Last night I had an amazing experience. For over an hour and a half I was transported back into Scotland’s history. Back to a time when men were known more for their brawn than their brains. Back to a time when ladies were lasses and lads were… well lads. Back to a time when magic was real and the Will ‘o The Wisp could help one find their destiny.
Yes, I’m talking about the movie Brave.
I could wax on and on about how great this movie was. How, the naysayers miss the point. But what I realized is that there’s something deeper and more tragic at play.
Everyone who has criticized Pixar and feel that Brave fails to reach the emotional depth of Up, the wonderment of Wall-E or the magic of that was Toy Story. I say, it is they who have failed, not Pixar.
Pixar solidly delivered by giving the audience something we are sorely missing today… Magic!
I think this was expressed best when The Witch tells Marida she doesn’t do magic anymore because of too many complaints.
Luckily for us, Lassiter and Pixar seem to have no qualms about this. For they truly performed magic with Brave!
In the latest episode of the Brigwyn’s Corner Podcast, Mallory (aka Podcastitute) from Heals and Headshots stops by. She and Eddie talk about everything from gator rasslin, chicks who think they’re saving the world to Laura Croft and Barely Legal. It may sound like a bad acid trip. But really you have an honest discussion on how people may be trading their beliefs in the name of conformity.
Some of the topics we talked about:
- Lousiana is more than just Swamp People and Cajun Pawnstars
- Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian - Victim of trolling or brilliant marketing?
- Laura Croft - “Barely Legal” pornstar of kick ass heroine?
- Social Networks – I like you, just not the real you
Alright, maybe that last one is a bit over the top, but having Dan on was a blast in more ways than one. One thing I’m always suprised about is how many things we take for granted here just aren’t available outside the US.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Well you’ll have to listen to Episode 5 of the Brigwyn’s Corner Podcast.
Episode 5 of Brigwyn’s Corner
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Eddie plays host to Dan of the Gameolio Podcast. Together they talk about the uses of Smart Glass introduced by Microsoft at E3, Children’s mastery of electronics and a lot of other cool things.
Some of the big questions we address:
- Should toddlers and young children play with tablets and smartphones?
- Has Microsoft hit a homerun or struck out with their SmartGlass idea for Xbox?
- Has the gaming console run it’s course or evolving into a fully functioning home entertainment device?
- Finally, does every Australian really have pet dingos and kangaroos?
Alright, maybe that last one is a bit over the top, but having Dan on was a blast in more ways than one. One thing I’m always suprised about is how many things we take for granted here just aren’t available outside the US.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Well you’ll have to listen to Episode 4 of the Brigwyn’s Corner Podcast.
Episode 4 of Brigwyn’s Corner
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Some of the big questions we address:
- Did Blizzard intentionally design Diablo in a way that forces you to “buy” items off the Auction House?
- Could Real Money Transactions take the fun out of gaming?
- Is greed causing big name Game Developers to sacrifice a quality gaming experience for the sake of profits?
I have to admit it was a very interesting discussion. One that left me not only wondering just where the future of gaming is heading but also asking myself, “Do I really want to go there?”
Episode 3 of Brigwyn’s Corner
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This week Brigwyn welcomes WoW Insider columnist and For The Lore podcaster Joseph Perez aka Lodur as they discuss if the rash of layoffs, downturn in sales means we’re witnessing the slow death of gaming or the possibility of a new renaissance in gaming!
Joe and I talk about:
- The rise of Indie gaming and how it could herald a new generation of innovation for gaming.
- How the industry giants are failing by forgetting it’s not all about wiz bang features and awesome graphics
- What we think was really behind the tragic layoffs at Bioware and 38 Studios and what it could mean to the “Big Guys!
So I hope you enjoy Episode 2 of Brigwyn’s Corner as much as I did recording it!
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Brig play’s host with special guest HGA Messiah of the Hardcore Gaming Alliance (HGA) clan to discuss how games and the gaming culture has changed and who’s resposible for all the asshats!
Together they discuss:
- Gaming through the ages (Blips to Virtual Cinema) – Was Second Life ahead of it’s time?
- Gamer Attitudes – Why is everyone such an asshat?
- Politics and Gaming (Censorship, Ratings)
- Cross Platform Gaming – Why can’t we play w/ Sony, Nintendo, and/or PC players
So I hope you’ll sit back and enjoy as we kick off Brigwyn’s Corner with Episode 1!
Don’t forget to leave us a comment on what you thought about our show!
This Episode of Brigwyn’s Corner is sponsored by:
and listeners like:
Brigwyn’s Corner Podcast by Eddie Carrington aka Brigwyn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
You know what I miss? I miss recording. Oh sure, editing is a pain in the neck. And let’s not even talk about scheduling conflicts with life, guests, and the blasted fire department down the road!! (Okay, I’ll give you that fire engines can make for interesting segues.)
But honestly, those challenges pale when compared to the fun and enjoyment of talking with your friends and hearing what they really think about things.
Well, after giving it a ton of thought, I’ve decided to throw my hat back into the podcasting ring with a new show called, Brigwyn’s Corner.
Learning from previous shows I’ve decided to blend the best from The Hunting Lodge (Humor), In The Corner (Wide Variety of Guests and Topics), Rift Riders (Brutal Honesty) and our round table discussions (Focused Topics) and bring those all together in one show.
I’m sure you can bet on us having plenty of squirrels but that’s all part of the fun right?
Anyways, as with anything in life there’s a catch. Just a small one. I promise.
See, I need your involvement.
I need you to be a guest, suggest topics, and ultimately subscribe and listen.
Send me you’re show ideas and suggestions for guests and panelists for the following shows in my series on Gaming:
- MMOs – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
- PC vs Console Gaming – Will this war ever end?
- Gaming and Parenting – Can the two coexist?
- Single Player vs Multiplayer games, Do we really need both?
These will be the first four episodes to begin recording soon. So, if you’re interested in participating let me know quickly. There are only a very limited number of spots available and if you want to participate you need to let me know sooner rather than later.
Until then, may all your pixels be bright and you’re lives infinite!
(Send all appearance requests and showtopics to email@example.com)
Yeah, I know. You’re sitting there thinking, “Hey! You’ve aready reviewed SWTOR. What gives?” You’re right but many of you said I needed to play the game longer and after beta. So, my friend Cocles of Loregy sent me a SWTOR 7 Day Free Trial and here’s my updated review.
