The budget is approved, team assembled

Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 By Frogboy In Star Control

It's not a secret that the new Star Control reboot is in development.  The approved budget is approximately $5 million (Star Control 2's budget was $50,000 - that's how amazing Paul and Fred were!). 

We are missing a vital component however. The Lead Designer.  While we have received a lot of resumes for this position, we are still looking for the ideal candidate.  Right now, the development on the game is engine-related but we will reach the point fairly soon where we will need an on sight lead designer. 

The position is in Towson Maryland (Stardock East).  The team is made up of some of the most experienced developers and artists in the industry.

Contact us!

http://www.stardock.com/about/careers.asp 

Stardock–End of September Game Status

Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

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Greeeeeetings!

So in 2015 Stardock will be releasing 3 new games. As I write this, only 1 (Galactic Civilizations III) has been announced.  In 2016, we’ll be releasing another 3 new games (not expansions but new games) of which only 1 (Soren Johnson’s Offworld Trading Company) is announced (but no images/video have been released).  And of course, this doesn’t count the Star Control reboot which is in development but doesn’t have a release date yet.

Join the battle!

  1. We are hiring. We need you.  We have studios in Michigan, Maryland and Texas. http://www.stardock.com/about/careers.asp
  2. We will be announcing a new game this week (October 2).  I am supposed to do a stream this Thursday at 3pm EST.  You are not going to believe it when you hear about the team that’s working on this.
  3. Join our community if you haven’t already.  All our games and software are integrated together. Creating an account here creates an account on all Stardock sites.  You’re the boss. Tell us what you like and don’t like.

Stay tuned. And yes, that screenshot is from an unannounced game.

#GamerGate: What do you want?

Published on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

Last week I wrote about the Escalation of #GamerGate. I recommended that advocates of #GamerGate come up with a set of objectives while momentum was in their favor.

A Recap

For the uninitiated, #GamerGate is a schism that has formed between the enthusiast gaming press and core gamers. The schism was largely the result of the gaming media allowing their platforms to be utilized by the more radical elements within their ranks to denigrate core gamers as “dead” and “nerds” and “misogynists” in response to a handful of gamers targeting an outspoken feminist game developer who they believed had received unmerited coverage due to her personal relationships with the gaming press.

#Gamergate was coined by Adam Baldwin in response to the gaming media’s aggressive stance towards gamers who expressed their concerns regarding what they believed to be inappropriate collusion between developers and journalists and now represents those who passionately want to see changes in the way the gaming media approaches its subjects.

Jack Thompson II

The situation reminds me of when activist lawyer, Jack Thompson argued against violence in video gamesBack then, the enthusiast gaming press and core gamers ridiculed Thompson’s arguments and at times, targeted him with substantial harassment. Eventually his movement petered out and everything went back to normal.

This time, the crusade against core gaming is being led by self-identified “social justice” activists who believe that video games are inherently hostile to women, minorities, etc.  Core gamers have reacted the same as they did in 2003 with open ridicule and at times, substantial harassment of their foes.  However, this time, the enthusiast press decided to brand core gamers as “misogynists” on the basis that the targets of ridicule and harassment are feminists instead of a male lawyer.

Many core gamers believe that the reason the gaming media has been backing this agenda is because unlike in 2003, they are in bed with the other side financially, politically and sometimes literally. Meanwhile, some in the enthusiast press think that the vocal elements #gamergate are just a bunch of misogynistic lunatics.

What do you want out of this?

I suggested that the #GamerGate advocates come up with 5 objectives to rally around.  With a week of reflection, I’m not sure that’s really a good idea as it would likely just splinter those who support #Gamergate into smaller factions.Nevertheless, a lot of interesting suggestions were made. 

