Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

Vote for my Pumpkin

i submitted my jack-o-lantern from yesterday to the carving contest.  i just barely slid in under the wire for the submission deadline.  mad props to my friend vlad for pointing the contest out to me.

vote early. vote often.


Again — I’m Right.

so, a bit ago, i said sony would lose a whole bunch of money on the ps3.  specifically to the tune of about $4 billion in the first 12-14 months.

yeah.  that’s about what sony is saying now too.  $1.7 billion is their “new” forecast for march.

However, Sony expects losses at its game unit to nearly double from its initial estimate to 200 billion yen ($1.71 billion) for the year to March after it cut the price of a PS3 with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive by 20 percent in Japan.

anyone else notice that a $85 cut on 15-20% of the consoles they sell in japan happens to be about one and a half million dollars?  that’s the cause to increase the loss target by $800 million?  huh?

let’s see how that works out:

  • 100,000 launch units in japan.
  • 20% of them are “gimped” 20-gig drive units.
  • 10,000 yen price cut is about $85.
  • 20,000 consoles costing an extra $85 is: $1.7 million.
  • a loss of $800 million because of the “gimped” consoles means selling 9.4 million gimped consoles.
  • gimped consoles making up 20% of the offering means nearly 50 million ps3s sold by march.

heh.  yeah.  whatever.

the price drop is a small part of what’s breaking sony over the next 6 months.



so.  every year, it’s sort of the tradition for me to carve an elaborate pumpkin.  you know, marilyn monroe, superman, haunted moons, demons breaking free — crazy random stuff like that.

well.  this year, i decided to let loose the gamer in me.  lemme know what you think.




UPDATE:  i’ve had a couple “wtf” style questions.  yes.  that’s a real pumpkin.  here’s what it looks like unlit.

Toshiba <3 Blu-ray

i love irony.

see that little word on the chip there?  “TOSHIBA”  you know what that photo is?  it’s part of the largest, most mass-produced blu-ray player ever.  toshiba, on the other hand is all about hd-dvd.

that, my friends, is part of the guts of the ps3 controller.

what’s funnier?  that toshiba is powering the competition or that sony needed them to?


Silly "Wishing and Hoping" Opinions on the Console War

no.  not my opinions — james brightman’s.  there are only two rational reasons i can think of for him to write such a bizarre piece.

  1. he’s an attention whore.
  2. he’s been paid by sony.

i’m voting number one, tho, i wouldn’t be surprised about the other.

now, on to why his opinions are stupid.

we’ll start with the most sensical one:

Microsoft (somewhat) Squandered its Lead

this, i can actually somewhat agree with.  especially with the “somewhat” qualifier.  i understand the circumstances of why they purposfully squandered it, but that doesn’t negate the fact.  here’s the scenario with their squandered lead.

you do what you can with your launch titles.  how early you can get the dev kit in people’s hands directly affects the launch title number and quality.  microsoft did merely okay with that.  not terrible.  not fantastic.  enough to get by.

so, you’ve got a year before the competition’s systems come out.  what do you do with that year?

  1. get your console manufacturing in order.  check.
  2. get your marketing team out and hit the streets.  check.
  3. get quality titles out for the system.  somewhat check.

they typical cycle for a console launch is, necessarily, blow your wad for launch, struggle with the next 12 months of titles, then, in comes the love.  it’s happened with every single console in the history of the world.

it takes a year before any killer titles for a system come out.  the original halo was the exception, but, microsoft bought a quality title that had been in development for years and lucked out.  they tried to rekindle the same success with rare — not to much success.  don’t get me wrong.  kameo is a great game, but, it’s not an evangelist game.


they needed to break that “great game dearth.”  they kinda-sorta have supplimented it with oblivion (non-exclusive) and dead rising (great, but not “must have”).  so, because they couldn’t truly, successfully get done what they needed to get done, i’d call it “somewhat squandered.”  but, only because they didn’t do anything wrong, they just couldn’t get done what they needed to — and, what they needed to do was something noone else had really done before.

they did “alright” but not necessarily bad enough to call it “squandered.”

Japan is Ripe for the Taking

a few things here.  the first one is my opinion on who cares about winning japan?  spend your time in china and south korea instead.

second?  japan is more about the games.  and, when james is talking about games like “Metal Gear Solid 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Virtua Fighter 5, Devil May Cry 4, Gran Turismo, etc.” let’s see what he’s really saying.

