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Comment: Not quite accurate, but huge implications (Score 1) 213

by D J Horn (#35146180) Attached to: MPAA Sues Hotfile for 'Staggering' Copyright Infringement

You can in fact download without paying, just like the other eight thousand sites like this (rapidshare, megashare, megaupload, duckload, etc etc etc)

And just like all those other sites, hotfile removes offending files as soon as they get reported (often within minutes of the files being posted!)

So really this site (and the others like it) are just like youtube or any other place you can post things - as long as they remove offending files can they be considered guilty of infringement? Granted these kinds of sites are huge piracy magnets - its how things spread before torrents even - but does that alone make them different?

It may seem different but if hotfile can be sued, there are staggering(!) implications for the rest of the internet.

Comment: Only 40%? (Score 3, Interesting) 56

by D J Horn (#34593656) Attached to: Over 40% of New Mechanical Turk Jobs Involve Spam

From my time exploring mturk I would have guessed it to be much higher than that, non-spam related jobs were definitely the minority of what I saw.

The creepiest (and highest paying) job I saw though involved watching surveillance footage from airports, making sure the automated face tracker stayed on target...

Comment: Re:Quick Question (Score 1) 161

by D J Horn (#33756914) Attached to: Micro-Transactions Coming To <em>Team Fortress 2</em> Via Steam Wallet

True that hats are still not easily crafted, but the issue is gameplay and the set bonuses are trivial at best. Even if you had every item you'd most likely use some mixture of items you like rather than the set, as the bonuses aren't worth carrying not carrying your personal best items.

Even with the new set bonuses, hats are still cosmetic by any standard.

The duel token isn't gameplay related either, and its 5 uses for 99 cents anyway.

Comment: trolls everywhere! (Score 1, Troll) 161

by D J Horn (#33756820) Attached to: Micro-Transactions Coming To <em>Team Fortress 2</em> Via Steam Wallet

I like how every positive reply has gotten modded troll.

Meanwhile I still haven't read a single valid point by any of the naysayers, here or elsewhere. Most of the time it doesn't even sound like they even -play- TF2.

The only valid points people have brought up are the ones who liked vanilla TF2 better before it had any new content added and wish they could play that old version. That's fair, but completely unrelated to this whole microtransaction deal.

Comment: Re:Not exactly micro (Score 3, Insightful) 161

by D J Horn (#33756800) Attached to: Micro-Transactions Coming To <em>Team Fortress 2</em> Via Steam Wallet

You get wasted without new items? I think you're just projecting your dying on whatever appears to be a likely suspect.

Yeah there's a lot of new stuff compared to vanilla TF2, but variety doesn't mean imbalance. Its all about playstyle and taste. Lots of people still use the old gear.

Does everyone use the kritzkrieg instead of the ubercharge? Not even close.
Does everyone use the huntsman bow instead of the sniper rifle? Definitely not.
Does everyone use the direct hit instead of the old rocket launcher? Yeah right, most competitive soldiers don't touch it.

So you hop onto TF2 after not playing for a long time and see a whole bunch of new things, and then die to someone wielding and item you've never seen before. OH THAT MUST BE WHY THEY WERE ABLE TO KILL YOU, if only you had it too you wouldn't have died, right? It's just a convenient excuse.

But sure, TF2 is -somewhat- different now than it was originally, and liking its original form better is perfectly fair. But on the other hand, new content is what keeps most players coming back. You might be one of those guys who still plays counterstrike or quake decades from now, but you'll certainly be the minority. TF2 would be nothing but pleasant memories among me and my friends if it had never gotten new content to periodically bring us back from time to time.

Comment: Re:Quick Question (Score 1) 161

by D J Horn (#33756762) Attached to: Micro-Transactions Coming To <em>Team Fortress 2</em> Via Steam Wallet

Are these items merely cosmetic (a la some blizzard promos) or do they actually confer advantage? If the latter, I could see this going in the direction of games like Magic the Gathering, where having more money IRL means you have a better chance of buying better cards and therefore winning. I'd hate to see an FPS video game go in that direction, since it's a very different genre than a collector's trading card game..

A prime example of that would be the free-to-play-but-micro-transaction-based Battlefield Heroes. In there you can buy weapons that are immensely better than their free counterparts. It's a disaster and the main reason that game never got very big.

However in TF2, which has been getting new items added to it for years, new stuff is always -different-, not better. For instance a rocket launcher that shoots faster rockets but has no splash damage. Its a matter of playstyle and taste rather than one being better than the other. All the new stuff is like that.

Besides, it's also all easily crafted without paying anything, so even if some new item was better, you don't have to buy it to get it.

The only things in the store that you can't make yourself are new dyes and name changers used to customize the appearance of other items.

Comment: Microtransactions done right? Figures it's Valve (Score 5, Insightful) 161

by D J Horn (#33756718) Attached to: Micro-Transactions Coming To <em>Team Fortress 2</em> Via Steam Wallet

I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw the post this morning, I'm not a fan of microtransactions in games, as I've never seen it executed in a way that didn't punish players into using it.

But I read all about it, and then checked it out for myself. It actually seems like this system was built with a fair dose of common sense, something I've come to expect from Valve.

First and foremost is the fact that all the items are still attainable in game. But wait, did they make them really rare drops or difficult to craft in order to push people toward purchasing? Nope, they're still the same as they've always been. Easily crafted by anyone who plays much at all.

But hold on, these systems always have stupid virtual currency that you can only buy in chunks that don't match the item costs. You want an item that costs 3500 neato-points but you can only buy points in chunks of 2000! Oh, Valve's system uses real currency tied to your steam account, that you can use anywhere on steam. That actually makes sense.