Below are some representations of the objectives people believe #gamergate should have

  • Insist on a full disclosure of relationships (Financial, personal, or otherwise) between the developer/publisher and journalist/publication.
  • Fair and professional representation of all sides during debate (Including twitter and other social media directly related to a journalists writing persona) without censorship of opposing opinions. Where disagreement over facts is present both sides should be represented with relevant proof where available.
  • Fact checking of all articles. Do not report on issues like harassment and bomb threats without first checking the story is real, then also read into all parties involved and relay histories of similar incidents if a pattern is present.
  • Proper representation of gaming's diverse multi-cultural elements. Don't blame 'straight, white, males' for everything. It's extremely unprofessional and deeply offensive.
  • A full apology from all involved in Twitter campaigns, 'gamers are dead' articles, and other anti-GG attacks.
  • A end to journalist collusion in regards to the omission of stories that do not fit in with ideology
  • Report on what games are like, not what they are lacking in terms of perceived social justice.

  • Quit censoring topics based on your personal political biases. If you have a stated policy, stick to that. Don’t pull the rug out because your ideology is losing the debate.

  • Those sites that published articles attacking gamers should publish an editorial apologizing for those attacks.

  • Stop game sites from injecting a political agenda into content, especially things like reviews or interviews. Opinion pieces are fine as long as they are clearly marked as opinion and the comments left open so that respectful, dissenting points of can be heard.

  • Game sites should abandon articles that character assassinate individuals or groups that are related to the gaming industry.

  • The practice of blackballing developers for the kind of games they make, their political opinion or something they might have said needs to stop, everyone should be given a fair chance.

  • Game Sites should have an ethics policy which is easy to find and which clearly lays out policies regarding journalistic standards.

  • Game sites should post a complete renunciation of the claim that Gamergate was "based in misogyny and harassment".

  • Cut off all ties with Silverstring media as well as Patreon support for those who work with/use it.

  • Force the removal of the most egregious actors in the gaming press.

  • Game Magazines and sites need a stated, public policy regarding how they define a conflict of interest. For instance, a conflict of interest is may be defined as any romantic, sexual, or platonic relationship; additionally, any economic relationships through services such as Patreon or Kickstarter.

  • Censorship is not acceptable. We expect to be able to discuss our grievances with your websites openly, so long as the conversation is polite and respectful.

  • All news articles must meet the Ms. Walters standards- at MINIMUM two reasonably unbiased sources, with at least one from both sides, must be present. If two sources cannot be found, this must be clearly stated in the article.

  • If your website believes in advocating for a political cause, be open about it.

  • Full disclosure on relationship of journalist and game developer. IE Patreon, Kick Starter, Friend, Lover, Roommate, where did you get the game, etc.

This is by no means a comprehensive list.

Reality vs. Fantasy

A lot of the objectives, demands and hopes I read are fantasy. Demands without leverage are just a form of groveling.  Only objectives that the #gamergate proponents can enforce are, in my opinion, realistic.

I’m friends with a lot of people in the gaming media. I know they’re good people. They’re also honest, trustworthy and full of integrity. They are also convinced that #gamergate is a thinly veiled front to attack women in gaming.  I think they’re wrong. Terribly wrong. But they will not be convinced otherwise. 

I’m also friends with a lot of game developers. And most of them have been horrified by what they see as the self-destruction of the enthusiast press when it comes to their relationship with their most loyal supporters.  Most game developers I’ve talked to about this issue cannot fathom why the gaming press would be attacking their own readership. 

As one fairly well known game developer said to me last week, “What’s really odd is that some of these guys forget that when Cracked or whatever gets back to their usual beat, the gaming press still has to live with these guys [the hard core gamers that make up a large % of the daily page views of these game sites]”.

What I’d like to see the gaming media do

I’m just an old game developer. So I might as well wish for it to rain donuts.   Mind you, I cringe even reading the below points because I hate preachiness and anything that seems coercive. That said, I think the below points would be helpful to them.

  1. Professionalism. Create a policy based on the Society of Professional Journalists. Have your writers and freelancers read it and sign it before accepting work from them. This would cover disclosures of excessive personal or financial relationships between the writer and the subject.
  2. Transparency and Fairness. Create a mission statement for your site and put it in the about area. This would be useful both for readers and those who would submit content to your magazine/site.
  3. Self-Enforcement. Encourage your editors to be on the look out for writers who are trying to pass their political agenda as “news”. Don’t let your platform be used to advocate some cause that deviates from the general mission of site.
  4. House Cleaning. Discourage or eliminate moderators/editors who allow personal political biases to determine what topics are allowed on your forums/website. (For example if you have a policy against topics that might encourage “harassment of game developers” then make sure it’s enforced equally and not just game developers who you politically agree with.)

