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Friday, September 15, 2006

For Sunday: Escape Pod and Pseudopod

I'm about to embark on a weekend voyage to SoybeanTown. To keep you company, I'm recommending two podcasts that I listen to frequently. One of the few, in fact. Escape Pod and Pseudopod offer up sci fi and horror audio stories respectively. The stories a generally quite good and the readers give a very solid effort (it's not entirely fair to compare a podcast to professionally produced audiobooks is all). Highly recommend.

Have a great weekend, y'all.

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Mechanical Lion

It actually walks around, powered by a motorcycle engine. Even in a world of cyborgs, a robot lion is pretty king. From Daniel M Perez's photostream.

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Aeropause Interviews A Cheater

Aeropause: How many times have you been banned or suspended from gaming servers?

Schmuck5000: Wow, I have been kicked of XBL at least 10 times, I have to be careful now because there are no more 2 month cards floating around. The people at Bungie are the worst. How can they complain about people like me. They should have built a anti-cheating engine in the game to prevent it. Its not my fault that modders cheat.
-- Aeropause - An Interview With A Cheater

I just love that logic. It's not my fault that this group that I belong to does the things that I, myself, do. OMG - BatJack was right. Clearly this guys' Xbox brainwashed him into cheating.

I was an admin on an active Counter-Strike server during the PunkBuster days. When we didn't run PB, things could get pretty bad. Basically the only solution was human intervention (keyed auto permaban generally did the trick). It's sad how fast these guys can clear a server. Nobody wants to stick around in a match where someone is racking up headshots every minute.

These lowlifes are also the kind of scum that kill perfectly viable online communities. The Brother finally stopped playing Phantasy Star Online in part because cheaters were overrunning the place.

Their excuses are the worst though. I hate when they try to compare themselves to white hats - people who honestly dig into security flaws to disclose them. I've known white hat hackers. I mean guys with records. Even the ones who end up in court over this stuff never intended to spoil anyone. They just walk a bizarre moral line between digging into security and trampling into someone's private data. To compare ruining game after game for complete strangers with leaving a text file that say "By the way, you should fix this exploit - here's how." is completely inane.

Sadly, no security is ever completely secure. So the golden rule will probably always be - try and game with those you know.

oh yeah... and I'm very annoyed that the term "modder" gets attached to these chumps.

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Stargate MMO Screenshot

Today, Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment released the first screenshot of their upcoming Stargate MMO. It has been a while since we've heard much news about Stargate Worlds since its license agreement that it will use Epic's Unreal Engine 3 technology and nothing really new to report on when it will be released either but we can finally see what we might have in store for us when the game does end up shipping.
-- QJ.Net: Stargate Worlds First Screenshot and More Concept Art (via

Click the link for more concept art as well. My initial thoughts on Cheyenne's project was idle suspicion. They're a new company trying to do massive development for a much loved franchise. The odds are simply against them. Lately, though, it seems a lot of MMO development is becoming more and more packaged - so maybe it's not as overwhelming as it first seemed.

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Microsoft Squashes Internal HD-DVD Rumor

From Microsoft's Gamerscore Blog: "Rumors of a built-in HD DVD sku are greatly exaggerated. We’re proudly launching the HD DVD Player as an accessory this holiday. Turns out you want a say in how you spend your entertainment dollars. So who are we to burden every customer with the cost of expensive movie technology?"
-- Gaming Bits - Gamescoreblog Kills The Internal HD-DVD Rumor Again

This is the second time around for this rumor, and I'm betting not the last. I'm still guessing Microsoft will ride out this holiday season and see how their chips are stacked compared to Sony's. Expect a second revision 360 late in 2007 or early 2008 which is smaller, cooler, has HD-DVD, has HDMI and will cost about $500.

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Best Music For Gaming?

From BlogCritics:

I arrived at this conclusion in strange fashion, having put Food & Liquor on for its first few spins while shredding the Southeastern Conference on my way to a 13-0 season and a national title for LSU in NCAA Football 2006 (I don't have the '07 version yet). It was on my third listen that I came to a jolting realization: Lupe Fiasco has created the perfect album to play video games to. Furthermore, because this is true, he has quite possibly created the perfect album

I sincerely doubt that creating a perfect audio backdrop for gaming was Lupe's ambition when he went into the studio, and for all I know, that determination might offend him. After all, video games don't exactly scream intelligence, social activism, or art. At least, not traditionally. (I suppose you could make a case that they do indeed scream all of those things, but I'll save that for someone else.) But far from being a negative thing, this "Greatest Video Game Soundtrack of All Time" designation speaks to the overall quality of album in a way that simply calling it the "Best Album of 2006" or "A Hip-Hop Classic" never could. Let me explain.

