Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year MMIX

There was a man,
whose name was Lang,
and he had a neon sign.

Now Mr. Lang was pretty old
so they called it,
"Old Lang's Sign."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Will We Watch the Watchmen?

I posted a in-depth write-up that linked to basically everything you wanted to know about the Watchman legal dispute between Warner Brothers and Fox back in August.

Now Variety is reporting that on Wednesday Judge Gary Allen Feese issued a ruling that says, "Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture." The judge said he would issue a more detailed ruling soon.

An earlier Variety report said that Fox wasn’t looking for monetary compensation either, they may seek to prevent Warner from EVER releasing Watchmen.

The quote from "a source close to the litigation" said, "When you have copyright infringement, there are some damages you never recover."

So far Warner Brothers has not backed off a release date of March 6, but Warner spokesman Scott Rowe declined to comment on the ruling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Game Damage TV pilot

My friends Yug (aka Guy Blomberg) and Matt (aka Matt Burgess) over at Australian Gamers and their friend Yahtzee (aka Ben Croshaw) of Zero Punctuation fame have put together a video game review TV show pilot called "Game Damage."

You can view the pilot over at their site Please spread the news and link around, as the more word of mouth they get, the better the chance they have of getting it picked up.

Here is their emotional plea for your support:
It's taken us a VERY long time to get to this point, but we're proud to say we have uploaded the pilot for our potential gaming TV show 'GameDamage' onto the interwebs.

Goto to check it out!

The 23-minute show is a pilot episode to stir up interest. Game Damage represents a new face of gaming media; fronted by three proven individuals with a genuine love and enthusiasm for games, it combines light and squashy gaming humour with a delicious crunchy centre of reviews, previews and 'discussions' on the many facets of the subculture (read: shouting arguments).

But creating a series with this level of professional quality (ha ha) doesn't come cheap, and if we're to live the dream we need all the exposure we can get. Gamers, non-gamers, come one, come all to, watch the video, browse the site, join the forums and tell us what you think. We promise to at least pretend to listen.
You know I say, "My friends over at Australian Gamer" but the only time they answer my emails now is when I disguise them as porn advertisement spam. What is up with that?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How I Would Do the WoW Torture Quest

The World of Warcraft torture quest, The Art of Persuasion, keeps popping up on news sites, so I thought I would finally throw my two cents in.

Here is Richard Bartle's original post that started the debate,and his follow-up post to the responses it got.

In the quest, Librarian Normantis wants you to torture an Imprisoned Beryl Sorcerer so that he reveals the location of Lady Evanor who has been abducted. He says that he can’t do it himself because the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon it. He gives you the Neural Needler and you have to stick the guy a few times with it while he; at first taunts you, then says that he knows nothing, begs you to stop and then finally tells you where Lady Evanor is being held, though hedging that by saying that trying to save her is folly. If you are so inclined you can keep poking him while he tells you he doesn’t know anything else.

Bartle was saying that Blizzard failed with the torture quest because it was nothing, it didn’t mean anything, and it was just another couple of mouse clicks in a quest chain. It wasn’t just that you torture the Sorcerer that is the problem; it was the actual quest design that failed because it didn’t take advantage of the torture concept. A lot of people seem to miss this point. And comparing it to hundreds of non-player characters (NPCs) you actually kill isn’t valid; because it is not the same thing.

The textbook way this should be done is to offer the player a choice with a reward for torturing the NPC but also a negative consequence. Is the reward worth the negative consequence?

Let’s look at a perfect example already in WoW, raising your reputation with the Blood Sail Buccaneers by killing citizens of Booty Bay. Which you can read about here.

The reward for doing so is the Bloodsail Admiral’s Hat (item level 60, 63 honor, +25 stamina and right click summons a Bloodsail Parrot non-combat pet) and the title “Bloodsail Admiral.” It is basically just a cosmetic reward, albeit a rare one that you aren’t going to see a lot of people doing. Let’s not forget that prestige is also a big reward in these types of games.

The negative consequence is ruined faction with Booty Bay, and even damage to your reputation with other goblin factions. Basically, you can no longer get quests or buy items from NPCs in those towns. I should also note that if you are trying to cash in an in-game reward from the WoW trading card game, it’s very difficult because the NPC you use to enter the trading card code is in Booty Bay.

Is it worth it? Not for me to say, that is for each player to decide. The point is there is a choice with both a reward and consequence.

Now let’s take that basic example apply it to the torture quest. We will make it a choice.

Same setup, Lady Evanor, an important leader of the Kirin Tor, has been abducted. Librariam Normantis had captured a Beryl Sorcerer who may know where she is being held. He is unwilling to torture the captive himself and presents that option to the player.

The player has two response options with Librariam Normantis; one where you agree to torture the prisoner and one where you don’t. Both cases offer you a quest – one quest to torture the guy which has some nice item rewards to choose from and the other quest where you don’t torture him and get no reward, but go off to complete a bunch of other quests to kill the bad guys without the aid of Lady Evanor. Both quest lines can come back together in the end or not, it’s just you have to decide if you will torture the guy and get the item reward.

Problem is that is a cowardly way out. 99.9% of the players will poke the guy till he squeals and then take the reward. 0.0099% will do the same and just tell everybody they didn’t and only 0.001 will take the moral high road and say no. In the end it doesn’t mean anything because not getting the item reward isn’t enough of a choice.

We have to make the consequence something real. We also want to put the weight on the torture, making it the negative choice that the player deliberately does. So let’s say there is no torture quest offered in the chain.

Instead Librariam Normantis tells the player that Lady Evanor has been abducted and they have captured a Beryl Sorcerer who may know where she is being held, but he isn’t talking. He mentions that they found the Neural Needler on the Sorcerer when they captured him but that the Kirin Tor does not condone torture. The life of one person, even Lady Evanor, isn’t worth the loss of the moral high ground. He stressed that the Kirin Tor will not stand by anybody who performs or condones such torture. He then gives you another quest, based on some clue he has devised from the Sorcerer, a Sherlock Homes based “rare mud on his shoes” thing, and is sending you off to investigate. I would make this a Nexus dungeon quest that shows a decent reward.

However the Neural Needler is right there on the table next to the captured Beryl Sorcerer, it is even giving off a little pulsing spark. If you click on it, you get the option to use it on the prisoner to get him to talk. The text makes it clear this goes against the wishes of Librariam Normantis and the Kirin Tor and that you will not be able to deal with them afterwards. That’s it. No reward is shown for using the Needler, but still the temptation is there.

If you use the Needler you automatically fail the previously offered quest and can’t get it again. You also lose a large amount of Kirin Tor faction preventing you from getting any more quests from them. However you do get a quest to go rescue Lady Evanor based on the information you gain from the torture.

I would leverage this in several more quests later on, playing up on the “one life isn’t worth sacrificing your morals” line from Librariam Normantis. What about two lives, a dozen lives, or the lives of all the Kirin Tor?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Resume & History

Although my Internet connection appears to be working, I can't connect to WoW. I can't even get to their homepage. Well that isn't completely true, I can kinda connect but both the game and the web page take forever to load and I get disconnected soon after.

I spent the day updated my resume and history pages and getting them up on Google Sites. The Resume and History links over the right now link to the updated version. The resume is pretty much the same except I am now Creative Director at Interzone. The history page was just updated to talk about Fury's shipping and me going from Auran to Interzone.

