The Bulletin

Massive Chalice

Every Move You Make

The new Kinect plans to keep an eye on you, Double Fine launches another Kickstarter, and EA wants to be loved again (if you’ll let it)

By Sam Barsanti • June 3, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

The new Kinect can see you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake
Xbox One Kinect

Do you always feel like somebody’s watching you? You’re sitting at your desk on a Monday, and you’re putting off work to read the latest post on Gameological (we hope). You have a short name—like, say, “Dave.” And you just can’t shake the feeling that something out there is sending all of your personal information to Microsoft’s gaming division. Well, strap on your tinfoil hat, because that’s about to become a reality, if Peter Schaar, Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, is to be believed. (And who DOESN’T believe Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information?)

As reported by Polygon, Schaar is concerned that the upgraded Kinect included with every Xbox One system will collect information about users and report it back to either Microsoft or “third parties.” The new Kinect is always listening, since you can power on the Xbone with voice commands, and as the Polygon article points out, it can also identify specific people, track their movements, and see in the dark. That means not only is it watching you even with the lights off, but it’s watching you specifically, Dave, and it knows exactly what kind of clothes you wear and food you eat. Of course, a Microsoft representative deflected this by saying that users can “change the settings of how [their] Kinect is used” and that “privacy is a top priority,” but that’s exactly what Microsoft would say if it were selling your blue jean preferences to the highest bidder. Wake up, sheeple!

Double Fine wants all of your money, again

Has anyone considered the possibility that Double Fine is not really a game developer but a front for some kind of supervillain operation? The name even sounds like something that Two-Face would come up with, and what better way to separate a few thousand rubes from their money than by literally asking them for it? It certainly worked last time, with the Double Fine Adventure project raking in over $3 million based only on the pedigree of the development team. And now the studio that brought us Grim Fandango and Psychonauts is back to hold us by our ankles and shake out our lunch money one more time with another Kickstarter project.

Now, I don’t know who Batman would be in this metaphor (or why Two-Face has resorted to common bullying tactics), but it really doesn’t matter because this new project, Massive Chalice, sounds pretty cool for an evil plot. It’s essentially an X-COM-style strategy game, played out over centuries, in which you control an immortal king waging a generations-long war against an army of demons. That means you’re not just concerned with winning battles, but also with determining who your great warriors should marry in order to ensure that their offspring are capable of defending your kingdom. Double Fine is looking to raise $725,000 for Massive Chalice, with the ticker currently sitting at $664,000 (as of this writing) so it doesn’t look like that will be much of a problem.

Speaking of Kickstarter, the crowdfunding campaign for Eternal Darkness’ “spiritual successor,” Shadow Of The Eternals has pulled in pledges totaling $271,000—which is a fair bit short of its $1.35 million goal—with 15 days to go. Maybe this team should’ve hired Zach Braff instead of Denis Dyack?

Mirror’s Edge sequel might actually be in the works, but who knows
Mirror's Edge

Mirror’s Edge

The original Mirror’s Edge is one of those cult hit games that everyone loves but nobody bought. It was a parkour-based shooter from the Battlefield developers that felt more like a 3D Canabalt than a war game, and it really was quite fantastic. Of course, like any cult hit that everyone loves but nobody bought, the internet has been clamoring for a sequel ever since the first game came out. Now, it looks like we might finally be seeing one soon. As reported by Joystiq, a page for Mirror’s Edge 2 recently popped up on EA’s Help Center, suggesting that an announcement might be on the way for the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo. The page was quickly removed, so I can’t exactly prove that it was ever there in the first place, but this seems like it would be a perfect way for EA to recover some of the goodwill they’ve been burning off lately. Joystiq also mentions some recent rumblings that Mirror’s Edge 2 will be on the Xbox One, which would help Microsoft build some more positive hype for its new console. I mean, as far as appeasing fans goes, this is practically the equivalent of EA standing outside your window and playing Peter Gabriel on a boom box.

World Of Warcraft developers delay your next unhealthy obsession
World Of Warcraft

World Of Warcraft

Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft transcended “cultural phenomenon” and became a certified money-printing machine years ago. As of early May, it still held about 8 million subscribers, with each one paying a monthly fee to slay rats and hang out with Kung-Fu Panda. Of course, even a moneymaking machine will eventually run out of ink, and it’s not a very well-kept secret that Blizzard has been working on another massive online game as World Of Warcraft’s popularity slowly fades.

