On Friday, June 26th, Chicago Copwatch hosted a protest against a celebration being thrown for members of the Chicago Police Department who were on duty during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Anyone that knows their history knows that the 1968 DNC was one of the worst instances of police brutality our nation has ever seen. To add insult to injury, the official website for the celebration uses ridiculous terminology like “Marxist street thugs.” The last I checked, Marxism was a valid political ideology, and the majority of the protesters were students.

What leads me to post the following video is the near complete lack of reporting on what happened that night by the mainstream press. The Sun-Times updated their story to more accurately reflect the events, but over a week after it happened. The press doesn’t mention that fact that we marched almost 3 miles, with police constantly trying to herd us onto the sidewalks. The press doesn’t mention the fact that we refused, and kept marching until the police finally just gave up.

We took back the streets that night, if only for a few hours, and all we have is a Youtube video to show for it.

The word “portal,” at least to me, conjures up images of casual game havens like Big Fish or Reflexive, or sites full of the same flash games that are on every other site, like Kongregate or Armor Games. The idea of a game portal site really didn’t appeal to me until I spent some time on Game Jolt.

Game Jolt accepts nearly any kind of free game, be it downloadable or web-based. At first glance, it may appear to be just another site, with not much to offer, and I have seen several people complaining about how the layout looks too much like Kongregate’s, and I will admit that both the layout and business model bear some resemblance. However, after poking around the site a bit, it becomes obvious that Game Jolt is more than just another portal and may just be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Game Jolt has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that give it a large amount of potential. My favorite is the revenue sharing system. Although it is in closed beta right now, the program promises to offer developers a relatively easy way to monetize freeware games. The current split is 50/50, but will probably change as the program matures. The good news is that any developers that sign up now can reserve this rate for life, even if they are not chosen for the closed beta.

Another feature I think adds to the site’s potential is the Quick Play system. One of the main hassles of downloadable games is the fact that they usually need to be installed or unzipped. Very rarely do we download a straight .exe file and run it. Game Jolt solves this with a system that does the work for you. The developer simply uploads a .zip file, and the Quick Play system takes care of the rest. I think the removal of this extra step is a very important part in improving the accessibility of downloadable games.

I could go on about Game Jolt’s other qualities, like the active and friendly community, or the contests, but then people might start to get suspicious. The point is that Game Jolt is creating a site that could open up the freeware games sector to an audience that it hasn’t really had before, and they are doing so in a developer-centric sort of way. I’ve registered and uploaded some of my games to the site, and I sincerely wish the site success in the future as both a developer and user.

Yeah, it’s been a while (a little less than three months) since I’ve posted anything, but I am looking to get back in the swing of things. So, expect near daily updates again. I’ve found that balancing being a wage slave, along with a personal life, and game dev, doesn’t leave much time for blogging.

Anyways, in honor of the holiday, I would like to point everyone in the direction of a transcript of a speech by Hal Draper made in 1962. Draper examines the numbers behind the American Revolution to find that it was far from being widely supported.

Yet I must report that the very best historical authorities admit that the percentage of the colonial Americans who supported the Revolutionary side against the British was only – one third. Specifically, according to the best estimates, one third supported the British; one third supported the Revolution; and the last third just wanted to be left alone to hoe their corn.

While Draper’s numbers can be called into question, most modern sources including Wikipedia agree that around 20% of the population were considered Loyalists, or active supporters of Britain during the revolution. The campaign of terror, which included the practices of tarring and feathering and burning houses, against the Loyalists is not something to be celebrated. Our revolution was that of a minority, and that minority used tactics, which by today’s terms would be considered terrorism.

Just a little something to consider in light of the grilled food and fireworks that tend to obscure any real historical value of the holiday.

EDIT: On a less serious note, you may have noticed that I finally registered a domain name! All requests for theblackmask.wordpress.com will be redirected to the corresponding page at http://www.the-black-mask.com.

Critical Gameplay Exhibit

April 15, 2009

Chicago really doesn’t have much of an indie games culture. While New York has fancy things like the New Museum, and the west coast at least gets the IGF every year, the Midwest doesn’t have much going on. So, I was quite excited when I heard about the Critical Gameplay Exhibit. So, if you’re in the Chicagoland area, you should check it out.

Critical Gameplay is a collection of strategically designed video games. Each game asks the question, what do common game mechanics teach us? The four games in the collection are designed to help reevaluate our perspective on gameplay experiences. Like Critical Cartography changes the way we perceive the world, critical gameplay seeks to offer alternate perspectives on the way we play.

Location: 1100 West Cermak (enter at 2268 S. Carpenter), Chicago, IL, 60608
Time: 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Cost: Free (Open to the public)
Contact: info@criticalgameplay.com
Beer, wine and refreshments will be served.

I will be there, hopefully taking some pictures, and I will be posting here with my thoughts on the games and maybe a recap. Even if the games suck, at least there’s free booze.

