bioshock

All posts tagged bioshock

This post is going to attempt pulling three disparate subjects I wanted to talk about into one coherent rant… ready?

I’m savagely disappointed in John McCain, my candidate of choicelessness, and was dismayed to hear Michael Hollick’s complaints about being underpaid for his voice acting role as the main character of Grand Theft Auto IV. These happened within a week of each other, and got me incensed by how this country is dominated by populist feel-good, and not rational understanding.

McCain, along with the hypocritical bitch whose husband I’ve already written about, is pushing for a Gas Tax Holiday paid for by money the government doesn’t have (until it taxes it out of the people). Like the biodiesel fad that has led to mass starvation in worldwide food shortages, it stokes that unjustified indignation people have who think Big Oil is plundering the common man. Meanwhile, Hollick, telling the NY Times of the “mere” $100,000 he made voicing Nico Bellic, made the presumptuous remark, saying “But it’s tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don’t see any of it.”

I’ve been reading Atlas Shrugged recently, after a debate with a co-worker where he felt I didn’t fully understand Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy and had represented it unfairly in my Bioshock article. After reading it, I’ve realized that I was more right than I ever knew. She created a complete strawman for her Atlas’ and now I know I can’t point out any flaw in her logic if I’m in the same room as her fans/cultists. But I did gain an appreciation for how deeply she feels for the great men and women who are assaulted for their wealth and power by the very people who depend on it.

And I have a similar if less fervent feeling for Big Oil. Yes I’m going to defend them. Do you people know that Big Oil has had a declining profit margin since Standard Oil? That Big Oil today has a lower profit margin (7-9%) than most other industries (look up the highest yourself)? And that’s without the reinvestment into infrastructure people damn them for! Did you know that the government’s gasoline taxes rake in twice as much as Big Oil revenues?

But Big Oil has made so much money! They should give back to the people, cried the looters! Did you know that if you graph Big Oil’s “huge” profits to oil consumption, the correlation damns no one but the oil-gobbling people ourselves? Did you know that Big Oil isn’t even that big? Exxon (the largest of Big Oil) ranks 14th largest in the world, the biggest being ARAMCO which is 12 times its size! Sure, let’s return Big Oil to the mercy of the people, let’s just make it state-owned… like the 13 other oil giants in the world that dwarf “Big” Oil.

So when Hollick says it’s hard to watch GTA make millions, isn’t he right? It’s not like he signed a contract agreeing to all these terms, nor had any idea of the popularity of the world’s best-selling game beforehand. Clearly he was misled. He should have protested the obvious exploitation by letting another unknown actor take the $100,000 blow that was merely better than average for opportunity starved voice actors whose video game work isn’t protected by their own selfless union. :rolleyes:

Where Ayn Rand was wrong was her trust in the utilitarian nobility of the elites in capitalism, a trust not so different than the trust in the working man found in her nemesis: socialism. But her dangerously seductive philosophy was birthed from a real and tragic irony. If you run a business, shall I punish you when people can’t get enough of your product? When the people force profits upon you, shall I force you to give back charitably? Shall I take your right to pursue profit in the name of National Security, along with wire-tapping and waterboarding?

So then, tell me what right Hollick has to feel anymore pain than the hundreds of other people who worked far more for far less pay and fame, whose efforts in anonymity made Nico Bellic possible? Tell me what right Hollick has to the millions GTA made, when any number of elements in that game could have become the clincher to its appeal? Did anyone buy GTA because Michael Hollick was starring in it?

Then tell me what right we have to demand Big Oil’s morality at our feet, when it is us who drank in the prosperity of energy irresponsibility until the mirage began to fade?


Here's a choice bit of wisdom from Warren Buffet's Q&A with Emory's Goizueta Business School and McCombs School of Business at UT Austin. He and Charles E. Kirk of The Kirk Report have been the people I look up to the most in investing, because they outperform everyone else yet remain humble, and morally uncompromised. This is Warren's take on happiness and success:

I enjoy what I do, I tap dance to work every day. I work with people I love, doing what I love. The only thing I would pay to get rid of is firing people. I spend my time thinking about the future, not the past. The future is exciting. As Bertrand Russell says, “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.” I won the ovarian lottery the day I was born and so did all of you. We’re all successful, intelligent, educated. To focus on what you don’t have is a terrible mistake. With the gifts all of us have, if you are unhappy, it’s your own fault.

