Monthly Archives: March 2010

Final Fantasy XIII — delayed!

My FFXIII xbox bundle arrived yesterday, but I haven’t even had time for a tedious unboxing video. We leave for a 3 week vacation to Italy tomorrow, and today I’ve been food poisoned by a fast food company I won’t besmirch directly, but rhymes with “flarby’s.” All the last-minute things I was going to do have been commuted to “lie on the bed and moan.”

I will myself to be better tomorrow though, because as Socrates said, “Illness of the body is debilitating, but illness while trapped on a plane is like, hell. Seriously.”

Try to play some games while I’m gone, ok?

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Random House fights encroaching obsolescence

Smart, smart, smart. Just as they’ve done with movies, Random House has launched an in-house group to sell story to video game makers. They’ll hand you a plot, a setting, and characters. Game makers just fill in the fiddly bits.

I don’t think print books will obsolesce, but my best guess is that they will become sadly niche. Most would-be dinosaurs hunker down and hope the asteroid will maybe decide not to hit the planet. Good for RH on thinking like a mammal.

Side note: The company they’re launching the effort with is Stardock, whose CEO, Brad Wardell, had fine insight on what makes a AAA game. The more I learn about Wardell, the more I want to learn.

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Semper Ubi sub Ubi

well protected against hacker embarrassmentEspecially when you invite hackers to pants your servers. Because you don’t want to leave your dangly bits in the wind.

I am awful, awful sympathetic to publishers trying to avoid piracy. This is not about fat CEOs lying around on bags of money. This is about people’s jobs y’unnerstand.

There’s an ecosystem here, and it goes like this: The more that people pay for games, the more money there is to make more games. Yes, lawful consumers make the rich richer, but these richers like money so much, that if you give them even an inkling that they can make MORE, then they’ll try to do it. And this particular class of richers makes money by providing you with things they hope you’ll like and pay money for.  This is your standard-issue virtuous circle.

The obverse is also true: the less people pay for games, the less inclined anyone is to try to make money on games.

I’m not unsympathetic to pirates either. You need a better way to sort treasure from trash than the glassy-eyed “journalism” that most games outlets purvey. And above-average game studios are prolific — nobody I know has the money to stay abreast of every great game on the market. And, there is a certain roguish charm to the best hacks, damn their outlaw hides.

But let’s ignore people who smoke hundred dollars bills on the backs of their yachts, and the big-britches scriptkiddies. For just a minute. Let’s focus on the middle of the curve.

A game of any decent size employs 50-100 people. Those 50-100 people just want to make good games for a living. Every time someone pirates a game, it’s a small, but direct threat to those 50-100 people, and the potential for those numbers to grow.

Now listen, I’m a pretty committed cheapskate. But I’d be real, real sad if my desire to play a game for free or to prove my pr0we$$ cost anyone a job. Even a game company who tried going commando as their latest anti-piracy scheme.

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Silver Lining indeed

Gamasutra, among other places, tells us that Activision has shut down the King’s Quest sequel via lawyergram. I’m sure they have some complex, legal, business-derived reason to do this:

Online-based development team Phoenix Online Studios has canceledThe Silver Lining, its long-in-production King’s Quest sequel, following a legal threat by franchise owner Activision.

It’s probably necessary, but this is one of those rare situations where the simple answer (“Shut it down!”) is the worst one. In the same amount of time it took them to deliberate and issue this relatively polite cease-and-desist, they could have worked out some alternative that would have earned them love and praise, and would have made their CEO, Bobby Kotick, who just delivered a candid keynote speech at DICE,  appear to have the regular number of human faces.

The good news, the complete upside, is that The Silver Lining development team is a passionate, semi-functional studio. If I were an outsider with a bag of money, looking to get into iPad game development tout suite, I would be Skypeing these people approximately yesterday. I would be surprised if someone weren’t already moving on this.

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