There's been a lot of experience with travesty these past few weeks. Nothing serious really, but I've encountered various levels of it. A series of events have transpired such that I wonder how many sane people are left in the world, and whether I'll be able to find one of the opposite gender suitable for courtship before my mortal coil is sprung.

Anyway, onto the travesties.

1) The Draenei as the new Alliance race in the World of WarCraft expansion:

This is the smallest of the travesties, and in and of itself isn't bad. I'm looking forwards to running around doing the Tunak Tunak Tan dance, which this race features. However, the travesty was the brutal surgery the history of Azeroth went through to make this possible. Surgery is a nice way of saying that they literally had to rip the whole thing to pieces and sew it back together to work.

The idea as it was presented was that the Draenei were a race who were quite naturally talented with magic. The evil Sargeras offered them power for their allegience, which some of them took greedily while the others fled. These others were chased by their corrupted brethern, who became the Eredar demons of Sargeras' Burning Legion army, and were aided by the Light to evade their pursuers. They eventually settled on Draenor, where after a few millenia of peaceful living were utterly crushed by the Orcs, who were now pawns of the Burning legion. The chaotic, demonic bloodlust of the orcs corrupted many Draenei, mutating their form into the strange and twisted figures seen in WarCraft 3. Most of them look more like the Eredar. These ones crash landed their nethership which they used to escape the orcs after some Blood Elves sabotaged it.

That's jolly good, until several points were sent straight into the heart of this. 1) Sargeras was purportedly disturbed by the existence of demons, including the Eredar, which is partly why he went mad in the first place. 2) Spaceship?

I realize not every game developer can be Bungie and have a supremely anal attitude towards lore, but Blizzard already completely ignored the previously important gender roles of the Night Elves when they made World of WarCraft. It's a travesty what they keep doing to the lore.

2) Halo 2 for PC becomes a Vista exclusive:

If you don't know what Halo 2 is, you don't play video games. If you don't know what Vista is, it's the next version of Windows that Microsoft will find some way of forcing you to upgrade to.

This didn't really bother me until I found more intelligent people than I making the following points.

A) For the cost of upgrading to Vista you can buy an original Xbox and Halo 2 or an Xbox 360 and Halo 3 (when it comes out), depending on what version of Vista you're upgrading to.

B) If Vista was really all that great, it would sell itself and wouldn't need to lean on Bungie for a reason to buy it.

In the end, why does it take so long to port a game to PC when it's been shown time and time again that the Xbox is little more than a PC-in-a-box? Not only that, it's being forced onto an OS no one even has yet.


3) Gunbound:

You may not know of Gunbound, but you may have played many games like it. Worms and Scorched Earth are games which function on similar principles. You have some tank or other object which is horribly beweaponed and lobs shots around an arena at other tanks or objects. Gunbound doesn't deviate here.

One of the unique features of Gunbound was that you had an Avatar. It wasn't just a tank, you had a little person riding it. That person could be decked out in many different outfits, and depending on the server you played on these trappings had bonuses they would grant you. Outfits could be purchased with gold or cash, gold being earned through fighting and cash being legal tender. It was very novel, incredibly cool and overall fun.

After many years of not having access to the game, I finally installed it on Raijin and took it for a spin. The game's as good as ever in the gameplay department, with even a few new tanks since I last played. However, somewhere between then and now travesty struck.

When outfits were purchased before, they were permanent. Your account would be able to sport them unto eternity. Now, the same is true, except the prices are 10x higher to do that. If those Matrix Glasses cost 9000 gold before, they're 60000 gold now for a permanent buy.

Fear not! You can still rent them for a week for 9000 gold... or a month for 18000! It... it just really sucks. There isn't a better way of putting it. Luckily, any items you had before this was done are permanent, so that 27000 Archangel outfit was a real steal. Seriously, imagine if you were paying $2800 to rent that used car for a week. Ugh.

The depths of this travesty know no bounds.

4) PS3 Price:

You knew it had to be here, but the price of this sucker is quite insane. We've been up and down this issue before, but we're likely to see this keep coming up. Sony's PR has done a bang up job of keeping the public grumbling at them over this. I wonder if they're not trying to replicate all the buzz Nintendo got for changing their consoles' name from Revolution to Wii. The difference there is, a Wii by any other name sells just as cheap. Also, the name becomes catchy after a while. The price of the PS3 doesn't grow on you. The more I think about spending $600 for a console, not counting games and extra controllers, the more I grimace. It took a week for Sony apologists to stop sulking in corners and come out to try and defend their beloved PS3. It took 2 minutes to blow their arguments out of the water, 1:52 of which was laughing at the absurdity of their statements.

We've heard the "It's a cheap Blu-Ray" player argument. We've heard the "It's cheap for the power it has" argument. And we've heard straight from Sony the "You'll buy it anyway even without games" argument. These arguments have already been thoroughly rebutted. Honestly, the PS3 is going to be a good system, but come on guys. Seriously, you can come up with better reasons for supporting it than that.

