Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Unanticipated Reconsideration

Progress Continues.

Something rather unusual has occurred.

Well done, Valve and/or Bethesda
They seem to have noticed how badly this system was being received and reconsidered, which is absolutely fantastic. Companies of their size usually rely on their weight to drive bad ideas through with your average train applying brakes more often.

Now that I have gone on record as opposing this now defunct system, I would note that if Valve and Bethesda do want to ease content creators into advancing into the production of new games like Killing Floor, DOTA and so on there are ways of monetizing this work that would not necessarily infuriate so much of the community nor so profoundly change the dynamics thereof.

As a proposed alternative, they could have seen fit to curate a paid mod-pack. The community could have voted their favorite mods into the pack, and would likely be happy to pay for it not only to encourage the modders but also to avoid the hassle of getting their favorite mods to play nicely together.

Meanwhile those uninterested or unable to pay could still compile their favorites themselves which would presumably remain individually available. Giving the creators that much more exposure for their work and inviting no less sincere moral support from those players.

Valve or Bethesda at that point could have done somewhat more to justify a seventy-five percent share of the income by appointing a person to ensure the modpack remains compatible with the game- offering that measure of consumer protection Valve left flapping in the wind this time.

It takes away nothing, offers a service and shouldn't mangle the social dynamic.

There may be other ways, of course, but I believe this would have done more to encourage goodwill or at least cost a fair bit less.

In any case, kudos to Valve and/or Bethesda for recognizing the value of goodwill and when an idea- regardless of intention- is making things worse rather than better.

Entirely unrelated, but quality humor

Progress continues.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mods and Money

Progress continues.

The mystery of the selective filtering devices has been solved, unfortunately as has become the norm that's all I can say about it. Suffice it to say the forces behind it are probably somewhat bitter over the wasted effort.

Meanwhile in other news Steam did a thing.

Yes, now you, hobbyist video game modder, can sell your game modifications via Steam. 75% of the proceeds go to Valve Software, and the majority of that then no doubt goes to Bethesda... But you still stand to earn twenty five cents of every dollar or euro spent.

Provided you earn one hundred dollars U.S. or more.

Yes, now you can charge money for modifications you make to your game. Or, alternatively, someone else's modifications!

Another fine product by Just Arty, not my censor work for the record but I can't say I mind.
Sure, there is a DMCA takedown feature, but the sheer amount of time Valve is going to have to put into sorting the valid from the invalid is going to be absurd and some of the cheats will surely slip through the cracks. People are going to feel like suckers.

Meanwhile, what will this do to the modding community?

Well, it's not going down too well so far.

TLDR: Modder gets contacted by Valve to spearhead this new project.  After a conflict is revealed in that part of their mod used free materials made by a third party, they attempt to make their mod free to download again to make amends.

Sorry, that mod is theirs to sell now. But then, in Arissa 2.0's case it was 100% the work of them, "Griefmyst" and... I think they might have forgotten someone. Bethesda perhaps? No modification without a game to modify.
Mind you, this is what they agreed to beforehand so there is something of a limit as to how much they are justly entitled to whinge.

Valve is replacing an ephemeral incentive, pride in creating something people enjoy, with a cash incentive- and demonstrate a tragic ignorance of how disastrous that swap can be.

"Dozens of recent experiments show that rewarding self-interest with economic incentives can backfire when they undermine what Adam Smith called “the moral sentiments.” The psychology here has eluded blackboard economists, but it will be no surprise to people in business: When we take a job or buy a car, we are not only trying to get stuff—we are also trying to be a certain kind of person. People desire to be esteemed by others and to be seen as ethical and dignified. And they don’t want to be taken for suckers. Rewarding blood donations may backfire because it suggests that the donor is less interested in being altruistic than in making a buck. Incentives also run into trouble when they signal that the employer mistrusts the employee or is greedy. Close supervision of workers coupled with pay for performance is textbook economics—and a prescription for sullen employees."