When I play video games, I always turn the sound down. I typically find the audio component of gaming to be excruciating, particularly in the case of sports games, where the computerized announcers are so bad that I find myself actually getting angry (kind of like real announcers). So the music I play in the background becomes very important.
-- Lupe Fiasco: The Best Album I've Ever Played Video Games To

Interesting. I used to keep specific playlists for when I was playing Unreal - and it was generally a lot of grungy, quasi-techno kind of stuff. Not unlike most game soundtracks, actually. I never thought about it much until I made Grind ... which actually was more fun with music. Which was also how I got interesting in doing a game with iTunes integration.

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I'm Not Very Rational

Just a quick response to this Joystiq post:

If companies like Sony and Microsoft want to subsidize their consoles to the the point that they're losing money on every unit sold, shouldn't we (as rational consumers) want to take advantage of this built-in subsidy? All else equal, shouldn't a rational consumer choose the console with the largest built-in subsidy?

Sony and Microsoft are giving us free hardware when they sell each console at a loss. A gamer who wants the most computing power for his buck will naturally prefer the subsidized console, ceteris paribus. Whether this is ultimately healthy for Microsoft and Sony is another matter entirely. The ultimate profitability of a game manufacturer is no concern of ours, as gamers.
-- Rational gamers choose subsidized hardware, all else equal

There is one problem with buying subsidized hardware. If it becomes too popular, it will become the only choice. Sony and Microsoft are some of the few companies in the world with enough money in their coffers to blow away millions just for marketshare. Microsoft went way into the red with the Xbox and the 360 probably won't even recoup that. They don't care because they can lose money on a division for years and years and years, use it as a tax write-off and wait a few generations for profitability.

Especially if they've pushed everyone out of the marketplace because all those rational gamers bought $600 machines for $300. The ultimate profit margin of the companies might not be our concern, but the overall health of the market most definately is our concern.

And for the record - this is precisely how it's playing out. Microsoft engineered it's place in the market based largely on making the Xbox one of the most subsidized consoles in history ... and now Sony is fighting back with the PlayStation 3 perhaps taking it's place for that recognition.

Once they've gotten their brand recognition and built-in markets they'll pull the free hardware. Microsoft's already started to do this the 360 - which isn't nearly the bargain the Xbox was. Sony will undoubtably follow once they have Blu-Ray players in the living room (assuming Blu-Ray survives).

Nintendo has mounted a great defense to this, but I'm not expecting any other company to be capable of doing so anytime soon after the last generation.

I'm not sure ceretis paribus actually fits here ... since one is comparing different companies and consoles. It's only "equal" compared to some other mythical device. I'll toss out another economic concept that does fit: TANSTAAFL. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pretty Wii-cited.

OK, so the rumormongering that the Wii will be $250 in November turned out to be the truth and the December info the rumor. Go fig.

Also exciting:

- Wii Sports bundled with. Sounds like a great title to get the hang of the wiimote.
- Pokemon multiplayer. The Brother said something of it being "GTA for the Wii". That might sound odd to the "hardcore" set, but it's fairly understandable considering the role Pokemon has had in the past for the big N.
- Extracurricular activities like the web and media browsing. Just glad to hear them talk about it. I suppose iTunes integration will be out of the question...
- Supports widescreen, SDTV friendly. If Microsoft had gone this route, I'd probably have a 360 now.

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Tunnell: Why Code Games For OS X?

Jeff Tunnell is one of the founders of Garage Games, which has actually had a fairly tight relationship with Apple. They've seen products shipped with Macs, been featured as a third party engine for games development and tries to carry OS X titles as much as possible in their library.

