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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Open Questions

Yeah, I'm pretty much worn out from the hoopla of the Coffee controversy. But I still have a few open questions.

Will the Sims 2 push go anywhere?
I'm really hoping not. If it does, it could be the start of a landslide. Right now the gaming community seems pretty smug in the "there's no real nudity on the discs, so why worry?" theory.

Well, that certain floridian lawyer used the word mod in some context seven times in his fairly short little letter. And about how easy EA had made it to mod, and all that jazz. So I guess now people get to see if they're right on the ESRB cave-in or not.

And if this does push on ... I suspect we'll see modders represented in the debate about as much, if not less, than gamers in the current one.

Are we going to see DRM for games?
It's really not such a crazy idea. The game industry has been looking for an excuse to go as hardcore as possible with copyprotection. But while I've seen this bubble in a few conversations the question is ... will it work? I know Epic does MD5 package checks off of servers and other anti-cheat measures use similar tactics ... with somewhat measured results. Would a company actually end up doing a package sig check for a single player game? I guess they might if it they can say "they had to break the DMCA to publish that porn".

Is porn really worse than violence?
You can almost hear the shifting winds as the anti-gaming crowd starts dropping it's guns and goes after panty raids instead. Is this country really that puritanical?

And what will this do to those people with actual valid theories about what violence does to kids in games today? Is that debate simply doomed to be sidelined if the big concern is sex? I guess we'll have to see which we hear more about in the next six months: 25 to Life or Sims 2.

Why all the Rockstar hate?
Just a general question. When the Demuzio law started to finalize, Tom Chick said "it's about time". When it first appeared that the Coffee content was on the disc, Costik said "bitchslap Rockstar". And now that the ESRB caved, Penny Arcade quips "this is how it should have been rated all along".

And the conspiracy theories that this was all some mad plot of Rockstar's to make more money continue. PA even brushes the Wal-Mart issue aside saying that Best Buy is just down the block.

I mean wow. Politicians and lawyers just succeeded in getting a major video game title pulled from the world's biggest retail giant, and lots of major voices in the industry respond ... "good riddance"? Harsh.

Do you really think mods are DOOMED? OMG that's ignorant!
OK, not my question ... but the kind of thing that was starting to pop up after Tan got linked around forums.

No, I don't think mods are doomed. But I think they very likely might get diminished. Epic, id, Valve and those attached directly to major titles which are attached to the hip with mods are not going to suddenly get a mod-ectemy.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if they have a stricter EULA the next time around with what you can and can't do with their engines. 99.9% of mod teams won't care, because less face it ... many mod groups these days are looking to break into the industry and putting "I made the animations for GimpFight 3000" is probably not the best way. But if that happens, it will be sad to see companies have to become content cops. I could mourn about the problems with that for days, but I won't until it happens.

Finally, I really do doubt as many new titles will be interested in supplying mod tools and support. Which truly sucks. Mods were becoming a near standard in the PC world, breaking out of the shooter and strategy genres and moving into RPGs and more. Now they'll be weighed against the possibility of lawsuits, and may lose more times than not.

Later today, I'll post cheerier stuff. Promise.

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