Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Conversation with an angry “fan”


Dang, great job. I built this map and I was thinking maybe 5% of people would make it to the top. Did not expect success vids within a couple hours!
So you're the dick responsible for this poorly tested piece of shit. Between this and the giant middle finger that is the Holiday skins, did you come up with anything that you intended to simply be fun for everyone? 5%? You created this, with an estimated 5% success rate? For a holiday event? Seriously, go fuck yourself. The fuck is wrong with you?

I mean what the fuck are you thinking, shoehorning platforming into a an engine with collision and camera as bad as GW2? Then forcing us to do it in a group? The only reason this thing is remotely hard, is you used cheap ass tactics, and fake difficulty combined with the limitations of the engine, that you made no attempt to work around.
That's fair criticism. I am very aware that MMO's are NOT the best platform (pun intended) for jumping challenges. Physics and camera simply can't be as tight as they can be on a dedicated platform game engine. So our JPs do push the limits where payoff and inherent weakness of the platform are pushing against each other. That's why we didn't make any JPs part of any critical path and only a small part of our content. Thanks for the feedback.
No. Thank YOU for making holiday content, that exposes every technical flaw in the game, and was designed exclusively for a tiny portion of your playerbase.
Let me ask you this. If you know the limits of the engine. Why jumping puzzles at all? Couldn't you get creative and come up with some other form of content as an aside from the grinding?
Why would you design a holiday event that you assumed only 5% of would fully enjoy? Is a holiday really the best place for exclusionary content design?
The truly sad thing is, is that you went out of your way to make it as frustrating as possible.
Even one or two easy fixes would have prevented a lot of rage.
1. Make it a solo instance (this really is a no brainer)
2. Remove the wait time between each attempt. (pointless frustration)
Yeah, those are indeed no-brainers. And was my initial design. Sadly, the back-end server realities put the kibosh on that.
and yet you reserve space for the absolutely pointless home instances. Personal stories, etc.
that also doesn't excuse everything else that purposefully did to make this event exclusionary, when a holiday even should not be. It's bad enough you made the skins available only to the really lucky, or really wealthy.
It is nice to see that you intended on making it more enjoyable at some point
Well it sounds like we just have different design values. I agree that we don't have everything balanced perfectly yet. MMOs are incredibly complex machines with a lot of constantly moving parts and so many different people working on so many different systems. We get better as we go. Hopefully someday our intent will be perfectly implemented and everybody will be happy. :)
Please for god's sake don't try any of this 'jumping challenge' bullshit on wintersday. I've spent about 13 hours so far on this crap and still haven't done it. I have to run it in like a 600x400 box because my PC isn't fast enough for this and I still only get about 15 FPS. I keep hitting invisible walls or it fails to jump when I press space. Guild Wars 1 events were good because you could easily try everything before halloween was over and didn't haemorrage from the difficulty.
Hey Valdraya. Can I ask you something? Do you feel like the other Halloween content is so sparse that you are compelled to do this one map you dislike? I'm just curious what your perception is. We definitely don't want anyone to feel like they HAVE to do any jumping puzzles in Guild Wars 2. So if you feel you have to I'd like to know where that feeling is coming from so we can communicate better through our design. Thanks!
Well lets see.
You can walk up to pumpkins and press f 150 times.
You can buy costumes for cash that can't be used in combat.
You can grind in a big square room.
You can look for ghosts that tell you one paragraph death stories (once).
You can waste money on boxes with joylessly greedy drop rates. or spend a fuck ton of money trying to craft one.
People WANT to play this map. Thats the problem, you made it some ridiculous effort, just to give players some epeen polish.
I hear you. You forgot about our two activities, Lunatic Inquisition and Reaper's Rumble. Plus the rest of Halloween still has to play out, and there's more content with that. All said, it's WAY more content than I've ever seen in any MMO for a holiday event. But I think I can see where you're going with this. If you don't find the game fun, no amount of content is going to be fun for you. On the other hand there are 2 threads with hundreds of thanks gushing over this particular map. So..
Hey check out IMDB.
It's a really interesting site. It proves that no matter how bad something is, there will always be an audience that LOVES IT.
Two threads full of people gushing over it? What a coincidence, there are tons of people who loved White Chicks! Nevermind all threads about how badly designed it is.
There would be more threads about how shitty it is, if your moderators didn't merge them all into one thread.
Don't get me wrong, some of the holiday is fun. But it's a small amount.
Well I'm glad to hear you like SOME stuff. :) And your White Chicks line was well played! But the threads I'm talking about are on Reddit. No mods there. I like the real, gritty, hard core feedback. The kind you're giving me. Hurts so good. But seriously, I DO appreciate valid negative crit. Makes me better.
My only point is that some love it and some hate it. If MOST people hated it, I would stop making stuff that most people hate.
Your welcome. I'm happy to see you can take it in stride. Bioware devs could learn a thing or two from you. But one last point, you can't prove what most people like or hate. You CAN however, choose to make a holiday celebration inclusive, and save that hardass, pinnacle hair pulling content for side things.
Though I will thank you, for not making it part of the meta. Despite what I said before. I actually like most of the event.
Cool. Wintersday is going to be much more chill, if that helps. Whoah, another pun!  And you're correct that it's impossible to get an accurate reading of a player base from forums. Most players don't post, and those who do have statistically relevant factors that make them non-typical. So... we just do the best we can.
I gotta say, outside this one instance, I think you do amazing work. The world design in GW2 is pretty phenomenal, especially Lion's Arch. Very intricate. I must apologize for last night. I acted terribly and there is no excuse for the level of vitriol I gave you. You don't deserve that. I still don't like the puzzle, but that's no reason to act the way I did.
Enjoying the boss fight so far.

