Tag Archives: Lionhead studios

Of mice and rats

Today news reached me that has me a little baffled. News that seems weird to say the least but, it is news and it is a reality. The news: “Microsoft is cancelling development of Fable Legends, Lionhead Studios’ Xbox One and Windows PC game, and is “in discussions” to close the Fable developer, according to a statement released by Hanno Lemke, general manager of Microsoft Studios Europe“, from several sources gives us the issues at play. In the 10 years running, between 1996 and 2006 we see Lionhead being created by visionary creator Peter Molineux. The man who created Bullfrog, sold it to Electronic Arts and got serious with Lionhead. During his reign, he created Black & White, Fable, Black & White 2, Fable 2, Fable 3 and so on. Each of these titles would shake the foundations of gaming. The originality and vision brought towards these games would continue for a long time to come. Fable 2 and 3 were made as Lionhead had been sold to Microsoft, but now, the curtains are closing. They had one more cash cow by remastering Fable into Fable: Anniversary and that was it.

In the same time that Peter grew Lionhead in the 10 years, Microsoft broke it down to what it is now. A cancelled brand, IP wasted and no look towards the future.

The quote “The free-to-play spinoff of the Fable franchise was intended to be cross-play compatible between Windows 10 and Xbox One” is perhaps the most interesting one. You see, people would have lined up around corners to get a next gen Fable 4, and they would have paid full price for it. Even though Fable 3 was not the jump forward we got when Fable became Fable 2, but the materials created had left plenty of options for a new story, a new storyline in somewhat familiar and accepted surroundings.

What is it with large corporations, especially non-gaming ones, to think that their business solutions will work in an area that is all about art?

On one side there is all the benefits of a separate and different Fable game, yet we have clearly seen that Fable 1, 2 and 3 worked. In an age where good titles are everything, the massive delay Fable: Legends brought is one that gave despair to the gaming community. Consider that both Fable: Legends and No Mans Sky would have been late, yet a multi-billion dollar operation like Microsoft could not get their act on line, whilst Hello Games, a party of 15 people (and roughly £1,827.43 in the bank) are about to release one of the biggest ground breaking games in gaming history, can anyone see my reasoning here?

Gaming visionaries are rare, really rare, I am at least able to recognise those people. It seems to me that Microsoft failed on several levels. The IP that could be transformed and the IP that is still out there is worth billions. Someone like Richard Garriott is sitting on IP that could rival and even surpass Bethesda (this does not reflect negatively on Bethesda). Hello Games has created IP that can revolutionise RPG gaming and sandbox gaming as we know it, whilst Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Microsoft are barely getting by.

Now in case of Electronic Arts there are still irons in the forge and it is possible that the silent kept Mass Effect 4 could break barriers too, we will find out much closer to the end of the year. I am not taking a look at Ubisoft for now. Every MMORPG has a start-up phase and a game with millions starting within 24 hours will create entirely unseen levels of bottlenecks. Let’s give them a little space!

Yet in all this gamers should see the premise that exists, because two small time developers (David Braben and Sean Murray) have achieved IP originality and growth that none of the large developers have achieved for some time. Large developers have been forgetting that art is the focus, a view Jason VandenBerghe has shown, which is why I have faith that For Honor will be the success I expect it to be. It does not matter that this is an Ubisoft title, I expect it to be a great title! Even though it is not my cup of Tea, it is very likely that I will get this game regardless. For the same reason that I will never part with Bloodborne, even though I am hopeless with this game. It is one of the most amazing titles to play, it shows excellence from the very first moment I started to play; everything regarded for Honor showed the same slither of uniqueness and excellence. The fact that Ubisoft confirmed that For Honor will have a complete single player campaign (perhaps even three, which is a speculation from my side), makes me more and more interested in this game. The release date is TBA, but when we look at the overall score, there is a worry (not specifically towards Ubisoft), the large players seem to have ignored (for the most) the creation of truly new IP, they rely on remastering of franchising, whilst there is still a massive area to explore. In an age where the next gen war is in full swing and the winner decides what platform makes the cut, in equal measure as Microsoft broke its own foot on claims regarding the initial Xbox One, we see a change due to Windows 10 that is fueling additional dangers and fears, herding a massive group of undecided players towards the corral of Sony. This is of curse good for Sony, but that means that Microsoft is either pulling out of the gaming front or transposing gaming for ‘generic entertaining downloads’ that is all about Digital Selling. It is their choice to make, which would allow Sony to become the unopposed winner for 5 generations of console.

