Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mirror's Edge 2 - The Quest for Mainstream

EA Discusses Mirror's Edge 2 Design Challenges

Mirror's Edge was a flawed but nevertheless interesting experiment that was viewed as a relative sales failure when it launched in 2008. Nevertheless, EA CEO John Riccitiello believes it merits a sequel, even as the publisher culls their development slate. They just need to figure out how to go about it.

In other words, how to ruin a game which was one of a kind. Of course, if games didn't cost billions to make, such silly pondering wouldn't even be happening.
So let me suggest a couple of things that could be added to the game, before going for the typical "murr gunz" and pace-breaking puzzles, right here:

  • Change the art style
    Look at Price Of Purcha... erm... sh--, Prince of Persia. Ubi did it right. They removed a lot of what made it look exotic and arabic (a culture of filthy people, goat-eaters and amateurs of cheap rocket launchers), and opted for a heavily Final Fantasy influenced charadesign. Oh, the chick is already an Asian? That ain't enough people. Her distant ancestors may come from that place on a map identified as "there be dragons" or something, but she looks like a punk pulled out of that mediocre "La Femme Nikita" flick.
    It's just all wrong. Either take inspiration from your grimdark atomized environment and have your palette cover a short range of browns to grays, and plenty of sepia filters, or aim for some random kawai Japanese stuff. Do something, anything, please. Just drop the unique art style. This alone much likely hurt sales, as XBOX360 players couldn't familiarize with it.

  • Add mirrors
    Someone tell me. That game was called Mirror's Edge. We surely got plenty of edges, but what about the mirrors? You have to aim for the male demographic. What is the point of having a female character if boys cannot enjoy this reality? It was already hard to accept that within the frame of a game, genitals had been turned outside in -- even if we know many male players love to be females on MMO -- let's at least take some advantage of this. So place more mirrors. More polished windows. Let huge ten by ten reflecting surfaces show all of the girl's acrobatic... abilities. This probably means changing her wardrobe a little, finding some short skirt and... perhaps pumping up that bustier a little, and adding a natural amount of glamour in her moves.
    Sidenote: add a free 3rd view camera and a snapshot function.

  • Sidekick character
    You need to have more fun in that game. And that calls for another protagonist.
    Army of Two, Ico, Prince of Persia (again). Okay, the first game might not be such a good example, cause what I'm getting at is that you need another (attractive) female character.
    Think of the possibilities! She's above you, and you can't leap onto the platform she's standing on without her help. So she leans forward, bends over the edge, as you try to reach for her hand. The ultimate goal being to find yourself starring right at this:

    Or, let's say your team of two is stuck at the feet of a wall, and the only way to get on the other side is to climb said wall. If everything is properly designed and coded, then you should be able to give your teammate a hand:

    Once your friend is up the wall, she'll obviously have to help you get up there as well. As you can see, this seamlessly connects with the gameplay event described just before!

  • Time control
    The game should have a time dilation effect, or even a reverse power. Like in Prince of Persia (...) or... Braid? I mean, they even got one in God of War II, so why not?
    A game without time control these days isn't good. Bullet Time was must have some years ago, and the devs need to expand upon this cornerstone to increase the game's value.

  • XP and rewards
    Anything that was present in Mirror's Edge has proven to be of insufficient use to the success of the game. Therefore, more needs to be done. Aside from obvious collectibles and rewards, you need more obvious collectibles and rewards. But that's not all. You need to complete the whole picture, so why not rely on the much vaunted experience. Let's add a touch of RPG. Let Faith improve her skills.
    Let her also loot objects, discover secret items and even craft some other rare ones. DICE should add many NPCs who would be all the more sources of side quests.

  • Social... ism
    You need a multiplayer mode. But that alone cannot be enough, so prepare the game so the transition to "Mirror's Edge, the MMO" appears to be long overdue. Of course, this could only be achieved by requiring the player to pay a monthly fee for the special servers and exceptional service.

  • 2.5D
    Wouldn't it incredible to be able to change your environment from a 3D scenery to a 2D one? There's already an amateur ME 2D platformer which supposedly brings the game experience to the 2D world, to please old timers. They are people in their 30s who must not be ignored. Eventually, this ability to turn the decor from 3D to 2D, and back to 3D, should be called "cash", or "rush".

  • Quick Time Events
    I cannot believe DICE left those out of ME. QTE are the most obvious cheap addition to a game in order to increase positive value. It adds variety to the "powers" of a character and breaks monotony. It allows for greater story telling. Think of QTEs, really.

  • Huge bosses
    Everybody loves big enemy bosses to defeat. They make for extraordinary and epic moments, when the world at large seems to throw at you the meanest stuff it has, to halt any pretense at moving forth. Those guardians are important. Why don't get some in Mirror's Edge 2? They wouldn't need to look like monsters, as long as they fit the role of the major challenge at the end of a given ensemble of playable sections.

See, with all these simple suggestions and ideas, who needs guns and puzzles?

Friday, December 25, 2009

TooDee Ayyyxion

I know, I should not.
I should not get my hopes so high, for it's impossible to know if the updated Toki game will deliver, or stink like a refurbished mound of plastic bolts and fused wires that would like to call itself HD TV. The Flash-cartoon style may put some people off, and I truly wonder if time will allow me to get used to the palette and consider it tolerable. At least, may they get the gameplay right! Then we'll see how they could expand upon it. Somehow, I'm in doubt. Are they only remaking the original?
Oh well...

On the graphics side, I must say I'm quite more impressed by Arkedo's Jump! Why?

Nice, innit? I'm so sold.

EDIT: Looking in more details at the Toki game, I spotted the "RETURN TO ARCADE" option in the menu, so I thought that perhaps they had a new story plus the old levels, but nope. The interview at Digital Spy reveals that there won't be much new material.

That is kinda unfortunate. I really prefer the original arcade style, so I don't see the point buying a revamp when MAME does it right. What they're doing is like pulling Rick Dangerous out from the grave, bringing it home with some slapped paintjob. On the plus side, animations would contain much more frames, and thus be smoother. Indeed, the original game was rather short on the animation side. It was certainly no Prince of Persia or Mr. Nutz. Some of them were as basic as perhaps containing a grand maximum of five to six frames. The first boss, notably, arguably had one for jumping forward and backward, one or two for launching the crazy monkeys (it was "waiving" its left arm by lifting it up), one for "ouch!", and err...

I also wonder if they'll redo or resample the SFX. They had their own charm, muffled and all that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Toki & the state of the French industry

October 28 2009, an article appears on Gamasutra, announcing that a freshly established French studio acquired the rights to resurrect Toki.
Well Toki Juju actually, if you care being accurate enough. One of those awesome action 2D platformers that have fallen into oblivion for no good real reason. Funny thing that while posting my comments at Gamasutra, I came to think of past platform hits, and Mr. Nutz had been a jewel.
Not surprising, somehow, since Philippe Dessoly, member of the newborn studio, was apparently responsible of the design of the character on two different consoles.
Well, we can certainly wish them lots of luck and courage, at least they seem to have a strong project at hand.
That contrasts a lot with the somehow stuck in Limbo attempt to rejuvenate Turrican, unfortunately. :(

Anyway, that's fine and all, but I'd like to address something else. Something which might be important.
I've been waiting a couple months now to see if the bit below would at least get the video game press or even communities pick the following bit from Gamasutra's article:

I thought I knew the industry well, but I was wrong, and it's a little like a select club where you need to be known to enter.