Unfortunately, anyone who’s eager to throw the rest of their life away in service of another digital fantasy realm is going to have to wait a little longer, according to this report from GamesBeat. Blizzard still hasn’t officially announced anything about the game (although its codename, Titan, leaked a while back), but apparently 70 developers from the game’s team have been moved on to other projects. Those left behind are set to completely start it over. GamesBeat suggests that we might not see anything from Titan until about 2016, which will be 12 years since the release of World Of Warcraft. This isn’t necessarily an indication that development hasn’t gone well. Titan could simply be suffering from the same problem that delayed Duke Nukem Forever so long. That game was in development for so many years that it kept getting outpaced by technology—forcing its makers to scrap the project and start over with modern tech—so maybe Blizzard just wants to “future-proof” this thing to ensure that its next MMO is worthy of World Of Warcraft’s legacy. Besides, Duke Nukem Forever turned out fine, right?

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  • PaganPoet

    If they worked out some of the gameplay kinks of Mirror’s Edge (i.e. the shoddy shooting mechanics, and sometimes dodgy controls) and gave it a decent story this time around, it could be a really excellent game. I love the first one in spite of its many flaws because so much about it was memorable and uniquely done. Also, I get to play as a kick ass Asian lady wearing sensible clothing for her job!

    • duwease

      Agreed.. the only real beef I had with it is that gameplay-wise, they tried to cater to the “time trial” sensibility of perfecting a run, but the controls were just a little *too* imprecise to make that fun instead of frustrating.  Failing a time trial run 8 minutes into a 12 minute level because for some reason your character didn’t cross the invisible barrier between “gonna grab that pipe in front of me” and “not gonna grab that pipe in front of me” is pretty infuriating.

      Still, I’d buy a sequel.

      • CrabNaga

        I thought the platforming was the most realized aspect of the game. My beef was how you could disarm guards and use guns, but you were generally discouraged from doing so as it would break up your flow. Then you’d be at the mercy of the random number generator to see how many hits you take running past certain groups of enemies.

        • duwease

          It was good enough to pass in the story mode, really.. where occasionally missing a jump due to mystical game engine decisions just put you back maybe a minute or two.  It’s just that their main focus outside of story modes was time trials, and that’s when the 20% chance you don’t grab the thing you just mashed your face into could reliably ruin a good run.  That level where you’re climbing up the inside of a giant cylinder to get out of the sewer was particularly maddening.

          I think if they want to focus on time trials as a major mechanic again, they either have to give you some indicator of WHY you failed to grab something (if that’s possible), or just make the grab mechanic more forgiving.

      • Aurora Boreanaz

        Sounds like they should take a look at Sleeping Dogs’ parkour chase missions…I think in the entire game there were only two spots I had a hard time making the jump to keep up with my target, and one of those was in the last battle where the save point was RIGHT before the spot you have to sprint to catch a fleeing boat! (It would have been better if the checkpoint was about ten seconds earlier, giving you time to get up to speed again. As it was, I had to reload about five times to make that one jump because starting from standing still the boat was already almost out of reach.)

    • CrabNaga

      Maybe this time we’ll see some non-ROYGBIV colors painted over every wall, floor, and ceiling of each level. Chartreuse, burgundy, seafoam, magenta, robin’s egg, opalescent(?). The sky’s the limit (or more accurately the color palette is).

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Aw, I really loved the simplistic, stark colour scheme. It’s part of what made the game special for me.

        • PaganPoet

          I agree, Merve. It gave a real sterile, almost hospital-like atmosphere to the world, which really fits with that sort of dystopia.

  • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

    Every time I go out, I think I’m being checked out…

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      HAL-Voice: “You’re asking for it, dressed that way, Dave.”

      • Effigy_Power

        “What are you doing wearing brown shoes, Dave?”

        • PaganPoet

          “Do linen pants really seem like a good idea to you, Dave?”

        • OldeFortran77

          “What are you Dave, a farmer?”

  • Cloks

    Attaching constantly-on cameras to entertainment devices must be the best way to start propelling us into a sci-fi authoritarian dystopia.

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      we’re kind of already living in one though, aren’t we?

    • DrZaloski

      O, welcome, brave new world!

  • Drew Toal

    I’m not sharing this information with my girlfriend, who I laughed at about six months ago because she was unnerved by the Kinect camera’s auto-tracking. 

    • Sam_Barsanti

      The first time I saw the Kinect look up at me was a little scary…and if you pause a video and the screen goes dark, it’ll light back up when the Kinect sees you.