This of course, assumes that we discard the especially pessimistic take that Valve and Bethesda know exactly what they are doing. I should hope they do not fear competition with their fans quite that much though.

More likely they are all seeing dollar signs themselves, this project is less a means of allowing modders to 'make a living doing what they love' and more bait by which Valve and the developers who take part in this can monetize the hobbyists who make these mods. To the tune of  75% of money brought in.

They are putting the hobbyists to work for them with the allure of money the vast majority of them will see little to nothing of. It also adds an element of suspicion and fear into the modding community as people come to worry about something they make for free being sold by a third party.

Very unfortunate.

If Valve truly cared about encouraging people to show modders appreciation with currency, all they really had to do is support donation buttons.

But what then would be the payoff for Valve? Besides a healthy, happy community that is.

For more about the dire risks inherent in screwing around with monetary incentives, here is what smarter people than the brains behind this project have to say about it.

All of this isn't getting into the ill-will being generated by the Modders with visions of dollar signs.

Pop-up ads in-game! Just what modding needed.

Meanwhile at Arketer Labs, where our Henchpeople have more important things to worry about than money...

It bears rewatching.

Progress continues.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Diversionary Tactic

Progress continues.

Writing Excercise Time!

Dipsy The Happy Mink

Dipsy the Happy Mink was the happiest Mink in all of Pibblyville, they loved everyone and everyone loved Dipsy. Dipsy played every day with their friends in the gently wafting wibblygroves and enjoyed long evenings trading jokes while nibbling on delicious Pibblefruit, from which Pibblyville had gotten their name.

Then one day, Dipsy got a Bumblr blog.

Dipsy would write about how much fun the Libblings were to be around, post pictures of their favorite snacks and a picture of their most treasured posession- a feather gifted them by their dear friend Tonks the Relatively Content Falcon.

Then they started getting angry comments about their feather. It was appropriative of Bird culture, they were told. They were bad for having it. Soon afterwards it seemed as if there was nothing they could post that wasn't somehow offensive to someone.

It made Dipsy very sad, but if so many people were offended maybe they were wrong. So they tried to understand and educated themselves. They learned exotic new pronouns and how playing games outside with their friends was very ableist. They learned how jokes were offensive and bad. They learned how they could fight the good fight against the bad people who Dipsy had been unaware surrounded them at all times.

Dipsy got on Dribblr at the suggestion of their new friends. They added their old friends on Dribbler, but found many of them were on their blockbot's blocklist.

"How could I have not noticed so many of my friends were crypto-Pibblygaters!" Dipsy exclaimed,
referencing the scandal in which someone slept with someone else and people who ate pibblyfruit objected- prompting the Pibblyville newspaper to write about how 'Pibblefruit Eaters are Over".

Dipsy loved Pibblefruit and still ate Pibblefruit regularly, but they weren't a Pibblyfruit Eater. The articles had made it clear Pibblyfruit Eaters were the worst people. Lower than Probey the Intrusive Octopus.

Many people who ate Pibblefruit were offended, but that was just because they were monstrous Pibblygaters said Dipsy's comrades on Bumblr and Dribbler.

Fortunately Dandy the Loving Bat's blockbot saved Dipsy from having to see these monsterous dribbles.

Dipsy was no longer a happy Mink. They were now Dipsy the Dribbler Warrior, no more did they play in the wibblygroves and no more did they trade jokes in the evenings with their friends- who had stopped hanging around them after the last several angry tirades about how the Libblings were full of ists and isms and how offensive everyone's jokes were.

Well, Dipsy didn't need them. They were all Ists too, clearly. Bumblr and Dribbler were all they needed now.

Eventually the world was saved from being moderately insensitive by Dipsy and their new friends being hateful towards people they were told were hateful. Out-Hating the Haters had worked, because it was now illegal to say it hadn't.

It was in fact illegal to say a great many ungood things, which Dipsy didn't entirely agree with- but since they didn't want to get fined or re-educated they didn't say that out loud.

