EVS reviews Alt-Hero #1

Ethan Van Sciver live-reviewed Alt-Hero #1: Crackdown, on his ComicArtistPro Secrets YouTube channel with his father on Father’s Day. He gave it a C+, unsurprisingly preferring the story to the artwork. Also, you should probably note that the actual review doesn’t begin until about the 38th minute.

If the reaction of most of his viewers is any guide, it will take a little while to win them over. They seem to think that blindly mimicking the way things are done in a rapidly collapsing industry, only excising the social justice, is the path to success. But that’s fine. We have gotten further, and we are making headway faster, than I ever imagined possible when we launched the initial campaign.

Anyhow, I very much appreciate EVS keeping his word and bringing this to the attention of his subscribers. I suspect AH #2 is going to be a big surprise to him and a lot of people.


Mondiale Day 4

What a bicycle shot that was by the Serbian player! Pity the goalie was right there to stop it. Interesting attack-oriented formation by Serbia, it seems to be working well against Costa Rica.

UPDATE: Massive upset of defending champions Germany by Mexico, 1-0. Mexico deserved it too; the German defense was shockingly bad and totally unable to deal with the Mexican counterattacks.

UPDATE: Great result for the Swiss, taking a point off the Brazilians. They have no scoring up front and Shaqiri is barely a net positive despite his skill due to his refusal to pass on the break, but they’re rock-solid on defense and hard to beat.


Stripe cuts off Freestartr and Bitchute

So much for Stripe as a Paypal alternative.

I thought I might share a few thoughts with you on what I regard as the biggest issue of our time: tech apartheid.

Silicon Valley wants you to believe that it is a force for good but the evidence of its bias and fraudulent dealings couldn’t be more obvious even to a fair, impartial observer.

Most recently this duplicity concerns payment processing, namely the fraudulent company Stripe which canceled FreeStartr’s account despite record low chargebacks. FreeStartr wasn’t alone. All of those companies who had their accounts suspended — Bitchute (a YouTube competitor), MakerSupport (a Patreon competitor), and FreeStartr.com (a Patreon, Kickstarter competitor)– were created by Trump supporters.

This canceling of our business was done for political reasons by Edwin Wee, a Democratic political operative turned Stripe employee, and it exposes the libertarian lie that one can simply just go and create a competitor if one dislikes Silicon Valley ventures. You can’t. We need to get over that canard.

I’ll delve into the parochial issues concerning FreeStartr’s banning from Stripe later, but I am thoroughly convinced that if action isn’t taken in the very near future, our politics will be permanently titled to the far left for the foreseeable future. Ask your congressmen, your friends, to speak out on this issue and take necessary corrections.

We’ve had other discussions about the censorship and Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and yes, those trends are extremely worrisome. But what I’m talking about here as concerns Stripe and PayPal is far more dangerous both for politics and for our society writ large.

Every regime has scapegoats, and ours is no different. Whether you’ve participated in a Twitter mob and/or been its target, you know its power. Ours is a herd based species, and it is quite disturbing the speed with which mores can shift. What was once commonplace — big game hunting, smoking, corporal punishment, etc., — become frowned upon, then the province of cranks, and ultimately unthinkable. There is increasingly good social science evidence for how this process unfolds — where a small minority changes the standards of behavior in a population. Sometimes these changes are so abrupt as to be jarring and yes, even violent. Twitter mobs force you off of their platforms and begin the practice of targeting your employment, your spouse’s employment, etc. until you are ruined. There is no due process here.

One has to wonder what the people at Stripe are thinking. If they’re just going to be another arm of SJW enforcement, there is simply no need for their services. One might as well not use Paypal as not use Stripe, after all….

Voxiversity supporters, I think the smart move is to wait and see how Freestartr handles this before we come up with any alternative plans in order to keep the video offensive going.


The ostrich strategy

I don’t think simply putting your hands over your ears and refusing to listen to your customers, users, and players is an effective customer service strategy. Or marketing strategy, for that matter.

The folks who are running the Battlefield V subreddit are done listening to your complaints about historical accuracy. This week, a new rule was put in place by the group running it where the discussions about the game not being accurate to what happened in World War II are over. Originally, the post said “No more bitching about historical accuracy, it’s a game, not a history book. Violations will have consequences.” But that text was then edited to a somewhat friendlier version below.