      But can the people on TV see me, or am I just paranoid?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      A dismissive boyfriend scoffs at his girlfriend’s wariness about a new piece of ominous-seeming technology?
         Are you trying to be the first one killed? 

      • Drew Toal

        Yeah, I’ve definitely seen this one before.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          Just don’t have sex with her, so she has a chance at being the Final Girl!

          Oh, too late?  She’s toast then.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bob.j.koester Bob J Koester

        Hopefully he said: “Don’t worry about it, baby!” while trying to get her top off.

        • DrFlimFlam

          It’s perfectly safe to let our guard down – even for a second!

        • OldeFortran77

          Let’s split up and go different directions!

    • neodocT

      I’m conflicted about the Kinect. On the one hand, it seems paranoid to think that Microsoft will use it to actively spy on users for datamining purposes. On the other, it would be  weird for them to ship such an advanced piece of technology that can never be unplugged, can track faces, know your names and even sense your heartbeats without profiting from it somehow. So the paranoia is maybe justified?

      I’m not getting near one of those things, though, so I’ll let the suckers who buy it deal with all the privacy implications.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        However, its pernicious agenda can be utterly defeated by a simple power strip.

        • Box of Cotton Swabs

          “Xbox, on.”
          “Xbox, on.”
          “Xbox, on.”
           
          “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
           
          :: click ::
           
          “Xbox, on.”
           
          :: startup chime ::

        • Eddie Ramirez

          or getting a Clapper.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bob.j.koester Bob J Koester

        I’d already decided to wait because of the lack of backward-compatibility. Which, I know, I never play the old games as much as I think I will, but it’s such a lack of respect for their existing product (and means I couldn’t add it to my existing for system link games).

        Anyway, I’d already made the decision, but this news makes me both glad I’m not in the market and curious of things to come.

      • The_Misanthrope

        Sure, it’s a horrible invasion of privacy, but you save all that time and energy usually wasted on getting up and pressing the power button. 

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          or picking up the controller and pressing the power button. ugh, i’m sick and tired of wasting so much human energy to play games ugh

      • George_Liquor

        Honestly, I am less concerned with the Kinect watching me stuff my face with pizza roles than I am with Live leaking my credit card info to hackers. The latter is certainly not without precedent.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          Pizza rolls that you ordered with your Kinect!

        • George_Liquor

          Kinect, feed me pizza rolls. And stop making fun of my gut!

      • Citric

        I could definitely see how it could be used for marketing, but it does seem like a lot of work and sifting through chatter for relatively little gain. I mean, how much of your regular conversation would be useful for marketing purposes? And, how much are they going to learn from tracking your movements and the people in your house?

        Using myself as an example, I don’t talk that much in my house, since I live alone. Maybe I’ll talk to the cat on occasion. So what’s that going to give them, some information on some users liking cats? Plus they’ll have to see my penis (sometimes you’ve just got to be naked) and experience has told me nobody wants to see that.

        • neodocT

           Oh, I don’t think there will be people watching you at all points or anything like that. I do believe there is a risk of the camera being hacked, or even being used as a surveillance tool. But that’s mostly conspiracy nut talk. What I am concerned with is the Kinect’s use for marketing purposes, especially in connection to the TV content.

          With the Kinect capabilities, they can see what commercials interest you, at which points you leave the room, how many people watch a given TV show. And with the heartbeat sensors, they can see how emotionally affected you are by what you are seeing. Even the microphone has uses, maybe in seeing if you talk about a product after seeing a commercial.

          Like I said, I don’t think there will be people actively watching what you do, but this information may be gathered by the Kinect and then anonymously sent to Microsoft, who later sells this data from millions of people to advertisers. You know, the Google model.

          Of course there are a million workarounds, including simply disconnecting the whole system, but considering how many people don’t ever bother to tinker with their Facebook privacy settings, I doubt most will even notice this. So what really concerns me is that Microsoft may be charging you for a gaming system that is actually a marketing tool for them to make gajillions of moneys with the camera they have pointed at you.

        • Citric

          @neodocT:disqus  Right, but at a certain point they have so much data that it’s actually more of a hindrance than a help, and eventually one errant outlier screws up your entire marketing plan, like the time I made Amazon banner ads exclusively advertise horse masks.

          I just think that the only way to use the data for marketing will crush Microsoft’s marketing department in useless information and/or cocks.

