms for a cause they don't believe in, and more than likely don't think matters. However, I do ask for an understanding equal to mine -- an understanding that it's equally arrogant to demand others stop caring about something, just because you don't care. There are many who continue to give a shit about SimCity, Aliens, and all sorts of other nasty industry crap, and they're having a hard enough time keeping the discussion alive with publishers attempting to drown them out and snootily dismiss them as a "vocal minority." And that goes double for the "game journalists" of the industry. Those whose job it is to cover the industry and serve the readers, yet tell other writers to get over it, to stop whining, and to just talk about videogame press releases. Those journalists who call angry gamers "entitled" and dismiss their complaints. Those journalists who join publishers -- often publicly laughing with them -- and sneer at anybody with a criticism. You know who you are. I know who you are. And I know Electronic Arts is not your friend, no matter how much you cuddle up to them.  It should, really, go triple for publishers themselves. It should be said that they'd be best served not looking like decadent aristocrats, smugly dumping on the "vocal minority" and boasting about how much money they've made, as if raking in ill-gotten dubloons is an automatic invalidation of any complaint, rather than a fallacious use of argumentum ad populum. It should be said, but what's the point trying to squeeze blood from that stone? After all, these are the words of a lunatic from the fringe minority, who really should get over it. But won't.
SimCity Silence photo
Keep your head down, then rewrite the story
Recently, John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote a compelling article on SimCity, and how Electronic Arts' maintenance of radio silence has demonstrated total effectiveness in getting everybody to shut up. The basic argume...

STEM Video Game Challenge photo
STEM Video Game Challenge

STEM Video Game Challenge at the White House Science Fair


Leaders acknowledge the good that videogame development can do
Apr 22
// Darren Nakamura
For the second year now, the White House Science Fair has invited National STEM Video Game Challenge participants in its effort to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among American youth....
Indie game vs NRA photo
Indie game vs NRA

The Best Amendment calls out the NRA


"Hell is other people. But what if other people are you?"
Apr 07
// Fraser Brown
In an effort to poke holes in NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre's belief that only a "good guy" with a gun can stop a "bad guy" with a gun, Paolo Pedercini has created The Best Amendment, a satirical PC game, report...
Videogames & Violence photo
Videogames & Violence

Poll: Playing videogames correlates with violent behavior


The debate rages on
Feb 26
// Kyle MacGregor
In the wake of the recent string of violent acts across the United States, many are still looking for someone or something to blame. A majority of Americans (58 percent) believe playing videogames contributes to increased lev...
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President Obama wants game design in high schools


The President looks at the positive effects of gaming in education
Feb 18
// Allistair Pinsof
Game design programs in high schools can encourage kids to learn math and programming, President Barack Obama said in an online interview with the public. In response to a question about adding programming requirement in publ...
Violent Videogames photo
Violent Videogames

Poll: Violent videogames more dangerous than guns


The saga continues
Feb 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Apparently, violent videogames are more dangerous than guns. That's what 67 percent of Republicans think, anyway. Over two thirds of those surveyed in a recent national poll believe plastic discs are a "bigger safety thr...
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EA wants to be 'part of the solution' in violence debate


CEO says games aren't responsible, but must tackle negative perception
Jan 31
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello addressed the recent criticisms leveled at the videogame industry following the Sandy Hook shooting. While the executive was keen to point out the lack of evidence suggesting games are res...
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US senator definitively claims games are worse than guns


Idiot moron says something idiotically moronic
Jan 30
// Jim Sterling
Many politicians will heavily imply that videogames are far more lethal than weapons designed to be lethal, but U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander has taken the idiot ball and ran for the hills with it clasped in his gnarled t...