First off let me rant a lil bit about my experience in creating an account.
HOLY FREAKING HELLACIOUS TACO SAUCE! THEY PRE-BANNED BRIGWYN!!
Yep, that’s right. I said I’d keep this quiet while SWTOR Tech support investigated the issue. Well, nothing happened with their “Supposed” investigation. What did I get back? A tweet telling me to accept my “Validation” email. Well guys, I’m STILL waiting for that supposed validation email. Know what? I don’t think it’s coming!! Why?? Because of what the tech support guy told me. That Brigwyn.com was an invalid domain in their system! And the ONLY way brigwyn.com can be an invalid domain is if SOMEONE BANNED IT!!!
So let’s face it. Being pre-banned from a game leave a sour taste in one’s mouth. But having disclosed that I’ll put my rational hat on and give you my honest opinion about SWTOR.
Thumbs Up On Character Creation
As always Bioware did an awesome job with their character creation screens. If you’ve played their single player RPG’s you’ll know that they got this down pat.
I’ve heard people lament about the limited number of choices you get. (Personally, I’m still a bit upset I couldn’t be a Jawa. COME ON GUYS!! Jawa Brig would be freaking awesome!!)
And yes, I was a bit dissapointed that I couldn’t choose Sith and had to create a Chissy Brig as an Inquisitor. (One guy even said I looked like a giant Smurf! For gawds sakes!!!)
Anyways, we know by now that every MMO will limit race choices to some extent. Heck! Even Rift still get’s crap for being a fantasy MMO that doesn’t allow you to be a furry type race.
Thumbs Up On Character Immersion
SWTOR is ALL about YOU! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. SWTOR did an AWESOME job immersing your character into the storyline. EVERYTHING you touch or do is about you.
And not even only during the quest’s dialogue scenes. There’s subtle ways Bioware involved you as well. For example, you’re included in the game’s summary text. And sometimes I swear you hear “There he is!” or “That’s him!” in the background when you run around the Hutt’s cantina. But then again, maybe that’s just my ego talking.
But serioulsy! Thumbs up to Bioware for finding a way to touch everyone’s “I want to be important” spot and making it feel real not forced in this game.
Thumbs Down On User/Game Interaction
Sorry Bioware. There’s just too much going on. Add to that you’re use of subtle blues for quest objectives, weird triangles for quest givers and reliance on subtle check boxes you’re overall User/Game Interaction was extremely difficult for me to get used to.
Let’s put it this way. Somehow I missed the starting of my Advanced Trainer. OH SURE!! He’s right on the ramp after get into the spacedock you say??
I say, “WTF!?!? Seriously!?”
Really though, how does a game allow you to miss this?
Every other MMO knows it’s best to keep it simple. If it’s “Training” related give it to the Class Trainer. Or if you must make it another character, park is butt next to the the trainer!! Come one!
And I’m not kidding about the subtle check boxes. I like the way you allow people to enter/exit warzones without having to requeue. BUT MAKE THIS MORE VISABLE!! And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about? Next time you’re at the Warzone results screen look down at the bottom right. See that little box? Yeah!! That’s what I’m talking about.
But the biggest complaint about the user/game ui is the use of the blue glow to highlight quest objectives. Yes, I know blue glowy stuff is cool. But in the Star Wars Universe EVERYTHING GLOWS BLUE!!!!
Okay.. Okay, maybe not everything but a suprisingly lot of stuff does. And this makes it difficult to tell what is clickable or not until you run your mouse over it.
Also, what’s up with all the glitches while running the game through HDMI??
I have to run the game in windowed mode and not full screen just to achieve the proper resolution for my screen. Not only that I’ve also had several quests failing to give me the dialogue interaction disc forcing me to select the default answers. And let’s face it, NOT a great way to instill character immersion.
Speaking of the dialogue interaction disc, WAY TO GO!! (Though the choices and resulting dialogue didn’t always seem to match.)
Really! What an awesome presentation! I loved this!
I know this is pretty much the norm for Bioware but other game companies should take notice. Make the choices apparent and upfront. A simple, Accept/Decline button just isn’t enough nowdays.
Bioware has proven that character immersion is imperative towards telling the overall story of the game.
Thumbs Down on Questing
Not having the quest objectives near the quest giver is just wasting my time. So many times I felt I had to run across the map just to complete a simple gathering quest. What made it even more annoying was the quest giver could have just as easily been near the objectives. Simply put, THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THIS!!!
I understand that this is a way to encourage exploration. But you can also do that by laying out the zones in a way that one progresses through the story. Honestly, I didn’t know where I was nor where I was heading most of the time.
Also, I somehow skipped entire storylines. (Granted probably due to missing some floating triangle.) And let’s face it, if Blizzard and TRION both realized the importance of smaller zones and placing the quest giver closer to the objective, so should every other MMO Developer out there.
Now look! Before you start boiling your panties, I’m not saying every mmo should play like WoW or Rift. What I am saying is there are some game mechanics that just work. And having people trapsing from one end of the world to the other just to complete a quest is annoying. I don’t care if it’s important to the story, I don’t want to spend my limited game time running between objectives. I want to spend it COMPLETING OBJECTIVES! Capiche?
Thumbs Up To PvP
I’ve heard many people say Flashpoints are where SWTOR shines. I don’t know. I still haven’t had the pleasure of going through one yet so I’ll just have to take your word on it.
What I can say is Bioware pulled a slam dunk when it comes to PvP. H to the E to the double L YEAH!!
If you remember anything from the Star Wars franchise it’s the epic laser rifles and light saber battles. Forces of Light and Dark smashing together with lightning bolts and tracer fire slicing the air.
I thought Rift’s Warfronts were awesome, well my friend Bioware proved PvP could be more than a simple capture the flag.
My favorite is Huttball. This capture the flag alternative is basically gladiator version of football. You can see how teams use strategy for plays and then select classes to execute them!
Honestly, what can I say!? Too much fun.
Add to that the fact I wasn’t last place in a game that groups every level together says much for their ability to balance levels and classes.
Way to go Bioware! You proved PvP could be innovative and fun in an MMO RPG.
Overall Experience: Thumbs Up On The RPG, Thumbs Down on the MMO
So here’s my overall impression. SWTOR is still a great Single Player RPG you can play with other players.