You don't say! I had the opportunity to compare a few but important industries, and the conclusion is that, indeed, French one is extremely selective to the insane point it kills itself, and that doesn't guarantee quality either.

People tend to focus on the flowery picture composed by the very few big front names like Ubisoft, perhaps Quantic Dreams and, say, Eden Games (yes, they're French studios, despite the names, I swear).
Ubisoft, we know where this goes. The bulk of their best titles is not produced in France anymore. What their branch near Paris mostly does is that silly shit with the rabbits.
Quantic Dreams maintains its head above the waters, despite its constant +100 staff, surviving without selling more than one game every three or four years, thanks to ancillary revenues, counting the motion capture studio.
Eden Games is perhaps, in terms of big names, what may come closer to a typical big studio, and they had some recent hits under their hood, but were subject to large pressures nonetheless, which somehow, among other internal design issues, explains the Alone in the Dark case.

Without getting into obscure licenses yet, you have Nadeo and their Trackmania series, largely surviving through sequelitis, and still recently bought.
You have Monte Cristo, held by business men, a studio which despite a lackluster catalog, manages to get some spotlight for its next sort of MMO City-thing. Tales say that internally, it's all very rotten.

Then you fall into the very niche games, obscure titles, or very small structures. Arkedo is one of the most pleasant recent successes with their Nervous Brickdown for example.

Perhaps there's something worth chewing here, journos? Dontcha think?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Trippy Stellar Polynomes

Be sure not to miss this very psychedelicious 3D shooter, Polynomial.
Assembling clouds of particles and waves through fractal computations, you find silently flying through masses of lights, time slipping, lancing joyous globes of vibrant blue at the abyss, sometimes hitting amoeba-looking enemies and spilling torrents of shininess and sounds as they explode in a fountain of acid colours.

All these colours in an assumed abstract SFish setting feels like someone whose eyes were probably falling out of their sockets at 4 o'clock in the morning, decided that merging the best of 2001, 3rd Kind Encounter and the V'Ger nebula into some kind of bizarro passive/active game would be something worth trying out.
Well it is.

Be sure not to miss the editor!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Neither up nor down?

I must really ask if the next gen, you know, the one takes us by the hand for a psychotic trip into the few-ture, full of high tech gadgetery and flashing gimmicks, is really worth it.

The industry has been rushing forward relentlessly, perhaps even headlessly if I may say, and this breathtaking ride has more to do with a bunch of savant monkeys reckless "manning" a ten tons lorry down a motorway in works than with the elegant battle of formula-one sports cars using the highest technology available to squeeze every bit of speed out of their powerful engines and lustrous hulls (this, being the ideal we're supposed to believe in).

I read this today:

Sony’s games division has reportedly suffered almost $5 billion in losses since the company launched the PS3 in November 2006.
According to VG247, figures from Sony’s investor relations website show that total PlayStation division losses since the console’s release stand at $4.7 billion.

In comparison, the site claims that Microsoft’s Xbox division suffered losses of $4.2 billion in the four business years following the original Xbox’s November 2001 launch.

Oh well, only that. Billions. Mind you, this is nothing new, but it still takes its toll on the sane mind, to think of such amounts. Smells like someone's been playing with Daddy's money at the big casino.
Microsoft patiently waited at least four years to start getting something positive out of their new machine. Which certainly means, in all logic, that we're not going to see any new console anytime soon.
But we'll obviously be served with a gazillion Halo games until we ALL succumb to the Master Chief wallpaper craze.

Only Nintendo and their cheap plasticky gimmick sells like hot cakes.
And the PSP is beating it.
The PSP, aka the PS2 in Urz pockets. The PS2 and its fantastic God of Wars series, and portable Monster Hunter hits.

Next gen consoles take around half a decade to start scoring true gains... only to fill the $ billions wide holes first.
Next gen games takes years to develop, drain the life out of worker armadas, cost tens of millions, if not some hundred now... and are completed in less than a day or two.

Yet, when you look at the core of the engines of such games, the difference is truly minimal.
Essentially, a multiplayer made out of ODST would hardly play any differently than Quake World (it would actually suck in comparison :p ).
There is no doubt in my mind that there's a need for a new business model.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Grimdark Show

You know there's something wrong in the industry when greatly awaited games are presented by a bunch of Japanese stuck ups in corporate suits.

What did you do to my favourite industry, fuckers? >:(

Oh and the game is Final Fantasy 2MANY, in case you wonder.

(Pictures found here.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day of Lolz

Hey! There may not a lot of stuff to make fun of, but don't be afraid, Hollywood knows how to fill the blanks when needed!

So here we go... prepare yourself for Asteroids, the movie.
I'm not kidding. Well, they are not.
We probably all wish this was nonsense, and it could very well be, but on the same hand, I'm barely going to say I'm surprised. It's just reaching a new low in terms of video game adaptations.
I know that in the past, there's been a lot of conceptual talking on what about games makes a narrative, and if it could be expressed outside of the game... as, you know, could a gamer, by the mere act of smashing buttons, bitching, looting or popping high scores, be constructing a form of narrative?

Well, I don't know, but Hollywood thinks it does. So I'm going to pretend I got my hands on the script.

Story (rough):

We're going in for a summer flick of doom about a near futuristic Earth which, for some very unfortunate reason, would lose an entire outpost --civilian if possible, but military will do-- located at the edge of the system, including thousands of souls, because the local radar dumbass didn't see the asteroid shower coming in their way, and would then decide to roll out a super secret project of space interceptors to go blasting some stone.
Perhaps add a story of pirates just stirring up trouble at the same time, because the plot needs to be a bit more... bumpy.
Be sure that instead of one pilot, this will turn into the story of an entire squadron if not more.
This shall be the flick's climax, with people dying left and right, splashing on the rocks and the crafty ones firing all they have, in terms of lasers, missiles and nukes, to blast the nasty drifting bits before they reach Earth, the biggest rock of all.


Now, as we know, there's going to be a considerable brainstorming going on to grace us with the most awesome taglines ever imagined by man, but we can still try to wager what they could be...

  • Let's rock! (please, no)
  • What does it take to break you?
  • The last granite shower
  • Most rocks burn up in the atmosphere... most
  • Those are not from Mars
  • Catch'em if you can!
  • If only Chuck Norris could fly...
  • Momentum is a bitch
  • According to the rubble pile model... this can only end badly

    Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't have let the execs do their Tetris movie after all.

    Update: More news about this... thing... and the momentum building up. You're also going to be chocked (...) about this:

    Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to pick up the film rights to the classic Atari video game "Asteroids." Matthew Lopez will write the script for the feature adaptation, which will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

    Something's wrong. This industry is beyond sick. It's beyond cynicism. And I hate to say it, but if this turns out to be a success, then there will probably even more reasons to hate the world. :)
    You'd wish you were stuck in a perpetual April's Fool cycle.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    North Korea killz ur web

    Here we go. In a long band of suspicious accusations following each other, while the butter mound of rights seemingly melts at an alarmingly fast pace, we've been told that key US' structures came under cyberattacks, through the Internet network, and that these attacks originated from North Korea.

    The proof? A mere South Korean guess. Howdy!