What I’d like to see #Gamergate do

  1. Vigilance. Support and encourage those maintaining vigilance, providing constructive criticism and doing due diligence on how games are covered.
  2. Resistance. Continue to resist those who would wrongly believe inclusion means one group has to “die”. This means using various channels to disseminate information.  Don’t allow your hobby to be turned into “Hobby+”
  3. Inclusiveness. Vigorously discourage any repeat of the August 28 “Gamers are dead” series of articles by vigorously reminding the media that you’re not going anywhere. Gamers want everyone to play games. Support journalists who support actual inclusiveness – you want more people playing games not just “the correct” people.
  4. Support. Actively support and defend those who are being marginalized for purely political reasons.

 

Natural Allies

As a reminder: The gaming media’s natural purpose is to be the advocate of the gamer. The media is supposed to be the watchdog making sure we game developers aren’t screwing over gamers. I feel like we’re in this bizarro situation where the game developers are the ones having to defend gamers from the media. It’s backwards. Stop it.

Gamers, by definition, want to play games. They want games to be reviewed based on how fun the reviewer thinks the game will be to their audience. They don’t care what the reviewer’s personal political hang ups are. Game sites aren't supposed to be a therapy couch for narcissism.  I have lots of opinions on life too but I don’t inject them into my games. Maybe it’s easier for me to keep my whacko views out of my games because the financial punishment would be swift and unmistakable. Either way, knock it off. 

What’s next

I don’t think #gamergate will be going away any time soon.  Given the general unpleasantness of the whole affair, I think editors and journalists in general will be more self-aware of their relationships and take more care in what gets published in the future.  Only time will tell.

Diplomacy status

Published on Monday, September 29, 2014 By Frogboy In Journals - GalCiv III

diplo

We’re getting pretty close to Beta 2 for GalCiv III. This one is the diplomacy beta series.  Part of the challenge is having UIs that can handle potentially hundreds of players.  In this screen, Kael has made his own custom players using Star Control players but players will be able to make whatever they’d like.

Steam User Reviews vs Metacritic

Published on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

Steam is doing some pretty amazing things this week.  One of the new features I really like is the Steam User reviews that has some real promise if it can avoid the fate of user reviews elsewhere (where a passionate minority can totally mess with the score).

So far, it’s very interesting:

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#Gamergate Escalates

Published on Sunday, September 21, 2014 By Frogboy In PC Gaming

Lately, when thinking about #Gamergate I am reminded of the intro to Total Annihilation:

 

 

Warning: this is long… 

Part 1: The participants

What started as a relatively minor dispute regarding whether the gaming media was choosing who and what to cover based on pull rather than merit has become a massive, cross industry conflict that shows no sign of decreasing.  Two sides: #GamerGate and its opponents (anti-#GamerGate?).

Each sides has their points (I’ll try to represent each side as best I can, comment if you think I’ve been unfair to either side).

The #GamerGate Points include:

  • They think the gaming media is corrupt. Specifically, they think that gaming journalism is a clique that chooses what to cover and how to spin it based on their shared politics and relationships.
  • They think the big publishers buy positive coverage outright and that the little indies sleep/schmooze their way to positive coverage.
  • They are outraged at having their criticism misrepresented as misogyny
  • They strongly object to having their movement characterized based on the misbehavior of a tiny group of trolls and jerks.
  • They are angry that attempts to discuss the topic get blocked, censored, deleted, etc.
  • They are outraged at what they see as collusion in the gaming media openly attacking gamers as a bunch of “nerds” “gamers are dead” “basement dwellers”, etc.
  • They have evidence demonstrating double standards in how the gaming media treats different issues based on their politics
  • They believe that the gaming media has become infested by “Social Justice Warriors” who are using their platforms to jam their politics down the throats of people who just want to read about video games.