A gratuitous interview with Cliff Harris

Jan 30 // Fraser Brown
[embed]243370:46598[/embed] Thankfully, I quickly discovered that Cliff isn't the sort of chap who would actually kill a man with a bow for asking a silly question. And that's good, because I'm a rambler who sometimes even forgets what question he started to ask. It also turned out that I had unplugged my mic and was using my camera's mic the whole time, giving my voice a delightful distant, tinny quality. So, off to a great start.  Cliff's last finished project was the seventh expansion to Gratuitous Space Battles, The Outcasts, which adds a new cybernetic race and a slew of additional ship designs, modules, and weapons. It's a hoot, as I mentioned in my impressions article last week. Like the core game, the DLC is a mix of different things that Cliff loves about the science-fiction genre, as he explains. "It's kind of a mash-up of all kinds of sci-fi things that I quite like. It's partly the Borg from Star Trek, it's partly the Cybermen (Doctor Who). [It's] a species becoming sort of more and more meshed with machines over time and being shunned for it. "I quite like that whole kind of thing, because I'm sure we're going to end up going that way ourselves. It's inevitable that some people will have real problems with it, and the whole thing with GSB is that every race has some -- to them -- perfectly justifiable reason to wipe out everyone else."   While all the races in GSB have their own unique themes and backstory -- and no small amount of character -- it all takes a backseat to the detailed planning and the explosive, hands-off space battles. The Outcasts aren't the most rational bunch, nuking their entire planet from orbit after being shunned by their fleshy, meatbag brethren. But as Cliff points out, "there's nothing rational about an intergalactic war."  Despite the loose theme of the Oucasts and their foes, Cliff created the new content more to fill in gaps where he thought the game was missing something. "It's funny, I've always got something in my head about things I'd like to improve about the game and things that are missing. And one of the things that I found when I play the game a lot and test it a lot is that the mid-range ships, the frigates, they don't last very long. They're basically laser fodder. So I wanted a race that had slightly better frigates than everyone else, which was one of the aims of it. The general feedback is that's the case." I certainly noticed that my frigates -- which had previously often been nothing more than ticking time-bombs -- had become more stalwart, though it helped that I'd started to actually give them orders before the battle that actually made sense. It's advice that Cliff reiterates. "The reason the frigates go up in smoke immediately is because people don't have a coherent fleet that sticks together... [b]ut if you're thinking of it like a puzzle, where you've got your cruisers and they are supported by the frigates, and the fighters acting like a screen, it all does works, but unfortunately some people don't go to that trouble." Over the space of three years, Gratuitous Space Battles has seen 62 updates and seven expansions, which struck me as a hell of a lot. The Outcasts took around three months to get from concept to finished product, but Cliff doesn't see that as particularly fast. "I am a bit of a workaholic. I do look at other indie games, and I think 'why did this take you so many years, what were you doing?' But I do put in quite a few hours each day. Yeah, that seemed quite a long time to me." He didn't always have a three-year plan, however. He noted that it mainly happened due to the success of the core game. "It's quite trendy to bash developers that do DLC, there's a lot of 'it should all have been in the game' and it's laughable -- it would have taken forever. No, I didn't plan... I thought I'd do a game, because I've never done DLC before, I've done a lot of patches after my games, but not DLC, so I thought I'd do a game and then I'd do some post-release updates, and then I'd immediately have to go on to the next game. That's the economic reality. But then it took off, sold incredibly well, and went in a Humble Bundle... To be honest, I could do another expansion, and loads of people would like it and buy it. It's quite surprising, you could probably go on forever." Cliff has a good rapport with the community, and since Positech Games is a solo company, he's always the one updating the forums and communicates with players directly. He admits that some of the community probably know the stats better than he does, and he's constantly impressed with their passion and enthusiasm. This had an impact on the DLC, specifically when it came to stats and balance, as he points out. "I get quite a few emails and messages from hardcore players saying that this particular weapon is no good because it's inferior to this other weapon under these circumstances, and like I said, they know it better than me to some extent. There was quite a bit of that, and quite a few of the stats changed. I still have the same stuff in there that I was going to have, there was nothing that I scraped, but a lot of the ship stats changed massively from how I originally set them up. "The thing is, when you’re putting loads of stuff together like, it's very easy to dismiss something stupid. Like you realize you've got two ships, and one is just better than the other, and you think 'how did that happen?' because you're always adjusting things to get things right. Things can just get messy. But that was really helpful. I should have always done that really. I was just wary of things dragging on forever and endless flame wars... which can easily happen."   