Someone bitchslap Greg Costikyan

Seriously, after this post… I don’t see the problem why anyone should be angry with Rockstar or Take Two over the Hot Coffee mod. At least not yet. I, like Greg Costikyan, assume that the content (minigame code, animations, and other resource files, are all included on the San Andreas disc. (edit: It is. Here are the Action Replay Max codes to play it on your PS2.) But he (and others) take Rockstar to task for even allowing it on the disc, available to players or not. From his blog:

However, I think it likelier that this is entirely and wholly intentional. It is, in fact, standard industry practice to include game features that are not “public,” and release knowledge of them later semi-surreptitiously, to spur a little more gamer interest and public exposure. That’s why we have cheats.


So if I’m right–that is, if the material is indeed on the disc, and Rockstar not only knew but approved its inclusion–Rockstar seriously deserves a bitch-slapping.

Here’s what I proposed: The ESRB should refuse to give any Take Two product a rating for the next two years. They can release their games as unrated if they want–and good luck getting them into Wal-Mart.

I think that’s a bit much. It’s no secret that developers leave extra features hidden for later release. But it’s also no secret that developers often leave junk data on discs. Just read up on Halo, where the flame-thrower, gravity gun, and other items were discovered. Fable left traces of items, characters, and even an unfinished level on the gamedisc. Knights of the Old Republic 2 left the majority of the original ending to the game, that was completely scrapped and replaced by a much-lamented “shoddier” ending in time to make their release date, all on the game disc. And players love to look on discs to see what else developers have left behind. So, was it obvious that someone would look around San Andreas? I would say no. Because I’ve never heard of someone looking on the other GTA discs for loose info. Why not? I don’t know. But I haven’t heard of it.

The real question comes in when you ask the question of “how did the patch author find out about this?” If he did it by searching the disc and finding it through old-fashioned ingenuity? Fine. Kudos to him and everyone should get off of Rockstar’s back. A developer having unintentional material unearthed from a disc was going to happen one day, and it’s today. This is a warning to all developers. They now all know. But if Take Two did this on purpose, then I’m for a punishment, but two years of no rated games? How about, instead, we try to think up new ways to educate non-gamers on how games are just as relevant as any other field? No movie would be rated NC-17 for minute-long depictions of sexual scenes. And the number of unnecessary times it can be played, like the number of times a viewer would rewind a movie to watch the scene, is inconsequential. Do we really want to do our best to set the bar so low for AO games?

So, please. Someone bitchslap Greg Costikyan. (I almost apologize for the attention-whoring post title. It was too good to resist! :D Nothing but love, Greg! Nothing but love!)