Put in The Work

I haven’t played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided yet. I plan to, but I’m on vacation and therefore on laptop aka pleb mode. I am sort of glad that I’m not playing it right now, because I’d be playing it on PC and lo and behold, the PC version wasn’t fully baked on release.

Now, I’ve been a professional game developer for something like 17 years (minus a few when I was between jobs) and I know that any game feature is more than just a simple addition, but you’d think that (if you’re doing a PC port) FoV adjustment and and quality mouse options would be close to the top of the “to do” list. As a game development veteran I also know that by the time you’re nearing release, the “to do” list is nothing but “the top” and even then some things have to fall off.

I can forgive (to a certain degree) substandard performance on some system configurations, especially cutting edge configurations as those are just as new to the devs. With consoles you have one set of hardware to build to, with PC you have virtually infinite combinations. I can forgive a sparse “options” screen for most things, including graphical options, so long as there’s at least some control. I can even forgive being locked to 30fps, even though YES, you CAN tell the difference, especially when you’re closer to the screen as on most PC’s. Mouse Acceleration and FoV have to be two of the most contentious PC toggles however and so many devs initially ignore them.

Mouse Acceleration is an issue because PC gamers prefer precision, it’s why many of us will play PC ports of games designed on controllers using a mouse, though for me it’s usually just first person that I opt for the mouse these days. Mouse Acceleration destroys precision and essentially treats mouse movements as being as sloppy as controller analog sticks.

FoV is another contentious issue like fps, though just as (if not more) valid. Game images, especially first person games, feel different when they’re 1-2 feet away from your face as opposed to 5 to 10 feet away. Even when I’m playing on the big screen in the living room however I tend to want and FoV closer to 90+. Some of this just comes from conditioning, having grown up with large FoV games and/or the option to make the FoV larger. Some of it is just feel. I don’t feel like less than 90 FoV feels right for a lot of games from a play standpoint, but (and this is likely the real reason why everything starts below 90 FoV) it does “look better” from an artistic point of view due to less image distortion. Trust me, it’s the kind of thing that Art Directors say to a room of blank-faced, blinking designers. We do the same to them just as often.

Either way you cook it though, FoV and Mouse controls are super important to PC gamers and I’ve got to believe it could save a lot of headaches for people to just get on board and offer those options right out of the box for PC titles. A game like Deus EX: Mankind Divided is a perfect example. Great reviews from “critics”, but currently “mixed” user reviews on Steam and most people down voting it are complaining about these or other technical issues. I know it’s not easy, game development never is, but if you’re going to do a PC port, do it well, especially when we know the simple reasons why so many rub people the wrong way and they’re not (or should not be) massive changes.

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Hardcore Inclusion in a PC World

The quotes in this post come from Dan Ozzi’s article on Noisey. You should read it, he’s better at this than me: http://noisey.vice.com/blog/hardcore-in-hindsight-gorilla-biscuits-in-a-modern-era

Nothing bugs me more than like-minded, liberal thinking individuals attacking each other over minutiae and language nuance. When it comes from the hardcore community, it bugs me even more.

In the 140-character world of Twitter especially, using the wrong terms or failing to use exactly the right terms can immediately get someone labeled as an enemy. No discussion, no questioning, no attempt to reach out, just “this person said something wrong, therefore they are the enemy and we have to take them down”. Then the dog pile begins and allies fight each other while the real enemies get away with murder.

Apparently someone misconstrued a comment by the notoriously inclusion supporting Anthony Civorelli (of Gorilla Biscuits and Civ fame) spoken before Gorilla Biscuits played their anti-white supremacist, inclusion anthem “Degradation” as being racist:

“In 2016, people still have to wear shirts that say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ No shit. Brown, white, yellow, black, we all fucking matter. Everybody here matters. Do not let the media, the schools, institutions, influence you. We are one family, one people.”

And I get it. Out of context and bereft of critical thought it could be construed as Civ saying “AllLivesMatter”, the stealthily racist retort to “BlackLivesMatter”. But that’s the point: out of context or without considering the source or the intent. Civ’s not the enemy. He’s on our side. He said something good the wrong way, but his intent was still good, in his own words:

“The whole point of it was how I thought it was a sad state of affairs that, as a people, as the human race, we need to remind people that black lives matter,” he says. “That’s what it was about—not that black people are wearing those shirts, but that they need to.”

If I may digress, one of the main reasons this particular issue has bugged me is because it involves Civ. While I’m not a diehard Gorilla Biscuits or Civ (the band) follower, I am a fan and I respect Anthony Civorelli a lot. I’ve heard Civ numerous times in live recordings and in person where he talks about community and coming together in the music and he always accentuates the aspects of hardcore that I respect the most: inclusion and community and that sense of needing to step up and say something when things are wrong. Hearing Civ talk and sing about that kind of stuff is part of what led me to get my ATHC (Austin Texas Hardcore) tattoo, to further solidify my connection to what I see as the best aspects of that culture. Those are ideas that I want to be a part of and to see people try to defame him for a misreading of his words is saddening.

I’ve found myself defending misunderstood/misread liberals often with like-minded friends and acquaintances and I’ve had people tell me that “intent doesn’t matter”, that “wrong is wrong is wrong” and you know what, that’s true … in many cases. We’re often too quick to declare enemies though, when a simple: “whoa, what do you mean by that?” may be a better course of action. In the absence of any other evidence to the contrary we should assume best intentions. Maybe someone’s not up on all the latest lingo; PC language is constantly shifting and constantly under debate. Maybe it’s because they aren’t good at articulating their thoughts, especially in the sound bite, 140-character limited modern world, or between songs like in Civ’s case. Maybe they’re just behind the times, but intent … intent matters. Sometimes someone just says the wrong thing in the wrong way though and maybe the best reaction is not to tear them down, but to talk to them instead. In the hardcore community especially the onus shouldn’t be on the individual to “fit in”, but to “join in” and that requires the community to be accepting and not isolated or exclusive.

We’re never going to win against the actual monsters if we keep turning away allies who just may not be up to speed on where current movements are at. And believe me, as one gets older and busier it gets harder to keep up unless one makes keeping up a constant top priority. We shouldn’t be turning people away, we should be bringing them in. We need to look beyond the gut reactions and look stop hearing dog whistles where there are none, just because we want so badly to fight monsters. We need to learn to recognize allies not just by their dogma, but by their intent. If we fail to do this then we lose strength and there are real monsters out there to fight. As Dan Ozzi put it in his article:

“At a time when there are legitimate dangers facing the country, including a basketball-colored narcissist seeking to strip away rights and rule the nation like a fascist, this eagerness to ignore intent and context in the name of PC hysteria is producing a new generation of punk and hardcore bands that avoid sociopolitical issues altogether and instead focus on frivolous subjects like drinking, moshing, and fashion trends.”