Where are the games from illiberal countries?

Let’s say that you live in a place where you can lose your job for a political statement or even for offending someone. Let’s also say that you missed history classes and try to fit in instead of getting out before they lock you into “work” camps. This case your everyday “normalcy” seeps into the games you design and you find it normal to ban players who offended anybody or give out rewards regardless of merit.

However not all countries are like this and one would assume that games are made in these countries. There are such games, like the unexpected hit Kingdom Come: Deliverance, developed in the Czech Republic. Please note that it couldn’t have been developed in a liberal country, even if someone had the money to self-fund it, because the developers were arrested, assaulted or boycotted in their everyday life.

But why there are no more such games? Why there is no infamous Polish FPS or Russian MMORPG? Don’t tell me it’s lack of funds, if EVE could be developed in Iceland, I’m sure there is enough money in illiberal countries to fund even an AAA MMO.

I’m absolutely sure that there would be a huge market for such games. Half of the US voters voted for Trump. 1/3 of the French voted for Le Pen. Nobody makes games for them. Hardly anyone makes other kind of entertainment for them. The right-leaning sitcom Roseanne trumped the rating expectations, not because it’s awesome, but because there are no other shows a Trump voter can tune to without being spat on.

How would such game look like?

  • Meritocracy: your performance defines your progress
  • Hands off: developers will govern with open in-game rules instead of arbitrary GM actions
  • Freedom of speech: mute him if you don’t like him, but the GMs won’t ban him for offending you
  • Competition is un-consensual: even if there is no direct PvP, you need to compete for resources and spawns
  • Unfortunately: pay-to-win. I have to admit one downside of illiberal democracies: systemic corruption. Buying power items is likely unavoidable in such games.
  • Fortunately: no lootboxes. Gambling is strongly frowned upon, nationalized, heavily taxed.
  • Traditionally gendered. Intersectional feminism has no hold here, most people don’t even know what “mansplaining” means, women dress feminine way while men dress masculine.

Do you know any bigger titles developed in the former Warsaw Pact countries? They are great candidates for my next project.


Seems we have an indirect evidence against Blizzard

I noted that my idea how lootboxes motivate Blizzard to ban them based on “I hate you” false reports is a conspiracy theory, since it lacks evidence. All we know that if enough people report you for whatever (please 4chan, report everyone whose name begins with a specific letter or who plays Moira or whatever nonsense), you get banned without human investigation. With some google search, it seems to be consensus opinion among those who encountered “disruptive gameplay”.

However my logical deduction how it comes from the will to force people to switch hinges on the assumption of “has motive + mean = guilty”, while there is a simpler assumption: “they believe the community is always right, so they ban anyone who is reported”. But I can simply disprove that.

World of Warcraft has random teams like Overwatch, both game made by Blizzard. In WoW players are just as often dislike teammates as in Overwatch. In WoW there is a much lighter way of reporting: votekick. This needs the majority of the team to agree that you are disruptive, while in Overwatch if just one guy in several game hates you while the other 4 agree with you, you get banned. Also, being kicked from a single dungeon is different from being banned from the game. Ergo, Blizzard should be much more careful about bans than kicks.

Yet they do the opposite: votekick is very severely limited, if you initiate votekicks “too often” (even if they pass, so the team agrees with you), you can’t use the feature. “Too often” is such a low limit, that practically nobody has active votekick ability in WoW. So Blizzard is actively preventing people to kick others from a dungeon based on clear team vote, while they allow players to ban other players from the game with nothing but a single disgruntled fellow whining every other game. This is very self-contradictory.

The only difference is monetization. The solution is that WoW is a subscription game. If you votekick a player, you likely lose his subscription. In Overwatch, which is a pay-to-buy + shop game, Blizzard loses nothing by banning a non-switcher. Ergo, they ban them if the prospective paying players are complaining, even if the fault is theirs.

Weekend minipost: life comes to Maxim fast

I wrote: “This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.”