All I have left to do now is get this blog's graphics files up onto Google Sites and I won't have to worry about Hostopia, the actually people who ruined, not NetIdentity, whose email hosting I will still try to keep.

Anyway, I'll do that later. I think I am going to play some more Left 4 Dead, because Zombies aren't going to kill themselves.

Time Travel

Ever wonder what you would do if you could travel through time. What if, here at the end of 2008, you knew things from the future? Like what if you knew that Slumdog Millionaire was going to nominated for 10 Academy Awards and win 8, including Best Picture? What could you do with that information? Is there big money to be made betting on the Academy Awards?

What about MTV's Video Music Awards? I heard some people think Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time, but I'd put my money on Taylor Swift having the Best Female Video.

Okay, forget those entertainment awards, I know you can bet on sports events. So knowing that the Steelers will defeat the Cardinals by a score of 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII would probably be worth a few pennies.

But of course the big news is the aliens that will land on the White House lawn in early October 2009, and I'm pretty sure I can make big money off all the waves that even makes in the financial markets, if I only had some seed money. How can I convince somebody to give me a large sum of money before October?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2008 Aurealis Awards Finalist

I forgot that the Finalist for the 2008 Aurealis Awards went out last week. I was the Convenor for the judging panel of the "best illustrated book / graphic novel" category this year.

Winners will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane on Saturday 24 January 2009.

Click here to book your ticket for the awards ceremony online.

I am still considering if I am going to fly back to Brisbane to attend the award ceremony this year or not.

Anyway, here is the list of finalist:

best science fiction novel
• K A Bedford, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
• Marianne de Pierres, Chaos Space, Book Two of the Sentients of Orion, Orbit
• Simon Haynes, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, Fremantle Press
• Kim Westwood, The Daughters of Moab, HarperVoyager
• Sean Williams, Earth Ascendant, Astropolis Book Two, Orbit

best science fiction short story
• Simon Brown, ‘The Empire’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
• Nathan Burrage, ‘Black and Bitter, Thanks’, The Workers’ Paradise, Ticonderoga Publications
• Trent Jamieson, ‘Delivery’, Cosmos, #21
• Margo Lanagan, ‘The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
• Tansy Rayner Roberts, ‘Fleshy’, 2012, Twelfth Planet Press

best fantasy novel
• Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom, HarperCollins
• Sylvia Kelso, Amberlight, Juno Books
• Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels, Allen & Unwin
• Juliet Marillier, Heir to Sevenwaters, Macmillan Australia
• Karen Miller, The Riven Kingdom, Godspeaker Book Two, HarperVoyager

best fantasy short story
• Thoraiya Dyer, ‘Night Heron’s Curse’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #37
• Karen Maric, ‘The Last Deflowerer’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #32
• Angela Slatter, ‘Dresses, Three’, Shimmer, Vol 2 #4
• Cat Sparks, ‘Sammarynda Deep’, Paper Cities, Senses 5 Press
• Kim Westwood, ‘Nightship’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager

best horror novel
• Jack Dann, The Economy of Light, PS Publishing
• Nick Gadd, Ghostlines, Scribe Publications
• John Harwood, The Séance, Jonathan Cape

best horror short story
• Lee Battersby, ‘In From the Snow’, Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
• Deborah Biancotti, ‘Pale Dark Soldier’, Midnight Echo, #1
• Trent Jamieson, ‘Day Boy’, Murky Depths, #4
• Kirstyn McDermott, ‘Painlessness’, Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD), #2
• Ian McHugh, ‘Bitter Dreams’, L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol XXIV

best anthology
• Bill Congreve & Michelle Marquardt (editors), The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fourth Annual Volume, MirrorDanse Books
• Jack Dann (editor), Dreaming Again, HarperVoyager
• Jonathan Strahan (editor), The Starry Rift, Viking Children’s Books

best collection
• Robert Hood, Creeping in Reptile Flesh, Altair Australia Books
• Sean Williams and Russell B. Farr (editor), Magic Dirt: The Best of Sean Williams, Ticonderoga Publications

best illustrated book / graphic novel
• Steve Hunt (illustrator/co-author) & David Richardson (co-author), The Cloudchasers, ABC Books
• Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Allen & Unwin
• Colin Thompson, The Floods Family Files, Random House Australia
• Julie Watts (author) & Graeme Base (illustrator), The Art of Graeme Base, Penguin/Viking

best young adult novel
• Isobelle Carmody, The Stone Key, Obernewtyn Chronicles, Volume Five, Penguin/Viking
• David Cornish, Lamplighter, Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two, Omnibus Books
• Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom, HarperCollins
• Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock, Penguin/Viking
• Sean Williams, The Changeling, The Changeling series book one, Angus & Robertson

best young adult short story
• Deborah Biancotti, ‘The Tailor of Time’, Clockwork Phoenix, Norilana Books
• Dirk Flinthart, ‘This Is Not My Story’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #37
• Trent Jamieson, ‘Cracks’, Shiny, #2
• Kevin MacLean, ‘Eye of the Beholder’, Misspelled, DAW Books

best children’s novel
• Simon Higgins, Moonshadow, Eye of the Beast, Random House Australia
• Sophie Masson, Thomas Trew and the Island of Ghosts, Hodder Children’s
• Emily Rodda, The Wizard of Rondo, Omnibus Books
• Carole Wilkinson, Dragon Dawn, Black Dog Books
• Sean Williams, The Changeling and The Dust Devils, The Changeling series books one and two, Angus & Robertson

best children’s illustrated work/picture book
• Anna Fienberg, Barbara Fienberg & Kim Gamble, Tashi and the Phoenix, Allen & Unwin
• Richard Harland & Laura Peterson (illustrator), Escape!, Under Siege, Race to the Ruins, The Heavy Crown, The Wolf Kingdom series, Omnibus Books
• Ian Irvine & David Cornish (illustrator), Thorn Castle, Giant’s Lair, Black Crypt, Wizardry Crag, The Sorcerer’s Tower series, Omnibus Books
• Sally Morgan with Ezekiel, Ambelin and Blaze Kwaymullina & Adam Hill (illustrator), Curly and the Fent, Random House Australia
• Richard Tulloch & Terry Denton (illustrator), Twisted Tales, Random House Australia

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Merry Christmas

I have another big wordy blog post that I keep starting to write, but I probably won't get to it till after next week when I'm on Christmas Vacation, even thought the inspiration for the post will be old hat. I'll actually say that its about Blizzard, World of Warcraft, and their torture quest kinda. Its not really a criticism about that quest in particular, more about how WoW has saved the MMO industry, what they have done right and what they can do better.

In the meantime, I thought I would put up my Christmas picture.Besides this picture, I haven't done anything else for Christmas. I just doesn't feel like Christmas and I've no Christmas plans. I'll dig through the Christmas boxes tonight and see if I can find my Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD's, but that is about it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Giving up on Net Identity

For those of you who haven't been following my adventures with Net Identity and whomever they sold their web hosting to let me summarize.

Net Identity was a service that allows you to sign up to use a sub-domain thereby getting a personalized email address and URL. I have (had?) with a matching email address. I generally used it as a resume site while looking for work after Westwood Studios was closed. Lately it just points to this blog and I have just been using the space to store pictures and files that I link to on this blog, but I thought it was still worth paying for in case I wanted to do something with it in the future.

