There’s nothing that can’t be solved by schmoozing when you’re a pilot fish of the wasteland like Queen Latifah! Except, perhaps, giant scorpions and all the other things. That stuff aside, though, Queen Latifah’s golden words and fleshy muscles are put to the test against the wit of the Think Tank!

sawhowhatnow said: I have a question about your recent Gamer Gate post. While overall I think you were mostly fair and balanced, but a few things stuck out. Namely that you referred to "Feminists" as a group by name instead of "supporters", but did not likewise refer to "Anonymous/4Chan" by name. Also, you omitted that the developer was receiving harassment, doxxing, and death threats. While there were also more civil criticism than not those do provide context to the situation. I'm not sure if you did on purpose.

The developer was beset by a mob. An online mob, no less, which is just as ugly but with all the buffers of anonymity. But the whole mob was acting characteristically like a mob, and I mean the whole mob. As far as I know about it, the developer wasn’t the only one who got doxed and threatened. A ton of people got doxed, included people supporting one or the other side of the argument. Apparently a bunch of people got fired from their jobs over this debacle as a result of phone calls from squads of this or that ideology.
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The notion that the developer was targeted by so much vitriol because of her gender is sophistry. This sort of thing happens every time somebody causes a mob to get outraged and then brings in aggressive supporters for back up. The same thing happened to Mando Pony back when he got in a scuffle with an internet mob and then called My Little Pony show staff to tell the public that the mob was composed of bad people. When you’re looking at a crowd of angry humans, calling in another crowd to fight back is called a “battle”. I’m not saying that anyone deserved to lose their jobs or have their lives threatened because that’s terrible, but the context only reveals typical mob behavior.
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In terms of Feminists, I never know how I should refer to sets within the group exactly. “Ideological Feminsits”, “Third Wave Feminists”, “The Really Zealoted Ones”. It’s kind of a loss because there’s nothing specific. The trouble is that people who use an ideology as a weapon often know what they’re doing and also use the ideology as armor. They attack people by lawyering the ideals to a point, then retreat back into the group, and it makes it so you can’t talk about it because you’re forced to talk about the ideals if you do. Once you attack the ideals, the ideology bites you. That’s why I say it’s better not to argue. When a guy slips a pamphlet under your windshield and it says you’ll go to hell, just tell him thanks and move on, because if you try to fight the basis of his attack on you, he forces you to fight his whole ideology. It’s specifically what the guy wants. That’s his trick. His angle.
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For example, suppose the Westborough Church didn’t have a central location or any specific leaders. They’re just a loose organization of people who occasionally get together to antagonize non-believers. What would you call them? By their own insistence they’re Christians, but a lot of Christians don’t like to be associated with the Westborough Church. So when someone shows up to protest your son’s funeral because of an ideological thing, who do you direct your anger at? What do you say? That the “Christians” did it? Because it wasn’t the Christians, it was the “Zealoted Ones” that go around provoking people. The Nameless Ones.
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What’s even stranger is how the Nameless Ones have managed to hijack a sex scandal and make it about their ideology. Like I say, Wikipidia currently lists “Gamer Gate” as basically being a Feminist issue, and they don’t seem really intent on balancing out the article. The irony being that all you have to do is find one forum post to see how many people are mad that Feminism got into the debate at all. A lot of people didn’t want to fight an ideological group. They wanted to do something about bad politics in the gaming press - though doing it from the platform of a witch hunt is a lost cause in the first place.
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As for 4chan - it’s not a team. It’s a website. I’ve been visiting the site for years, but the only thing I have in common with anyone there is, presumably, an interest in the board topics. Unless I got to know the individual people there on a more personal basis, but that’s not what you do on 4chan. When a mob gets riled up there, it’s not because of a hive mind. It’s because a lot of people are angry about something. Not even all the people, necessarily, just a lot of people. 4chan isn’t the source of the anger, it’s just where the angry people can meet and talk about how angry they are.
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If you ever think that you’re fighting 4chan in something, you’re not. You’re fighting people who talk on 4chan. If most people in a mob used Facebook, you wouldn’t be fighting Facebook. Not even if they used Facebook to coordinate. It’s just a mob. I have no idea who’s in the mob because they’re not identifying as an ideological group aside from “Gamer Gate supporters” or whatever their preference. I mean, it’s banned on 4chan now in any case. If you’re against Gamer Gate, I’m afraid there’s not a central component or source to direct your feelings against - you’re just fighting with an angry mob, and there’s nobody to implicate but the mob itself.