So you would almost hope that when he goes on a lengthy rant about the sorry state of game development for the Mac, someone in Apple might listen. The short version? The bottom line in the sand doesn't return the money. Partly because Apple hasn't done enough to cultivate a serious gamer demographic amongst it's flock. And my favorite part? He's asking for one of the things I've been wanting since I starting toying with OS X: a standardized and well designed controller:

Apple could change this. Since they control all of the hardware, they could easily add in controller support. Standardized controllers annointed by Apple would quickly become ubiquitous and cheap. Apple could make sure their computers ship with better graphics hardware than the built in GPU of the recent Mac Mini, so developers are assured of a minimum graphics standard that will not go down. Apple has wonderful design and awesome software engineers. They could easily add game download support into iTunes. What is more important, games or podcasts? I love podcasts, but the answer to the question is obvious.
-- Make It Big In Games: Should You Make Games For OS-X?

I'm with Jeff here. I love the Mac and I want to love games on the Mac, but Apple does not make it easy. I'm even willing to forgive the GPU hardware ... if Apple would deliver a serious SDK, a graceful controller, and create a compelling community portal ... we could get somewhere.

And we all know Apple can accomplish this - just look at the iPod and iTunes for those last two requests.

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Montreal Killer Echoes Devin Moore Quote

The Star found a website last night for a 25-year-old Goth freak who identified by the single name "Kimveer" in which he muses — shadows of the Columbine high school shootings — with banal disaffectedness.

"Work sucks ... school sucks ... life sucks ... what else can I say?

"Metal and Goth kick ass. Life is a video game, you've got to die sometime."
-- - Montreal gunman identified

Mind you, that there is some question about the quote itself, but I'm guessing this particular madman doesn't read my blog. This will be wonderful fodder for the anti-gaming crowd, so better find those logic goggles.

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Nintendo's Delayed, Expensive Console

Oh, I tease. Well, kinda. Apparently the Wii will be out December 2nd in Japan for $220. This is apparently straight from the horse's mouth and conflicts directly with current rumormongering that the console will hit U.S. shores in November for $250.

It conflicts because Nintendo's never released any product I can think of in the U.S. before Japan. The price point might be about right, although Nintendo's U.S. prices often play pretty close to their Japanese ones. So if Japan gets it Deember 2nd ... when will Santa bring me mine?

It's also interesting to note that Nintendo has never released a console over $200 nor have ever released as late as December. That latter makes me suspect that the Wii is actually delayed, but since (unlike a certain other company) Nintendo focuses on features and not release dates ... nobody is really the wiser.

Is $250 expensive? It sounds crazy to ask ... but remember in a non-bizarro world Microsoft and Sony would have been sticking to the $300 price point. By asking $250, we'd actually be talking about how Nintendo was closing out one of their prime assets ... their cheap price. But since $400 is the new cheap, Nintendo looks practically bargain basement.

So is Nintendo releasing a more expensive console which has been potentially delayed ... or an inexpensive one with enough supply to bear a holiday rush? The answer seems to be both.

Update: Engadget confirms the November date and price from The Reggie himself. Weird. Either NewLaunches' info is off, it's PR mishap or something. But Reggie says November is a worldwide launch.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dissecting iPod Games

Dan Dickinson has taken a scalpel to the high school lab frog of iPod games and strewn out the innards for everyone to see. He lists out the various files and the basic structure with some interesting results, but a gloomy outlook on people wanting to mod or homebrew:

Modifying the games is difficult at best, if not impossible, because of the checksumming of every file in the bundle, and then the certificate against the manifest.

Game resource files, particularly audio, aren't obfuscated and can be extracted successfully.

Homebrew is probably an impossibility at this point because of the expectation of a signed cert from Apple.

The fact that there are platform identifiers in the plists makes me wonder what Apple's future plans entail. Maybe this would just be for later iPod revisions, or maybe they're just looking forward. Still, quite interesting.
-- Dissecting iPod Games

From his description of the files I don't think it's a far cry to assume that these were done in XCode on a Mac. Which means some secret lab in Cupertino probably has the compiler, base files and emulator more than a few people would love to play with.

I mean, I guess I already knew that. Just kinda obsessing here.

So let me get this straight - Microsoft releases a SDK for the 360 while Sony updates their firmware another time and Apple doesn't even acknowledge the existence of a dev kit.

Weird. Must be Wednesday. Never did get the hang of Wednesdays.

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If An SDK To Code iPod Games Exists...