Edit: we get that y’all have valid criticism about battlefield V and the customisation options within the game. Sadly, this subreddit has proven to be unable to have a civil discussion about these things without devolving into name calling and slapfights. …

Reddit admins have confirmed brigading and the modteams of the subs in question are fully cooperating to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Hate us all you want but we’re done with this bullshit.

Of course, you know that Dice, EA, and the subredditors will proceed to claim that no one has any problem with their idiotic SJW historical revisionism because they haven’t seen or heard any complaints about it.

They may be done with this bullshit, but I’m done with Battlefield. And I’m very far from the only high-level player to turn my back on the game.


Merkel muss weg

And then be arrested and put on trial for treason, one would hope. But regardless, one hopes Germany will soon see the last of worst German Chancellor since Hitler:

Angela Merkel could be ousted as Chancellor by next week if she doesn’t come up with a plan for the migrant crisis, a German MP claims.

Kai Whittaker, a member of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said infighting could weaken the ruling coalition and make her position untenable.

Ms Merkel is at war with her Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who wants Germany to send back migrants who have registered in other EU countries. Ms Merkel is sticking to her guns, maintaining an open-door migrant policy is crucial for keeping Europe united despite the political standoff with her Bavarian ally.

In her weekly podcast, three days before talks between Ms Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron outside Berlin, she hammered home her stance. ‘This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution. And I view this issue as decisive for keeping Europe together,’ she said.

Members said Mr Seehofer would defy Merkel on Monday if no compromise has been reached by then, and go ahead with the plans alone. Such an affront to Merkel could force her to fire Seehofer, and there is even talk of the end of the 70-year conservative parliamentary alliance between the two parties. Without the CSU, the CDU and Social Democrats, the third party in her ‘grand coalition’, would lack a majority.

It’s astonishing that the outcome is even in doubt at this point.


Mondiale Day 3

I didn’t bother watching the France-Australia game. Argentina-Iceland has been a very good game between two very different teams. I can’t believe Bjarnisson missed that sidefooted attempt at an open net, but Iceland made up for it only a few minutes later. Aguero’s goal was a nicely placed, highly technical shot which gave the goalie no chance to block it, and I thought the ref’s no-call on the inadvertant handball on the ground in the Icelandic box was an excellent one.

Argentine looked to overwhelm them for a little while after they scored, but Iceland is tough and didn’t crack. It wouldn’t shock me if they wore the Argentines down in the second half and pulled off yet another upset.


Steam tells SJWs to take a hike

This is the correct way to publicly respond to SJW demands and it is the right and reasonable attitude for companies in the game industry to take. It is encouraging to see Steam take the lead on this by comprehensively rejecting SJW demands.

Recently there’s been a bunch of community discussion around what kind of games we’re allowing onto the Steam Store. As is often the case, the discussion caused us to spend some time examining what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we could be doing it better. Decision making in this space is particularly challenging, and one that we’ve really struggled with. Contrary to many assumptions, this isn’t a space we’ve automated – humans at Valve are very involved, with groups of people looking at the contents of every controversial title submitted to us. Similarly, people have falsely assumed these decisions are heavily affected by our payment processors, or outside interest groups. Nope, it’s just us grappling with a really hard problem.

Unfortunately, our struggling has resulted in a bunch of confusion among our customers, developer partners, and even our own employees. So we’ve spent some time thinking about where we want to be on this, and we’d like to talk about it now. But we also think it’s critical to talk about how we’ve arrived at our position, so you can understand the trade-offs we’re making.

The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it’s about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics – politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on. In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games – like what even constitutes a “game”, or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released.

Common questions we ask ourselves when trying to make decisions didn’t help in this space. What do players wish we would do? What would make them most happy? What’s considered acceptable discussion / behavior / imagery varies significantly around the world, socially and legally. Even when we pick a single country or state, the legal definitions around these topics can be too broad or vague to allow us to avoid making subjective and interpretive decisions. The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad.

In addition, Valve is not a small company – we’re not a homogeneous group. The online debates around these topics play out inside Valve as well. We don’t all agree on what deserves to be on the Store. So when we say there’s no way to avoid making a bunch of people mad when making decisions in this space, we’re including our own employees, their families and their communities in that.

So we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

With that principle in mind, we’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see.

