Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Crown of Leaves: An Interview With Lins And Grimm


By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich Resident)

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(Click here if the video fails to play)

I’m not a big fan of visual novels, but something about The Crown of Leaves drew me in. I 
was immediately drawn to the beautiful art style, music, world, lore, and of course the 
characters. The setting and aesthetic were right up my alley. I enjoyed every second of 
the first chapter and you can check out the plot and purchase on Steam here. As it turns 
out, others have enjoyed the game as well. The reviews for the game on Steam have 
been Overwhelmingly Positive and it even was nominated for a 2019 SXSW award. Now 
being a huge fan of the game and the artists behind it, I was extremely excited to interview 
the main duo behind it; Lins and Grimm.

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Cyfir: What inspired the art, story, and lore of the game?
Lins: The game’s lore had existed long before the game itself and has passed through 
numerous and painful changes. Latori, a country within the Shang-La universe in which 
the action of “The Crown of Leaves” takes place, was originally based on the mixture of 
gypsy and voodoo culture. (We were very inspired by their aesthetics.)
It’s always hard to talk about how the story was born. We put our feelings and emotions into the story and a little bit of ourselves into Roui, so we get a good laugh out of it.
As for the visual-novel-like-a-game genre, we were inspired by two games — Phoenix 
Wright: Ace Attorney and Great Troubles created by our compatriots from the Hazukashi 
Team. We can’t fail to mention Tales from the Borderlands by TTG because it radically 
changed our vision of how character portrayal and storytelling should be done.
================================================
Cyfir: Who provided the music?
Grimm: "Blacksmith" is an awesome musician! We met by chance. I had just been surfing 
through resources for paid music, listening to everything I saw until I suddenly stumbled 
upon one of his tracks. That tempted me at once, and we decided "Why not DM him? 
What if he takes orders for original soundtracks? "
"Blacksmith" has a clearly recognizable style. He can’t be confused with anybody else, he 
is not afraid of experiments, and he is a real professional with a capital “P.” And he also 
enjoys rock, jazz, and Halloween-style gothic music.
When he created "The Storyteller" (Roui’s music theme), and we listened to it for the first 
time, we were sitting after it for a few minutes in a pleasant shock with the only thought in 
our heads "It's fabulous."
================================================
Cyfir: Is there anyone else on the team that contributed to the project?
Lins: Sure! First of all, we should mention our coder, mold.FF. He is sincerely dedicated to 
what he does and “The Crown” project. So he had been not only solving the tasks we gave 
him, but also felt free to share his own ideas about technical issues. All complicated 
modules were done by his hands.
As for our musician, _Blacksmith_, Grimm has already told you about him before. There 
are two tracks in the OST made by other musicians, Unikorn and Flaviocortizo — one 
track was bought as the very first, the second one is the most recent. We also separately 
ordered OST track from Craig C. Barnes for the location where all the main action takes 
place. The main character’s voice in the intro video was acted by Beau Stephenson – this 
is a voice which has clung to Roui and which all of us will undoubtedly hear again in the future.
A translation from Russian into English was made by Natalie De Corsair and edited by 
Limelawn, Alexis, and Caervec. It is worth noting that Caervec also worked carefully on 
Flynn’s manner of speech in the English localization.
I hope I’ve mentioned everyone. At the moment the team has changed again, but it is too 
early to talk about it in detail.
================================================
Cyfir: Without spoiling anything of course, what can everyone look forward to in the next 
chapters?
Lins: Intrigue, jiggery-pokery, a show-boat trip on a clear morning (possibly).
Grimm: Lots of adventures, mysticism, and monochrome gloom! And a little bit for Serbian 
fans: in the second chapter, his story will be continued.
================================================
Cyfir: What have been the challenges of getting this project off the ground and what 
helped you guys to overcome those challenges?
Lins: As old friends and co-authors, Grimm and I are used to relying only on our own or 
each other's strengths. We felt we had the firepower to make the game on our own, without 
attracting any other people: writing stories together or generating universes and characters 
is not something new to us, plus both of us are also artists. The game engine seemed quite 
simple to me. And as for music, we planned to buy it from audio resources. Then we 
realized pretty fast that we couldn’t cope with that by ourselves, and that is how the team 
began to assemble.
We had worked for several months with the first coder, but his work did not suit us. We 
also had our friend Natalie De Corsair with us. She had to create psychological profiles 
(I honestly still don’t understand what all of us had expected from that). We also planned 
to pick another musician, but something went wrong.
The vision on the final result was absolutely different between us, which slowed the 
working process and caused some disagreements. We violated the deadlines that we 
had set for ourselves. It all came to a decision that I took over the entire visual and plot 
part of the project. But later, it became obvious that the leader is not the person who 
does everything by himself, but the one who finds the strength to entrust the difficult 
work to team members and to distribute responsibilities between them correctly. 
Grimm worked with backgrounds, Natalie with translations, and I focused on plot and 
drawing character sprites. That helped us to finish chapter one.
Grimm: I can also add depression and lack of spare time to that list. 2018 and 2019 
