Archive for May, 2010

Online & Onliner

Fighting PC game piracy with restrictive copy protection is ‘a losing battle’, Blizzard has said. While Ubisoft going so far as to require an uninterrupted connection to its authentication servers, Activision Blizzard purports to be taking another approach, focusing on content and features in an effort to encourage purchases.

ggmania.com / videogamer.com

It’s kinda debatable, if online-activation and user-accounts (they are an ill for themselves) are a reason to be overjoyed. It’s also sad, that these methods obviously are now portrayed as the “good” DRM. Quite the change in perception.

“We need our development teams focused on content and cool features, not anti-piracy technology.”

Last year it emerged that StarCraft II will lack LAN support, a move that angered some veteran fans of the series.

Blizzard said the decision was taken to “safeguard” against piracy.

videogamer.com

Good one.^^

“But if we were to truly get back into the “adventure” business then I would say we need to take some of what we’ve learned from the “action” side of the business a little bit, look at today’s audience sensibilities and reinvent the genre just as we did with Maniac Mansion 23 years ago.”

kotaku.com

Oh boy… Makes it sound as if the SE they are making will be all the more valuable. The point in adventure games is, to sit back and relax and think. That’s why there are different genres. When I want to play action, I already have a vast sea of titles to choose from. Action elements in adventure games almost always suck. Why do they always come up with such ideas? I really don’t get the logic behind that. The Monkey Island SE was selling great and was a huge success, even for the next SE there seems to be a huge interest amongst customers – so what’s the obvious conclusion? CHANGE immediately what makes people buy this stuff… Yay! It also portrays that they just didn’t learn. The last time they acted like this, they had to trash their adventure line altogether, because people didn’t like WASD-Guybrush anymore. And now, as soon as they have a hot selling title again, they just repeat this? I hope I’m just reading too much into this “take from the action side” stuff.

The bogus mystery arc

Although I’m convinced that it’s useless, to watch anything, that is so vain, that it’s possible to miss the biggest part of it and still get everything, I hate it when certain mysteries are made an integral part of the whole piece, but its entire, actual point, is only to trick viewers into watching this, so they’ll wait for a big payoff/revelation. Which then will never come. Usually this comes with warning signs, when the writers suddenly make statements like “…but the fans care only for our characters anyway, why go into anything else”. Why were said fans discussing a shows mysteries earlier, if they would only care about other aspects of the show? This is the point when it becomes clear, that there never were valid explanations to anything. That’s when it starts feeling like a waste of time again.
I mean it’s okay to leave certain details blank. I’m not categorically against that. The concept of always having certain mysteries in life is appealing (because it’s true) and nobody ever knows everything, but not at the cost of making this the sole conclusion. Everything, that was introduced as a major, integral part of the foundation underlining it all, needs to have a solution, that’s deep enough, everything else comes close to a cop-out or is one. That’s why Veronica Mars was so fantastic. Every vital mystery of the show, the audience was supposed to think about, did have a satisfying resolution pending. If something was left up for heavy discussion, it was a minor subplot, nothing the show basically promised to resolve at some point and made audiences wait for. Perfect.
(What I consider) Great writers will never make a show depend on a mythology, that is only designed to create a fake atmosphere of depth. Coming close to something, but shying away from it again, before it becomes to concrete, is frustrating and ultimately disappointing. It also somehow contradicts the goal of wanting to have an involved audience, when it always depends on people turning a blind eye to certain aspects. Great writing comes from actually delivering on implied answers and being careful with introducing complex matters. Even Scrubs came around to deliver a quite satisfying conclusion at the end of Season 8, although it never even promised one! This way it’s a wonderful experience.