Okay, so I went ahead and tried drawing Vivian after all! I know that on Deviant Art this would pass for average in the amateur skill, but oh my god, I drew her limbs and they don’t look super screwy. This is a big moment for me, guys, I’m so proud of myself..Anyway. Vivian has a pretty color scheme, and other artists draw her hair with a ton of volume, which I like. As I learn to draw I come to appreciate a lot of those little details which you’d think would be easy enough but are actually kind of hard to put onto paper. I’ve mostly been drawing lizards, dwarves, and goblins, and now I’ve just tried drawing boobs in a striped sweater. Holy crap, I didn’t even realize the logistics would be complicated until I started drawing and thought, “Oh shit, these lines have to curve somehow, but only subtly because it’s a sweatshirt. How is this done.” This was after I realized I’d drawn her skeleton in the line art layer and spent a bunch of time scrambling to fix that..Since I drew Vivian, I figure I can give a brief overview of what Gamer Gate actually is. The whole thing is a hailstorm of torrential stupidity and bad decisions, but here goes:.It starts with an emotional break up between two people, the both of them now fighting very publicly. A game developer’s boyfriend started a blog wherein he posted allegations that said developer was sleeping with a small group of game journalists as a method of networking. He insisted that by having sex with these people, his ex had projected herself further into the industry and had achieved more influence and support than she deserved. Then the guy went ahead and uploaded a bunch of naked pictures of said developer so that everyone could see her naked..So far, so goddamned banal..Naked photos aside, gaming journalism hasn’t had a good reputation in years. Even people within the industry have admitted that it’s kind of a toss-up whether you’re getting an honest review of a game. Freelance writers often give their full opinions in the drafts they submit, but once the review goes public, they find their articles were edited to soften criticisms and pretty up the games a little. This is steeped mainly in the fact that game journals are heavily dependent on ad revenue from game companies, so the rule is simple. Play nice with Activision/EA/Microsoft/anyone with money and nothing will happen to the ad revenue. Among well informed gamers, this conflict of interests is common knowledge, and nobody in their right mind trusts a professional review if a AAA title is involved..However, there’s also another issue, and it’s that any art industry involves a ton of networking. You’d think that “Let’s Plays” on Youtube are safe, but it’s come to light that plenty of Youtubers, both big and small, are actually doing their work on contracts. It’s not malicious like you might think - I’ve actually been contracted to this sort of a thing for a game but it fell through because my computer is getting old and doesn’t handle high-end graphics too well. The company sets you up with some kind of deal, where you get a few extra cents for every video hit or something like that, but the game company expects you to make their game look fun and playable!.When I did my job, the game company let me know that my video was funny and the team really liked it, but since my graphics were crummy they asked if I would sideline the video until after the game’s release. That meant that, basically, our involvement was done because I really only had access to the game through the alpha and beta stage. Like I say, not terribly evil, but you can imagine how a contract like that, where the game devs can cancel your project, would encourage otherwise independent Youtubers to sort of create more hype than a game deserves while avoiding or editing out the faults. I personally included a disclaimer in my video pointing out my video was sort of a for-hire deal, but a lot of these contracts require secrecy. It’s a little like pro-wrestling, wherein Pewdiepie maintains a character as a totally random, non-professional dude who just does videos on games he likes, but he’s actually got a whole team of handlers and writers and so on, and who knows what his real opinions are..So again, among the informed gamer, this stuff is common knowledge as well. It’s tough to be a savvy consumer under so much misdirection, and it gets frustrating. When it came to light that on top of all the money politics, game journalists were giving good reviews in exchange for sex, the community blew up a little. Or, okay, it flew into a small outrage at first, but a lot of dumb decisions made it bigger and bigger..Starting off, the dev accused of sleeping with journalists started issuing DMCA attacks on people who were discussing the allegations. If you’re not familiar with the DMCA, it’s a controversial, loop-hole ridden law written for and by the copyright industry to give the copyright industry unilateral authority over content posted to third party websites. If a work is subjected to a DMCA attack, it’s taken offline. It can be restored, but the owner of the work has to go through a bureaucratic process to do so, and there’s no strict legal requirement to honor the process of a restoration request. It’s a terribly designed law with a very nasty bias, but legal precedents show that this developer was using the law illegally. Her use of the law implies she has copyright ownership over the material she was attacking, and regardless of how you may feel about the situation, she didn’t have that legal ownership..Now people were mad not only because of a supposed sex scandal, but also because the developer was using a powerful and deeply hated legal loophole to attack criticism and discussion of the scandal. The provocation expanded discussion and interest, and the situation began to percolate. Reports on the whole thing began to hit the mainstream Youtube community, with several prominent Youtubers bringing the subject to light, most notably The Internet Aristocrat who invented a variety of the scandal’s short-hand memes and references..The game journals, of course, denied everything, but fat lot of good that does coming from people the community no longer trusts. Facing mounting pressure, the developer at the center of the scandal took her next move: she called on Feminism. She accused everyone involved in the reporting of the scandal of being misogynists, using the latest rhetoric that there’s a “deep, ingrained hatred of women in the gaming industry”. In other words, she began playing the victim by accusing everyone talking about the issue of being sexist. More outrage..However, you can’t say “misogyny” on the internet without third wave Feminism rearing a screaming head with snake hair and eyes aflame with righteous indignation. Suddenly, this was gender politics. No longer about whether or not game journalists were trading positive reviews and networking opportunities for sex, it was now Feminism versus whatever the fuck was going on..To be fair, nothing is worse than a witch hunt, so far, far too much of the controversy was already pretty ugly. The dev was subjected to a lot of aimless anger, and the fact is, the allegations were never totally confirmed. It’s not shocking that she would become desperate and grasp at any self-defense she could, but she changed the tone of the argument into something ideological, and all despaired..The Feminist community began to apply pressure in the other direction, villainizing anyone who considered themselves outraged by the situation. It didn’t matter what the fight was actually about any longer, because now it was about Feminism. If you fought this, you were against Feminism. You were a heretic and you would be purged. So now you’ve got a pissed off mob on one side and another pissed off mob on the other, and they’re both mad about two completely separate and unrelated things, but somehow these mobs have come to be opposed because that’s just how groupthink is. Not to mention, prominent Feminists like Anita Sarkeesian had already caused a lot of soreness in the gaming community by receiving a ton accolades for randomly accusing various games of being sexist. They were basically sides looking for a reason to fight with each other, and they found one..Discussion of all this swirling madness carried on at the major hubs of the internet, with this game dev, somehow remaining the center of it all despite the “help” of all the people who’d jumped in at her defense, also getting those discussions shut down by contacting moderators on those sites. Again, more outrage! The consistent pattern of censorship was not putting out any flames, only fanning them. In the midst of all this, rumors arose that Chris Poole, the owner of 4chan, was receiving deeply troubling threats in regards to the whole situation, and presumably these threats would be acted on if he didn’t take moves to put a lid on this stuff..It’s hard to say how much truth could rest in a rumor like that. Looking at the whole thing, there are now a number of players involved. The reputations of numerous game journals are at stake. Prominent Feminist leaders are here to make their bread as well. But then again, it really wasn’t all that responsible to let mobs tear each other apart, and the situation was honestly spiraling well out of control. Especially since logic and specific issues were no longer at hand and there was no way to calmly reconcile any of it..Through all of this, members of 4chan and several of these other communities sought to fight accusations of sexism and misogyny. They threw support behind another Feminist movement that had expressed a negative view of the game developer in question, and that movement then donated the money to help battle, and I quote, “chemo butthurt”, which was silly internet slang for colon cancer. In return, through the platform of 4chan, supporters were allowed to design a character for a video game..4chan chose the girl pictured, named “Vivian James”. The message was simple: “Vivian is a girl who likes to play video games. She’s cool. If you play video games you’re cool too”. Which I suppose goes to show that at the end of the day, although humans may not be especially rational, at least we aren’t monsters and we remain pretty social at heart..Sadly, there’s not really any heroes in this controversy and it’s so lost the thread of its origins that it’s not worth fighting about any longer. Further, despite the noble intentions of Vivian’s existence, the disputes surrounding her conception brings her under similar fire, with the other side’s argument being, “It doesn’t goddamned count if it doesn’t get people on our team”. So, yes, it’s a battle for converts now, I’m not sure if there are any stakes remaining, but the wiki entry on the scandal is entirely biased and appears to describe the whole thing as a battle over “ingrained misogyny” because of course it does. Regardless, I’d let them have it. I think, ultimately, Vivian James and that charity are the best silver linings we can hope for out of all this.