I know a woman in her 80’s, a Polish Jew woman forced into a concentration camp with her family but not all of them came out. She says, “I am slow to make friends because when I look at people, I have one question in mind; would they hide me?” If you get to be my age, or younger for that matter, and have a lot of people that would hide you, then you can feel pretty good about how you’ve lived your life. I know people on the Forbes 400 list whose children would not hide them. “He’s in the attic, he’s in the attic.” Some of them keep compensating by joining board seats or getting honorary degrees, but it doesn’t change the fact that no one will give a damn when they are gone. The most powerful force in the world is unconditional love. To horde it is a terrible mistake in life. The more you try to give it away, the more you get it back. At an individual level, it’s important to make sure that for the people that count to you, you count to them.

What if you could buy 10% of one of your classmates and their future earnings? You wouldn’t buy the ones with the highest IQ, the best grades, etc, but the most effective. You like people who are generous, go out of their way, straight shooters. Now imagine that you could short 10% of one of your classmates. This part is usually more fun as you start looking around the room. You wouldn’t choose the ones with the poorest grades. Look for people nobody wants to be around, that are obnoxious or like to take all the credit. If you have a 500 HP engine and only get 50 HP out of it, you’ll be beat by someone else that has a 300 HP engine but gets 250 HP output. The difference between potential and output comes from human qualities. You can make a list of the qualities you admire and those you despise. To turn the tables, think if this is the way I react to the qualities on the list, which is the way the world will react to me. You can learn to turn on those qualities you want and turn off those qualities you wish to avoid. The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. You can’t change at 60; the time to look at that list is now.

There was a time I greatly respected Silicon Knights. Once upon a time they were a brave developer putting out the likes of the nuanced surival horror game Eternal Darkness, and the honest remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. And of course they made video game vampires cool with Blood Omen.

Then they drifted aimlessly on the aptly named title Too Human, unable to finish, only to blame the game engine the way a shitty gamer blames his controller. Silicon Knights is now suing Epic for lack of 360 support on Too Human. But get this, the part that really makes me laugh is that they are claiming Epic sabotaged their support to put their resources into Gears of War.

Waaah.

First, if the lawsuit is successful, a huge precedent will be set that will essentially damn future engine developers for things not within their control. The specific issue was that Epic hadn't gotten UT3 ready for the 360, which was because they got their own dev stuff late. So poor customer service due to the realities of console development is now sue-able. Well christ, let's start suing Microsoft and Sony for making things too next-gen, I mean it's breakin' our balls right?

Second… sabotage? Oh I see, because Epic has absolutely nothing to gain if Too Human had been released with amazing UT3 driven graphics. Or I know, Too Human having twice the development time as Gears of War means it's twice as important, right? This is going to be the most difficult thing to prove in court, as there is a fine line between an Epic Games sabotage, and just imcompetent support.

In the end, there's just a couple words that throw water onto Silicon Knights' disguise, melting the witches into the pool of bullshit from which they spawned. Bioshock. Stranglehold. Huxley. Mass Effect. Rainbow Six: Vegas. Fury. None are Epic games. According to Silicon Knights, they all want to sue Epic too, but so far they've been pretty mum. Guess all that praise from the press makes it hard to file frivolous lawsuits.

Let me summarize with just four words what the jury is going to say: shut the fuck up.


I finished up Bioshock and it was quite a tour-de-force in game narrative, and deserves the kind of critique usually reserved for film and literature, even from the most ardent anti-“game-as-art” critics (read: Ebert). So I gave it a shot. Here is my effort at deconstructing the meaning of Bioshock.

Read it, would you kindly?

MAJOR SPOILERS

Continue Reading

Xbox Live is brilliant. Yeah, I know I'm a latecomer to this, but I held out on the next-gen tsunami until this wave of awesome launch titles has crushed me in the tidal fortitude of an endlessly playable holiday line-up. Within the first taste of depth, in the Bioshock demo, I explored the post-objectivist underwater apocalypse that was so beautifully rendered, populated, to the point of being a recontruction, that I haven't been this immersed in the wetting of my panties since… well… just since. I await this game as a leviathan in the famished bathysphere of the game-narrative abyss, wherein we loath surface-dwellers and their shallow byline plots.

Bioshock, save me!

So yeah, I played alot in the last few days. Crackdown, Call of Duty 2, Lost Planet, and the demos for Stranglehold, The Darkness, and Geometry Wars (which is like Smash TV deconstructed by Malevich into a supremacist "essence" of addiction symbology, with my skill level better described as abstract death-on-death). The first five were, in order, crack cocaine, cinematic until you played the idiotic multiplayer, overly-japanese eye candy, bangbangbang, and bangbangbang in the dark.

This smorsgabord was especially exciting for me given its accessibility. I mean, I could just download a shit-ton of random demos and stuff, turn off the 360, come back home after work and I have all the titles mentioned in water-cooler talk awaiting my perusal. And Stranglehold was more fun than I'm willing to admit as well; having long despised John Woo of being reductively derivative of his own work, I found his game was a satisfying Max Payne knock-off with lots more bullets, table-sliding, bullet-dodging, and just sheer mandarin murderin' madness.