... I sure can't find one anywhere or any indication of any information about anything related to the development of iPod games anywhere on Apple's site.

It's entirely possible that it's a closed-box, by invitation only, kind of deal. Which is a shame because it's clearly a viable platform for casual gaming. If Apple followed their podcast model for accepting material, they'd single-handedly have shifted the indie game scene a little more into the mainstream. They'd also give Apple developers something very new and interesting to gnaw on.

Somehow, though, I'm not holding my breath.

Update: Apparently the official word is that one is not available and one is not planned on becoming available. So ... closed-box, invite only.

I place this here because if you google "iPod game SDK" right now, this link is on the first page. Which is really kinda sad once you think about it. Bad move, Apple. Here's a chance to recapture some of the good podcasts have done for what's apparently a golden egg of the business ... but no dice? Bad move.

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Sony and XFire

Sony's clarification that XFire is for a single PlayStation 3 title and not a part of Sony's online offering for the PlayStation 3 has me pretty nervous. While it might seem to be good news that Sony has at least an inkling of a popular game networking application - the clarification seems to indicate what would be the worst possible outcome for the PlayStation 3's online features: complete balkanization. Instead of common ground, PNP would be a kind of hodge podge of various features ... perhaps with a single sign on and e-commerce HUB to tie them together. Smaller developers might not be able to offer the same kind of features as larger ones because hey - not everyone can just call Viacom up and ask to play with XFire.

Obviously that scenario might be completely wrong. It's possible this is a PR black hole and maybe some deal between Sony and XFire is still in the works or they just don't want to announce anything yet. The question is - why wouldn't Sony be issuing news to illustrate exactly what their online service does and does not do?

Well, the thing is ... they have ... and this news runs contradictory to that information. If PNP is going to offer things like matchmaking, buddy lists and messaging ... what does SOE need XFire for? Perhaps Sony is using only a part of the XFire base ... but what part?

Something just isn't adding up here ... and Sony's typical inability to be direct is certainly only doing more harm than good.

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Scarface Writer On Video Game Writing

David McKenna is a movie scribe with titles like "American History X" and "Blow" under his belt. As a fan of the original movie, He recently penned the script for the Scarface game and had this to say on the experience:

"It really is a lot of work, and the pay isn't that great," McKenna said. "I think they would have to give me a bit more of an incentive to do another video game project. I know they're on really tight budgets for video games. I think that if they come to the realization that they can hire good writers to create video games, in the long run it will help sell more copies. You get what you pay for, unless writers and actors make sacrifices like we did on this game. But they're not going to be making sacrifices too many times, trust me."
-- "Scarface" writer wary of video game adaptations

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iTunes Movies: Quick Hands-On

I updated to iTunes 7 last night, but I didn't get much time to drive around much. I did go ahead and try downloading Pirates Of The Carribean 2.

Thing is, I didn't get to watch it. When it first started to download, it said it would take 10 hours. Then in a few minutes - 12 hours. An hour later? 18 hours. Apple's servers must have been getting hammered last night. So I have no idea how the movie looks on SDTV or anything like that. Probably watch it tomorrow night.

The interface is quite good and it's a decent enough selection for a launch. Hopefully they'll throw some hardware at the problem until the rush dies down.

I think this is a good direction for Apple ... I just don't know if the math adds up. $15 for a new release with sub-DVD quality with no extras and no physical medium feels a bit much, especially in the age of Netflix. And especially since new releases drop in price dramatically after a few months. Plus, Pirates will be eating up a gig and a half of precious hard-drive space. So not only does the money feel a bit high, so does the storage cost.


New 360 To Come With Internal HD-DVD?

According to NewLaunches, sources with Taiwan's optical manufacturing state that the next revision of the 360 will have an internal HD-DVD. If true, it poses some interesting questions (like will the 360 finally see an HDMI port?)

Whether HD-DVD would then become required for games would be another interesting twist, although an unlikely one unless Microsoft is looking to abandon their early adopters. More likely this will simply coincide with lower costs of manufacturing and reside at a new tier above the premium package but essentially have the same features as someone who added the HD-DVD drive to their console.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple Media Event Recap

Good: Games on iPod. Games on iTunes. Not OS X-centric, but it's a start. Also, higher res on iTunes shows. I didn't mind the old res, but bigger is better.

