Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To Fight Monsters

Originally posted on my Tumblr:

Seriously: circulating photos you and yer Scooby Doo crimefighter pals have determined to be of the Boston Bomber is criminally stupid
— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) April 17, 2013

The fact that half the posts on my FB feed are about 4Chan and other groups having "found" the bombing suspect is inredibly infuriating for several reasons. Yes, I get it, we want to know who did this, why, and to see them brought to justice. Contrary to what the 24-hour news cycle and TV police prodecurals would have us believe however, this shit takes time.
First off, the FBI needs to make sure they nab the right person. Getting the wrong person early because the public demands results will only send the actual bomber further underground and muddy the investigation. Second, horrific act of terrorism or not, we have due process in this country. Attempts to expedite or bypass the rule of law will only lead to chaos, confusion, and more harm than good. Doing things right takes time.
What really pisses me off though is the way that people are praising the amateur sleuthing being done on the internet based off of the scant images the average (or even privileged) person has access to. The kind of "detective" work going on with these pictures is exactly the kind of witch hunt that people regularly criticize in their arguments against increased public surveillance via drones, CCTV cameras, etc. I won't post them here so as not to validate them, but these pictures showing people circled in crowds at the marathon are the most baseless kind of "evidence" I have ever seen.
"This backpack looks like the blown up one in the police photo" - Good thing all backpacks are as unique as fingerprints and no two people can have the same one.
"This guy is standing off to the side and not looking at the race" - Because there's no reason someone would ever turn their head from the finish line during a race, not for a moment.
"This guy has a backpack on in this picture, but not in this other one" - Because Boylston street is not surrounded by offices, places of business, apartments, condos or anywhere else that someone may have relieved their burden.
This is the "logic" that these pictures are ascribing to the crime scene and it is both ludicrous and dangerous. This is the kind of half-assed circumstantial evidence that people start beating their chests over when they think that "Big Brother" is going to take their rights away. The FBI at least seem to be doing the opposite and taking their time to get the job done right. They're not the monsters who are jumping to conclusions based on blurred images and inference, we are. Stop giving these people your time and attention. Let the experts do their jobs. Stop expecting instant gratification and wait for the job to get done right. This is too public an area and too public an event for the person who perpetrated this evil to stay anonymous for long. They will be found and justice will be served.

Friday, February 22, 2013

This is Important

From: Get Stuffed!
RE: The recent EA Montreal and LA Layoffs and some of the community reaction
"The people who got laid off were your friends. They spoke your language. They played your games. They fought for you. They argued with their supervisors over decisions you eventually echoed after the game’s release. Nobody goes into games because they have no options left. They don’t sacrifice health and family for brutal overtime because they don’t believe in what they’re trying to do. They have children. They have partners. They have mortgages and car payments and meals to put on the table. And they live for the moment when a fan sends in a letter saying ‘thank you.’"
There's a way to be a person and when you behave in ways that are contrary to that social contract, you forego any right to be listened to or taken seriously. If you want to be part of the discussion and you want your opinions considered, show up and have some respect. Otherwise, expect for no one to consider your positions or even your existence.

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Live Game Development

Update: Seriously ... ranting aside, I love the people who play my games. Infuriating as they can be. I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Objectivist Lessons

This kind of shit makes me sick! People shouldn't have to deal with this kind of thing at all, suffering because of something that happens due to no fault of their own. It's first, second, and third hand experiences like this that drove me to become a Socialist, to understand the need for a leveled playing field to balance out the inequities emergent in all power structures.

Libertarians and other objectivists always argue against social safety nets by describing those that would be supported by them as lazy. We constantly hear comments like those by former presidential candidate Herman Cain that presume that there are jobs out there for people willing to work for them. If that's the truth then why is it that people who work to get a job and continue to work once in that job can lose that job due to no fault of their own? In an objectivist world aren't those the people who should be rewarded for their constant efforts?

The Truth is that for all their breast beating the objectivist philosophy was simply never designed to apply to anyone beyond ones self. They can say how people who work at it will be rewarded, but they neglect to mention that this is only if they can avoid the constant roadblocks thrown in their way by others seeking to secure their own positions first. In the objectivist view gains are privatized, trickling up to those who claim their right to glory over others due to their position in the hierarchy and the only socialism they know is how to spread their personal failures to those below them who were never at fault and who probably worked their asses off all the while.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meta Madness

I saw this linked off of the Penny Arcade Report today and given my already public feelings on Metacritic and how we use it in game development, I couldn't simply remain silent.

Every game developer should be appalled at the notion of using Metacritic scores as the basis of a hiring decision. Maybe Irrational is just looking within that select (and lucky) caste for this position, a Design Manager is kind of a big deal gig after all, but regardless we need to take notice lest such requirements become common practice. I've worked on games that should have gotten higher Metacritic scores, but didn't and I've worked on ones that I knew were going to under perform. In both cases, there were maybe 5 people at the studio who could have done anything to change that fate and even then, it was a crap shoot.

