Saturday, May 30, 2015

Actually Worth Reading pt. 2: A Reply in Kind

  On Aug. 29th, Kotaku published an article titled "We Might Be Witnessing the Death of an Identity", along side a slew of similar articles from similar websites in the same theme: "Gamers are over", "A Guide to Ending Gamers" and so on. These articles release from Aug 28th to Sep 1st took many by surprise. Erik Cain of Forbes wrote " is odd when you see nearly a dozen articles within a 24 hour period pop up declaring the annihilation of an identity. It reeks of the worst sort of identity politics." (source) David Auerbach of Slate ironically opens his response to the controversy with "Slate readers are over, declining—a dead demographic." (source)

  The question of the day was: "Why? Why would games journalists declare gamers are dead?" Many gamers took to various forums to discuss, but were censored in places like 4chan and reddit's r/gaming, and the comments sections of every publisher that ran these articles were heavily moderated, removing any dissenting opinions.

  This combination of censorship and soap boxing, speaking through megaphones without listening in return, is what caused #GamerGate to explode. It might have taken some by surprise, but this had been building for years. Arguably the worst offender was and continues to be Kotaku.

  On Oct. 26th 2012, Kotaku published Andrew McMillen's article "What Went Wrong With Silicon Knight's X Men Destiny?" (archive), which made many claims about Denis Dyack, calling him an incompetent tyrant and implying that he scammed publishers. However, those claims did not have any evidence or any sources other than anonymous former employees. That did not stop the article from being published by Kotaku, even after the story had been turned down by others. The resulting controversy is still being discussed, especially as more information is made available.

  A few replies to this articles that are actually worth reading and watching are:

Your Opinion is Wrong: Denis Dyack by Andrew Whipple III (archive)

Response to Kotaku Article (video, 33:52) by Denis Dyack

Denis Dyack Interview Part 1 – Yellow Journalism and What Really Happened with X-Men Destiny by Brandon Orselli (archive)(page 2)

   On May 13th, 2013, Kotaku published Stephen Totilo's article "Grand Theft Auto Taught Me To Drive." (archive) Over a year later, Dec. 4th 2014, it was updated to show that it had been a hoax. The update reads in part:

  "This story appears to have been based on a hoax that was intended to trick us into publishing a false article... I didn't vet this person's story with the rigor I do with anonymous sources for more weighty stories. I messed up."

  Well congratulations, you got yourself caught! One wonders what "rigor" he is referring to, when so many Kotaku articles turn out to be founded on unverified, anonymous sources, while actual sources go uncontacted, especially the subjects of their hit pieces. While this less "weighty" story harmed no one, it showed clearly how easy it is to get a hoax past the editor-in-chief of Kotaku.

  According to Scrump Monkey from Super Nerd Land "It all comes down to one thing: access." Journalists have access that bloggers don't. When journalists don't use their access to vet their articles, they should not be taken seriously.

  The article that references this story among others is actually worth reading:

The Death of Games Journalism Part 1: Journalism 101 by Scrump Monkey (archive)(page 2)

  A video in which Stephen Totilo talks to Total Biscuit is actually worth watching:

Ethics in Games Media: Stephen Totilo of Kotaku comes to the table to discuss (1:42:31) by TotalBiscuit

  Georgina Young is well know in #GamerGate circles for insisting on strict neutrality. She is not "pro-GG", neither is she "anti-GG". However, she remains well liked and respected by those who continue to discuss ethical concerns under the tag #GamerGate (it's just a hashtag, after all), due to her fairness in reporting. She has reported on the harassment and doxxing of both sides of the debate, the bias of the GamerGate Wikipedia article, and a fair analysis of the hashtag. At all times, her words are chosen carefully, to not make sweeping claims, but to present what evidence there is.