Ho-hum: Movies on iTunes. I think this will work out in the long run, but $10-$15 for less than DVD quality and no extras? And can I burn it to DVD? Does the 480 resolution mean that it won't be widescreen? I'm hoping not. I guess it wouldn't need to be, despite the slightly smaller res.

But I want it... still no word on DVD burning with iTunes. I'm guessing the iTV is their route for getting your media free. I realize this isn't completely under Apple's control (thank you DCCA, but that doesn't mean it doesn't kinda bite.

Potentially life altering: The iTV sounds like it's what people wanted from the Aiport Video Express but with steroids and kittens. $300 is a borderline price point for me on it, but I would probably take it. The thing is - it's not the same as having a full blown computer. There is good and bad to that. It's good because I don't have to treat it like a full blown computer (login, keyboard, etc.) but it's also not nearly as flexible (no hobbyist living room gaming for me).

Unless of course it could run iPod games, Apple releases a handy wireless controller and a free SDK. Then I would probably die and go to heaven.

More likely, though, will be a DVD or Blu-Ray drive to hook into that tempting USB port.


Apple Announces Set-Top Box

10:56 am iLounge: 1/2 size of Mac Mini, built-in power supply, USB, Ethernet, 802.11 "wireless component video", optical audio and HDMI ports, plus old RCA stereo audio ports. Works with Apple Remote
10:54 am iLounge: Like a Mac Mini... iTV is its name (not final).
10:53 am iLounge: Apple is releasing its long-rumored set-top box in Q1 2007. It will be Wireless
-- MacRumorsLive

Fascinating. No Video Airport, but a modified Mini with video streaming and HDMI?


Will have it have Blu-Ray?

From the looks of the picture, it won't have any kind of disc based medium. This is a network doodad. I guess this is what the Airport Express Video morphed into.

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iLounge: iPod getting $4.99 games

10:10 am iLounge: games will work on 5G ipods
10:09 am iLounge: games for sale off iTunes for $4.99
10:08 am iLounge: new iPod software features: instant searching, new games (Bejeweled, Cubis 2, Mahjong, Mini golf, pac man, tetris, texas holdem, vortex, and zuma)
-- MacRumorsLive

Great. Now the iPod is more gaming orientated than my Mac Mini. I mean good news, but I hope iTunes Games won't be just iPod-centric.

And would an iPod Games SDK be so horrible? I think not. I can think of many more horrible things.

Hit the link to see the liveblogging of the announcements.

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What's Apple Up To Today

The Steveness is about to make an announcement. We've put various possibilities into the Cathode Tan Labs Probability Engine and got the following:

iTunes Movie Store (99% probable)
Red iPod (95% probable)
Upgraded Nano (70% probable)
First Party DVR software (65% probable)
Video AirPort Express (50% probable)
Nintendo merger(30% probable)
Pippin II(10% probable)
Steve wears tuxedo, dissolves company, waves farewell and sings Rocket Man in the style of Shatner(1% probable)


My Future Prison Tattoo

From Misz's photostream.

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Gold Rush: Reality TV Meets ARG

After creating the reality television megahit "Survivor," producer Mark Burnett is trying to prove that he has a golden touch on the Web as well.

Beginning this Wednesday, Mark Burnett Productions and AOL will launch "Gold Rush," an online series of contests that will give away more than $2 million in gold hidden across America.

Each week, aspiring contestants will be forced to seek out and assemble a dozen clues pointing to a cache's hiding place. The first three to correctly guess its location will be whisked away to compete against each other for $100,000; a dozen winners will then reconvene at the end for a shot at another million.
-- CNN: Mark Burnett hunts for online gold

Course, it's a bit of a stretch from an ARG. No trailhead, no missing persons and probably no sentient AI. Still, you can see the parrellel and were this more of a standard plot instead of game show ... it would be more profound.

Imagine if Lost started putting in clues as to real world locations with real world prizes. OK, that would probably cause some kind of a riot - but imagine all the same.

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Halo RTS Shut Down .... Fair Use Lecture #1,325

Halogen, a RTS based on Halo, has been shut down. This has caused the usual response from people watching the mod ... which is "if I'm not making any money off of it why should you care?"

A Bungie employee with the forum handle of "Shishka" responds thusly:

I would recommend, for your sake and the sake of your friends and family, that you do not offer legal advice on a professional level.