The important thing was that the people they didn't like didn't get to say anything either.

And that's why Minks make the best fur coats.

Progress continues.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Context and the Honey Badger Brigade

Progress continues.

We recently shut down novel devices used by someone attempting to selectively deafen our ALLPs. (Auxiliary Lab and Listening Post)

We thus far have no idea what they were hoping to accomplish, but whatever it was they better hope it was achieved in the half-hour or so before they located and deactivated.


In other news however my efforts to avoid this... Fascinating train-wreck of internet culture drama have not been especially successful.

Most recently a group of pro-gamergate people launched a kickstarter to have their own booth at a comics convention in Canada.

The group, using a name along the lines of the Honey Badger Brigade, sold T-shirts decrying censorship, posters...

Things such as this.
After one of their number asked questions at a panel on Women in Comics, they were expelled for harassment.

This link is to an audio recording of them speaking- with permission- at the panel when the topic of MRAs came up. (Men's Rights Activists)

Oh, well, perhaps there is evidence to be had that this isn't just them creating a Safe Space Hugbox where un-endorsed thoughts are forbidden.
Truly damning if you were tragically born incapable of recognizing humor.
In fact, the worst thing that can be said about these Honey Badger Brigade folks is that some of them can be linked to A Voice For Men. One of those Men's Rights Activist groups.

History's Greatest Monsters, clearly HitlerStalins through and through.
Men's Right's Advocates are silly, because phrasing their problems as persecution against a gender is a very hard sell when history is dominated by that very gender occupying almost all positions of power.

It would be apt to note that what they are suffering is not persecution by women, but by other more powerful men in history who have set backwards standards for what is 'manly' behavior.

This doesn't mean that the problems MRA's see aren't real, it just means they attribute the cause poorly.

This is one of the reasons expelling them for civil discussion is absurd and counterproductive.

IF the Honey Badger Brigade had been Misogynistic Haters, THEN their expulsion would have been appropriate. They weren't so it isn't, and I hope people paying attention note how much this fear of people with differing opinions is proving counterproductive.

Meanwhile what they DID do by virtue of expelling these people was respond to accusations of censorship... by censoring the accusers.


If you haven't listened to the audio recording, this irrationally feared MRA noted quite aptly a troubling trend in modern Feminism, victim mentality. The ever-present insistence that women are being constantly victimized by men. That women need to be protected, sheltered.

This, folks, is having the unfortunate result of implying women are too weak and sensitive to handle anything even remotely offensive, and led some to believe that they need to be perpetually outraged over offensive things- demanding their removal for the sake of their feels.

If that is Feminism, arguing that women need to be isolated and coddled- protected from all potentially offensive stimuli and dangerous thoughts...

Well, by that standard Victorians and Puritans were very Feminist indeed.


Here, at least, progress continues.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ludicrous Jibes

Progress continues!

Recently, moderately famous youtube critic TotalBiscuit made a grievous error.

Oh nooo.
A pixel artist from the game's dev team saw this and, e-honor besmirched, knew exactly what to do.
TotalBiscuit has since decided this absurdity has impaired his ability to review the game objectively and has elected not to review it accordingly. This has led some to call him unprofessional.

Have a palette cleanser from Cyanide and Happiness.

Progress continues.

Monday, April 13, 2015

On the Negligible Virtues of Blocking

Progress continues!

Happen to recall that video at the end of my last update?

This one?

Did you imagine it was an over-the-top parody?

It wasn't, sadly.

"The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said."

It would seem universities worldwide are redefining the term "hugbox" on an unprecedented scale, allowing the continued self-infantilization of their students.

It's not just in universities though, thanks to the wonders of modern technology people of all walks of life can not only filter out all information that contradicts what they already believe and the people using it- they can have some other stranger on the internet do it FOR them!

Why determine for yourself what is or isn't harassment when someone with an agenda and moderate programming skills can do all that hard thinking for you.

