Archive for November, 2010

It’s really smart, how game companies now make advertisement for their games by offering a pre-order deal 7 months before the actual release. By the time the game actually hits the market, it had almost a year of ads everywhere, through all the stuff the various shop platforms were listing nonstop. Impossible to overlook. Without even paying for the ads! They almost circumvent the entire conventional process.
And, in addition to normal/classic ads, they even collect buyers/money through the pre-orders directly. After seeing an ad, even when they liked it, people probably forget all about the product in the meantime. With pre-orders however, the shop-software remembers instead of the customer, to buy the product. Guaranteed! So, once again, hats off to marketing-motherfuckers everywhere. We owe you.

Just because current technology allows to store, process and analyze any kind of data imaginable, doesn’t mean every bit of information HAS TO be stored, processed and analyzed. This seemingly unknown idea leads me to a news piece I read earlier. More and more games therefore (because they can) try to collect all kinds of usage data and player statistics automatically in the background while people are playing them.
The first realization that triggers in my mind, is that most of the best games of all times were made, before such options existed. That for itself raises the question, if that is really necessary. It was just the right crowd working on every of those games. If those dudes are players themselves, they already know what’s important.
Typical data that is collected, lets the company know how often players “died” in levels and where or how long it took them to reach certain places.
Equally typical reactions to such information are, to lower the difficulty level where most people failed the first time or to design even more straightforward environments.
Now, who really believes, that a game is more fun, when it’s impossible to loose or to get lost for a second? Sometimes this is exactly what is motivating or keeps things interesting. Alterations of that type, belong to the same category, of games who have no longer the difficulty setting “easy” and rather call it “casual”. That’s ridiculous. Is it supposed to be an insult now, when someone chooses to play on easy? Not when he’s just playing casual! Duh!
I can live with these “feedback” options, as long as they can be switched off by the user (as an official menu option without using any “tricks”). The next step (oh wait, e.g. Valve’s Steam is already doing that with some titles) is automated transmission of “everything” players do while their games are running. It’s truly astonishing, with how much stuff game companies can come up, that will take away even more resources from the actual game development, while most problems in shipped games are the result of a lack of focusing on… THE ACTUAL GAME DEVELOPMENT! And yes, that especially includes having enough time, instead of wasting it on silly marketing schemes.

PS: See? It’s perfectly possible to talk about negative aspects of this, without going for the even more obvious privacy angle.

7.2 Complete (170 MB) / Changes

(+) denotes changes only available to Plus-Edition players.

  • +Made SM haven stay always active and placed Ash’s cell key on crate.
  • +Adjusted sell values, melee stats and fixed netcafe headrunner bug.
  • Fixed possible video courier retrigger bug and some dialogue issues.
  • Prevented Heather’s comeback when returning from lower Hallowbrook.

I’m a Firefox user for some time now. I started using it a few weeks after they changed the name from Phoenix to Firebird, because someone recommended it to me – repeatedly. My likes were numerous. Every new release version was significantly better than the previous one, not just in usability, also in speed and lots of other small things. I never saw a reason to stick with an older version, once the new one became available, quite the contrary actually. For example, 3.5 was so much faster than 3.0, that I couldn’t wait to use its final.
Firefox always oriented itself very much on current trends, while still being the mighty tool with many options above and under the surface, that set it apart beneficially from most of the other browsers. So what’s happening in Firefox 4 is so very obviously the result of the apparently sole trend coming to the browser world for some time: Chrome. So what’s the difference, between Firefox 3.6 and Chrome? The former always allowed the user to do almost everything. Don’t like that? Turn it off. The latter on the other hand, is just like the site of the search engine. True to their lean design philosophy. It works very well for the/a site, but why should a browser offer nothing but the bare essentials? A good example is (and what triggered me to write this) the missing status bar in the Firefox 4 Beta 7 Candidate (the huge rest of the Firefox 4 GUI changes are designed to resemble chrome since the beginning of its development). It’s obvious to me, that they only removed it, because Chrome doesn’t have one either. Let’s not further dwell on the point that this stinks for itself. The status bar was not only the place where the software was displaying what it was doing at every point in time and that had a nice progress bar, it was also used by many different extensions. Someone remembers extensions? Yeah, the small programs, that were always the major selling point of the whole browser… So what the decision to drop it does, is to negatively affect the most important part of the whole thing. As if this wasn’t bizarre enough, Firefox always allowed to turn off the status bar with a simple option in the menu. Like it is an option now, to restore the menu! If it was this important to the decision guys to remove this bar, they simply could have made this the default setting after installation. Voilà!
But there’s still more. Since the information displayed in the status bar was really vital to browsing (how else to know in advance, if the next click isn’t leading to a malware site, if the link isn’t fully visible), they couldn’t remove this completely. It was merged with the location bar (also features the refresh button now…). Sadly the location bar is a really busy place as it is – therefore the most important feature of the status bar doesn’t work anymore the way it should (or has to?). Every link the mouse is hovering on, is only displayed shortened. That breaks the entire feature! Literally!
The guys from “pimp my browser” (I take it) made a really great extension called Status-4-Evar, that restores the status bar and luckily has the exact same look & feel about it, but it doesn’t remove the bad taste, that an extension should never be necessary for basic functionality.
For everyone who really needs/wants fullscreen browsing, F11 was in the browser since… forever? Therefore I only see downsides and no up…
Oh, and has anyone noticed, that the down arrow at the forward/backward buttons was removed? Great thing guys! That makes it really obvious, that a right click will reveal previously visited pages… NOT.
Next time anyone wants to steal something from Chrome, copy its speed!

//Update 2010/11/11

Firefox 4 Beta 7 Candidate is identical to the “final” 4 Beta 7.