There are two common misconceptions about intellectual property rights that you see amongst fans almost any given game:

1. I'm not using the assets directly from the game, so I'm not stealing intellectual property.

2. I'm not trying to make a profit, so I'm not stealing intellectual property.

The first is a misconception, in that it only takes the second half of the term "intellectual property" into consideration. The word "intellectual" implies that the ownership extends beyond merely the literal assets themselves, but to the idea (for lack of a better word) tied to the assets. If I say "The Master Chief is copyright for Microsoft and Bungie," I'm not referring to just the model and textures. I mean the Master Chief, the character written to be the protagonist of the video game series Halo, and everything that makes him who he is."

So, before the usual "omg, so, if I make a guy with green armor Microsoft can sue me" complaints arise, let me point out that "a guy in green armor" is not "Master Chief from Halo." There's a difference.

The second item I mentioned is the issue of profit. Generally, people believe that, so long as they're not trying make money by selling their work, they fall within the bounds of fair use. This is, in fact, not true. Ultimately, regardless of whether you are selling your work or not, you're still distributing someone else's intellectual property. Whether or not it is in their best interests to stop you is entirely up to the owner of said property.
-- Re: So...what's actually stopping you?

And for the record, Shishka is 100% on target. This myth that you can use any intellectual property you wish as long as you don't expect to charge for it really needs to be squashed. I have gotten into countless forum debates on this subject and at one point even served as an intermediary between a mod group and an IP holder. There is no grey zone here.

If you plan on releasing work based on someone else's IP without a license - you are breaking the law. It's illegal. Is that plain enough to understand?

The real sad thing is that so many mod groups feel the need to steal intellectual property in the first place. And yes, it's stealing - so sit down and hush. Thinking of it in terms of fan fiction or tribute is what got you in trouble in the first place. Mods have gotten into this trouble because of the Valve effect. People aren't interesting in modding gameplay anymore - they just want to make games. Preferably as close to boxed versions as possible (which, imo, is rather antithetical to the original idea of modding). Considering how many games are franchise driven, why should it be a surprise that so many mod teams try and make mods based on movies, shows and existing games?

As someone else pointed out - if someone had tried to take the Halo engine and make it an RTS ... they'd be within their license. Plus, it would add an enormous amount of code to the Halo mod community. Course, that assumes the team would share their code ... which was another thing becoming more rare when I stopped modding.

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Write Your Own Bad Television

No good can come from this: is changing how the world creates, generates and watches entertainment. Individuals write short skits and Script This produces them at no cost to the writer. The world votes on its favorite, and the winner gets their skit aired on the Internet and an iPod with their short on it. It’s simple, fun and allows anyone to be a part of the television creation process.

Unlike traditional entertainment, which pushes content on viewers, Script This pulls its content from individuals all over the globe. Additionally, by outsourcing content development, normal efforts and costs for producing a television show are significantly reduced. "We wanted to change the game," states Frank DiGiammarino, Co-Founder of Script This. "You Tube has shown us that it is possible to aggregate video content. We see the future of entertainment as harnessing the technology to do more than just put out videos, but to make content generation a community event"

The Script This show is based around a cast of existing characters. Viewers are invited to submit scripts to drive the storyline. "Give us 3 minutes of funny and we will bring it to life." the website intones. According to Script This Co-Founder Chuck Rubin, “The power of Script This is that it opens the creative process up to the widest possible audience. This is a revolution of empowerment in content development that we believe will produce better entertainment.”
-- Tired of bad television? New site allows you to CREATE WHAT YOU WATCH

Basically it amounts to Internet powered improv combined with the worst of webcam culture. I'm not sure invoking YouTube is accurate when it's still a sitcom, just with unpaid writers.

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"The Hobbit" Greenlighted

MGM, which Sony has recently acquired, plans to co-produce the project with New Line, which co-owns 'The Hobbit' film rights and financed Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' films.

MGM boss Harry Evans Sloan said he hoped the 'King Kong' director would helm 'The Hobbit' which, according to Variety, could be filmed in two parts.

The director has in the past expressed interest in bringing the story of how Bilbo Baggins (uncle of Frodo, hero of 'Lord of the Rings') managed to get the One Ring from Gollum.
-- | news 'Hobbit' headed for the cinemas

Could be yummy if Jackson signs on and his team does the script.