Courtesy of Randi Harper, who likes you- unless you agree with any point a GamerGate supporter ever made in which case- you can go to hell.
Anyone who agrees with anything about GamerGate is a harasser you know. All of them. With this blockbot, you never have to see them. Of course they're all harassers! You can't see for yourself now, but surely you can trust some person on the internet to decide that for you!

If you can't trust some person on the internet, who can you trust?

Let's look at some "Reviews".

A Fun Place and Safe Space!
One refers to a human being as being poop, they both refer to other human beings as being insects.
Surely these are the good guys.
Yes... About that last one. That's not what is actually happening- which is good, as that would be even worse. No one is silencing these dread 'People who read tweets from people labeled Gamergaters', collectively blocking them just means the people doing the blocking can't see what they have to say.

The blocked twitterers are still being read by every other person who dares to actually decide for themselves what they want or don't want to read.

So, what you have here in the blockbot is a number of people who have confused willful ignorance for power.

Blocking, on an individual basis, is an unfortunate necessity. There IS actual harassment and there are complete jerks. People who will spam nonsense, insults, invectives... So on.

Those people, individuals, should indeed be blocked. But it should not be done lightly, casually, and certainly not just because you don't agree with them.

That, dear readers, is functionally no different from sticking your fingers in your ears and screaming "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAAAR YOUUU LALALALALA"

And people who are using Blockbots are effectively signing up for someone else to cover their ears and scream "LALALALA THEY CAN'T HEAR YOU LALALA" on their behalf.

Whatever your opinion of GamerGate, that sort of thing is highly questionable and scientifically proven to be unhealthy.

Also rather childish.

I do not consider myself a GamerGater personally, but with every anti-intellectual attempt at communal thought-sanitization such as this the clearer it is I certainly can't side with Team Elite Social Justice Echo Chamber.

Twitter, Tumblr, Safe Space Universities...

How have we wound up with this wave of emotionally brittle authoritarian dramatics eager to tell and be told what they can and cannot like and must hate?

Damnit, Illuminati! This isn't good for anyone!

Progress continues.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Funless Games of the Future! (Part 1?)

Progress continues. Blah blah, uncleared, blah.

Have you ever played a video game and thought : "This Game is great and all, but it's not manipulating my feels enough and, gosh darnit, really needs to be less fun."

The Masses Agree, Fun is Bad
I know I haven't!

But, I must ask, if the games shouldn't be fun- what SHOULD they be?

Super duper agreed! Personally I become immediately distrustful of anyone who uses the word super too often, or can say super duper and not mean it as a joke.

Well, there you have it. We need games that are not fun and make use of emotional skills! Games that TEACH us something. Useful life skills for these poor, under-represented people.

Well. They could be poor in other ways. Perhaps they have a dearth of other things, like self-awareness.
So without further delay, let me throw out some free ideas for games with feels to be won over by leet emotional skillz rather than anything rationally defined and- most of all- almost entirely devoid of fun.

Life is Pain

Life is Pain is the flagship idea here, using cut of the edge pixelart with 100% more feelings than possible in triple A titles. In Life Is Pain, you take on the Role of Regina Womanly.

You will use a custom electrode-enhanced mouse to guide Regina to endure the impact of the balls, representing the horrible misogyny women suffer under constantly. By doing so you deflect it upwards, and shatter all sorts of ceilings representing every shade of ism in multicolored blocks.

But there is a cost, you will share in Regina's pain. Every time you guide them to deflect the evil balls, you will be shocked by the mouse.

No, it's not at all like Arkanoid rigged up with electric shocks for playing it. You have no mind for metaphor, you likewise probably haven't picked up that why the balls smacking into Regina hurt so is because it reminds them entirely too much of when they were a man.

Also Arkanoid was relatively fun, this won't be at all.
You will need to use your emotional skills to overcome the increasingly painful shocks and keep playing so that Regina can finally smash all the isms and render the world a safe space.