Reboots

Boy, do I loath those! Sure, there’s BSG which did really well and Laura Vandervoort looks ridiculously hot in V*, but overall? Isn’t it stupid, to reboot Spiderman only a few years after the last film? If they try to speed this up even more, there’ll be people rebooting their computers less often… Wouldn’t Star Trek have been a much better film, if it was just with a new crew, or even in an entirely different Sci-Fi setting? Who wanted their beloved characters to become interchangeable figures like James Bond? This is even worse than doing mediocre sequels to cult classics!
And I’m also flustered by the way they do it; with the Buffy reboot there was some talk about it being for the next/a new generation. Really? 7 years (the show ended only 2003) is a new/whole generation now (and the comic series is still alive and kicking!)? While movies like Edge of Darkness are on (it’s a remake…), “new” tv shows as Hawaii Five-O are in the lineup for a fall premiere. Is it really this hard, to come up with anything that’s just remotely fresh? It’s like a race, whoever can crank out the most identical products in the least time. They™ could only make it worse, if they would realize they could just as good stop producing “new” stuff altogether and simply put up more reruns. THE HORROR. The “creative” state in the industry must really be desperate, when producers don’t even take known/old stuff anymore and change it a little and mix in some new ingredients but are fully satisfied with mere recurrences of identical franchises.
What I also hold against reboots, is that they never give viewers those actually desired. Where’s a Star Wars Prequel reboot? Of course those stinkers will stay the sole version…

*Yes, I do appreciate Evil-Inara and Liz Mitchell as well. Very.

A university starts taking DNA samples from its students. Optional. Who’s gonna complain? It’s optional. Maybe some people won’t like it, but what will be their point? It’s optional. They don’t have to do it, if they don’t like it. On the other hand, everyone who wants to can. Are they thoughtful, or what?!? That’s a nice way to establish something, without offering too much options to go against it. Given that, who would? But, will “it” still be optional in… say, 5 years? Because then (always does) it goes like: “But we already have this for FIVE years!!! EPIC. And look how many people already did it anyway, although it was OPTIONAL!” Why go against anything, that most people are used to for FIVE YEARS?!? And just like that, something becomes mandatory. Without visible opposition.

Should I repeat the process for making people accept fingerprints in their IDs? ’tis no trouble at all. Just switch the name/first sentence. That’s why all of these mechanisms are ultimately boring. They never differ in the slightest. It’s almost magical, watching them succeed anyways. People should be able to comprehend every single step of it in advance. Maybe that’s it, people are used to being fucked over like this. Making this part the recognizable pattern. Recognizable = easier acceptable.

WikiLeaks

Offline:

Not in a million years! :D

Online:

Yeah, it’s incredible what you can do with the principle of collecting and distributing data, if you put your mind to it.

Lesson:

Though there are countless things, that could never be without the Internet, this is an especially valuable example. How should it be possible, to leak documents this way, in any other medium? It’s already proven to be on the right track, for what it does in terms of free information and democracy. It’s no less, than a modern take on creating more accountability for the wicked, than the public had before.

Oh it’s been so long since one of those came along! The more I liked it… The character of Holly Rocket (:D) had a bigger impact on me, than Hellboy or… well a lot of things that were supposed to be cool, but somehow just didn’t work out for me at all. It even had Nina Meyers! We all know, that 24 went to hell, after she “left”. I’m really looking forward to Elektra Luxx right now. :)
So, now get tested for a Ph.D., or watch the movie. :)

Change

Offline:

When it comes to consuming media like news – was their ever any? Newspapers started out as printed words on paper. They were never different. This is all they ever were. Your daddy read his news, like his daddy did. So, since there are news, this is probably the first actual change. That’s how huge and special it is.

Online:

You can e.g. read the news in more ways than a very flexible athlete can have sex, okay?

Lesson:

Change is often painful, because it implies so many uncertainties and that’s what people want for their lives – certainty. Tell someone something he takes for granted really isn’t and you’ve spread fear. But then again, life is change and change is inevitable. Or death is. But that’s change too. CHANGE!!!
Just realize that it can’t be that horrible, because todays life is different from that of our ancestors and many people are doing really good nonetheless (obviously their fear must have been unfounded). I’m not saying that change is always good, but all too often there’s just nothing anybody can do about it, so it’s best to be involved in it while it’s outcome is still unknown and thus prevent it to develop into something actually undesirable. No, with “being involved” I’m not referring to what some dicks do with throwing in as much DRM and other control mechanisms as they possibly can. That’s more like a useless “rebellion” to cling to the old ways.

PS: I do realize, that all parts of this (in their last instance) could be broken down to the simple term of “change”, but it does make a certain sense, to approach “it” in its many different aspects. Simply contribute this to the fact, that I’m doing it periodical in contrast to one single text. Many shitty shorts are less work (and more activity), than one passable entry.

Globalization

Offline:

Companies produce stuff cheap in one country and sell it expensive in another, while many people work for small money and get to buy the expensive products. That’s cool. And basically the whole involvement for private citizens.