Tucows bought Net Identity a few years ago. They upgraded some stuff, re-vamped their web based email program, had a few growing pains. All-in-all nothing really too bad.

Tucows decided it didn't want to be in the web hosting business anymore and sold that part of the company to somebody else. They claimed we would get an email from that company with all sorts of update news and information. No email was ever received. At one point my site and all its content vanished. I made lots of complaints and never got an answer.

Ross Radar, from Tucows must have been ego searching and stumbled across my blog. He had always been in the forefront of getting information out before and somehow got me the attention of somebody at this new company. They restored my website from a back up. Only they left what appears to be the compressed file they transfered over from the back up on my site. This caused me to go over my storage limit. They attempted to bill me for this... twice. No correspondence from me to them about this have been answered to this day.

I have attempted to remove the file myself but don't seem to have FTP access to my site. I just tried to update my resume HTML and Word Document now that I was promoted to Creative Director at Interzone, but I still can't FTP into the site to upload the new versions.

I am paid up to March of next year but I've had it. I don't care so much about the website, but at least having the email address was nice. I have updated just my account across the web to the yahoo email address.

The way the original announcement was made I was thinking maybe Tucows still has the email part and its only the web hosting that the other company now controls. I don't know, I am just tired of all the hassle. Over Christmas break I am going to reconstruct all the content that is stored there either as blog posts here or store them elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Sucks

Here is another example of how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is failing us. YouTube user jmkaos put up a video collection of every single James Bond movie opening (as of Nov. 2006 which is when the upcoming linked article was posted). Cimematical has a little story which embeds all the videos, except that every single one of them has been taken down. I can’t really see how these videos harm the movie studios, license, or the James Bond intellectual property in anyway. I believe they actually help all the above and would make you want to see the movies again. I don’t know how long each clip was nor do I remember how long of a clip is considered fair use, but I am going to assume they fit within that margin.

The more I think about it, I’d be willing to bet that it wasn’t even the movie companies that complained about them which forces YouTube to take them down. I’ll be willing to believe it was one of those people who has nothing better to do than make a fuss and probably watches TV with a pad and pencil,* ready to note any broadcast that offends them personally so they can fire off some hate mail. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. Jay Leno makes a joke about Arizona and before the laughter dies somebody out there is writing a letter, “As a resident of Arizona, I am offended by your suggestion that…”

The point being that, just like YouTube does not have the time, resources or funds to manually review each claim of breach of copyright; they probably don’t spend too much time checking to see if the complaint is actually coming from the copyright holders. Give me a relevant sounding email address to a YouTube post with some broadcast media in it, and I can get it pulled. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, YouTube is liable for violations if they have been presented with a violation notice from the copyright holder. So if somebody they think is the copyright holder tells them to take something down, they do. Better safe than looking down the barrel of lawsuits and federal copyright violations.

It was kinda funny how John McCain got bit in the ass by Digital Millennium Copyright Act during his campaign seeing as he voted for it. Not cool the way he wanted a two tier system for "Important" people like him versus the unwashed masses like us... a two tier unfunded mandate system that YouTube would foot the bill for.

*Yes, pad and pencil. These nut jobs are good and they know that hand written letters have more weight than typed letters or email. Note that if you are ever writing your congressman. If you hand write it, they take it more seriously. If you take the time to hand write out a letter, put a stamp on it, and drop it in the mailbox; you are probably the kind of person who gets up early to head to the voting booth on election. Fire off an email, worse yet an email that you copied from a website and just added your name to the bottom; you are probably a reactionary dimwit who likes to complain and feel like you are part of something, but are actually too lazy to make the effort to vote.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Interzone has been Nerfed

Game software development follows along the same path as the rise of a civilization. At first you have primordial ooze, followed by some signs of intelligent life which then start to form distinct groupings such as Art, Design and Programming. Soon after this they then begin to war against each other with escalating weapons of mass destruction.

Interzone Nerf WarsInterzone is no exception, luckily in game development our destruction power has been Nerfed. Dan's "Hulk Abomination Blaster" not pictured.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Small IZF magazine article

My friend Anthony also recently returned from the U.S. He picked up issue 12 of the British "Total PC Gaming" magazine in the L.A. airport to read on the plane. Why LAX is selling British magazines instead of U.S. magazines I can't say. While flipping through the pages, he stumbled on this small article: I will point out that it implies that Interzone Futebol is not "free to play" which is actually the plan at the moment.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I knew that was something I was forgetting. Right about the time I left for San Diego we announced that we signed Brazilian soccer legend, Romário, to sponsor the game. This in addition to it being scored by Paul Oakenfield.

Romário retired earlier this year after leading an amazing career which lasted into his early 40’s. He is credited with being instrumental in the Brazilian national team’s win of the 1994 FIFA World Cup and was considered one of the world’s best strikers. He was the FIFA World Player of the Year and won the World Cup Golden Ball in 1994 and was also named one of the Top 125 Greatest Living Footballers by FIFA as part of their 100th anniversary celebration.

Romário now has his own official blog hosted by Interzone, though being part of the Brazilian site, it is in Portuguese.

A few of us were supposed to meet Romário when we went to Rio. He had said a few days before the meeting that he was sick but assured us that he would be feeling fine by the end of the week when we were flying up from São Paulo. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. He did fly down to the São Paulo and meet everybody the next weekend, but I had already returned to Perth.

The only thing is, every time I say his name, this little voice in the back of my head says, "It's me! Romário!" You know, like Nintendo's Mario.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Traveling Man

I started working on this map last weekend, but I couldn't remember to use Paths in Photoshop to draw curves. I knew it had something to do with drawning the path, manipulating the handles and then using the stroke function, but I kept doing things wrong.

What can I say, I'm bad at stroking! Sorry, I realized that if I didn't do a "stroke" joke you probably would.

Anyway, something was going wrong, it would fill in the curve, or have the stroke option grayed out, etc. I asked Tim here at work and he said, oh that's easy but when he went to show me he realized he had forgotten as well. I finally went to Lisa, who in addition to having the power to make one last can of Diet Coke appear in the fridge when it looks like we've run out, also has mighty Photoshop powers and knew how to do it.

So finally here is a map of my recent travels.

Red: Perth to San Paulo
Perth - Sydney - Los Angles - Chicago for several days
Chicago - San Diego for a week
San Diego - Huston - Austin GCD for a few days
Austin - Las Vegas for a week and a half with family and friends
Las Vegas - Huston - São Paulo for about a month and a half

There was also a weekend in Rio right before we left.

Purple: São Paulo back to Perth
São Paulo - Huston - Chicago - Los Angles - Sydney - Perth

From the point I arrived in the São Paulo airport till I landed in Perth was 63.5 hours. Most of this was caused because my main ticket was a round trip flight from Perth to Chicago. There were a bunch of other separate tickets for the travel in between, for example I bought my own ticket from Austin to Las Vegas. This meant I had to fly back to Chicago first, then head back to Perth. Granted I also got to the São Paulo 8 hours before my flight, because Dan and Jack's flight was earlier than mine. There was also 10 hours between flights Chicago.

I was initially I had fun complaining that Dan and Jack were leaving 4 hours before me, but were getting back to Perth over a day before I did. But then while sitting in the Macaroni Grill in the Chicago Airport enjoying a nice bow-tie pasta, I learned their flight out of Santiago had been canceled and they were stuck. They still arrived in Perth a half a day before me.