    Not only one would ask why a country such as the USA keeps putting the access and management of sensitive or non-sensitive structures on a public network (things worked just as well back in the 80s), but we have to raise a suspicious eyebrow here, as the alleged attack could not be more timely.

    Frankly, it was obvious that the wretched Cybersecurity Act of 2009 would only pass with the rise of Internet "threats".
    The reality is that the bill is the threat, and it represents a serious attack on civil rights and business opportunities, especially as it puts to much power into the hands of one appointed dude the capacity to venture into anything that's called private data, and seize and block anything deemed sensitive, related to this data and activities derived from it.
    Intrusive, you say?

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    RIAA's Deadly Bytes

    Another sad MP3 related affair... (sigh) reported:

    Woman fined to tune of $1.9 million for illegal downloads...

    You never thought ~100 Mb could destroy an entire family so swiftly.
    Perhaps this is some new form of terrorism? A temptation? Maybe... the Devil is behind it?
    For sure, that lawyer is a ****.
    Now, a most necessary "warning" notice, courtesy of the braindead RIAA:

    For your safety and that of your peers, it is your duty, citizen, to report to your closest Security & Entertainment Station, the identity of any individual attempting to hide signs of suspicious bytes.

    Remember, guys:

    Shoot the head!

    Friday, June 05, 2009

    Are games allowed to be serious?


    The Futility of Video Games

    Last week, friends of mine and family members gathered in the living room for some informal chat time on various topics, including video games, which is rather rare to notice since I'm generally embarrassed to talk about them, even when it would come down to business.
    We came to discuss about novelty, following some newspapers' or TV news' commentary that this year, there wasn't anything new in the video game industry to be craving for.

    To me, it was rather clear that you could not expect something new every semester, but someone had to stand for our industry, so did I, one hand full of snacks, a glass of Martini in the other, climbing the twenty something centimeters of my mental soapbox.

    I said, no matter what you think about Nintendo lately, the Wii and DS clearly brought some fresh air to the medium. It reached new markets, new people, whose last game could have been Pong or, if you're lucky, Tetris.

    My youngest aunt asked what kind of revolution could there be, beyond those more hardware orientated bangs?

    I replied that software wise, it would either be an original take on old formulas with new game mechanics, or the rise of a whole new genre, which is pretty much rare. We exchanged and argued over examples, and pleasantly, the difference between these two concepts was quite clear in the minds of all.

    I talked about arcades, their disappearance, the social factor and Bushnell's new enterprise - some topics which I had articles about since half a year if not more, not released... yet.

    Finally, I came to talk about games in education, health and engaged games, that is, serious games, notably those dealing with current political issues.

    And it's where the truth lies. Although I don't agree that all games can be summed up to a bunch of shooters, I reckon that they're pathetically devoid of any true political message.
    There are some attempts at tackling social aspects of life, but they're all low budget ventures.

    All in all, it's not a question of literally daring saying in the open something that would surely bring all publishers to close the money tap, we're not even there guys.
    It's about bothering using mere information as presented in general newspapers to generate a form of reflection, without sacrificing game quality.

    Indeed, big budget hardly comes in hand with thoughtful political critique, either past or current. All games about WWII, for example, are terribly dumb in the way they deal with the context and subtle realities of war, its origins and parameters.

    I was pissed off to see what Six Days in Fallujah was all about, nothing more than a mere shooter with some one sided background. It would be absolutely stupid to deny the fact that there's an immense critique of the US' actions in the Middle East. For good or bad, video games don't even begin to remotely approach any form of invitation to discuss these matters.

    Ironically, those who have taken a more serious stance on this is the US Department of Defense, with the shooter America's Army, which precisely promotes and feeds the mindless, cretinous and ignorant acceptance of war, regardless of the motives, and there's no opposition to this.
    Or perhaps unwittingly, Quake Wars showing how Earth's single line of defense against the Strogg is the GDF, an English acronym for Global Defense Force, which operates everywhere on the planet, but is uniquely composed of "Americans", no matter if GDF fights in North Algeria, Japan or Norway. The mindset behind this decision, largely dictated by cutting corners on budget (I hope) is still creepy though.

    A debate needs an opposition, and there's no debate, in video games, which couldn't be more perfect for all those who can't help but point at games and say they keep people lethargic, undermotivated and ignorant, making consumers easy to curb.
    Surely, playing retarded MMOs is never going to help.

    If it wasn't enough, while the whole planet is aware of what happened in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and the Democrats and Republicans are leaping at each others' throat over the topics of tortures, abuses, violation of human rights and murder, for the first real time in the history of games, a product appears to be about to say something smart for a change, it's preemptively sacked by the current US administration.

    The game? Rendition: Guantanamo, by T-Enterprise, based on the testimonies of UK citizen Moazzam Begg, who personally experienced the luxuries of Guantanamo and wrote a book on it. The question is not about knowing if it was right or wrong to jail him so far from his homeland, but what actually happened in there.

    Now, do you remember Obama's promises about putting an end to the legacy of Bush's fascist warmongering doctrine? Well, you can forget about that. The dude seems to have lost his gusto or something, as he's backpedaling full speed. That Obama has lost his balls, too bad for him. But censoring a game for what most gamers are aware of is nothing more than revealing your hand in the most awkward way possible.

    What is clear is the message: Hussein's administration doesn't want games to even toe the line.

    I guess games are encouraged to be serious about their laissez-faire.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Nothing to say . . .

    What a pity.
    By the time I assembled myself enough will and excitement to make a blog, with limited resources and certainly limited time on my hands, I thought there would be lots of things to say and comment on.

    There are, if you don't mind talking about the same topics on and on and on, but there seems to be very little evolution.

    The more time goes, the less there is to say about an industry.
    Topics? The same, we're going in circles... piracy, girls and casual gamers, art, console wars, sales, serious gaming, progaming (barely gets a mention these days)... there's nothing truly engaged about the industry, nothing very serious (I'm afraid this isn't even the word I'm looking for)... besides making money.

    We have jumped the ape and directly went for the over expensive Homo-Bruckheimerus style of games without even getting into some kind of former obscure and perhaps experimentally highbrow phase.

    But what is there to expect about video games? They're games, entertainment after all. Although the definition of entertainment pretty much lies in the eye of the beholder, there are just far more chances to get served with Brits got Talent (with guns and boobs) than a game with correct gameplay and a mature message that sets the background.
    Actually, there are very little efforts made to produce games that end being more than just dumb. Fun, but dumb.
    From time to time, dumbness is swapped for poetry and inspiring escapism, if we're lucky enough. It may even get psychedelic, as in Rez.
    When we want to brag about art, we generally cite the work done by Ueto Umeda's team on the Playstations.
    Anytime we need to talk about a game being provocative, serious somehow, we fall back to fucking pre-Matrix Deus Ex and its nanobips, droids, sunglasses and Roswells. Yes, that's just how far we went.

    Sometimes, we become excited for reasons that differ from the classical pattern of fanboyism and attachment to proven and used gameplays mechanics and lovable franchises.
    It does happen to have hope for something different and more productive.
    I was hopeful. Six Days in Fallujah could have been the starting ground of a new age of thought provoking video gaming culture, to shut the big gaping mouths of the Eberts and co, but it all felt apart. I'm afraid they were just that spot on.
    SDiF could have been an honest and artsy punchy critique of the second war in Iraq, equally addressing the calamity of destructive self interests that come along our societies and the reality of what happened over there, but it seems to be nothing more than a mental shooter at best, going by the paper.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009


    An interesting video, about how a once cool user based video sharing community, now falls into the corporate hands: YouTube.