Glorifying Metacritic scores within the game industry is only going to end up burning us in the end. We need to understand that Metacritic scores represent correlation and not causation. The scores don't drive sales, it's the factors that should exist to garner those scores that do it. What we need to understand however is that those factors don't always directly translate to the scores. I realize that an argument can be made that judging the relative quality of a game by it's Metacritic score is at least somewhat fair, it is not at all a fair however to use that same criteria to judge a developer; there are too many other factors that go into what makes a good developer and most of those are not and cannot be reflected by how the product performs on Metacritic. Let's look at this another way. Let's say you're applying for a public relations position somewhere and on the job listing it says "must have at least 500 Facebook friends" ... because someone who is in PR has to deal with people and therefore should have a lot of friends. Sure there's some correlation, but by and large the one thing has little to do with the other.

I've been in game development long enough to know that job listings usually represent a company's most pie-in-the-sky ambitions for the position and that when push comes to shove a guy with excellent qualifications and shipped titles with only an 80 on Metacritic could totally land that job. The point is that this is a stupid road to begin going down. We're already judged by our number of shipped titles (a value, that changes drastically depending on the types of games you work on) so why add even more arbitrary nonsense values into the hiring process? If you ask me, anyone using Metacritic as an exacting measure of a developer's quality simply isn't doing their homework. This industry is stressful and tough enough without having to worry that you're going to be judged for employment based on a Metacritic score that is largely beyond your ability to influence.

The views expressed on Plenty For All are purely the opinions of Brian J. Audette and are not at all affiliated with, representative of, endorsed or supported by BioWare, EA, it's shareholders, partners, or subsidiaries.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Declarations and Independence

Looking at my Twitter and Facebook feeds today is making me ashamed to call myself a "Liberal". All I seem to see is people using the 4th of July as a launching point to to attack conservatives in one way or another or to just generally let our displeasure with the state of the union be known.

I know we're all groaning at the fair weather patriots and the conservative nut jobs who come out around holidays like the 4th of July and remind us that many of the people who proclaim their love of America the loudest also do so in ways that embarrass, disgust, or scare us the most. I know that our gut instinct is to distance ourselves from these people as much as possible so as not to be lumped in with them. I know that our ideal America is very different from theirs and when we hear them hoot, holler, and proselytize we naturally want to disassociate ourselves from them and their ideas. The fact of the matter however is that both sides love America, regardless of the gulf between our views and if there is one thing we can celebrate over everything else it's that we're allowed to have and express those views openly. I won't fault anyone for disagreeing with the views of non-liberals and doing so with as much cynicism and vitriol as they like, but the 4th of July isn't the problem and neither is the idea that is "America".

So before you post your next cynical screed or sarcastic comment on flag-waving, hot dogs, or some yokel's idea of what the 4th of July and America are all about, take a breath and think about what this day is really celebrating. 236 years ago a bunch of people got together and told one of the most powerful nations in the world to get shoved. They declared their independence and started off on the incredibly rocky road toward building a nation. It's a road we're still on today and while we may not always agree with the people we're on the road with and we may not always agree with where the road should take us, can't we all agree that the road itself is a good idea?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Opinion: Metacritic

Business sucks, alright? It's cold and rigid and occasionally unfair. Such is the case with Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas contract with Bethesda, wherein the developer only received royalties if the game matched or exceeded an 85 rating on Metacritic. Leaving aside the fact that Metacritic is a woefully unbalanced aggregation of review scores from both vetted and unvetted publications, agreements like this can leave indie studios -- like Obsidian -- in the lurch should that Metacritic score just barely miss the mark.
As a game developer I find the practice of using Metacritic scores as an exact measurement of a game's success appalling and ultimately self-defeating. Not only does this practice hurt developers who fall short of the arbitrary goals set by their studios or publishers, but it hurts the fans as well.

As a general indicator of success, Metacritic is  a decent tool and I know that I've personally used it to help me determine whether to consider further investigation of certain purchases. Using Metacritic as some kind of industry standard barometer however is just nuts! Consider for a moment that Fallout: New Vegas reportedly shipped 5 million units worldwide in it's first month for a total of over $300 million in sales1. In addition, the game apparently outsold it's predecessor Fallout 3 over it's first weekend2. Consider again that the last two games I've personally shipped both achieved Metacritic scores in the mid 80's. While the former sold just over 1 million copies3, but had a drop in subscribers early on4, the later sold a reported 2 million plus copies and according to the latest officially released numbers, continues to maintain a strong subscriber base5. Clearly Metacritic is a useful, but imperfect means for determining the quality of a given product, yet the devotion to Metacritic's aggregate scores in the game industry is nearly absolute and it's costing people both money and jobs.

Using Metacritic as the sole indicator of a title's success is just wrong and it is unfortunately a practice that I have seen too many organizations both close to and further removed from development place far too much stock in. To see the developer of a universally well-received and successful title hobbled by a Metacritic score only 1 point away from the arbitrary goal set by their publisher is incredibly disheartening. I don't personally know anyone who works (or worked) at Obsidian, but my heart goes out to those who have lost revenue and jobs due to this situation and a practice that fails to take into account the full measure of a title's success/worth in the marketplace.