The storylines allow you to group up and play together. Flashpoints are there for those who enjoy instance/raid type play. PvP for those who enjoy the feel of epic battles. But overall it just doesn’t feel like an MMO.
Everything about this game seems to be geared around the single player. And that’s great if you’re only looking for an RPG that you can have the opportunity to play with others when you feel like it.
But that’s not what an MMO is suppose to be about. (Well that’s my opinion anyways.) I’ve mentioned here before that an MMO is about more than just my character’s adventure. It’s an epic quest that requires a party to complete. And if that Party Adventure feel isn’t there then something is missing in your MMO.
I’m not saying forced grouping should be enforced, but grouping should be encouraged. As I mentioned before, Open Grouping is one way of doing this. There’s other ways also. Having group only quests are another way and I’m sure if we thought about it, we could come up with a good 10 or more others. (NO! LFG Tools aren’t the answer. They’re just a crutch for the single player wanting to complete group objectives imho!)
That said, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time in SWTOR.
I did! REALLY!! I did!
SWTOR is the first time in a REALLY long time I was able to truly feel like I knew my character. Honestly, I’d have to go back to my Burning Crusade days in WoW to feel more intuned with the Brigwyn persona.
So when I say SWTOR is a great Single Player RPG you can play with others, that’s not a ding. Think of it more as a disclaimer. Because if you’re looking for a game that you feel you’ll never get to the end without a group of 10 or 20 friends, well then SWTOR isn’t for you.
However, if you’re looking for a game that’s enjoyable and you don’t want to feel like you have to rush through it to play “The Real Game” then SWTOR could be the game you’re looking for.
(Editor’s Note: My friend Cocles felt that I was overly biased in my review due to my ever growing disastisfaction with the MMO Genre. And after thinking about it for a bit, he might be right. I’m not saying this negates my feelings, nor the issues the issues I have with SWTOR but just offering some perspective on where I’m coming from.)
Funimation has finally released their mobile app for Android and iOS devices. Only problem is they didn’t put it up on the Amazon App store. (Well, as far as I can tell they didn’t.) So I thought I’d use this as an opportunity to tell people how they can install this and other Android apps from Google Play on their Kindle Fire!
There’s a lot of different ways to do this. But I’ve found the easiest one is to go ahead and download another app called Air Droid. Without it you’ll have to do a lot of USB switching and who really wants to do that. Not me that’s for sure.
So I’m going to go ahead and just assume you’ve taken my advice and installed Air Droid on your phone and Kindle Fire.
(Here’s a quick how to)
- Install AirDroid from Google Play
- Export AirDroid.apk to your PC
- Make Sure Your Kindle Fire Settings Allows App Installs from other sources.
- Connect your Kindle Fire to your PC via USB
- Copy the AirDroid .apk from your PC to your Kindle Fire’s Download Folder via USB
- Install AirDroid
Now that you’ve installed AirDroid ANY app can be installed to your Kindle Fire with ease. (Well with the exception of the Google Specific and maybe a few others I’m not aware of anyways.)
Simply do the following after making sure your Kindle allows for Third Party App Installs :
2. Export the app’s .apk from your Android device (Funimation.apk)
3. Start up AirDroid on your Kindle Fire
4. Connect to your Kindle Fire’s address via your PC’s Browser. (Note: Only Firefox or Chrome is supported.)
5. Click The Files Icon
6. Click Download Folder then Select Import to bring over your Funimation.apk or other application .apk file.
7. On Your Kindle File Select Files From AirDroid
8. Browse to the Download Folder and double-tap the Funimation.apk or other application .apk file you would like to install. (Sorry, I coudn’t get a screen shot of this. But I think it’s pretty self explanitory.)
There you have it! You can now install ANY Android app onto your Kindle Fire. (BTW! This works both ways so it’s possible to install the app from your Kindle Fire onto your other Android Device.)
OH! Last thing. I’m not entirely sure the legal ramifcations for installing an app on multiple devices. So as a disclaimer: remember to make sure you’ve bought a license of the app you’re using for ever device it’s installed on.
On the afternoon of April the first, two fools sat down for lunch. One was the world famous Brigwyn, master of the whirling panty raid. The other? The elusive Cocles of Loregy.com. Blogs were discussed, the idea of guest posts came up, and somewhere between my pancakes (because breakfast three times a day = awesome) and Eddie’s flirtations with our friendly waitress, it was suggested I say hello, because some of Eddie’s readers might be into game lore.
Some he says?
Pah! We are all into game lore.
There is a reason we don’t say “story”, or “plot”. ”Lore” is much more encompassing. Eddie asked me why game lore was so important. That’s simple. Without it, games would be reduced to wire frames of rectangles and cubes bouncing off each other while math scrolls by in the background.
The story is central in lore, sure. Lore junkies like myself can debate for hours over where the story’s branches may lead, but as with trees in real life, it can be easy to forget about the roots and how deep they grow.
Genre is lore. The fact that you wield a sword instead of a laser pistol is lore. Wanting to play the good guys (or bad guys) is lore. Lore touches everything that is right brained about a game. Plenty of us may not care one bit for the story, but we nonetheless love the game’s setting. We may love its aesthetic. We may love our undead dragon mount. Those are all elements rooted in the lore and dictated by the story.
Then what is the best kind of lore? The kind that polarizes. Lore thrives on story, and story thrives on conflict. Alliance, Horde, Republic, Empire. Players who have never read a single quest can still have strong opinions when it comes to factions. A Lorelol Troll can still hate gnomes. This is polarizing lore. It creates reactions on both ends of the scale. This in turn creates the best kind of conflict, the kind found within the player-base itself.
Lore generates rivalries, and gives games their flavor. A game without lore is going to turn bland as soon as the novelty of its mechanics wear out. Even Asteroids puts you in a ship, and has you firing at, well– asteroids. I love that example, because it’s easy imagine that game still working fine if everything was just a rectangle. The right brained aspect, the lore, took a simple concept and made you a space hero.
So yes. We are all into game lore…. even those who skip reading the quests.