    Isn't sad, really?
    Although I did complain about the increasing censorship, I did not pay much attention to the change. I figured out that YouTube is still a private business after all, so it would have been their call. But the video has a good point: YouTube would have never been where it is now without users and its initial recipe.

    Was it mere baiting for us, so old mass media would soon find the right time to pour their warped content into new and once freer forms of communication? One wonders.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Cybersecurity Act of 2009: The Facts

    The Big Red Button: Internet freedom locked!

    So, first, get a copy of the bill from here. It was submitted by a Democrat and a Republican (apparently often siding with Democrats), John Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe.

    These are those rare times when (more) people (than usual) pay attention to what is done in the heavens of the administration.
    The band wagon effect is generally found at its apex in such events, as people are merely reacting on the information relayed by journos without trying to see if the interpretation is correct (but journalists don’t bother either, so who gives?).

    However, it is that time again, when there is a good reason for people to be worried. Who wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in the venue of a bill encompassing themes and words such as “Internet”, “shutdown” and lines about “access to all relevant data concerning networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access”?

    You clearly want to know what could possibly warrant such methods, and what the extent of the implied responsibility and power is.

    So let’s move straight to the source of contention, the one which mentions the partial or total suspension of the Internet traffic:

    The President—
    (1) within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, shall develop and implement a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy, which shall include—
    (A) a long-term vision of the nation’s cybersecurity future; and
    (B) a plan that encompasses all aspects of national security, including the participation of the private sector, including critical infrastructure operators and managers;
    (2) may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network;

    Naysayers have been prompt to dismiss the worries by saying that the President would not have the power to do so on his own, or that the measure only concerns the Federal system or network.
    It’s patently false. Read the beginning of the section. The words “The President” are clearly mentioned, and the text is certainly not limiting itself to Federal systems and networks.

    As any text law, context is most important.

    (1.B) establishes the involvement “of the private sector, including critical infrastructure operators and managers;” in other words, all Internet providers and any other private company that fits the bill (including all the DRM pushing Majors which would just be too happy to see Internet close). How they’d be involved is not clear, but they’re most likely to provide information and advisory as to how applying the Act.
    The reality is that the strategy in question precisely involves these groups as enforcers. As they’re nominated in that rather broad ensemble, they’ll have no way to dodge the procedure (if they ever planned to “resist”).
    They’ll comply. They’ll assist the government in the application of the law. It is pretty much required, in fact. As the Internet is largely in the hands of the private sector, it would be stupid not to think so.

    But don’t stop here. Let’s pick the sentence in its whole structure, from point (2):

    The President may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.

    As we quickly understand, what matters here is the subject of this procedure: (the) Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.

    But what is that? Well, they have a section called DEFINITIONS, so let’s see.


    In this Act:

    —The term ‘‘Federal government and United States critical infrastructure information systems and networks’’ includes—
    (A) Federal Government information systems and networks; and
    (B) State, local, and nongovernmental information systems and networks in the United States designated by the President as critical infrastructure information systems and networks.

    Read carefully the subsection (3.B) to know what is targeted, beyond “Federal Government information systems and networks.”

    The term ‘‘Federal government and United States critical infrastructure information systems and networks’’ includes (...) State, local, and nongovernmental information systems and networks in the United States designated by the President as critical infrastructure information systems and networks.

    In case you had doubts, be assured that all ranges and angles are covered here, right down to the obscure “nongovernmental” network.
    Notice, however, that to be targeted by the powers of the Act, the systems and networks must first be marked as critical.

    OK. So how are these systems and networks deemed critical?
    Easy: by presidential designation.

    In other words, if the President says it’s critical, it is.

    So basically, it puts into the President’s hands the ability to point at any structure on the US soil and decide it’s of critical importance within the minute.
    There’s no real counter power to this, and as you can count on it, whatever this counter power would be, it would probably have little to no time to gauge the presidential claim. All of which in return gives the President the power to shutdown the said critical target until further notice.

    Class eh?
    Do these people realize the threat it could pose to people and, of course, to countless thousands of businesses entirely relying on Internet, but which aren’t featured on the Dow Jones board?

    Once again, the absolute vagueness of certain references is not satisfying.
    It’s, above all, a story of amalgams.

    Let’s finish this part with a last look at the following text:

    The Congress finds the following:

    (4) The Director of National Intelligence testified before the Congress on February 19, 2009 that ‘‘a growing array of state and non-state adversaries are increasingly targeting-for exploitation and potentially disruption or destruction-our information infrastructure, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries’’ and these trends are likely to continue.

    The report includes the Internet as a whole into the “information infrastructure”.
    Good. By definition, if we were to follow this shortcut, Internet could be labelled critical in its entirety.
    So how would have Internet been defined if the bill passed?

    Civil liberties as collateral damage?

    So what about data monitoring? What kind of data are we talking about here?

    (a) DESIGNATION.—The Department of Commerce shall serve as the clearinghouse of cybersecurity threat and vulnerability information to Federal government and private sector owned critical infrastructure information systems and networks.
    (b) FUNCTIONS.—The Secretary of Commerce—
    (1) shall have access to all relevant data concerning such networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access;

    Here we are. This is nothing more than the principles of martial law applied to a nation-wide ensemble of electronic systems and networks. No law, no bickering.
    It is understandable that in a day of national crisis, at the height of a grave conflict, knowing absolutely everything about the failures and weaknesses of the nation’s networks is of the utmost importance.

    But I ask, what is “all relevant data” supposed to mean? In light of a constantly paranoid fear of terrorist attacks and multi-hacking of national infrastructures or whatever, it is absolutely clear that such data has great chances to include the way the networks are used, and by whom. Thus, the point would be to know who’s on the line and what people are doing at time T, in order to observe and know about the behavior of individuals or groups of individuals acting suspiciously and in unlawful ways (so would the government say). In light of a much criticized Patriot Act, such leeway in the submitted text law can only be a source of great concern.

    Once again, we go to the DEFINITIONS section to find another reference to data. Please notice the applied meaning of “cyber”:

    (2) CYBER.—The term ‘‘cyber’’ means—
    (A) any process, program, or protocol relating to the use of the Internet or an intranet, automatic data processing or transmission, telecommunication via the Internet or intranet; and
    (B) any matter relating to, or involving use of, computers or computer networks.

    Basically: anything you can do with Internet (yes, that also means a serious threat to porn and WoW).
    Of course, in a bill that features the security cyber term or prefix 181 times, along mentions of monitoring and shutdown, you really got to ask if these guys are thinking clearly.

    Let’s also try to understand what the SoC is.

    For such a task, I summon the mighty WIKIPEDIA!!!

    The United States Secretary of Commerce is the head of the United States Department of Commerce concerned with business and industry; the Department states its mission to be "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce." Until 1913 there was one Secretary of Commerce and Labor, uniting this department with the Department of Labor, which is now headed by a separate Secretary of Labor.


