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Monthly Archives: November 2014

League of Legends has a developer post up giving their players a pat on the back for not being as toxic as is commonly believed. 95% of players have not received any disciplinary action in the last year. Way to go, you paragons of all that is right and good in humanity!

Oh, wait a second. That means one in twenty of your players IS such a jerk that their behaviour has attracted official sanction. You don’t have to play that many games before you’re pretty certain to run into one of these guys. Also, that one in twenty is actually the floor on any estimate of the actual jerk ratio, because it only counts the jerks who have actually been punished for their behaviour. That’s always a suspect measure, because if Riot Games want to show an ‘improvement’ in this figure, they can do so simply by not punishing people. It also doesn’t count unpleasant behaviour below the threshold for official action – and by all accounts, you can get pretty unpleasant without crossing that threshold.

So anyway, thumbs up, LoL players! Only one in twenty of you are such egregious dipshits that the devs actually bothered to punish you for it this year!

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Syp has been taking a look at which MMO studios can lay claim to leading the industry over at Bio Break. Unfortunately, for good reasons or bad he left out the two who actually released new MMOs this year. Something of an oversight I think, especially since both of them tried to buck the F2P tide and sell us a subscription, and neither can be accused of being a derivative clone of (current state) WoW. Instead, Carbine tried to serve up a fusion of cutting-edge action MMO gameplay with old-school vanilla WoW big ass hardcore raiding, while Zenimax stepped away from the well-trodden path of MMO game mechanics to create something closer to the Skyrim experience without totally alienating the seasoned MMO player. Either of those, if it had succeeded and succeeded big, had the potential to lead future MMO games on a different path from the endless attempts to ‘refine’ World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, neither succeeded all that big.

Carbine are suffering from a really nasty case of ‘slipped halo’ effect at the moment. They had a hype train built up to full steam ahead, for which some responsibility lies with the players and some with Carbine themselves. Then the game landed and turned out to be fun, quirky (and sophomoric – but hey, movie box office receipts suggest that sophomoric sells just fine). However, it turned out NOT to be nearly as revolutionary as it pretended, nor ass inclusive as it should have been. Openly nailing your colours to the “hardcore or GTFO” mast may feel cool when you strike that pose, but it’s decidedly less cool to realise that you’ve told 95% of your player base to GTFO, especially when backtracking on the approach only serves to alienate the remaining 5%. Carbine aren’t aspiring to lead the industry right now – if anything, they’re struggling not to be held up as an object lesson to future developers. While Carbine may claim to have the support of NCSoft West that attitude could be little more than whistling past the graveyard if their Korean masters decide the game is underperforming. It’s probably impolite to mention the words Tabula Rasa within earshot of any Carbine employees…

Zenimax seem to be doing somewhat better, if only because the gamer community had lower expectations and in fact decided to hate the game, sight unseen, for not being their ideal of The One True Elder Scrolls Game regardless of how well their ideal would have actually worked out (pro tip – Skyrim is a single player game. Many things that are cool in single player games are somewhat less cool when some jerk with a mind of his own is in your virtual world). The public berating of ESO has died down as the usual suspects have moved on to crucifying Wildstar for murdering their favourite kittens, the player base seems to have fallen off much less of a cliff than Wildstar’s, and Zenimax are putting out a reasonable pipeline of updates. I think ESO has settled into the same sort of niche as SWTOR and RIFT – a comfortable player base whilst not being anywhere near challenging WoW’s dominance, enough to be profitable with a good-sized community of satisfied players even if they aren’t being raved about by the cool kids. Could ESO have been bigger? Probably, if only they’d sent their interns out to sleep with gaming journalists for better reviews at launch 🙂 However, I don’t think it’s going to be seen as a stain on anyone’s resume.

Richard Bartle is musing on relative finger lengths and game controls over at his blog. His main point is that men have (slightly) longer ring fingers than index fingers on average, whereas women tend to have both fingers the same length, and whether this is a help or a hindrance when using WASD keys plus right hand on the mouse.

I’m pretty sure the good doctor is joking, and I’d like to file this under “does it really, honestly, make a difference?” except in the current toxic climate some bozo is either going to leap on it as an example of the patriarchal oppressive nature of game design (if the men have an edge) or else evidence that even with a biological advantage girls still suck at games so they should shut up and go make us a sandwich (if equal length digits prove superior).

For the record: my index finger is slightly longer than my ring finger on both hands, which bucks the trend for males; the fact that I resemble a werewolf at times implies there’s nothing much wrong with my levels of male hormones; and I’m a southpaw so I use the cursor keys as God intended instead of this WASD malarkey, and am eternally grateful that Razer FINALLY brought out a left-handed Naga MMO mouse.