One more happy-fun treat before I go. I’ve been asked a number of times by Eddie and others to name the most popular aspect of World of Warcraft lore. That’s simple; it’s the speculation. I’ve been writing about WoW lore since 2007, and I can definitely say that it’s not deep, intellectual, game theory posts that are popular. It’s when I speculate. And why wouldn’t it be? Stories at their heart are nothing but a continuous answer to the question, “What happens next?” Forget nuance, forget theory, I could write about that all day and never interest a ready, but when I discuss what’s possibly up next for Thrall and Sylvanas? That’s when the flood arrives.
That is the heart of being a lore-junkie… it’s being obsessed with question “what happens next”. If you’ve ever found yourself asking that while playing, you may be a lore-junkie yourself.
Early on in the film The Hunger Games Gale (played Liam Hemsworth) says, “They just want a good show, that’s all they want.” And that’s just what Gary Ross and the folks at Lionsgate have done; they’ve managed to put on a good show.
As a 42yr old man going to see what has been marketed as a movie for the tween audience I will admit to being more than skeptical about The Hunger Games. Let’s face it, I’m no more its target audience than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a movie for the scores of girls wearing their “Team Peeta” hoodies!
But you know what? I have to admit the team of Director and Screenwriter Gary Ross and The Hunger Games original author, Suzanne Collins managed to keep me interested. And dare I even admit it, at times emotional. Yeah.. I said it. Emotional.
Even after reading the entire trilogy I felt the shock of hearing Prim’s name being called at the Reaping. (Stop screaming! It’s not a spoiler it’s in the freaking trailer!) And I dare anyone not to shed a tear when District 11 loses its first “player.” (Okay… that might be a small spoiler for some. Sorry.)
That being said, there are some obvious weaknesses in the film. And what makes this even more unfortunate are most of these could have been avoided.
One could almost hear the theme from Days of Our Lives just before the “Romantic” moments.
Instead of allowing the audience experience what the character is going through. Where in the book we can feel the conflict Katniss (Well played by Jennifer Lawrence.) battles over her feelings about Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).
Unfortunately, we only seem to get a glimpse of this. The audience never really has the opportunity to penetrate the façade Katniss portrays. In the end, the corny dialogue coupled with some ill timed flashbacks removes any emotional investment one might make.
And that’s my biggest issue with The Hunger Games.
Here’s a movie based on a book that forces us to ask, “What is a society is willing to accept and even call ethical? How far one will go to save themselves while maintaining their humanity? And how little it can take for one to lose it?” Instead we’re served an overly sanitized Lord of The Flies mixed with Twilight.
Granted all of these themes may be too mature for its intended audience. After all we know what they want. They just want a good show. And The Hunger Games delivers. It’s just that, a good show.
hush little baby
don’t you cry
you have a long while before you die
crawl then walk
my little child
may you never forget how to smile
study and learn
make sure your youth is always well spent
love and mourn
never in jest
for life is now a quarter past
work real hard
these are words for the young at heart
relax and enjoy
your memories fare
share the stories to all who hear
close my eyes
dry those tears
well be together in a few more years
-eddie carrington (2012)
Last week I wrote some articles about PC vs Console Gaming. The best part of that series was hearing that everyone basically had the same goal. Whether you say PC or I say console, EVERYONE just wants to play something fun!
Granted some felt I was being overly biased towards consoles. And others felt that playing only on consoles would alienate their game or play style of choice. But in the end we all seemed to agree on one thing, if you don’t enjoy playing the game, it doesn’t matter what device you choose, you won’t play it!
I ranted that I didn’t understand why some Game Developers don’t treat gamers equally and offer their games to both console and pc players. At the time I honestly felt it was nothing more than a combination of corporate strategy and greed.
But then I read your responses and got to thinking. (Yeah, I know. I’ll eventually hurt something important from straining. But hey! You gotta do what you gotta do right?)
PC Gamers Are Hackers At Heart
We all know that the term Hacker is overused today. But those of us that where there in the earliest days of modern hacking understand what I mean. (Yes, believe it or not I have used the mythical Blue Box a time or two in my life.)
And the reason I claim PC Gamers are Hackers goes back to a now defunct debate in the early days of personal computing. Yeah, I’m talking about the seemingly never ending PC vs. Mac debate, or probably better understood today, Open vs. Closed Platforms.
See, back in the early days us nerds (Geek was a really bad term back then.) We who were “In The Know” understood that Macs were awesome. No one in their right mind could argue over who had the better service record. And we know that even today Macs are still the computer of choice for any artistic medium today.
But what infuriated us PC Nerds was the fact we couldn’t do a bloody thing to it!
One always felt constrained and limited by the Mac. And if we did want to do something out of the ordinary it would cost us 2 liters of blood, our first born child and our parents into getting a second mortgage!
PCs on the other hand were cheaper to alter and anyone with a basic understanding of circuitry could create something that was their own! PCs became a way for Nerds to establish a sense of personal identity by how they built and configured their computer.
And if you look at all the arguments presented in the PC vs. Console Gaming debates, it is this same lack of customization and “personal preferences” that ring the loudest.
Guess what! I hear and understand you. I really do.
Home Entertainment Networks
I remember when I honestly felt I had FINALLY reached the pinnacle of being a true IT GEEK! (Yeah, Geeks are cool now. I guess over time that issue with chickens finally was forgotten.) I had the opportunity to salvage a lot of old networking equipment, an old server and even older but still functioning IBM System/36 running OS/400.
Now the IBM I ended up giving away. (Who would’ve guessed that washing you couldn’t batch jobs for the Washing Machine and Dishwasher?) But I kept the 16 port hub and server!
It was awesome! I loaded up all my games on the server and invited my friends to bring over their computers and we would have awesome LAN Parties with ZERO lag!!!
I felt like a networking overlord!
Granted, this is nothing special today. Everyone has some form of wireless network. And if they don’t they’re probably “borrowing” one from a neighbor.
My point of all this is pretty simple. Gaming today requires more than just your PC or even your console. It requires communication to others outside the boundaries our walls provide.
Not only that we have several types of “Gaming Networks” to choose from. There’s Steam from Valve, EA has Origin, and Activision-Blizzard has Battlenet. Not to mention Xbox Live or Playstation Network!
Heck! Even the upstart Trion Worlds has announced one called Red Door!
I predict that sooner than later someone out there will create a “device” allowing all of these networks to be combined and accessed.
This “box” will be very similar to cable boxes we have now. It’ll be a consumer device with controller options allowing us to do everything we do today.
