Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Problems of Love Not Found, Chapters 1 - 4

Yes, yes...I know I wrote a review for Love Not Found. But, that was a quick review that didn't go over just how poorly the story is put together.

If you skipped the review or the story itself, here's the basic info: LNF is a story where technology makes everything easy, convenient, and pleasurable. With it, humans can live on planets covered in deserts, snow, or indigestible vegetation. People don't even have to be face-to-face to interact with each other, and casual relationships are the norm. Such technology caused humanity to regress, though: ALL physical touch (hugs, kisses, sex, accidental collisions) has become outdated and no one does it anymore.

Or, so the story WANTS you to believe. The concepts of humanity regressing and touch being outdated are interesting; however, they haven't been given enough thought to hold up. In addition to that, world building, character development, and plot suffer due to poor planning and inconsistencies throughout.

Note that there will be spoilers here. If that bothers you, then stop reading now!


CHAPTER 1

Page 3
Abeille and Miel crash into each other and fall into a heap. Stare, blush, keep hands on each other...obviously, this is the main couple. Not an inconsistency at the moment; however, it leads to many problems.

Page 4
"He touched me. That never happens. You don't...touch."
If you hadn't read anything about the themes or concepts in the story, this line may leave you confused. The next page attempts to clear this up.

Page 5
The original release stated the touch of another person had become obsolete. But, the author decided to change it to "an outdated concept," since "obsolete" didn't seem accurate.

Whether outdated or obsolete, our main characters both kept their hands on each other's shoulders while checking on each other after their accident. They looked into each other's eyes, and didn't rush to get up, either. If physical contact never happens, these two should've been far more weirded-out and embarrassed at crashing into each other. And they should've completely pulled away from each other as soon as the shock wore off.

Page 9
Abeille can't get over the feeling of physical contact, and decides to use her Stimulator (i.e. sex machine) to try satisfying herself. The experience is lacking, and she's not sure why. She tries to figure it out through the machine interface, eventually inputting "love."

Physical contact, sex, and love can be connected, but they're not the same thing. Abeille coming to the conclusion that touch = love = great sex over one accidental collision is too much of a stretch at this point.

Page 13
Here, we're introduced to a couple of Miel's co-workers. They're the beginning of a string of characters who come around only to make Abeille feel bad. They're the typical "evil" side characters who exist to make the reader feel sorry for the "good" main character.

This can work if such characters are part of the story, and have their own motives for why they're nasty. And it can get really interesting if they drive a good character to be less good. But, these two guys don't even have names, and have only shown up twice throughout the first 16 chapters! And each time, they belittle Abeille, then disappear within two pages.

Page 19
Touch is an outdated concept, but people still get close enough that nudging or brushing against each other could happen. Handing each other drinks shouldn't happen; they should be setting drinks on the table for each other to avoid accidentally touching.

Page 23 - 24
Abeille asks Miel to kiss her, despite the fact they've known each other for a few minutes at best. Miel's not creeped out in the slightest and willingly helps her. Why? He saw kissing in some "old Earth books," and knows exactly what to do.

This, of course, leads to them very much enjoying the experience. This is so forced at this point in the story. Had this happened after Miel and Abeille had spent more more time together, it could've worked. More foreshadowing about Miel's interests in "old Earth" culture would've helped, too.

Page 26 - 27
Cosmos is shocked when Abeille asks him to touch her. However, he's not bothered by her being close enough to whisper in his ear. And after she springs a kiss on him, he's more than willing to hold her and try old-fashioned sex

Abeille forcing her ideas and physical contact on men is being portrayed as romantic and interesting, not creepy or awkward. She's only called on her pushy behavior when she tries it on another woman later on. If Abeille had been a man doing this to women, I'm sure people would've been in an uproar about sexual harassment and what awful behavior it is.

At the very least, the old-fashioned sex didn't happen, leaving both parties confused and disappointed. Points for that, because the "inexperienced strangers + first time = awesome" cliche is really overdone.

Page 29
Touch and machineless sex are outdated, but "There are still people who have natural babies." Natural babies from machineless sex, or other means? We're not given an explanation, which only adds to the confusion.

We're also 29 pages in, and don't have a solid reason as to why touch is outdated. Yes, you can infer that technology has crippled human interaction. In 2018, there are some people who prefer to be with dolls or videogame partners, or just can't stand physical contact. But, how did nearly all of humanity decide that touch was outdated?