stood out richly for tragic real-life situations and health issues for both of us. The coder 
and translator also had enough of their own problems. There were months when we 
barely had time to sleep at night, trying to combine our main jobs, real-life stuff, and 
“The Crown” with all that gloomy background, eventually going into a deep pit.
But now all those things are already behind us, thanks to the closest people for their 
support.
================================================
Cyfir: Is there a rough release window for chapter two?
Lins/Grimm: We expect to finish chapter two by the end of 2020. We want to work 
through everything we’ve done calmly and accurately, so as not to disappoint our fans!
================================================
Cyfir: Game projects often go through changes as they are developed. Have there been 
any changes in the direction of the game over the course of conception and development 
and if so, what might those have been?
Lins/Grimm: We wanted to come up with a mystical story about a society committed to 
ancient traditions and beliefs … aaaand it was supposed to be a dating simulator. That 
was sort of “Let’s try something simple for the first time.” Over time, the concept of this 
story had changed, and we began to bump into a sort of gloomy tale, completely devoid 
of any humor.
The changes began imperceptibly, and to mark the point when they started, I will share 
a little sort of a secret. We often turn on some nonsense content on the background 
during the working process to make it less routine - the worse it is, the better – and we 
also funnily comment about it in parallel. We have one TV channel where some sort of 
nonsense about fortune-tellers, conspiracies, ceremonies, and etc. is broadcasted 24 
hours a day. And there was the moment when we realized that the protagonist of “The 
Crown” gradually became a skeptic instead of a guardian of ancient traditions and 
superstitions, who had also started seeing through charlatans and languidly rolling his 
eyes every time he had to hear another omen from one of his relatives. We’ve just 
understood that such a story simply can’t be narrated with a serious face. So that is 
how we got to what we have now, even though such a path forced us to postpone the 
release of the game for a few years.
================================================
Cyfir: I loved playing through chapter one and my only real disappointment was that it 
ended before I was ready to leave the world. Will chapter two be longer?
Lins: One review has deeply stained my mind (but, sadly, not literally). In that review, 
a player shared his opinion, that, possibly, the first chapter is just a prologue for 
something huge. What I said in my head was like “Nah, of course not”, but, actually, 
it was more like “*scoff*… of course, yes!” Chapter two will be much longer.
Originally we planned to create a simple short game in 3-4 chapters just to pass the 
time. No one had even thought about history in a few chapters. However, when we had 
been finishing the first chapter, we clearly understood that the game left many issues 
not only for the players but also even for us. We know how everything will go on; all of 
us just have to solve “The Crown” correctly.
================================================
Cyfir: Were you surprised at how well the game was received?
Grimm: Extremely! We had no guarantees that players would enjoy “The Crown”, 
because it is 2D and anthro-styled. But we were suddenly supported both by Russian 
and foreign fans. Some wrote and still write very warm kind words, others draw fan-arts, 
really, lots of love! It’s nice to feel that you are striving for a good reason.
Critical remarks about game mechanics and conveniences/inconveniences are also 
useful. With their help, we understand what should be changed in-game, or vice versa, 
what should be left untouched.
================================================
Cyfir: After The Crown of Leaves, what’s next for you and your team? Are there other 
game projects on the horizon for you and your team?
Lins/Grimm: We have plans to expand plot branches, which didn’t have enough 
attention paid to them in “The Crown”. Roui’s story will end sooner or later, but this 
universe is still full of unsolved mysteries.
It seems to me that a clearer understanding of what the next project should look like 
will come during the development of the last chapter.
================================================
Cyfir: On your online profiles you mention that you are not furries. What lead you to 
an anthropomorphic-like art-style and catering to the fandom?
Grimm: The thing is that it is not the only fandom we are interested in. We enjoy 
drawing both humans and anthros, which we tried to reflect in the Shang-La universe. 
Sahash live side by side with humans and don’t conflict with each other. In “The Crown”, 
we will continue to develop this idea. One human character is a protagonist of the DLC 
called “Immortal Horses.” Another one will meet you in the second chapter.
We began to draw animals in childhood. This is not surprising, considering the old Disney 
cartoons we all grew up on and our love of fairy tales like “Narnia”. In my youth, it seemed 
to me that it was easier to draw animals; my dog turned out better in my drawings than 
my Mother, who resented that she had "round cheeks" or that her "nose does not look 
like this". On the other hand, my dog did not have that much opportunity to comment on 
my childhood creativity…
================================================
Cyfir: Are there any other projects that you would like to plug?
Lins:We had been working on a comic book called Asomatous” before “The Crown of 
Leaves”, but we never finished it. Perhaps, we can come back to it after “The Crown” and 
rework it according to the game, who knows. But it’s unlikely that there would be any side 
stories to it.
Also, we’ve got a small comic series “The Endless Circle of Wolves” about the adventures 
of Tsourai Queen Saria, which is also indirectly related to Roui’s story. We had drawn it as 
a present for our patrons after we achieved a certain number of them on our Patreon.
----