At first I couldn't fathom how they appeared to be all nice and rested after the long trip while I was dead. Even noting that Jack went straight to São Paulo and Dan was with me to Chicago but then went to São Paulo from there; they were still too lively. Then I found out they got a night in a hotel in Santiago AND in Sydney because of the canceled flight.

Yellow: Perth to San Diego

Perth - Melbourne - Los Angeles - San Diego

Green: San Diego to Perth

San Diego - Los Angeles - Melbourne - Perth

This trip back to San Diego was a result of my work the previous trip. We arrived Tuesday morning and left on Thursday, spending about as much time in San Diego as we spent in transit. It appears to have gone well though, so that is all good.

Though I have to say Melbourne's airport sucks! When you get off an international flight you have to collect your bags and clear customs in that country. Normally, once you through customs there is a place where a guy will take your bags. Not in Melbourne. In Melbourne you have to go up as if you were checking in at the ticket counter and wait in a long line with the people who have used the new automatic check computers in to get their boarding pass.

So lets compare:

Normal - 1 or 2 people to collect your bags as you come out of customs, go right to your gate.

Melbourne - 6 overworked and stressed people at the counters, 1 person at the head of the line directing you to get into the line and 1 person walking up and down the line pulling out people who have been waiting so long that they have to be rushed to the front of the line so as not to miss their flight.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Profile Picture Library

I decided to create a post for various things instead of having them go out to separate web pages, because I can no longer count on the company hosting it. I'm starting with these previous profile pictures because I was about to update it but whomever is hosting my website now still hasn't gotten their act together. This way I can link the post on the sidebar, update it as I add new pictures, and people can even make comments about my receding hairline. I'll be doing this for my resume and history pages sometime in the near future as well.

So, here are the various profile picture I've used since starting this blog in 2004. Be kind in your comments, because words hurt.

Joseph 2004This picture was taken at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens in early 2004, shortly after I arrived in Australia.

When I used it as my first profile picture on the blog it had converted it to black & white because my skin tone was so washed out. I did try to restore the color in Photoshop but I wasn't happy with anything I was able to do.

Joseph 2006Here is what I looked like after I made the fateful decision to see what life would be like as a blond in 2006. Basically I looked like Lucius Malfoy, Draco's father, in the Harry Potter movies.

This absolutely killed my hair. It became really dry and all of the natural curl went away. I started wearing it in a ponytail and didn't notice that it was breaking off in the back making it look horrible.

Joseph 2007Here I am in early 2007 having dyed the hair back to my normal brown though you can still see the lighter ends. The curl was starting to come back, but it was still a mess especially in the back.

Joseph 2007 Hyper MagazineThis picture was taken in late 2007 right before Auran shut down. It is cropped from a picture taken for a feature in issue #173 of Hyper Magazine.

The games you can see on the monitors are Eye of the Beholder and the Original Command & Conquer.

Joseph 2008 GreeneryHere I am outside the Interzone offices in Perth Australia in late 2008. Note that it is a rare "smiling" picture not often seen.

The color looks really washed out in the this picture but it might just be this monitor. I might have to readjust the balance and re-post it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Grim Fandango Design Document Online!

My friend Richard just sent around an email pointing out that Tim Schafer, founder of Double Fine Productions and former designer at Lucas Arts, in a "fit of Cake-induced Grim nostalgia," after a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of Grim Fandango, has posted the PDF of the original Grim Fandango Puzzle Design Document. To quote Richard's email directly, "OMFGHOLYSHIT!!!"

Richard and Baz just finished playing through the Legend of Kryrandia PC game and were complaining about some of the puzzles. I pointed out that they should play some other adventure games of that time period if they wanted to see difficult puzzles. To quote Tim's post, "People said the puzzles in Grim were super hard, and I’ve always maintained that this was due to a deep character flaw or mental illness on the part of the player. But now, reading this again, I’ve realized that holy smokes--Some of them puzzles were nuts. Obscure. Mean, even."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Australian versus Violent Video Games

Under current Australian legislation, people of all ages are being treated unfairly by an outdated video game classification system. Unlike movies which can be rated R18+, video games can only be rated as high as MA15+. Most of the problem can be laid at the feet of South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson who is even blocking debate on the subject.

To help with the campaign for a R18+ rating, my friend Tim has created an advocacy site to keep to up with the latest news on the issue and help educate people on the issue. The site is:, pass it on.

Now that is a completely separate issue from the Australian Government’s proposed legislation to censor the internet. The exact details are still being kept under wraps, which I believe would be illegal in the U.S. But it is basically yet another example of a government spending millions of tax payer dollars, 44 million budgeted so far, to turn Australia into a nanny state.

Internet providers and the government’s own test have already been proven to not do a very good job of stopping people from accessing illegal material and will slow Australia’s already abysmal internet speeds by an additional average of 30 percent!

The latest spat being their attempt to censor critiques of the system.

A good site to keep follow to keep up with what’s going on with that front and information about what you can do to stop it is:

Another site that mocks the whole thing with a parody type send up is: However I think the whole issue of how big, tough Australia holds up against violent video games was summed up best by GU Comics.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Macaroni Grill and Ouija Board Pasta

I had been complaining about my trip itinerary back to Perth. I left São Paulo 4 hours after Dan and Jack and would have arrived in Perth a full day after they do. My trip travel time is 53.5 hours and that doesn't count that we arrived at the São Paulo airport at 3:00 PM, which was an additional 8 hours before my departure at 11:00 PM.

But now as I camp out in the Chicago airport Macaroni Grill, during my 10 hour layover here, enjoying a nice bowtie pasta, I learn that Dan and Jack's flight out of Chili to Sydney was canceled and they are currently stuck with no idea when another flight will be available. I guess I can't complain about my long trip anymore... but I can giggle quietly to myself.

The guy next to me was reading a Johnathan Kellerman novel and we talked briefly. He was an older guy and was wearing an X-Box Live sweatshirt, small conversation ensued. I know I've read some Kellerman novels, but am horrible with names. I asked if he was the guy who wrote the Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, but that was Tony Hillerman... who I just learned passed away today! His books were another series I listened to when I first discovered audio books in the library way back when.

When I first sat down here at Macaroni Grill, I was also thinking about how a bunch of us phoned up and ordered take-away from a Macaroni Grill in Vegas one afternoon while playing a table top role-playing game. My friend Kelly convinced me that you didn't have to tip the bartender when you picked up the order; because, really what did he do besides take the food from the kitchen and hand it to you all boxed up. The bartender, however though he deserved a little more and made quite a show of the fact that I wasn't tipping him, at the top of his voice, as I was walking away.

The point of that is that I got a Facebook invite from Kelly while sitting there. Now granted, finally getting onto Facebook isn't the same as passing away, but that's two out of three Macaroni Grill coincidences.