Okay, so I went ahead and tried drawing Vivian after all! I know that on Deviant Art this would pass for average in the amateur skill, but oh my god, I drew her limbs and they don’t look super screwy. This is a big moment for me, guys, I’m so proud of myself.
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Anyway. Vivian has a pretty color scheme, and other artists draw her hair with a ton of volume, which I like. As I learn to draw I come to appreciate a lot of those little details which you’d think would be easy enough but are actually kind of hard to put onto paper. I’ve mostly been drawing lizards, dwarves, and goblins, and now I’ve just tried drawing boobs in a striped sweater. Holy crap, I didn’t even realize the logistics would be complicated until I started drawing and thought, “Oh shit, these lines have to curve somehow, but only subtly because it’s a sweatshirt. How is this done.” This was after I realized I’d drawn her skeleton in the line art layer and spent a bunch of time scrambling to fix that.
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Since I drew Vivian, I figure I can give a brief overview of what Gamer Gate actually is. The whole thing is a hailstorm of torrential stupidity and bad decisions, but here goes:
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It starts with an emotional break up between two people, the both of them now fighting very publicly. A game developer’s boyfriend started a blog wherein he posted allegations that said developer was sleeping with a small group of game journalists as a method of networking. He insisted that by having sex with these people, his ex had projected herself further into the industry and had achieved more influence and support than she deserved. Then the guy went ahead and uploaded a bunch of naked pictures of said developer so that everyone could see her naked.
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So far, so goddamned banal.
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Naked photos aside, gaming journalism hasn’t had a good reputation in years. Even people within the industry have admitted that it’s kind of a toss-up whether you’re getting an honest review of a game. Freelance writers often give their full opinions in the drafts they submit, but once the review goes public, they find their articles were edited to soften criticisms and pretty up the games a little. This is steeped mainly in the fact that game journals are heavily dependent on ad revenue from game companies, so the rule is simple. Play nice with Activision/EA/Microsoft/anyone with money and nothing will happen to the ad revenue. Among well informed gamers, this conflict of interests is common knowledge, and nobody in their right mind trusts a professional review if a AAA title is involved.
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However, there’s also another issue, and it’s that any art industry involves a ton of networking. You’d think that “Let’s Plays” on Youtube are safe, but it’s come to light that plenty of Youtubers, both big and small, are actually doing their work on contracts. It’s not malicious like you might think - I’ve actually been contracted to this sort of a thing for a game but it fell through because my computer is getting old and doesn’t handle high-end graphics too well. The company sets you up with some kind of deal, where you get a few extra cents for every video hit or something like that, but the game company expects you to make their game look fun and playable!
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When I did my job, the game company let me know that my video was funny and the team really liked it, but since my graphics were crummy they asked if I would sideline the video until after the game’s release. That meant that, basically, our involvement was done because I really only had access to the game through the alpha and beta stage. Like I say, not terribly evil, but you can imagine how a contract like that, where the game devs can cancel your project, would encourage otherwise independent Youtubers to sort of create more hype than a game deserves while avoiding or editing out the faults. I personally included a disclaimer in my video pointing out my video was sort of a for-hire deal, but a lot of these contracts require secrecy. It’s a little like pro-wrestling, wherein Pewdiepie maintains a character as a totally random, non-professional dude who just does videos on games he likes, but he’s actually got a whole team of handlers and writers and so on, and who knows what his real opinions are.
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So again, among the informed gamer, this stuff is common knowledge as well. It’s tough to be a savvy consumer under so much misdirection, and it gets frustrating. When it came to light that on top of all the money politics, game journalists were giving good reviews in exchange for sex, the community blew up a little. Or, okay, it flew into a small outrage at first, but a lot of dumb decisions made it bigger and bigger.
.
Starting off, the dev accused of sleeping with journalists started issuing DMCA attacks on people who were discussing the allegations. If you’re not familiar with the DMCA, it’s a controversial, loop-hole ridden law written for and by the copyright industry to give the copyright industry unilateral authority over content posted to third party websites. If a work is subjected to a DMCA attack, it’s taken offline. It can be restored, but the owner of the work has to go through a bureaucratic process to do so, and there’s no strict legal requirement to honor the process of a restoration request. It’s a terribly designed law with a very nasty bias, but legal precedents show that this developer was using the law illegally. Her use of the law implies she has copyright ownership over the material she was attacking, and regardless of how you may feel about the situation, she didn’t have that legal ownership.