Even if you are not a visual novel fan, I highly recommend this game for it’s intriguing story, 
music, and visuals. You will be transported to another world that you won’t want to leave. 
I can’t wait until the next chapter! 

Cyfir

Monday, February 3, 2020

What Is Opensim And What Is A Hypergrid/Metaverse?


By Angel Fencer (Ender Leven)

As you all know Second Life is known for having multiple regions right? Well, what if instead of an region, it's an entire different server that's controlling the regions and login? This has been well-known in the MMORPG community as an Private Server.

This is exactly what Opensim enables users to do. But what if i can tell you there is more to it then just an alternative Second life experience, what if  tell you you can connect different grids (Second Life Private Servers) let me introduce you the Hypergrid and the Metaverse and its infinite grids.

Multi-Grid Users and Local Grid Users in OSGrid:


So what are the differences between Second life and Opensim?

There an few things diffrend about Opensim and Second life the main are:
Opensim grids are not owned by Linden Labs but by external companies/users.
Opensim has an Extension of LSL (Linden Scripting Language) scripting known as OSSL.
Second Life stuff is NOT exportable to Opensim (without using stuff which might get you banned in Second life).
Since Newer Viewers use Havok code that prohibits the usage of Opensim this means there missing features in the physics department.
Illegal and bad activities are covered by server owners, NOT Linden Labs.
God Mode and blue names are not restricted to Lindens only in Opensim.
Opensim region borders are buggier.
Nothing is goverened by Second Life’s EULA or guidelines as grid owners make there own rules.

Is Opensim illegal?

No Opensim uses old viewer versions governed under the GPL which doesn't prohibits connecting to external non second life services.

How do I join other grids

Be sure to download an viewer wich supports Opensim for example this Firestorm version (https://www.firestormviewer.org/os-operating-system/)

Showing how to enable other grids:


Install it and Enable other grids in the options

And your done for it go ahead go nuts and explore all the grids. I really recommend OSGrid it has no currency,is very active and the people are very polite in the main lobby LBSA.

What is your experiences in OSGrid?