The worst argument yet was that most cutting edge technology is expensive as the early adopters will buy it at any price within reason. Then the prices plummet as it goes mainstream. The idea is that the same is true of the PS3. There are several problems with this argument.

A) The types of cutting edge technology being referred to here are largely technologies where there are multiple competitors making hardware which all does exactly the same thing. Sony TVs, Brand Silly TVs, Panasonic TVs, they all let you hook up VCRs, DVD players and cable to them. Aside from the actual quality of each brand's product, there's little difference. A casual buyer would be just as happy with no brand in particular so long as it worked.

Video game consoles, on the other hand, are extremely focused on brand. There are large, gaping differences between the consoles, and what you buy changes what you can interact with drastically. Imagine if you could only get PBS on a Sony TV, Fox on Brand Silly, and HBO on Panasonic. That's what video game consoles are analogous to. To compare them to technologies like TVs is a severely flawed comparison.

B) Aside from the similar hardware counterpoint, there's the fact that in those competitive hardware fields it's possible to come in late with a good product and enjoy profit. It doesn't matter that there have been TVs for years before, if this new brand does everything the others do it'll sell. That's not to say it's easy to make TVs and whatnot, but there's nothing inherent in the market that makes it impossible for latecomers to succeed so long as they aren't lazy about it.

In the video game industry it's very different. Coming in late is like going to an event at college which offers free food halfway through. Were you expecting food? Sorry, the only things left are the salads no one eats and the deserts that everyone hates. You can't just come in anytime you want and expect things to work just as they would if you came in first. There is food to be had, but it is all scraps.

Now Sony can't be said to be extremely late. They certainly aren't coming in halfway through. However, they're using the same exact strategy for their console they used for the PS2. Overshadow your earliest competitor with far better graphics at E3, charge a lot at launch, use the next generation video format to push consoles. It worked beautifully for the PS2, but Sony is ignoring a great many factors that are vastly different.

i) Sega vs Microsoft

When the PS2 began Sony's second generation of dominion, it was competing against Sega, a financially rocky company that wasn't particularly big. Now that the PS3 is coming, it's fighting another early competitor, but this one is Microsoft. We don't even need to think twice concerning the chance of Microsoft suddenly going bankrupt. It isn't happening this decade.

ii) Sega vs Microsoft Pt 2

Sony amazed us with incredible bonanza's at the E3s prior to the launches of both the Dreamcast and the Xbox 360. However, people believed Sony at the E3 before the Dreamcast. When the one after that came, people were disappointed but there was still a marked difference in graphical prowess between the two systems. It was enough for gamers to feel comfortable with the overhyping Sony had done before, because to an extent they still delivered.

The E3 before the Xbox 360 launched, a similar tactic was used. However, the public took the awesome images with a grain of salt. Only the most zealous of fanboys claimed that all, if any, of the images were not prerendered. Again, the public was ready to forgive that hyping if the system delivered. Unfortunately, this E3 showed that Sony's games looked little different from Microsoft's. The result is a largely dissapointed public, many of whom wondered why they waited, and many others who didn't bother to wonder and just went and bought Xbox 360s.

iii) DVD vs Blu-Ray

DVDs rock. It's hard to refute, although I'm sure my dad could do a good job. They are significantly better than video tapes. They don't wear out as quickly, they give all sorts of options, you can skip ahead with scenes, select specific episodes and largely not have to deal with many of the issues that plagued video tapes. There's a reason why everything's on DVD these days.

Of course, the ill-designed DVD menu is a menace that has come of this, but that is a different travesty for another day.

When the PS2 came onto the scene, there was no question as to the place DVDs would have in the home. People were already buying DVD players and DVDs. Everyone knew they were better, if not necessarily widely circulated yet. While there was some cling to videos that existed, the alure of different language tracks, deleted scenes and director commentary won the day. While some may complain about the cost of buying an entire anime series at only 3 episodes a disc, these are the same people that don't remember that buying cartoons on tape usually involved fewer episodes of lower quality video and audio, and often more expensive per video than we enjoy now per DVD.

The PS3 enjoys no such luxury. It will be one of the first Blu-Ray players on the market, there will be few if any movies on Blu-Ray when it launches, if any in stores. There is not drastic chasm of difference between DVDs and Blu-Ray, like there was for video tapes and DVDs. Most of the public doesn't even know what Blu-Ray is. Ask someone and they'll probably think you're talking about fish.


So I've yet to see the price justified properly. If this trend continues, I may have to beat my Nintendo fanboyism senseless and write a post critical of Nintendo while praising Sony just so that there's something on the internet which successfully does so. I'm actually quite shocked that there haven't been better arguments that the Wii will do poorly, or that Sony will prevail. Whether that's a travesty or not isn't important. What is important is that it's now 1 AM, and I should be asleep, quenching my thirst, or both.

No comments: