Mar 16, 2011

Any way you want to play

I used to be a big fan of Electronic Arts. That old square/circle/triangle logo always promised good times, and their NHL line of hockey games were long my favorite.

Over the years, my appreciation for them lessened. Yearly NHL titles became little more than roster updates, and I switched to a competing franchise. Were I more of a football guy, that wouldn't have been an option, as EA secured exclusive rights to NFL titles. I didn't think that was very sporting, but if NFL was willing to sell it, and EA willing to pay, it wasn't any business of mine.

Since then EA has, along with Ubisoft, led the publishing field in the introduction of increasingly distasteful DRM schemes, which is why you won't find many recent titles from them in my PC game collection. I'm not a big fan of those things.

They managed to annoy me on console side as well, by requiring me to create an EA account to access some features of games I had already paid money for. Somehow, none of the other publishers had found this necessary. I found it not only annoying, but a worrisome development.

Requiring an EA account to play an EA game opens up some rather disturbing possibilities, like preventing someone from playing a game they paid $50 for if EA doesn't like what they're saying on forums.

The player's account has since been activated, and EA's PR people insist locking the game was 'a glitch'.

That wasn't the only controversy surrounding Dragon Age II's launch. Along with the usual rumors of a rushed release, and somewhat less common allegations of Metacritic score fixing, it was reported that DAII secretly installed SecuRom DRM despite earlier announcement it wouldn't be used. That was apparently a false alarm, though, and the SecuRom product being installed is Release Control, which BioWare had already said would be used. DAII will still require periodic online checks to play, though, which is bad enough.

The publishers will insist schemes like these are necessary to fight piracy, but making legal product less convenient, and thus less valuable, isn't really likely to work for games any more than it did for music. And when those schemes make it possible to prevent you from playing a game you bought if they don't like you, it's time to say enough is enough. It should be us, the players, who decide the way we want to play. We shouldn't be required to jump an increasing number of hoops just to have some fun.

The only way to get the publishers' attention is to vote with the wallet. How about giving EA games a miss for a while?

Mar 4, 2011

Zombies ate my boats

No, really. They did.

Observant readers may have noticed that the number of boats at my pier varied throughout the last post. Here are the images in chronological order:

Two boats, one boat, no boats. They're just gone. I like to imagine zombies joyriding around in them, but really, I have no idea what's happened to them. If a boat hits something solid at a high enough speed, it breaks, so maybe somebody came and broke my boats. I sure as hell can't find them anywhere.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning to suspect that the guys at Mojang have fucked around with the animal spawning code, because every time I go up to the roof of my tower in the new version, I see something like this.

There's an entire menagerie up there every time. I actually do think they've overdone the code; animals always used to spawn on lit grass, but not that many...

That's up, though, and lately I've been more interested in down. I was excavating my long staircase, from said tower roof to, well, all the way down. Here's a view up:

So I was on my way down, trying to hit bedrock here too. Eventually, I figure I'll have an epic underground tunnel connecting Twin Tower with my first base.

The thing with digging deep is lava. Apparently my co-blogger is awash in the stuff, but I've never seen so much as a single block of sweet magma. That is, until I dug deep enough beneath Twin Tower. Now, lava is both cool and dangerous; it's by far the gnarliest way to light a room, but you don't want to get any on you. I'd have screenshots of the two lava pools under my tower, if only I hadn't fallen into one of them.

Oh well.


Dying means I'm back where I started, and since I'm still in an underground mood, I decided to finish up a little room I'd been working on earlier. It's easy, really: just mine away anything that doesn't look like Moria.

Not that a hall that size would rate more than a closet in Moria, in Khazad-dum, but heck, I like it. I'll just build a bigger one lower down.

The trouble with mining is that you really have no idea where you are. As I went further east, I started running into more and more earth; a sure sign you're near the surface. Soon enough, I found water; it turns out I've only just cleared the hill my first base is in. I swam up and found this beautiful scene:

This hilltop will be the site of my next base. The water also provides a nice little touch to my underground lair:

Nothing like a waterfall. After a little digging, the great chasm is coming along nicely. The picture's a bit dark, though.

Right now, I'm way too tired to actually build anything, so I'll just keep digging. Next time, though, tower construction!