I’m taking this rant to my blog because I don’t want to clog up my entire Twitter feed with this. As I’m sure you’re all aware, the Steam Curator “The Framerate Police” now exists – courtesy of The Cynical Brit aka TotalBiscuit. The group highlights those games frame-capped to 30fps, providing snippets of how to unlock that cap if possible for each game.
There has been backlash to this, let me remind you, opt-in curator. In other words, a curator that you never need know exist unless you particularly wanted to follow it. I know, right? What’s the problem?
The problems, that I have seen to date, basically boil down to one or more of the following:
1) I don’t like TotalBiscuit, so pretty much any opportunity to criticise him is an opportunity I’m going to take
[insert ‘rolleyes’ emoticon]
2) A Steam Curator is not the right place for this
This argument has legs. Steam Curation is really about providing recommendations rather than be a list of things to avoid. Using curation in this way is rather like giving a sarcastic “thumbs up” user review. It might be funny but, at the end of the day, you are contributing to the positive user score of the game which defeats the whole point of the system.
That said, the problem with Steam is there isn’t really a better alternative for flagging games for things like frame-rate caps. A tag seems a better solution but, as has been reported, certain tags (such as 30fps, or FOV-lock related tags) are prohibited so it’s not an option. Valve want tags used for a particular function – genre information etc – and that’s their prerogative.
Others have suggested reviews or guides – but using guides is only really applicable if there is a fix, a guide simply saying “this game is locked to 30fps and there’s nothing you can do about it” is hardly a “guide” to anything. It’s as much an abuse of the concept as plopping it into a tag or curator group. It would be useful information to provide in a review, but unless that review becomes the most popular review for the game, it’s not likely to get much visibility and therefore its usefulness in informing potential customers is essentially zero.
So, within Steam, all of these available options are bad fits. But a curation group is the least bad fit and the simplest to manage given that you’re going to need to be flagging a significant number of games.
3) Who gives a shit that games (particularly old ones or little 2D indie games) are locked to 30fps? Jesus. Come on, there’s LOADS of reasons why they might be locked
Yeah, there are loads of reasons why a game might be locked to 30fps. Here are some examples: Time constraints, manpower, budget, technology at that time. It’s not laziness in almost all cases. But those reasons are utterly irrelevant if you, personally, find that low frame rates make you nauseous, hurt your eyes, or are simply aesthetically distracting. That the game came out in 1992 makes no difference to you – you can understand why it’s the case, but that isn’t going to help your eyes stop bleeding.
If this is the situation you are in, then a group highlighting this information for you is tremendously useful – and while you could take this information to a Wiki, having pertinent information live actually inside the store client is the single most convenient place for it to be for you.
4) It’s implying that 30fps is BAD, sets a precedent or something, potentially harms developers.
No it doesn’t. This is a particular aspect of the group that I think TotalBiscuit has done really well. The games are presented without comment or opinion. It’s simply stated that the game is frame locked, and a work-around provided if possible. It’s just facts, intended for those who are bothered by this stuff. It’s not presented in a “name and shame” manner at all.
The only possible argument along these lines is with the use of the name, “The Framerate Police”, which if you’re going to massively over-analyze three words could be argued implies (by the nature of policing) that there is something “wrong” about those games flagged. Maybe a title a little more neutral would have been a better choice but it’s hardly something to hinge an entire argument on.
5) It would be better to highlight 60fps than 30fps. Take a positive approach, rather than negative
There’s something like 8000+ games on Steam. I don’t know how many of those are frame-rate limited and how many have variable settings or a 60fps lock. In my mind, whichever circumstance is the exception rather than the rule – that’s the set to flag, if for no other reason than making it a more manageable task and making the list somewhat perusable. If there are 7000 frame unlimited games and 1000 30fps games, I’d rather see the list of the latter.
Now I definitely haven’t tried to count, but given that TotalBiscuit is the one who has given himself this task I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s picked a method which is manageable.
6) It does not require pointing out that the original Tomb Raider (for example) which was released in 1997 is locked to 30fps
Er, yes it does – because of a “flaw” in Steam:
Steam often shows the “release date” in terms of the date it was released on Steam, not the date it was originally released. You may not have been born in 1997, and some ignorance in terms of what technology was like then, what frame rate was normal, exactly what year the game came out would be expected. Yes, those of us who have been involved in the videogame industry, or consumers of videogames since the 80s obviously know. Some kid born post 2000? How on Earth is he or she supposed to know? Perhaps their first introduction to the series was the reboot. They would have missed all those Lucozade commercials, after all.
7) I used to play [game name] on an [old spec PC] back in [date] and didn’t give [n] shits about frame rate
How nice. And?
Nobody on the planet would question why it’s important to have configurable controls. Perhaps squeezing the trigger for acceleration is difficult for you because you have a slightly arthritic index finger, or no index finger, or no right hand at all. Some games, for whatever reason, don’t have configurable control schemes or are configurable in a limited way which is insufficient for you. It would be quite nice to have a list pointing out such games with methods to tweak the controls manually if possible, right?
Right. Because we can all easily imagine what circumstances would make configurable controls important – circumstances ranging all the way from physical disabilities to merely having slightly too big or small hands, or being left-handed. Change that, though, to an issue with the human eye – a subtle difference which makes low frame rates a little unpleasant for you? It’s a laughable problem, deal with it, idiot. It’s utterly lacking empathy because, personally, you just can’t imagine well enough that it might conceivably be a problem for some people. Maybe some of the 30fps haters are just whiny haters. Maybe most of them are. But maybe there’s a bunch of genuine issues in there, even if they’re hard issues to imagine. How about we give people the benefit of the doubt, yeah?