The third was that I was also thinking about this girl I went on a date with years ago where we ate at Macaroni Grill. There was a memorable incident involving a reproduction of one of the paintings that I drew on the paper tablecloth with the crayons they give you. Nothing became of the date and we went our separate ways, but now I'm just waiting for something related to her to pop up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big Trouble in Little Big Planet

If you are even slightly in tune with the video game industry, I am sure you have heard of the controversy surrounding the up-coming game Little Big Planet. But for the rest of you here is a quick summary from the Little Big Planet wiki entry:
On 17 October 2008 SCEE instigated a worldwide recall of Little Big Planet and announced that the games release would have to be pushed back. This was after a PlayStation Community member reported that the lyrics to one of the songs in the game included passages from Qur'an and could therefore be offensive to Muslims. The song in question was entitled "Tapha Niang" by Malian singer, Toumani Diabaté, himself a devout Muslim.

Click the video above to listen to the song yourself. The two "offending" lines are:
كل نفس ذائقة الموت ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", Translated: "Every soul shall have the taste of death")

كل من عليها فان ("kollo man alaiha fan", Translated: "All that is on earth will perish")
There has been a bunch of whining and complaining on every forum on the face of the earth about this and that's a whole other story. But then yesterday two new stories popped up:

Toumani Diabaté, the Man who wrote the song says Qur'an quotes are "Quite Normal."

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. , an American Muslim Group Leader Slams Little Big Planet Recall.

Poor Sony, damned if they do and dammed if they don't. You can hardly blame them for delaying the game to take out the song, they are probably still feeling stung about the whole Church of England controversy from Resistance: Fall of Man and the game Kakuto Chojin was pulled from the shelves back in 2003 for also having versus of the Qur'an.

I have some questions though. Has anybody considered that maybe Sony just doesn't want the lines "Every soul shall have the taste of death" and "All that is on earth will perish" in their game which is rated for children, regardless of what language it is in or where those lines might be quoted from? They might be afraid of one of the ratings boards that has given the game the children's age rating requiring them to reclassify the game.

And as to Dr. Jasser's comment that the free market allows for expression of disfavor by simply not purchasing a game that may be offensive. I think that is exactly the point, Sony wants to sell games to the people who would be offended by those lyrics in the game and would rather not have them boycotting the game. It's not like anybody has suddenly rushed out and canceled their pre-order because of the slight shipping delay.

Toumani Diabate, himself a Muslim claims that it isn't offensive to sing quotes from the Qur'an.
"It's quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed. It's my way to attract and inspire people towards Islam."
So who exactly is saying that it is offensive, can we get an official ruling on this, reference link to the Qur'an online, wiki, something?

If anything it brought more national attention to the game and maybe will increase sales. I know its certainly given Mr. Diabate a lot more attention than just having his song used in the game. I listened to the song, sounds kinda cool and maybe I'll buy some of his stuff off iTunes and add it to the music I listen to while writing.

I do have one more question though. About the lyrics in the song, has anybody read the full, translated song lyrics? Not just those two lines, but the whole song? I'm curious as to what the rest of the song is about. Is it something like, "Every soul shall have the taste of death and all that is on earth will perish but Iiii-ah-iiiiiii will alwaaaaaaayyyys love you-ewwwwwwwwewwwewww."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thwomp the Vote ‘08

I found this picture on one of the video game news sites and thought it was kinda funny, but it took me way to long to find out it's source. It seems everybody is keen to post where they directly got it from instead of its original source.

I'm glad I took the effort though because The Minus World, where the post came from, has a bunch more stuff including the vice-presidential debates and the pundits take.

There is a bunch of other video game comedy stuff there too, some of it is even funny. I particularly liked the Resident Evil activity book for children done as a parody of that favorite of dentist offices everywhere, Highlights magazine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Greetings Programs

It was widely reported that there was a teaser for Tron 2 (TR2N) shown at the Comic Con this year. Connie recently sent me a link to a video of it taken by somebody in the audience. It pretty crap as far as quality is concerned but its better than nothing.

So, I've been talking to a few people in the last few days and found out that none of them had heard of it, let alone seen the video. I just went to google the video and found several stories about it including the behind the scenes details of how this teaser came into being. But they all linked to another video taken by somebody in the audience that's way worse than the one Connie sent me. Don't bother watching the clip linked in that article, watch this one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Late Jeff Freeman's Blog

I just clicked on the link in my list to the late Jeff Freeman's blog and got to some other blog. Its by somebody named gRACe goh and only has one entry entitled "This is my first blog entry :D" dated May of 2007.

I used the Way Back Machine to check and Jeff's blog was definitely there. I also noticed that there were two URLs that I had for Jeff's blog.

The URL I had in my link section was (I'm fixing it now) which is the now broken one, but that I confirmed was correct back when I posted the news of Jeff's passing. The Way Back Machine even has this other blog there when I posted the news and doubled checked to see that his blog was still there. But if you go even further back, Jeff's blog shows up at this URL. I'm confused.

The other URL I had bookmarked was which still works. Whew, I would hate to see it get taken down. I'm updating my sidebar now.

I'd advise against reading the comments in his last post. The morons of the internet have been there, assholes.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Larry Probst new U.S. Olympic Comittee Chairman

It was announced last week that just two weeks after being named to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s board of directors Larry Probst, former CEO of Electronic Arts, has been named its new chairman. Probst will oversee the committee’s bid to hold the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago.

Probst first act as the U.S. committee’s chairman was to begin hiring more middle management, stating that you can’t get anything done if you don’t have enough management. Layoffs of actual working staff members were also announced.

Probst refused to comment on the legal action he is bringing against the Special Olympics for unauthorized use of the “Olympic” brand name. But he did announce that the Olympic committee had bought out the Common Wealth Games. Probst say there is no plans for any changes to be made at the Common Wealth Games and that the Olympic committee believes that the Common Wealth Games will be a strong addition to the Olympic line up.

Asked about his other plans, Probst said that although they were bidding to hold the 2016 Summer Games in Chicago, citing a need to consolidate operations, Chicago will in fact be closed down. Some residents will be welcomed to relocate to other potential Olympic locations while others will be welcomed to just relocate.

Due to budget and time concerns, if the Olympics were to be held in Chicago in 2016 it would only be a basic set of competitions. Others events would be included in a “Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic SSX” expansion event that would be held in six months. Furthermore, the actual 2016 Chicago Olympics would become a yearly event with new stadiums and updated Olympians. Probst said that they would plan the first “2016 Chicago Summer Olympics II” to be held in November 2017 because the Christmas market is much better than the summer market.

Probst also talked about the committee’s research into technology to prevent ticket counterfeiting. Purchasers of Olympic tickets will be secretly injected with a radioactive isotope that will imbed itself in the person’s DNA. Probst claims this isotope is non-harmful and simply helps the Olympic committee match the identify the person to the ticket they purchased and validate that the ticket is genuine. Questions about the isotope remaining in the person’s DNA after people are done with the ticket or how the isotope is passed on to that person’s future children were not answered. Instead members of the press were asked to direct those questions to the 2016 Summer Olympic’s newest sponsor, the Department of Homeland Security. Questions about the fact that 2016 Chicago Summer Olympic tickets had in fact already been counterfeited and were already available, were ignored as if they hadn’t been asked. Instead estimated ticket counterfeiting numbers compiled after the 1996 Olympics were recycled even though nobody knows where those numbers originally came from. The press was told that since those numbers have been recycled so many times, we have to believe them to be factual.

