Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh God Won't It Ever Stop?

I am sure you, my host of imaginary readers, are quite tired of nothing but post after post of Fury press links, but here are some more:

RPG Vault has their E3 First Impression of Fury and they should be doing a full write up very soon.

We have a two page spread in the Australian game magazine PC PowerPlay #127. Though I am going to have to have a little talk with them about their list of the 100 games that make gamers. They have a few odd choices, some that are obviously in the wrong spot, and some glaring omissions!

But the big scoop is Multi-Player Online Game List (MPOGL.COM) who got an interview with yours truly. Some of these other links I’ve posted where based on interviews with me, but they were just written as normal write-ups where this is the first that is done as an actual interview.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Would you believe... even more Fury links!

I have a few more E3 reviews about Fury:

The first is from The Game Feed which I believe is one of the interviews I personally did. I was really just working the floor and only did a few actual sit down interviews.

Gamebunny has a recap of various MMO’s (including Fury) at E3 though I believe Fury is rated the lowest in the list.

Warcry just has a little blurb, but it’s very tasty.

Society of Gamers has a good write up.

Somebody started a thread on the Beyond Unreal forum that talks about Fury. There are a number of harsh comments some of which may have merit but some are based on ignorance.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More FURY press

Going into E3, you are always wondering what will be the game that no one is hearing or talking about, but once you play it, all you can do is gasp at this hidden gem in front of you. Lo’ and behold, we found such a game when visiting Australian developer, Auran, for a look at their newest project in Fury.
Thats from a nice little write up over at OMGN.

Here is a link to an interview with our producer Paul Whipp at My Gamer where you can harvest some more details about the game and see a few new screenshots.

There is also a little snippet over at MMOSite where our boss details what our goals were for E3, not really that interesting except there is a picture of Bob doing caricatures of two hot booth babes. Bob was incredible, he was working non-stop all three days, did an estimated 400 caricatures (some of which were duel caricatures, two people on one sheet) and went through 12 black markers.

I see now that we have updated the News page on the FURY site and that picture of Bob is there as well as a few more pictures of our booth (yes that is our booth babe Crystal playing the game, she also plays a warrior in WoW) and a team shot that we took after sneaking into the Conan booth.

You know one think I've noticed about the press this E3, they weren’t on top of it doing the minute by minute, blow by blow stuff this year like they had in previous years. I remember last year you could go to almost any of the big sites and get huge updates and reviews every hour during the show and big round-up posts after the show. This year a lot of the site's daily updates did nothing but tell us about all the great reviews they were going to post later and they are still trickling in over a week later and their nightly round-up posts did little more than tell us how tired they were from the show and how much their co-workers drank at the various parties. Was the big bang stuff just not generating enough traffic? I'm not complaining too much because having a few new things to read everyday does feel better than having it all shot-gunned at me at once.

I only bring it up because I am waiting on a few interviews that I did for various sites. These interviews went on for a decent amount of time, they grilled me with a host of questions about the game and they took copious amounts notes and yet nothing has appeared on their sites. What gives?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Fury over Wonder Woman's Rear End

Another review of FURY from E3 has popped up over at Gamers Info and Worth Playing has put a number of new screenshots. The interface shown in some of them are from the pre-E3 version of the game. They do however show some areas that wern't shown on the floor at E3.

On the pure entertainment side Ten Ton Hammer has an article about Wonder Woman being removed from the convention floor by E3 Security for showing too much ass. It is a hilarious must read.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

MMORPG.COM's E3 2006 Awards has their E3 2006 Awards up. Fury got the award for “Most Surprising” game of the show.
This category wasn't even close. If any game came out of left field to grab us, it was Auran's Fury. They're off to a good start.
Fury also got honorable mention for “Best Graphics” though I can see why we didn't win if they are using that horrible screenshot. Our faces look much better than that now.

We also got honorable mention for “Best of Show” with this quote:
It just looks fun. There is no other way to describe it. Auran's entry at E3 2006 looks like a blast. It's visually appealing and further along then anyone expected. Auran may have a darkhorse hit on their hands here.
Not too bad for a last minute show version thrown together for a game that is still over a year out.


