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Mailbag
December 17, 1998 -- Previous Mailbag

3Dfx: The new evil empire?

From: Kevin M. Lowe

This is utter crap. The idea of 3Dfx buying STB is a blatant attempt to bury nVidia. With 40% of sales for the TNT chipset, there's no other explanation. Certainly, this is something that they've been wanting to do, but specifically targeting STB is an attempt to eliminate a competitor with a superior product, using only a larger stockpile of cash.

It's sad that 3Dfx is becoming the Microsoft of the 3D arena. And just when I thought the days of one chipset attempting world domination were over. Just like with Windows, the lack of competition will induce stagnation, and we will all suffer for 3Dfx's sins.

I invite e-mail from anyone who reads this letter, please post my address.

Mr. White wants more colors

From: Mr. White

...And this holiday season, I am thankful not to be working for the 3dfx PR department. They seem to have put themselves in a rather awkward situation before any watchful gamer. The new ATi cards, soon to be in stores, are the best answer yet to the 16/32 bit controversy surrounding the Voodoo3, as well as to 3dfx's ignorant or dishonest assertion that 32 bit color necessarily incurs a high performance hit (50% is their most favorite and oft cited figure). While the TNT drops 20-50% in performance in the switch to 32 bit, I understand that the performance decrease in the new ATi chipset is much smaller, and is sometimes almost non-existent. Did you hear that, Steve Schick? Carmack is right--3dfx downplays 32 bit color because they don't have it. Not because their moral philosophy of 3D gaming predisposes them to deliver best possible performance at all costs (including their stake in the market, I wonder), or some such bullshit. Because performance is all they've got. (And as far as my consumer dollars are concerned, it isn't enough.)

Zapruder Quake demo reveals all: Second gunman gibbed the President!

From: Sam "otto" Wood

I've noticed this for a while, and didn't want to bring it up for fear that "they" would notice me, but...

There is a conspiracy happening on www.bluesnews.com. It's not a blatant one. It may be unnoticed to the uninformed. But, what is actually going on? Who knows?

I am, of course, referring to the blank space at the bottom of the main news page. This blank area just keeps getting bigger. At first, I thought it was a trick of the browser, or perhaps an error in the page code. But no, it's gone beyond that now. It must be intentional. There must be a conspiracy of some sort. I'd like to put the question to the readers of the page, "what the heck is that blank space for?" Someone, anyone, please tell us. Is it put there by extraterrestrials? Does Area 51 have anything to do with it? Is Blue really involved in the assassination of JFK? What's going on?

Remember, the truth is... something or other...

Thrashing Thresh

From: Meanstryk

Although I may respect Thresh's intuitive understanding of how to play Quake, I do not respect his intellectual understanding of the same. Obviously he knows how to do the deed; I have no doubt that he could destroy me utterly in any venue. What I do doubt, however, is that he consciously understands the dynamics of a shooter. A dancer may know how to dance, but he'd probably be hard pressed to explain the essence of dancing. This is the case, as I see it, with the Thresh. Perhaps I'm wrong --perhaps I'm not. My goal is not to attack Thresh, but merely to point out that ability is not the same thing as wisdom. Thresh's recent article entitled "The Slowdown Game" causes me some concern. Thresh is an icon of the community. People listen to him. The industry, in fact, listens to him. His words, right or wrong, carry a lot of weight, and therefore we must read them with care. In the above mentioned article Thresh and Kenn debate an issue without addressing a *very* important aspect of it: the Internet. How does a game's movement speed affect play on the Internet? It is a simple question, but one that was never asked. Imagine that your shooter-guy has a circle drawn around him or her. Imagine further that its radius is equal to the distance that you can move in 100 milliseconds. The Doomguy's circle would be very large, whereas the Quake II marine's circle would be much smaller. The area of this circle represents every possible place that your player might wind up 100 milliseconds from *right* *now*. I think you might see what I'm getting at here. Most players do not have high speed connection; they play over a regular old modem. Low speed players live by the graces of client side prediction. The more possible locations that c/s prediction needs to consider, the less reliable it is. Prediction failures can, and often do, render a game completely unplayable. This is unacceptable.

There is also the question of reaction speed. Let's say that you, as a modem player, are playing online and have just come around a corner to face a hallway. At the opposite end of the hallway there is an opponent with a shotgun. Now, if the opponent is moving like a cheetah, you have very little time to respond before he gets close enough to maximize his weapon's damage. If your ping is greater than, say, 350 millisecond, you'll probably get plugged and possibly killed before you have a chance to defend yourself. If the opponent is moving more slowly, however, reaction speed is less of an issue due to the time it takes to traverse the distance. Raising a game's movement speed, seriously favors the low-ping player ahead of the high-ping player. Considering that this would an exclusion of the majority in favor of the minority, this is also unacceptable. Another phenomena that we see online is that of large team games, like CTF. These sorts of games almost *require* slower movement speed. In CTF it is often necessary to secure and defend an area. This task becomes exponentially more difficult the faster the opponents move. It is possible, for example, in Team Fortress, for a scout class to zip right by base defenders. By the time the defenders have a chance to respond (assuming they are on a modem --see above paragraph) the scout has already run into the base and is on the way to the flagroom. If the scout had been moving more slowly the defenders would've had a chance to stop the invader, thus invalidating the "lone scout" strategy and necessitating that the scout bring friends (i.e. teammates) next time to distract the defenders. The slower you move, the more teamwork you require. There are many, many reasons for slower FPS movement speed. I have only just scratched the surface of the debate. Since my primary concern is that of Internet play, that is what I've presented.