        • KidvanDanzig

          For the most part, the privacy breaches will be of a benign sort that most people probably don’t care about. For example, any time you get some sort of discount-enabling member or credit card associated with a retailer, attracting your business from higher-priced competitors is just a part of it. The primary purpose of discount cards is to track your shopping info, what you buy and how much, how you change your behavior in response to price adjustments, etc. 

          When you swipe your card all of that is fair game for the business, and it helps them to more effectively target demand, among other things. What really matters is the fine print. Probably the most direct thing has to do with creative work and copyright – I think it was soundcloud or some other uploading service that specified in its EULA that songs uploaded to the service were automatically considered as freely given to the company for commercial purposes. Things like that. But overall it’s a principle thing. Do consumers really know what they’re giving up when they sign up for something? Are terms only stated in ultra-fine print actually fair? Or things granted by omission or loophole?

        • OldeFortran77

          If the government put a Kinect camera and microphone in people’s living rooms they’d be screaming for blood, but if we have to pay Microsoft for the Kinect and Microsoft gets to collect the data, that’s fine? The government already regularly demands information from Google without even needing a warrant. Why can’t the government show up at Microsoft’s door and demand Kinect surveillance data?

        • Citric

          @OldeFortran77:disqus  It’s not that it’s fine for Microsoft to collect data, just that I don’t think it would be advantageous for them to do so, and as a result I doubt they actually will. The glut of marketing data, most of which would not be helpful, would wind up being more expensive than the potential money made.

          As for the government, as much as I joke about all the dicks, Microsoft isn’t going to be keeping video of all their customers, and any connection would be less a live feed than just mentions of relevant products and possibly tracking physical responses to ads, which wouldn’t help the government much, unless getting excited about doritos is probable cause.

      • KidvanDanzig

        Much like Facebook, Microsoft could profit from information-sale to third parties reliant upon users’ ignorance or laziness (since turning off the always-on function requires the consumer to do something). I recall some years back that Facebook would always offer privacy measures but any minor alterations of their EULA would send settings back to their default state, so only really attentive users were protected. Even then, any and all functions of Facebook provided by apps were predicated upon the breach of privacy for data mining, which would be legitimate if most users actually knew what they were signing away, and they don’t.

        So basically what we could see is something like, say, a third-party DLC management system, WWE 13′s community content access for example, replicating FB bloatware tactics. Want Kevin Nash in your roster? Well then Ubisoft is going to need access to all data coming in or out of your kinect, to be used for purposes never explicitly defined.

  • Xtracurlyfries

    True fact:  Xbox One will x-ray your bones and recommend games most likely to result in serious injury to your fragile endoskeleton BECAUSE IT IS AN ASSHOLE.

    • Effigy_Power

      “Sure, you could play FIFA right now, but I recommend you have that growth on your liver checked out, Dave.”
      No, wait… Microsoft.
      “Dave, for $5 I will tell you which one of your kidneys is about to fail.”

    • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

      RATTLE ME BONES 

  • neodocT

    I’ve never played World of Warcraft, and have never been a big fan of MMOs, so my knowledge of the game is based entirely on the webseries The Guild. But last week my brother convinced me to sign up to Star Wars The Old Republic, mostly because I was a big fan of the KOTOR games and he promised me I could play the storylines with a minimum of socializing.

    So far, my character is level 7 and the missions I’ve done have been fairly boring, but he’s right that I can go solo. In fact, it seems the game is encouraging me to play alone in some parts (when I go do a story mission, the game stops to tell me that only I, and not my teamates, can participate and gain anything from these missions). I feel the storyline may pick up later on, but the fact that the game is a MMORPG makes the gameplay so slow and grindy that I’m not sure I’ll have the patience to make it to the end.

    What I mean by this is that MMOs suck and I would like a new KOTOR.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      The story quality totally depends on which character you’re playing.  I played 1-60 on a Sith Warrior and Bounty Hunter.  The Sith campaign was great, and Parts 1 and 3 of the Bounty Hunter were pretty good.

      Sadly, I tried to play two separate Jedi, and their storylines were so damn boring I lost interest by level 20.

      • neodocT

         I read up on the game a bit before choosing a class, and it seemed like the Sith Imperial Agent was known for having a great storyline. Since I generally like stealthy-shooty characters to begin with, I went with that. I’m still very early on, but it seems to be a noir-y Star Wars plot so far, which should be awesome, but the slow gameplay is really getting to me.

        And for what it’s worth, I’d read that the Jedi plotlines were the worst.