This level of transparency and communication is in stark contrast to Cliff's experience at larger development studios like Lionhead and Elixir. "I used to get told off a lot at Lionhead for talking to the community too much. They'd ask a question like 'will you be able to do this in the game,' and normally you can't answer that. But if you're the guy that coded it, well, yeah you can, I'm looking at the code right now, and I got a bit told off for that. "But with Positech, because it's me, there's nobody to tell me what I can say or can't say, and if someone suggests something on the forums and I think that's a good idea then it will happen -- as long as it's feasible. There's nobody that I have to argue round, whereas with most companies, even with a lot of other indie companies, if there's two or three of them, you won't get that sort of discussion and response because they need to agree on whether or not they are going to do that. But here it's a dictatorship of me, so I can just say yeah, that sounds great, I'll put that in, or I won't for whatever reason." Modders make up a large part of the GSB community, as is the case with many Positech titles. This is in no small part thanks to the relative ease of modding the base game, as Cliff mentions. "[T]he files are basically text. It's much easier with Excel, but you can edit a lot of the stuff just in Notepad. That massively reduces the barrier to entry. I think there are loads of people out there who'd love to mod games, but their experience of modding is like stuff like Half-Life and games like that where there's a software development kit and all this stuff they don't understand and they don't want to take the time -- quite reasonably, I think -- to learn to do that. "A lot of games... in order to mod them you've basically got to be a game developer; in which case you should make your own game, frankly. So there's all these casual, frustrated modders, and I think they like really GSB because they don't need to know that much, they can pick it up from the forums, they can look at text bars and see how much damage a plasma beam does, and they just need to do a few key strokes, press save, and run the game." The mods available are extremely diverse, and run the gamut from simple stat alterations to large-scale overhauls inspired by the likes of Mass Effect and Halo.  Unfortunately, there are occasionally ramifications when it comes to making free mods based on existing IPs, and even more barriers when it comes to commercial ventures, and this is why you won't be seeing a Bird of Prey in any official GSB updates, which Cliff laments. "When the Star Trek games try to do this they turn out so badly. I'm a huge fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and there was this game, Dominion Wars..." At this point I couldn't help but groan. A bloody awful game, have no doubt about. "It was embarrassingly bad, I couldn't play it and I loved DS9. I'd split the money with them happily to do an official Dominion and Cardassian fleet in the game. But you know it would never happen, and that's kind of sad." The mention of Star Trek games dragged us off on a tangent, discussing the merits and flaws of my favorite vice, MMOs. Star Trek Online can be blamed as the catalyst, as it's a game I still find myself playing from time to time, and one Cliff attempted to give a shot. "I wanted to like it, and I did try it for a bit. It doesn't feel like Star Trek, none of these games ever feel like... apart from EVE Online, that gets it, but everything else feels like I'm in a playground with a load of kids... All MMOs are kind of targeting 13-year-old boys, I think, and I think that's a bit unfortunate. I would love a Star Trek Online game where I could run a bar like Quark's."  Not being allowed to run DS9's infamous Ferengi run bar and casino aside, Cliff also takes issue with the way NPCs often end up being nothing more than static quest dispensers, absent greater purpose or character. He compares the experience to playing Facebook games, and admits that he'd much rather play more EVE Online -- which should come as no surprise given the focus of GSB. "EVE Online is very different. I rage quit that game several times over the years, losing a ship at a warp gate and saying, 'That's it, I've had it with this game', but I think that's by far the best MMO ever made. It is stupidly overcomplicated, but it's a massive achievement. It's an incredible game." I start to realize I could chat away about MMOs and Star Trek all day if I wanted to, but remember that I'm working. Going off on tangents makes me recall a story I'd heard about the origins of GSB -- that it had initially been an Earth-bound dictator sim. Master of segues that I am, I ask Cliff how the heck this turned into a strategic space simulator. "All my games change massively," he explains. "I started work on the dictator game, and I needed a map of your country that you control various bits of. Rebels would show up here, and you'd go and use chemical weapons on their village... that sort of a game. And when I was working on that map, I don't know what it was, but I just thought it would be better in space. It