Maxim commented: “You love getting a big head Gevlon. Your project needs to get big enough to be a threat to Blizzard, first. Also, at this point i can’t quite imagine what they can really do about it (aside from directly harming gameplay of individual champions for indivudal maps, and they won’t do that), so what they come up with is interesting in itself.”

Life comes to my dear commenter fast:

Greetings XXX,

Blizzard Account: XXX
BattleTag: Gevlon#2566
Game: Overwatch

Action(s) Taken:
Account Suspended

Violation: Disruptive Gameplay

Your fellow players reported you for a gameplay offense that is in violation of the Blizzard EULA and/or Code of Conduct.

Suspension expires on: 2018 April 22 17:48 UTC

After analysis of the evidence, we have Suspended your Overwatch account.

As the owner of this account, you are responsible for all actions associated with it. We will only overturn penalties if there is evidence of a compromised account or similar extenuating circumstances.

If you understand this and still want to appeal our decision, please visit this article and submit a ticket.


Customer Support

You didn’t see this coming, did you! (I kind of did)

Follow the money, Overwatch edition

I have a bunch of unopened lootboxes:

It’s not some protest against vanity, I simply got skins, emotes, voices, highlight poses for all the heroes I play with (Mercy, Bastion, Symmetra, Torbjörn). The lootboxes contain 4 out of about 3000 cosmetic things, which means duplicates happen. This case you get credits that you can use to buy the stuff you want directly, instead of having to wait for RNG forever. On the one hand this is a good feature to avoid player frustration or rigging claims.

However this means that after only a few lootboxes you can buy your favorites and be done with cosmetics, having no reason to bother with the boxes anymore. Which is a problem for Blizzard, since after the initial game purchase, their income depends on lootbox purchases. You get lootboxes for playing, about one per hour, or you can buy them in the cash shop. However if you are playing with only a few heroes, you have no reason to buy anything, instead your free lootboxes will start to pile up.

This means that Blizzard is financially interested in making players play many heroes, as each hero you play is a reason to use cosmetics which is a reason to buy lootboxes. The best way to make people play many heroes is to force them by teammates. The moron who demands you to not play your 50+ hours main, but play Reinhardt despite you never did, is the best marketeer for Blizzard. If you play Reinhardt, you might buy something for him. Please note that the game – unlike League of Legends – was designed in a way to allow hero switch during match and doesn’t have any bans, exactly to make people play more heroes.

What nasty things Blizzard do to make people play more heroes? At first they have no guilds/clans. World of Warcraft – another Blizzard game – has guilds for more than a decade, I doubt if it was too much to ask for Overwatch. However WoW raiding guilds recruit roles (“looking for resto shaman and combat rogue”) because they realized the obvious that a fitting team works better. Ergo, Overwatch guilds would function the same, having shield tank, non-shield tank, melee, flanker, sniper and healer roles. A player recruited as shield tank would play two or max 3 champions and wouldn’t be asked to play healer or sniper. By not adding guilds, players are doomed to play with randoms as friends rarely fill the roster, being “asked” to fill into different roles.

The other nasty trick of Blizzard is not having scoreboard. I’m stating the obvious that anyone picking a champion with less than X hours experience is throwing the game, even if the champion is a good counter of the enemy or fits the team. A 11 min Reinhardt is less help to a team that needs a shield tank than a 50 hours Widowmaker. The lack of scoreboard hides the fact that the noob Reinhardt has miniscule damage blocked, miniscule damage and lots of deaths, while that “not teamplayer” Hanzo who “throws” has highest damage, highest eliminations and barely any deaths. This way the blame goes to those who don’t switch, even if the game is lost because of those who did. The noob Reinhardt will get praise and might buy some Reinhardt skin. Since the lack of scoreboard increases toxicity (always the bad players go toxic and we can’t silence them by pointing out their fail), Blizzard purposefully increased toxicity to increase swapping.

This means that my project is probably doomed because whatever I come up with is directly against the wishes of Blizzard who will surely do something about it.

“Strategy” or “meta” vs “skillz”

To get result in games, you need both understanding and execution. I’m looking for the first. But how to explain what belongs here? It’s not that hard as it looks: strategy is hard to find but easy to apply, while execution is easy to find and hard to apply.

