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Comment Re:New Poke (Score 4, Interesting) 786

Metro would be ok as a concept at least if it was a Windows component you could choose to install.

Look at Windows Media Centre for example - outside of a media PC there will be many Vista and 7 owners who never use it, and aren't affected by it even being installed. There are others, such as myself, who use WMC daily in the lounge, on a PC that is sat inside a AV cabinet operated by a remote control.

This is critical to understanding why Metro is such a failure. People with desktop computers will likely be sitting some distance from their monitor, and it would be uncomfortable in most cases for them to operate its touchscreen when it sits vertical on the desk. Notwithstanding that usability issue I would assume that it is still the case today that the vast majority of Vista/7 users do not have touchscreens, and in my experience Metro is pretty underwhelming without one. The use of a touchscreen is antithetical to using a desktop computer for the most part, yet MS seemed to think that the transition would be fluid and that the marketplace was just crying out for someone to fill this void.

This would all be just a misstep if it were possible to get to the main Windows desktop and stay there and retain all of the functionality you had in Windows 7 (Start button, etc). Instead Metro apps and utilities drop you to the old desktop seemingly on a whim and without warning, which is quite jarring, and you can't even really choose to stay there if you wanted to with ease (at least not without third party utilities to help you recreate the old UX). It is quite a shock to drop from Metro to the old desktop, the UX is completely different - which is fine for a seasoned user but is it really the experience MS wanted people to have?

That W8 drops you to desktop with a totally different UI smacks of MS really not having a clear direction or dedication to Metro, which is something you can't really say of Apple for example. Apple are notorious for having a walled garden approach to their software, and the OSX UX is very much "they'll take what we give them", but Apples customer base is used to that UX, they are familiar with it, and it is not change for changes sake.

Metro would've imo made a great Windows component in the same vein as Windows Media Centre - something you can choose to install or even boot to IF you want to, as it is it's an affront.

Comment Re:Linus is an asshat, imho (Score 1) 1051

I don't buy this, sorry.

A publicly managed project doesn't mean there can't be any notion of private conversations occuring at all. It's also unrealistic. Do you think we hear every single conversation that goes on about Linux and its direction?

Linus could've said everything he said to the guy in private, and even demanded he post a public apology, and the net result would ultimately be the same except that a guy who is quite likely a competent programmer in spite of this snafu (seems odd he would land a kernel gig through just winging it, doesn't it?) wouldn't have been treated like shit. Telling someone to "shut the fuck up" publicly is not productive or professional whichever way you slice it.

You have to assume that there are similar conversations going on all the time in Microsoft, Apple, Google et al when a programmer screws up badly, and their output is ultimately doing as well as if not better than Linux. The argument that Linux is a stronger platform because Linus gets to demolish people in public with no filter doesn't really hold water when you consider Linux is not leading the pack.

Comment Re:The inevitable comparison, so let's get it over (Score 2) 201

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head for me.

I've found myself doing fairly poorly in BF3 in pure kills vs deaths terms, at least compared to my own estimation of my skill and experience with other FPS games, yet I've still done fairly well in points & team contribution terms. I've also found that I've invariably had just as much fun playing whether my team wins or loses (I'm thinking mainly of Conquest mode here). You can have a lot of fun just with a decent squad.

I'm not so sure I agree though that BF3 is a game if you have very little time - it seems that there are some significant competency upgrades that you get as you level up, and not having much time to do this will probably hamper you. The ability to carry more ammo, and larger weapon magazines, makes a surprising difference in a firefight. There are also a number of items that many consider very overpowered - though I guess DICE will address this in time.

Comment Re:Looking at it wrong (Score 1) 342

I've come into Fallout 3 very late in the day having just recently picked up the GOTY edition in the Steam sales. I've put in around 11 hours so far and I haven't yet felt like I was going through the motions with any of it. In fact without fully realising it I've ended up going off track running a side quest, and then whilst running that side quest ending up doing something else, then during that finding a little minigame in my own mind to do (disarming mines on a bridge). Hours have been consumed without me appreciating (or caring) that I haven't been advancing the main quest to a final conclusion.