Huh? What’s that you say? We already do??
Well, strip me nekkid and call me bowlegged! We do!
Consoles Are Consumer PCs
See, today’s PCs and Consoles are really more like estranged siblings than we’d like to admit. The Xbox runs on a version of the Windows OS and Sony’s Playstation uses a Linux derivative.
But like cable boxes of today, Game Consoles are designed to give consumers a consistency. They are closed systems designed to appease to the masses.
However, like many of us in the early days of Cable Boxes and DVRs we all know that our PCs can be hacked and made to perform whatever function we choose.
Yes, PCs lead the gaming revolution. There will always be those who love to tweak, alter and modify their box to do whatever they want!
But there are legions of people that enjoy playing games but really don’t want to spend the time figuring out why a simple OS Update now prevents them from loading their favorite MMO. All these people want is a way to play their games and be entertained for a while without the hassles one experiences with a PC.
Brig Predicts Consoles With PC Compatibility And Functionality
If the next Xbox isn’t built with the intent to bridge the current gap between today’s consoles and the PC world (Desktops and Laptops) then I feel Microsoft will set back Gaming Technology another decade.
I sincerely believe that there is no reason that today’s consoles must have proprietary parts.
Granted, they need to have a severe limit of options available. However, Console Manufacturers need to take a lesson from Apple on how to deal with closed computing platforms. Even Jobs realized the benefits of allowing his legions of followers the choice of upgrading components or not.
If we can drop our preconceived notions about what Gaming Consoles and Gaming PCs are suppose to do. And agree that the end objective is everyone having fun and playing the games that they enjoy. Then instead of having a fractured community we could stand together as a united voice.
Then one day, maybe we’ll all get to enjoy slaying dragons, saving damsels in distress or flying starships in our very own holodecks!
One System to Play them all,
One System to Load them,
One System to Join them all
and in the darkness Entertain them.
I know, I know, Prof. Tolkien is rolling over in his grave right now. But that said, this is basically what this series on Console vs PC Gaming is all about.
It’s about the idea that we should be able to play what we want whenever we want. Oh sure, I’ve extolled the love of Consoles as a gaming platform. And yes, I’ve stated that PC Gaming should go the way of the dinosaur. But all of this is really meant to drive home a single point. If you’re REALLY into playing games, it’s one freaking complicated and expensive hobby!
Now I’m not talking about game prices themselves. We all know there’s Free to Play, Rent to Play, and of course Pay to Play options. There are games that can be had for Free to games that can end up costing thousands of dollars. It all depends on what your bank account and lifestyle allows.
That said, once you start thinking about playing games with your friends, these end up being not only expensive, but as I said before wrought with choice.
What’s up with that!
Why can’t I just sit down and play a freaking game with my friends on whatever platform I choose?
Why can’t I play Call of Duty with my friends on Steam, Xbox Live and yeah, even the freaking Wii at the same time?
And for those of us that like MMO’s I ask you: Why must we suffer with the humility of being a PC only platform?
Why can’t we play games like WoW, Rift or TOR on our Xbox? (Don’t you DARE claim graphic performance on this one. THEY ALL would look beautiful on today’s consoles.)
Well, I hate to say it, but I don’t think I can answer this one other than to just say it’s either because:
A) Their Greedy or
B) They’re just plain lazy!
And if that’s not the case, then what is it! Wait! Don’t answer that just yet. Let’s see what the Interwebs can tell us.
PC Games Cannot Connect To Xbox or Console Networks
The idea that there’s some platform/operating system reason that keeps us from playing the games we want is ludicrous. (Okay, I’ll admit that the technology just isn’t there to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on my Kindle. But COME ON!! That’s not the point here. Well not yet anyways!)
Oh sure, depending on the platform’s operating system there are specific APIs and commands available, but we see a plethora of titles out there that obviously work on different platforms. Put it this way, if a game manufacturer can program it, the technology is there to make it work.
How do I know this?? Well simply put, back in mid-90’s I designed a system that allowed a Macintosh on a Windows network communicate via Satellite and control an IBM Mainframe at Toyota! Now if I could pull all that off without a college education then surely 20 years later we can figure out a way to connect a console and a pc to the same program.
Oh wait.. never mind WE ALREADY CAN!! Microsoft does it all the time with Xbox Live, Sony with its Playstation Network.
So WTF People! Why can’t I play a game on my Xbox and get my butt whooped by a friend in Australia on his top-of the line PC!!
Hell if I know! Do you?
Duh! MMOs are Too Complex For Consoles.
Every time I hear someone mention that a game is “Too complex for XYZ system.” I laugh till I almost pee my pants. Oh sure, you probably think that’s insensitive or elitist of me but I do.
Think about it, can you honestly sit back and tell me that the game you’re playing is too complex for the button combinations allowed on a console? HONESTLY!?!?
Okay. Before I really lose my cool or insult you I’ll try to explain what I find so funny.
Let’s first dissect what we do in probably one of the most interactive games out there, MMOs, more specifically MMO-RPGs.
Let’s see what we do in a game:
- Movement (Left, Right, Forward, Backwards, Up, Down, L/R Sidestep or Strafe)
- Chat (Need typing interface)
- Interact with Objects (Need point and click)
- Use Object/Cast Spell On Target (Complex Point and Click)
I heard that some people have over 50 key binds to do these basic commands. With over half of them being some form of Use Object/Cast Spell on Target type assignments.
If I use just a simple X+1 Button combination I have over 50 combinations on a basic controller. If I went REALLY complex I could do X+2 Button combinations and easily eclipse that. Now don’t start telling me how you could do CTRL+, ALT+, Mouseover along with every single key on the keyboard so that you can prove a point.
What I’m trying to say is this. It’s all in the programming. Heck, every MMO today is looking at ways to simplify their UI. Why? It’s not so they can play their games on Consoles. Most deny even moving in that direction!
What they’ve come to realize is that MMOs today are shoddily programmed and require way too many commands.
But hey! That’s okay! How many of us really remember what we bind to all our keys? I know I sure don’t! I typically give up and end up using on about 10 commands and the rest I relegate to some action bar. If you take away movement and “Macro options” (Which, in my opinion, are just our way of doing the programmers job at making our game play easier) I’ll bet dollars to donuts most don’t remember either!