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A PMP in 3D is reporting that a Korean company is developing "a 3D module which can deliver 3D dispaly on a 4.3 inch PMP". Similar rumors have appeared about cellphones. Next we'll hear that Nintendo's next handheld is actually a Virtual Boy II.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago

I was in a hurry packing up my laptop when I got a call from my partner to turn on the television. I was late, which was mostly a figurative notion at the time since we had been freelancing for months with virtually no fixed schedule, and I hadn't even bothered to check the news online.

When I hit the power button, the news was clearly unavoidable. The second plane had just crashed and they were repeating over and over how it wasn't an accident. Downtown Chicago was made off limits and suddenly being late didn't seem like such a terrible idea anyway. By the time the first tower collapsed, we had made plans to meet in a diner and get some work done there.

To this day, I can't remember the diner's name. I could probably find it just by walking down the street though. We drank coffee and worked through some bugs and design problems while watching reports which included such factoids as the Sears Tower being a potential target (we know now it wasn't).

Oddly, the only other time I can recall that we worked out of that diner was when the sniper on the east coast was still in the headlines. They make a good cup of coffee but apparently I'm drawn to that place based on tragedy.

Now I work a steady job and spend most of my day out in the suburbs, where my employer is headquartered. I'm still an ardent city dweller, but the notion that downtown might get removed from my daily life isn't really an issue anymore. It's been five years, but I still remember many details from the day. It's what psychologists would refer to as a "flashbulb memory", something which has enough impact that the brain makes the extra effort to record every detail. It's been five years and yet the day still hangs on ... and as I hear the radio about another bombing in Baghdad it hangs on a little longer. Bush has publically admitted, several times, that Iraq was not connected to this day ... and I'm sure he'll pair the two together in speeches all this week.

I didn't really wake up this morning planning to post this instead of a standard blog crawl - but when I saw those Mario plushies off of a news feed, it didn't seem real fitting. So you get this instead.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

For Sunday: Cherub

Cherub is one of many Buffyverse parodies (including Once More With Hobbits). It follows the misadventures of Cherub, the vampire with cursed bunny slippers, who fights crime with allies like Charity Case against such foes as Johnny Mildly-Irritating. Funny stuff.

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War Games

From cageone's photostream.

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More On The Resistance

It's funny, when I blogged last on's Battlestar webisodes I complained about how hard it was to find anything about them. Now if you just go right to, they're a bit hard to miss. They greet you even before their start page.

As Thomas has pointed out, it's an odd format. At first I thought it would be a normal episode just split into 2-3 minute chunks. Of course, that doesn't really work out. When you watch a normal television show, scenes are spread out unevenly with length proportional to their weight in a plot. So you might have a long scene at the beginning of the show to set the stage, several smaller scenes to carry that action and a long scene towards the end to finish the story.

Instead, The Resistance are small vignettes which aren't entirely connected (OK, that might not be fair after watching only two episodes) but stand to make a rather singular point. It's not unlike a soap opera, actually, which generally has subplots all given similar sized scenes with a few actors. I hate soap operas, but The Resistance doesn't feel like it's forming into one. There's clearly a central theme and plot arising. The writing feels like it's done with the same pen as the normal show, it's just served up in smaller chunks. The acting and characters feel like what avid viewers will have grown used to and not simply phoned in advertisments. If you can feel anything out of sorts - it's that these episodes were clearly shot under a tight budget. Cylon occupied New Caprica, for instance, is suspiciously devoid of Cylons.

Or to put it simply - it's an odd format but the producers are clearly trying to make it work and taking seriously. It's not going to be anywhere nearly as entertaining as the premiere ... but it will serve as an appetizer until we get Season Three.

If I have a complaint ... it's that I'm watching this in this small embedded flash viewer. I've gotten spoiled in the last few weeks. On the computer, I like to watch things full screen with a minimum amount of trouble. It can be low-res, but squinting into a flash player just adds to the already low budget feel. The only reason I could think that they wouldn't publish these on iTunes at the same resolution as every other television show is to drive traffic to

And I've been in those kinds of meetings where those kinds of decisions are made. The traffic never works out the way people want and sometimes it's just better to thinks of the audience first.

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