This is the first mention of Abeille's sister. I thought the "Message Saved" screen was a great bit to have. It gets readers thinking in a good way: is Abeille going to edit or add more to the message later, can she simply not send it yet, or did something happen to her sister and she can't send it at all?

Page 30
First, Abeille's upset about a lack of touch leading to sterile and non-emotional connections. Now, she's convinced that love is something that exists. This makes it look as if she thinks sex and love are the same thing. They're not. And if they're treated as such in a story, the relationships in it end up looking forced and shallow.



CHAPTER 2

Page 5
This is the first mention we have of Abeille's parents. They sent Abeille some Cloudberries, which died, and they didn't seem to take the news well. But, why? Was the plant expensive or rare? Did they grow it just for her? Did they spend a boatload on shipping only to have her forget to pick it up on time? Cloudberries could be anything in a sci-fi setting, and we're not shown or told why the plant dying is an "extreme" situation.

I'll be keeping track of the times her parents are mentioned. It'll be important later on.

Page 6
Ivy says no one marries for love, and that it's best that machines take care of everything. But, at the same time, people still feel attracted enough to each other to marry and even have children. And some have "natural babies."

If two people married simply because they got along and found each other attractive, that marriage wouldn't last. Even with fancy technology and a lack of physical contact, there's more to marriage (and relationships in general) than that. Things like bad habits, communication, finances, housing, and family planning can strangle a relationship between people who simply "get on good" with each other.

Page 13
Abeille's "date" says old-fashioned sex is "too kinky" for her. This same person has no objections to sleeping in a small bed with a stranger, though. This is just asking for accidental physical contact to happen!

Pages 17 - 18
So far, Abeille has understood that touching isn't so bad, convenience doesn't make everything better, and that love is something worth pursuing. But, she can't comprehend when Miel is asking her to come with him. Dumbing down a character for the sake of some comedy really doesn't work. It would've been better to show her forgetting a text message after a busy day, or just having Miel approach her near the end of her shift.

Page 21 - 22
Abeille came to Monotropa, a "nature-lover's paradise," despite not being a nature person. She wanted to grow a garden to honor her sister's memory, and "tried three times" in the past 5 or 6 months to do so. But, her plants keep dying.

So, she's not fond of nature, has no idea how or where to start a garden, and hasn't looked up any information on the plants she tries growing. Her motives don't really make any sense. Though, since Evette is confirmed to be dead, this serves as a subtle hint that Abeille may be dealing with some major issues.

Page 26
Abeille just said she's awful with plants, yet Miel gives her a very fancy-looking one as a gift. There's no hint as to what kind of care it needs, and it doesn't appear Miel left her any instructions.


CHAPTER 3

Page 2
The nameless trio of rude slackers appears. This is the next batch of characters used to make the reader pity Abeille. Just like Miel's coworkers, these ladies have no names, and only show up for a couple of pages at most to do mean things.

Page 4
Abeille gets really defensive over Miel's comment, even though he's previously made worse comments that didn't even faze her. This was probably meant to foreshadow some of her issues, but it doesn't really work because it comes out of nowhere.

Page 8
Holly is disgusted at the thought of touching another person's skin. For an outdated concept, touch has had the following reactions from people: it's too kinky, it's too complicated, it's gross, it's intriguing. This is where the concept really begins to crumble.

Page 9
Is the big boss being an elitist snot, or is she just so surprised to see cafeteria staff at an event that she's at a loss for words? Whatever the case, Abeille takes it in stride while everyone else feels sorry for her.

Ms. Frelon is the sixth character to come along and make Abeille upset. She at least has a name, but like the others, she disappears once she's hurt Abeille's feelings.

Page 11 - 12
This dryad is another type of one-off character: the mysterious and good one who says something nice about the protagonist. Before leaving, this kind soul also shares some wisdom with the protagonist that confirms their beliefs are right.

This is the only time Abeille interacts with this dryad, and nothing really comes of it. Using one-off and minor side characters this much to develop a protagonist is pretty lazy writing. If Abeille had asked to see the dryad again or gone off with him/her to learn more, that would've been a major improvement.

