So long, Veer :(

For a long time, I’ve enjoyed finding imagery via Veer.com. Well, ok, perhaps “enjoyed” isn’t quite the right word. Anyone who has spent an afternoon viewing 6,000-7,000 photographs of too young, too pretty and entirely too sharply or provocatively dressed men and women will know “enjoyment” isn’t what you feel. When you’re looking for images to represent the serious work of a remuneration committee, a bunch of permatanned 20- and 30-somethings grinning goofily at pie charts or all clustered around a single laptop (is technology rationed in stockphotoland?) doesn’t really work. Neither does the oh-so-typical “one person in the room who spotted the camera” group shot.

Aaaanyway. I could ramble for hours about the shortage of credible, 50ish, focused businessfolks in candids, and even longer on attempting to include Indians, Southern Europeans or non-US diversity in general, and briefly-but-passionately on the continued existence of the “pretty-young-woman-takes-orders-from-an-older-man” shot, but I wanted to write about Veer.

I liked their search engine system — it wasn’t perfect, but I liked it. I liked that I’d find images which weren’t in Getty’s vast library, images I could use on a regular basis. I liked the site design. I liked the super-friendly European telephone support people, who were always able to solve the problem (and several of whom sounded…rawr). I liked their crazy side projects, the blog, the merch, the various silly things they did in addition to the main type-n-images focus. And then they were acquired by Corbis.

Fast forward a little while, and the dismantling of Veer as it was appears close to complete. Don’t get me wrong, Veer.com is still there, and it still has much the same site design. But Corbis have apparently decided that Veer is to be its *budget* brand, for microstock and the like. They’ve even introduced Veer “credits”. Example: a search today, looking for technology images with a Middle East slant wasn’t especially productive. Even with the “illustration” option unticked, it was about 50% cheapy map outlines and flag buttons made in photoshop.

I guess that means searching only on Corbis.com in future. Which is fine, but I *liked* Veer, for more than just the list of things above. It seemed small, and a bit personal, and a bit creative, and it was useful to me and I liked it. And now it’s not anymore.

Valid business reasons, economic downturn, consolidation in the market, blah blah I DON’T CARE. I won’t be weeping into my whiskey tonight, but my image searching duties are now even less appealing.

I hate Valve

Well, alright, I <3 Valve. If you play PC games at all it’s very difficult not to love Valve just a little bit. They’re so unashamedly keen, and successful, and funny, and community-minded, and clever with PR, and, and, and stuff, that you can’t help yourself.

But I bloody HATE the sales they have on Steam.

“But why would you hate the opportunity to pick up games at a discount? Are you STUPID?”, I hear you ask?

Because I am weak. That’s why. So there was/is a July 4 (date format snerk) sale which I spotted the other day. And I ended up buying three games completely randomly, because the were “cheap”. Only as well as being “cheap”, they were also, well, “shit”.

The best of the bunch was Rainbow Six: Lockdown. I was pretty excited when I saw this, as I think I own ever game in the series, from the original almost-a-strategy game Rainbow Six (and the Eagle Watch expansion) on PC, through Rogue Spear (and expansions), Rainbow Six 3 and the “Vegas” games on Xbox 360. And, while I loved the “devise a route through the map and control it with gocodes” play of the original games, in which you could even opt to have the AI play *your* character and restrict yourself to an OpsController role, I *also* loved the more action-focused later games.

Lockdown, I didn’t recognise. So what if it’s a couple of years old, more R6! Great! *Buy* *6Gb download*. Oh, waitaminute. Wasn’t there a *really* shit game in between the strategy and the action. Where they got everything wrong, and it didn’t work? Yes, there was. It was Lockdown. It’s dreadful, it’s clunky, it jitters and stalls on my dualcore PC, it looks bad, it sounds bad, it plays worse and it smells. Still, at least it was cheap. Sigh.

And then there were the Gothic games. Gothic 2 and Gothic 3, in a pack, together, for cheap. I’ve heard of those, vaguely. I’ll give them a punt. ~10Gb download, for the pair.

Imagine if you were to concoct the ultimate RPG from all the best bits of other RPGs somehow fused together in a way that actually worked: the writing from Planescape or maybe Baldur’s Gate, the depth and complexity of an original Fallout, the shiny graphics of a Fallout 3 or a Mass Effect (having first taken the sticky labels from the designers’ screens that hide every colour except brown, blue and red). Throw in some of the better Bioware dialogue, have Obsidian do rewrites but someone else do QA, and on and on. Imagine the wonder you’d get.

Now imagine what you’d get if you combined the leftovers.

That’s probably a bit unfair, as I haven’t played Gothic 3 for more than about 10 minutes, but I don’t think I can. The controls are horrible, the voices dreadful, the script (what little I’ve seen of it) it painful and if the combat blossoms into something wonderful later, it was probably a mistake to make me kill 30 or 40 orc-things by clicketyclicketyclicketying before even telling what, why or how.

But it was cheap.