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Now people were mad not only because of a supposed sex scandal, but also because the developer was using a powerful and deeply hated legal loophole to attack criticism and discussion of the scandal. The provocation expanded discussion and interest, and the situation began to percolate. Reports on the whole thing began to hit the mainstream Youtube community, with several prominent Youtubers bringing the subject to light, most notably The Internet Aristocrat who invented a variety of the scandal’s short-hand memes and references.
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The game journals, of course, denied everything, but fat lot of good that does coming from people the community no longer trusts. Facing mounting pressure, the developer at the center of the scandal took her next move: she called on Feminism. She accused everyone involved in the reporting of the scandal of being misogynists, using the latest rhetoric that there’s a “deep, ingrained hatred of women in the gaming industry”. In other words, she began playing the victim by accusing everyone talking about the issue of being sexist. More outrage.
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However, you can’t say “misogyny” on the internet without third wave Feminism rearing a screaming head with snake hair and eyes aflame with righteous indignation. Suddenly, this was gender politics. No longer about whether or not game journalists were trading positive reviews and networking opportunities for sex, it was now Feminism versus whatever the fuck was going on.
.
To be fair, nothing is worse than a witch hunt, so far, far too much of the controversy was already pretty ugly. The dev was subjected to a lot of aimless anger, and the fact is, the allegations were never totally confirmed. It’s not shocking that she would become desperate and grasp at any self-defense she could, but she changed the tone of the argument into something ideological, and all despaired.
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The Feminist community began to apply pressure in the other direction, villainizing anyone who considered themselves outraged by the situation. It didn’t matter what the fight was actually about any longer, because now it was about Feminism. If you fought this, you were against Feminism. You were a heretic and you would be purged. So now you’ve got a pissed off mob on one side and another pissed off mob on the other, and they’re both mad about two completely separate and unrelated things, but somehow these mobs have come to be opposed because that’s just how groupthink is. Not to mention, prominent Feminists like Anita Sarkeesian had already caused a lot of soreness in the gaming community by receiving a ton accolades for randomly accusing various games of being sexist. They were basically sides looking for a reason to fight with each other, and they found one.
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Discussion of all this swirling madness carried on at the major hubs of the internet, with this game dev, somehow remaining the center of it all despite the “help” of all the people who’d jumped in at her defense, also getting those discussions shut down by contacting moderators on those sites. Again, more outrage! The consistent pattern of censorship was not putting out any flames, only fanning them. In the midst of all this, rumors arose that Chris Poole, the owner of 4chan, was receiving deeply troubling threats in regards to the whole situation, and presumably these threats would be acted on if he didn’t take moves to put a lid on this stuff.
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It’s hard to say how much truth could rest in a rumor like that. Looking at the whole thing, there are now a number of players involved. The reputations of numerous game journals are at stake. Prominent Feminist leaders are here to make their bread as well. But then again, it really wasn’t all that responsible to let mobs tear each other apart, and the situation was honestly spiraling well out of control. Especially since logic and specific issues were no longer at hand and there was no way to calmly reconcile any of it.
.
Through all of this, members of 4chan and several of these other communities sought to fight accusations of sexism and misogyny. They threw support behind another Feminist movement that had expressed a negative view of the game developer in question, and that movement then donated the money to help battle, and I quote, “chemo butthurt”, which was silly internet slang for colon cancer. In return, through the platform of 4chan, supporters were allowed to design a character for a video game.
.
4chan chose the girl pictured, named “Vivian James”. The message was simple: “Vivian is a girl who likes to play video games. She’s cool. If you play video games you’re cool too”. Which I suppose goes to show that at the end of the day, although humans may not be especially rational, at least we aren’t monsters and we remain pretty social at heart.
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Sadly, there’s not really any heroes in this controversy and it’s so lost the thread of its origins that it’s not worth fighting about any longer. Further, despite the noble intentions of Vivian’s existence, the disputes surrounding her conception brings her under similar fire, with the other side’s argument being, “It doesn’t goddamned count if it doesn’t get people on our team”. So, yes, it’s a battle for converts now, I’m not sure if there are any stakes remaining, but the wiki entry on the scandal is entirely biased and appears to describe the whole thing as a battle over “ingrained misogyny” because of course it does. Regardless, I’d let them have it. I think, ultimately, Vivian James and that charity are the best silver linings we can hope for out of all this.