Page 18
Here we see casual sex isn't a big deal, and most people are okay with strangers asking them for a quick romp. But, ask people to try physical contact or old-fashioned sex, and you're suddenly a pervert who deserves a drink to the face.

So far, we've gone from touching and old-fashioned sex being obsolete, to outdated, to shocking, to interesting, to kinky, to disgusting, to embarrassing and perverted. Three chapters in, and physical contact seems to be more of a societal taboo, rather than an outdated concept.

Page 20
The planet's a nature-lover's paradise, but somehow meat is hard to come by. Is hunting on the planet illegal or too dangerous? Well, according to the author, meat is scarce due to agreements with the native inhabitants to limit impact from human settlement. And off-worlders are the only ones who are bothered by this.

Even that doesn't make sense. I'm guessing the native inhabitants are the dryads. We've seen they're in tune with plants to the point of knowing when one doesn't mind being touched (Chapter 3, page 11, above). Yet, they're okay with 2400+ humans consuming thousands of plants and plant products, but don't want them hunting or fishing? Another reader also pointed out that our society has lab produced meat (called "clean meat") being tested in 2018. How is this not a thing in the future?

Page 21 - 22
I find the humaforming concept interesting, and would've liked to see more about it. But, there's enough info here to show why it's done.

Miel says Earth plants don't do well on Monotropa, because they have no defenses against the insects. Eyebright is working on this, and also on getting more successful Earth harvests. But, what if an Earth plant develops such great defenses it ends up smothering the native plants? What if they cross breed with a Monotropan plant and produce something incredibly toxic or dangerous? This conflicts with the whole "agreements to limit impact" idea.

And if the Earth harvests aren't optimal yet, why is the planet open to the public? If Earth food can't be grown well, that means taking more of the planet's resources. Shortages of certain foods and plants could cause problems, too.

Page 29
It looks like Abeille and Ivy are going to have a conversation here, but the title page for the next chapter immediately follows. This really throws off the pacing without some sort of "To be continued" or "End of chapter" marker. These abrupt endings happen quite a few times throughout the comic.


CHAPTER 4

Page 1
So, we end last chapter with Ivy meeting up with Abeille, and now we're seeing Ivy and Holly. There's no indication of this being a flashback or a lead-up. This would've been less confusing if Chapter 3's final page were here, then lead into an "X hours ago..." page showing how Ivy ended up at Abeille's place.

Page 2
This is where we're introduced to dance bracelets. They seem to generate a forcefield around the wearer, probably to prevent accidental contact during dancing. With touching being an outdated concept, why is close-quarters dancing still a thing? Hologram or solo dancing via games or stations works fine, since they reduce the chance of physical contact. But, it's hard to believe people would want to dance right next to each other, even with barriers.

Page 3
So, Ivy seems to be upset by the thought of touching another person. But, she took off her dance bracelet, then nearly bumped into another patron. Said patron was shocked and angry with Ivy's carelessness, and also didn't seem to have a dance bracelet on.

If touching is this scary to most people, why are those bracelets not a mandatory accessory?

Page 4
In Chapter 2, Ivy says "No one marries for love anymore." Now she suddenly knows that some people still fall in love. This weird shift could've been avoided with a change in what she said to Abeille. Something like this could've worked:

"Sure, some people marry for love. But, that's so complicated and time-consuming! It's easier to just find someone you like that you can get along with, then get married if you need to. And if you ever want kids, then you can get your genes mixed at a lab."

Page 6
Touching is gross and weird, and no one touches or cleans their own babies. Except for the N3, whoever or whatever they are. It's not explained.

We've been told people still have "natural babies." If it's through old-fashioned sex, then wouldn't they kind of want to hold the baby? We still don't even know what "natural baby" entails. If it's not gene mixing in a lab, then the only other options are sex and artificial insemination, one of which involves a lot of physical contact between two people.

Page 9
Abeille somehow managed to take care of the plant Miel gave her. And this is a plant that botanists and scientists struggle with. "If you touch the petals, they immediately lose their pristine white appearance." Abeille reached out and touched the peapricot at the ceremony, but hasn't even accidentally bumped this one?

Page 15 - 16
Ivy's upset at sharing a bed with Abeille. We're not shown WHY Ivy decided to stay with her. She just agreed to stay, and isn't sure why. She's still grossed out by touch, but mere panels later, she's blushing.