    The current Secretary of Commerce is former Washington Governor Gary Locke, who was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama on February 25, 2009, and was confirmed by the United States Senate by unanimous consent on March 24, 2009.

    Locke is President Obama's third choice for the post following New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who dropped out of consideration in early January 2009, and Republican Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire, who withdrew his nomination in February 2009.

    The SoC(k puppet) is one person appointed by the President. Once again, a great and immediate menace can only be countered by a great and immediate power.
    But you know the song. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. One can only cross fingers that there’s someone around the SoC to sheath his resolve in the enforcement of this possible future law. But I’m not naive enough to believe that the vicinity of the SoC would be the counter power we’re looking for. The balance has to come from an organ that is directly speaking on behalf of the people.

    I’m so beyond wondering why in the holy defense of rights and freedom, the officials rush to get in line to be the first and quickest to suggest illogical law texts, which will transvestite freedom into its anathema.

    Evolution of the concept

    It is also interesting to look at the basics of the bill, as they define the guidelines of the suggested law and the scope of its application, as a part of the strategy:

    (a) IN GENERAL.—The President shall establish or designate a Cybersecurity Advisory Panel.
    (b) QUALIFICATIONS.—The President—
    (1) shall appoint as members of the panel representatives of industry, academic, non-profit organizations, interest groups and advocacy organizations, and State and local governments who are qualified to provide advice and information on cybersecurity research, development, demonstrations, education, technology transfer, commercial application, or societal and civil liberty concerns; and
    (2) may seek and give consideration to recommendations from the Congress, industry, the cybersecurity community, the defense community, State and local governments, and other appropriate organizations.

    Once again, it’s people put there by the President, above all not within the context of special circumstances (a major attack or whatever) but as a pre-emptive measure.

    It just seems a wee bit too one sided to my tastes.
    Besides, if you wonder what the strategy is about, let’s continue reading the second part of this section.

    (c) DUTIES.—The panel shall advise the President on matters relating to the national cybersecurity program and strategy and shall assess—
    (1) trends and developments in cybersecurity science research and development;
    (2) progress made in implementing the strategy;
    (3) the need to revise the strategy;
    (4) the balance among the components of the national strategy, including funding for program components;
    (5) whether the strategy, priorities, and goals are helping to maintain United States leadership and defense in cybersecurity;
    (6) the management, coordination, implementation, and activities of the strategy; and
    (7) whether societal and civil liberty concerns are adequately addressed.

    In terms of civil liberties, part (7) is of interest. The panel shall give its 2c on the state of repercussions resulting from the application of the law.
    But will the panel even bother? And if yes, could the President find enough time to pay the necessary due attention to these problems?
    The most amusing aspect of it is how part (3) allows the rules to be totally changed once the text is voted. Part (7) could be unilaterally flushed down the drain for all we care. Who would know? There’s no real indication, in the bill, that the panel is subordinated to anyone but the President, har har.

    Also, consider the existence and relevance of point (7) within the reality of the Patriot Act and its problems.

    Besides, if the panel would argue against the President’s will, he’d have the power to scrap the whole band and reboot the thing anew.
    In such conditions, could the panel be capable of guaranteeing the respect of civil liberties if the President were to lose his marbles and swap teams at will?
    Answer: Niet.

    And, in the looming sense of madness that drips between the lines of this bill, the other question is how far can this nonsense spread to other (allied) countries?
    Would they be isolated?
    The answer lies below:

    The President shall—
    1) work with representatives of foreign governments—
    (A) to develop norms, organizations, and other cooperative activities for international engagement to improve cybersecurity; and
    (B) to encourage international cooperation in improving cybersecurity on a global basis; and
    (2) provide an annual report to the Congress on the progress of international initiatives undertaken pursuant to subparagraph (A).

    Same story goes for the others. Along the current alignment and increased cooperation and exchange of information in the war against terrorism, places such as Europe, Canada, Mexico and so on and so forth, are not going to be spared the issues of this law if something would go wrong in the good ol’ US of A.

    I have seen people say that this bill is a much necessary tool in order to adequately respond to any wide scale electronic menace, aggressive and repeated hacking of civilian and financial networks, and other malign activities which includes, but should not be limited to, the goal of depleting bank accounts.
    This would surely bring people down in the street, and the best way to find money would be to find a job, and there’s just one sector which sees no loss of steam in such dire times: the military arm. :)

    Internet is the most important enlightening and social tool humanity has ever known since fire and language. Like these last two tools, Internet is a double edged sword, but those who have mastered it live above the others.
    If the government wants to possess the ability to isolate all of its governmental agencies’ networked systems and core civilian infrastructures (energy, finance, etc.), so be it. It is its legitimate right.
    But such power should be cautious in the way it treats the private sphere, both regarding civil and business liberties.

    Truly, I really don’t get the point of such a disturbing lack of distinction between foreign terrorism and civil liberties.
    I’d suggest Rockefeller and Snowe to get some sleep and rethink the whole thing, otherwise people will soon regret the Soviet Union.

    Hyper_necro_edit_bump: had 91% of Internet readers voting against.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    The NEW PSP

    The info comes from there. OK, it's more a rumor than anything, but it appears to have some tangible meat inside.

    Most interesting is the idea of the sliding screen. However, the question is one of ergonomics: while the console remain balanced with the screen being off-center?

    Also, note the plan for TWO thumbsticks.

    What I find bogus, however, is the idea that both of them AND the D-pad would be located underneath the screen.
    I can understand the placement of the sticks, since Sony's controllers feature a central placement for the dual sticks, but for the D-pad? How is the stick exactly supposed to reach it? Or does it mean that the screen's width is almost corresponding to the console's overall width?
    In which case, it's feasible.

    We can only hope they actually, and finally come with a properly designed stick cap.
    And there are plenty of other gizmos.

    Go look around on Internet to find fan-made pictures of the next PSP. Try PSP 2 for example. Most are old, but they quite come close to the idea.

    The whole train of rumor got bumped sky high back in February, at Kotaku.

    EDIT: the whole idea reminds me of this.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    OnLive (nominated for Most Original Title Evah)

    OnLive is to games what restaurants are to food:
    You don't need the cook's set, it's all about the service.

    Well, on paper, that sounds good, right? Yes, it does, but as I said above, the real question now is if the system can live outside of the perfect lab conditions.

    They say they can already target 200 million people. We'll see.

    Now, some bad, concrete and direct points for the gamer:

    • Need of a connection.
      If it cuts, you cry. No game, even if it was a solo.

    • You don't own the game.
      This, I don't like. I cherish my very property.
      But let's be frank, it's been a while since you truly legally owned a game.

    • Need to pay a monthly fee.
      That's the base model. One can only hope it would be fair and proportional to the amount of different games you play.

    • High bandwidth requirements.
      I totally forgot that one. Figure out, in typical test lab conditions, you'll need 5Mbits for a resolution of 1280 x 720p pixels.
      Sorry, but that's just too high, and I cannot accept anything lower for an AAA PC game.

    Now, on the larger scale, the main problem is to convert the new "gamers" who have barely digested the Wii.
    That said, after seven years developing that stuff and surviving on UN rice bags (myth), these guys have a major head start and it's a revolution.

    Simply put, while we're certainly not going to see cheaper games anytime soon, any current game provider, be it on physical support or pure e, will most likely have to follow, or get a deal with these guys.

