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Tycho / on Fri, Apr 6 2007 at 12:00 am

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In The Before-Now

I don’t believe it was ever referred to as Doobie Howser - even when the show was really big.  The news story we "reefer" to in the comic concerns a young schizophrenic who murdered someone after being high for a period of several years.  The article mentions Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the body of the piece, but if we’re trying to cook up a reason why this might have happened I don’t think we need to work quite that hard.

As terrifying as it is to contemplate, I must allow for the idea that you are not familiar with the urban stylings of Kris Kross - or, perhaps, are simply in need of a refresher course.  Enjoy (to the extent that is even possible).

I caught an interesting editorial by way of Joystiq about content unlocks that I’ve been thinking about.  I don’t know if it’s actually illegal, as the author suggests, to make people earn the entirety of the product they have purchased.  We can all agree that it is sometimes dumb, which for me is sufficient.  This keeps coming up, in different forms with varying levels of severity.

Electronic Arts has asked hard questions of gamers about what their time is worth by making late-game content available for a fee.  This practice is roundly criticized by the community, but it’s designed to answer the very question raised by the editorial.  It answers it in a crass and mercenary way, but there you have it.  You’re welcome to keep hoping that they’ll "get the message" when you abstain, but it’s time to let the dream die.  Daddy’s never coming home.  And you may be certain that people are buying that shit by the boatload.     

As for Guitar Hero II, having unlocked all those Goddamned songs already on the PS2 I must say that it is almost impossible to take any pleasure from some of these early tracks.  Their Kurt Fauxbain is monstrous, and sounds like a mongoose being crucified.  I don’t actually know what that sounds like, but I bet I’m close.  In any case, no, maybe they shouldn’t go to jail for it, but giving players access to the entire game - at least in quickplay, co-op, or face-off - doesn’t seem like it would destroy the Earth.     

At the lowest rung of concern, there are a games for the 360 that present maddening choices for how they assign achievements and unlocks.  Now, I don’t especially care about achievements - I don’t care if a given activity generates a certain number of imaginary Dork Bucks.  It feels good to get them, but I do not rummage around in digital cupboards seeking more. Even so, there are games like Lost Planet and Gears of War that force you to play ranked matches against antisocial wastoids in order to get the most out of them.  Why is this -  because Ranked Games help retain the perceived value of an illusory metric?  The barn door is wide open, guys.  Gamerscore is on farm status.

In every case, we are talking about withholding.  Gabriel and I discussed it in a podcast that we never released, but probably should.  This conflict is primarily about tootsie.  "Tootsie" is the chocolesque substance that rests within the Tootsie Pop.  For the purposes of this discussion, Tootsie is "the good stuff" that they want you to earn, and they make you manage the chitinous, outer Pop to access it.  Eventually the metaphor fell apart because a) tootsie can be purchased by itself, and b) we kept getting sidetracked by owls.  That stuff about owls isn’t just a non-sequitur.  Man, I should really upload that thing.

In any case: we skip tracks of CDs, we naughtily read the last page of the book. On DVDs, we use chapter skip or watch the bonus features first.  Games cost three to four times more - are we not buying all the content?  It’s unsporting, yes, I can feel it in the hairs of my neck, but at the same time I can’t form a complete argument against it on consumer grounds.  I’m sure someone can set me straight.     

Oh, one last thing:  Come by and see us at Sakuracon, if you can.  Readers from Luxembourg are, of course, exempt.   

(CW)TB out. 

monkeys on the barricades


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