My problem began when I realized the Australian version of the iTunes store sucks. It just doesn’t have the content that I want and can find at the American store. I had already downloaded two audio books by the time I figured out that the American store has a whole lot more of what I am looking for. For example the only George R. R. Martin book I can purchase is Skin Trade at the Australian store. Skin Trade is a short story published in Night Vision Vol. 5. While at the American store I can also get A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, the first two books in his series “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

I purchased A Game of Thrones from the American store for $51.95 USD. Looking up the book on I see the cassette unabridged* audio version lists for $54.95 USD but they are offering it for $34.62 USD plus shipping. Shipping, even shipping to Australia isn’t going to make this cost more than $50 bucks!

Now according to iTunes I am only purchasing the ability to download the book once and I can only authorize a maximum of 5 computers to play it. When I bought and downloaded the book I was using my laptop in a hotel in LA after signing up for another account using a credit card with a US billing address. Now let’s suppose something happened to my laptop between there and home, tough cookies. Granted if I had bought the book either in paperback ($3.99 USD from Amazon btw) or the cassette/CD audio version and had it stolen out of my suitcase (as was the case with CD audio version of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman my previous trip) I would also be screwed.

So what am I paying that extra money for then? Downloading the audio version of a book cost the publisher much less money than either the print or physical recording of the audio version.

Let’s break it down:

All versions of the story have the same basic costs to the publisher: producing, editing, author’s cut, etc. Once that is done you have a collection of words that make up this story. There is also the basic cost of paying an artist to do a cover and what ever money you spend on marketing. Again no mater what version of the story you are talking about these things are exactly the same.

The print version has the cost of actually printing it; ink, paper, binding and what ever cost are incurred by running the printing press itself.

Now for the Audio version of the book there is the additional cost of recording the reader. Money paid to the voice actor, recording studio, producer, and audio technicians. I am not so naive to think that you would get anywhere near the same quality by just having your friend read the book into a mic. There is a good deal of money to be spent doing that right, but that is a one time cost. Once that part is paid for it is done. No mater how many versions of the audio version you sell you never have to pay any of that again.

For the cassette and CD version you have to get the masters to a duplication company. I don’t know the difference between how much it costs to burn a CD, record and audio tape versus a printer. I do know that burning a CD is quicker and cost a hell of lot less than making cassette versions. Somewhere in here you do have to have a printer make your package and then assemble it with the CDs or cassettes.

Then there is the real costly part, shipping. The product is shipped from the printer/package assembler to the distributor and from there to all the stores across the world. Paper books are heavy and therefore cost more to ship than either CD or cassette version. Once at the store there is a slight mark up so that the store actually makes some money. Remember they have to pay rent for the store space, pay employees to stock the shelves, man the cash register, etc. I do believe that most of the cost of the paper version of the book is taken up by how much it has cost the publisher to get it from the printer to the store.

In general the CD or cassette audio version costs more than the print version because they sell more versions of the print version. Less profit per item more profit via volume. The publisher cannot afford to take as big a risk with the audio version and I understand that. If the publisher produces 1 million copies of the story on CD and sells only several thousand he is screwed. This will change if the audio versions increase in popularity.

But now let’s compare that to the download version of the story. Download version has no printing/duplication cost. Download version has no shipping cost. The two biggest chunks of the pie have been removed. Granted there is bandwidth cost which is hardly anything per download. All that cost has been removed and yet no reduction in cost has been made. That is just plain greed on the part of the publisher. I’m not against greed. I am a capitalist. But I can’t help but wonder if all the problems the music industry is having now isn’t all related to the bad karma they generated when they started selling CDs. They charged more for CDs even through records and cassettes cost more to produce.