    If it proves workable and profitable first.

    OnLive website.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Day of Lolz

    I know, the activity on this blog is low. I pulled it. But I have an excuse for that!
    Ha! I had much greater things to do, since I'm no consultant nor journo, and therefore subordinate to greater prerogatives.
    This is not much of a problem tho, as I still have some bizarre stuff to post, and thankfully, our dear video game industry is always full of surprises, so we can all have a good laugh, at least.
    So what's going now?

    First, this story about how Rabbi Micah Kelber found salvation in CoD:WaW, giving him for the first time of his life a concrete enough opportunity to trucidate Nazi left and right and put an end to his bad dreams. Beyond eventually proving how games, even the most unexpected ones, can be used for psychiatric purposes, after looking around on the net about this story, it seems very few realize how hatemongers could easily spin it in their favour, in order to attack video games, again.
    Let me summarize Mr. Kelber's experience:

    A video game's violence was realistic enough as to "flip a switch" in the mind of a Rabbi who was having bad dreams about the Holo-freaking-Caust since he was a young boy.

    Now, not only this case makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason I can't put the finger on, but this extract from the original article is even more boggling:

    As a Jew, being involved in virtually ending World War II allows you to experience the closest thing possible to killing the sense of victimhood created by the Holocaust. And you do it without actually hurting any real people. In fact, it’s so satisfying that when you get to shoot down the golden eagle on the Reichstag, while sniping headshots at flame-throwing Nazis, you simply don’t want the war to end. This is weird, of course, because the war’s end is the ultimate goal of the game, as well as your desperately fought aim in real life.

    Uh-huh. Talk about misplaced addiction.
    Now we will probably agree, Mr. Kelber is certainly older than all those teens or preteens who the non-game press often describes as easily influenced.
    Our dear man was finding a solution in the simile orgy of German deaths. So if a violent game has this kind of credibility and power on the mind of a well rounded Rabbi, a sage we'd say, then... what about the mind of a kid?

    Secondly, Nintendo thinks it doesn't get enough juicy Yens these days (just like a good many companies in case you did not notice). There seems to be some hole in the pocket.
    So the smartest idea they had, in those dire times, is to raise the price of the Wii.
    It's a funny story (I swear) about how the change rates don't return much Yens as they used to from certain other currencies. Of course, Nintendo will milk its customers once more, like they always did. And history has proved countless times that we beg for it, so why stop. We love to be abused.
    Of course, you'd say why don't they simply crank up the amount of Wii they sell instead?
    The answer is twofold, and quite simple.
    There's a cultural thing in Japanese large companies about minimizing bumps on their quarterly graphs. They like their numbers clean and growth curves steady. They don't want bursts, like the one I'm presenting as a solution.
    The second point is that Nintendo has always made it sure to maintain a certain level of demand, and it took a hell of a time for many to acknowledge the fact that the Wii is a bubble. A fragile one.
    Now, it's wake up call. It's crisis time! So, will the Wii seel as well as it used to, while as far as we can see, there are not that many killer apps at the horizon that make it worth the expense for your average forty-fifty years old "gamer"?
    I don't think so, really.
    With Xbox360 packages which offer a better return on game catalogs, at a cheaper price, the Wii could be heading for its first cold shower.

    Thirdly, I was also wondering when would come the day of the first unholy union of the banking system (the whole unregulated broke fest that put all of us into that big pile of poo we're all writhing in) and the MMO industry (flawed in just oh so many ways).
    Unless I missed something, it happened around the 20th or March:

    MMO operator MindArk has been granted a banking license for its virtual world Entropia Universe, by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.

    Champagne! Maybe someone did it before, I don't know, but one thing for sure is that I find this absolutely distressing.
    • Because finance is poorly regulated and string-manipulated, only in the interests of those who thrive on chaos and profits, as all Earth has recently observed, Taser fashion.

    • Secondly, because the treatment of video games under the numerous laws relative to each country is disastrous, and still pretty much an affair of witch hunting. It is neither stable nor mature, but those who pass the bills are not gamers yet, so it's nothing more than ignorance and bias. In such conditions, we can only expect the worse.

    • Thirdly, because there's literally little agreement, understanding and fair "mainstream" talk on the real issues of the MMO genre and possible addictions, its implications and how it might need to be regulated (while trying to avoid caveats illustrated by the Chinese ruling).

    • Fourth, because I can't wait for the day people will lose car, house and family after contracting choke-credits on fake goods (such as virtual currency and items) which have been lost in combat, missed in a late loot, or robbed in a way or another.

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    When Microsoft was in denial about the RROD

    More than one year and a half ago (I think, I didn't count you know), I made this picture:

    I think it would be good to share it a little bit more. You have to admit, It took them a hell of a time to recognize the existence of this systemic issue (which is far from being sufficiently solved by the way).

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Metascores, the autopsy of a circus

    Big big question for devs and publishers.

    I was reading the comments in the trail of Edge's article, and noticed that four days after the article got published, not a single member pointed out the averse effect resulting of this over-dependence on Metacritic scores, as far as scores themselves were concerned.

    Clue: it will only encourage the exercise which some publishers practice, of having magazines plaster their content with ads for game X or Y, which they need for increased revenues, but which in the same time skews their reviews.

    Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Jeff Gerstmann vs. Gamespot, 2007, anyone?
    The tip of the iceberg.

    There was an interesting bit:

    Activision has made such studies. Executive VP of publishing Robin Kaminsky said at the 2008 DICE conference that higher-quality games, based on scores from Game Rankings, on average sell more, and that for every five points above 80, on average, sales double. But she noted that many games buck this trend, and that the largest publishers have found that the greatest sales growth tends to occur in games scoring in the region of 70 compared to those scoring 80 or more.

    She also presented 18 products achieving scores of 90 or more in 2008 and 2007. Only two were projected to sell over seven million copies, while seven sold less than a million. Overall, 12 out of the 18 sold less than two million, a figure that marks a rough break-even point for a triple-A game. In other words, there is a correlation but quality does not assure success.‭

    So, with these figures in mind, and thinking in terms of purchasing, I tried to guess what it would look like if we compared an hypothetical set of figures regarding purchase power, and what we know of sales:

    I cannot stress enough on how this drawing above is nothing more than just a large guess, but there's still a logic behind that pretty thing I scribbled.
    To explain the 70% crossroads, we probably reach a point where a game is:

    - Not too expensive. Obviously, the more expensive, the more it might encourage piracy on itself (although it's very debatable).
    - Good enough (reviews, pictures, box art, etc.). Marketing and scores fit here.
    - Not too cheap so the customers have confidence in the product. It's a rule that gains pertinence the closer we get to triple-A titles in general.
    - Sufficiently known. That's where advertising matters most, obviously. That's also where indie games have no chance to compete, aside some exceptional success (AudioSurf for example, although in my opinion it gets far more appraisal than it really deserves).

    Are big publishers really aiming for the 70%, or do they crave for the higher numbers?
    Depends of the game. I'd say you have more chances to sell crap on the Wii or web indie portals than on the 360, PS3 or high end configuration PC.
    Another question is are the customers, who make it so that the market works better at 70%, really care about Metacritic and Game Rankings?