Bethesda is currently working with Microsoft to remove Fallout 3’s new expansion, The Pitt. Players of both the PC and Xbox versions are reporting rainbow textured raiders, and an abundance of floating exclamation points in the new DLC. Bethesda is blaming the screwups on “corrupted” files, but my guess is that they simply rushed the product and didn’t think anyone would notice.

I wasn’t really looking forward to The Pitt anyways, as the last DLC to be released for Fallout 3 was Operation Anchorage, which took place inside a virtual reality simulator. Now, to me, placing your expansion inside a VR world just screams “I’m too lazy to actually write a storyline that will actually impact the game world,” and I passed on that, but The Pitt is supposed to take place in the real Fallout 3 world. I hoped that maybe this expansion wouldn’t be a rushed piece of shit, too, but I will be avoiding this, and probably any further Fallout 3 expansions like the plague.

I don’t know why I came to expect anything else from the same people that brought us all horse armor.


March 20, 2009


Sometimes I read a news story that just really annoys me. This is one of them. Not only are people getting upset about human on human violence in videogames, it is now too much to have violence against animals in a game. Fake violence, with fake animals.

Also, let it be known that I will gladly commit acts of violence against any dog named Winnie the Pooh. Honestly, are these people sane? Do they really think that people cannot tell the difference between shooting a dog in a game and acting violently towards animals in real life?

There has recently been a flurry of activity in the used games sector, as it has been announced that Amazon, Best Buy, and Toys R us will all be offering some sort of used game program. Used games, as anyone who is familiar with the industry knows, are a point of controversy right now, as Gamestop is making a mint off having a virtual monopoly over the used game business. There is a lot of money here, and it seems that some other big players are stepping up to the plate in an attempt to cash in, as well.

Now, of course publishers and developers have a common enemy here, as the used market is a direct competitor to the standard retail market, the main revenue stream for most AAA games. Take-Two has already expressed discontent, and this isn’t surprising. The used games business model threatens the business model that most publishers and developers depend on to survive, so why shouldn’t they be pissed off?

I have no problem with a corporation clinging to an antiquated business model in an attempt to stay solvent, because THAT’S WHAT CORPORATIONS DO. Businesses exist to make money, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. My gripe is with the employees of these businesses that are now adding their voices to the maelstrom that is the used games argument. Recently, David Jaffe, the God of War guy, posted a Youtube video about his thoughts on used games, and now others are following suit. For instance, David Perry of Acclaim recently posted a barely intelligible post on his blog on the subject.

Now, here’s why this annoys me…If you willingly work for a big developer or publisher, I don’t think you should get a say. Your personal opinion is trumped by the fact that you are but a wage slave to the mainstream games industry. By being employed in the industry, you are automatically supporting whatever stance AAA publishers and developers end up taking in the used games debate. So, please, just shut up and continue making big budget games for those who care. I’m tired of seeing every two-bit game designer’s thoughts on the subject, especially since it’s blatantly clear that most of them don’t have a fucking clue as to what is going on.

I have been following the sad saga of Midway Games, a pioneer in the video game world, which coincidentally has offices a few blocks away from me. We all know they have been having some financial troubles, and have had some rather craptastic games lined up for release, but this bit of news sheds a whole new light on the situation.

Midway has set aside about $3 million in bonuses for certain employees. This is a last ditch effort for the top-tier of employees to scrape up as much cash as they can before Midway implodes. Kotaku also reports that Midway is denying paid-time off benefits to lower level employees, as well.

It is blatantly obvious, that this is nothing but an attempt by Midway’s management to personally profit as much from a dying company as they can, while shafting the lower levels of their workforce. These practices are something I would expect to see out of old-school EA, rather than Midway.

I would suggest a boycott of Midway, but nobody is interested in the garbage they have to offer anyways. It’s really a sad sight to see such a respectable company turn into such a pit of corporate greed.

More Midway Hilarity

February 20, 2009

I’m really not sure if the idea of adding the ability to turn into a 15′ tall beast in UT3 is pure genius or fucking retarded. This really takes the Call of Duty method of rewarding good players to an extreme.

Why Midway Games Will Fail

February 19, 2009

I live down the street from Midway Games in Chicago, and have blogged about them before. They have been having a bit of financial troubles, and have teamed up with Ubisoft to publish their next game. Now, Midway has a second chance that a lot of companies don’t get.

Unfortunately, they are using this chance to release Wheelman, featuring Vin Diesel…great. This means that someone at the Midway offices said “Hey, we are on the brink of failing as a company, let’s release a GTA clone featuring Vin Diesel to win back the public’s affection and money!”. I could be wrong, and Wheelman could turn out to be a good game, but, to me, it looks like Midway still doesn’t get it.
If they keep releasing mediocre looking games like this, I don’t see a future for Midway.