So back to the audio book download. As the final consumer I am paying MORE for the digital download from iTunes than I would pay for the same audio version on cassette from Amazon including shipping which cost more to make than the same audio version on CD AND I have to put up with their terms on how I am allowed to listen to the story AND I can only play it on their iTunes or iPod player AND I have nothing physical to show for my purchase nor any guarantee that if something were to happen to my computer that they wouldn’t let me re-download it. They suggest I burn my own copy onto CD for backup which I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t have their own proprietary audio format and convoluted directory structure that prevents me from just copy files back and forth into the iTunes directory.

I bought the collector’s edition of the PC game Halflife 2. I got the book, the crappy tshirt and a physical CD. Now I have separate issues about how I have to have the CD in the drive as well as log into Steam to play the damn game, but I do have something physical in my hands. If their company goes away I still have the CD.

If Apples goes away how would I authorize another computer to play the stuff I have downloaded from them? What if the computer I want to authorize doesn’t have net access? What if I just said fuck you Apple and went to all the hack sites out there and did what I want with the items I have purchased.

This is all brought on by the fact that I wrote an email to iTunes customer support. I don’t want to have to keep my Australian iTunes account just to be able to play the two things I purchased from Australian store. Both those items are offered from the American store. I asked to have the authorization of those two items transferred to my American store account. The nicely copy and pasted response was more than happy to point me toward the web site with their terms of service. I disagree, I paid for it and I will do with it what I like which incidentally does not include letting other people copy it because I feel that is wrong.

*You can assume I am always talking about the unabridged version of audio books unless I say otherwise.

G4's Hottest Booth Babe Poll

The G4 site has a poll for hottest booth babes. Unfortunately the picture of the FURY girls is pretty plain so I don’t expect we will get many votes from people who didn’t see them in person. You should feel free to head over there and unleash your own fury.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Put Down by 1UP

I found another review on today. The reviewer gave it a “fair” rating and saying, “An MMO... minus almost everything we like about MMOs.” He also titled the article “Less Fury than minor discontent.” But there is very little indication in his article that he took any time to actually find out anything about the game besides the fact that we had 4 versus 4 tournaments going on at the show.

Well I called him on it and posted one of my famous novel length replies which you can read for yourself if you head over there. Unfortunately I pasted my post directly from MS:Word and it turned all the apostrophes into little squares. So basically Notepad >’s text input. At the moment their site seems to be having some problems and it won’t let me fix it.

Oh and Jackson if you’ve come over here to find out who the hell just ragged on your review, I have a question for you. Looking at your collection of games in your profile I was just wondering if you played anything besides Final Fantasy?

Monday, May 15, 2006

More Small Online Press Reviews

Tyler Willis which besides the very good and detailed review of FURY at the very bottom has another section in the middle of this long 2nd day diary posting that talks about the game and our booth babes. In his 3rd day diary posting he gives out his awards with FURY scoring “Hottest Booth Babes.”

OnRPG who says we are his “underdog hit of the show.” Ten Ton Hammer also has a decent write up of the game. Now I can't leave out MeriStation which has a review up in Spanish. Here is Google’s horrible and somewhat amusing attempt to translate from Spanish to English.

FireSquad and Stratics both have small somewhat mixed reviews of the game, but with some interesting user comments.

You will notice all of these are more indie-news sites. I have found most of the big sites that have posted anything so far just have our own marketing stuff parroted back almost word for word. I'll let you in on an industry secret, that’s how it works for a lot of the magazines too. Lots of companies basically get to write their own reviews. I don't think it has anything to do with money under the table or buying advertising space, I think its more about just not having the man power to write all that stuff themselves. It could also be a little laziness on the part of the journalist too. In our case it could have a lot to do with being a relativly unknown company (last big hit being Dark Reign) with a game that is still at least a year out.

There is a site, or at least was because I can't seem to find it now, that was supposed to collect video game media reviews that were just obvious bias pieces of crap in an attempt to take the media to task. I did find this site while looking though, Video Game Media Watch which is pretty interesting. If anybody knows where I can find that other site, please pass along the URL, thanks.