    No matter how we dislike this idea, massive exposure has more chances to guaranty sales than sheer quality. This is nothing new, it's been going on since the '90s. It would appear, then, that the scores are only the concern of a few. Likewise, aren't the comments on Metacritic a little bit overrated?

    So in such a context, are scores still nothing more than a hardcore phenomenon?
    If so, then we know that in general, hardcore gamers tend to look for the 80% and plus, and that's also why the triple-A hardcore games, so expensive to produce they make shareholders cry at night, must reach those heavens.

    Considering that the hardcore gamers know how to use internet, the maker of great or terrible reputations, it would be an understatement to understand how important is it to get closer to 90% or more, no matter the price to pay.

    Perhaps... perhaps there's something missing, an itchy detail that would reveal that we're at the doorsteps of a madhouse, but we don't know it yet.
    I would not surmise that publishers are going round and round through a vicious circle, like rats lost in a maze of insanity, but really, check this:

    1. Publishers pay greater attention to metascores day after day. They scrutinize Metacritic. They spend money and allocate brain "power" to this process. They want to know how this affects their sales and how far they need to go in terms of apparent quality to maximize ROI, because Metacritic is a new tool, a tool of influence of epic proportions (just like Game Rankings, owned by CNET). This is their faith and their new religion. It has to be meaningful.

    2. Craving for nice scores, publishers will do what is necessary to obtain good scores in those paper and internet reviews. Besides screwing with work teams to obtain more with less, the basic method, as quickly glimpsed above, is to hold the reviewers' cojones by having them sell ad placeholders to publishers, so the publishers can communicate on the games they want. And they can't really refuse that nice amount of money. Bills and all that.
      Considering how advertising plays a key role in magazines' revenues, nothing is surprising here, reviewers literally beg for these ads, both because information is free on internet, and the paper press is dying a slow death.
      Of course, this is where it's nice and all, because then, reviewers autoregulate themselves to pander to the publishers, in order not to infuriate them and lose that precious money.

    3. Therefore reviews are biased, but magazines and websites keep pretending being fair, honest and objective.
      They don't provide useful information, and therefore, in the end, these reviews mean exactly shit.
      And then what happens when CNET's hunters and gatherers collect all these reviews?
      They obtain metashit.
      And they believe in it.

    4. Finally, we see that the publishers spend money analyzing the very monster they feed and grow, and are very concerned about this, without really knowing which one is the puppet of the other, nor being able to explain if it's even necessary at all, since a massive marketing campaign can easily trump any score, and in fact, as a result, boost scores by indirect coercion.
      It almost sounds like a parody of a financial speculation.

    The most surprising in this is that some publishers seem to consider boosting devs' royalties by allowing bonuses based on such scores.
    This would seem absurd, in the light of the 70% score balance between quality and price, insuring the highest sales (people's income still has the final say) and the fact that even top games at 80-90% don't necessarily meet the expected million sales marks (generally, games with exceedingly oversized budgets and high prices).
    Would publishers really dig the idea of paying devs more, for higher scores which don't even guaranty better sales, and are nearly funded by the publishers?
    It almost sounds wacky.

    No matter how you take this, even if EA, Acty or else were perfectly 100% honest to God on this, they can't be masochists. The very fact that they massively spread ads all over the video game review channels pretty much breaks the balance. Let's not even imagine that publishers would look for lower than 70% scores in order to pay devs less, because game sales would go down as well. It would be a nonsense. They'd rather stop granting devs those extra rewards.

    As for a solution, I don't see one right now. I don't put faith in public gamers' scores, since you never know if the opinion is genuine, researched, based on a correct test of the game, simply retarded or just another "infiltration review" (a method used by Nintendo notably, where infiltrators/shrills penetrate player communities and such other places, to drop a so called independent and genuine "gamer's review" or note of appreciation, the whole art of this being not to get the cover burnt).

    In fact, yes, there's a solution. Increase quality with lesser budgets. That's a fantasy, unless you start to strike for limited audiences and Stardockize yourself.
    You could say "focus on sales, since this is what matters in the end," but you can't really convince players not to pay attention to metascores anymore. You can't cut it. Either you increase quality with tight management, and that can means a lot of bad things for workers in general, or you keep making sure the reviews serve your quarterly goals ($£€¥).

    The real problem is not much about the score, but the idea that a good score can only be achieved with a godlike amount of money put into the production of a game. Irrevocably, the industry takes less risks, and we get bigger and louder dull experiences, and some of them fail, while some others touted as art are just about repetitive patterns in a sandbox system that cost a thousand houses to bring to life.

    As quickly glossed over earlier on, as long as your game is not a bomb, nothing really beats a massive marketing campaign.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    What?? You're still buying FULL games?

    Obviously you've never heard of DLC!

    Sorry? What's DLC?
    ... ...

    This is a joke, right?


    *summons the God of Patience*

    Listen. It's an acronym for DownLoadable Content.

    It means stuff you can download, in small quantities you pay for.
    Haven't you read the news or what?
    DLC is the future!

    It's not that hard to compute, even for you.

    Want to see the end of a game? Get DLC.
    Want to get more tracks for your racing game's basic 8 tracks set? DLC.
    Craving for more models and clothes for your avatar? DLC.

    DLC, DLC, DLC. Get it?




    Why... should... you... ... bother with DLC? ... Ok. You're doing it on purpose, right?
    I-I mean, you can't be that dumb, right?


    No. I'm going to tell you why, in simpler terms, you must use DLC.

    DLC is all about the "e", which means as cool and current as the "i".
    It's new, it gets you friends and chicks, because it's easy, because it's fun.


    You don't care?

    Ok, this is going nowhere.

    You know the problem with people these days?
    They want everything now.
    I'm sorry, but it's nothing more than pure greed to ask for a full game for thirty quids.
    This is not the 90s anymore, you know.


    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    Mr. Do! CE?

    I've seen the new Pacman Championship Edition in action, it's absolutely fantastic and gorgeous, it's clearly beyond a mere Botox hack job for sure.
    For some reason, it reminded me of that game I played a lot on the Gameboy, Mr. Do!
    An excellent and simple game with a punchy music (better than the stuff you'll hear from the video below). It was so easy to spend many hours on it!

    There's the '82 Arcade version:

    Maybe someone should revamp it a bit as well and put it up for download?

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    GamOvr, ludogeek activism

    If you're looking for video game culture stuff that doesn't require much reading nor much thinking (at first glance), and if you can spare two clicks between the gazillion you spend on torrent links, you might want to check this fantastic collection of pictures which appeared on internet over the years, and which you may have missed:

    GameOvr, a place I'm glad I found.

    Here's a selection:

    Now, I must say that I do have a nitpick.
    Although this is certainly not reflected by the samples I put on this page, the pictures are largely focused on Japanese gaming lore, especially material related to Nintendo.
    It lacks American, European and retro stuff from the ATARI/AMIGA/COMMODORE or early-PC eras, but I suppose that this will be corrected in due time.

    It's still a good place to go, and one can only hope it grows bigger (...).

    Cutscenes are embarassing

    If there's one thing sure, it's that video games, and I mean 99% of them, seem to share the same dumb writers when it comes to lay down the turd -script lines- on (toilet) paper before sending it to studios' CGI/Machinima departments.