I’m not saying that MMOs aren’t complex, they are! MMOs probably have the most complex systems and game play out there today. But I honestly believe we kid ourselves if we think we do anything different in a really good FPS like Call of Duty: MW3 or Battle Field 3.
So that said, why can’t we play PC Games with our Console Friends? I really don’t know that there is an answer other than money.
- Server based Play – Check
- Complex Commands – Check
- Voice Communication – Check
- Text Communication – Check
- Game compatibility – Check
Am I missing something? If so what??
The only thing I can think of is Economics. For the Indie Developer it’s a matter of simple finances. Single system games are easier and cost lest to develop. But we’re not faulting them. Besides, if we all agreed my suggestion of a single “Home Entertainment Console” that wouldn’t be an issue. (Sorry, again I digress…)
But what about the big guys? The Activision-Blizzards? The Bethesda Softworks or Electronic Arts? Pfft.. Let’s strike it where it hurts FREAKING SONY OR MICROSOFT!!! Why don’t they develop games that work across the platforms??
If it has ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING other than Corporate Greed I’d love to hear it! My guess is it has EVERYTHING to do with Corporate Politics and Budgets. If not? Please prove me wrong.
While researching answers to some of the typical myths about console gaming I thought of a movie about misconceptions. One that reminded me that often times people rely too much on the “New is Better” philosophy.
Oh sure, Real Steel is suppose to be a Father/Son buddy movie. But as a gamer I also can see how it could be a metaphor on how misguided our view on gaming technology has become. Anyways, the overall plot of the movie is about a washed out boxer reconnecting his son as they take an old obsolete fighting robot from pit fighting to the big time!
What does that have to do with the myths surrounding PC vs Console Gaming Debate? Pretty simple really, see the technology in today’s consoles are pretty old. And for many that means that they’re usefulness is done. They’re yesterday’s news! Or as I inferred yesterday, Pet Dinosaurs.
So hold on to your panties Mrs. Robinson because I’m gonna rock your world! I’m going to take head on 5 of the most quoted myths about console gaming.
Myth #1 – Consoles Require Cumbersome Controllers
Let me just say this right now, I hate console controllers. When I say hate it, that’s an understatement. I mean, who in their right mind likes to play on something that requires precise movement with by using only their thumbs? I understand that it’s our opposable thumbs that suppose to separate us from our furry genetic cousins, but come on! I dare you to tell a surgeon he’d have to use an Xbox Controller for an appendectomy! Go on, I double dog dare you!
Luckily we’re not stuck with that. There are several other options out there that allow us to play however we like! Prefer the old arcade joystick and button model? Well there’s a controller for that.
Want to fly your jet using a flight stick? Yep there’s controller for that!
Afraid you gotta give up your hockey puck, er.. i mean mouse? No problemo! We gotcha covered! Hell, if you just can’t get away from the keyboard that’s okay also because they got Keyboard and Mouse adapters!
Oh sure, all of these cost extra. But let’s face facts. How many of you “Hardcore PC Gamers” haven’t bought yourself a G15 or other gaming keyboard. And I know for a fact many of you have spent over $90 for a Razr mouse! So don’t you dare try and say that these optional controllers are just too pricey when they’re right in line with their PC counterparts.
Myth #2 – Consoles Are NOT Indie Friendly
All in all I found over 2,000 games by Indie Developers available on the Xbox Marketplace. Most of these offered free trials!
Maybe it’s not necessarily Indie Game Developers but Indie Mods and Add-on Developers you’re talking about. This is an interesting question. Personally, I’m not a big Mod or Add-on guy. (Okay, Okay, maybe that’s an understatement.) As we all know I’ve been pretty outspoken about my distaste for game add-ons. But this isn’t the place for that argument. But as I said it is an interesting question for console gamers especially for games like Skyrim.
I’m not entirely sure why Skyrim couldn’t work with Microsoft to deliver player mods with their Creation Kit. (My guess is it had more to do with account or system security issues than anything. But that’s just my opinion.) Anyways, there are precedence that player mods are allowed. The easiest example would be Halo and the abundance of Custom Maps players make and download today.
So maybe it’s not really so much an issue without a possible solution but more a question about demand? Who knows, either way Xbox is Indie Friendly it’s just up to developers make it happen.
Myth #3- Console Games Break The Bank
I really thought this one would be difficult to debunk. Everyone knows about Steam and how they’re always offering massive discounts and bundling deals. But then I decided to take a stroll through the Xbox Marketplace.
Guess what!! I found an Indie Fighting Game for only $.99! Yes that’s right NINETY-NINE CENTS!!! Oh! Want something a bit more “classy?” Okay then, how about a CastleMiner Z? This Minecraft derivative is only $2.99!
If you’re saying that these are cheap just because they’re Indie Games? Okay then tell me what you’re pricing is based on?
My guess is you’re using Steam Bundles or maybe Valve’s catalog of cheaper older games? Okay then, let’s make the comparison a bit more realistic. How about we compare Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game Of The Year Edition by Bethesda Softworks?
(Alright, I’ll grant you that the copy from Gamestop is Pre-owned. However, it’s still guaranteed to work and isn’t that all that matters?)
Myth #4 – Consoles Have A Higher Cost:Performance Ratio
Yesterday, my friend Admon made a statement how one could build a computer for $400 that would “…[B]low consoles out of the water.”
Well, I took this as a personal challenge and set out to find me a PC for $400 that would do just that. All I ended up finding was 3 Asus Computers for under $400, but I’d be hardpressed to say they would knock the socks off of my Xbox.
Thinking that only using Newegg might be a bit too restrictive I decided to do a Shopping Search on Bing and Google Shopping. In the end they both only turned up a Lenovo that I would honestly question if it would really perform better than console.
Granted I’m just doing shopping searches and it’s very possible that one might be able to build a PC with better performance for under $400. So let’s be fare and not call this one busted, but Inconclusive.
Myth #5 - Console Graphics SUCK compared to PC Graphics
This one was nearly impossible for me to prove or disprove as I don’t have the means to personally test it. However, I did find a Crysis 2 Xbox vs. PC comparison that I found interesting.
(Note: Click Image to Enlarge Comparisons)
Now I’ll admit the PC Version is stellar! You can almost see the statue’s nose hairs!! But is the difference REALLY worth paying over $900 (USD) or to be more exact over €594 (Euros) Granted, one might find a cheaper graphic card but to achieve the “Stellar” graphics you still end up spending more to upgrade your PC than you would to buy a brand spanking new Xbox 360!