Anonymous said: Thoughts on #gamersgate?

See, it’s funny because they’re gorillas and I’m a terrible artist. Also, every key on the keyboard is an upside down “F” key, but you can’t tell that because you’re probably distracted by the other delicate nuances of my skill.
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But yes, two things about “Gamer Gate”: we already knew that virtually all high-end gaming journalism is worthless and paid off from the start. If you trust IGN for an honest review of a AAA title, you run a serious risk of being burned. The second thing is it’s another Feminist battle where the stakes are zilch and they’re doing nothing but fishing for converts.
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I know it’s exploded recently, but it’s not worth fighting about it for the same reason you don’t fight with those really aggressive churches that leave pamphlets on your car windshield with a warning akin to “covert or you’ll burn in hell”. Gaming has always been an easy target for special interest groups and it will continue to be that way.
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Other than that, it’s an excuse for me to practice drawing. I would try drawing Vivian James, but, well, she’ll turn out looking like these gorillas.

ceresbane said: you seem to be referencing 4chan's decline quite alot. I know it was your old home and it works great as an anecdote/case study. But aren't there other examples of which you could project your nostalgia/agenda (though agenda might be too strong a word)?

It’s not really an agenda. I don’t have a political angle when I discuss the site. It’s just that most people, even visitors to 4chan, feel fairly neutral about the place, and since it’s well known it makes a good subject for discussion. It’s like if we all went to the same bar, and I could just talk about the way they run the bar. It’s a recreational hang-out place. Nobody gets too frustrated with the owners because we don’t have to hang out there.
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As opposed to if I talked about, say, a city that’s been going through riots lately because of severe leadership and authority failures. That kind of thing gets to be touchy because emotions run pretty hot, and it casts a lot of gloom over everyone. I didn’t think it was appropriate to compare something that serious to the situation with a fan-made video game lobby.
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But 4chan isn’t really in decline. It’s almost too big to decline at this point - although nothing is set in stone. It’s more just that the site’s old culture was all but wiped out as soon as they got a crew to “moderate” the place. For some reason, even though the individual board cultures were what made 4chan popular and noteworthy, the moderators felt board culture was toxic somehow. They even mocked the userbase for cherishing it. I can’t imagine why; their decisions baffle me, but I suspect there’s a lot of misanthropy behind the curtains.
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Like if you look at /pol/, for example, it’s basically just a stomping ground for Neo-Nazis. 80% of the threads are deconstructive, racist propaganda that become exhausting to even glance at. 19% are actual news topics that get far less attention, and a glimmering 1% of it is the stuff you even visit for. Like, for example, for a while some number stations were streaming television broadcasts from North Korea, and if you found those threads you were treated to the bizarre surrealism of that country for a night. Few people get to see that sort of thing.
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But the moderators are cool with Neo-Nazi propaganda choking a board nearly to death, even spilling over to other boards when they can get away with it. Dwarf Fortress on /tg/ however - oh, that got the purge! Same with the nekkid cat girls, but okay, /tg/ is supposed to be “work safe” as far as 4chan can be trusted in that regard. So you’ve got this vast gap in logic, where the moderators have decided flagrant hate speech is sacrosanct “free speech”, but if My Little Pony gets popular that’s just gay and needs to be destroyed.
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The site was more vibrant and created a lot more media and original content before moderators got really involved, and while it’s sad they’ve snuffed a lot of the old life out of the site, it’s not like 4chan has shrunk. It’s just become more homogenized. The ban templates are keeping the mods under better control now, and that’s a step clearly in the right direction because otherwise they’d just keep causing disruptions and mass frustration. So it’s not a decline, but the face of the site has changed, and I think it’s primarily useful now as a source of news, information, and popular opinion rather than as a source of original artwork and comedy - at least in terms of ratios. There’s a lot more general news on the site than fresh content these days, but that’s because the site spent too long banning people for stepping outside the boundaries of the moderated “norm”. Still very useful and worth visiting for as long as you can recognize when someone is being paid to virally advertise something, but with a different character and feel than the earlier years.

chaoko99 said: so.. forged allience forever bit the dust, they released the source, but it is gonna be a while before anything is done with it, what do?

