New Doctor Who Companion Announced
I fear the Doctor Who from when you were a kid isn't the Doctor Who you remember as a kid. Pathetic costumes/effects? The prosecution presents The Myrka, m'lud.
Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless
Like FoolishOwl said that's connected with the processing of language; as per Wikipedia: Japanese speakers are, however, able to perceive the difference between English /r/ and /l/ when these sounds are not mentally processed as speech sounds.
Mass Effect 3 To Include Co-op Multiplayer
Pity the co-op is with custom characters, I was rather hoping they'd let a bunch of people all called "Shepard" get together as The Commander Shepard Brothers...
Amazon Disables 3G Web Browsing For New 3G Kindle Touch
this eReader not having touch and also using an onscreen keyboard which has to be navigated using nudges on the "controller" is just so brain-dead as a concept
The previous versions of the Kindle (which I gather have been moderately successful) hardly use the keyboard for navigation; pick the book you want using the controller, then navigate it with the next/previous page buttons (or menu options for table of contents etc.) The new low-end Kindle makes perfect sense if you just want it to read books and you don't make annotations or anything. If you *do* want touchscreen flexibility, just get the Kindle Touch!
Activision Trying To 'Reinvent' Guitar Hero
As a real Ultimate Fighting champion, I got absolutely nothing out of UFC Undisputed 2010. It's almost as if it was some sort of entertainment based upon a thing rather than the thing itself.
(Also: oblig. xkcd)
The Hidden Evil of the Microtransaction
I really don't think it's that simple; regardless of payment model the majority of developers want to produce a good, fun, entertaining game, and regardless of payment model the publishers/accountants/whoever can put the screws on for cash.
Buy the box for a one-off cost: who cares about the long-term as long as you make the sale? Cut the content down as much as possible, charge more for DLC or sequels (DLC might seem light a modern phenomena in its ubiquity, but we've always had data disks, expansions, "deluxe editions", sequels using practically identical game engines etc)
If it's a subscription you keep your hooks in the player, if that's through a fun experience then lovely, but it's not like there aren't a barrage of other psychological techniques (as per Nick Yee's seminal Virtual Skinner Box piece from 2003 for a start). Subs are also one size fits all, in most cases a good deal for someone with a load of time to sink in, terrible for someone who wants to dabble in a few different games.
As TFA says, "MTX is a valid business model". No doubt it *can* be used for "evil", quite possibly in more and different ways than one-off costs or subscriptions, but if done well and transparently (ha!) I have no issue with it.
Why SOE Decided To Cancel Star Wars Galaxies
I reckon Star Wars Galaxies was always the wrong game for the license. Particularly in its original form, and even to an extent after the Combat Update/New Game Experience, it was a sandbox where it was viable to make a living as an entertainer dancing in a bar or a merchant harvesting materials and manufacturing furniture; not exactly a world of non-stop blaster fights and lightsabre battles. I'm sure there were a core of Star Wars die-hards, especially those who wanted to live in that universe, but I suspect a larger part of the initial playerbase that stuck around did so for the depth of the world, the player-created towns and such, rather than the IP.
NGE tried to make it more Star-Wars-y and more appealing to the WoW market (more theme park than sandbox), but kludged almost everything so badly that it alienated swathes of existing players while attracting few new ones. They have admitted it was a mistake, though (Smedley in an interview with Massively: "We've apologized for it. It was a mistake, and not one we're going to make as a company ever again.)
If it didn't have a licensed IP I think the original Star Wars Galaxies could have carved out its own niche as a deep sandbox MMO; maybe they could relaunch it as War Stars or something.
Why SOE Decided To Cancel Star Wars Galaxies
'Cos Star Wars Galaxies is from Sony Online Entertainment, and Star Wars: The Old Republic is from EA/BioWare
City of Heroes Moving To Hybrid Payment Model
It's hard to define how you "win" in a MMOG anyway, but if you mean reaching maximum level or getting the best loot, in the vast majority of games skill has always counted for far, far less than time invested (and sheer dumb luck, in some cases). Fighting other players in PvP then skill (and teamwork) is more of an issue, but if it's a DIKU-style level-and-gear-based game then time invested is still a significant factor.
For an achievement-centric player then the ability to buy the Sword of a Thousand Truths for cash rather than having to kill hundreds of Orcs and hope one happens to drop it might devalue the entire game, but if you're playing because you enjoy exploring the world, or getting together with friends to go on an adventure it's much less of a problem, and "pay to win" is as much of a nonsense as the idea of "winning" in the first place.
City of Heroes is particularly notable as it's much less about the "phat lewt" in the first place, in keeping with the superhero setting. For years there was barely anything resembling an economy, and though later patches have developed that side of things I don't think it's the defining factor of the game. PvP was always something of a sideshow (again, not present at all at launch), it's been a while since I played but the players seemed to prefer Heroes and Villains grouping up together to face common foes rather than fighting each other.
"Free to play" isn't inherently good, it's quite possible to end up with something resembling an arcade game where you have to keep shoving in 10p coins to continue (probably Â£1 coins these days, been a while since I was in an arcade), but it offers a flexibility that's missing from the subscription model if you'd like to play a couple of games once or twice a week.
PC Gaming's 10 Commandments
Just Cause 2 has a context issue on the PC as well; in all the other GTA-style games I've played spacebar is jump when on foot, handbrake when in a vehicle. In Just Case 2 spacebar is jump when on foot, but deploys your parachute when in a vehicle. Net result, every time I was in a high speed pursuit I'd go to jam on the handbrake for a sharp turn and instead throw myself out of the car and float slowly to the ground on the parachute while soldiers took potshots.
