GDC Europe Discount Code


Hey folks,

I am trying to find promo codes for GDCE 2010. And I would like to share my results with you fine folks.

For now, I can say:

1. There is a legendary Alumni code which gave up to 55% off for other GDC events. But I have received this info from the GDC team yesterday, quote:

“GDC Europe at this time does not offer an alumni discount. I have sent a request to the group to remove the Alumni reference to avoid any future confusion.”

2. [UPDATE] There are 100€ off coupons, now official: ABE10FS

3. Or, alternatively, there are 10% off discounts like GDCEDGE10


4. In both cases, use the code on page 6 of the registration, right at the end. Make sure to register before July 21st to get the early bird on top of that.

5. Sadly, both codes don’t work with student passes.


Just finished Mass Effect 2 *Spoilers*


After only a few months I finished the game (yes, not much sparetime).

Gut feeling prefers Mass Effect 1. I had that fresh, innocent, don’t-know-what-to-expect feeling going for it there, and ME1 caught me unawares. Yes, it had faults, and ME2 is much more polished they say.

But I don’t really like the dumbing-down (or streamlining, if you prefer). The effect is, removing half of the combat powers, the inventory, skill development, and therefore half of the choices turns the game into a shooter, slowly. Beware what happens when shooters dress up as RPGs, or do I need to get that disfigured Fallout 3 from the dungeon?

I think it’s a shame that the game feels most like an RPG when I read about it after playing it through. The stuff that happens backstage in the finale is impressive.

Finale, I don’t know, 90% of the game feels like preparing for the end. Getting those 10 or so crew members loyal takes up about two thirds of the game at least. The other side missions are – again – not a highlight. The word Mercenary in Mass Effect 2 is alien lingo for Boring. Take out a Mercenary base is exactly as thrilling as it sounds. The Kill All Orcs of the future.

And then comes the end, and after 2 hours everything is over. Feels like I am rehearsing for a concert 90% of my time, and then comes the concert. And then nothing. The best of an actual concert, the snuggling with the fans and being celebrated afterwards and all (I should know, I had a hundred or so), is omited. A character I had with me in almost all missions died in a cutscene, with no reaction by my character and no mentioning ever after. Game ends, back to ship, life goes on. One line per character about what just happened, that’s all. Weird. ME1 was much more round in all aspects concerning story arch and ending.

I was too stupid to get laid in the game, maybe hence my frustration 😉 I now know how it feels to be a lesbian, trying to make out with a straight girl in vain until she dies. Hmm. I only tried to hit on Miranda, and a little on Jacob who didn’t really play along.

Yeah that’s weird, Miranda I really loved (they paid 5 artists just to sculp her butt), and I took her with me to every mission because of her skills (really!). After I completed her loyalty mission, she had an argument with Jack (female tatoo witch). Even though I prefered her in every way, I thought she was wrong to make fun of Jack’s torture childhood. I defended Jack with ONE dialogue option, and that was it. The other option was something like: “Buhuhu, Jack, you have been tortured every day for your entire youth, we know, now shut up about it you whiny pussy! It was your fault, because you’re ugly!” Who can take that option!? So, I lost Miranda’s loyalty again, and never got it back. I did not have enough paragon dialogue power thing to say sorry, ever, and in the end she died because she was not loyal. They assume that I don’t like her because I did not play her loyalty mission, but I did. Mean! 🙂

Do I like that? I don’t know, on one hand I think it’s great that characters fight, on the other I would have liked to somehow apologize! But, as I found out now, she is not into girls so…. If I can’t have her… 😉

I really liked that we need to live with failures in this game! Yes! One of the things I go on about. I botched a mission or two, no instant reloads, no, I had to face the results, no 2nd chance to get that character loyal, and in the end every one died who is not loyal, quite heavy but that’s life! Those life/death choices are brilliant, they make it seem that things and choice are important, and that’s good for atmosphere.

Also, I loved the cutscene interrupts, very nice, I think that’s the best Quick Time Event usage I saw so far! Rarely, you have a choice to do something good or bad by pressing left or right trigger. But it’s quick! If you miss it, nothing happens, if you hit it, you do a good or evil action to change things. Brilliant.

Nothing else to complain about, except maybe that they should have thought twice about that planet scanning stuff. A dull mini game which brings resources and in the pursuit of which you can discover missions – never a good idea. I don’t really know if I have missed a good secondary mission, I discovered about 50-70% of the planets, don’t know. We are hot for Astronomy here, don’t get me wrong. I just prefer riding through forests to find a mission over raking a planet for minerals.

Bla. And the facial animations and so on are gorgeous, and Miranda’s butt is a USP on its own.

Yes, I will play ME3, and yes I will import my old game even though Miranda is dead. Although I’d love to have a different character some time, even though I am a little in love with my female Shepard. She’s cute.

Random Bla end, I really gotta hurry, a lot to do today…


Why I hate Fallout 3 [with Spoilers!]


I am working on an article about subjective reception of games and movies depending on your own personal situation. I realised that I have a lot to say about Fallout 3, which doesn’t really fit into the article, so here we go.

I loved Fallout 1 and 2, especially the freedom and how much hidden content I missed because I decided to follow a certain path I chose for myself. I loved Oblivion, I played it 300 hours and I haven’t seen everything. So when the makers of Oblivion were announced to develop Fallout 3, my expectations were going through the roof. I expected the best of both rolled into one.

Expectations can be bad! I am only human. You should first realize what a game tries to be, then take it just as such and try to make the most out of it.