The opponents of #gamergate points include:

  • Any legitimate points the #gamergate movement might have had are far outweighed by the harassment and threats against outspoken women in the industry that is done in the name of #gamergate
  • They (gaming media) are outraged at being called corrupt
  • They (gaming media) are upset at the suggestion that the gaming media has some sort of organized conspiracy
  • They (general) believe gamers are inherently insular and want to shout down any attempts at reforming it.
  • They (general) believe gamers are entitled and thin-skinned, unable to show empathy or accept even mild criticism of their hobby.
  • They (gaming media) are angry that their entire profession is being mischaracterized based on poor choices made by a few
  • They (general) are very skeptical of new #gamergate claims because of the misrepresentations made during early claims
  • They believe that the “sane” people who support #gamergate are being used/tricked by the vile, misogynist core that is at the heart of #gamergate

 

And of course, you have fringe forces on both sides: The trolls and toxic scum that use #gamergate as a shield to attack people and the misandrists, social justice warriors (SJWs) who have their own hateful agenda.

 

Part 2: The Escalation

 

Roping more and more people in

I’m not going to do a moral equivalence here. In my mind, the balance of wrongdoing is heavily weighted on the opponents of #gamergate.  Mainly, because its opponents have had a long head start of character assassination and harassment. I know some of my friends in the media will be appalled by that but that’s mainly because they haven’t seen the shit storm directed at anyone who dares not support the “social justice” narrative for the past few years.

Without the August 28th mass “gamers are dead” article series on multiple sites, none of this would have happened. Let’s remember that.  It was a tempest in a teapot before that. 

Every major escalation I’ve seen in this industry conflict has begun with one side mass misrepresenting others with a very broad brush.

The anti #gamergate people are the ones who brought me in

One thing to make clear here: The pro-#gamergate people didn’t ask me to stand up for them. They made no demands on me.  All I did was, as game developer, was tweet that I like gamers and don’t like seeing gamers misrepresented.  For that, the anti-#gamergate people started smearing me. (SJW logic: Make up allegations, use allegations as evidence, repeat).

In other words, I was not/am not trying to use #gamergate to get a pound of flesh. You want me to quit throwing in the misdeeds of the SJW crowd in SJW faces? Then tell them to quit character assassinating me.  Because, let’s face it, I have a large, heavy, blunt instrument in the form of having been falsely accused of sexual harassment and having won that case so thoroughly that the plaintiff had to publicly apologize. You don’t get more clear cut than that in the legal world.  I’d be delighted to just talk about games, tech, etc. But if you’re going to suggest I’m some sort of misogynist or rapist or sexual harasser then yea, I’m going to use the 800 pound mace that SJWs carelessly crafted for me.

And for those truly concerned in the gaming media: If you want to do “the right thing” (even if it’s two years late): Feel free to have the articles and threads that smear me set to just not be indexed by search engines. Is that really asking for a lot? No censorship. No retractions. No apologies.  Just make it so that new harassers aren’t born every time someone looks at the first page of Google results on us. I’ve been doing stuff 20 years, I’ve helped invent a number of the technologies you guys use on your PCs every day. But it’s all crowded out because the media chose to use me as a cartoon villain to push forward an agenda. Thanks for that. I just love having to discuss the Kotaku article every few weeks with some investment banker or enterprise customer. I really enjoy having to answer awkward questions by extended family. And the occasional random “You fucking shit lord, I hope you die in a fire!” emails I get are just..well they’re just so heart warming. Thank you for that.

The double standards

When I see a Ben Kuchera arguing for the deletion of threads because they might encourage harassment of game developers, I ask, where was he when I was taking a beating on nearly every gaming forum for something I didn’t even do? Oh that’s right, he was helping spread it!  Yea, thanks for using an image that shows a claim that I asked my female employees if they enjoyed tasting semen. And you know what? I didn’t hold any of this against anyone. I didn’t send PR people to demand threads removed. No DMCA messages. But it’s pretty infuriating to see calls to censor discussion based on “harassment” when they had no problem when I was the target. 

