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Today's strip, like this ancient one from the archives, is (at its heart) a tale of woe. Like Quake III before it, Doom 3 is shown for the first time to Mac enthusiasts, and running on the Macintosh platform. All in all, I'd say it's a pretty great time to be an Apple gamer. You poor bastards were - for a goodly while - the equivalent of martyrs where games were concerned, and even the comfort you could take in great titles we never saw on the PC wasn't enough to really call it even. With nVidia graphics hardware and OSX though, I'm pretty damned close to calling it a wash. A little anonymous bird told me that Apple was getting their OS to run on AMD processors, but that's probably an old rumor to everybody but me. Good God, if that wouldn't change things. That there is Fight of the Century material, son. John Carmack, as the faithful expect, has written a short, yet riveting novel in his .plan file that goes into why the new GeForce rizules and/or is the bizomb.

Some really cool game stuff has been happening recently, and I wanted to mention it quick before I get onto something else and forget it. For one thing, as friends of mine from The Citadel garnered from the developer's webcam, Black and White is finally, finally done - it's all over but the last bit of testing. Unless you've been hitting the wall candy, you know that it's the latest thang from the mind of Peter Molyneux, whose excellent games I've been playing for over a decade. I saw a demo of this beast at the last E3, and to show it off (I guess) the person doing the demonstration abused the pet creature given into your charge. The orangutan thing looked so miserable, and so genuinely hurt that I wanted to shove that guy's mouse right up his asshole. So there's that. Also, the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo will be released to stores very soon, and it even comes with some other game, which I thought was real nice of Konami - you can check out a truly exhaustive look at the aforementioned demo right here. I guess there's a demo out for Lucasarts' Battle For Whatever, woo-hoo, can't wait. Two more things: Stephen Granade (of "About.com's Guide To Interactive Fiction" fame) directed me towards a series of Text Adventures based on coin-op arcade games. You'll need interpreters to play them, and the only ones he directed me to were for Windows machines - use this one for games ending in .z5, z8, or HTML TADS, and this one to play the ones ending in .gam. The other thing is that Shawn McNaughton is very nearly done with a playable version of Metris, like that shown in our last strip. I'd bet we'll have that up for you Monday, if not sooner.

I want to talk about the donation system we've gone to in more detail, as Gabe and I have had a lot of discussions about it today. It went up sooner than I expected (which explains my subsequent and necessary addendum to the post) - but it's also been more successful that I could have imagined, so I'm given to believe that maybe we aren't nut-rolls after all. It takes four basic forms, any one of which can be found on the navigation junk on the left:

  • Amazon's "Honor System": Any nuts and bolts type questions you have about it can be found here - but it is a mechanism to accept donations of virtually any size down to a dollar. Their cut works out to %15 of the total, and each transaction costs fifteen cents. What you get out of it is a very simple way to donate to PA (if you're down with that), especially if you already buy stuff at Amazon - it automatically recognizes you and lets you do your thing without much hassle. What's more, we get a fancy "bar" thingy...

    that shows us the progress so far towards our monthly goal. So, Pro: Easy, nifty bar. Con: They take a piece, and some people just aren't enthusiastic about Amazon.