It’s kind of a sudden development. Brink got in contact with me about it, though, and apparently the current plan is to try to revitalize the game and community by opening some more stuff up and by getting more Youtubers involved in doing casting if they can find people willing.
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That’s all I know for now, though. Short term, if I understand, the current server will be online for at least another three months with the original owner keeping an eye on it, and then they’ll migrate. The new owner is talking about “group leadership”, which in my experience usually means the owner isn’t keen on leading so will roll the dice to see what chaos brings, or, more hopefully, he’s planning on expanding stuff but will need a small assigned group to keep track of everything. No telling which until they announce more!
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You never can tell how things will turn out when stuff like this happens. I’ve seen it go really great and I’ve seen it go really terribly. The silly part is that, usually, if it’s a really smooth transition, none of the people using the lobby will even notice anything is all that different. You’ve got ranges of stumbling, though - one of the worst is the “authoritative” type who thinks the community needs to get under control. Those guys show up, wielding hostility and banning for slight offenses, and almost immediately the community descends into chaos and riots. The “authoritative” failure almost always achieves the opposite of everything they say they will because they don’t get the rules of action and reaction. It’s funny - in a lot of social settings, if you just let people be to do their things, it all just kind of works, minus the occasional but inevitable hiccups you see in a healthy community.
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4chan, for way too long, was a strong example of the authoritative failure. Bad moderators would show up intending to “control” a board and would bluntly start banning everyone for every little thing. There was never rhyme or reason to it, and I think it’s how we even got a /mlp/ board on that website. They started banning people for talking about pony, and it got to be so heated and chaotic as a result that eventually they had to isolate the entire fandom - and that’s not to say the fandom wasn’t capable of isolating itself because for a long time there was an MLP general with a script that kept everything in line. It’s just that the mods occasionally showed up and deleted that thread, then started banning people for trying to get the thread back up again, which caused pony posts to flood the main page, and all of them said things like, “new general here!” with no other content.
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Ban templates were the best thing to happen to that site. The mods still have an authoritative streak sometimes because their private culture has been revealed as pretty stupid, which means their own discretion tends to be deeply biased, but at least they’re on enough of a leash now to keep them from stirring up as much trouble. It’s never good when your police are causing more disruption than the criminals.
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On the extreme opposite end you get the “laisseiz-faire” failure of leadership, which is still bad but to a lesser extent. Generally, in these cases the leader wants some project done but either has no personal vision or doesn’t want to put the work in to get it organized. When these fly apart they’re some of the saddest examples of leadership failure and it’s the thing to keep an eye out for now with FAF. A lot of times “group leadership” is a code word for “I’m going to let fate sort this out”, and occasionally the project will luck out, with the leader being something of a burden until he sheepishly steps down and lets a more motivated guy take over.
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When these problems are fortunate, you find there’s somebody waiting in the “group” that knows exactly what they want and how to get it done. They generally start as an adviser but pretty rapidly start calling all the shots until they’re nearly autonomous. It’s not until the original leader realizes he has no input that he admits that this other guy was in charge the whole time.
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When they fail, you get instigators instead. You wind up with people near the top who want a ton of influence and control, but none of the responsibilities. The instigators tend to undermine everything, and any request to centralize duties or assign specific roles of leadership get sniped down with a ton of passive-aggression and other forms of social bullying. The instigators want to keep the group weak and incapable so they can continue to instigate and do the things they want to do, but ultimately the lack of cohesion and the constant undermining causes all your competent group members to get fed up and leave, one after another. The worst part of this kind of downward spiral is that the project starts off with a ton of steam, momentum, and promise, but as competent players vanish, everything falls apart and if you get a product you get it with the ass-end cobbled together by a hopeless crew of confused people who, at that point, just don’t want to be embarrassed.
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I saw something like this with the “Do or Deer” project that cropped up after the release of the pony fan-video, “Double Rainboom”. “Double Rainboom” had a fair number of flaws. There were technical things that needed fixing, but I know how that is, and even if you can visualize something in your head that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get it out there correctly as a finished product. To be honest I hate a lot of my work - I mean I love doing it, but I always feel so critical of my abilities in post review and I frustrate myself. Given that the guys making “Double Rainboom” were students making a project for class, they did pretty well - they had the hallmarks of inexperience but time could hammer out most issues.
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Complaints about the scripting were the main concern of the “Do or Deer” crew. And fair enough! So starting on 4chan, a proposal was made to create a better fan cartoon of MLP and release it to the masses! Sometimes such madness bears fruit. However, the people who took the initiative on this idea immediately declared the project under “group leadership” and the entire thing lost steam from there. Never mind that it was going to be a hurdle unto itself just to get the license to make the cartoon.
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I actually submitted a screenplay under a bland username then kept an eye on things for a little while as I watched petty instigators demolish the entire thing. It was crazy. I’m not sure how the voting process worked, but it seemed as though they briefly decided on a pitch based on one guy insisting over and over again that he wanted to follow through and just write his script. Then they attempted to establish a “writing team”, consisting of the writer plus all the instigators, but they couldn’t agree if they could undermine things better by letting “everyone” edit the script or if it was a sufficient disaster to have only the ten biggest instigators fighting over it non-stop.
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I stepped in once to remind them that writing was, in my opinion, probably the least time consuming part of the entire process. Especially given a small crew, scripts are more like guidelines that occasionally get changed mid-process for various reasons. You run over or realize something you wrote is wasting time, so you cut it to make the rest of the work easier. The script is not sacred. It’s a tool that needs to be adjusted and used appropriately, so it’s not something you dedicate a month to, writing perfection, and then start working. However, after I pointed that out, the instigators agreed that they should quit fighting and that they should form a team to agree on how to quit fighting.
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I gave up on them after that. There was no way that competent artists or animators would tolerate it. The next phases take time. And certainty. Man, a person was not going to spend hours drawing and coloring a detailed background just to have ten “idea men” show up and insist it needs to be completely redone because the scene calls for a volcano now! That goes doubly for unpaid labor based entirely around passion.
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Also, I’m pretty sure that to get a license, you have to tell Hasbro exactly what you plan to do. You can’t promise to make a cartoon about sharing and then release a pony adaptation of “Eight Crazy Nights” starring a guy who sounds like Adam Sandler. I don’t think that movie was about sharing, anyway. I don’t remember - it was a forgettable movie.
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In any case, I don’t know if we’re going to see all that negative stuff because the new owner of FAF reports to be a software engineer, so he’s probably aware of the work that goes into the thing he’s just acquired. I do plan to do more videos featuring Supreme Commander, so hopefully it all goes over well! It’s a really motivated program, currently, with a lot of really great features that most RTS lobby systems frankly should have. I’d be pretty disappointed if it didn’t turn out.

Twilight gets an owl! It’s not terribly exciting, an owl. They’re nice birds and it’s interesting reading about how their feathers and diets works, and they all have unique calls, but in a magical world they’re really best left as set dressing.

Queen Latifah returns to the brains in jars to find that the room is now red and ominous. Suddenly, standing up to them seems like a very bad idea, so Queen Latifah sets off on a quest of friendship and understanding! Also a little general exploration!
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We also had another Monday Music, featuring a piano sample I used for the credits of Counting Merits. I think it also appeared briefly in Haunting Nightmare, but I’ve never used it to put together a formal song.

abopfred said: @Terrible UI. It sounds like you wouldn't be a fan of dwarf Fortress.