I used to be on Second Life and figured out about OSGrid about an year ago (did join on another account but haven't played a lot) and instantly I fall in love with there building capabilities. I remember flying over some kind of dragon landscape (sadly removed) that isn't possible in Second Life because of its limited prim and region (actually not limited but its super expensive) count making it the perfect place to build the wildest things and with free upload and no currency (some regions do have them but its externally setup). You can bet your bum off you get a lot of freebees there. Just look at these jaw dropping max prim numbers for example.

Showing Primcount maxed out on Opensim:


God mode?! Blue Names?!

Yes you can become an Linden in your own grid and OSGrid sims.

Showing Names:



God Mod Enabled Message:


In god mode(On Opensim):
You can:
Bypass parcel,region and estate bans
Bypass parcel permissions
Edit any parcel
Force Ownership of objects,parcels and edit there settings
Mess people’s attachments up (grin)
Use extra commands (if setup in OSSL.ini!)
Bypass Damage in Non-Safe regions

With god names you can:

Get an Linden (Blue) name
Have something to brag about in your grid

FAQ:
Q: What is Havok and does it kill opensim
A: Its Linden Lab’s custom physics engine it does affect opensim but does not kill it
Q: What are the dangers of exploring grids in Opensim
A: Exploring unsafe grids may expose your IP and Mac address this however is not an issue people cannot really get much info and your quite safe if u stick with the grids Firestorm has build in!
Q: I see in those screenshots Manikineko Grid what is this?
A: An project i am working
Q: How in the name of Govendor Linden did u get 999999 Max Prims?!
A: Edit the Region.ini file add:
MaxPrims = 99999999
Restart your sim and There you go enough prims to waste your life building anything u ever dreamed
Q: Can I connect Second Life to opensim and/or export/import stuff between them
A: No you cannot connect them, yes you can “Rip” second life stuff and put it in Opensim altough you may get banned for using such applications or worse get an virus!

 Angel Fencer

Monday, December 23, 2019

Commentary: Top Ten Videogame Music Tunes


By Cyfir

Most gamers have an opinion about what their favorite video game music is and in this article I will list ten of mine. Of course, you may not agree with this list, but music and sound in general are always a subjective experience. This list was compiled from games that I’ve played and owned. So if you don’t see your favorites here, that’s probably why.

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10. Wave Race 64 [Nintendo 64]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz9eYvuZOYg

Let’s be honest, the music in this game is a big reason for why it’s so memorable today. It’s mellow and fits perfectly with the gameplay and aesthetic of the game.

9. Streets of Rage 2 [Genesis]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXQzyVy9fYM

Just listen to the opening theme of this game and you will know why. This game is widely regarded as having great music and I would tend to agree.

 8. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core [PlayStation 2]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKJ9AVrpM9s

I just recently picked this game up. There are other versions of this game but this is the one that was available at my local retro game store. I may not be a big fan of the final boss, but I am a fan of her theme song. It’s not often that I fire up a game for the first time and am immediately blown away by the music, but it happened with this game.

7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty [PlayStation 2]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvEDSkK3GQU




Hideo Kojima is known for making games which play out like movies, and the soundtrack in this game definitely makes you feel like you’re playing a movie. It’s one of the first games which made me feel that way, and the opening track is still great.

6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Sega Genesis]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl6kjAkVw_s

I could have put the original Sonic the Hedgehog here too but I believe that the second game in the series is where everything came together both gameplay wise and musically. 



5. Super Mario 64 [Nintendo 64]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx6nOkdeNKs

I played this game so much as a kid that the songs are still stuck in my head, forever resurfacing and playing. I’m not complaining.



4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Nintendo 64]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3OZoErzJg0

I might actually make some people mad by putting this game all the way down at number 4 on this list. While this game is a favorite to many, I actually have a love/hate relationship with it. However, there’s no denying that the music for this game is widely regarded as some of the best music that Nintendo has produced. There are many songs in this game that are unforgettable.

3. Final Fantasy IX [PlayStation]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaGz7rkPd54

I’m not an RPG fan at all, but there’s something about this game that grabbed me. The characters are just great. The music also helped. Sure, there are other Final Fantasy games with similar music, but this is the one I played and still play.

