Saturday, June 8, 2013
If you've got this page bookmarked, please change the link to point to http://leftoblique.net.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
One thing I forgot to address in my last piece on the end of used video game sales was the plight of consumers who depend on the revenue from selling their used games in order to justify their purchases.
Those people are going to get screwed.
So the question was asked: if used game sales are eliminated (or heavily curtailed) in the next generation of game consoles - i.e., if games move to a licensing model like every other piece of software - how will it affect the price of new titles over time? I'm going to argue that it will affect prices, but not by all that much, and not for the reasons you might think.
Friday, May 31, 2013
What's the big deal?
It's basically a PC with standardized hardware. From a technical perspective it's almost identical to the PS3. Because Microsoft is writing the tools for the platform, it will be better for developers than the PS3.
Sure, Microsoft botched the landing a bit. They were the first to admit that used games were going to be a problem on their new system. But here's the thing: with online passes, used games are already a problem for consumers. And I would be shocked if Sony isn't going to do the exact same thing on their new platform. All Microsoft is doing is making the online pass model the default.
Which they should. Far more than piracy, used game sales are killing the AAA game industry. Resale is one of the reasons all other software has gone to a licensing model. Digital assets don't depreciate. They're not like cars, where a used model is not going to last as long and is going to cost more to maintain than a new one. They're not even like operating systems or office suites. Games last forever. They don't break down. They're only useful to one person for so long - eventually, you beat the game and want to move on.
With that model and the ability to digitally resell (something that's likely to go mainstream in the next few years due to recent legal decisions), there will tend to be nearly perfect availability of used games, movies, etc. identical in every way to the new ones. It means that anyone that buys my game becomes a competitor, selling the exact same product at the same or a lesser price a few days to a few weeks later. That's something that doesn't and can't happen with physical products, which accrue wear and tear with time and use.
Which is again why everyone will eventually move to a license model. Saying that's what they're doing - and suggesting that the re-license fee will only be something small like $10 - suggests Microsoft is just being honest and generous to boot. Let's not go nuts and string them up for it.
Disclaimer: I was involved in the development of a successful triple-A title, Red Faction: Guerrilla, from 2005-2008. I no longer work in the electronic entertainment industry.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Big news - lots of conveniences, new features, and support for Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Sometimes, in a piece otherwise intended to be humorous, some deep truth is exposed. And as all things on the internet are, it is seen by many but then forgotten almost as quickly as it appeared. But because it is special, it remains, buried deep within each of us, until at some future point someone looking for a pithy way to express something dredges it up and turns it into a meme.
I watched such a thing happen today. This piece at Wonkette, while funny in itself, is a callback to one of those great internet things that was both universally experienced and nearly forgotten.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the Onion ran a number of spot-on pieces that captured the anger, sadness, confusion, and absurdity of the terrorist attacks. They were all good, but by far the most touching was this article. I'd say to go read it, but you already have. I just re-read it and it still makes me misty.
The title, plus the emotional weight of the article, made it perfect for memetization - but it was too soon. And "too soon" after 9/11 was a long time. But now, over a decade later and with bin Ladin dead and al Qaeda largely in tatters, a window has opened. All that was needed was for someone to remember - to reach back and pull that headline from the recesses of our national memory back into the daylight. Doktor Zoom was that man,1 and I personally thank him for reminding me of what might have been the best thing to come out of the post-9/11 media storm.
"Not knowing what else to do," is the perfect way to hold up a floundering response to a terrible event for the ridicule (or at least the examination) it deserves. I hope we continue to use it for a long time to come.
1 Okay, the Onion AV Club did this half a year ago, but I didn't see it, and plus, it doesn't count if the Onion does it.
Monday, April 15, 2013
No, really. Doomed. Why, you ask?
There are three problems with Bitcoin as it stands:
- There is a limited supply of Bitcoins
- More miners make transactions more expensive, not less
- The Bitcoin network is ultimately insecure
These are all ultimately tied to each other, and related to the way the system works.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Please let me know. I moderate aggressively and a lot of spam looks at first glance like legit comments. The spammers are getting better at making word-salad that at least looks on topic.
So I tend to be the contrarian voice over at DMing with Charisma, and recently we had an exchange which I'll excerpt as follows:
Me: If people are forgetting to RP, that means that there aren’t sufficient rules to support RP, or it’s not compelling for the players to engage those rules. It’s a failure of design.
Him: I’m not going to respond ... because I’m fairly certain I can’t do it with civility.
In fairness, I probably deserved that. It was a strong statement and I should have gone into a lot more specific detail - which is what I'm going to do here. But to do that, I'm going to have to use...
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I've been doing a more-or-less-weekly open indie game series at the local store on Sundays. I post a schedule with a different game each week, and if there are enough interested people, we run it. If there aren't, we don't.
Monster of the Week was a bit over a week ago, and it was a lot of fun.
Monster of the Week (MotW) borrows Apocalypse World's "color-first" ruleset to simulate ensemble-cast monster-hunting TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Supernatural. The playbooks are very evocative (always a plus for this type of game) and cover most of the character archetypes from those shows pretty well. You can check them out for free at the Generic Games site.