In my personal opinion, all due to a ‘business’ core that looks at a spreadsheet and does not understand the gaming business. Sony will regard this as no great loss. The moment that Microsoft realises that the power given to Sony also deflates the future of the ‘Xbox Two’ (or whatever it will be called), we will see many overreactions and no resolution. This last part is not due to Lionhead, this is the beginning downward spiral as we are getting exposed to the ‘carefully released leaks’ of a next Xbox with changeable graphics card. The move by Microsoft to remove the gap between computer and console. As I see it, it will be the end of Microsoft gaming. The issues that graphics bring, often due to open drivers might give a better resolution, yet in addition it brings issues too. You only need to look at Arkham knight and how it is no longer a reality for PC’s, whilst running nicely on Consoles (in my case on the PS4) to see the dangers of this step. With Arkham knight there is no blame towards the developers. One source (extreme tech at http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/224216-is-nvidias-physx-causing-amd-frame-rate-problems) gives us “Ever since Gears of War Ultimate Edition came out last week, there’s been a rumour floating around that one reason the game runs so poorly, with so much stuttering on AMD hardware, is because Nvidia’s PhysX is actually running on the CPU“, which is now impacting Microsoft’s own product “Microsoft has launched the PC version of Gears of War Ultimate Edition, but the characteristics of the two titles couldn’t be more different. The new Gears of War is catastrophically broken on Radeon cards“. So how long until you get a card that makes old games trash and new games rubbish? This is the core that gamers will get to face. In addition, how will you enjoy your console when you end up buying a new graphics adapter at $1200 every other year? There is a reason why I decided on consoles. Yes, I accept that 4K gaming is not an option. However, the equal reality is that I have never stopped loving playing Diablo 3 on the PS4, as well as the fact that Minecraft has ZERO hardware requirements (regarding the graphics adapter) and is every bit as fun and addictive as those needing the Nvidia GFX 980 TI.

Was this ever a consideration for those in charge of making the call of change for the future?

The end of Xbox is not in sight, neither will that be the case for this generation (unless Microsoft goes lopsided on DMA issues). So what about the mice? The mice are the independent developers who softly walk by delivering awesome achievements, may we see many mice on our way to great gaming. The rats are the executive business ‘leaders’ who gotten themselves in a $$$ environment, not understanding that world they move in. Good luck I say! One of these mice is Tom Francis who is on route to bring us a game, currently not yet finished as far as I know. A game that given its size could become a desired game for both PSN and Xbox Live. No matter who gets it, it will be a winner for that brand. I believe it requires ‘better’ graphics and a little ‘more’, but in its basic setting it is as appealing as many ‘hi-res’ games currently for sale. The title is called ‘Heat Signature’ and I hope it will be playable this year. Did you count with me? Three original games, with the larger players showing indecently less promise and in addition the possible upcoming console dangers Microsoft might bring its consumers will impact the gaming scene in even larger ways. That market could shift towards Sony, with a market worth billions for the next real visionary.

Let the games begin!

 

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Values of insanity

I need to revisit my last article ‘Evolving our lives’, not the article itself, I thought it was a decent article and I stand by what I write. It is the massive absence of visibility that I see in the press that is so overwhelming, that it makes me wonder what on earth is going on.

You see, the fact that someone hacked the phone of Jennifer Lawrence is ‘great’ news. It had several pages of links of all shapes and sizes. I feel for Jennifer, I am happy that she is taking a stand and I hope her lawyer gets to take the hacker and his family to the cleaners for the next 5 generations.

