Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who Reads This Crap?

If you happen to live in the Atlanta area, and you are interested in game design, or happen to be a member of the GGDA (Georgia Game Developer's Association), or some combination thereof, then why not attend this event? Some doofus is going to talk about story and game design, and will try to answer the age-old question, "Who reads this crap?"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We Pirate Because We Can

The devs who made the iPhone game "Tap Fu" have a very even-handed blog post about piracy, specifically as it relates to iPhone apps and games. It's a sobering report: nearly all of the high scores logged on their servers were from pirated copies of the game, and exactly 0% of the offenders went on to purchase a legit copy (which, by the way, is one of the typical defenses you hear for pirate behavior).

Now, everyone has their own line that they won't cross when it comes to piracy (e.g., "I will download music but not movies or games," etc.) and I try to stray from being hypocritical before laying down judgment on someone else's behavior. I have plenty of hacked ROMs, for instance. Note the screenshot of the hacked Apple IIe version of Archon...a game, btw, that you can download right here and it will run natively in Windows XP! (This is not the Apple IIe version, obviously. For that, you will have to go here.) So you can enjoy classic Archon while you wait to pirate a copy of Archon Classic.

In defense of piracy: many of the ROMs that we received from publishers in my GameTap days were the HACKED VERSIONS that they downloaded from the Internet! In other words, without the pirates, even the publishers would not have access to their own moldy IP. So think about that.

But to be serious for a moment, I totally understand the desire to pirate stuff -- why pay for something that you can get for free? However, I can't come to terms with the fact that a business model built on a foundation of piracy is ultimately unsustainable. And as a content creator, I find it hard to justify.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trick or Treat on FusionFall Street

Oooh, scary!! Lots of fun stuff happening in FusionFall for Halloween! Find Dracula at the Cul-de-Sac to pick up your new Holo Suit, currently decorated with a spooky green skeleton design! And don't forget to purchase some pumpkin CRATEs for your chance to get a matching mask and wings. Just because I opted for a Cheese bubblehead (pictured), doesn't mean the mask ain't cool! And there are quite a few other little cosmetic tweaks to keep things interesting for the next few weeks. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ubisoft <3 Hollywood

Way back in February 2007, I posted something on my personal blog about Ubisoft's creation of CGI movie production unit in Montreal. Well, it would seem that we are finally seeing some of the fruits of this enterprise, along with some traditional cinematic pyrotechnics. My new favorite Hollywood blog, The Wrap, reports today on the convergence of video games and traditional filmmaking, focusing on Ubisoft's "Assasin's Creed: Lineage" project. In the past, movie and game creative marriages have had few success stories, but it would appear to me that Ubisoft is really going about this the right way. With the Prince of Persia tentpole movie coming next year, the Avatar 3-D game, even the cinematic approach to the new Splinter Cell game...it's all indicative of the blurring of lines between these two media. To be fair, Ubisoft is not the only one doing this, what with EA's forays into animated movies and the World of Warcraft film adaptation from Sam Raimi. But Ubi seems to be the one really experimenting with this stuff, trying to see what works and what doesn't. With today's hardware capabilities, I believe there is much more to be gained incorporating the language of film into games than vice-versa. And audiences clearly want more of it, which is a win-win for all involved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yeah, But When Is It Coming Out?!?

I just discovered that Cave Story has a really cute website to promote the upcoming WiiWare version of the game. I'm super excited about it. I never finished the original version, but I loved it. My calendar had "September 30" marked as Cave Story release day; clearly, this is no longer the case. When will the game be coming out?!?

Buy Two, Get One Free @ Amazon

I guess Toys R Us does an annual "buy two, get one free" sale on video games and accessories. But since I rarely step foot into an actual brick-and-mortar establishment anymore, it is nice to see that Amazon is doing their own version of this deal. I wish I hadn't just bought Wii Sports Resort a few weeks ago...but I still love you, Amazon. I still love you. Call me, ok?

Monday, October 12, 2009

FF Halloween Costume

Rock! A very enterprising parent out there built a Subatomic Meta Mace for his/her daughter's Halloween costume. That's so awesome. Big ups to you, enterprising parent! It even lights up!!

Speaking of Halloween, cool stuff is afoot in the Cartoon Network Universe. Later this month, expect some spooky (temporary) changes to the game, as well as a cameo appearance from a very scary guest star!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thinking Digitally

So I was listening to the latest Player One Podcast this morning, and...what? You don't listen to the Player One Podcast? You should. They are some entertaining dudes. Anyway...

There's been a lot of discussion about the PSPgo and the continuing proliferation of digital content, and the guys on the show were talking about it. Though there are lots of upsides to digital-only content (fluidity, futuristic, no physical media), they pointed out some significant downsides as well, especially for consumers (fewer price drops, no resales, no physical media).

This got me to thinking about something -- wouldn't it be possible to do virtual resales of games? Let's say I purchase a game from the Sony store day-and-date for $40 and download it to my PSP go. What I've really done is purchased a license to play that game on my hardware. What would prevent me from reselling that license to another customer later for a reduced cost? And what would prevent Sony (the licensor) from building a storefront to facilitate this transaction and taking a bounty from the sale? Oh shit, GameStop is suddenly even more scaredy than before! Seriously, has this occurred to anyone else? Is there a reason it wouldn't work? Think about it:

- A game comes out on X/X/XX date and is only available digitally at full price.
- Some amount of time after release (determined by demand) players can sell their license to someone else for a % of the original cost (determined by licensor), and pay a commission to the licensor via the storefront that manages the transaction. The game is no longer playable on the original license holder's hardware.
- The resold license cannot be sold again, or it can be sold again at an even lower percentage of return. (Thus keeping demand for "new" games higher while still offering a lower price point for players who want to wait to play a title.)

I have no idea if this makes sense or not. (I suspect that it does not make sense somewhere, or someone would already be doing it.) But there's definitely something attractive here to game publishers: They could set their own resale prices! And reclaim some of the money that the GameStops of the world are making on the secondary market! (Sony, btw, has a history of doing this: they have attempted to grab a piece of the RMT market by allowing EQ and EQII players to purchase items with Station Cash on their website. Basically a microtransaction model.)

But back to the digital downloads. We ask, couldn't the game manufacturer simply lower the price of the game over time and probably make the same money? (Essentially what they are doing now?) Sure, but it's already been noted that digital downloads are classically overpriced and almost never go on sale. (Seriously, why the hell would you buy something like Prey for $20 on demand when you can buy it used in a store for five bucks?) How much money are publishers leaving on the table? Something is obviously broken...the marketplace does not seem to have the same sway over digital downloads as it does over physical copies. Maybe this will change as more consumers migrate online? Who knows. All I know is, from a consumer standpoint, if I knew I could later resell a digital copy of a game, I'd be much more likely to buy it. And I'm somebody who almost never resells games.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Experience Mickey Mouse Like You Have Never Experienced Mickey Mouse Before

Well, it appears that we have gotten some clarification on the Warren Spector Disney project. Game Informer magazine (which receives both a print and online facelift this month) has built a preview site for Epic Mickey in honor of its November cover story. Check out the art from the wraparound cover and prepare to be impressed. However: if Mickey still sounds like he has his testes in a c-clamp when he opens his mouth, I am not certain how "epic" this is going to get...

Friday, October 2, 2009

200th Post!

I have nothing interesting to say. I played Dragonica for about an hour last night. Is it possible that I am hooked?