2. Rocket Knight Adventures [Sega Genesis]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNb9_JuHjAk

From the moment you start up Rocket Knight Adventures, the action never stops until the end and the catchy music doesn’t as well. This is one of the better looking Sega Genesis games and one of the best sounding as well. I’m still amazed by how many sound channels they were able to utilize in the compositions on a system that was made in 1988.

1. Night in the Woods [Multiple Platforms]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZlHxcklOc4

The music in this game takes my number one spot for just how incredibly haunting it is, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The compositions will stay in your head long after you’ve finished playing it. Unfortunately, the brilliant composer of these tracks is no longer with us for reasons that I will not get in to due to how complicated the unfortunate situation was, but his music will live on in this masterpiece.

---

So those are my personal top ten video game soundtracks. I do find it a bit interesting that I ended up choosing games from only a handful of systems. I didn’t plan it that way but it probably has to do with the systems that I grew up with. So what are your favorite video game soundtracks? Did I miss out on an obvious choice? Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Subnautica Revisited


By Rita Mariner

I have played SUBNAUTICA now for one game shy of 6500 hours.  You might ask how can you play a game that much and it not get boring?  Simple, the game is never the same, each time you play it.  The developers mix things up, each time you start a new game.  While the basics stay the same, they do like to move some of the elements around to keep you guessing.

The game still has the four basic game modes of play. Survival, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health. Freedom, where you only have to watch your air and health, they figure your automatically watching your food and water.  Hardcore, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health, but you only get one life and if you die, you start over! Ouch.  Creative, you don't have to worry about anything, you get all blueprints from the start and build everything at no cost. Basically you ignore the storyline and just explore for fun.

Since I have been playing, there was a huge update to the game and they installed a new graphics engine, which is suppose to make the textures pop more.  It might have, but it also caused havoc with the game, tossing bugs in everywhere.  Which I constantly ran into and reported and they have seemed to have fixed most of them. I still run into new ones, or at least I think they are bugs. They might have changed the story slightly.  Who knows.

The best thing I love about the game, is building.  Make your builder tool, collect all the blueprints to all the base modules and elements and go to town.  What you can create, is limited only by your own imagination and how much time you willing to devote to collecting the resources needed to building your dream home.  I have come up with a design that works wonderfully for me. It does take several hours to collect the blueprints and then the resources to build it.  Followed by zipping around to various wrecks to loot them for collectibles, to decorate my base. There are toys, posters, lab gear, caps, dolls all waiting for you to discover, grab and put on display in your new base.

Then we have Time Capsules.  These little surprise gift packages are what other players leave behind, when they depart the planet in their escape rocket.  They can put in a few items, a picture and some comments who comes across it.  You never know what will be in the capsule.  Could be some good stuff, could be useless stuff, but to open one, you will need at least six open spots in your inventory.

There are also numerous different biomes in the game and each is unique.  Not only in how they look, but in the flora and fauna that dwells within.  I have also learned hat each of these biomes specializes in one or more resource.  For example.  The Jellyshroom Caverns, are brimming with Gold, Lithium and Magnetite, but not much else. Unless you count Crabsnake trying to eat you.  The Lost Tree Biome contains Nickel, Crystal Sulfur, Lead, Silver, Titanium, Copper, some Lithium, some Magnetite, but also a rather unfriendly Ghost Leviathan and a bunch of nasty River Prowlers and Blood Crawlers.

The last biome you need to tackle is the Lava Zone.  Here you need to go to collect Kyanite to finish construction on your vehicles to complete the game.  You you also run into WARPER Central, LAVA Lizards and the Sea Dragon.  If you remember the old saying, busier than a one legged man, at a butt-kicking contest.  This is the place it can happen, and it isn't fun. If they all gang up on you, RUN and try to fix your PRAWN Suit and heal yourself ASAP.  You will have no place to go otherwise.

The Thermal Plant is in the area, once you collect enough Kyanite, find the entrance on the mountain. Go through it to the Thermal Plant, get the needed date inside.  Make your up grades. Come back, then head to the Primary Alien Containment Faciltily a short walk away to meet the Sea Emperor, help her out. get the cure, turn off the cannon (important), then blast your booty off the planet.  Simple enough.  Not really, the last few items will take you about three hours, if you know what you're doing and if you have the resources to make the potion on hand, add a few more hours, if you don't.  Isn't Subnautica fun?  I love it!