The statement from her attorney Lawrence Shire is quite clear “This is obviously an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton’s privacy. We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible” (source: Perez Hilton at http://perezhilton.com/cocoperez/2014-09-02-kate-upton-leaked-nude-photos-addresses-statement).

My issue is not with Jenifer, as I stated I do feel for her. It is the LA Times (and many other US newspapers) that I am having an issue with. The LA Times who published only 10 hours ago: “After illegally obtained nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other actresses were made public Sunday, the FBI is on the case — and so is Lena Dunham“.

It is interesting that the FBI is all about the famous, yet, as it is portrayed Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian and a few others, who seem to be the object of extreme hatred and this visibility, remains mostly absent.

Now, I do not agree with some of the views Anita Sarkeesian had, especially in her video ‘Women as Background Decoration (Part 2)’, she is entitled to this view. She does bring in several cases a correct view, but again the fact that the view of the Darkness 2 is pretty much how the comic depiction is was not stated. Also is not stated that the prostitutes in Assassins Creed 2 and Assassins Creed 2 brotherhood were a weapon for Ezio Auditore to kill from hiding and to remain unseen. There is more than just a game here and courtesans were a reality in that era in Italy.

Consider the following historical fact “The Venetian authorities became concerned that it was impossible to distinguish between courtesans and respectable women. Rules drawn up in 1543 determined what the courtesans could wear” and “There was a red light district in Venice but there were also courtesans who were less obvious. They were educated prostitutes who were refined and well dressed and serviced the social elite“. This is how reality was. There is no real defence from me, for the most Anita Sarkeesian gives a truthful view, even though that view is not giving the whole picture. The same she does with watchdogs, where not just women, but also men are the target, yet her reasoning does hold water. In addition, the issues as shown in Far Cry 3 are not unknown (at http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21586575-laws-punish-domestic-violence-are-too-often-honoured-breach-everyday-aggression) the economist and many others show that there is an abundance of violence against women. This does not make it okay, but it is a reality we are all still fighting against. The economist states “it is a slow process“, I personally think is “a much too slow process“. There have been several views by many people that things have to change and I personally believe that Anita Sarkeesian should be allowed to voice these issues in safety and whilst not getting harassed.

My issues only partially against that view is that Bethesda (Fallout, Fallout New Vegas, Oblivion, Skyrim) and Lionhead studios (Fable series) and Electronic Arts (Mass Effect series) offer the option of creating a main female character, that part she left out. In addition, Female Shepard from the Mass Effect series is just as deadly as the male one. Yet, I admit these seem to be exceptions.

As Anita and Zoe are real people, why is their safety not more strongly advocated? Anita Sarkeesian’s dangers made the Washington post, yet it seems that these people (both Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn) seem to have escaped the view of the bulk of all American Newspapers. An Indie game developer stood up for her, his name is Phil Fish. When I looked for more info, I found this description on some Wiki page “Phil Fish (Powerword: Jacques Paul Philippe Poisson) is a shitty video game designer who received immense praise following his creation of a Super Paper Mario rip-off called “Fez”. A filthy hipster, Fish is widely reviled on the internet mostly because he’s a douche and a drama whore. He’s also French Canadian, which goes a long way towards explaining why he’s such a stuck-up narcissistic twat“. The hatred spilt all over several sites is unbelievable, now, perhaps the man has an ego issue, I do not know, because I do not know the man, yet his quote in support for Zoe Quinn drove a level of hatred that is beyond belief.

Let’s get back to the issues involving women.

