Half-Life or Full-Life?

When Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, with your purchase of the game for about £20 you also received access to most of the Valve back-catalogue, including Half-Life 1, Blue Shift, Opposing Force, very popular online games such as Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat, a single player version of Counter-Strike and a whole host of community mods and re-imaginings of the Half-Life game, (I remember a driving version very well!), some of which were just as good, or even better, than the original. Between the release of the two main games (1998-2004) a massive community had grown up around the franchise, probably many of whom were not that interested in playing the games themselves but were interested in coding, modelling and general game design, perhaps looking to pursue careers in those areas themselves. Indeed games like Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat were bought back from the community by Valve and further developed into massively popular games in their own right, whilst mods such as “Gary’s Mod” were used extensively by the Machinima community, amongst others. To me all that seemed a very happy and healthy relationship between game creators and their fans and a “win-win” situation for both sides, and perhaps also a product of more innocent times. For your £20 you had enough material to keep you occupied for many years without even needing to look at another game. That was one of the main attractions of Machinima for me when I first started using the Half-Life games. If a game is really good you may be able to replay it a few times and still enjoy it, but once you have done that there is nothing more to do and it goes on the shelf for good. But with the mod community around Half-Life, and in my case the peculiar form of modding known as Machinima, there were almost endless possibilities of re-playing or re-use. I even went so far as to learn some basic C++ coding, the language Half-Life was created in, so I could create some unique scenes of my own.

But of course all this happy nirvana changes, as it always does, when money enters the equation. When in 2004 machinima.com decided to move from it’s punk/indie/fan roots to a more commercial basis it moved onto inherently more shaky ground. I don’t know much about the law, and don’t want to know unless it is impacting me in some way, but I would imagine that it is a basic principle that you are not allowed to make money from other peoples property unless you have their permission. And making money through advertising clicks is doing just that, if in an indirect way. Similar to tax avoidance, it may not be against the letter of the law but it probably is against the principle of the law. And although this is a pure guess as I have no insider information, I can’t see why Warner Bros. would drop what had previously been a huge earner if there were no risks involved. Unless they could foresee some serious lawsuits coming down the track asking for their money back. But that is just a pure guess and may have nothing to do with what happened in reality.

On the topic of unreality, whilst sitting at a computer it’s very easy to pipe-dream various scenarios which are not practical and wouldn’t even work in the real world. But if I were lucky enough to be the owner of a huge game franchise such as The Sims or GTA I would make the whole of the back-catalogue open-source (at a slightly more expensive price as you would be purchasing a lot more) and just keep the present iteration in-company. Like the Half-Life scenario above, that would create enormous interest around the franchise for years to come, rather than most of it just disappearing down the memory hole. And if some of the best fan/creators could make a living from their creations that would be even better and create even more interest. After all, how many beach-houses in Malibu or Yachts in the Bahamas can you buy, why not give something back to the community that made you a multi-millionaire in the first place? I would be stoked to see all of the wonderful creations the community came up with using my product.

Following yesterdays News post about deliberate deception, I would like to make one point about the present sad fiasco in Ukraine. Contrary to what most people in Britain believe, the war in Ukraine did not begin with Russia’s intervention in February but began 8 years ago when the people of Eastern Ukraine sought and were granted independence, including by Ukraine, who then failed to honour those international agreements. Although the evidence for this is very easy to find, ironically enough even on the pro-Western websites below, none of this was ever presented to the British people by the Government or it’s mouth-piece, the BBC,

Conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas.

Minsk agreements.

So most people believe the war is Russia’s fault when in fact it was started by Ukraine and the Russian intervention is just the latest stage in a conflict whose roots and planning stretch back to the end of the Cold War and beyond. People then ask, not unsurprisingly, how do you find the real news amongst all the fake news? The answer is surprisingly easy, just ask for hard evidence, it’s as simple as that. All of the fake news, propaganda, conspiracy theories and other forms of mythology immediately vanish like the mist they are when you ask for hard evidence, because they never have any. On the other hand a serious and truly independent researcher will not only provide abundant evidence they will also allow you to make up your own mind once you have seen that evidence. Such valuable people are becoming few and far between but are well worth seeking out. People also ask, what can I do about it, haven’t things always been this way, what’s it got to do with me? Well yes, the rich have always got rich off the backs of the poor, and the Romans, Babylonians and Egyptians didn’t get rich by being nice to people. But do we always want it to be this way, no progress at all? And it has everything to do with us as Governments carry out their policies in our name and with our money. Silence is always taken as consent in politics.

Anyway all of this just goes to show how much the real world sucks when compared to the beautiful world of Machinima, which exists in a different sphere far above such nonsense, or at least it does in my pipe-dream imagination!

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