No Time To Play
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Weekly Links #249


Hey, everyone. This editorial was going to be about Valve's recent shenanigans, but I ended up making it into an extended newspiece (see below). Instead, I'm going to talk about social media. Again.

As of this writing, the No Time To Play blog is still hosted on Tumblr, for another week. While we're unlikely to be hit by the latest boneheaded change, that's small consolation. There will be others, people are already fleeing, and in the end it's a matter of principle.

So this blog is going back to the main website, where it used to be. That's the easy part (and the easy decision). I'll still syndicate to Tumblr, too, while I still have followers and nobody suspends my account. To be part of a community however one has to go where people already are. And no offense, but Tumblr never felt like one. It's just one big cave full of echoes, where it's hard to even find your voice, and people are often awful to each other. Much like Twitter, the other major platform where you can repost with comments. Go figure.

Question is where to go. Three weeks ago I suggested Mastodon, but nobody reacted. In the mean time I also joined Dreamwidth, where it would be easy to set up a full-blown community for No Time To Play; but videogames are dead as a topic of interest over there. And is a great place to be as always, but it's mostly game developers patting each other on the shoulder.

What's a creator without fans? You tell me. It's getting very lonely over here.

In the way of extended news, we have:

It's Tuesday, and over on USgamer there's a write-up on the time when CRPGs started offering moral dilemmas. (Via K.D.) It's actually from last week, but whatever. Besides extensive quotes from the creators of those legendary games, what stayed with me is the idea that, just like books, early dungeon crawlers prompted players to use their imaginations and fill the gaps. But where books lack imagery and sound, those older, simpler games lacked story. And players were all too happy to come up with their own.

They still would, and they do if given a chance. Except by now many have been conditioned to have everything spoonfed, and react poorly to a game that tries to, you know, draw them into it.

But then, how are you going to present them with genuinely difficult decisions?

On Wedneday, PC Gamer ran a piece on Valve's two-pronged attack on indie game developers that took place recently: the change in search results that buries them, and the change in royalty structure that will give more money to high-earning games. Which is to say, those who need it the least. Which sounds suspiciously like governments giving huge tax cuts to multinationals with more money than some countries, and will be just as disastrous in the end.

And gee, you mean Steam can't give visibility to all those millions of games on their platform? Who'd have thought! I've been trying to point that out for years, and people were all, "no no, see, that's where everyone goes". Sure. Ask an App Store developer how that worked out for them. For that matter, why am I not surprised to hear that the secret of being successful on Steam is knowing someone who works there. So much for games rising to the top on there being about some algorithm.

At least on we're honest about the featured games section being manually curated. And people still ask if there isn't some mysterious formula for ending up on the front page. You know, apart from making a good first impression, which helps everyone.

There is no magic, folks. Just what we do for each other. Let's work together.

And that's it I'm afraid, making for another short week. Still, enjoy!