Surely there is a catch though. These new items must be overpowered and imbalanced to make them worth buying, right? That's what most games do (cough BF Heroes cough) but it doesn't really work when people can still get the items without buying them. And it turns out the stats are all in line with the way Valve has always added new items to TF2. They all have their ups and downs and are more a matter of playstyle and taste than outright better/worse. There are still plenty of people who used the old original items simply because that's what they're best with.

BUT HOLD ON, WE'VE FOUND THE EVIL PLOT! Most item's are community made, Valve is profiting off content they don't even have to make themselves!! Oh nevermind, community designers are given a cut of any sales their item makes, which is probably the coolest thing about the whole system. As someone who's mapped and modded Source as a hobby over the years, and having friends who actually made items in this very update, I think it is absolutely awesome that they're getting money out of something they'd normally love to do just for fun.

This is is precisely the microtransaction system I would expect from Valve. I have no problems with it and I have yet to read any legitimate arguments against it.

Comment: Re:Interface, biggest problem (Score 1) 190

by D J Horn (#33490642) Attached to: The New Difficulties In Making a 3D Game

Focus was certainly the wrong word, by it I meant simply what your eyes are looking at - converging on - not actual focus and things being blurry/clear.

Or show the interface to just one eye.

That's actually a great idea. Near as I can figure it should solve all the problems, although I wonder if there would be noticeable alignment quirks with a cursor that's only being rendered to one eye.. I wish I could try it myself.

Comment: Interface, biggest problem (Score 5, Interesting) 190

by D J Horn (#33485432) Attached to: The New Difficulties In Making a 3D Game

I played WoW in 3D at the nVidia booth at Blizzcon last year and the game looked fantastic, it really did. However the interface was a huge problem. In 3D-WoW, the interface is closer to you than the game world, so if you're focusing on something in the world, your interface elements all split into 2. This is particularly weird when trying to click on things in the game world. If you focus on the creature or whatever, you have 2 mouse cursors. If you focus on the cursor, there are two creatures.

After a while you do get used to it, but it is definitely a huge gameplay issue that will keep 3D gaming in the gimmicky realm unless a game is designed to address it, either by having no interface or having an in-the-world interface, like Dead Space for instance.

But seriously, games do look amazing with properly calibrated 3d glasses (shutter or polarized, not red/blue lenses!) but it will most likely never be anything more than a neat gimmick.

Comment: Lost sales or gained sales? Impossible to know (Score 2, Interesting) 795

by D J Horn (#33182500) Attached to: DRM-Free Game Suffers 90% Piracy, Offers Amnesty

I have a close group of friends. One of them is an avid pirate. He pirates everything he can, even though he has a job and plenty of expendable money. If he can't pirate something, he just never plays it. None of his downloads have been a lost sale. (not saying that justifies it! just that it's a measurable fact)

The rest of us have stopped pirating in our old age, finding actually buying games to be much less of a headache, due in big part to Steam.

There have been numerous times, where our pal has pirated a game and then told us all about it, leading to several purchases that we may not have made without his recommendation. World of Goo being a recent example. I had heard of it but didn't pay it any attention, I never buy puzzle games so I never gave it another though. Then my friend told us he knew we would love it, with its gameplay and art style and music all being perfect for us. I, as well as a couple other people in our group, picked it up on Steam and thoroughly enjoyed it. So in that particular case, his download led to multiple sales that wouldn't have happened otherwise. That's not the only time that has happened. (of course the inverse is true, he's pirated games we've considered buying and warned us that they aren't worth it - Borderlands for instance)

Does that justify it? Is that a morally acceptable alternative to review sites? No, piracy is still piracy. However it just goes to illustrate some of the key things about the whole issue:

* Your game will be pirated whether it has mega-DRM or none
* Not every pirate is a lost sale
* Some pirates lead to further sales
* It is impossible to measure accurately as everyone's individual experience is exactly that, their own individual experience

I don't think this helps find some grand solution or anything, I just believe that anyone arguing piracy issues in black and white is doing it wrong, regardless of which side they stand on. Though I find myself feeling that way about almost every issue..

Comment: Thanks! (Score 1) 238

by D J Horn (#32853916) Attached to: Some Birds Can See Magnetic Fields

I've been seeing this for as long as I can remember! I never knew what it was, or if anyone else saw it. I recall trying to ask my parents about it when I was just a wee lad but they didn't understand what I was talking about so I never really asked anyone about it again.

I can see it very vividly anywhere in the sky, any time of day. It's pretty awesome to finally understand it!

Comment: Best part of OnLive - instademos (Score 1) 204

by D J Horn (#32837626) Attached to: OnLive Latency Tested

I too got in on the 1 year free trial to check it out. My connection is pretty average, 7meg verizon DSL, but being in the middle of nowhere I ping 150~200 in every game I've ever played, so I had pretty low expectations.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I gave it a shot. There is definitely noticeable latency, but I only really feel it when moving the mouse cursor around. Button based actions seem fine. I probably wouldn't play a twitchy FPS on it, but just about any other game doesn't feel strange at all. Playing Arkham Asylum with a gamepad feels great.

I have no intention of buying any games for it though - my only machine is a nice desktop so I have no need to. That being said, I am loving OnLive for the ability to launch it up and instantly play a demo of any game in there. No downloading, no installing, no waiting AT ALL. Not only that but the demos aren't specially packaged portions of the game - they are simply 30 minutes of access to the full retail game. This has already led me to make several purchases that I was on the fence about.

So in the end, having seen it for myself, I think OnLive is pretty cool and does have its uses. It's certainly not going to replace PC gaming as we know it, but I think this cloud based tomfoolery has a place in our future.

Riches: A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller, (slander by Ambrose Bierce)

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