Page 19
Slack-off queens return in full force. They leave mid-shift while in uniform, and somehow, Ivy's the only one who notices the booth is understaffed. The supervisor doesn't come by until 2 pages later and is completely clueless as to what happened! And Abeille somehow managed to cover a 4 person job by herself without any issues.

Page 24
More people standing and moving in close quarters, both in the audience and in the play. The poofy and frilly costumes make it even easier for physical contact to occur. I don't know if the author really planned out the "touching = outdated" concept when I see stuff like this happening.

Also note that a rainy season is approaching, and people have to stay inside for 3 months.

Page 27
Miel talks about sunflowers being cross-bred with Monotropian plant. He pulled an all-nighter looking after a cutting from a plant that was dying. It was wilted and gray, and seemed to have lost some petals. Now, after a little over 24 hours (I'm estimating) of care, the cutting is suddenly bright, perky, and has more petals.

The cutting is propped in a flask. If it recovered that quickly, then the flask has to contain some sort of super-growth or recovery liquid. Dying flowers aren't going to regrow petals and become colorful again with just a little water.

And why are people trying to crossbreed sunflowers with a Monotropian plant? They're not really a vital crop. Eyebright should be focusing more on getting grains, fruits, and vegetables resistant to Monotropa's insects. These things are far more important to a settlement that expects to grow.


That's it for LNF's first few chapters. The next four don't offer much improvement to the story, nor do they really expand on the concepts the author's tried to establish. Until next time!


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Graveyard Keeper Review

System: PC, Mac, Linux (Steam OS), XBox One
Players: 1
Rating: T or M, use your judgement (very dark humor involving cannibalism and death, alcohol use, drug references, minor violence)
DLC: Soundtrack and artbook
Website: Graveyard Keeper Official Site

NOTE: Since release day (Aug. 15, 2018), the developer has put out several patches that have adjusted game balance and fixed bugs.This review is being written with those in mind, and will be updated if any major changes result from future patches.

I saw a link to this game's website posted a few months ago, and found the game descriptions amusing. The teaser videos and trailer further piqued my interest. I picked up the game on release day, and I've been having a blast with it!

Graveyard Keeper puts you in charge of a dilapidated graveyard in a medieval village. In order to fix it up, you'll need to gather resources, help out villagers, and advance through several tech trees to gain access to more valuable items and resources. Eventually, you'll also be able to fish, farm, mine, fight, and pray your way to more money and items.

The game's pixel graphics are beautiful. Plants sway in the breeze, your character leaves footprints in soft dirt and mud, and thick fog can roll in to make things creepy. The music and sound are great, too. Important villagers each have their own unique idle animations and voice grunts for dialogue. The music never feels out of place, and it doesn't grate on your ears, either.

The humor in Graveyard Keeper is definitely not for everyone. For example, the villagers don't believe in slaughtering livestock, so meat is a rare delicacy. And there was also an "incident" involving "inappropriate" meat a while back, so now people can't sell meat unless it has a royal stamp of approval. Well, you just happen to know where to get some tasty-looking meat, and the tavern owner just happens to know how you can get your own royal stamp.

It's up to you if you want to get that stamp legitimately, or illegally!

As for the gameplay, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The game can be relaxing and fun, and doesn't hold your hand for everything. The usual researching, exploring, and resource gathering are great, and the game allows you to do things at your own pace. Unlocking recipes and progressing through the game's tech trees is very satisfying, too. However, there are times when the game gets frustrating because it doesn't explain things enough, or punishes you for doing something it told you to do.

The tech trees, while fun and not overly complicated, can still get confusing, especially when tied to villager requests. For example, unlocking Stoneworking (a very early tech) gives you the recipe for Stone Repair Kits. These kits require clay, but the game gives you no indication of how to get clay. Nothing in the tech tree hints at it, and villagers won't tell you anything. Examining clay mining spots simply tells you you're missing a tech. Only after you've completed a certain task for the church bishop do you get the ability to collect clay.

Some techs and items are dependent on each other, but you can't always tell what is and what isn't. I learned this the hard way. I decided to buy a tech that would allow me to make flyers for a villager who requested them. Unfortunately, I didn't have the resources to craft the flyers, or the crating stations to make those resources. And, due to a (now patched) bug, I couldn't buy the resources because an important villager never showed up to trigger a related quest. So, I started over and played a lot more carefully.

