Tycho’s thoughts on any negativity surrounding the Army Game essentially mirror my own, so I’ll try my hardest not to be terribly redundant.
After I ranted and raved about the Army Game during E3, I got a flood of emails regarding the game that were both positive and negative. The positive mails were essentially in line with things we’ve said here: namely, we’ve all been playing military simulators for years now, and it’s intriguing now to see the folks who do it in real life showing the rest of us how it’s done. The negative mails… well, they were out there. I think my favorite mail was the one where the guy said that this was propaganda that targets underprivileged minorities. That’s such a dumb idea, I can barely wrap my head around the concept. Are they handing out food stamps for GeForces now? I didn’t know underprivileged minorities had gaming computers. I also didn’t know that they’re apparently idiots.
Most of the arguments are essentially wrapped around some kind of hippy anti-army/anti-America sentimentalism. Whatever. That’s the kind of thing that’s outside the realm of things I’m willing to care about… only once the military began producing entertainment did it even begin to register on my radar. If you’re incapable of seeing complex issues in shades of grey, and feel that if you are not AGAINST the Army, then you must be FOR the Army and the violence the represent… well, that’s your prerogative. I do think it’s pretty funny to see a bunch of people who claim to be pacifists getting this riled up, though.
Again, as Tycho said, this is essentially advertising. I recognize that the characteristics of a large corporation and a military organization are essentially one in the same, and on some level I also recognize that corporations have a basic right to advertise themselves. The game costs about as much to make and distribute as a 30 second Super Bowl commercial, but I don’t hear folks bitching about that.
Having said that, I realize there are a few really cool things about this game that I left out of my E3 posts, and I thought I’d get all those things out in the open, while I still can.
For starters, I mentioned just how great the sniper weapons are, but I neglected to mention that not just anybody can use the sniper rifle. No, you have to earn the right to lay hands on that Barrett, son. In order to access the sniper weapons, you actually have to complete a single-player training course and earn a certification. There are some other training schools mentioned on their website, though I’m not sure what their respective purposes are. I’m sure cheats will become available to unlock those weapons or abilities in short order, but I find the idea that not just any jackhole can grab any weapon in the game pretty interesting.
Another interesting system they’ve got are Rules of Engagement points, or as I call it, the Anti-Fuckface System™. Basically, the Army has these basic rules for its folks in the field. It’s mostly common-sense stuff, like:
Don’t shoot enemies who have surrendered,
Don’t shoot civilians, and
For God’s sake, don’t shoot your fucking teammates.
Currently, is most video games, if any given player is getting his rocks off by capping his teammates, the most they can do about it is either try to vote him off the server, or try to nail the TK’er as soon as the round starts… and that’s about it. We all know that those methods are about as effective as writing your assailant a sternly worded letter. Go ahead and try to pull that shit in this game, though. When you break the rules, you’ll start accruing RoE points. When you get too many of those, your screen will fade to black, and you’ll hear the sound of a harmonica playing. When you come to, you’ll be inside a jail cell. You heard me… fuck around and the game will actually take it’s ball and go home. You’ll find yourself unable to reconnect to the server for a period of time determined by the server operator. The best part about all this, though, is that the Army is paying HomeLAN to host a large number of servers, and I’ve been told that there are plans to lock you out of the entire HomeLAN network if you fuck around on one of their boxes.
One of the things that excites me the most about this game is how they intend to continue supporting and updating it. They’ve got funding through 2007, and having talked at length with the developers, they’ve got some pretty big plans for the game further down the road. Every time we asked them about the inclusion of any given feature, the answer was either “That’s in there” or “Not yet… keep waiting.” It’s pretty refreshing to know that these guys aren’t going to be fired the week after they ship their game.
See, now I’m all excited again. Before I go lie down, I’d like to mention that if you happen to be aware of a site that performs Afterburner installations, I’d be very interested in hearing about it. It seems like that’s the sort of service that could use some attention.