It's possible to rebind the keys but only across all situations, so if you change the "deploy parachute" key while in a vehicle that also changes the "jump" key when on foot.
The Future of Shopping
Self check-out just swaps a machine for a human at the end of the process, scanning as you go makes the whole business faster; instead of picking stuff off shelves, putting it in a trolley, taking it to the checkout, taking it out of the trolley, scanning it and putting it back in a bag to take out to the car, you pick something off the shelf, scan it, stick it in a box, take everything to the checkout, give 'em the scanner, pay, stick the box in the car. Sure, online ordering is more convenient still, but at least in person you can rummage through the fresh produce yourself, check "best before" dates, and make your own substitutions rather than suffering: "We did not have any lemons in stock; we have substituted lemon-scented toilet freshener..."
Game Prices — a Historical Perspective
Yup, they were definitely more expensive in the 90s. When PC Zone magazine folded recently I dug out a the first one I bought, Issue 7 from October 1993. From the adverts in there Lands of Lore had an RRP of £35.99, Clash of Steel and Simon the Sorcerer were £39.99, and Seal Team and NHL Hockey were £44.99. Those were on floppy; a multimedia verision of King’s Quest VI on CD ROM was another fiver on top at £49.99. Granted that was RRP, mail order companies knocked a bit off the prices, the cheapest was “Only the Best Computer Software” of Bristol with Lands of Lore at £24.99 and the CD ROM King’s Quest VI at £32.99.
ArenaNet's MMO Design Manifesto
I continue to wait for a massively multiplayer version of GTA.
You might want to keen an eye on APB
The Unsung Heroes of PC Gaming History
"For a start it used a truly elegant programming hack to create over 200 different worlds to explore while using 32kb of memory"
(1) IIRC, there were 1024 worlds in Elite.
(2) Not particularly elegant or innovative, if you ask me, using a PRNG to generate random worlds. Things very much like it had been done time and time before. We've largely stopped doing it this way, but only because we don't have to any more...
Eight galaxies, with 256 stars in each; from an extract from "Backroom Boys" (well worth picking up):
Obviously, Bell and Braben couldn't have an infinity of other galaxies. That would just be silly. But they could, they agreed, have a coolly huge number of galaxies, as they explained to Acorn, showing off the feature. In fact, they said, they planned to have... 2 to the power of 48 of them, approximately 282,000,000,000,000 - two hundred and eighty-two million million galaxies. It was one of the few moments when Acornsoft put its foot down.
Acornsoft could see that having 282,000,000,000,000 galaxies would rub the player's nose in the artificiality of what they were enjoying. A number that gigantic made it inescapably clear that some sort of mathematical concoction was involved. And it exposed the underlying sameness of all the star systems, generated as they were from only a handful of varying qualities. The pink volcanoes would come round again and again. It would be better to be more modest. Somewhere between the unimpressed response to a small game universe and the disbelieving response to a ridiculously large one lay a zone of awe. That was where they should be aiming, and eight galaxies containing 256 stars each seemed like a reasonable guess at its whereabouts.
Not sure anything like that had been done "time and time before", and certainly not combined with real time 3D graphics.
App Store Piracy Losses Estimated At $459 Million
There's another nice deconstruction by the Right Rev. Stuart Campbell, games journalist and iconoclast:
Elite Turns 25
Francis Spufford's book The Backroom Boys has a chapter about the creation of Elite, and a fair chunk of it is on The Guardian's website. One of my favourite bits is, after they came up with the procedural method for creating the universe, how they picked the seed:
"Braben and Bell called the starting number for a galaxy "a seed" and, in truth, creating the game this way was more like gardening than deliberately constructing something. You had to plant the seed and see what grew. It was another sense in which they were ceding direct control over the game in favour of working indirectly on the player's experience. But they did want to start the player off in a reasonably friendly bit of space, where the pickings were good and they wouldn't get instantly clobbered. Since there was no way to edit a galaxy, you just had to try galaxy after galaxy, seed after seed, until something suitable grew. "I remember thinking it was very wasteful," Braben says. "You'd type in a number, a birthday or something, and see what galaxy that came out with. 'No, I don't like that. No, I don't like that. That cluster looks horrible'." They also decided they had better check the 256 system names in the galaxy where the player would be plunked down, in case any of the four-letter words were actually four-letter words. "One of the first galaxies we tried had a system called Arse. We couldn't use the whole galaxy. We just threw it away!""
Monopoly Uses Google Maps To Go Live Online
Ballistic Missiles could make things interesting too.
Let's play Global Thermonuclear War...
Pitching Ideas At Gen Con Indy
For a taster of the sort of games small teams (from one person up) are producing, including the aforementioned World of Goo and Blueberry Garden, Steam are offering a 10-pack of indie games on sale this weekend. World of Goo is absolute genius, more than worth the price of the whole pack itself in my opinion.
Turning Classic Literary Works Into Games
I'm not sure the games industry is quite so different to the movie industry; you've got your Massive Summer Blockbuster (Transformers 2) raking in vast piles of cash, and then a widely acclaimed, really interesting sounding film like Moon that I haven't managed to get to see yet because it's being shown on less than 60 screens in the whole of the UK. By the same token, there are lots of interesting games; off the top of my head fun little indie puzzles (World of Goo), games that play with the form (The Path), classic adventure re-releases (Monkey Island, the King's Quest/Space Quest series) alongside new adventures (Time Gentlemen, Please!, new Sam and Max chapters), but they often require more digging around Steam or other games sites to find.
SpinVox "Recognition" Is Often Expensive Human Transcription
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