I’ve played rougelikes before where everything is represented in ASCII. They’re small, easy to play, and can be pretty charming because they’ll be rough and dirty labors of love, usually representing some abstract idea.
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The trouble with the UI in those games is that there are only so many resources available and none of them are graphical. All you’ve got is text. But even in something like Dwarf Fortress, you can look up what keys do what and when you’re selecting stuff or moving your cursor around, there’s some indication that something is going to be selected.
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Here, let me show you an example of something MWO does:
image

Okay. You see those? Those are engines you can choose from to put inside your mech. Now tell me - which one of those should go in your robot? I mean, at a glance. You don’t know because all the icons are the same, thereby creating a wall of identical icons. This is just absurdity.
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Look at your computer desktop. See those icons? They’re all unique, aren’t they? That’s because they visually represent unique programs! That’s the entire point of an icon! If your program isn’t going to use icons to visually represent things, then why not just use a text-based drop-down menu? A drop-down menu would be less disorienting, and you wouldn’t get confused as you scroll up and down. Those icons don’t even display any data about the engines. You have to examine them individually.
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I assume there must be some kind of pattern according to their names, but as someone who couldn’t even get to the step of customizing my mech through this UI, I couldn’t tell you for sure.
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Here, let’s look at another screenshot:
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Okay, so here we’ve got some actual, useful icons, and we’ve got an “AMS” selected. There’s a ton of blank space below, the pop-up menus on the right partially obscure your robot, and there’s a bunch of irrelevant data that has nothing to do with whatever an AMS is. Since I know the series, I know this is an “anti-missile system”, but now that it’s selected, why doesn’t the UI tell me anything about how it’s going to impact the robot’s performance?
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In Armored Core, when you select a part it looks like this:
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This is actually a simplified way of looking at parts. You can call up a larger menu that details a lot more things, but right away, you see how it shows all the basic info about your bot, and then it also shows the basic info about the chest part the player selected, named “ALIYA/C” in the lower right-hand corner. It even gives a brief description to let you know it’s a light part meant for speedy robots. They’ve used a UI kind of like this for almost every game, and while it takes some getting used to because you need to learn the jargon to maximize your machine’s abilities, it’s at least accessible enough for you to get started.
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When I booted up MWO, the Mechlab gave an overview of my mech and showed me every single part I had equipped and where it was equipped - it didn’t, however, tell me anything about those parts, and when I tried clicking on the arms or legs or the boxes that say “arms or legs”, the game didn’t do anything. Apparently, when the game is showing me everything the robot has equipped in the Mechlab, it’s not starting me off in a screen where I can actually customize the robot. To do that, I have to navigate to a series of drop-down menus, but once I discover that, I still can’t customize anything because the game starts me with no money, and having purchased nothing gives the appearance that those menus are empty!
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Now let’s compare to Mechwarrior 4!
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Now this is just downright user-friendly! And I mean that as a sincere compliment for Mechwarrior 4, because they’ve actually taken something as complex as all this and streamlined it with color coding, text that explains what you’re equipping, unique icons for every weapon, and even a “strip” button if you want to remove all the weapons at once and start from scratch. It’s very intuitive and takes no time at all to grasp. Granted, it is less in-depth than what MWO offers in terms of customizability since MWO lets you decide where you’ll store auxiliary parts - that way if an arm gets destroyed you lose everything in it, which is nice.
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But that doesn’t justify MWO’s wasteful empty spaces, walls of identical icons, or the confusing way that new players start the game with an incomprehensible vomit of “trial” mechs. For goodness sake, Mechwarrior 4 starts the campaign with one mech. Armored Core always starts you with a single bot with stock parts. Those games don’t give you fifty options right off the bat and say, “Here you go, new player! You don’t know what you’re doing yet, but pick from these and see what feels right!” One of the trial mechs was an Atlas! That particular bot is probably one of the mechs most specialized towards its role, which happens to be slow, unyielding assault. That’s not a good choice to learn in! A new player just needs to start in something with a basic, core responsibility. An Atlas can’t backpedal out of a stupid mistake because it’s not fast enough, and if the player doesn’t have good target priority then all that firepower goes to waste.
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Or worse, imagine you select something randomly and it turns out you chose a support bot that’s supposed to be fulfilling some essential job. Your dumb ass keeps running to the front lines with all the sensitive radar and jamming equipment stuck to your head, and sure enough you get blasted every time you get near combat because, hey! Priority target! Kill the radar guy and the enemy will be blind! Your team is screaming at you in a frothing rage meanwhile, because they’re also blind while you’re alive - you don’t know what buttons turns any of your equipment on! There’s a reason why, when the military drafts people, they don’t let everyone choose what weapons they get because an entire platoon of flamethrowers sounds badass to the privates, but the learning curve is going to be a bit steeper for everyone to manage after the choice is made.
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But you know, ultimately, let’s look at Dwarf Fortress:
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Okay. This does look a little confusing, but hey! All the icons represent something unique. I don’t know what the squiggles are, but they must be something. The little faces are dwarves. There’s a lot of options on the right, but I can understand how it works. If I push ‘a’, I can view announcements, for example. This would take me some time, but with trial and error I’d get it under control. I’ve given a lot of thought to playing this after reading the popular story of Boatmurdered.
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You know what the real difference is between Dwarf Fortress and MWO? Both are tough to navigate, but at least Dwarf Fortress provides you with commands and tells you what they’ll do. I don’t know what “move this menu” would achieve, but I’m shown my options as plain as day, and I could experiment by trying them out.
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But with Mechwarrior Online, when I went to the Mechlab, it didn’t occur to me to see if there was a drop-down menu under the “center torso” tab because all the stuff equipped on my center torso was being displayed in the first thing that opened up. I just couldn’t customize anything from that first screen. Unlike Dwarf Fortress which shows me what I can fiddle with, MWO functionally has hidden menus that you can gloss over without even realizing it.
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I feel like Dwarf Fortress and MWO have difficult to master user interfaces for different reasons. In Dwarf Fortress, it’s because you can do a lot of things and the game is limited by its nature as a rougelike. Dwarf Fortress is programmed by one guy and can really only use text and basic symbols, so it doesn’t get much in the way of graphic interfacing. A convoluted tree of options is the best it can settle for! Now, MWO has a complete GUI with 3D animations, so what is the excuse for having a disjointed tree of menus there? The only explanation is poor planning, to the point where I imagine nobody even made a flow chart for this thing.
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It’s especially bad because customizing your mech is a core component of the game, if not the central component. It’s really tough to call in “robot builder” games whether or not the assembly stage is the most essential thing you’ve got, but there’s no doubt that if it’s not the most important thing, it’s the second most important thing. You can see from other games that have come out, managing a UI for this sort of game is a major hurdle.
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Armored Core has  the major flaw that you can only really examine one part at a time, and given its vast library of parts, that can make building your machine feel very tedious. Meanwhile, Mechwarrior 4 was streamlined and easy to use, but offered much less customization and wound up boiling the mechs down to your weapon load-outs and few more subtle details. Striking a good balance of accessible yet complex with your assembly menu is a huge challenge, but because many players actually get into the games specifically for the assembly and customization, it’s not something that can be skimped or ignored.
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MWO online skimped. They skimped a lot. I mean, “screw the pooch” skimping. Almost nothing about this UI is good. It’s incredibly unfriendly and unintuitive, and yet it doesn’t offer enough customizability to offset that unfriendliness. If the game were paying attention to very, very fine details like how evenly the weight is distributed in your bot or whether your ammo storage location will lead to more jamming problems, then yes, it does make sense to have a bunch of trees and drop-down menus because you’re going to have to go from macroscopic to microscopic to figure out what you’re actually doing. But I’m not seeing that from MWO. I’m seeing a UI that’s more complicated than its function, full of superfluous steps and missed opportunities to explain what it is the game is going to do with your input.
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I feel like, really, if you’re an aspiring dev, it’s worth examining MWO’s UI just to see how it looks when you trainwreck your user interface. It’s a basic, textbook example demonstrating, “this is why you make your flow charts”. The charts may seem tedious sometimes, but I’m sure that this game’s UI didn’t wind up like this on purpose, and it’s a real shame because even if Mechwarrior Online’s gameplay were flawless, this UI would still be killing their player base.