There is an anti-women group in gaming wave going on that seems to be utterly unparalleled and is far beyond any normal dimensions. I have no idea how repugnant something called ‘the Daily Caller‘ is. Yet consider the issue. A model named Kate Upton, her phone was hacked and we see this “So What Does Rep. Fred Upton Think About Kate Upton’s Hacked Nude Photos?“, which intros as: “Michigan U.S. Congressman Fred Upton is staying personally silent on the weekend hacking and posting of nude pictures belonging to his niece, model and actress Kate Upton“, so the man is her uncle and he is asked to give his view on his naked niece? How sick is this reporter? This was not some photo-shoot in Playboy and Penthouse, no this was the violation of her privacy and many are making ‘light reporting’ of it all. This is a side that Anita Sarkeesian seemed to have missed in her article, it is not just the gaming image but the press is to some extent glorifying this! Is it such a wild assumption that this is bringing a new low level of cyber-paparazzi? I wonder how much money lawyer Lawrence Shire could get and how much publications will bring in revenue on this matter. This is not about objectifying women, this all reads as a chauvinist tactic ‘to keep women in their place‘, which, if true is a crime as heinous as the acts Pol Pot’s killing of well over a million people. Does anyone remember the Killing Fields or did you all forget that massacre?

The victims are given this response “After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions“, so if there is a targeted attack, where did it come from? We get back to the basic need of a secure internet. The system has been built on such levels of ‘convenience’ for speed, that the entire issue of security seems to have been ignored to some degree (a targeted attack that becomes a successful transgression is one that requires investigation). You see, if we accept that any system can be transgressed upon, that it stands to reason that a clear market for the wealthier client is required. Consider the news that the US president was not allowed to have an iPhone and we read “explaining why he is sometimes seen with a bulky super secure Blackberry“, why are the personal assistants of both Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton not looking into that field? Yet, are these not new values of insanity?

Why should any woman need these additional levels of protection from criminals like these? It all goes back to the issue of non-accountability. People can do whatever they like and no one will be there to stop them. If we see the years of publications and the years of recorded issues on Domestic violence, we see an utterly flaccid legal system with too little actual results. The internet is just a new iteration of inaction.

Yes, the FBI is looking into this, yet how long until these women see results? How long until Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian can go home in relative safety for using their right to free speech? How long until the international press will take these issues and goes for real coverage of the issue, and not in some feigned opposition view as we saw in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/01/how-to-attack-a-woman-who-works-in-video-games) with text like “So, for those out there who have decided to join in and harass a woman developer or critic out of the games business, this is how you do it“.

Did the Guardian print the following in their papers: “If you want to take a good honest look at the breasts of Jennifer Lawrence and perhaps more, this is how you hack the phone“? Oddly, that is not what was printed, so why these two values? Yes, I know that the piece of Zoe Quinn was in sarcasm against the harasser, but I think it missed the point, especially as there is an abundance of non-journalistic sources burning her, whilst only the Guardian gave her any (but debatable) visibility. Is this the realistic view of Anita Sarkeesian view that women are objectified, yet now in a very real way?

Moving forward

I hope that Lawrence Shire might be willing to place a few calls and get a group of real journalists into the plight of both Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn, possible with Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton standing next to them. You see, I think that this is all linked to a much bigger problem, if the threat to both Quinn and Sarkeesian is unreal, then people have a right to know, but if the threat is real then ignoring the threat is no less criminal then what the hackers are trying to publish. All this whilst the media is just printing the names that will improve their circulation, so in their view, the lives of Quinn and Sarkeesian have no value and are ignored.

I will accept that a Hollywood star is news, however, within the last 15 minutes as I was writing this last night speculations regarding Jennifer Lawrence grew by 12 pages, not one fact on either Quinn or Sarkeesian by any reputable source was added. This is not life in the fast lane, this is ‘garbage in the junk lane‘ and too many who should be vocal, remain silent.

The responses

Emma Watson’s response on Twitter is perhaps the clearest “Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy“. Yet, I am personally not certain whether she is correct; when the by-line from the Independent ends with ‘Poor Jay Law!‘ which was read by another woman in a tone of ‘ah well’ we can safely state that the matter is a whole lot worse. The tweet from Ricky Gervais, although badly received is deeper than some realise “Celebrities, make it harder for people to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer“, which might read as “When you are famous, you have no inherent rights of ANY kind, which means that either you pose naked for the press at large or someone will get those shots for them“.