Another gripe I have is with collecting certain resources. While most go into your inventory when you collect them, there are some "large" items (e.g. logs, stone slabs) you'll need to haul to an appropriate stockpile before you can use them. But, you can only hold one at a time, and don't have access to a cart, wagon, or any sort of inventory or strength upgrade. Your stockpiles have limited space, as well, so you're going to have to haul large items on a regular basis. You can pile up a bunch of these items on the ground and push them around; but, if the items aren't lined up properly, they'll jiggle around and get knocked away, meaning you have to go back and push them forward again.

Graveyard Keeper certainly isn't a bad game, but it could use some adjustments. Despite some of its issues, I've been having a lot of fun with it and find $20 to be a reasonable price.



Monday, January 29, 2018

Love Not Found

Comic Type: Webcomic (printed books & other items available for purchase)
Author: Gina Biggs
Status: Ongoing
Themes: Sci-fi, romance, drama
Rating: 16 and over (mild language, some sexual content)
Site contains links to and ads for adult content, but they are marked as such. Adult sites present "warning pages" first, and accessing more than previews requires an account and paid subscription.
Website: Love Not Found

Love Not Found is a sci-fi romance that takes place on the planet Monotropa. Here, people get to be closer to nature, while also still having access to impressive technology. However, while technology has advanced, humanity has regressed to the point they consider touching outdated. After the main character, Abeille accidentally collides with a man, she's surprised by the feelings she experiences, and decides to explore them further.

First of all, this comic's art is absolutely gorgeous, especially the title pages. The comic pages themselves had a shaky start with simplistic backgrounds and some unsteady line art. However, it all improved immensely, and the color palette gives it a soft and flowery feeling. Perfect for a tropical, nature-focused planet!

LNF does very well at representing different sexualities, too. Bi, gay, pansexual, and polyamorous characters exist, and are written in a way that doesn't feel forced. The usual stereotypes aren't applied to them, either. Seeing this is really nice.

Sadly, these things don't help the story, which wobbles between mediocre and complete wreck. Touching is stated to be outdated, but is treated more like a taboo kink. Characters become shocked, disgusted, embarrassed, mildly amused, or horrified by Abeille's interest in physical contact. Yet, later on, we see people sharing small beds, getting super close to each other, and doing jobs where touch is important. We're also informed that some people actually do enjoy machineless relationships, and even have babies the "old-fashioned way."

Conflict is non-existent. Any time it looks like something is going to happen, the situation is immediately fixed. Characters who lose their cool or act very childish on one page are suddenly calm and mature just a few pages later. Fights between characters over deep-seated, personal issues are resolved with rational discussions, or by just shrugging it off with "Oh well, I tried!"

The one serious "conflict" that happens later in the story is ruined by awful cliches. Someone dies because a wind gust blows away their key card, which they didn't have attached to a lanyard, and were smugly waving around in the middle of a deadly blizzard on a winter planet. The door they needed to get through was sitting open for some time. But, someone ran through it, causing it to shut and lock. This door also had no emergency buzzer or intercom. The character wasn't shown to work for a neglectful company with embarrassingly poor security, either. For a setting with advanced technology, this whole scene looks contrived and nonsensical.

LNF claims to be a romance, but the main couple, Abeille and Miel lack chemistry, or any good reason to start a relationship. They bump into each other, and then Abeille finds him and tells him her feelings about physical touch. Then she begs him to help her learn how to kiss someone, and he has no qualms about doing so. After that, he starts to fall for her. When they decide to become a couple, it involves admitting their feelings after repeatedly beating around the bush. Then they have amazing first-time sex, despite having done nothing but "experiment" with hugs and kisses. The whole thing is portrayed as a meaningful, "true love" relationship when they barely know each other, and have been hanging out for a few months, tops.

Meanwhile, the secondary couple, Ivy and Aster actually have a reason for exploring physical contact. Ivy breaks up with her ex when she realizes she wants more to a relationship than convenience. She begins working with Aster more often, and he eventually takes her out for some drinks and dancing. After an incident at the club they went to, the two of them grow closer and begin to spend more time together. While Aster has been researching physical contact and its benefits for some time, Ivy's still unsure about physical contact, or how to proceed in a relationship not based on convenience. LNF would've been a far better read if the story had focused on these two.