        • Aurora Boreanaz

          I started an infiltrator, and it was interesting as far as I got, but having to repeat 90% of the other quests I’d already done as a Sith dampened my enjoyment considerably.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Mirror’s Edge sold over 2 million copies. Lots of people bought it. The reason it’s considered a “cult” game is because EA was expecting sales of 3 million.

    • Effigy_Power

      Hint to Activision for making CoD cult: Keep it up with the unrealistic sales-prognosis. If you expect 6 billion copies to be sold, you should have your cult game soon enough.

    • neodocT

       It may not have reached EA’s expectations, but it did fairly well, and was also featured in so many Steam sales that everyone who ever thought about getting the game has it by now. So Mirror’s Edge is trapped in that weird situation where it didn’t sell enough at release to be a major hit, but sold just enough over time that it doesn’t qualify as a cult game either.

    • Simon Jones

       The issue was that it was a perfectly adequate, pretty okay mid range game that they gave a big expensive marketing push to like it was a big, fancy AAA title.

      So someone at EA clearly believed in the game and it broke their heart.

    • Matt Koester

       It’s absolutely riddiculous, though. 2 million is considered a failure.

  • Citric

    If someone is supposed to be watching all of the Kinect feeds, I feel sorry for them, because they are going to see all the penises. Especially the ones they don’t want to see.

    • Aurora Boreanaz

      WANTED: Microsoft Kinect feed monitor.  Full time, excellent pay and benefits.  Must have at least 2 years Chatroulette experience.

    • http://i821.photobucket.com/albums/zz132/toemali/stuff/bosun.jpg Colliewest

      Xbox, what is the sound of one hand fapping?

      Which of my 150 million examples would you like to hear, Dave?

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

      I hope Microsoft releases statistics on how many Xbone users are naked at any given time. 

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    From the Massive Chalice Kickstarter page, an FAQ that assuages a conspicuous issue from the video:

    Are women in MASSIVE CHALICE only meant to have children and raise them?

    MASSIVE CHALICE will be a very inclusive game!  It’s true that in the pitch video we reference an immortal King (drawn in the likeness of Brad) but in the final game we want the player to have the role of an immortal king or queen.  And your bloodlines and fighting force will be made of both male and female heroes – equally capable of splitting demonic skulls!

    I’m still a little squicked out by arranged marriage being a fundamental gameplay conceit, but I imagine DF could treat it with the same kind of self-aware humor that, say, Little King’s Story did.

    • Effigy_Power

      Well, considering that arranged marriage has been a very definite thing until fairly recently and still is in some parts, that seems fine.
      Still, if I should ever play this (and I don’t care for all this Kickstarter nonsense lately), what could be more kickass than pregnant Queen Laserfist quartering monsters?

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        Yeah, but because of the reality and seriousness of the issue (maybe I just have Game of Thrones on the mind…), including it as a mechanic in a kind of light-hearted fantasy game feels a little weird. Like, arranging marriages in a Crusader Kings style game, where you’re an actual, awful monarch existing in an actual, awful period of history, it kind of makes sense. Like, if this funny fantasy Doublefine game included “waging religious war on the Moors” as a central conceit, it would feel jarring, too, in a way it doesn’t in a more realistic/historical game.

        • Effigy_Power

          Somehow I had missed that it’s light-hearted. That changes things a bit.
          Not to mention… yeah… if you get to fight dragons, it might not be a huge stretch to allow equal rights. Anyone but that one dude at Ubisoft, who said that female pirates are unrealistic in a world of alien mind-bending artifacts, would probably agree.
          This must be the 10th time at least I have brought this up. Get over it, girl.

        • mizerock

          If you squint your eyes, you could picture yourself as Gregor Mendel, selectively breeding peas. The pistol and anther each play an equally important role in reproduction, and the resulting offspring produces plants with flowers containing both sex organ.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          @Effigy_Power:disqus Even if that asshole weren’t factually incorrect in that statement (Which he totally fucking is), it would still be a totally obnoxious and ludicrous statement to make about a work of fantasy fiction.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @Effigy_Power:disqus, @paraclete_pizza:disqus: Nobody ever said it was “unrealistic.” In fact, the dev who spoke on the issue acknowledged the existence of female pirates. The exact quotes, taken from here: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/03/04/female-lead-in-future-assassins-creed-wouldnt-be-surprising


          Another dude? Really?

          I asked Black Flag’s director, Ashraf Ismail, why we’ve only seen men in the leading roles of mainline Assassin’s Creed games. “It’s a bit of a tough question,” he told IGN.