  Young's Nov. 12 2014 article "The Problems with Kotaku Lie Much Deeper than Corruption" (archive) is actually worth reading. It begins by giving Kotaku much more benefit of doubt as now seems possible. However, the rest of the article is, quite frankly, a damning series of references to Kotaku articles which show "the shocking real life consequences for those involved, simply for clickbait and page views."


  In closing, I'd like to point out that the base image for the header to this article is Kotaku's original mascot. These two adaptations are a reference to "sea-lioning", which critics of games media are often accused of, and the many "sock puppet" accusations of those who tweeted out under #NotYourShield being fake accounts, specifically Tim Schafer's joke (which could actually be funny with a bit of work). The recolor on the right is a reference to, a games journalism resource that records ethical breaches of journalists and lists alternative sources (which will feature in future parts of this series).

  Kotaku used to be a consumer advocate, and appealed to the market in a fun and sexy way. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is a beautiful thing to do. Now, however, places like Kotaku are publishing articles vilifying games, gamers and game creators based on a totalitarian ideology that is extremely sex-negative. One final video on this subject in the context of the comics industry that is actually worth watching is Spider-Woman's Big Ass is a Big Deal (6:42) by Maddox. In it, he notes the various inconsistencies and hypocrisies of this type of thinking.

  Kotaku has abandoned beauty and now attacks it. Kotaku has abandoned journalistic objectivity and ethical standards and will now print anything for the clicks. Kotaku has abandoned consumer advocacy and now attacks games, gamers and game creators. They are not alone in this, of course, and more of these attacks by similar sites will feature in Actually Worth Reading pt. 3.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Actually Worth Reading pt. 1: Some Websites are Lying About Game Devs

  On May 19th., Polygon published an opinion piece (archive)(link) by Katie Chironis (game and narrative designer, currently a team lead for Elsinore). In it, she states:

  "Right now, passionate, optimistic backers who want to see their favorite old franchises return to life are being misled right and left about the "real" costs behind a game, concerns often hand-waved away by celebrity headliners and funding goals that appear to be appropriately large — on the surface."

  She further speculates on what Yooka-Laylee's actual budget might be:

  "If we say $10,000 per person per month for a year of development, which is a very rough approximation, you get a $1.8 million budget. The campaign has already raised over $2.5 million, which is a very workable budget, but it's hard to imagine how the game would have survived under the campaign's original goal [$270,000]."

  Chironis didn't have to speculate, though. Instead, she could have read the Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter FAQ, which states:

  ""Isn’t £175k a little cheap for the game you’re promising?" Indeed it is, but that figure alone doesn’t give you the whole picture. We’ve already put a plan in place using personal finances to get the game done no matter what happens, however this extra money can be used by us to hire a few more talented people, get the game done sooner and allow us to commit to more features and platforms too." (archive)(link)

  Chironis must not have fact checked before making her claims. While Polygon added "The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Polygon as an organization." to the end of the article, this does not let them off the hook for publishing an opinion piece founded on a false premise. They could have instead asked for a revision, or added an editor's note, or not run the article to begin with. More likely, the editors at Polygon didn't fact check either.

  Chironis' claim may in fact be correct about games other than Yooka-Laylee, according to Mark Kern. He states "Its true though (not here), many KS's do lowball and don't disclose. The fear of the stigma of not funding drives em." (source) However, that Chironis makes this claim about a popular game kickstarter without that claim being factual only undermines her argument.

  On May 22, Patrick Klepek published an article on Kotaku titled "Worth Reading: Some Kickstarters are Lying About Game Budgets" (archive)(link), with a photo of Yooka-Laylee as the header. In it, he links a few articles with commentary of his own. Klepek's comments on Chironis' article in full:

  "I’m of two minds on this argument. One, I believe the fear over known quantities coming to Kickstarter and raising tons of money actually helps the service—and smaller projects—by introducing crowdfunding to other people. On the other hand, it’s absolutely true this new way of using Kickstarter—asking for way less than you actually need, and simply leveraging the service as a way to prove interest to potential investors—is doing a terrible disservice to our understanding of game budgets. Crowdfunding has been a wonderful way for people to better grasp the realities of how much it costs to make a game, but some projects are outright lying."