Ich bein ein gibber

From: Oliver Kirchner (Gamesmania Germany)

I just read your comment in "Unlocking Gore on German Heretic II "

....(the strict censors there have locked the violence level at "0").

and wanted to point out that ...

1. There is no censorship in Germany. Any changes made in German releases are the results of unforced decisions of the manufacturer of the game or this local distributor. There is no German authority having the power to force the manufacturer to change any content or block any kind of graphics in a game.

2. Obviously there is a big misunderstanding related to the work of the BjPS. This governmental authority only rates games if there is a   proposal to do so and has no power to ban a game. There is only the possibility of putting this title on an index ("indiziert") which has the following consequences:

a. no advertisements
b. no sales to minors
c. no distribution by mail

Any title which is "indiziert" can still be purchased by any adult.

3. A game can be banned only if it is found to glorify nazism or extreme and senseless violence against a human being. In German history only three computer games have been banned: Mortal Kombat, one of [Mortal Kombat's] sequels and Wolfenstein3d.

Quake, Quake II, Doom etc. are not banned in Germany! They are only listed on the index of the BPjS (see point 2, free sales to adults).

4. Like the ESRB in the USA there is also a mature rating board in German called USK. Any changes in German releases are made in order to receive a very low rating or to prevent even the possibility (don't forget there is the need of a proposal) of the restrictions described under point 2, because a game rated with a very low maturity rating may be sold more often than a game with a higher rating or a game which may only be sold to adults.

You must not believe the manufacturers or their distributors if they maintain that they are being forced to make these kinds of changes.   Obviously it is a fine advertisement if you put a "banned in Germany" sticker on a game box even there is no ban...

Germany's youth keep their PCs PC with the BPjS

From: Nr 1

Although I really don't want to defend the policies of the BPjS, I have to clarify a couple points here.

First of all, games normally cannot be "censored" or "banned" in Germany. That would be a violation against the freedom of expression articles in the Grundgesetz (basic law = constitution). But (and this is a big but) putting a game on the BPjS index (the BPjS is tasked with examining media "harmful to minors") can have nearly the same effect as censorship. Anything on the "index" cannot be sold to people under 18 years of age and companies are not allowed to advertise for the product anymore. Since printing a review in a magazine is in a bit of a legal gray area concerning the advertising clause a lot of games magazines shy away from reviewing indexed games or even mentioning them by name. Furthermore, the big retailers don't see any more profit in indexed games and send them back to the publishers. You see the effect here?

But it is important to know that the BPjS can only become active after the game is published and after one of the regional "youth departments" sends in something for consideration.

NO! I wanna holler the loud, funny words!

From: Dan Buroker

In response to last weeks letter from Anonymous:

There may be good reasons to omit the links to the Top 100 sites. But Anonymous doesn't cover any of them. If that's a strongly reasoned letter, I tremble to see what a poor one looked like. He makes reference to you "indulging yourself" twice in his letter:

>>> However, it [OotB] quickly began an area of self-indulgence for yourself, in my honest opinion. "I am going to the Dentist, (please feel sorry for me)", "it's my B-Day tomorrow (hint, hint, nudge nudge, wink, wink)" <<<

And also:

>>> You want your fans to reaffirm that you are a swell guy! So it seems like you are, once again, wallowing in your self-pity and indulging in yourself in the hopes of hearing your fans say something like "Ignore him Blue, you rock!," "guys like that are a-holes, Blue!, don't worry about it", etc. <<<

Apparently, he thinks you run this web site because of chronic emotional problems and promoting your web site (besides drinking Magic Coffee) is the cure. I've never run a news web site, but I'd venture from the times of the numerous updates that it is a lot of damn work, and if you did have self-esteem problems, Prozac would be an easier solution. It also seems to have slipped his mind, that you provide your service *free*...and all you have asked in return is an occasional click. The value of being included in such lists is up for debate (notice Anonymous discusses none of the merits, but just slanders you), but since you seem to think it may be worthwhile - it takes an insensitive person to take umbrage at your humble request to click a link or two every now and then. I'm not saying he couldn't disagree, but getting upset and insulting you is something altogether different.

At this point in his letter, I think Anonymous is guilty of nothing worse than a little bad manners. But then, he begins to call in airstrikes on his own position:

>>> Think about it, Heaslip. That is why you posted it didn't you? <<<

Using your last name, and not your pseudonym or any title of respect (Mr. would have been fine) when this guy doesn't know you is a definite sign of disrespect. Strangers (and I have to think this guy must be, he certainly can't be your friend) going around calling you by your last name like that is patently uncivil and an obvious attempt to belittle and provoke you.