          “Really early on, we decided to tell the story of the Kenways. So we
          already had in place the idea to tell Edward, Haytham, and Connor. This
          was actually years ago, we had this,” Ismail explained. So in the grand
          scheme of the Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag era, “we actually
          never thought, ‘could this be a woman?’”

          Ismail also explained that, “from the pirate perspective, there were a
          few famous women pirates. But it wasn’t common. So we didn’t want that
          element to be a detail people got stuck on.”

          Not that what Ismail said was much better, but if we’re going to rail against the ACIV devs for sexism, it’s probably best to rail against them based on what they actually said. (That last sentence is what strikes me as particularly problematic, but I think it could be valuable to talk about why the characters were all originally imagined as male as well.) We don’t want another entirely manufactured Dead-Space-is-too-scary controversy on our hands.

        • Effigy_Power

          I possibly may have mashed those two up. While the explanation that they didn’t want the players to knock down Ubisoft’s walls in protest against cooties, it isn’t quite what I wrote. So there.
          Shitty attitude, but better to be precise on those matters, lest it devalues the argument.

          With that in mind, those guys can still have something heavy and unwieldy dropped on top of them without more than split-second warning.

    • Zack Handlen

      Eugenics–y’know, for kids!

    • Army_Of_Fun

      Among my co-workers, at one time there were 3 Indians and one Bengali. The Bengali woman is a natural born US American and has lived in the US her whole life. All have at least a bachelors degree, and some have a masters (a mix of Indian and US colleges). All are in marriages that were arranged. It was a bit of a shock to me when I learned that last fact. From my purely anecdotal experience, it’s still a very common practice in at least one part of the world. It’s also very interesting to learn about how websites and VoIP have altered the practice.

      • George_Liquor

        I work with a guy from India who’s in an arranged marriage. I’ve always wanted to ask him how it all went down, but I’ve never quite had the nerve to broach the topic. 

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          As a Canadian-born person of Indian descent, I can provide some insight into the modern “arranged marriage” process.

          Basically, arranged marriage hasn’t really been “arranged” in the sense of “marry this person or else” for quite a few decades, at least among middle-and-upper-class North Indian folk. Nobody actually forces anybody to get married against his or her will. (Generally speaking. Forced marriage is sadly still all too common a practice in some instances and subcultures. But it’s not something you’d likely see among middle-class, highly-educated members of the Indian diaspora.)

          When a person reaches marriageable age, usually around 25 or 26, his or her parents start looking around for potential spouses. This involves asking their network of contacts in the Indian community, “Hey, do you know a boy/girl for my girl/boy?” Sometimes, parents look for prospective partners on sites like shaadi.com. (“Shaadi” is the Hindi word for marriage.) In recent years, events like Indian marriage conventions – as depicted on a recent episode of New Girl – have cropped up. But for the most part, potential partners are found through contacts.

          After the two families are put in touch with each other, the parents – usually the fathers, but it may be the mothers if prospective partners were found through the mothers’ contacts – exchange information about their families: what they do; what their spouses do; what their children do – even the siblings who aren’t looking to get married. The two families then meet, and the boy and the girl may go on a “date.” In the past, these dates were supervised, usually by a male sibling of the girl, but they’re generally not nowadays. After some period of time of “dating” – it used to be as short as a few weeks, but now it’s generally a few months – if the boy and the girl like each other, then they decide to get married.

          So, the marriage is not “arranged” in the sense that a boy or girl may be forced to marry someone whom he or she dislikes, but it’s “arranged” in the sense that partners must be approved not only by each other but also by their families. (That being said, a boy or girl can certainly be pressured into marriage, but the likelihood or marrying someone he or she finds repulsive is remote.) Marriage is, in a certain sense, viewed not only as a union of husband and wife, but also as a union of families. Therefore, there must be compatibility between the spouses as well as their families. (You might have heard that astrological marriage compatibility is sometimes checked. I’m not sure how widespread the practice is, but I do know that some people – my own mother included – think it’s absolute hogwash.)

          By the way, so-called “love marriage,” where a boy and girl meet independently of their families and decide to get married, is generally not frowned upon, as long as the families deem the relationship appropriate and find themselves to be compatible with each other.

          Please take all of this with a grain of salt. It’s what I’ve gleaned from the experiences of family friends and members of my extended family. I’m not sure how generalizable what I’m saying here is.

          (I haven’t discussed gay and lesbian marriage here – not because Indian culture is in general intensely homophobic (though it can be) – but because homosexuality is not really accounted for in such processes. There doesn’t exist a similar Indian “marriage market” for gays and lesbians.)