was a sudden bolt out of the blue, and the more I thought about it the more I naturally started programming a space game, and that would branch into GSB eventually." A frustrating experience with a Total War title -- he forgets which one -- led to him making the battle portions of GSB hands-off. He didn't feel as in control of the battle as the game made him feel he should be, so he "decided to make a game where that would actually be expected," hence the style of the space sim's battle phases. He confesses that "[i]t's a bit of a torturous route to get from the origins of the game to how it ended up." The unusual twists that led to GSB becoming the game that it has become has parallels in how Cliff ended up being an indie game developer. Before becoming an indie developer he had jobs at Maxis, Lionhead, and Elixir, but even before that he'd been making games himself. So this is his second time running an indie business. His early games, such as Planetary Defense and Starship Tycoon, didn't sell well enough to keep him afloat, but they did help him get a job in the mainstream industry.  "I never thought I'd get a job in the games industry," he recollects. "I'm 43, I'm slightly older than most indie game developers... I've got no degree in computer programming or computer science, and it was very, very difficult, I think, to get into the industry without some sort of formal qualification. So I just kind of naturally assumed that I wouldn't be able to get a job in the industry, and if I wanted to program games, I'd have to teach myself. I then worked in the industry for about five years, because if you've actually finished a game it's really easy to get a job, especially back then -- nobody had finished games, that was rare. "So you immediately got a job in that case. It was just the default position. And then going from the industry back to going to a full-time indie like I am now, that was mostly frustration with the bureaucracy and the speed that games are made in the mainstream industry... it kind of drove me crazy. And also I wanted to be a designer really, and you don't get to do that in the industry unless it's your company... Also, I'm quite opinionated and independent. I didn't really fit in in the proper industry."   His strong opinions recently got him some flak after he wrote a blog post criticizing Kickstarter. He recalls that some folk were none too happy about his thoughts on the massive crowd-sourcing platform. "I blogged about this and I got a huge ton of abuse from everybody. I was only saying what I think. I like Kickstarter, and I'm glad Kickstarter exists... and it screws over the big publishers, which is amazing. I'm a big fan of that. I'd never use it. If I needed to, maybe it would be different, but I prefer not to because I don't know what I'm doing, and I like the freedom to change my mind." Cliff still thinks that the platform makes sense for sequels where the concept has already been fleshed out, and the developers know exactly what they need to do and what's in store for them. One of the biggest issues for him are the reward tiers. "I don't like that you can name, say, a planet. I'm not George Lucas or anything, but if I name a planet, or a character, or I design a ship, then I do have -- without being too pretentious about it -- a vision. It makes sense in my head. If you're letting, not just a random selection of people, but the people who have the most money to spare, to come along and say the planet should actually be called Steve, or whatever, I think that's a little bit dodgy, because you're not really getting what the designer wanted. You're getting what the designer had to compromise over with a group of people. So it's unlikely you'll be seeing Gratuitous Space Battles 2 on Kickstarter, though a sequel is certainly something he's planning in the future. First, however, he's working on Democracy 3, and once he's done with that he'll have time to figure out GSB2. "I kind of don't want to commit myself I'll be able to do this until I've done it... in my mind it's all brilliant. It looks amazing, and works perfectly, but I'm not sure until I try and do it. It will just be better in every way, let's put it that way. Visually and also in terms of customization... because in the game I did after [GSB], Gratuitous Tank Battles, the tanks look different, with different variants of each one, and you could have camouflage patterns with different colors, and I'd really like do that, but a lot more for GSB." You can grab a demo of Gratuitous Space Battles from the Positech site, or pick up The Outcasts DLC from there and Steam. 
Positech Games interview photo
Musings on The Outcasts, game development, modders, and Kickstarter
Okay, so maybe I'm playing it fast and loose with the headline. Like most interviews, my conversation with the affable Cliff Harris of Gratuitous Space Battles fame was arranged quite some time before and was most certainly c...

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EA joins HRC coalition to repeal Defense of Marriage Act


Publisher does a good turn for gay rights
Jan 29
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts has thrown its lot in with the Human Rights Campaign, a coalition of business allied to help repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. The act, for those not in the know, is bigotry dressed in the coward's garb of t...






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