    There's literally a huge amount of uglies to collect and savour. If you can put them in a HD-box, plug that to your TV and get some fresh beer, all the more fun!
    Be it an abundance of alcohol or facepalms, your face will likely turn fiery red anyway, so I'd go for the booze.
    Truth is, this material is gold (the cutscenes). It should be prized, because it is the painful heritage of our industry, a chant to the struggling debut of its "creative" minds and the labour put into them to bring you some of the most credible (?) stories ever told.

    Unless your SoD-meter is high 24/7, of course (hence the beer, if you have not figured that out yet).

    As such, it is obvious material for flowing exquisite mockery, and as such came a new unskippable feature at the Escapist, one more to count alongside ZP (the rest of the video stuff over there ranges from yes and? to plain mediocre).
    This new piece of spoofing is aptly named... Unskippable!!

    Enjoy it before internet cynicism goes out of fashion.*

    * I think it has lived long enough, AFAIK.**
    ** AFAIK is not an Arabic word.***
    *** ****

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Day of Lolz

    Let's start two tales about what it means NOT to piss off your shareholders, never mind if you should say stupid things and eat your pants to cater to their whims.

    • This one is gold. I may have not told you so, but I really miss the days of Ken Kutaragi. I really think his memorable pompous, posh and full of hot air claims about Sony's consoles is what actually helped them trample competitors in the battle for media coverage and audience mind bludgeoning.
      Now, when Kaz Hirai tries to walk Kutaragi's path, it's just horrible to watch.

      "This is not meant in terms of numbers, or who's got the biggest install base*, or who's selling most in any particular week or month, but I'd like to think that we continue official leadership in this industry," Hirai told Official PlayStation Magazine.

      * or penis/post count.
      Just to sum up: you're not a leader on a market if your product is only going to be doing what it's been advertised for in about five years in the future, while competitors are thriving now.

      "And with the Xbox - again, I can't come up with one word to fit. You need a word that describes something that lacks longevity," he added with a laugh.

      RROD? Oh wait, he meant the Xbox 360 will be old in ten years? Assuming Microsoft will stick with the 360 all that long, of course...
      Maybe things would go better for the PS3 if it didn't look like you needed a Ph.D in Arcane Hardwares.
      Put simply, there's nothing wrong in planning to have your diesel console work well on the long term, if you have something cooking up that's fit for that, but this "Plan", however superior it may be on the paper, does not measure well to what is happening right now, and does not make such a product the defacto official leader of the industry. Geez...

    • Next on the list, 2K Games' Christoph Hartmann does his best to convince the guys behind the curtains (the real audience) that the industry is recession proof, with the obvious implied message that sales of AAA titles won't suffer.

      Traditionally, when the economy does badly, the entertainment market grows... [...]
      The recession is coming, but it’s not only about the sad situation of people worrying if they can pay their mortgage – it’s people wondering if they can still afford to spend £500 to go crazy in Ibiza twice a year. [...]
      Cost-wise for a decent amount of hours of entertainment, it’s cheap. Brutally cheap. The recession shouldn’t have too much of an impact.

      Safe that when recession will strike, people won't think in terms of ratios and nuts, and will certainly not aim for expensive entertainment, which 2K Games' titles typically are. Instead, they'll look for the cheapest stuff. So while people will continue to play games, even those AAA, what will bloom is illegal file-sharing.

    • Moving on to a different topic, we learn that 250 K users have already registered on Football SuperStars, the new face of MMOs. While it was clearly obvious that worldwide sports were an obvious market waiting to be exploited (Pok√©mon is on the list), this one can have far reaching consequences which we may laugh about now, but ponder more seriously in two or three years from now.
      Can't wait to see families split even more as the male faction spends hours before the football match, watches the match, and then spends more hours after the match.
      That and all the intoxicating effects we know about MMOs and how expensive they are, and how they turn out to be a tax on kids without having them working for something real and good.

    • And once again, be you a pseudo pirate or not, Canada's ISPs do not like filesharers (regardless of what they share actually), and have slowed down P2P traffic, as revealed by a CRTC investigation. Bell, Cogeco, Rogers, Eastlink and much likely Shaw have capped such flux in their own ways.
      I just wonder now if this is already happening elsewhere. I admit, I don't have the means of keeping an eye on this, not even the will.

    • Maybe it's me, but I'm almost translating the following bit:

      "It's a sad fact that in 2007, two of the highest-selling videogames were also two of the lowest-rated. So that's one of the things we're trying to get across to students - that it's better to be a play-tester at Epic than it is a lead artist at a terribly naff studio that's focused purely on getting something out in time."

      ... as "Epic, you make shit."
      AN: Huh, after a second thought, I'd say it's more like it's gratifying to work as a mob at Epic than quiver at the prospect of being a lead on a production which won't let you truly assume your rank. Sounds better that way.

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Grow some boobs for God's sake!

    MCV has found that women, although being a minority in the industry, get paid better than men.

    So one solution. Don't spend too much money on WoW and save it for hormones, take some early, and someday you'll turn into some beautiful muse:

    She's called Harisu if you wonder. Of course they'll never tell you how much it cost "her" to get that fake female body.

    On a sidenote, YouTube is well known for being the must-go-to place if you're looking for absolute bigotry when it comes to comments. Still, toki doki you may find some stuff that sticks out:

    Don't ask, I think this one nearly bested ALIENS' exchange between Vasquez and Hudson.

    Sunday, January 11, 2009


    Well, there have been busy times... many imperatives not allowing me to post the couple of articles I have in stock... still, today is a good day, for we welcome another proverbial smackdown, straight from They Who Make Shitloads of Money.

    Well, maybe it was yesterday, I didn't check for sure. Or maybe it happened a while ago, but I doubt that. There's a clip I've watched a few days ago which got totally silenced.
    The band in question is, without a doubt, extremely successful. They're global, they tour a lot, they're well known, etc.

    If you didn't guess it, the news is that YouTube is muting copyrighted content, which as far as I observed, is all about the music video clips of artists and other bands.

    Let's notice, however, that what they used to do before that was completely remove said clip. Which was probably even fairer and simpler in a way, because it makes a very bad publicity for artists to indulge with such behaviours. I don't know about you, but instead of being teased and convinced that I should go buy the whole damn thing just to try it, I'm merely pissed off and slap a "fucking cash fiends" etiquette on said band and move on.

    YouTube has been repeatedly targeted by critics of its system and its illegal practices, allowing copyrighted material to spread without any retribution, and certainly no or very little financial compensation.

    So we'll see, with time passing, if YouTube applies this measure to all clips, or if it happens to be the choice of some majors only.

    If it's the later, you'll probably learn a lot about the artist(s) then. I for one can't help think that someone who really wants a group's music will either download it or buy it, eventually go watch them as they tour, but likely not settle on the low quality of such YouTube clips, which aren't even that easy to carry around and cram on your MP3 player you know.
    If anything, YouTube remains a good way for spreading the music, and someone really has to tell me how YouTube hurts in any way the content, reputation or even sales of an artist's or band's production.

    So be it. I've always enjoyed being able to listen to music to know if it was worth buying it. I'd spend hours in music shops and listen to complete CDs, and discovered so many groups this way (along many other ways which were all legal) that I find it a pity that art is returning to the few.

    At least, there are the AltTubes.

    EDIT: If you're looking for a definition of "success", look around for the four magic letters, F R E E. Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) album Ghosts I-IV has been's 2008 highest online sale.