        • George_Liquor

          @Merve2:disqus thanks for the info. That seems to jive with what little I do know about his circumstances: He was in his mid 20s at the time, and he traveled back to India for about six weeks. He returned to the US first, and his wife followed a couple of months later. I don’t recall him saying whether he had met her beforehand, but I know that he was really nervous and a little remorseful over the end of his bachelorhood when he left.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    I understand righteous indignation is the internet gamer’s preferred currency, but I was pretty surprised to see a lot of noise about Double Fine starting a new Kickstarter before releasing Broken Age.
       The whole range of excuses read broth-thin, from taking money away from other indie developers, to concern that Double Fine is not going to make good on the first Kickstarter.  But still, I’m kind of amazed.  I’m naive enough to believe everyone everywhere loves Double Fine.
       While my inner hippy is loathe to ever point to a dollar sum as an indication of moral sanctity; in this regard, I can at least point to Massive Chalice’s already astonishing funding amount and say, well, they must be doing something right. 

    • http://twitter.com/httplovecraft Http Lovecraft

      I think the internet gaming masses are a little naive about how game development cycles and game studios-at-large work.  You always need projects in the pipeline or you have people twiddling their thumbs (or more realistically, they are instantly laid off).

      GET A JOB IN THE BUSINESS BEFORE YOU COMPLAIN, YA LAYABOUTS!

      Also Massive Chalice looks bitchin’.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        If only Double Fine would release an entertaining, clear, brief video that succinctly explains the reasoning behind the Kickstarter and allays anyone’s fears…

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Nerds fucking suck at not being entitled little shitbags. This is only semi-related, but people also flipped shit at that Tropes vs Women Kickstarter taking too long. Stuff like “it’s a scam she stole money!” and all that. It’s like they don’t know that making quality shit takes time or something. Like, they don’t understand that for stuff to exist it needs to be made and that requires work. Though in my example it was probably nerds trying to justify their misogyny in addition to not understanding how things exist, so whatever.

      • George_Liquor

        That reminds me of the nerd rage over Angry Video Game Nerd’s Kickstarter campaign to finish Cheetahmen 2. People who didn’t even contribute were flipping their shit, first over how much money was being asked for, and then that the campaign failed. 

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        People in general are really bad at understanding how Kickstarter works. Seriously, if you don’t like a Kickstarter, then just don’t support it!

    • uselessyss

      The only thing that worries me is that Kickstarter is starting to seem like it’s going to become the main source of funding for the whole of Double Fine’s output.

      Hopefully Broken Age will do well, and that game’s success will allow them to broker more favorable terms with publishers (smaller publishers, perhaps?) – I worry, though, that DF is banking hard on crowd-funding to keep their company alive. It’s worked for them so far, but it’s hard to know if it’s a sustainable model.

      And the latest episode of the 2PP doc makes it look like DF is in pretty dire straits, financially. Man, I don’t know if I could handle such a great developer going under.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        On the other hand, it’s hard to know if relying on publishers was a sustainable model for Double Fine, considering how consistently poorly they were treated.

        • George_Liquor

          On the other other hand, Eurogamer makes a fair argument that the rich & famous among game designers are leveraging Kickstarter to do end-runs around publishers and retain complete creative control. Normally I’d think this was a good thing, but I can see guys like Peter Molyneaux releasing a seriously over-promised, under-delivered turd which sours people on the idea of Kickstarter game projects altogether.

    • Effigy_Power

      My beef is less with that.
      I just think it’s a sad sign that irrigation projects in Namibia are failing to reach their $400 goals when people give millions to a Veronica Mars project.
      Now, I am not trying to be hypocritical here, I am aware that that’s been going on for just about as long as charity has been a word, but seeing it side-by-side is a bit disconcerting. Neither DF nor Kickstarter are to blame for this. It’s just a shitty aspect of human society that happens to be most concentrated and most visible on Kickstarter.

      I do however, now that I think about it, hold some reservations about this explosion of Kickstarter-funded leisure projects, since it looks like companies are cashing in on a fad. Micro-management has some amazing potential, but at this point I think it’s all still way too easy to gloss over facts and promise the moon, 80s-guy style.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        There is a kind of sad, stark lack of priority the Internet reveals about the general population.  That Kickstarter phenomenon is analogous to EA being voted the worst company ever in that Forbes poll, despite there being some seriously fucking evil companies in the running.