Anyway, back to FURY here are two Australian newspaper's online sites with mention of the game:
Courier Mail which also has some TV video interviews with Tony our boss and the Herald Sun which has a general article on Australian Game Development and E3 with one line about Fury at bottom.

Here is a link to the full sized FURY trailer on File Planet. This is the same, but now compressed and much smaller trailer that was put up pre-E3. The person who uploaded it assumed they would compress it into what ever format they thought best but that wasn't the case. Sorry to the 500ish people who downloaded that gigantic file.

And here is another picture of our great booth babes at the "Babes and Booths of E3 3006" feature from

None of the reviews have mentioned our two DJ's who were awesome. I was skeptical about the idea at first, but they did a great job at drawing people in and keeping the 4 versus 4 tournaments going non-stop.

You will notice some confusing in a lot of the reviews about what the name of our game actually is. The game is called "FURY" but is often mistakenly referred to as "Unleash the Fury" which is our tag line. The reason for this is because in a fit of unchecked last minute marketing fury the actual name of the game wasn't really displayed anywhere. We had the "F" logo and the tagline on everything, but only the character name plates on the monitors and Bob's caricature papers displayed the game's title in a way that made it clear that was the title.

Now this could have been worse. You could have been Gameloft who is doing a cell phone game called Paris Hilton's Jewel Jam. You see Paris showed up at E3 to promote the game and said, "I'm really excited to have my new video game, Diamond Quest. Thank you all for coming and you can download the game."

And let me add this little story: When Paris showed up at the Gameloft booth they had a huge line of people gather to see her. Security blocked off some of the isles and entrance/exits from the hall to accommodate this. This also had the effect of almost completely cutting off the Eve Online booth which was in the corner next to Gameloft.

To get to the Eve Online booth you had to enter the hall somewhere to the right of the Gameloft booth, go past them, then cut all the way back to the left circling back up along the far left wall. If I was the Eve Online guys I would have demanded my booth space money back for the day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Early Press and Banner Ads

I just got back from E3 a few hours ago. I didn't bring my wireless card with me figuring I would just use my eithernet cable to connect my laptop to the internet in the hotel room. The hotel unfortunately only had wireless internet. I found out later that I could get a eithernet to wireless hub from the front desk but that was already my last night and I only had time to download an audio book from iTunes before I had to get some sleep.

I just did a quick Google search and found two reviews of the game already up at MMORPG.COM and OMGN. Warcry has a banner ad up... well at it did. I am trying to see it again and all I'm getting as I keep refreshing the site is one for The Legend of Ares and an occasionally one for Dungeons & Dragons Online. Oh wait there it is. There are 3 banner ads, two normal horizontal ones, and a vertical one.

I will try and put the banners up here in a minute, just want to fix the site so that the posts aren’t over in the blue sidebar if you are viewing the blog in 1024x768 screen size.

I am completely exhausted but am going to try and stay awake till my normal bed time so I can get my body back on Australian time.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

SoE Working to Co-Publish Vangard with Sigil.

Sigil Games Online and Sony Online Entertainment announced that Sigil is working with Microsoft Game Studios on an arrangement to acquire the rights Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. These efforts have resulted in a tentative agreement for Vanguard to be co-published by both Sigil Games Online and SOE. All three companies will be showing the game at the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) as they work closely together for a successful transition.

You can read the full press release here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Microsoft Unexciting

John Dvorak has an opinion column up talking about general malaise of Microsoft and how the company is losing its direction and is dead in the water at the moment. I have to say I pretty much agree with his points. I bring this up because of several discussions I’ve had with friends in the past about why I wasn’t worried about the Microsoft take over of the world. This is what always happens. Company grows and grows; it takes over its competition by either destroying them or just buying them up. It starts to look like that company is going to be unstoppable. But then it reaches critical mass and can’t sustain its own gigantic weight and starts to fall apart.

Most people I’ve talked to generally agree that does always seem to be what happens. But some of said they are worried about that one company that will make it over the line. In this dooms day scenario the company does turn into the semi-incompetent behemoth, but they have already destroyed the industry, crushed all competition and we become stuck with them.