Online:

It opens similar possibilities to the average dude. If DVDs cost 1/4 of the price in another country (happens!), just order them over there. Comparing the price and ordering it couldn’t be easier, while even being fast. The result is really, that overpriced crap has a harder time to fool people. Suddenly scamming became a lot harder.

Lesson:

If not before, this is horribly redundant by now, however, no one reads this, so I can do whatever the hell I want! It puts random, normal people in a position of opportunity, that didn’t exist previously. No one bought books from the opposite side of the world 15 years ago. Nobody knew or even thought of it, now only offliners don’t. I guess it’s obvious who still longs for “the good old days™”. And who actually dares to use terms like this for the cheerless past. Yuck.

General Empowerment/Participation

Offline:

You talk about your interests to your 5-6 peers. That’s it. Chances are good, that nothing will ever come of it. No one else will hear it (which is sometimes good), no one else will be inspired by it and no one else will contribute to it (unlike e.g. a Wiki entry, which will grow and grow over time, after someone took the first step and started it). Chances of personal growth will also be limited, because there’s less feedback. Also, people will much more likely lie to you, if the conversation is face to face. Honesty sometimes is tough to swallow, but (in the end) a lot more constructive.
It’s a lot harder to become part of a larger community, while it’s, at the same time, not necessarily more valuable.

Online:

Communities are open to just about everyone. People who would never talk to you on the streets, will gladly explain stuff to every reader on the net. Yes, suck it. That’s how it goes.
It doesn’t matter if you are interested in that weird TV show, that got canned years ago. There’s not just someone on the net equally willing to talk about it, there’s probably a whole board dedicated to this topic. Next to impossible otherwise or at least unheard of.

Lesson:

Some people hate seeing other people being happy and enthusiastic. They are afraid that you stop dealing with THEIR crap, because with having the option of pulling information from the net instead, you (realistically) no longer have to. It’s just a matter of time for people to get that.
Embracing the communication style of the net means to learn to build consensus by creating new ideas through a cycle of challenging them over and over again and thus, in the long run, (hopefully) becoming a more enlightened person. Sometimes such people are just perceived as difficult or, when being euphemistic, flamboyant. It’s a matter of finding your own scene or crowd. Folks who want their peers plain, simple and boring, will naturally object to prevent this process. It’s like in this TNG episode, where they murder everyone who evolves. :P

People

Offline:

Alright, I’m not gonna say that people suck in general and that you should stay away from your fellow humans as a general rule. Really! Although this would protect you from violence, sickness, most annoyances […] this could also get boring pretty fast. And don’t forget the nice members of this species! I’ve seen several movies portraying them…
Anyway, even if your incredible big circle of friends only leaves your side when you call the cops, there could come a time when people are far far away for quite some time. Staying in contact is slow and/or expensive. Letters, phone… It’s yet again dependency on a few companies. It’s not like offliners have access to sci-fi stuff like video-telephones and shit. Only Star Trek wackos and those weird Internet people could believe that something like that could ever exist!

Online:

Can someone still remember, that way back in the (horrible) olden days™, people could still be (amongst other things) annoying? On the net? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong, there’s various forms of trolling of course, but every service I can think of has tons of options to deal with it. Controlling, what the user wants to see, really does cover all the areas. So what it comes down to, is not seeing people you don’t want to see and seeing people you do want to see and freaking fast at that. Paradise! As if this wasn’t incredible and sweet enough, ways for communication are even almost endless. There are more nicely working chat solutions, than all of humanity has a need to chat…

Lesson:

Again, the Internet basically combines all of the advantages, without any drawbacks. By now it’s hard to miss, that it’s always the same shit, that fuels “critics”. It’s faster and cheaper or cheaper because it’s faster. Inevitably drawing the anger of all people, who make a living by selling slow and expensive products and services, as slow and expensive as they can. And trust me – that’s a lot of people… The only other hater group, that’s not completely motivated by the fear of loosing profits, is filled with individuals, who try to make other people’s lives as miserable as they can, because you can circumvent them now much more easily and thus take away their sole hobby. It’s true. Just count how many pricks you’ll have to face just to buy some common products for everyday life. Too many! Simply ordering certain items is cheaper, consumes less time and relieves stress. It’s almost like being on a holiday! Imagine the schoolyard bully alone, with no one to pester. Do you see the tears?