Rita Mariner

Monday, December 2, 2019

Video Game Collecting: Part Two - How To Cheaply Start Collecting Video Games


By Cyfir

In my last article on this subject, I wrote about why I started collecting physical video games again. In this installment, I’ll be focusing on how I acquired 100 physical games and 11 systems in under a year without breaking the bank. With video game collecting being the equivalent of comic book collecting in this day and age, how did I do this?

As I mentioned in the last article, I’m far from rich. In fact, I’m quite the opposite at this point in my life. However, I’m fairly thrifty, so I’ve been able to find some pretty good deals and obtain many of my childhood games and systems back. The first place I started was Nintendo Entertainment System games. While I had an Atari 2600 in my household growing up, it wasn’t until the NES that I started to gain an appreciation for video games. It just so happens that many great titles for the NES are dirt cheap, usually selling at retro video game store for more or less $5. Of course there are more expensive titles, but my most expensive NES game was $25. Another system that is super cheap to collect for now is PlayStation 2.

Now, I wouldn’t rely on just retro video game stores. They usually want to make a profit, and their prices often reflect that. You can sometimes find good or fair enough deals in them, and I do believe that it is important to support them as they provide a valuable resource, but you’re not going to find everything or always get the best deals there. I would also check out local flea markets, thrift stores, and even Facebook Marketplace (but please use caution when meeting strangers from FaceBook and making deals with them. They may try to scam you or you could end up in a dangerous situation.)

My area doesn’t have a ton of games at Goodwill, but I’ve heard that it’s different throughout the country. I’ve had much better luck at flea markets and my area has a handful of them. In my experience, pawn shops don’t have the best deals. They want to make as big of a profit on their inventory as possible, but your mileage may vary.

Before you head out, it’s important to have a list of all the games and systems you’re looking for and check the fair prices on those items. I use an Android app called Gameye to keep a wishlist as well as keep track of all the games and systems that I already own (and accidentally buying duplicates is a thing that happens; trust me.) I also use a site called PriceCharting to make sure that I’m not overpaying too much for a game.

Never be afraid to buy a game or system that looks dirty or has something internally wrong with it, as long as it’s at a fair price. Many games and systems are decades old and it’s unfair to think that you’re going to find something in pristine condition all the time. Cleaning and fixing games and systems is actually not a bad way to get in to a new and fun hobby and could end up saving you a ton of money. For instance, you could find a Sega Dreamcast that doesn’t play discs, and the person selling it is offering it for $5. You could get a disc drive assembly online for around $15 and open it up and replace it. Now you have a Sega Dreamcast for $20 when they’re going for upwards of $60 or more. There are plenty of YoutTube videos and tutorials out there on how to clean and fix games and systems. If you’re new to it, I would take your time, take pictures as you go, and keep track of all the screws. Also, when screwing things back together, turn counter clockwise first until the threads slip in properly. Most of the plastic on old games and systems are old and brittle and are prone to strip or break.

In conclusion, it’s not enough to do any of the above if you’re just going to go crazy and buy everything you see. Be strict on yourself. I only allow myself to go game hunting once per payday. Keep a budget in mind as much as possible and try to avoid temptation. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but we’re adults now and we should be able to maintain a budget. Finally, collect what you enjoy. I would never recommend going out and buying something just because it’s valuable. Sure, if you find a copy of a rare and expensive game for $5, grab that, but don’t go out of your way for it. I personally only collect what I have nostalgia for or what I want to play. After all, that’s what it’s all about.

Cyfir


Friday, November 15, 2019

News and Commentary: More on Blizzard's China Controversy


By Bixyl Shuftan

Last month, Blizzard stripped a Hearthstone tournament winner of his prize money and suspended him from further matches for a year following the gamer from Hong Kong using the short time he was given for an interview to openly proclaim his support for the protests there. The company stated he had violated one of the rules by "engaging in an act that ... brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image." The company also dismissed the two men who were doing the interview. At first, it appeared that the two men, independent contractors whom were not directly employed by Blizzard, were dismissed for no reason. But it turned out they knew what the gamer they were about to interview was up to. The reaction of a number of gamers in Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and other games Blizzard owns, was to cancel their accounts and call for a boycott.

