Cat Context 45: The One Where We Fight About Player Generated Content
Feb19

Cat Context 45: The One Where We Fight About Player Generated Content

cat context vertical Cat Context 45: The One Where We Fight About Player Generated Content

Ostensibly Liore sat down with Arolaide and Ellyndrial to talk about their beta experiences in Titanfall and The Elder Scrolls Online but what actually happened was… a long battle over the definition of “player generated content”.

Apparently sandbox MMOs are the way of the future because we players tear through studio-generated content too quickly, but what counts as player generated content? Is it building a house like EQN Landmark? Is PvP player generated content, and if so is that why games like Counterstrike are fun even years later?

We’re not sure, but we have differing opinions and we’re going to shout about it!

Also, there’s a little talk about the TESO and Titanfall betas. Just a bit.

This podcast was also livestreamed as a hangout on air:

It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)

* John Smedley’s blog on SOE and player-generated content.
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

It’s Okay to Insta-level (WoW)

In what was probably a mistake, earlier today the live WoW servers briefly displayed a price for automatically levelling a character to 90, and that price was $60. While $60 seems too steep to me, everything is still up in the air and it doesn’t seem worth the effort to get too upset (or too happy) about that number right now.

What did stand out to me was a number of tweets with variations of the argument that $60 is a high enough price point to discourage players from using it “too much”. To be fair I get a little shirty around any authority (you can’t tell me what to do!!), but I kind of bridle at the idea that Blizzard is pricing this service to help save us from ourselves.

First, I don’t think it’s true. Blizzard knows they have a game full of people willing to spend $25 on a horse or a costume hat, and pricing something high to limit sales is pretty counter-intuitive in today’s markets. It seems far more likely that they would price it as high as people will still pay.

But aside from that, I guess I just don’t understand why some feel we need to artificially discourage people from insta-levelling.

A game like WoW has the vast majority of its content for level-capped players. Between heirlooms and the Cataclysm world changes, not to mention the monk XP buff, it’s faster than ever to level a character, to the point where a particularly determined person could probably do it in a long weekend. I appreciate arguments that levelling is an important part of MMOs or RPGs, but it’s hard to argue in the specific that levelling is important in WoW.

And even with paid level 90s, all the levelling content will still be there. If you like to level your characters, that’s cool. And other MMOs still have an emphasis on levelling. Diversity in products is a positive thing for us all!

The argument in favor of curtailing insta-levelling strikes me as another verse of that old favorite tune “You have to play MMOs the way I want to you play them”. And look, I get it, it’s a song I’ve sung myself on more than one occasion. But it’s not a good one.

Totally Legit Movies 2: Lovely Molly & Warm Bodies

Sorry to interrupt gaming talk with non-gaming things, but there’s a new episode of Totally Legit Movies! Wheeee!

This week we’re talking about the intense demonic possession film Lovely Molly, and the endearing zom rom com Warm Bodies. Also there’s a brief clip from the movie Panman of a woman making out with a saucepan. Yeah, that just happened.

As I mentioned before a big part of my motivation to start this project was having an excuse to learn things about making and editing videos, so here are a few things I learned this week:

* If you need to convert video to another format the open source software Handbrake is free and very good.

* If you ever want background music for a video (also known as “bed music” apparently), I strongly recommend just about anything off the free soundtrack for “Nameless: the hackers” by Box Cat Games. It’s all open license for non-commercial projects and sounds great in the background.

* Actually looking at the UI and figuring out what buttons do is helpful, LIORE. Learning how to use the Trimmer Window in Sony Vegas saved me a lot of time this week.

Goal for next episode: figure out how to more easily sync a video track and an audio track.

Anyway, below is Episode 2 of Totally Legit Movies. Thanks for watching and for the great feedback from Episode 1. <3

Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)
Feb13

Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

This week Steam introduced tagging for games in their store. Steam users can add “tags”, or short descriptive terms, to any game on the site for use in searches. The idea is to create a more organic, user-friendly system for cataloguing games, making it easier for people to find something they want to play (and buy).

In typical Valve style they’ve taken a very hands-off approach to the whole system. Certain words are blocked, such as common swear words, but in general the company seems to be working off the assumption that given the potentially huge participation numbers for Steam tags the majority will rule sensibly.

Yep, a sensible majority. You know where this is going, right? Let’s look at a few lovely examples.

We have the downright offensive:

rometotalwar Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

prisonarchetect Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

We have editorializing from “real gamers”:

negative Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

hipstergarbage Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

gonehome Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

(That last one is from Gone Home, of course.)

And we have the just plain bizarre, which while not offensive are also not very helpful for searching:

mumble Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

Small games are getting the worst of it, as it only takes a few people to totally troll their tags. In fact, users are able to tag games that aren’t even out yet which makes no sense whatsoever.

So what of those developers who find their game has been spammed with offensive or insulting tags? Here’s Steam’s answer for that:

steam1 Crowd Sourcing from a Crowd of Idiots (Steam Tags)

So if you find your tags are overtaken by racist trolls…. well, maybe you just haven’t considered that your game is racist! Makes ya think, huh?

I actually believe that Steam’s goals here are good ones. More fluid search terms are helpful for the user, and I understand that it is likely unfeasible for Valve to somehow tag every game in their store through in-house efforts.

But the implementation of this system is terrible. I mean granted, the true problem here is that gamers as a collective are terrible, but adding the ability for any wanker with a keyboard to write horrible things was just destined to be trouble.

I hope Valve re-evaluates their hands-off approach to Steam tags and at the very least provides developers with the powers to remove tags. Otherwise, this system will not only be a delivery method for trolling, but also totally useless to anyone trying to browse the store.

(Thanks to the Actual Steam Tags Tumblr for collecting a lot of these images!)

What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.
Feb12

What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

“Love is in the Air” in World of Warcraft this week with the Valentine’s Day holiday events. I logged in on Monday excited to see some new stuff, but then I opened up my achievement panel (on an alt no less) and saw this:

2014 02 10 21 19 17 World of Warcraft What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

Oh. Well okay then!

I can still kill the special boss every day for a chance at a Big Love Rocket (hurr hurr), but this is about the fourth time in a row that I’ve been excited for a holiday event and then realized that I already did everything years ago.

And I do mean years ago. Blizzard originally introduced the What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been meta achievement for completing holiday events in 2008. Even considering the achievement takes a year to complete, that’s still a loooooong time.

2014 02 10 21 19 38 World of Warcraft What a Long Strange Trip It Could Be. Again.

I would love to see Blizzard completely redo this meta achievement and all the holidays. I have very fond memories of logging on for the first day of a holiday event and seeing everyone, raiders and altaholics alike, running around completing the quests. Plus, a year-long achievement was a really cool idea and I know lots of people who resubscribed just to knock off a holiday for the meta.

I certainly don’t want anyone to get left out of their violet protodrake right now, but six years is a long time, particularly in a game that doesn’t get a huge influx of totally brand new players. Making achievements account-wide was cool for a number of reasons, but really only exacerbated the holiday problem.

So look, Blizzard: Maybe the strange alternate time stream in Warlords of Draenor also changed all of the holidays? Think about it!

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