While LNF has some interesting concepts and ideas, poor execution and planning cause a majority of them to fall flat. I can't recommend this comic unless you enjoy some light fluff without complex plot or characters.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Overwatch (Review)

System: PC, PS4, XBox One
Players: Online multiplayer
Rating: T (Blood, violence, tobacco usage)
DLC: No (offers Loot Crate purchases)
Website: Overwatch


I've said it before, but I'm not a huge fan of the FPS genre. However, there are times when an FPS will grab my attention. It happened with Team Fortress 2, and it's happened again with Overwatch.

Everything in the game works great, and has been well-thought-out. It sounds wonderful, it plays well, and it even looks very nice on low to mid graphic settings. Despite how fancy the graphics are (even the menus are prettied up), I've yet to experience slow down of any kind. It runs that well.

The selection of characters is impressive, and the developers continue to add new ones. Each character has a look, attitude, and play style all their own. On top of that, they have a wide range of unlockable animations, voice lines, sprays, and skins. As you play, you'll pick up loot boxes that contain 4 random items. You may get duplicates, but the game is nice enough to compensate you with credits you can put towards something you might want.

Another thing I really like is how chat is set up. Playing with your buddies and don't want other people butting in? Form a group, and the game places you in group chat. Now you'll only hear and see chat from people in your group. No external programs or individual muting necessary!

Overwatch has its share of faults, though. Being an online game that offers casual and competitive ranking systems, Overwatch attracts its fair share of cheaters and screaming manchildren. Since launch, thousands of cheaters have been permanently banned from the game, and a reporting system has been put in place. But, while hacks/cheats are being detected and reports are being processed, these people are free to do as they please.

And while having new characters added to the game sounds great at first, it always causes problems after a certain point. Without remakes/overhauls, classic characters end up being unable to compete with newer ones. In some cases, new characters are deemed garbage by the community, despite thorough beta testing. Those who decide to play as "worthless" characters end up being met with varying amounts of hostility, even if they're skilled with the characters.

All in all, Overwatch is a great FPS, and its developers continue to improve it. FPS fans should give it a look. If the $40 price tag is off-putting, keep an eye out for Free Weekends. These allow you to download and play the full game for a couple of days. Sales happen now and then, too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to Stop the BS - Exploitative Gaming

EA Games recently released Star Wars Battlefront II. During development and beta testing, they decided to lock popular, well-known characters. Everyone could unlock the characters by paying real money, or just by playing. No big deal, right?

Well, SWBFII is NOT a free to play game. It's a full price ($60 - $80, depending on where you are) AAA title that wanted you to spend more money. The catch: you spent real money on crystals that were used to buy loot crates. Said crates had a chance of containing credits used for unlocks. In most cases, you'd probably end up with a bunch of duplicate items you could convert into a handful of credits.

In addition to that, players did some number crunching and found more bullshit: it'd take up to 40 hours of playtime to earn enough credits to unlock just one character. When the backlash began, EA tried to do some damage control:

Over 600 000 downvotes! Congrats on setting another record with your greed, EA!
Reddit post

Of course, it didn't work. So, the developers lowered the prices of characters by 75%, and changed how loot boxes worked. They even disabled in-game purchases for now, but they'll be back another day.

Despite EA Games being an impressively bad company, they're not the only ones doing this shit. Blizzard, Capcom, NIS, Infinity Ward, and other companies have released "complete" games at $40 - $80, then tacked on another $20 - $200 worth of "additional content." Sometimes, that content is locked on the software you bought.

Are you tired of this bullshit? Well, then it's time to do something about it.


When awful shit is done, complain appropriately

Don't like how a company's handling a game? Then let them know about it. But, do it properly. Don't lie or start rumors. Don't resort to personal attacks, death threats, hacking, doxxing, or theft. You're trying to call the company out on their garbage, not make yourself look like an asshole.

Got that? Alright. Here's what you can do:

- Avoid official forums. They're home to shills and apologists who will accuse you of being an entitled, overly-critical baby. They'll justify any cash grab, lie, or excuse the company throws at them. Also, the people in charge of the forums aren't always involved in a game's development. At best, they might offer to pass your complaint to the appropriate department; at worst, they'll censor your posts or ban you for "trolling."

