Gearbox Software, Twitter, and E-Terrorists

This blog entry is going to be heavy on background information, a tad dry if you’re not into the technical side of video games (or at least one title in particular), and leaning heavily on the “raging fanboy” side of things, so those of used to more lively, pleasant entries may have to look elsewhere today.

Borderlands 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the original Borderlands, which was released in 2009. Less than two months after its release on September 18, 2012, it has already managed to sell 5 million copies worldwide and has garnered critical acclaim from pretty much everyone under the sun, with aggregate scores of around 90% on website such as GameRankings and Metacritic.

That being said, the game is far from perfect and several issues have cropped up to plague its fanbase over the past several weeks, some of them objective while others are anything but. The biggest bones of contention thus far are as follows:

1. An unknown glitch that results in the erasure and deactivation of your Badass Rank, an in-game system that rewards completing various objective with incremental increases in in-game statistics of your choice. It also caused the loss of any Golden Keys – special keys used to obtain rare items by unlocking the unique Golden Chest that could only be acquired via codes from either promotional offers or made available for a limited time on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Naturally, this caused some people to either back up their saves religiously – assuming that this was possible; sorry Xbox 360 owners – or avoid playing the game altogether until a patch or fix was released. Understanding quickly gave way to anger and frustration, however, as weeks dragged on without any information or updates concerning the situation.

2. The so-called Graveyard.sav virus on the Xbox 360, which results in the permanent deletion of character profile data if you play an online game with anyone infected by it. The modding community, with its penchant for experimenting with save files, is ostensibly to blame for this one, but that hasn’t been conclusively proven as far as I’m aware.

3. Several people, myself included, have expressed annoyance on the Gearbox Forums at the difficulty level and how many enemies use cheap tactics – such as zerg rushing or two or three hit kills – in order to overwhelm and decimate your characters.

4. The game has been criticized as having lousy drop rates for quality items, which makes Point 3 all the more irritating.

5. An extremely limited number of inventory slots, which is unusual for a series that endlessly advertises the “87 gajillion guns” that can be found in-game.

6. The introduction of raid bosses in the DLC that are only meant to be engaged in multiplayer mode and that can only be fought once a day, which just increased the annoyance caused by Points 3, 4, and 5 for some players.

7. One of the rare, so-called Legendary items in this game is The Bee, a low-capacity shield with a fast recharge rate that grants bonus damage to any projectiles fired while it was fully charged. Some industrious player,s tired of endlessly farming enemies and bosses with little to show for it, decided to combine this item with high projectile number weapons such as shotguns. The end result of this unholy marriage of technologies? Some raid bosses could be blown away in a matter of seconds by one character. This horrendous exploitation of game mechanics was almost universally perceived to be massively unfair, though people were split on what should be done about it: the most vocal camp thought that the item should be altered to correct the imbalance, others thought that the largely fruitless in-game reward system justified its (ab)use, and a third group believed that it was up to individual players to exercise personal discipline when it came to (not) using it and it should be left alone.

This is where Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford chimed in to give his own two cents on the matter:

Fast forward to yesterday, when Patch 1.2.0 was released for the PC version. Naturally, a combination of some highly contentious changes (such as adding more health to some difficult bosses) with disappointing absences (such as no inventory space expansion, increase in drop rates, or improved difficulty/damage scaling) as well as the long-dreaded/awaited modifcation of The Bee was met with mixed reactions by the gaming community and was tweeted about in a totally impartial manner by Mr. Pitchford.

He was also perfectly civil in addressing the disappointment that some fans expressed concerning the modification of The Bee and refrained from rubbing salt in the wounds.

Of course, when it comes to such things, there are always some vocal detractors who decide to engage you directly, but it’s always a good idea to take the high road and deal with the troublemakers in a mature, responsible manner.

Or you could do what Pitchford did in his case and use your Twitter account to troll them back and dismiss the other, equally legitimate concerns of the fanbase without a second thought.

Wow! So everyone who vehemently disagrees with you on the Internet and makes absolutely sure that you know about it qualifies as an e-terrorist now? What other disturbingly insightful personal opinions about your company’s fanbase would you like to share with us on this fine day, good sir? What about your thoughts on item duplication to compensate for the horrendous drop rates?

Educate? Train good behavior? What are we, kindergartners or dogs in some kind of Pavlovian experiment? Seriously, just about the only thing missing from this scenario is your bringing out the proverbial dinner bell and having the entire Borderlands community salivating at the mouth at the thought of…

Well, I’ll be damned. :O

The only appropriate way to respond to this is with a title card from Borderlands itself.

Now, to be entirely fair, I responded with hostility to Mr. Pitchford on Twitter, but only after the e-terrorist jab completely and utterly rubbed me the wrong way. He’s also since admitted that he was an idiot to let the Twitter trolls get to him. Well, judging by his impeccable performance this morning, I’d say that he was a perfectly qualified idiot to begin with well before the Twitter trolls got to him.

Here’s a suggestion, Randy: if you want to educate and train something, get a parrot. That’s one way to absolutely, positively guarantee you’ll only ever have to listen to things that you want to hear.

Lunar Archivist. Raging fanboy. E-terrorist. And proud of it. 😀

UPDATE (2012.11.17.): Things get even weirder.

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4 Responses to “Gearbox Software, Twitter, and E-Terrorists”

  1. Darth Nikon Says:

    To be honest, he could still screw up training the parrot. And if the parrot wasn’t saying what Randy wanted, well, that could end REALLY badly for the parrot.

  2. Lunar Archivist Says:

    Well, he’s already nerfed a Bee. Nerfing a parrot would only be slightly more complicated. 🙂

  3. Duke Neurorads Doc Says:

    His legion of mindless minions on the GBX forum are hilarious people. I am speechless at times. RP might as well be the second coming of Jesus especially to this one particular mod.

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