If the Olympic committee wins its bid to hold the 2016 games in Chicago there are also a number of changes that would affect the athletes. First Athletes will only be allowed to win 3 medals, after which point they will have to call a special 800 number to explain to special outsourced Olympic officials what circumstances led them to win additional medals. Probst sites that most Olympic athletes don’t win any medals, let alone more than three, so this will only affect a very small number of Olympians.

Second, only U.S. Athletes would be able to compete at first. European and Asian athletes would compete within a few months. Probst said that the date for when Australian athletes could compete had not yet been set.

In other news Electronic Arts announced it has secured the exclusive video game rights to the Olympic Games in perpetuity. This include the rights to names and likeness of former Olympians going back to the days of ancient Greece, though after negations with the Olympic committee, they won’t have to pay those former Olympians anything for the rights to use their likeness and instead those athletes will have to pay Electronic Arts for the right to look like character’s in EA games.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Okay, here is the Studio 60 post I said I wasn't going to post because its long and boring. But I still need to proof my funny post so I figured I would throw this up since I'm just sitting here waiting for Dan to decide if the servers are going to come tumbling down soon now that we sent out emails or if its going to take long enough that we could go get dinner and come back in time to watch them crash.

Studio 60 logoI purchased a number of shows from iTunes to watch while traveling about, one of them being Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I am a big Aaron Sorkin fan so it was the first show I started watching on the trip. To be completely honest I’ll admit I cheated and watched Season 2 of Dexter before the trip started.

I heard various things about the Studio 60 while it was airing, but I couldn’t watch it as I live in Australia where television is more dramatic. That doesn’t mean they have more dramatic shows. Its things like the fact that the episode order of a show having little to do with the order the episodes are aired. Sometimes they aren’t aired at all, for example if there is a big cricket match on completely different station, they might decide that airing their regularly scheduled show would damage the space time continuum or something so they’ll throw on a English, 2-year old, Jamie Oliver cooking instead. And if Big Brother runs late; oh just forget it! The rest of the night is screwed! There is also the fact that Stuido 60 wasn’t on Australian television. Or if it was they hid it at 12:30 on some random weekday like they did with Firefly. Gee, wonder why nobody watched it!

Sports Night AdTo start I didn’t get the name of the show. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip conjures images of the infamous nightclub "Studio 54" (which, according to the wiki was actually CBS's Studio 52 at one point, learn something new everyday) When I first heard about the show, I pictured a Melrose Place type soap opera type show set in a night club. Granted, that included images of sexy young women bouncing around in flimsy little clubbing outfits which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the show is actually about the behind the scenes workings of a live, late-night, comedy show. I imagine Aaron Sorkin's first show; "Sports Night" had the same problem as it sounded like a sports show when it was actually about the behind the scenes working of a sports show. An ad for Sports Night read, “It’s about sports the same way Charlies Angels was about law enforcement.” You’d have thought though, that if he had those problems with Sports Night he would have thought of a better name for Studio 60. If I didn’t know anything about any of this and I saw either of these shows listed in the TV guide; I wouldn't have watched them because of assumptions I would have made about them based on their name. The wiki for Studio 60 mentions that it was called “Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip” during production. Not too much better. I think maybe it’s a matter of showbiz people having studio number whatever conjure up images of a television studio where the rest of think other things.

Studio 60 on the Sunset StripBut about the show itself, as with all Aaron Sorkin scripts, the dialog is very fast and dynamic. It is very intelligent and assumes you are as well. The show doesn't feel as polished or as snappy as West Wing but you can easily see it was going there.

Although a lot of my political beliefs are opposite of Aaron Sorkin’s on a number of issues, as with West Wing, I never really felt he was treating my position unfairly. He does a respectable job of presenting strong arguments for both sides of most issues. Again as in the West Wing, I felt a lot of time he is just throwing the issues out there, letting the characters debate them back and forth, and letting you see both sides. There were exceptions, some of them even justified.

I liked pretty much all of the characters and sub-plots the show went into. I liked that Matthew Perry showed he isn't still Chandler from Friends, but that isn't really fair as he really already showed that, for example when he played Joe Quincy on West Wing. I also thought D. L. Hughley did a great job as Simon Stiles. In West Wing I thought that a lot of the sub-plots into the lives of the characters were choppy or cut short. You would see a character get involved in a relationship or something in one episode, then nothing about it for half a season, and then finally that character would return and you would learn they had broken up. In Studio 60, since it is more about the characters than the place or the events like it is in West Wing, the show is more personal and it follows those character-based story lines as the main flow of the show.

In the end I understand that the show was very expensive to produce and the ratings just weren’t anywhere near where they needed to be. But it was a quality show and it was obvious that the show needed a beat to find its rhythm. I read on the wiki that the show had the highest percentage increase in ratings numbers when you include people who used a DVR to record the show to watch later. I wish they had let it have more time to breath and find its place. The actual ending of the show was a bit of a letdown. It felt like a quick, "The show is ending, quick lets tie off all these ends." Granted, that is better than just leaving us hanging. But with the quality of the rest of the writing, I expected that 'tie off' to be handled better.

Fox is going to Terminate Sarah Conner

Just a quick mid-work day post. I read last week that the declining rating for Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles may lead Fox to cancel the show. I watch all of last season and so far only the premier episode this season, and I realize that the storylines have been a bit slow, the conclusions to plot lines that have been built up have been a bit anti-climatic, and the show needs an serious induction of dramatic excitement. But I still like it and its first on my list when I buy my next batch of season passes on iTunes.

Then at lunch today when I was doing a quick bounce around the internets, I see that is shown on Monday nights opposite Heroes and Monday Night Football. Gee I think I figured this one out!
Dear Fox,

Move "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles" to a different day/time slot. Don't pull another Firefly on us.


P.S. iTune subscriptions don't show up in Neilson Ratings do they? Seriously, its way past time to toss that system and find out what people are really watching. I was part of the Neilson system in the 80's and the way it worked sucked then, technology passed it by in the 90's, and you are all still using it because you are scared of the shake up. Its been 3 years since you realized that data gathered from digital recorders were having a significant impact on your numbers and you still haven't figured out anything to do with that data. Be a leader, fix that crap.

P.P.S. Then again this could be all the sci-fi fan boys boycotting you for that Watchmen bullshit you are pulling. Ya never know.
There. I am sure that will straighten everything out. I've got to get back to work now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Viral Marketing... or more like 'Evil Marketing in General'

Mad Men
Patern RecognitionI was looking up stuff on viral marketing while watching Mad Men TV episodes that I downloaded from iTunes. (I was going to photoshop the cover of Pattern Recognition into the Mad Men logo to make it look like he was reading the book... can you imagine what would have happened if they had though of viral marketing back then? We'd be so doomed.) I’ve been kind of fascinated the whole viral marketing thing since reading William Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition.” Things like hiring attractive girls to go to bars and order a certain brand of drink while talking to various men a.k.a. the target demographic. I wonder what other ‘stealth’ approach campaigns are out there and what effect they are having and is that effect measurable? Though there is a big argument that no advertising is really measureable and who is to say somebody wouldn’t have bought that product anyway. Kinda related to that is something I read a few years ago that said that most of the high rated beer commercial campaigns didn’t correspond to higher sales of that brand of beer. The notable exception was the popular “whassup” Budweiser commercials.

There are other ‘non-stealth’ viral marketing campaigns such as the Alternate Reality Games, called ARGS, such as “I Love Bees” which was used to promote the video game “Halo 2” and “The Beast” which promoted the Steven Spielberg film “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” In those type of things you know, or find out pretty early on that it is part of a marketing plan. They are less evil and more fun that way.