Hmm. On second thought maybe this just proved that Myth #4 is busted after all!
So there you have it, proof that the 5 most quoted reasons why PC Gaming is better than Console Gaming debunked. Or Are They!?!?
What do you think? Have I given you food for thought?
Or do you think I’m just off my rocker and there’s better reasons to play PC Games instead of using consoles? Go ahead, I’m all ears.
It’s a funny thought really, isn’t it? Walking a Dinosaur I mean. It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would even think of walking such a beast? (Well, okay besides Fred Flinstone or our little friend in the picture above that is.) But if such a concept is ludicrous, then why do we still insist on playing games on our PCs?
Trust me, I’m not just expressing sour grapes here. But go ahead and call me an elitist, traitor or even a traitorious old dorf who’s time has past! But bear with me and I think by the end of this post you’ll either agree with me or at the very list walk away with food for thought.
Overview of Gaming Today
Let’s take a short overview of gaming today. Basically, if you like gaming, ANY type of games, you’re sure to find a platform and game for you. Like word games? Then how about Words With Friends? (You know Hasbro is scratching their heads wondering how Scrabble lost out to this upstart!) If Arcade Games are more your style well, you’ll be happy to know Atari has made all of your favorites available!
All of these are available for you to play by yourself or with your friends. You can play them on everything from dedicated devices, handhelds, tablets, phones, and yes PCs and Consoles.
Truly the gaming world has never experienced such a cornocopia of choice gaming options.
And there’s the rub, there’s just too many gaming options today. So many in fact that game night has become as complicated as deciding which fork to you’re suppose to use at a fancy french resturaunt. (Hint: Work from the outside in.)
The Problem With Too Many Choices
Let’s face it, people hate complications. And there’s nothing people hate more than being forced into making choices. Reason being, most of the time we feel we’re always making the wrong one!
Nothing highlights this more than the gaming communities insistence on playing games on their PCs. (And to be clear, I don’t just mean Windows PCs. I mean ALL PCs, including Apple and Linux machines)
Sure, in the past gaming was a major reason we’ve seen the developments in Personal Computers so far. Storage, Graphics, and Sound have all dramatically improved to the point that playing a cartoon character is no longer just a series of choices, but a seamless flow of people and realistic cinematic scenes.
But is that really the role PCs should play in our future? Or maybe we should look at gaming for what it really is, entertainment. And if that’s the case, maybe we should look at it being a consumer device. Maybe not one just for gaming but for all our Entertainment needs. This would then relegate the PC back to doing what it does best, computing.
Predicting The Future
Every great Science Fiction writer envisioned a future were everything was driven by an individual’s desire to access information and entertainment from the devices around them. Every great Science Fiction Visionary has envisioned some version of this desire.
And just as it is in the Science Fiction community so has it been in the Technology world. Steve Jobs may get all the credit for bringing the consumers a device to realize their entertainment dreams, but it was another Founding Father of Personal Computing that first expressed this concept. Yep, that’s right William Henry Gates III or as you might better know him, Bill Gates.
Back in mid-90′s Bill Gates wrote a book called The Road Ahead. Where Gates shares his visions for the future. And way back then he was already looking at the home and entertainmnet being a central driver for techonlogy. PC were were still around, but their function was more menial and trivial. No longer being the driver it is today, but more of a convient method for data entry.
Pulling The Plug
This brings me back to why I think the PC Gaming Industry is really on life support and Gamers just need to go ahead an pull the plug. We should put an end to our own misery.
Why should we be forced to choose between PC or Console? Consoles are designed for Entertainment. The same box that can play your DVDs, Stream Live Events and Music can also play games. Not only that, consoles that cost under $300 can seamlessly allow voice and video communication while playing games that would force everyone to pay at a 2x’s, if not 3x’s that for a computer to do the same.
Why? Why must we continually accept substandard graphics, performance for our entertainmnet dollar, when we could achieve and progress so much further? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
So I ask you, my brothers and sisters in the gaming world, why do you insist on playing PC Games? Or have you like me decided to pull the plug and are now looking foward to the future of console gaming?
Not much else to say really. I’ve done my research have read both bills. And have to agree. SOPA and PIPA will put everyone at risk of going to jail.
Let’s face it. We all link to copyrighted material at one time or another. And if you think you’re above that sort of thing. And kid yourself by saying, “I NEVER pirate anything!” then ask yourself how many times have you watched some video on YouTube then shared the link on Facebook or in your email?
I know people who routinely share copies of news broadcasts, their favorite music artists, and even amazing replays from their favorite sports teams.
Yes, all of these ”COULD” be considered forms of piracy. But where today they’re usually viewed as either “Fair Use” or even a form of grassroots publicity. These would now be considered a felony offense carrying with it a prision sentence.
Sorry folks, that’s not exactly what I have in mind. I really don’t feel like going to jail because I linked to some cartoon or picture I found on the Internet.
As I said before SOPA and PIPA will put EVERYONE at risk! Let’s Stop SOPA and PIPA NOW!
I’ve tried to express my feelings about how today’s MMOs don’t seem to have the sense of adventure they once did. Oh sure, we’re seeing promises of new whizz-bang game mechanics and cool features. But once you get past the initial Oooos and Aaahhhs they always come down to the same basic concept.
Basically, a Game Developer creates an interesting story. Then they create an interesting setting with cool out of this world races and characters. Then it’s up to the players to level a character, gain equipment and skills. Then somewhere along the line, someone sends them off to kill an some power hungry, egocentric, evil doer that suffers from Mommy and Daddy issues saving the world from an apocalypse. HURRAY!!
It would seem that this formula would allow for an infinite amount of possible story ideas.
Then why do MMOs today seem tired and worn out? I don’t mean comfy old jeans worn out either. I mean the annoying hole in the crotch, busted button, stuck zipper kind of worn out!
I’m sure everyone has a theory on this. So here’s mine.
I think what causes everyone to eventually feel “Meh!” about their favorite MMO is one four letter word… Math!
Yes, I know! This is nothing new. People have been saying this very same thing for years.
Yes, I also know computers are basically complex calculators.
And yes, YES! I know Math has been a critical part of Role Play Gaming since its humble beginnings.