  These comments coming after that headline and that photo are a blatant implication that Yooka-Laylee are one of those projects that are "outright lying."

  The title has since changed to "Worth Reading: The Way Games Are Using Kickstarter Is Changing", and an update including:

  "While some Kickstarters may be misleading people about their budgets, the ones highlighted in the article I was linking to and referenced in our own article here, have explained to potential backers that the amount of money they’re asking for doesn’t constitute a full budget for their game. Some backers may not realize this, but the information, to some extent, is there. That makes these Kickstarters and their approach worth writing about, and it makes the phenomenon of asking backers for significantly less money than the cost of development worthy of discussion, but it doesn’t constitute lying. I apologize for my mischaracterization."

  The text also changed from "some projects are outright lying."  to "some projects seem misleading."

  These statements, "to some extent", "mischaracterization" and changing "outright lying" to "misleading", these do not constitute an apology. This is a weaseling out of responsibility after getting caught.

  As of May 28th., the Polygon article remains unchanged. (archive)

 Chironis, Polygon's editors, Klepek and Kotaku's editors are now all collectively responsible for this smear on Yooka-Laylee's reputation. Whether it is by failing to check the facts or by outright ignoring the facts, this is libelous. This is yellow journalism.

  There are alternatives, however, some of which I will reference in Actually Worth Reading pt. 2.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Open Letter to Blizzard

  Dear Blizzard,

  Your support of GaymerX is in conflict with your Core Values of Play Nice; Play Fair, Every Voice Matters, and Lead Responsibly. 

  Ostensibly, GaymerX is made for everyone and everyone is welcome. They even shortened their nickname to GX, "to make it clear that everyone is welcome... We really mean everybody."(emphasis in original)(1) 

  At least that's what I read on their website. On Twitter, all I see is this: "You are blocked from following @GaymerX and viewing @GaymerX's Tweets." This is because GaymerX uses the Orwellian-named Good Game AutoBlocker, originally named GooberGabber AutoBlocker.(2) The intro to the Nov. 5th 2014 best explains the purpose of the blockbot:

  "Takes a list of the 5 major idiots of GG, looks at their follower lists. Generates a list of sheeple following more than one account, as well as a list of your followers that might be questionable.
This does not rank users. It doesn't look at bios, it doesn't look at hashtags. But GamerGate appears to be completely useless at figuring out github when it's not just a wiki explaining how to be shitheads, so they'll probably never read this README and figure that part out."

  Your own Matt Schnee suggested using the GG AutoBlocker list as an employment blacklist, called the people on it GoatGrabbers, and encouraged others to use it.(3) This suggestion was unfortunately taken seriously by others.(4) This isn't just unethical. It's illegal.

  It is not my goal to convince you that any given political position associated with the hashtag is correct. I certainly won't ask you to support GamerGate. I simply wish to point out how your company's core values are in conflict with supporting GaymerX so long as they use the GG AutoBlocker.

  It is not playing nice or fair to label tens of thousands of people "harassers" or "sheeple" based solely on who they follow on Twitter. It is certainly not fair to create an industry blacklist.

  Clearly not every voice matters to GaymerX. The use of a blockbot is completely antithetical the the idea that every voice matters.

  You have the opportunity to lead responsibly in this matter. I simply ask you to either reconsider your association with GaymerX, or encourage them to stop using blockbots.

Operation Angry Unicorn

So this is a thing:

  I sent one tweet to @GaymerX last October:

  The result:

  The context:

  "I can't just dismiss people who want to go to GX3 and also support GG for their own reasons. As I can't dismiss you."

  "I can't associate the bad behavior of many of the gg-ers with everyone person that uses the hashtag."

  "We don't support GG. We never will. We support queer gamers, though, some of them happen to have different ideas than we do."