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with “marketing.” I one of the little annoying and completely pointless stories I used to tell was how Marking People are more Evil than Lawyers. Lawyers are just tools, things to be wielded when going into battle. I hire my lawyer, you hire your lawyer and they fight it out. The problem is that I can’t hire a marketing person to fight your marketing person, at least not directly. Marking people bypass all normal defenses and go right after you. That would be a NND Attack for your Hero Role-Playing system people out there. (Sorry, RPG geek moment.)

I’ve been told at least twice that I should have gone into marketing because my brain functions that particular way. I’ve never been sure if that was an insult or not.

The point of all this is that I found an article on Techcrunch from late last year. It is written by a guest author Dan Ackerman Greenberg and details some of the things his company The Comotion Group does to promote videos made by their clients into viral sensations that get spread out across the internet. The article caused a huge sensation with lots of people calling him out as a dishonest, unethical, spammer. You should read the article, its choice material. He posted a second article to answer some of his critics, but that just caused more criticism.

What I just don’t get is the fact that everybody knows this is going on; he is just laying out the details. And, all things considered how is this different than hiring popular actors to promote your product, product placement in movies and TV shows, paying money to appear higher in a search engine’s results, air-brushing models in layouts, etc.?

Here let me tell you another random, only somewhat related story. (Shut up Adam.) There used to (and maybe still is) a series of television commercials, I think for Lucky supermarkets. They claim that they had an independent accounting firm randomly selected 100 grocery items and then added up the cost of those items at their store and the stores of their competitors. When they looked at the total price for those grocery items, Lucky Supermarkets was cheaper!

It isn’t a lie, but it is pretty obvious what they are doing. They had their accounting firm randomly select more than just a single ‘set of 100 grocery items’ and they decided on which was the best set of 100 that they could use in their commercial.

In the seemly endless comments and other websites about Dan’s article, I especially love all the indignation regarding how people who work for him have multiple accounts to have conversations with themselves on various forums. To you personally, what is the difference between a bunch of random internet posters who you know anything about and a secret marketing person pretending to be a bunch of random internet posters? Is anybody out there really following the advice of strangers on the internet?

The Graveyard BookAs you may know I buy audio books from, who should be paying me for all the times I’ve plugged them on my site (I just got the new Neil Gaiman novel, “The Graveyard Book” woot!). Unfortunately Audible’s plot Synopses and user reviews aren’t as robust as I would like, and their web layout makes them hard to read. So normally I go over to for that information. When looking at Amazon reviews if I see a bunch of positive reviews, I usually pick out the negative ones to read. I think I do this because I believe negative reviews are more honest most of the time, than positive ones that tend to be too fanatical and fan-boyish in nature. I do the same to movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

I did read something else about the U.K. passing a law last year where it is illegal for marketers to pose as consumers.

Hypnosis WatchI really have nowhere else to go with this. This whole post was me writing a quick little something about that article and look what it ballooned into. What you really don’t know is that hidden is this message was a subliminal advertisement guaranteed to get you to buy a certain product. Don’t believe me? Well in the near future when you are in the store reaching for something you’ll suddenly remember this post.

Anyway, I just wanted to post this and get it out there before burying it with the really funny video game related post I wrote last night. I'm probably not going to post the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip post, let me just sum up the major points: I liked it, wish they would have let it go one more season to get its legs, and I am a big Aaron Sorkin fan and wish I could write dialog like he does. Stay tuned true believer!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Uber Lame Nintendo

I've said before how much region locking pisses me off. I just read an article over at CVG that says the new Nintendo DSi is going to be region locked. The DSi is the new version of the Nintendo DS hand-held that is thinner, bigger screens and has two cameras.

To clarify that, the specific DSi cartridges can only be played on a DSi hand-held of the same region. If you have an American DSi (which probably won't be released until next year) it won't play any DSi cartridges that you bought in Australia. You can still play any normal DS game on any DSi hand-held, it is just the specific (market dividing) DSi games that are restricted.

A Nintendo spokesman explained to CVG:
"DSi is region locked because DSi embeds net communication functionality within itself and we are intending to provide net services specifically tailored for each region. Also because we are including parental control functionality for Nintendo DSi and each region has its unique age limit made by different independent."
Dear Nintendo,

Bite me.

I will not be buying a DSi whenever you get around to releasing it where I happen to live when you deem it worth to sell outside of Japan. That is unless you are going to have a representative at every international airport that will exchange my DSi cartridges for ones of the region of the country where I have just landed.


Seriously, this is bullshit. There is no reason their excuses above can't be built into the system. It is nothing more than an attempt to block importing games from one region to the next. Once again it is me, the normal consumer who is going to be hurt just because I travel a lot. I think the DS being region free is one of the reasons it is so successful. Its a hand-held system that you TAKE WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

All of this is also going to hurt the smaller developer. It just sucks all round.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Buying Fallout 3

Several people have made offhand comments about the fact that I haven't posted anything about my trip, one person even going so far at to imply their lives are so boring that they have to live through my adventures. I have been wanting to post stuff but just never seem to get around to it. I even wrote a review of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip after I finished watching all the episodes, but haven't posted it because I wanted to put up a travel post first and just haven't. But then Jeff died and I wanted to post something about that, then I saw the article mentioned below while waiting to run a game demo and kinda found myself typing that up and now posting it. So, I just want to say that I will say something about the trip soon, but for now lets talk about Fallout 3.

I have already said I am not buying Spore because of the overly aggressive and invasive Digital Rights Management software screwing me, the legitimate user.

I thought that since I was going out of my way to spout off about what I wasn't buying because of DRM, that I should also point out what I was buying because the publisher was smart enough not to put in overly aggressive and invasive DRM.

I hereby announce that I am buying Fallout 3.

Shacknews has just put up an interview with Bethesda's Pete Hines in which he is specifically asked about DRM in Fallout 3.
Shack: What kind of copy protection will be included on the PC version of Fallout 3?

Pete Hines: Pretty similar to what we did for Oblivion, which was--we basically don't do any--we do the mildest form possible. I actually don't know if I even want to get into what it is that we exactly do, but we try to be really noninvasive when it comes to that stuff.
He also talks about the Australian Ratings board issue which was one of the factors in them removing the names of real drugs, like Morphine, from the game as well as his views on PC versus consoles and their desire to continue to support both platforms.

Speaking of the Australian Ratings Board and their banning of games, Woody of GU comics put up an amusing comic about that last week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Goodbye Jeff Freeman

I just heard that Game Designer, Jeff Freeman, has committed suicide. I met Jeff a few times and didn't really know him but I read his blog often.

A lot of people blamed Jeff for the sweeping, unsold to the community and pretty much unannounced changes to Star Wars Galaxies, called the "New Game Enhancements." The NGE were supposedly put in to make the game feel more like Star Wars and less like an "Uncle Owen Simulator." This being what everybody was blaiming for the falling subscription numbers, but pissing off your remaining customers isn't always a good idea as in the MMO market when people leave they don't come back.

The blame for that failed plan which caused even more people to leave the game, isn't really something that belonged at Jeff's feet. MMO design is a huge complicated beast that takes lots of people to design and put together. Even then you still have to factor in the ideas and decisions from above.

