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Tycho / on Wed, Oct 27 2010 at 12:00 am

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Much as we did last year, we’re seizing the site again for a ridiculous expenditure of your goodwill.

Last time out our bizarre genre experiments brought you strange birds like The Lookouts and Automata, concepts that have endured long after they were introduced in .jpeg form, and who (even now) are developing their own lives outside the confines of the site.  In general, these experiments are an opportunity to go far, far outside the “of the moment” gear which ordinarily rules the rudder around here.  After they’ve all been delivered, we’ll get a voting booth up to let you pick which one “wins,” which in this context means that we’ll devote ourselves to the concept and deliver something longer form.  Here is the first entry: Sand.  A Western Sci-Fi context we’ve been kicking around since before we lived together, we’ve finally gotten a page of it down.  Will there ever be more than a page?  That’s essentially up to you.

If you have ever been curious why Valve would insist on their own update and delivery system for consoles, very publicly maneuvering into the Sony camp, you don’t have to look much further than the story of Uber Entertainment.

If you have played Monday Night Combat, you know that it’s not just good, but genuinely important.  It breeds an emerging genre and a familiar one with such deftness that you can make a lateral move from almost any action skillset.  Because games of MNC take place on the Internet, and because they are played with people, it didn’t take long for vile leprechauns to find ways to mar the experience for others.  That’s why Uber Entertainment took pains to fix those problems, checked in an update for certification, and then waited.

For a fucking month.

The diplomacy on display in their update announcing the patch is just one more reason I’d be a bad person to have working at your development studio.  That’s not something I’m capable of: imagine that I’ve released a shooter played primarily online, and I’ve done so exclusively to your platform, and when I send you a critical package of improvements to my game they fall through your greasy talons and down into the dark places of the earth.  And since the product is the demo, like every other game on Xbox Live Arcade, it just sits there - projecting the idea that people can glitch the shit out of the game while I sit back and count their money.

That’s it in a nutshell, right?  Granting another person, or entity, or coven veto power over your business, which is veto power over your creative destiny.  You only make that choice when it’s not actually a choice.  Xbox Live Arcade, that larval contraption on the original Xbox, is now a billion dollar business because people use it.  They like universal demos and apparently their token currency isn’t a BFD.  Its success means that Microsoft’s stewardship of the platform has gone from entrepreneurial to sadomasochistic in the space of about three years.  The acquisition process has changed considerably.  There are no chocolates.  They just send you a picture of their dick, and the body of the message is also a dick, but this time it’s made of ASCII characters.

Valve doesn’t want to have to make choices like this.  They don’t have to deal with metered updates and a certification process lorded over by narcoleptic sloths.  I still don’t understand why Sony would allow it, that bit is still fairly opaque.  But for Valve?  And for anyone else who can negotiate a third way, which is to say, Valve?  You do something else.


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