Office of the Damned

In Office of the Damned, you will take on the role of Cris Scum. Sitting at your desk in your cubicle, where you normally spend most of your day profiting directly from the personal misery of 1st-world shut-ins by undefined means even as GloboCo slowly drains away your very soul.

Well, the time of reckoning is at hand. As you attempt to do everything from answering the phone to continuing to sit in your chair, the ghosts of people who trembled themselves to pieces will pop up to explain how you are doing something they are incapable of doing, or alternatively something someone they know is incapable of doing, which makes you a bad person.

All text dumps provided by these spirits of righteousness will naturally be unskippable. Only once you have read them all will you be allowed to kill yourself as you should, you horrible pig.

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim actually has the prototype for this one, only our version failure to kill yourself in time results in the unskippable text dumps starting over.

You will need your strongest emotional skills to resist from following in Cris Scums footsteps, especially if you fail to meet the time limit. Though you probably should. I mean, I can think of any number of people who can't do things you can and insist on doing anyway.

No one should be allowed to do anything someone else can't, that's ableism. It's very triggering.

More ideas are pending clearance by our multicultural panel of 14 white people with trust funds, but everyone at Arketer Labs wishes you well with these two to start with, you future Indie Darlings.

Progress continues!

Monday, April 6, 2015

There Lied Firedorn

Progress continues

As has become the troubling usual however, nothing has been deemed acceptable to share.

Speaking OF troubling things though...

This silly joke isn't one of them.
Obsidian, makers of the by all accounts lauded game Pillars of Eternity, came under fire for "Transmisogyny" for the joke above.

It is a jest at the expense of a character who if anything was trans-phobic. Such was the intent of the author and such was the content of the joke- however much you like the joke or not.

If in doubt, read about it from the creator themselves.

Such details however did nothing to dissuade the self-imagined crusaders.

Their crusade was successful and a fitting mantle for the Victorious was awarded. Note how they deem all hatred unnacceptable, because there is a huge BUT coming up.
Arivia aka Ice Queen Erika went to twitter and rallied the outrage addicts to their cause. Obsidian contacted the backer who created the memorial for Firedorn Lightbringer, who graciously made a different memorial to be placed elsewhere in the game.

Wait, kill all men?

Meanwhile it should be noted that the new memorial was much funnier.

But, wait, who is this saint who can adequately define what is and isn't an acceptable joke?

All hate is unacceptable, unless it's against an entire gender I don't like.

Strange, there doesn't appear to be a joke built into that at all. Maybe they are not be the best people to imbue with this degree of influence.

What you have here certainly seems to be horrible people projecting their hatred on others and then smacking it down to create the illusion they are better than they are. I suspect enabling this is ill-advised.

Progress continues.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New, From Arketer Labs!

Progress Continues!

Big changes starting TODAY. I have fired #0. No more will we endure this namby-pamby whinging over 'security risks'.

I started a twitter some time ago under an assumed name, discreetly proposing my long-suppressed desires to build truly AWESOME weapons. I then systematically blocked everyone who implied such things would be immoral or unethical.

Now, strangely enough, I only have people telling me how my weapons would be the absolute BEST THING to solve all of the worlds ills and- you know what- they're right.

Well, the good news is that if you come to his house right after a disaster, he'll get you armed up. Unless you turn up around six days later, 'cause then he'll shoot you dead.

So, it's time to announce some new projects!

First off we have the suicide ray! This novel weapon emits frequencies that specifically target the areas of the brain associated with shame and self-directed loathing while at the same time dampening inhibition. I was inspired to this one by the movie Kingsman, wherein a less efficient method was employed.

Be the first to buy one and reply to the next person to tell you to kill yourself by insisting they go first.

Assuming we haven't employed the satellite-mounted macro-scale on your particular country in which case I am sure we can reroute your purchase to any surviving next-of-kin or refund your estate.

By the way, did you know Doctor Strangelove was practically a documentary?

Progress continues!

(It's April Fools, this is all a joke. Except for the Gun Nut who is definitely not joking and the New Yorker, who I only hope is.)