The views expressed on Plenty For All are purely the opinions of Brian J. Audette and are not at all affiliated with, representative of, endorsed or supported by BioWare, EA, it's shareholders, partners, or subsidiaries.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Smart. Phone.

not my iphone ... yet
I hate my iPhone 3G, I absolutely hate it. There was a point in time when this wasn't the case. Two years ago when I first got the phone it was still pretty decent, in fact it remained pretty decent up until the OS4 update. At that point Apple basically decided that they no longer cared to support the 3G and 3GS and launched an update that was great for the iPhone 4, but caused the older phones to chug like an old Ford Model T. They released an update shortly after that alleviated some of the problems, but unless you had a 3GS, you weren't going to feel it. My phone instantly became a paper weight with minimal computing power. Opening most apps (even the phone settings) took forever, often long enough to make the process time-out on the first try. Forget about anything net related, I was going to have to wait extra long for those apps to work. My phone, which had once been quite adequate, was now a thorn in my side. It was obvious I needed an upgrade, but what to upgrade to?

Existentially speaking I am not a Mac, I'm a PC. I'm what some might call a power user. I build my own computers, I tweak settings, I like knowing what's going on and how to fix it. Apple doesn't want you to have to think about any of these things and they make you pay for the privilege. As my first smartphone, the iPhone was the right choice at the time, but the Android OS and phones have come a long way since then; enter the Samsung Galaxy S2. For all intents and purposes this phone took Europe by storm this past spring. If there was a phone that could rival Apple's best efforts, this was it. There was only one problem,  no one knew when it was coming to the US. Regardless, I knew this was the phone I wanted to upgrade to and I was willing to wait. Rumor-filled months passed and the Galaxy S2 was always just around the corner until finally in September it launched for Sprint, with the AT&T released rumored to be right around the corner. A couple weeks later a date was finally announced: October 2nd. If my iPhone could sweat, it would have been drenched, its days were numbered.

The morning of October 2nd comes and I head over to the AT&T store when they open at noon. Immediately I ask about the Galaxy S2.

"The Galaxy S2 isn't available in the South region yet. We don't expect it to be available till the end of the quarter."

The end of the quarter? Really? The quarter that just started? I realize that large swaths of the South might not be what us New England ex-pats might consider to be tech savvy and thus not as interested in an iPhone killing smartphone, but can't we at least make an exception for Austin, the Northeast of the deep south?

The answer (by the way) is apparently no, but you can order the Galaxy S2 online. Given the alternative of waiting until the end of the quarter, waiting for shipping on an online order doesn't seem so bad. Let me just fire up the old PC here and see what we can see. Oh well this looks easy, there's a link to upgrade my phone. Oh and the S2 is one of the options, perfect.

Type type ... Click click

What's that? You need my work email in order to carry over my discount? No problem.

Type type ... Click click

Wait ... the next step is to click on the link in the email you sent me and verify the address? The email you sent to my work address? The work address I won't be able to check until I go in to work tomorrow? Well then ...

So now I can't complete the order for my new phone until tomorrow and I still don't know how long it will take to get here once I do. Whatever it is, it will be quicker than THE END OF THE QUARTER! I just can't win. Curse you Steve Jobs, you've won again! Seriously though, this whole experience with the Galaxy S2 launching in the US has been absurd and I guarantee you that when the iPhone 5 is released, they won't be telling people "The iPhone 5 isn't available in the South region yet." There's a lesson here:

AT&T hates you if you're not Apple. And Apple sucks, except when they don't. And the South ... you're on notice ...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fire Stop

In January my apartment complex decided to render my stove virtually unusable. In order to appease their insurer they had to install Fire Stops, devices that will explode fire extinguishing material all over the place if a fire starts beneath them. There was already a low clearance between the bottom of my microwave and the top of my stove and the Fire Stops took another few inches away, making it nearly impossible to cook. I believe the following pictures will accurately:

Realizing what complete bullshit it was to be forced to endure this loss of usable space on my stove top I removed the damn things. I figured I could just put them back up whenever they were going to need to check the apartment. When I got home today I found this note on my counter:

Which was annoying enough because they should (and usually do) let us know before they're going to enter our apartments and also meant that I had to reinstall the Fire Stops. I don't pay a cheap rent by Austin standards, in fact I pay a bit more than average all things considered. Given that I had 1 day to find an apartment when I moved here and I wasn't about to suffer living too far from the city now that I was actually going to be living someplace 1000 times more interesting than Annandale Virginia, I really can't complain about what I pay here. I pay less than I would for the same apartment in Virginia or Boston and it turns out that I'm very well located here, so by my standards it's well worth it. Or rather it was well worth it until they put in the Fire Stops.

I was seriously fuming when I got home and I had to reinstall these things, but now that the blinding rage has more or less subsided (at least until I try to cook something) I'll have to try and talk to someone in the apartment office this weekend and see if there's anything that can be done about this. I don't want to move, but I can't see renewing my lease in the fall with these Fire Stops in place. Are the smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, and even that spray can fire extinguisher they gave me not enough? In all the apartments I've had over the years I have never experienced this. It's just crazy.