  • metal gear solid 4.  kojima said it would run on a 360.  tho, he’s also said it will be a ps3 exclusive.  that being said, the studio has several new ips coming out for the 360.  the developer supports the 360 with their other games, just not mgs4.  verdict?  likely only ps3 exclusive — but not certainly.  it’s not like kojima is david jaffe or anything.  (whether or not david jaffe is the modern day john romero is a whole ‘nuther question tho.)
  • virtua fighter 5.  originally announced as coming to next-gen platforms, now exclusive to the ps3.  that sounds like a purchased limited exclusivity to me.  especially considering this line: “The game will be exclusive to the PlayStation 3 when it is released in North America in Spring 2007.”  not exclusive forever, just when it’s released.
  • final fantasy xiii.  heh.  as if there are no other final fantasy games on the xbox 360.  again, originally announced cross-platform.  now exclusive.  verdict?  limited-time exclusivity.
  • devil may cry 4.  already finding reports telling of it coming to xbox 360.  and why not?  capcom is already finding success with resident evil and a multiplatform strategy.  it’s about money folks — not brand loyalty.
  • gran turismo.  first party.  certainly exclusive.

how do all his “critical” games pan out?  a whole lotta “maybe” punctuated by a single absolute.  not exactly the sort of thing i’d pin my “exclusivity” hopes on.  relying on third party developers to be exclusive these days is like successfully pissing in the wind — more based on luck than hope or skill.

oh, and the 360 doesn’t need to really fear xenophobia in japan.  the ipod has seen to that.  and, the 360 certainly won’t beat out the wii.  the ps3, tho?  that will be a lot closer.

Blu-ray Will Matter

this one right here is funny — blu-ray matters for size.  everyone already knows my opinion on that.  consoles have finally caught up to pc based development abilities.  pc games have stagnated in “size” for the last few years.  pc games are high def.  pc games are still delivered on a single dvd.


because it costs money to generate that extra fidelity.  everything in a game can be automated — meaning an increase in quality with a decrease in cost — physics engines, game engines, ai, authoring software, mapping techniques. 

what’s the one thing that can’t be automated?  art.

what’s the most expensive part of developing a game?  art.

what’s the most file-size heavy part of a game?  art.

what can you do to help alleviate this art dependence?  abstract it out to it’s furthest layer with something like procedural synthesis.  that can basically gets you the details for free and simplifies the artists process.

what’s a side benefit of procedural synthesis?  dramatic — and i mean dramatic — decreases in file size.

why do we need blu-ray again?  oh yeah, so sony can push their movie format.  judging by their recent earnings statement, i’d push some new revenue streams as hard as i could too.

Sony’s movie business also fared poorly, seeing its operating loss grow to 15.3 billion yen ($129 million) partly on flops such as “Zoom” and “All the King’s Men,” it said. Faring better were “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Monster House” and “Click.

an even bigger operating loss for the movie business?  so.  gaming business is down.  their movie business is down.  their hardware business is down.

wow.  that sucks.

yeah.  the only people pushing blu-ray are the people who are invested in blu-ray.

Free Online

huh?  where the blu-ray argument was funny, this one is just dumb.  all i really need to say is: because it did so well last time.

no.  they need a unified service.  unified service means paying for one.  while i’m sure they hope to float their marketplace with downloadable content sales, what are they doing about the game servers?  are they going to let outside companies access their “secure” operating system?  and everyone is hoping that this always on infrastructure is going to stay sane?  they are crazy.

the more money you put into a system, the more features and security you can get out of it.  it’s stupid to not acknowledge this from any angle.

a subscription-based unified service:

  1. pays for itself.
  2. is inherently more secure.
  3. is capable of more features.

dumb.  dumb.  dumb.

they’ve never had an always on network before.  they are about to learn in a big, big way what that means.

Final Thoughts

there is no way in hell that sony is going to “win” this next-gen console war.


UPDATE: i should actually qualify that last statement.  there’s no way in hell — not because james’s laundry list of hogwash is grossly inaccurate — but for the simple reason their console costs $600.

end of story.

More Jack Thompson Proposals

so.  jack’s crazy.  we all know that.  from howard stern to bully, he’s been entertaining.  his latest debacle?  the cease and desist to mortal kombat maker, midway.

now, we all know that’s silly because 1) it’s not a selectable character and 2) it could really be any guy in a suit — my father-in-law for example.  doesn’t matter.

why is it funny?

because, you would think jack knows by now that you don’t make dumb claims AND irritate the gaming population of the world.  (see his previous modest “murder game” proposal mess.)

why?  because they will take you up on it.  they will make fun of you, jack — relentlessly.  in the coming days, expect every web comic and amateur to photoshop jack’s head into every game imaginable.

giant crabs ftw!


The PS3 is almost here

so. there are 3 things i am really excited for about the ps3 launch.

  1. the sad looks on the faces of the faithful as the most scrutinized launch in history has hardware issue after hardware issue. expect at least an unprecidented 8-10% failure rate on the ps3 hardware.
  2. the sad looks on the faces of the faithful as they realize the games are really not all that and a bag of chips. sony is over-promising and under-delivering. if you know and expect that, then you won’t be surprised.
  3. most of all: the sad looks on the faces of the faithful as the first network worm destroys any hope of credibility for the online service. it will, funny enough, be started by a link to a website in their proprietary browser they are so proud of. and i’m predicting it will be in the wild by february. just picture the psp firmware hacking community mixed with a persistent online connection — unlike the relatively secure user-deliberate, “spot” connection the psp has. it is going to be so very ugly. by including a web browser, they are allowing 3rd parties to run code on their console. it’s 3rd party network activity that makes windows such a cesspool of viruses and malware. now, sit back and watch a consumer electronics company with a track record of terrible software try to keep an always on connection with access to the wide-open internet secure with their very first 1.0 operating system. there’s a reason the 360 doesn’t have a browser, folks.

none of this is really hating against sony the corporation. it’s the playstation exectutives who’ve managed to wreck all that was wonderful with the ps2 and the ps3.

it honestly makes me sad.


quick note: i’ve got a couple of things i’m trying to find time to post about. one talks about “hooks” for our game. i think it’s pretty interesting. i think you will too. i’ve just been dealing the meta-life crap lately. bleagh. i’ll get to it. i promise.