I started the game on Day 1, and after a promising start I slowly realised I didn’t like it. I compared it with both Fallout and Oblivion and it was weaker than both in direct comparison in my own twisted view. Fallout “seemed” more liberal to me. I clearly remember the massive freedom I experienced with some quests I played 3 or 4 times with different choices and results, including many non-violent approaches. Oblivion has magic, and monsters, and a lot of quests, and I loved it, so it is a hard rival to beat with a grey future setting.

Fallout 3 started very well, but I met a lot of problems in my subjective experience. As soon as you are asked to go to downtown Washington, killing began. Like masses of enemies, no real choices, just stupid killing (my expectation was: RPG. I got: Shooter). Ok some were super mutants, but I was expecting more value to life than this. Every human or human-like thing attacked me blindly, even if obviously underarmed, and while bullets are expensive and people are poor, everybody still attacked me and died. What kind of realistic real world is this? Why shooty no talky?

My expectation for Oblivion was: Monsters are evil, killing is fine. But I expected much more from a future earth, I expected a world simulation, which was wrong of me. In Oblivion and Dragon Age you can at least try to pay the robbers, that’s more intelligent, and that’s “only” classic fantasy.

Why do they act like I had a choice? This is the main story arch. I did everything I could to keep the slaughter to the minimum, I spent hours trying to “break the game” sorry I mean hunting for free choice. What if I had chosen a scientist character?

Mood dropping.

Then I met this giant Uber-Mutant (I was supposed to run away from) in front of the Brotherhood base. I defeated him because of a bug, he was stuck in the environment. It took almost all my ammo and bombs, and it gave 0 XP and no loot. Ok just a bug but still…

Mood dropping.

There is this vampire quest, which started very interestingly. A boy was involved with vampires. We decided to kill them all (because they were not cool vampires but cannibals rather, yuck). So, we saved the boy, he said “thank you!!”, and when we walked back from the mission to grab our reward, suddenly the mission failed, and everybody involved totally forgot about the quest. I reloaded 4 times. Same effect.

It’s just a bug, but it was a showstopper so…

Mood dropping.

The slave camp – I pay a lot of money so the children get released, I kill him (slavery is no go) AND THEN his slave women attack me. In Oblivion I can at least try to “give up”, this often works if the persons are at least friendly in nature. No way here. I can “choose” to be attacked by unarmed women slaves I just liberated until my drugs run out or to kill the unarmed liberated slaves against my absolute intent. Then I looted everyone, and guess what, the big amount of money disappeared. This breaks the illusion, I just paid him so the children get out of the way, I never took my eyes of him. Even if he had eaten the money right there on the spot, I could have reclaimed it because there wasn’t much left of him.

Mood dropping.

COME ON, don’t expect me to play a roleplaying game and give me this G.I. Joe kind of black and white Duke Nukem world where everything is about killing, no asking. I try to live a movie here. I try to be a character. I think and talk about what to do next. I even try to act “in character”, to stay true to the character, just to keep up the illusion and immersion. You can’t set up an atmosphere and allow me to spent 2 hours on character creation and then throw me into this cardboard world with the depth of Paper Mario. For ME, this is what the game is about. For others, including the gamedevs, this believable interactive world full of choices that make sense is just on the “nice to have” list.

And now to the finisher.

I had some fun with a few good quests, too, and I tried very much to like the game. All in all, I lied to myself quite well and thought I had some fun.

Until I met the president, the big super villain master boss enemy, which turned out to be a computer. So I did ONE click during our conversation, “could you give up please?”, and he said “OK” and killed himself. Really, I am not kidding. I think I stared at the screen in silence for 1 minute. This was the worst CRPG story moment in my entire 24 years of gaming experience I believe. Imagine this scene in Batman: “Joker, give up!” “OK, I kill myself *BAMM*” Or “Yes Mr. Bond, you are right, I see the error of my ways, I will just stab meself with this handy dagger urglll*

I am aware that Mass Effect [SPOILER, skip this paragraph if necessary] pulled a similar stunt at the end, but I think this does not compare. In Mass Effect, the person in question is in a weak state, his internal struggle was established in at least one earlier scene, we have just defeated him, and he is actually possessed, so to convince him to commit suicide is “too easy” but not “madness”.

In Fallout 3, it is a computer! I am a weak prisoner in that base, surrounded by my enemies. I am at the weakest situation possible excluding gang-rapage. I have not even escaped, I was asked to join computer for a nice chat. And in that casual conversation, the computer decides to end his master plot and his existence because I successfully made a charisma roll.

(do you know why I was caught in the first place? Because like in the worst movies we have, just the second after I retrieved a quest item from a too big totally emptied out dungeon, the enemy was upon me in large numbers. “Thank you, I will take this.” style. What a dick move, where the fuck did they hide, I was going up and down the dungeon many times and it was mothereffing empty. That shit does not translate to interactive media!)

At this point, the game became my enemy. I look at Roleplaying Game of the Year awards and wonder what people think an RPG should be like?

But this also makes me happy in a way. All my secret game design ideas have value if the competition is that “bad” and so revered at the same time. We reach limits in graphics, or at least we have to fight to push through. People have huge expectations concerning graphics. But there is so much still to do, to tell, concerning story, content, depth, choice, a convincing setting, emotions other than fear or hate, approaches without violence, moral shades of grey.

I know that you have to be huge, rich and brilliant, in order to pull off a well-financed game, which is fun to play, which is acclaimed and sells well, and which advances the rather low level of substance we have today. I guess I will not have the luck to be ever in the situation to have a try. But, we as players should support the few games that have the chance to raise our standards, I look at you Heavy Rain and Alan Wake.