Since my first article on the subject, the story has continued to develop. A CBS story on October 10 stated the stock price of Activision/Blizzard had fallen. Access Now, a group aimed at protecting peoples rights online, called out, "Blizzard demonstrates a lack of respect for the human rights of its users." Some US politicians also spoke out against Blizzard's actions.

Blizzard eventually gave Blitzchung his prize money back and reduced his ban to six months. It would also reduce the ban of the two broadcasters, whom were in on the protest the gamer was about do. While Blizzard's President Allen Brack admitted they had acted too quickly in response to the incident, they insisted they had to act to keep gamers focused on games, The specific views expressed by Blitzchung were not a factor in the decision we made. ... I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision."

There would be another protest, and suspension. On October 16, Blizzard banned three players over holding up a sign, "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizzard" during a livestream a few days before. Despite that banning, and stories about people being banned from the Blizzard forums for bringing up the Hong Kong controversy, there were talks about mass-protests at Blizcon on November 1. While Blizzard had canceled a scheduled launch event for it's Overwatch game, it couldn't just up and cancel it's annual convention.

Players have continued to express their disapproval, such as a commentary in Massively, "The Blizzard I Knew Is Dead." Tyler Edwards would write, "... the theme of fighting to overthrow tyrannical governments has come up again and again. Suramar, Mists of Pandaria, Battle for Azeroth… The face of StarCraft is Jim Raynor, a character who spent most of the franchise fighting for freedom against oppressive regimes. And now Blizzard has actively aided and abetted oppression by a real world dictatorship. When one of its players spoke up in favor of democracy, Blizzard helped silence his voice, at a time when democracy is under fire all over the world – all to protect business interests in mainland China, a country that makes up only a tiny fraction of its global revenue. It’s wrong, and it’s cowardly, and it goes against everything Blizzard is supposed to stand for."

Other protests included artistic ones. The character Mei of Blizzard's game Overwatch, was drawn by numerous people protesting the company as being a sympathizer of Hong Kong's resistance. There was also at least one online cartoon, Sandra and Woo, in which the artist mocked Blizzard for pretending to stand for human rights while submitting to China's demands.

Finally came Blizzcon, which had the company President Brack appear on stage for the opening ceremonies. And at one point, he brought up the controversy and apologized, “When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, it’s really two things. The first one is we didn’t live up to our high standards that we set for ourselves. And the second is, we failed in our purpose. And for that I’m sorry, and I accept accountability."

While Brack got a standing ovation for his apology at Blizcon, checking the responses to the apology in the article, most I saw were negative saying the response was inadequate. There were some saying this was either as good as they could expect from a corporation to that there was nothing that could be done about Hong Kong, "I feel for the peeps at hong kong, I truly do... I wish them nothing but the best... but I'm still going to play their games. I believe no matter what phrases we say, it wont change the way China is." Nydia Tungsten of the Furry Gamers Group in Second Life would comment the apology reminded her of a child chastised by it's parents that was saying "sorry" only because it was ordered to.

Blizzard would go on to introduce the next expansion for World of Warcraft: Shadowlands. And in the game itself is having it's fifteenth anniversary. But the controversy is a dark cloud over the occasion. As a similar controversy has been hounding the NBA, it seems what happened with Blizzard/Activision is part of a larger problem. American companies love Chinese money so much, many if not most will compromise their principles to get it.

For yours truly, I ended up getting back into the game just before Blizzard banned the gamer from Hong Kong for calling out for his city being able to keep the freedoms it's people enjoyed. That the company, or at least it's President, went out and apologized makes me feel like I can stay in with a clean conscience. But why did it have to get in this mess to begin with? As some friends are sticking around, I will too, at least for now.

 Sources: CBS, Tech Times, Vice, Tweaktown, Massively, Kotaku, IGN


Bixyl Shuftan