  • PayPal Donations: There are people who do not like Amazon's policies, let's say, or do not approve of the cut that they would make on their donation. The PayPal option is a good way to go in this case - the presumption being that you want to donate at all, of course. Gabe uses it a lot more than I do, but it's a matter of course apparently on tons of eBay transactions - it's simply a good way to send money webwise. You must set up an account to do it, but it's free, and it doesn't take very long - either way, the entirety of the sum goes to the Arcade. This cashola will be subtracted from the target for the month, every two to three days.
  • Friends of Penny Arcade: Emma is putting up the section tomorrow, so it's not up as I write this - but underneath the button for the phorum will be a section for companies large and small to donate to the Arcade if they believe that it has a worth to them. Only the top three are listed there, and they change every month, so it's not designed to fill the same conceptual domain as a traditional ad. It's designed to let you know which corporate entities see Penny Arcade, and to a larger extent gamers and gamer culture, as being a group with some measure of value attached to them. They would contact us directly to show support (as opposed to the Amazon and PayPal channels), and we would subtract their contribution directly from the target that month (just as with the PayPal method). I suppose that in a magical fairyland a donor could step forward and satisfy the needs of the site in their entirety, at once. This company would immediately become our best friends, with no take-backs.
  • Merchandise @ Game-Skins: We will be receiving weekly reports of sales and stuff from them, and we'll be subtracting these values as well from the target total.
  • That's essentially how it works. I personally have no control or purview into the workings of the PA Book Project, or else I would include that stuff as well. What's more, I'm wondering if a P.O. Box/Mail option wouldn't also be prudent. I plan to mention this stuff twice a month, tops. I haven't come up with them yet, but do you remember when your teacher used to assign stars, and when the class got enough stars you got a popcorn party? Or a pizza day? That's the sort of thing I want to bust out with. Contests and prizes for reaching a certain amount, let's say. When the amount is reached, an extra strip goes up during the week. It's interactive, or something. We're going to keep banner space at the top of the site, but it's not going to be for regular advertising - it's going to be community stuff, other comics I think are radical, or links to PA events (such as the NecrowombiCon, a Penny Arcade event in the NorthWest United States that will most assuredly become a reality).

    Running the site on donations is, in our opinion, the best way to satisfy what we think of as the needs of Penny Arcade. It affords us a valuable position with a lot of freedom, the freedom to poke idiots sharply in the eye with our special brand of whatever it is, and the freedom to be as honest as you deserve. The ability to donate has only been up for two and one half days, and there's been what I would call a groundswell of support, if I didn't think that groundswell was sort of a weird word to begin with. It's a lot though, especially considering that the current donation period goes from now until the end of March. There's a few things to keep in mind, though: The $10,000 dollar amount wasn't arrived at according to some bizarre mathematical principle, or greed, or anything of the sort. Once Amazon and the Government get their hands on that wad, we'll have enough to keep the site up and live reasonably. I wasn't comfortable with the amount (it seemed ludicrous, even on the face of it) until I knew how it was being cut up. What's more, we accept no more than that per month - as soon as the goal is reached, donations are frozen until the next period begins - an important limitation. We've had some pretty crazy contributions made this month, and they're well appreciated, but be warned, I'm about to sound like one of those commercials with the filthy kids in God-forsaken countries:

    If a third of Penny Arcade readers donated two dollars, it would be more than we could take in in a given month.

    Someone expressed incredulity at my claim that we have over thirty thousand unique visitors to the site. I can assure you, it's quite true - Wednesday, for example, we had in excess of thirty-two thousand. I have no idea why. But the hypothetical, italicized scenario I painted is the reality of our situation. The large showing of support we've seen is very gratifying, amazing even. But it is our intention to make this work as long-term as we can - if you have it as your intention to donate five dollars to the site (for example), two-fifty for two months is even better. Or one dollar for five. I do not have sufficient ego to expect people to give the way they're giving at the moment. And you shouldn't have to.

    We have very little trust, or rather faith, in traditional advertising networks. I haven't spoken to Gabe, but I'm sure that we agree on that point. Neither are we of the mind that a subscription based system - like the one adopted by the excellent CombatSim - is ready to support many gaming sites. What's more, we're not comfortable with that - we don't really want to limit access to PA. The way we think of Penny Arcade is flatly incompatible with that sort of system. I know I talked about it for a long time, but I just felt as though there was a lot to say. Right now, I'm just wondering whether or not we're fucking crazy. I'm wondering if it's even possible. We'll find out.

    (CW)TB out.

    P.S.: Not related to anything I just said, but Gamer Hotties - a warped creation from the twisted mind of Dr. Lobster - opens today. I laughed a lot, and for a long time. You go now!

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