Which gives us the unjust consideration “Breasts and genitals are coin, coin is essential, you are only temporary!” Whether Ricky Gervais was actively trying to state this, or “The only safe nude of you is no nude of you!” is up to Ricky Gervais, but I hope that my way of stating this all shows that the dangers women at large face (famous and non-famous alike) seems to be escalating. The view that “Domestic or partner violence is a global concern. Worldwide 30% of partnered women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime” is not a figment of anyone’s imagination, yet the fact that women overwhelmingly do not report these issues and only a fraction of the reported issues are successfully prosecuted remains a fact. This all links to all the issues we saw earlier.

There is an implied inherent air of ignoring, not prosecuting and persecuting these offences, yet overall these issues are more and more visible. I do personally disagree with my previous statement, yet consider the amount of registered domestic violence occurrences and how many of them were successfully prosecuted? Here I do not blame the police; it seems to me that at times their hands are tied even more than those of the victim. Consider the quote from the less likely reporting instance (the Daily Mail). “Domestic abuse prosecutions more than doubled from 35,000 in 2005 to 74,000 in 2010, and the conviction rate increased from 46 per cent to 72 per cent“, yet as we have seen from several sources like the CPS we see: “Nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year (2009/10 British Crime Survey data: http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb1210.pdf as reported in latest cross-government VAWG strategy http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/call-end-violence-women-girls/vawg-paper?view=Binary)“, so in 2010 we still see that less than 10% makes it to court, for whatever reason, so that 72% is not a victory it is nothing less than a joke on a massive failure in my view.

That what follows!

For some reason the NSA has an abundance of data, yet women remain in fear of life, we see that consultants and federal agents are looking into the mailbox and pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, yet no progress has been made. You see, something does not add up, when you target 101 celebrities, it means that you are trying to invade 101 secured accounts, now, it might be possible to get ‘easy’ access to some of them, but 101 targets gives the FBI a place to hunt, this is another question that boggles me and I do have a postgraduate degree in this area. Yes, I know that there is plenty of technology around, but in all these issues, traffic needs to occur and specific points were accessed. How did Perez Hilton get her pictures so fast? Was his ‘apology’ sincere? Was he used or was he the go between so that the global press knows that they are truly out there and for sale?

I do not have the answers, yet, here we see again a press driven value of insanity and let us be honest, at present there is no end in sight and too many women are currently in the firing line, not a firing line of Misogyny, but one of Inaestimabilis (non-English for worthlessness), which is a much more dangerous notion, because hatred can be fought, yet if a population at large deem a group to be without value, then we as humanity will have truly become a failure.

Should you consider me wrong (which is forever a valid consideration) then answer the following questions for yourself:

  1. In the US the following numbers were published by the Huffington post: “Number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,614: Number of women, in the same period, killed as the result of domestic violence in the US: 11,766“, now make a 1% list, so make a list naming 66 dead soldiers and naming 117 women killed through domestic violence. How long did it take to make either list?
  2. The following two facts come from Steve Stewart, Prosecuting Attorney, Clark County, Indiana. Namely “Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (“Violence Against Women, A Majority Staff Report,” Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 102nd Congress, October 1992, p.3.)” and “There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters. (Schneider, 1990)” Now, these numbers are a little old, but even then a dog was more than twice as likely to receive safety and treatment than an abused woman.

Where to go next? Well, that is as ever a good question and I am honestly not certain. In my view, placing these issues in the light and coverage by all papers it needs to have is an absolute first. I also think that the US Congress needs to think this through to a larger extent, they should consider that as UK and Australian law is a little better in protecting privacy they should consider the consequence of these women, packing up for a large part of the year and move to Sydney Australia (or London). These places have the same exotic shopping places and they are more likely to enjoy privacy away from the US, how would congress react when the Hollywood top feels safer outside the US and ends up spending their millions outside of the US? I wonder if Governor Jerry Brown truly considered the dangers that the lacking and hacking safety of women will bring him (and the state of California).

 

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