No problem. I've got thick skin.  And I honestly like to know where people are coming from. Good chatting with you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trusting God

On a FaceBook group someone wrote the following:
"Ultimately, every spiritual valley 
brings me to the same choice: 
I must decide between trusting God more, 
or trusting Him less.
There is no third option."

It prompted me to share my experience as follows:

What does "trusting God" look like in action or attitude, Kim?  I ask because I don't know.  In the past I have done what I would call "trusting in God", and it looked different every time.  For instance, there was a time when I had just got into my chosen profession.  It had taken years to get into the video game industry.  Jobs were VERY scarce and the number of applicants for every position was huge.  I had a new baby, and was struggling financially from schooling.  After 6 months the studio I had just landed a job at got closed down by the parent company, Sierra.  (They made a bunch of adventure games back in the day.)  Well they offered us jobs at Sierra so we wouldn't have to lose our jobs.  Great news!  But then I found out the only project they were staffing was called Gabriel Knight 3, which was an adventure detective game about a guy who finds out Jesus had secret bastard children and there were vampire angels, and a bunch of stuff like the DaVinci Code. (but this was before that was written)

So I had what would normally be a very difficult decision.  Either keep my job, but work on a project that compromised my values and beliefs, or quit and get a job not in my chosen profession that I'd just paid tens of thousands of dollars to get educated in.  I expressed my concerns and actually got a call from the VP of Sierra.  He told me "Look, I'm a Christian too.  But I can tell the difference between fantasy and reality.  If you refuse to do this project, what's to say you won't have a problem with the next one?"  Well, besides the insult implying that I can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality, he was right about the problem I would present to the company.

At that point I had the firm conviction that I needed to sacrifice my dreams to stay true to God.  So I quit.  My family had to move into my parent's attic while I sent portfolios all over the country.  After several months it became obvious that no one was going to hire a jr. artist.  So we moved from Seattle to Tulsa to live with my wife's grandparents where I could get a job at a lumber yard.  Turns out I found a place that produced software tutorials and I got a job there writing tutorials for Photoshop.  Not my dream at all, but way better than a lumber yard.

A couple months later I got a call from a company in Ann Arbor, MI, and got a job in the game industry again.  Not only that, but the salary I requested they laughed at, and insisted I get paid MORE than that.  Within two years I was an Art Lead making double my salary at Sierra.