  If only it were so.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gladiator's Viability

  I've been reading forum posts, reddit comments and trade chat, and the general consensus is that Gladiator DPS is good enough, and you can play whatever you want until you get to mythic. Alternatively, if you spec it you're a scrub, get out of the raid, you can't DPS as tank.

  Both are wrong.

  First off, a Warrior in Gladiator Stance is not a tank. While some of the survivability of Prot is retained, it isn't significantly greater than Fury or Arms. Shield Charge replaces Shield Block, and Shield Barrier is very weak without Resolve, so Prot's active mitigation is absent in Gladiator Stance. Gladiator does still have Demoralizing Shout, Shield Wall and Last Stand (as well as much higher armor and the ability to block), so they're able to take some hits, but not for long.

  So Gladiator is not a proper tank, but is it a proper DPS? Let's see what the sims say:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Random Ramblings: WoW Notes, Roll Call, Unemployed

WoW Notes

I like to keep a WordPad of notes handy for WoW. A recent addition is this macro I found on wowhead:

/run if(true)then local q={"The Thunderlord Sage","Explosive Discoveries","Amulet of Rukhmar","Gutrek's Cleaver","The Infected Orc","The Artificer"};for i= 1,6,1 do local a,b,c=GetAchievementCriteriaInfo(9825,i);print(q[i],": ",a," = ",c)end;end

This checks to see what Harrison Jones quests a character has done.

I also keep some paper notes on my desk, one of which I used for almost a year:

Rik and Skeer cannot be tanked by the same tank due to debuffs, same with Kil and Xaril. Rik and Korv should be different tanks because Korv will stun while Rik applies a debuff. Karoz and Iyyuk are switched from their initial priority. I usually started on Skeer, so I underlined Korv, Iyyuk and Kilruk because those are my taunt targets.

Tank 1 starts on Rik, Tank 2 on Skeer. DPS kills Rik then Skeer, then Korv, with Tank 2 taunting Korv and facing him away from others. DPS kills Hisek, then Xaril, with Tank 1 taunting Xaril. DPS kills Kaz then Iyyuk, with Tank 2 taunting Iyyuk. Finally, DPS kills Karoz, then Kilruk, with Tank 2 taunting Kilruk.

Between my 5 tanks, I have done this 31 times. It's ugly, but it worked.

Roll Call

I never did finish the Alt Appreciation project. I got to Paladin and got distracted, which is too bad, because my Priest is one of my favorite alts. I'm going to do this again, but I'm calling it Roll Call. I'm going to go through my characters in order of time /played and do one big post on that character, their history and stats, my thoughts on the class, and generally anything that come up when I think about that character.

I've got one of each class above 90 and they're in 3 groups:

On Ally-Proudmoore I have my DK, Priest and Mage, each with fully developed garrisons and professions. My DK and Priest are raid ready (671 and 654 ilevel), and my Mage has dipped into a bit of PvP. This is where most of my gold is as well, about 278k.

On Ally-Durotan I have my Hunter, Shaman, Rogue and Warrior, with my Warrior at 100 and 645 ilevel. I also have professions and garrisons developing and about 30k gold.

On Horde-Proudmoore I have my Paladin, Monk, Warlock and Druid, each at level 91 with garrison resources and professions slowly building up. I don't have much gold between them, (about 1k), since I'm heavily invested in speculation, so supplying daily cooldowns is a thrifty endeavor. I also have various bank alts that post glyphs, transmogs and crafted items.

It can seem overwhelming to have 11 garrisons to manage, but the important thing is to remember that it's all optional. Sometimes all I do on my DK, Priest and Mage is profession cooldowns, dwarven bunker daily, JC or Alch daily, and emptying/restocking the mine cache (since I have an abundance of Draenic Stone). The herb garden and mine are just a convenient form of gathering. It might seem like easy gold left ungathered, but so is all the ore and herbs out in Draenor. It's OK to not do everything everyday. There's certainly a large initial time investment, but once followers are leveled and geared and buildings are upgraded, it's easy to maintain.