- Go for social media and blogs. Companies have to pay more attention to these things, since they can't just censor and ban you like they can on their own forums. Social media posts and blog articles can spread very quickly, too. If the information spreads far enough, a company will have to do some explaining or backtracking if they want to keep making money.

- Even if you don't plan to buy a company's games, spread the word if they're being fuckheads. If they're going to put this shit in their games to make money, the companies you buy from will try it, too!

This does work. After the SWBFII fiasco, the developers had to make changes to the game to avoid losing too many sales. On top of that, Belgium and Hawaii have decided loot crate systems are predatory and a form of gambling. Not sure how they'll rule on these in free to play games, or crates you're awarded through gameplay, but they took notice!

Nice, huh? Now, on to the next step...


Stop supporting exploitative content

I'm super guilty of dropping money on "cheap" DLC in the past. I'd buy a game, and then see all those extra goodies. And I'd buy the ones I liked because it'd only be $0.25 - $5 for things! Not much, right? I mean, it beats having to buy an expansion pack for $30, doesn't it?

No, it really doesn't. Expansion packs take a while to develop, add a ton of new things to a game, and may even change how it functions. When you've spent $60 or more on DLC in the form of character recolors, shiny guns and hats, or mystery boxes that shit out an item you already have 10 of, a $30 expansion pack isn't so bad!

If that doesn't irritate you, here's something that should: the season pass. This is the developer's way of saying "we don't have DLC yet, but you can pre-order it and have it as soon as we release some!"

If you pay $100 - $110 now, you'll get all the DLC later, even the stuff you don't want! What a deal!
 CoD: WWII Steam page (Autumn Sale, 2017)

And then you get the companies that combine expansion packs and DLC. Take a look at Sims 3. If you want to own EVERYTHING the game has to offer, you will need over $74 000! Good luck!

"But, Azul! You don't have to buy that stuff if you don't want to!" I guess. But, some multiplayer games split people up based on DLC owned, meaning I won't be able to play with my friends who do have the DLC. That's bullshit. And some DLC characters and items break the base game or are almost required to get through new stages and game modes. That's also bullshit.

"But, the devs need to make money somehow!" Really? Let's say their game cost $140 million to make. That's everything that went into developing, promoting, licensing, and publishing the game. Said game costs $60, is super hype and sells 4 million copies in a few days. So, $240 million in sales. They made money without DLC.

Free to play games are a little different, as the devs DO need to make money somehow. I'm fine with sales of emotes, cosmetic changes, and merchandise. You know what I'm not fine with? The "pay now to keep playing" and "pay to win" mechanics.

"Well, it's no different from those old arcade machines." It is, actually. If you were good, you could get through a full arcade game on a single credit. The machines also gave you a unique experience that you couldn't get at home at the time (badass guns, force feedback steering wheels), and didn't spam you with ads or money begging. Not a single arcade machine locked stages with "pay $2 or wait 24 hours" horsecrap, either.

So, how do you stop supporting this shit? Well, don't buy it. Don't drop money on mystery boxes/loot crates, especially if you can get them for free. When a "pay now or wait" or "pay to win" wall comes up, close the game, then delete it.

With DLC, avoid season passses. You have no guarantee that the DLC will be worth the price. If there's some DLC you like, wait for sales and packs/bundles. Individual items tend to be hyped up when they're released so you'll buy them at full price.

If you still feel like you've been screwed too many times, then it's time for drastic measures...


Stop buying from shitty companies

You've seen it, and maybe even experienced it: a company repeatedly fucks their player base through lies, excuses, and greed. Everyone screams and complains, and the company might correct things. It all blows over...then players rush out to buy the next game and rage when it turns out to be another steaming turd.

What everyone should be doing is not buying from these companies. Look at EA! After Ultima IX, The Sims 3, Dungeon Keeper Mobile, Mass Effect 3, and SimCity, you'd think people would've had enough. But, nope! They'll buy into the hype of a new game and throw more money at EA. And then they're surprised when EA screws them over again!

"The game is coded in such a way that it must be played online. Offline play would require significant engineering work."
SimCity screenshot

Guess what? If you keep buying crappy games from developers and publishers, they'll continue giving you more crappy games because you keep buying them. And don't fall for their "this next game's gonna be awesome" bullshit; they say that about every game they make because they want you to buy them. Ignore these developers and find some other games to play.


And that's all, folks! Until next time.