 The reason I share this story is because it's an EASY example of "trusting God".  Very black and white.  Thus it was EASY for me to make that choice.  And you know what?  It made me fairly cocky.  Like I was God's chosen one.  I did the right thing and got the reward.  Wooo!

Now fast forward 7 years.  My youth-group-sweetheart-married-at-18-wife is literally a crack addict.  We now have two sons.  My company was bought by another one, which then closed us down.  My wife stole my severance package and spent it on drugs.  What I had left I spent on trying to win her back to our marriage and God.  Didn't work.  My whole life I had believed that if I did the right thing then God would reward that.  Not necessarily financially.  But in the IMPORTANT ways, like family.  So I kept slamming my head into that wall.  Kept praying and trying everything and anything to convince my wife to do the right thing.  Besides, she made it very clear that if she got the divorce she wanted she would take the kids.

When you talk about spiritual valleys, well, this was the deepest one I had ever been in.  And so my version of "trusting God" meant spending all my money, time and energy on becoming a doormat for this woman to abuse me and my children.  All because I had the conviction that doing so would save her soul and our family.

It was only after I was told by my 5 year old after the boys had spent yet another night at the crack dealer's house, that they were playing with bullets and saw naked pictures that I realized that whatever "trusting God" meant, I HAD to take action and end the marriage and save my kids.   Was I "trusting God" at that time?  I don't know.

What I do know are the results for me and my boys.  I was convinced at the time that was essentially cursing my future by filing for a divorce.  That God would withhold His blessings from me since I violated my vow that I made before Him.  I figured I could never let myself love another woman.  I couldn't even think about romance for the rest of my life.  (A really fun idea at age 29!)

But I ended up with full custody of my kids.  Found love again and have been extremely happily married to her for 7 years this month.

So my point is this.  At one point in my life I felt like I was "trusting God."  The result was pride and rigidity in my approach to life.  At another point I thought I was NOT "trusting God", and I could point to Bible verses that say I was not "trusting God".  Yet from THAT experience I grew, I was humbled, I matured, I became closer to God then ever.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Letter to my pastor

So I was in a creative team meeting at church last night.  This is where the pastor and a few of the quirky artistic types in the church get together and hash out sermon series themes and figure out what kinds of assets we can create to help communicate those themes.  (Usually power point background images or little animations and such)  I don't remember the conversation that lead to it, but at some point I let it slip that I "don't believe anything this church teaches anymore."  Which really isn't true.  It's only specific doctrines that seem to be held up as literally true, and are taught that one must believe the literalness of the symbol in order to 'be saved' that I no longer believe.  Anyway, Curt gave me a 'serious' look and said we should probably talk about that.  So I wrote him this letter and thought that it was a pretty good (relatively) short and concise time capsule of my believes circa 2012, so I'm posting it for future reference.


You expressed concern in the meeting last night when I mentioned that I don’t believe anything our church teaches any more.  I’m not sure if your concern is strictly for me and my soul, or if you’re considering quarantine to protect the church.  If it is the latter, I want to make sure that I’m very clear in my intentions and perspective so that you can make the best decision about how to proceed.  I know that in the vast majority of cases, when a church member stops believing the established doctrines of the church it is a ‘no-but’ kind of disagreement, which often blooms into conversion tactics where they go around trying to convince those in the church that the established doctrines are wrong and folks need to change to a different set of doctrines.  I’m not a ‘no-but’ kind of guy.  I’m a ‘yes-and’.  I perceive that the finger pointing at the sky is true, and I also look at the sky and see that that is true, then I ‘yes-and’ God is more than the finger, more than the sky, and more than the definitions we put on those things.  Perhaps I’m being too poetic, but I’m trying to not write a book of details, but just get you the general idea here. 