Then he adds the final insult:

>>> Ps - I would prefer you respect my privacy and not post this in the MailBag. If you do, please post it anonymous. Thanks and I hope I haven't bummed you out more. Just trying to be honest and responding to the issue you brought up, my friend <<<

"My friend"?? What a slap in the face. After taunting and accusing you of "wallowing in your self-pity", he calls you his friend. Like he genuinely cares what your opinion on the matter is. If he did, he would have tried to have reasonably persuade you that his opinion was the correct one. But he didn't, his words speak for themselves, he resorted to ad hominim attacks and cheap insults.

No wonder Anonymous didn't want his name on it. I'd rather eat poison than sign my name to such nonsense.

I'm glad you posted this in the mailbag though, although I hope that sort of pabulum isn't representative. And it shows you are a bigger man than Anonymous by not posting his name and outing him for the pinhead he proved himself to be.

Editor's note: No Dan, that sort of pabulum was not representative. The responses to Anonymous' letter however, were many, and just about all of them spoke positively about the issue of "pimping" on Blue's News. And just for the record, I wanted to out the author, but the ever fair and just Blue wouldn't let me. =]

--MrCoffee

A HatchetFace and harsh words

From: <HatchetFace>

What kind of bullshit is that letter man? You get annoyed with the OotB section because it's an "area of self-indulgence"?   Up yours you selfish twit.  Get your own page and see how FUN it is to completely BAN yourself from  adding any personality/personal information to the infinite daily  updates.  You mention this as an annoyance for you, but understand that many  readers of Bluesnews have it set as their homepage (some for over a  year) and DO care what's going on with the Webmaster in question  here.   I'm mostly pissed at your comments not because of the Pimpage debate,  but rather that it's as if you want to make Blue self-conscious for  ever posting information about himself.  You want to know "the goings on behind-the-scenes-stuff in the Blue  Tower" yet, "not about your personal life"?  I ask you, WTF use is there in having a page if you can't be a part of  it?  EVEN if you are a news site?!!  It's not like we're talking about CNN here - you want faceless news?  Piss off to PlanetQuake then and leave a good thing alone.  You criticize Mr. B for ever drawing the slightest attention to himself  by letting us in on the bits of his daily routine that illustrate he is a  REAL, non-anonymous HUMAN updating a page we love and then you end with  this little gem: 

"Thanks and I hope I haven't bummed you out more. Just trying to be  honest and responding to the issue you brought up, my friend."

'My friend'. 

You Asshole.

PS - keep the link for the Top 100 on the page, Blue. It's never  obtrusive, offensive or annoying to me, and it's one way we can pay you back  for the reliable news you've delivered for such a long time. Thanks.

Hurm...

From: Rorshach

Ooh. This Anonymous guy really gets my goat. First he writes bad poetry that I was forced to study in gradeschool English, now he's psychoanalyzing web masters. People like that make me so mad.

Yes, OotB seems primarily to be a "fan" section. Blue gets a little more personal, and tell us some of his opinions, and asks for feedback. Well, golly -- let's just shoot Blue for trying to be friendly.

As for pimpage, well, some people do look at the "Top 100" lists when they surf. Seems like it'd be a good way for newbies to find good sites to visit (such as Blue's). But of course we wouldn't want any newbies out there who weren't clueless, would we? How could we tell them apart?

On the other hand, the Top 100 lists are also ego-venues for web masters. A place where a web master can point at his listing and say "I made it! People like my site! Hey, Mr. Advertising Money Person -- look at these numbers! Exclamation mark!"

The fact that Blue makes these understated requests for votes just sucks. After all, what has he ever done for the FPS community? Well, besides maintaining the most up-to-date, useful and complete website on FPS gaming I mean. Oh, and all that work on loonygames, the best editorial mag on FPS gaming. Oh, and run Shooters, the best live interview show on FPS gaming.

Nothing! See! What a bastard! Why does he deserve our Kudos?

Once people started bitching about the pimpage, I immediately went and voted for Blue (even though I've never hit a "Top" site on purpose since CSotD). He shouldn't have to put up with that shit, so I felt like doing something nice for him. Actions louder than words, etc.

I suggest that anybody who reads the site and gets useful information from it do the same. At the very least, you owe Blue a favor for handing you that cool link the other day, don't you?

Thought so.

Even a fifth of a fan hits twice a day

From: Erik "Blue's News was better without any non-FPS crap" Timmermans

Well, Mr. Anonymous, I'm a big fan of Bluesnews, but I DO give negative feedback! Yes! It's Erik "Blue's News was better without any non-FPS crap" Timmermans!

I don't want to know about driver updates
I don't want to know about endless game demos
I don't want to know about MP3 players
I don't want to know about reviews
I don't want to know about previews
I definitely don't want to know about NON - FPS games!!!!!!!!! (i.e. Starcaft patches)

So, here's your proof. Fans do send negative feedback. I hate 80% of the Blue's News content. But I'm a big enough fan of the other 20% that I visit at least twice a day.