        In a more localized form, I can see the phenomenon on my Facebook where my one friend in Turkey’s posts are all about the police shooting rioters on the street outside, and teargas leaking in under his apartment door, juxtaposed with, like, people posting pictures of their lunch or complaining that their iPhone battery is dead.

        • Effigy_Power

          It was definitely easier to convince myself of my non-compliance with western capitalism before the internet compared such things to actual struggles for life, freedom and basic human rights.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

           The failure of direct micro-donations for actual human rights causes is especially demoralizing when you think about how the millions of dollars allocated through USAID or other organizations for international development is funneled through massive top-level bureaucracy that often has limited understanding if what is being implemented by a given project is actually  in touch with what is needed.
           And the embezzlement.  Lots of embezzlement.
           It’s part of the reason my wife doesn’t enjoy many blockbuster movies because she sees it as such an extravagant waste of money.
           Which, it is.  But sadly, it’s not as if the backers would be putting their money to something more worthy if not a commercial project.     

    • KidvanDanzig

      Most gamers don’t actually know how game developers typically operate or the necessity of staggered development that results from the iterative development process. You start a new project before your previous game’s release because your entire team typically isn’t needed through the whole life of a game’s development. Writers and designers and artists and the like finish up their work on your first project and so you need to have a second project funded unless you’re Valve and have enough money to pay developers to do nothing. Otherwise you’ll be laying off people as they stop being needed. 

      This was InXile’s reasoning for putting up their Torment kickstarter months prior to the release of Wasteland 2, since that game was far enough along that most of the designers and writers were no longer needed. They set records for that project as they did partly because of nostalgia but primarily I think because they thought through every aspect of their pitch beforehand and they inspired a ton of confidence when they went public with it (Torment had cult appeal but I don’t think anybody thought it had considerably more cult appeal than other high-performing KS projects). Double Fine’s pitch is cute and presents a neat idea for a game but that’s not much more than a lot of scrappy KS projects present. As before, they’re banking on rep and personality, but I think they’d do better if they had offered a bit more beyond the grand scheme.

  • Dikachu

    I don’t think DNF was outpaced by technology so much as its developers were so totally obsessed with being the absolute most cutting-edge game on release that they could never actually release anything.  They went through 3 separate game engines, all heavily modified to do what they wanted it to do, and were never satisfied enough.  They desperately needed a high-level person there willing to cut off development and finish the product… even the 1998 version of DNF looked good to go.  They coulda made like 4 different Duke games over those 15 years, all of which would have potentially been blockbusters.

  • Box of Cotton Swabs

    The South Park WOW screenshot made me spit Coke Zero dangerously close to my keyboard.

    • Fluka

      Oh damn!  You’re right!

    • Sam_Barsanti

      I figured somebody would notice. Ha!

    • Effigy_Power

      Mind you, Coke Zero is pretty spitable even without humorous screenshots, until it is so nerve-numbingly cold that the point of drinking it disappears utterly.

      • Box of Cotton Swabs

        I’ve got 3/4 of an open can in the car that I forgot to bring in with me this morning, so that’ll be a nice treat this afternoon after a day in the sun.

        • Enkidum

          You might even get wasps as an added bonus!

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @Enkidum:disqus: One of the rare instances in which “wasps” would be an improvement over “no wasps.”

  • indy2003

    Since we’re on the subject of Double Fine, this seems like as good a place as any to mention that I finally got around to playing The Cave over the weekend (using The Hillbilly, The Adventurer and The Monk). The puzzles are decent enough (even if they ping-pong inconsistently between extremely obvious and off-the-wall challenging) and the narration is a delight. I’m keen to see the other character-specific levels, but the game had enough repetition the first time through to prevent me from wanting to do several levels all over again. Plus, the conclusion was a bit… underwhelming (though maybe I just got the “wrong” ending).

  • STOP_RIGHT_THERE_CRIMINAL_SCUM

    let’s face it, the Government will probably use anything it can to spy on you if you are a terror suspect and if you ARE a terror suspect and DO happen to own an Xbone then yeah, they probably WOULD use it to spy on you 

    but how likely are you to to own one of those things if you think “death to America!”?

    I don’t want the Xbone because I don’t think it will be worth it for the games, if the Illuminati really want to watch me sit in a T shirt and boxer shorts and play video games, then I don’t care

    • OldeFortran77

      Exactly. Google already gets warrant-less demands for user data from the government. Why can’t the government demand Kinect surveillance data? And what about governments in other countries?