Fine!! I’ll compromise. Maybe it’s not the existence of Math that’s the issue, but HOW Math is used!
Here, let me try and explain.
Under the layers of user interface, storyline, and quest delivery mechanisms we can basically say every encounter is based upon a simple formula.
Player Damage > NonPlayer Character Total Health + Heals
Once we know what our Total Damage output, we can then establish what each player’s Damage Per Second should be in order to achieve the desired result within the shortest amount of time. After that, it’s all a matter of being able to execute this result repeatedly.
NO WONDER WE GET BORED!!!
Seriously, does anyone like to do the same thing over and over again? Oh sure, maybe a few times is cool but eventually we all want to experience something different. Otherwise how do you explain Altitis?
Make Your Old MMO Shine Like New
I propose a simple concept. One that would take us back to our RPG Roots and insist Developers replace predictability with randomness.
Yes folks, I’m saying throw away those spreadsheets and bring out the dice! It’s time to throw the bones and let fate decide!
WHOOA! Hold on now! Don’t get your panties in a boil. And I don’t need more j-ello thank you very much! And trust me, I promise it won’t kill your prescious Progression.
For you who never played D&D and don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, simply put, everything in the game is based upon two things: Dice Rolls and Modifiers. Yes, I mean everything.
From the beginning when you create your character, to your leveling skill and stat bonuses. And yes, even NPC Encounters are based upon an act of randomness. EVERYTHING!
Well, maybe not everything. I do admit there has to be some consistency. For example, Racials and Level Modifiers are typically static. So I’m not completely sure where the line needs to be drawn between something being static and predictable and random chance with an establish modifier.
That said, I do think it would be better to have the dice determine things like the following:
- Item stat bonuses
- NPC encounters
- Player DPS and HPS.
Sure, maybe the random(20) command said the healer fumbled causing a wipe. So what! We’re battling a crazed lunatic that will do anything to destroy us. As in real life, we should expect mistakes and random events to occur. (How else can you explain Oswald and The Magic Bullet?)
Another benefit of adding a 1d12 throw to gear stats, we’re no longer bound to specific dungeon grinds. We’d be able to run our favorite dungeons not because of the loot table, but for the excitement and adventure! No longer would everyone’s stats and specs matter because everyone would be naturally balanced. Sure, someone with the same item and spec could do more or less damage. But again I would say wouldn’t that be expected? Has NO ONE ever heard of David and Goliath? (No, I don’t mean the show about a boy and his dog!!)
Like I said, I’m not sure exactly where the line between Random vs. Predictability needs to be drawn. However, I do honestly believe the more Predictability we replace with Randomness the more excitement we would all experience with the games we love.
After all, isn’t variety the spice of life?
Star Wars: The Old Republic is the MMO for RPG Gamers who are more concerned about their own character than the adventure.
There I said it. And even though I have only had a very limited time playing the Beta. I have read a ton of reviews and player diaries. And I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched. All of this trying to find a something to spark an interest in playing this game.
See, I like the Star Wars universe. No, I can’t say I love it, but I do really like it. I’ve read a dozen or so Star Wars books. I’ve watched every Star Wars film enough times to I get groans from family when I suggest it. Heck, I’ve even grown to like Jar Jar Binks! But for some reason, I just have no real desire to play The Old Republic.
Then it dawned on me. That the reason I don’t like The Old Republic is really the same reason I’m having a tough time with MMO’s in general. Games today fail to deliver the feeling one is part of an epic, do or die, group adventure.
Oh sure, The Old Republic has group play with Flashpoints. But the storyline isn’t really do or die. (Well, not from what I have seen anyways.)
Everyone talks about how amazed they are by the story. Players go on and on about how much they identify with THEIR CHARACTER. How each choice they make impacts their characters INDIVIDUAL development.
Basically, the impression I get is when you play The Old Republic is, “It’s all about ME!”
Where’s the dynamic of your party heading off on an adventure to save the world? (Or in this case the galaxy.)
And like I mentioned before, this isn’t just an issue with TOR, it’s the same with World of Warcraft and in a lesser degree Rift. Every single MMO today focuses on creating a game that individual players feel special.
Where, individual players can save the day. Oh sure, maybe we need to group up with our guild mates to clear a Dungeon or Raid. But other than that it’s all about me. Simply put, every game we call an MMORPG today is nothing more than a Single Player Role Playing Game with Co-Op play.
And if I’m correct, this explains why Star Wars will be such a huge success. It’s an epic story about each character fulfilling their own grand adventure coming together and Co-operating only when they have to. It’s a perfect game for those who prefer individual character development with optional group play.
Simply put, gamers today don’t want to be simple adventurers, they want to be gods!
Have you ever thought about how much everyone cheats now-a-days? Long gone are the days of, “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?” Today’s you’re more apt to find someone asking, “How is it cheating if everyone else does it?” It used to be there are only two certainties in life, Death and Taxes. But I think now we have three, Death, Taxes and Everyone Cheats.
This past week the gaming community found out that one of the most successful World of Warcraft guilds was found guilty of cheating. Seemed Paragon got suspended for exploiting a new in-game feature in achieving their World First.
And though I don’t play WoW anymore, I found this particular story intriguing. See, I’ve been talking about this topic with one of my Rift Riders co-hosts, Josh. We’ve been going back and forth on what constitutes cheating. And I guess we’re not alone because Mike Norton lit Google+ on fire with his own post about it.
The biggest issue seems to stem over what exactly is cheating.
If you found out using something within the game or system differently than intended, is that cheating?
If you use tools available to anyone to achieve an objective, is that cheating?
What about using hints and detailed information from outside resources? Is that cheating?
Or could it be that cheating is purely a question of legality? Is the only way one is cheating is if they’re breaking established rules?
In the gaming world this question isn’t a black and white as it might seem. It seems there are about as many definitions for the term cheating as there are ways to cheat.
And you know what? This really scares me.
Well, if a society can’t decide where to draw the line on what is or is not cheating, then how can we set a moral compass and define right from wrong?
By no means am I asking for us to return to some puritanical way of life. But I do think we need to think just how far down this slope we want to slide. At some time we need to draw a line so future generations can know which way is up. Otherwise, how can we, the parents of today, have hope that life will be better for the children of the future?
Ponder that one and let me know what you think.