For example “get lasthits” in League of Legends is a trivial thing to say, but hard to apply, because both your own minions and the enemy players disturb your actions. Minion count is an important statistics to decide which player is better. On the other hand “pick a good jungler if you jungle” is trivial to apply, just select the proper minion portrait, but figuring out who counts as good jungler isn’t that obvious, there are so many champions with different abilities. Some are more often used, others are not.

Figuring out how to jungle with Ashe, not in the sense as “not dying to minions”, but “having 50%+ winrate with jungle Ashe in the top 5%” would be a new strategy. Attacking Goons by highsec mercs was a new strategy, while the actual application wasn’t even done by me. Hiding and crawling to get into the top 0.01% in PUBG was a new strategy, but anyone can do it now, just by reading my guide.

In Overwatch I want to find copy-paste lines and such to facilitate the creation of teams that beat enemy teams without me being any better. I’m a firm believer that the 2-2-2 strategy is horrible and a mere copy of pro teams who can utilize it by having perfect communication and teamwork, while 1-1-4 would work much better for randoms, even assuming equal skill. But people won’t believe me until I can prove it by climbing to at least the top 10%. Also, believing me doesn’t help anyone if they can’t enforce it on the randoms. I fully believe myself, yet I get 2-2-2 teams most of the time. I have to figure out how to convince randoms in a few seconds to abandon their months practiced beliefs.

It won’t be easy, but if I find it, I find something relevant in real life, as opposed to getting execution skills in a video game that are never as good as a $5 aimbot. But hey, these moments compensate for all the hard work:
Note: tank picking guy asked that if we picked Torb+Bastion already, can he pick Tracer (I guess he was trolling) and I answered “sure” and off he went. Then we won of course, with Tracer being the top killer.

Gladiator games

We knew two kind of games. The casual games are welcoming everyone regardless of skill to enjoy themselves. The e-sports (at least promise to) hand out victory and defeat based on skill. The former doesn’t even attempt to become a viewer’s thing, as it wants people to play. The e-sports really want stream-watching to be a thing, but their audience is very limited. Sure, some guys can do it in full time, but even the income of the biggest streamers is peanuts for a company. Also, these biggest streamers usually do not stream competitive games, but some hilarity.

I believe the solution is a new kind of games: gladiator games. These games are fiercely competitive, while not particularly skill-based. The preview of such games is the movie Ready Player One. As I wrote, this movie depicts an imaginary game and it made over $300M already from people watching this game that doesn’t even exist. The reason is that gladiator games are very popular since they were made a spectacle by the ancient Rome.

Gladiator games must have (at least imaginary) loss. Ancient gladiators died if they lost. Serious death penalty would be something that make the game interesting to watch, both for fans who want their hero to win and haters who want to watch him lose his valuable things. Sure, to have a game, there must be players, so the game must have some low-stakes entry way of playing, just like EVE has friglolling while the “big moment” B-R seen thousand-dollar titans pop. Most low-stake players will either remain low-stake or quit, to be replaced by a new fanboy. But some will rise due to skill, luck or P2W into the “real game”, become somewhat famous, get their adventure streamed and start to build their fanbase.

People use to say that EVE is the game most fun to read about but not a fun to play, which indicates a good candidate for a gladiator game. It has non-consensual PvP and asset loss/loot. Why isn’t it already a stream sensation? Because low-stake play is somewhat competitive (you can win battles in T1 crap you can’t care less to lose) and because it’s possible to just no life or bot wealth without risk, therefore losses don’t really matter, people only lose what they can afford. If no one really cries, there won’t be views. It was an understandable decision by CCP to go casual, but it didn’t really work, because for real casuals even the limited risk is too much. Those who just want to chill reject being disturbed while doing so, even if the disturbance has no monetary loss (read: the miner is upset about not his retriever but that someone bothered him in his relaxation hour).

I don’t think that EVE will go gladiator, but I’m sure someone will and the creators of that game will be stupid rich, even if not on the level of the imaginary developer Halliday.