Gaming as a chore

There are those games you just never get to finish, but you still play them. You do not play them because they are fun, but because you have to. You have, after all, paid good money for the game, and maybe even played it for a bit. Playing for these reasons are, in fact, to throw good money after bad.

I have been moderately successful in keeping these sunk costs out of my equations; I have books I have never finished, games bought and paid for that never showed me their end of game credits, movies I never finished.

I recently told a friend I was thinking about how much work it is to play games sometimes. When you have to play even though it isn’t really fun.. —Why play if it isn’t fun? he asked me. At which I replied Why do you play World of Warcraft?. That is a game where I believe an enormous part of the player base is playing just because they have so much invested in it. Money; both up front and in monthly fees, Time; hundreds and thousands of hours spent working to get the best equipment possible. And emotions. My friend plays it mainly, if not solely, because he has made friends there. Friends he have little chance of meeting without crossing country borders. Friends that have little in common other than playing WoW. He has quit, stopped paying, deleted characters many times, but still he starts again.

I’m currently avoiding playing through Icewind Dale 2. Still. It is old and I kind of don’t like it. Then I read Slipping into Oblivion over at A Slime Appears. That article made me think a bit. And I am doing just exactly what I’ve been advocating against for a long long time. I’m playing because, I don’t know. he’s on third and I don’t give a darn!


Identity, trust and OpenID

I recently wrote about OpenID on my journal, and I left kind of an overwhelming positive attitude simmering around the post. I still think you should read it or something authoritative on what OpenID is if you don’t know what it is. No, I don’t think OpenID is a silver bullet that will cure all identity and trust evilness on the web. OpenID itself once was presented as being about identity, not trust on the grounds of trust requiring identity. I don’t think OpenID goes very far towards machine readable identity, but it does go towards human readable identity.

Identifying as an URL instead of with a nickname and a password isn’t that much of an improvement. It proves you have access to some kind of an account giving you an ability to deploy web pages, and a pipeline to an OpenID server that accept you as a user. Since you can host your own OpenID server and web space is cheap (as in free) – this isn’t very comforting. Any service allowing users to authenticate comments with nothing else than an OpenID will find themselves swarmed with spam in no time.

This is known, and will be handled by making use of conventional spam filtering, captcha’s, requirement of creating an account (by OpenID identification) instead of anonymous submission (with OpenID signatures) and other means.

In addition someone will try (or have, what do I know?) white- and/or blacklisting. This might or might not totally destroy what OpenID is all about. As I see it. Blacklisting will probably work, but doing it will be walking on the edge. Blacklisting each individual account will be wasted resources. Each account is just one URL, and spammers can generate one for each comment and never run dry, even if they change the actual account. Delegation would probably be used, so you would need to keep lists on the endpoints as well. Blacklisting domains could be done, but it would require a bit of finesse or human intervention. Spammers manage to get hold of legitimate accounts, or accounts on legitimate hosts… one wrong step and you’d blocked a legitimate, and possibly popular, provider.

White listing would be impossible to do without wrecking it all. One of the cornerstones of OpenID is that you can set up your own provider, but if it was blocked by all from the start… Ok, that wouldn’t do, would it.

Where OpenID will, and do, work is between humans. If I write something, say in a WordPress blog… Incidentally I do… and start signing (in and by) as the URL of this blog, then people will know that I wrote the [whatever] I signed, and they can look up where I keep my identity and see what I am about. And what I write. That I am (most likely) a human being. This will lead to trust.

Only thing missing is spammers making sure their comments seem genuine, and lead readers on a click-through chase to a spam/ad page by way of the OpenID URL… Oh, well. Hope they don’t get that idea from me.

Blogs of the Round Table: Filling the void of voices

What you mean? Monkey Island 1 and 2 had perfect voice talent!

I came across Man Bytes Blog through the Brainy Gamer podcast. I’ve visited Corvus’ blog earlier, but now I’ll stay. Anyhow; he has got this thing going with inviting other bloggers, any blogger, to share their thought at a topic. I’ll toss in a few words at what voices in games mean to me.

I have a history of escaping into other worlds. It happens fairly often, and usually this is into books, my own thoughts, (pen and paper) role-playing games, and computer games. The latter happens less often now, and not only because I try spending less time at them. I find myself treating them more as things to be understood and solved, rather than worlds to live.

Apart from having my old Commodore 64 talk at me, my most memorable moment with voice talent in games are with Curse of Monkey Island. Or rather with the original Monkey Island, and the surprising silence I experienced as the first lines of text appeared. I had just played CMI and picked down my copy of Monkey Island from the shelf, wanting to live its magic again.

My experience playing the Monkey Island games changed from this; or in a way it did not. I never reacted to Guybrush’s voice in Monkey Island 3 – other than that it fit perfectly, but I when I played the prequels again it was Dominic’s voice I heard inside my head. I could’ve sworn at the time that his was the voice I had had in mind for Guybrush while playing the prequels years before, prior to experiencing CMI.

When applying voice talent, I have no trouble supplying my own voices. At least for my own character, and then especially if I had a hand in creating him myself. I can accept there only being voice done for certain characters. I might even prefer that only some lines for certain characters were done in voice. Like when you meet any major character, like Tandi, in the first Fallout game. You’re given a hint or an example, and your mind fills it in expertly at any other time you read her lines.

What jars it for me is anything that ruins the image of the world created. Anything my brain has to fill in itself will be good, or perfect, if there is mood. But if it is supplied for me, I will be critical to anything that threatens suspension of disbelief. Voices not matching the character? Bad lip-sync? People never mentioning my name even if it is written in the subtitles?

In the end I think I prefer making up the voices myself. But when it is done right, I won’t argue against them. For me it is very much akin to graphics. Trying to make it perfect and missing – disastrous. Better to just make it good enough, and let my mind do what it does best.

Filling in the blanks.

Please visit the Round Table’s Main Hall for links to all entries.

The futility of thinking alone

I think a lot. I like to think.

As I delve deeper into what has been called the Blogosphere I get across lots and lots of information; thought and rants and reviews and discussions… stuff that make me think.

Reading, listening, watching. It all makes me think, but keeping my thoughts to myself is kind of limiting. It doesn’t lead anywhere. No new impulses. I kill the thoughts, removing (almost) any chance of discovering holes in my logic, strength in my views.

Thoughts have little value if not shared, but I am scared at the prospect of sharing my thoughts. What if I think stupid thoughts? If I get responses, do I have to respond? What if I have no good response? What to do with responses I don’t agree with? With responses that make me not agree with what I wrote?

Other people have had these questions themselves before me, I have seen examples of this being solved. I’ll try and post my thoughts, my responses to other people here.

Wish me luck.