Inexplicable Things I’ve Removed From My Facebook “Advertising Interests”

Facebook's "Your ad preferences" header.

Two months ago, I swung through the Facebook “Ad Preferences” interface. I have been so diligent in marking most individual ads as irrelevant – because they are genuinely irrelevant, not because I merely dislike advertising – that the ensuing advertisements were flying off the rails.

I returned today to knock a few more off my list, knowing that these things attach to your profile like ticks in tall grass. I continue to wonder why any of these exist as something an advertising campaign can be built off of, and if you’ve never looked at yours, you should.

In the name of documenting what I’ve removed:

I have removed an advertising preference for Bark (sound).

I have removed 10 years of Football Manager releases, from 2005 to 2016, but excluding 2015, which was not in my advertising preferences. This is ironic because I am in the game’s regen database starting in the 2015 release. (Weird story.)

I have removed technical concepts, including COM file, HTTP 404, the 2014 release OS X Yosemite, and 1080p.

I have removed Bible, God, and First Epistle to the Thessalonians.

I have removed multiple places I have never been: New South Wales, Chino California, Germany, Entre Rios Province, South West England, North East England, and State of Mexico.

Not to be outdone by specific locations, I have removed geographic concepts: City, Country, and U.S. State. Also, somehow, List of United States cities by population.

I have removed five seasons of The Amazing Race (14, 17, 18, 21, 22). While I did watch TAR back in the day, I stopped around season 10.

I have removed both Love (band) and Love.

I have removed a number of purely weird concepts or things, including: Fictional film, Food craving, Gift, Institution, Mammal, Online, Resource, Remake, Ticket (admission), Time signature, Special edition, Sound, Vertebrate, and Wristband.

I have removed Socialistische Partij Anders. I’m sure they’re delightful, but I don’t think I need the ads.

I have removed multiple pieces of media I’ve never seen, including The Ringer (1931 film), Ghost (1990 film), and Godzilla (1954 film).

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I removed an advertising preference for Facebook.

Games of 2012: Rock Band Blitz

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2012 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. As I did last year, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2012 posts.

When game historians look back on this era, they will hold up Rock Band Blitz as a shining example of muddled, poorly thought out game design.

This should’ve been a slam dunk. Take a beloved music game franchise, and give gamers who have invested in that franchise a way to reuse all their content. Wait, no, even better: give them 25 more songs for that franchise they love when they buy your $15 game. And don’t even go very far in inventing a different model of actively playing the game – it plays similarly to Frequency or Amplitude, games Harmonix released a decade ago. (Hell, it’s even simpler: there’s only two notes per track!)

But then Harmonix decided to tinker. They added a “coin” system in which one has to buy power-ups per song. This mechanic has been beaten into the ground by Popcap and other Facebook game developers, who tend to make sure there’s a giant button nearby that says “BUY MORE COINS”. Weirdly, there’s no opportunity to buy additional coins; there’s no appeal for you to spend any money other than on additional songs. But a full slate of powerups cost enough that you won’t earn as much back, so it’s a pretty constant dwindling of your coin stash.

But wait! Harmonix added a special challenge system, where weekly goals provide you the opportunity to win additional coins if you play well. It would’ve been an acceptable trade-off, except for one tiny thing: the only way to get into the goals is through a Facebook app, not in the game itself. Almost all of the social elements of the game are driven into Facebook; if you don’t sign into the app, you will never get to touch that part of the game.

Want to accept a new goal? Have to go to your computer and log into Facebook.

Want to check on how far along you are on a particular goal? Have to go to your computer and log into Facebook.

Want to challenge your friend to a “Song War”? Have to go to your computer and log into Facebook.

We are 6+ years into the current console generation. Sony and Microsoft have both put a ton of energy and money into developing reasonably functioning social networks within their consoles. Forcing your paying customers to use an interface outside of the game to access core functionality is such a shockingly poor move, I honestly can’t believe it game from a developer with the level of good will and community faith that Harmonix had.

Long time Rock Band fanatics were all crushed. Plaguefox on NeoGAF provided a good take on why this is all so messed up, with this money quote:

Unfortunately, it isn’t working. I am coming away from each play session aggravated. I’m not ending sessions just because I’ve had enough play time, I’m cutting them short because the game mechanics are working against me in a way that saps all of the joy of playing out over the course of a handful of songs. I think I’m officially in the “I regret buying this game” camp at this point.

Rock Band Blitz easily takes the cake for the most disappointing title I played in 2012.

Rock Band Blitz is available on PSN and XBLA, and is perhaps only worthwhile as a cheap songpack for Rock Band proper. My experiences were with the PSN version.