I think I’ve expressed this to you before, but I’ve recently had a very long email exchange with my dad where I had a chance to consolidate and distill the distinctions between me and the orthodox. (assuming you define orthodox as Lewis or Chesterton do)

1. THE primary difference is fundamentally epistemological.  I did not find some other set of doctrines from another church or teacher or philosopher and say, “Ah HA!  THEY are right, and my church is wrong!”  I envision this as one who moves from one city on a hill to another city on another hill.  This is how most conversions happen.  “THAT city was WRONG, so I moved to THIS city.”  Rather, my movement was to dig deep down under the ground of language using the shovel epistemology.  After all my digging I found myself back on the surface of another city on another hill.  And what I discovered from my dad, is that this hill appears to be directly BEHIND the hill of liberal theology as seen from orthodoxy.  In other words, from your vantage point and from my dad’s vantage point, my statements seem to be coming from the city of Borg and Schleirmacher.  They are not.  I don’t live in that city.  I’m in the city on the hill BEHIND that city.

2. I have no desire to convince anyone that I am right and they are wrong.  Because the city I found myself in is not habitable by most people.  It would literally drive them insane or into depression.  I love people and want them to be sane.  Because I came here through the tunnel of epistemology, and the provision bags of doctrine don’t fit through the narrow parts, there is no other way to access this city that I know of.  And to put it simply, most people can’t handle the journey anyway.  So I don’t invite anyone.  And since my ultimate position is that I don’t know anything, I can’t very well tell people what they should think.

3. There are no institutions that I know of that fit my perspective.  Therefore there is no ‘better’ church for me to attend.  What I share with this church is a love of Christ and sincere desire to Love others with the fullness that God can instill in us. 

4. So with this established: 1. My position is epistemological, not theological (thought obviously the one radically affects the other) 2. I am not a missionary or apologist for my position, and 3. I share this church’s heart, (depending on how you define the heart) I hope that brings a better context to interpret my statement about not believing anything the church teaches.  It’s not that I think these doctrines are wrong.  Only that A. I don’t technically speaking ‘believe’ almost ANYTHING, and B. I don’t believe that language is a suitable medium for composing meaningful doctrine.  Language is the best we’ve got, so that’s what we work with, but I trust that if my perception is correct about the limits of the medium of language, then God would have accounted for that limitation, and thus, would be far more ‘liberal’ (understanding) with His policies concerning salvation/damnation/grace/etc.  vis-à-vis doctrinal adherence.

Because language is so malleable, ESPECIALLY concerning philosophical and theological ideas, I have no problem entering the symbology of the Christian constellation of doctrines on one level, while not believing them to be an accurate portrayal of the Signified.  Yet I am not being deceptive, because I don’t believe there is a BETTER set of symbology to portray the Signified.  I no longer have any faith that specific doctrines concerning the Signified are true.  I simply don’t care about them.  They are mechanism, not heart.  For all I know the radically silly historical Jesus deniers may be right, and there never was a real man behind the character.  And that would not damage the Signified.  I ground my HOPE for eschatological consummation of all things in God within the framework of Christian types and signs because I’m familiar with them and have not found a superior framework.  I no longer have faith in anything.  I’ve liquefied that account and deposited all my assets into HOPE.  I instantiate my hopes in action based on my best reading of Love and human nature.  Some call that embodiment faith.  I don’t.  My dad’s interpretation is that I have so much faith I have managed to excise the word from my vocabulary.  Perhaps he’s right.  I don’t know.  I’m just doing my best to be honest with myself and others and Love them to the best of my abilities.



I met with Curt for lunch last weekend.  Oh, I should have mentioned that none of this came out of left field for him.  I've had several long conversations about this kind of stuff with him over the years.  So anyway, he assured me he knows me well enough to know that he doesn't have to worry about me, or worry about me trying to lead others astray.  It's great talking to Curt.  One of only a handful of people in my life that I can talk about epistemology, Hegel, and Wittgenstein who knows what I'm talking about. And because he is very relationally oriented, it's all about understanding the heart and how these ideas come about, rather than taking the ideas and presuming the heart behind them.  That's what judgmental people do.  Because it was a very long, very complex conversation I'm not even going to try to summarize   Suffice it to say that we are all good, and Curt still welcomes me and my family at our church and we are still working together on sermon series and such.