November 16, 2004

Instinctively insane

First, read this:
Modern Slavery

SimCity taught me to love computer games. Until I discovered SimCity, I'd given up hope that anyone could produce a computer game that revolved around something other than blowing up stereotypical enemies and reinforcing the current status quo. I played SimCity for hours, jury-rigged an installation on a computer too underpowered to support it, and then moved on to SimLife, SimEarth, SimFarm, and even SimAnt. Maxis had the most powerfully innovative games in the world.

Then something changed. Maxis games began taking a very strange turn in both presentation and function. SimCity2000 was a far more complex game than SimCity, but in many ways, it was also far less challenging, and infinitely less rewarding. The direction your city could take was far more limited than the original, sometimes unrealistically so. For example, in SimCity you could separate factory zones with either trees, open land, or parks. Doing so reduced pollution and made your city grow, but tax rates were still tricky and raising the industrial tax too far could destroy your growth in no time. In SimCity2000 separating heavy industrial zones with trees or open areas had the same effect. However, if you put parks between them, you could raise taxes on those zones and it would cause your city's population to grow more quickly, dramatically increasing your revenue flow.

Huh? What real world civil government is going to spend tax dollars to build parks in an industrial zone? What people are going to take their kids to play at a park next to a factory spewing out toxins? Even if they did build those parks (and the City of Denver actually tried this) and then raised taxes on those zones, all it would do is drive off industry, thus increasing unemployment and driving off residents, who are the real source of your tax revenues. SimCity3000 was even worse. In SimCity3000 you could build a modern airport in a tiny village and pollution would go down! Not only that, but if your city became mid-sized and you didn't have enough revenue to build an airport, your population immediately began declining. I haven't bought SimCity4 and I have no plans to.

All of the other Sim games, including SimLife, one of the finest games ever offered by anyone, were not updated. If they had continued updating SimEarth and SimLife, I would not be online playing Lineage II and writing this blog. That's how much I loved those games, but now none of my computers will even run them.

So today I'm skipping through my favorite comics when I find the link above. Now, finally, I understand. Greedy, self-centered, overly ambitious middle management fools at EA took one of the finest, most innovative companies in the world, destroyed the creativity of its workforce, cancelled all of its best products, and transformed it into a modern slave shop. No wonder I'm not interested in their products any more. They have cut out their own hearts and replaced them with P&L statements.

I play Lineage II almost everyday. I love it. I don't play Everquest. That game would drive me violently insane. The two games are as different as night and day. Lineage II is designed and programmed by a comparatively small team at mid-sized software development house called "E&G", and marketed by an international monolith called NC Soft. Everquest is a Sony product, always has been and always will be. Sony has become the GM of the electronics industry. Is it any wonder most people prefer Everquest? Those are the same mindless consumers that prefer SimCity4.

The really sad part of this insane world is not that it's getting worse. No, the really sad part is that it's NOT getting any better and probably never will. Those of us who fall outside the spectrum of "normal" deserve every label the normal people assign us, but the older I get the more I'm convinced that no matter how you label us, we aren't the crazy ones.

Which, of course, just proves how crazy I really am!

And, just in case you don't believe me, I took another personality test:

I'm Caligula!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.