Except, of course, in my case, I hadn’t actually done any of the things I was alleged to have done. No, I’ve gotten to fry for the past couple years in countless threads across the net.  I also want to point out that even though we won, and we got a public apology, some don’t consider that enough because apparently we were supposed to demand the plaintiff admit in writing to committing perjury. So even mercy is frowned upon by these people.

 

 

Part 3: Both sides are recklessly escalating it

Like I said, I’m not going to go with the moral equivalence. One side has definitely, in my estimation, been worse overall. But the #gamergate side is creating its own impassioned, long-term detractors as well through its excessively broad brushing:

The PRO #gamergate are roping people in too

Just as the anti-Gamergate people have managed to bring a lot of people against them, it’s escalating the other way around too.

Let me make a few points clear about the gaming media:

  1. There is no general gaming media “conspiracy”. There are thousands of journalists in the gaming media and they wouldn’t be able to agree what shade of blue the sky is. When you attack gaming journalists with a broad brush, you are alienating these guys just like when the anti-gamer articles roped in so many thousands of gamers.
  2. The average gaming journalist has immense integrity. They would quit before taking a bribe or writing something intentionally biased.
  3. Many of the major game sites really do have strongly enforced policies to ensure fairness in games.
  4. Most gaming journalists are extremely tolerant of other points of view. I will happily disclose that I am pretty good friends with many journalists who have the opposite views on many topics and yet we’re still friends and it has never negatively affected coverage.
  5. Despite being friends with journalists, it has never affected coverage of our games. I remember when Elemental bombed. I felt bad because it must have sucked for the reviewers to pan our game but they did because they have integrity. We’re professionals. It’s my job to make games. It’s their job to write about them. It really isn’t that hard to separate friendships when doing your job.
  6. It is important to understand the rather unique structure of game “journalism”. You can’t lump it all together like you could, say, business journalism or political journalism because of the origins of the gaming press as we know it today sprung from the Internet itself.  It would take a whole article to explain this. The TL;DR version is this: It is hard to tell where game blogs stop and game journalists start.  There is no clear line.

 

Part 4: It’s going to get worse

Next up: All hell is going to break loose

There’s no way around it, the people who crapped on gamers and #gamergate are in for a rough couple weeks.

Let me preface this: NO ONE can survive detailed scrutiny. This is doubly true if the person doing the scrutiny is not giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Historically, the activist columnists in other industries have gotten away with trashing their opponents. It’s easy to lampoon the Tea Party people, for instance because their core base aren’t very technical and have no real means to strike back.  Same was true of the Occupy movement which got overrun by SJWs and was easily dismissed soon after. 

But gamers are technical. They do have the means to fight back.  I’m sure it never occurred to the columnists who wrote “gamers are dead” that their targets would be able to effectively return the favor. Those who have had great success cherry picking and editing quotes/emails/tweets to create a false narrative of their opponents never dreamed that doing so would come back to haunt them.

Part 5: GamerGate: What is it you want? Define it soon or it will get defined for you

I won’t claim to be straddling the fence. But as someone who does feel that the gaming media is being unfairly tarnished with the broad strokes, I have to say: Don’t let your movement end up like the French Revolution where everyone is eating each other.

I recommend that the #gamergate movement come up with say a 5 point consensus on what their goals are.  I don’t know what those 5 points should be but if they don’t craft a message soon, this escalation will soon carry far beyond what even its most reasonable supporters would be comfortable with. 

 

The TL;DR version:

The gaming community is experiencing a schism that has manifested itself around the #gamergate twitter tag. Each side has escalated it by demonizing the other escalating it to uglier and uglier extremes.  The #gamergate side of things should create a consensus on a ~5 point list of specific things they are looking to achieve before it escalates completely out of control.

 

P.s. You’re welcome to discuss this issue on our forum. Hopefully it won’t get DDOS’d…

Update #1: I've come to the conclusion that the 5 objectives should not be constructed in the form of a demand. Rather, consider up to 5 constructive, tangible things you want out of this. In case someone asks what the difference is, a demand can be a Specific type of objective but objectives don't necessarily involve another party's cooperation to be achieved.

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