I've been unemployed for a month now, while not being able to afford it for a week. The people at my apartment office have been more than gracious giving me time to catch up on rent, but other bills are piling up and I'm getting turned down for flipping burgers. What makes it worse is that over the last 6 months, a series of roommates all bailed on me after they got behind on bills, about $1,500 altogether. It wasn't all craigslist roommates either, but co-workers, and even fellow veterans. Some even stole from me when they left. I got caught up on bills each time they did, but now I don't know what to do.

I don't usually like to drag real life worries into WoW, but this one is a potential WoW-killer for me. I might go homeless at the end of this month. It feels kind of strange playing while knowing that soon I might not log back in for a while, if ever. I've stopped using mailbox storage and adjusted my AH posting habits so that I can quickly clear mailboxes if I have to. I'm not on a raid team mostly because I'm marking full availability on job applications, but also because I don't know when my power will get cut off.

I have so much time to play now, but I feel kind of guilty about playing at all while unemployed. It just doesn't seem right, even though it's not a detriment, but even a motivating factor towards getting stabilized. If I want to keep playing, I have to get caught up. It might seem weird that continuing to play WoW is a more real motivator to me than maybe sleeping under a bridge, but I've been through worse.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bloody Stats: Haste vs Multistrike

Death Strike is the Blood Death Knight's bread and butter, so maximizing the number of Death Strikes during a fight greatly increases survivability. In order to maintain a sense of perspective, I'd like to preface this article by saying that skillful play will contribute far more towards this goal than stat optimization. If a DK frequently allows runic power, rune pairs or Blood Tap charges to cap, then the most effective way to increase survivability is to play better.

Also, this only applies to this gear level (673) with this talent setup (not Breath of Sindragosa).

Kaldahar Sim March 21 XML

This is the Result 1 info for the next post:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Item Level Spread Visualized, T14 through T16

The 5 ilevel boost to all gear from BRF goes live tomorrow, and it seems most everyone is OK with this. The most obvious effect will be the effective nerf of all content.

I think that people making good progress through BRF on any level of difficulty will be boosted significantly, while others who have not progressed much are likely to still be using more HM gear, and so will see less immediate benefit. However, I think that in 2 weeks, the new ilevels will be the new normal.

Some are saying that this ilevel boost makes BRF a separate tier from HM, but I disagree. Consider the following graph of MoP ilevels:

As you can see, MSV is in the same tier as HoF and ToeS, but at a slightly lower ilevel. The overlap is significant. Between each tier, however, only heroic and LFR overlap. The tiers are distinct, and all gear from old content is clearly obsolete for a progression raid team.

T17 is more complicated, largely due to there being 4 raiding difficulties. Each one needs to be a clear upgrade from the previous, so the spread is wider. I have added a predicted T18 spread with T18 LFR halfway between heroic and mythic T17, based on the similar pattern in MoP.

Now, the argument that HM and BRF are separate tiers seems to be based on the full replacement of HM gear with BRF gear, at whatever difficulty level a given raid team is progressing at. I argue, however, that this is expected, as the same occurred in T14.

Also, HM remains relevant for many raiders if they were to increase the difficulty of HM. Suppose a raid ream has cleared 6/10 normal BRF after clearing 6/7 normal HM, and a few heroic HM. They would likely be at 665 ilevel, so heroic HM still drops upgrades that are now only equal to normal BRF, not 5 ilevels above. This is a mild nerf to HM gear, but it is not made clearly obsolete.

Another point of contention is that Imperator is now obsolete, and I'm inclined to agree, but only to a degree. Considering the same raid team example, downing normal Imperator to complete that progression does not yield upgrades, expect perhaps a few BiS items where a lower ilevel outperforms a higher one. However, this is a niche example.

All in all, I think that in 2 weeks none of these complaints will be an issue. The ilevel boost is justified on it's own merits.