Our project got extended, and I sorely miss longer gaming nights, but such is life. Swim with it.


So with what looks like a slow, struggling recovery, I may be wrong about the stock market's resilience. It wouldn't be the first time. To be honest, fancying myself a technical trader, I've never been very good at the buy-and-hold game. Accumulators probably had a ball with this dip. I took it as an oppotunity to accumulate high dividend stocks. I am no baller in this arena, and I will not play the rebound on a court I don't know. I'll remain cautious, and more importantly, I will not regret gains I might miss out on. That's my style, I'm stickin' to it.

After Nintendo's amazing financial statement came out, Sony follows up with equal aplomb… in the form of pompous bullshit. It's shocking that Sony CFO Kobuyuki Oneda said:

"Actually, because the number of units [of PS3] sold was not as high as we hoped, the loss was better than our original expectation,"

Ignoring the massive costs of R&D, support, and over-manufacturing, let's just think about the sheer illogicity of this spin. If I were the worlds ugliest hooker and had my legs spread on the street next to a bedpan with "five bucks a fuck" scratched into the rim, I'm less of a slut than the rest since no one would be taking me up on the offer.

Get real.

Meanwhile, I am trying very hard to find an Xbox 360 to buy, probably an elite. I've already pre-ordered Bioshock, and I'm just waiting to see if the system price drops on August 12th. This coming gaming season is going to be unmissable, and the raving reviews of the 300 HD-DVD makes my wallet suicidal.

Xstine hit 70 on her rogue, and I'm half a bar away, and we're dying to get into the arena season. Didn't take too long to get there I guess, although thanks to powerleveling, I've missed about half of Outlands. So far, Netherstorm is my favorite area, and I love the impaled dragonflights on the spikes of the Blade Edge mountains. Their art is phenomenal, and I've never seen better leveraged art assets in any game. How they get away with that amount of reuse leaves me boggled. My only quibble with Burning Crusade is that now that Alliance have shamans, shamans are being buffed big time, and now that Horde have loladins, they're getting nerfed.

Coincidence? I think not. Still not seeing many 70 Dranei though, and the few Dranei shammy I've killed were incapable of controlling some form of totem-frostshock diarrhea. You can check out our characters at the new (sloooow) Armory site: me and Xstine.

Another thing to check out is this gameplay footage of Bioshock timed with GDC. I'm very impressed with the AI, the animation quality, and just the overall atmosphere… or should I quip "bathysphere." While the mannequin hand could use some tuning. Why do they even need those conventions? Press to draw and point gun, release to fire. I hate the FPS tradition of putting an awkward looking sidearm hand stiffly into the screen corner. But I digress, enjoy:

Even since the Tokyo Game Show, I haven't seen much that was mindblowing in terms of console graphics. Sure, Bioshock gave me the chills, but its sub-aquarium art deco style and pitiless monster screams are working off the advantage of breath-taking art direction, and the echoes of the primal fear found, of all places, in a video game called System Shock. That's plain unfair.

To date, the System Shock games have been the only ones to scare the beejesus outta me, unless you count playing the marine in Alien Vs. Predator and facing hordes of wall-slithering low-poly xenomorphs with nothing but a desperate assault rifle and the para-sympathetic beep of an astigmatic motion detector throwing its hindsight into the dark of the tunnels. But that was fear, not the transformation of horror to terror you get running from Shodan's cyber-midwives birthing aberrated monstrosities while begging you to kill them. If Bioshock brings that feeling back, and under the new claustrophobic pressures of its ocean sunk carnivale screaming with rusting valves, leaking walls, and antique midways, well, it'll be a hell of a game.

Ok, so maybe I also jumped a bit at that first monster in Alone in the Dark simultaneously breaking the silence and the bookshelf I pushed over the suspicious hole, but c'mon, we were kids then. Regardless, that wasn't the kind of goosebumps I care for, and it still isn't today. No, the goosebumps I want are the kind I get when I watch this Alan Wake trailer.

From the folks who gave us the psychotic supercomic narratives of the loquacious Max Payne comes something of the same literary vein, a tale of a writer in Alaska with strange circumstances about. Let me tell ya, I've been there, and that is EXACTLY how Alaska should look in a game. It has all the isolation, the empowering and humbling expanse, and the sentient daylight that tricks the brain and tires the soul. It's gorgeous. And moreover, it drops my jaw without rockets, robots, aliens, or some iteration of WWII or Special Forces.