Give people control over what they want to see, but otherwise stay out of it. That’s the best approach for large corporations to take, although they’re still going to have to get rid of their internal SJWs if they want to avoid eventual convergence. It’s good to see the game industry refusing to back down despite the near-total convergence of the so-called games media.


Secrets of the Nethercity

Our friends at Autarch are running a new Kickstarter campaign for an epic kilodungeon for the ACKS role-playing game system called The Secrets of the Nethercity. They do quality stuff. Full disclosure: I’m a backer.

For three thousand years, the secrets of the Nethercity have been hidden. Now the delving of man has breached the ruins, and the lore and treasures of the ancients wait in the darkness below for those bold enough to seize them. But an inhuman evil slumbers in that darkness, and the time of the Awakening is at hand….

We’re excited to announce Autarch’s eighth Kickstarter project: The Secrets of the Nethercity™, an immersive dungeon for the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ and other D20 fantasy role-playing games.

With Secrets of the Nethercity you get:

  • An epic “kilodungeon” with 240 location entries spread across 20 different dungeon sub-regions that can be explored in a nonlinear fashion over the course of your campaign 
  • 12 new monsters, including the chryselephantine statue, faewyrd, hydropian, and terror of death
  • 30 new magic items, including the bag of faerie seeds, the funerary barge of the cults, horn of the eagles, scepter of sacred power, and shadowcowl robe
  • 4 new character classes, including the elven cultist, hierophant, and warlord
  • A special appendix providing step-by-step worksheets to adapt the Nethercity to your favorite campaign setting
  • A home base (the city of Cyfaraun) for use by your adventurers in between dungeon delves. The city is presented in summary format in the adventure itself, and the city and the sewers below it are presented in more detail in a supplement called Capital of the Borderlands (available at $20 and above pledge level). With every bonus goal, we’ll expand the city and sewer levels!
  • The Nethercity, the city, and the sewer level in between are all beautifully mapped by the incredible cartography of Dyson Logos and Simon Forster. You get maps of the city, sewers, and Nethercity, as well as zoomed-in sectional maps of each major area. With every bonus goal we hit, we’ll add more maps.

As great as that sounds, I am even more excited about rumors that Autarch’s next crowd-funding effort is going to be something on the wargaming front. The fantasy wargaming front.


Mailvox: fencing, converged

A swordsman comments on the convergence in the historical fencing community in Europe.

I practice historical European swordsmanship as a hobby. Recently, two of the most gifted and well-regarded fencers/teachers in our small community have been under attack, including calls to boycott merchandise bearing their names, because they are “Nazis”.  IOW, they publicly object to the ongoing invasion of their native Sweden. Also, in general the community is being “converged” and made unwelcoming to anyone right of Lenin, following your descriptions of the phenomenon to the letter.

Formerly politics was not a viciously divisive matter in our community. Heck, when I first started 15 years ago libertarianism was probably the most represented political persuasion.  It has gotten so bad that the vocal SJWism is likely keeping some Christians and conservatives from joining the community. The irony of SJWs trying to drive Christians and nationalists away from the study of an art which was originally practiced by Medieval knights cannot be overstated.

Enough men in the community recognize this as nonsense that there is something of a counter-movement coalescing, although it is still in the very early and informal stages. As the leading researcher on SJW convergence, is there any particular advice you could offer?  In any case, these events are yet more confirmation of theory.

There are two options. Either drive out all the SJWs by banning all reference to politics and attempts to thought-police the community or leave en masse, form a new organization, and be damned sure to keep all the SJWs out. Either make it an explicitly Christian or nationalist organization, and be sure that whoever is in charge is not overly eager to pursue female membership; those are the men who are primarily responsible for convergence happening in the first place because they will excuse literally anything so long as it gives them an opportunity to have some women around.

The most important thing is to lead by example. Don’t argue, don’t warn, and don’t negotiate. If I were in this fencer’s position, I would start a new organization with the two leading guys and refuse to have anything to do with any of the known SJWs while welcoming those willing to leave the old organization for the new one.


Mondiale Day Two

I paid no attention to the first two games, but Spain-Portugal is proving even more entertaining that expected. 2-1 Portugal at halftime, with Ronaldo scoring both goals.

WOW! Love him or hate him, Cristiano Ronaldo is simply awesome. Portugal came very close to stealing that game from a superior Spanish team.