On Goobe

we interrupt this video game discussion to bash on a couple of dorks.

now.  i understand there’s some jealousy going on with both of these guys, so, i really do take it with a grain of salt.  mark is a one-trick pony (anybody even heard of ice rocket? oh, it totally works better than google.  watch!  ps3 on ice rocketps3 on google.  yeah, no jealousy there!) and om malik is always a bridesmaid and never a bride.  he talks a good game, but, when it comes to put up or shut up, well.  he shuts up.  (ask him about his vc days.)

that being said, i (obviously) completely disagree with both of them.  basically, their arguments come down to “google is going to be sued out of existence due to copyright infringement.” 

that, my friends, is the dumbest position i’ve ever heard.  since when has google been afraid of battling for the right to index other people’s content?

google and youtube’s last minute flurry of offline media deals to buffet this kind of bad press are a huge indicator of where they are going.  they are buying the youtube eyeballs.  they need the brand — permanantly.  as in, not a “strategic partnership” that can fall apart.  in fact, i wouldn’t be surprised if this was a direct result of seth godin’s advice.

and honestly, who out there doesn’t think youtube isn’t going to be serving up copyrighted video legally?  nobody?  good.

now, who thinks they’re going to be in trouble with serving up the video direct instead of streaming it?  apparently, everyone but me. 

why?  1 simple word.  convenience.

that’s how youtube got to be where they are.  it’s convenient.  they work awfully damn hard on making it easy to share their content.  awfully damn hard on making it easy to access their content.

seriously, what’s the flash install base vs. the quicktime install base?  it’s easy and reliable.

how is that good?  because, it’s easy to find/share/point to.  with commercials embedded in the video, the sheer ease-of-use and ubiquity (seen all the video re-posting blogs lately?) of pushing it around is enough to overcome any “pirating” going on. 

let’s say you do pirate (spend a couple hours to capture and cut out the commercials and re-encode and repost a 10 minute video) one of the videos.  let’s say, rather than just keep it to yourself, you decide to share it.

who wants to serve, point to or share video from some server that will crash from load?  or from some server that might disappear? (since, once you share it by reposting it, it’s your content too now.)  or repost something that might get you sued?  when you can freely and easily post the same video with commercials?  and get paid?


the big media sees the network effect in action.  they’ve been sitting on the sidelines as stewart and colbert and clinton and hundreds of other little clips of content rocket to success.  they’ve seen the jump in their own traffic due to it.  they’ve seen the success of their ads based on that jump.  it’s time for them, rather than try to stem the flow, to ride it.

old, yes.  stodgy, yes.  slow, yes.  stupid, no.

one last thing — dynamic commercials.  you guys knew that google has been already working on these right?  what kind of crazy, flocking gold mine do you think it’s going to be when all those youtubers are making a nickel a view?  poof!  one episode of abbe dancing the news is $10k.

that right there is budget and incentive to make more content.

it’s about sharing the video.  which is about brand.  which is about a robust delivery system.  which is about dynamically cutting in ads.  which is about revenue sharing.  which is about sharing the video….


Dumb Free Offer Sites

you know the ones i’m talking about. “get this uber cool thing free… as long as you sign away your first born.” or some equally dumb, unusable crap like that.

but, i’ll be damned if i haven’t stumbled across a cool one! go here:

yeah. i’ll wait.

so, right now, one of their offers is to buy $30 in postage (yep. stuff you’d actually use.) in a machine from pitney bowes. cancel sometime in the next 90 days… or hell. even keep the service. it’s postage! then, get some of your friends to do it too.

you know what everyone gets for free then? (or at worst for $30… )

one of these: Alienware Area-51® m7700

or a bunch of other high-end gaming laptops.

yup. completely and utterly crazy. it’s a “free laptop” site that’s not actually stupid.

so, since i’m not sure how long they’ll have the postage one, go sign up and tell all your friends! (tj, i’m lookin’ at you!) tho, the hosting one doesn’t look terrible either. but, dude — the postage one is for real, a laptop for free!


PS3 Box Shots

so.  in the resistance: fall of man box shot, anyone notice what’s missing?

bingo.  a blu-ray logo.

why?  well.  because blu-ray discs are still expensive to manufacture and, since “the real” next generation of games still fits on a dvd-9 disc, there’s no need to put them on blu-ray.

why is there a blu-ray drive in there again?  oh yeah.  because sony is greedy.  i forgot.