Mechwarrior Online

I had a few people recommend I give Mechwarrior Online a shot after doing the Let’s Play series for a while! So I downloaded the game, since it’s free to play and… goodness. I’ve never been turned off by a game at the menu screen before, but MWO crashed and burned for me within the first five minutes of booting up.
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Its’ the UI, really. I didn’t try any matches so I can’t say anything about the gameplay, but if any of you out there happen to be aspiring game devs, it’s worth downloading MWO just to see how badly designed the user interface is. I’m not sure how much worse it could be, but my favorite part of the Mechwarrior games has always been customizing the robots, and for the life of me I could not intuit how it’s supposed to be done. I think maybe I have to buy a robot first, but there was a long list of “trial” mechs and I guess I can’t customize those.
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And now don’t get me wrong. I know it sounds really bad to pick up a game and then give up on it because of some technical detail like a bad user interface, but I own almost every Armored Core title that got released for the PS2 and was never daunted by that stuff. If you guys aren’t familiar with Armored Core, that’s just a whole mess of customization, with the latest installment boasting no less than twenty different types of weapons, never mind the sheer quantity of weapons in total. Everything you equip in that game comes with a stack of values detailing their capacity for everything from energy consumption, to weight, to armor.
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WIth MWO, on the other hand, it’s just a baffling array of non-responsive… nothing. I don’t know what I’m supposed to click on, even. In one corner the game says:
"Garages
Owned 4
Empty 4”
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Now, I figure they mean I own four garages and there’s nothing in any of them, but that could also mean I have four empty garages and four full garages. Maybe it means I own four garages and there’s still 4 empty garages for sale! I mean, why go with an option that has ambiguous meaning when you could just write “Garages: 0/4”. Then I know zero of my four garages are in use!
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Then I moved along to clicking on “trial” robots, some of them bearing the ominous warning that “firing your weapons will cause this robot to build up bonus heat”. Still no explanation on how to remove some of the weapons on the bot so that it functions normally. Clicking on weapons didn’t seem to do anything, and I didn’t even see where spare weapons parts would be stored. It’s possible I never found the menu that customizes the robot in the first place!
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At last I figured, “Okay, forget it”, and just told the game to take me to a public match, knowing I’d be decimated by more experienced players who understand the game’s UI and who have customized mechs. And then it just kind of hung there, not finding a match, because it would appear the game has been struggling quite a lot (and oh well, I would have been killed off immediately anyway).
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A bit of research revealed a PR nightmare and tons of negativity surrounding the game. There were allegations that the game devs were using credit card information to find people’s Facebook accounts! And this - this, you know… can you imagine what happens when your game’s UI is so terrible that the players need to seek community assistance, and then the community is utterly pissed and talking about a host of grievances and complaints? It’s not real pretty for the game, at the very least.
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It’s kind of a letdown. I really like the Mechwarrior series and the stuff related to it. For a long time I considered getting into the tabletop game and really discovering the roots of Battletech, but I didn’t know any players of the game and the internet really does take care of that concern. Theres’ a chance I might give it another shot and see if I can figure the game out, but is there maybe a difficulty setting? I don’t like to play on easy mode, but it’s rough when you get defeated by the game’s puzzle section at the menu screen.