I can never see that happening. There will always be cracks in such a mammoth company and in those cracks new and wonderful things will take root, grow, and crack open that rock. Remember Microsoft itself was just such a weed that grew out of poor business decision made by then giant IBM.

FURY Website is Now LIVE!!!

Fury LogoThe FURY teaser site is now live! Not much there at the moment as it is just a teaser site but more will be added next week during E3. I know we have some really really cool in-game movies to put up.

The game will be playable at booth #2240 in the West Hall. That is "playable" as in we are letting people play it, not just showing movies or only letting you watch while we play it.

Hope to see you there so I can kick your butt in game and keep checking for more info!

Legal Trouble

I have found several conflicting stories about a court case in Korea involving Lineage 2 accounts having been hacked awhile back. It turned out that NCSoft, the game’s developer, had forgotten to encrypt the database log file that contained user names and passwords.

Some of the news stories out there seem to be blurring another story of Lineage I accounts having been hacked and yet another story about how stolen identity information was used to create a large number of Lineage accounts.

The issue I wanted to talk about is the resulting Korean court verdict last week that has ordered NCSoft to pay an equivalent of $530 to 5 players who have sued NCSoft over the issue. NCSoft will probably appeal the verdict and you can read about at the Korea Times.

They mention how it is a lose – lose situation for NCSoft. If they go along with the verdict it just opens the door for other players to sue over the same issue. Some of the confusion that blurred multiple stories together implies that 8500 accounts were hacked! But in the linked story you find out that no, it just made your account information data vulnerable on the any machine you played on between May 11th and May 16th. So if you were a Korean player who logged into the game using an internet cafĂ© (which is very common in Korea) you user name and password were stored in an unencrypted file on that computer.

NCSoft has pointed out that the 5 players who won their case did not prove any practical damage. Now that could mean several things. It could mean that nobody got a hold of their account information and they are just suing because it was vulnerable during that time period. It could also mean that yes, their accounts were accessed by somebody else who stole in-game items and/or cash from their characters but they can’t prove it. I don’t know what kind of logs NCSoft keeps that could track player character transactions in the game, but the players would have no way of presenting any sort of evidence to prove what items they may have acquired or what has since happened to them.

But this court case does set a precedence. MMO game developers are worried that the law may eventually recognize a real world value for virtual items. This is why game companies frown on buy and selling of in-game items and character for real world money. If those in-game items are worth money, player could then sue the developer when anything happens to those items. For example lets say the developers think that SwordX is overpowered and tune it down, or nerf it as we say, then the player would have a argument for suing the developer.

“SwordX sold for $50 dollars and now it only sells for $10 because you nerfed it! You owe me $40 plus compensation for my time that I spend acquiring it!”

Or how about when an item duping bug is discovered that has had a negative effect on the game’s economy? The entire player base now has grounds to sue you for the resulting economic depression caused by the faulty game code and design that allowed it to happen.

If you don’t think it’s a serious issue on the horizon take a careful lock at the State of Play site. At first glance it appears involve social issues in MMO games, and their news blog sister site Terra Nova is place where a lot of actual game creators hang out and discuss game issues. But notice who sponsors the State of Play conference and listen to some of the past talks. It’s sponsored by several law schools and the issues they are talking about are player’s rights… make that player’s legal rights in MMO games.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. I kind of like the stuff being debated at the State of Play conferences because it may make these virtual worlds we play in better places. But it is a dangerous path ahead for developers. There are many players who would be willing to cut off their own nose to get a pocket full of money. A lot of people wouldn’t care that they may not only be causing the developer of the particular game they are playing to have to close the game down but that other developers may not make new games of that type for fear of falling into the same legal pit.

I have a few thoughts on some possible future scenarios for MMO games in this regard that I may jot down in the future but I think that is enough rambling for now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Work With These People

Things Tom Said is a blog somebody, probably one of the artists, here at Auran put up. It is all true. These are the people I work with.