I make no claim to know what went on at SOE when all this went down. After it happened and community went into a tissy, everybody over there went silent. The problem was there was a blog post that Jeff had made just prior to the changes going in, that even though he later deleted, was found by players.
So don't get the crazy notion that I'm "in charge" here. "The Man" is a many-headed beast called Management. I just try to help it make good decisions. With regard to game mechanics, it even lets me decide, sometimes.

So a few months ago The Man comes along and says "What can we do to make this the most fun game it can possibly be?"

It was the lead designer who holed-up in his office for a few days and then said, "Hey, come look at this."

There's no way we can do that.

There's no way we should do that.

Man that's fun.

The Man will never let us get away with doing that.

We can't do it.

We shouldn't do it.

Oh man that is fun.

When an executive producer sees something that is impossible to do, but which is too fun not to do, he makes a noise like "Hoooooooooph."

My job was to be the guy to say, "Yes we can do that." I had to say this about forty times a day for two months.
Jeff was really only even talking about the combat changes and had little to do with the rest of the NGE. But he became the face of the debacle and the players dumped on him for months and months. Even after Jeff left SOE the comments and blame followed him.

I personally think the original combat sucked big fat donkey balls and the changes Jeff put in actually made the game a lot more fun.

Jeff's brother has come out to say that the ire of the SWG community that isn't what caused him to take his own life.
"I want everyone to know that it was not SWG that led him to take his life," he said. "He has been troubled for some time. There were a lot of personal issues that tore at him."
Unfortunately this leave me with little solace and we are left with one less talented game designer. Sorry to see you go Jeff, we are lessened by your passing.

The link to Jeff's blog will remain on my list. I encourage you to read it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Showing off to Petroglyph

A bunch of ex-Westwood people that now work at Petroglyph were at the Austin Game Developer's Conference which finished today.

Marty, the CEO of the company I work for, Interzone, had called a car but then didn't need it, so he had Allan, da man, cancel it. Except when he called to do so, they told him that they were still going to charge half price for canceling at the last minute. He asked if any of use were going to the airport, and I said that I was so he told them to come pick me up instead.

I'm waiting on the corner when a few of the Petroglyph people walk up. They asked if I was waiting for a cab and I said, "No, my company had called for a car."

Just as somebody asked how things were going at Interzone, a shiny, brand new, Cadillac pulls up and the uniformed driver jumps out to take care of my bags.

"Yeah, things are going quite well. Thanks for asking."

I did fess up when I saw them at the airport. We were all flying to Vegas on the same plane and it is hard to put on airs when flying Southwest.

Granted, I was only flying Southwest because I was paying for that flight. The other flights I've been on this trip that were actually work related have been a few steps up the ladder including some upgrades to first class. I had an awesome bay view hotel room at the Marriott in San Diego. So yeah, things are going quite well at Interzone. Thanks for asking.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Not Buying Spore

Not Buying SporeI've mentioned before my opinion of Electronic Arts and their use if overly aggressive Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. For these reasons, I will not be buying Spore. The SecuROM DRM software that EA is using on the product will allow you to install it 3 times, after which time you will need to call EA on the phone, wait on hold for hours, and then try to convince an underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated phone worker that you are not a dirty filthy pirate by providing proof of purchase, reasons why you've had to install it more than 3 times, and information on which of your friends are commies too.

Oh, and if you want to uninstall Spore, don't think that will uninstall SecuROM. It is rootkit software and you'll have to go find some third party application to clean it off your system. Because we all know how safe it is going around the web looking for dodgy software that claims to remove stuff like this. After your done doing that, you can go down and see if your local crack dealer has any safe medication for your headache.

People are currently expressing their opinions of this by posting 1-star reviews on Spore's Amazon page. Small story on Game Politics about that here.

It seems like the more I try to be a legitimate user, the more companies appear to be trying to make things difficult for me. The pirates are doing fine by the way, game was cracked and available before the game was even in stores in some areas.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Never Gonna Give You Up

Jeremy Robinson with t-shirtJeremy just isn't getting tired of this joke. He claims he was saving the shirt for launch day, but he wore it today instead, as a tribute, since I am leaving tonight.

He also updated his CafePress store so you too can enjoy this unlicensed merchandise.

Joseph and Melissa 1988 Girl's Reverse

But if we want to really get embarrassing, here is a picture from 1988 I found while digging through paperwork, trying to scrounge up everything I'll need to get my U.S. taxes done while in the U.S.

I love that overcoat. Rick Astley eat your heart out. And the girl? Any relationship "issues" I may have, you can rest right there at her feet. Don't get me wrong though, I enjoyed almost every minute of it.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Time!

I was wandering around David Jones, a large Australian department store, last weekend doing some last minute clothes shopping. It was actually the much lauded, "New Sock" trip of which I posted about before.

Anyway, I wandered into the import food section which was hidden deep in the subterranean section of the store. Ironically enough, it had this sign in front of it. It is the David Jones "low price promise." Click on it for a larger, readable version. Sorry its it kinda blurry, its the crappy iPhone camera.

Why is it ironic? Read on true believer.

Way in the back I found the most wonderful thing. Jif peanut butter and Welches grape jelly! You see, although you can find peanut butter in Australia you can't find jelly. You can find jam, preserves, and all the other types of fruit spreads, just not jelly. You can't even ask for it, because you will confuse them since, like in the U.K., jelly means candy. As for grape flavor, forget about it. There is a big Australian wine industry, which means they have lots of grapes, they just don't make fruit spread out of it. They either haven't made the leap to put those two concepts together or they just don't want to waste any grapes on sandwiches when they could make more wine.

So how much would you pay for these fine imported foods? What price would you put on a tasty peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich? Lets take a look...

$15 dollars each! Are they out of their mind!?!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Street Fred

Adam Isgreen with backpackLegendary game designer, and long time personal nemesis, Adam Isgreen posted this picture on Facebook a few weeks ago. I made the following comment:
I still have that bag. I used it instead of my 20 year old Tumi one when I came out here for my interview, because I felt it lent me industry street fred!
You may think Adam was poking fun of a typo when he responded with:
It's the perfect carry-on bag when I'm not taking a laptop. Street fred is very important!
However, I will now reveal that it wasn't a typo, but rather a closely guarded secret of game designers.Street Fred

Have you ever wondered where we get our game design ideas? Amazing imaginations combined with blood, sweat and tears?

No. We get them from Street Fred.

And you know, A civil war era, FPS-MMO would totally rock!

"You get better at standing in a line while people shoot at you (+4)!"

"Alright! I got my medic up to level 20! Now I can saw your leg off!"

Thanks to Tim Colwill, whose girlfriend can totally kick your ass in Guitar Hero, for the rendition of Street Fred.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Paul Oakenfold in Interzone Futebol

Paul OakenfoldI posted last week that the official Interzone Futebol website went up in Brazil, complete with teaser video. If you actually watched the video, you may have noticed the Paul Oakenfold billboards that were up in the game world.

Following up on that is the formal announcement that went out today, stating that Paul Oakenfold, internationally known DJ with a stellar list of remix and film credits, and who is listed in the The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most popular DJ, has been officially announced as doing the score for Interzone Futebol. Yay us.

You can read the full press release here.

Paul Oakenfold - Wiki, Official Site.