If a game is engaging enough to keep ones interest without feeling like you're just going through the motions then this "short attention span" that todays gamers are apparently supposed to suffer from wouldn't be an issue. Make something engrossing and people will become engrossed. Make a game long arbitrarily (achievements, copy-and-pasted scenarios, etc) then people will become bored and start to think "it's taking too long". Seems pretty simple to me.

Comment Re:Not a new idea (Score 1) 365

I remember Megalomania on the Atari ST would let you play and then just nuke your settlement and loop the endgame "It's All Over!" sound effect over and over.

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker, again on the ST, would get as far as the title screen and then squiggles would appear everywhere (as if someone was drawing on the screen) before finally going straight to black.

Anyone got a compilation of these kinds of anti-piracy tricks?

Comment Mismanaged expectations (Score 1) 220

Virgin Media et al are somewhat guilty of mismanaging customer expectations (you could blame the market for this - aggressive undercutting, focusing on big numbers in advertising and using "up to", etc), but customers are to blame too.

Having worked for an ISP for nearly a decade which provisioned B2B leased lines and consumer ADSL if said consumers realised how much businesses pay for uncontested guaranteed throughput their eyes would water, suffice to say its considerably more than ~£35 a month.

Consumer broadband works on economies of scale, the principal is that the vast majority of subscribers underutilise their connection (effectively paying more than they need to) and thereby subsidise the minority who ought to be paying a lot more. Getting this balance right is tough and when it works its great, but clearly it is not possible for every consumer paying ~£35 a month to be putting through 100mbit/sec for sustained periods, much less 24/7.

If you want uncontested bandwidth you've got to pay (£hundreds p/m for 2mbit rising to £thousands for 10mbit+) for the privilege, that's just the way it is.

Comment Re:It's simple (Score 5, Insightful) 317

This isn't going to be a popular viewpoint on here but it needs saying.

The average consumer isn't being screwed by Sony, and that's the point. The average consumer buys a PS3 to play games and movies they buy from the shops. The average consumer doesn't care (or likely didn't even know) what OtherOS etc was.

The average consumer doesn't understand why people would want to hack their PS3 to do things other than that which Sony intended, and probably assume most of them just want to play "stolen games" (which let's be frank and honest - for all the bluff and bluster about the importance of homebrew the vast majority of the audience is focused on these hacks enabling them to pirate things)

Comment Re:Bit late now, but... (Score 1) 508

Your inference argument conveniently forgets that the original PS3 hack (by Geohot too if memory serves) used OtherOS as an attack vector, so the argument that preserving OtherOS would've somehow immunised the PS3 against piracy is fallacious.

If anything I would infer that Sony's reaction to the original hack (i.e. removing OtherOS feature completely) was what frustrated the black hats. I agree it was dumb and likely to result in more focus on restoring it but let's not delude ourselves that the hackers and pirates kept away because OtherOS was available, especially when there is clear evidence that OtherOS facilitated these hacks.

Comment Phew! (Score 1) 152

On Sunday, the 28th of November 2010 around 20:00 UTC the main distribution server of the ProFTPD project was compromised. The attackers most likely used an unpatched security issue in the FTP daemon to gain access to the server and used their privileges to replace the source files for ProFTPD 1.3.3c with a version which contained a backdoor.

I'm glad they found the backdoor before someone backdoored my up-to-date ProFTPd 1.3.3c server to install it.

Comment Thumbs up for Valve (Score 2, Funny) 261

Valve have the right idea, they don't charge for DLC as they realise that increased exposure and limited-time discounts on the full game actually make them money. You wouldn't catch Valve doing anything depressingly contrived as offering little virtual trinkets for real cash....

Comment More sinister than it would appear (Score 1) 161

First off I should preface this by saying that I love Valve and hate microtransactions.

That being said there are some "devil in the detail" points which leave a nastier-than-normal taste in the mouth.

For starters - the item set hats (that you need to get the set bonus) aren't craftable. They (apparently) drop but with the number of items in game currently and the already very rare percentage chance to get a hat the idea that you could complete an item set by getting the hat via an item drop is about as unrealistic a proposition as relying on winning the lottery to be your income source. In fact, the FAQ makes mention of the fact that you don't have to pay for the set-completing hats, but this is pretty disingenuous in my opinion considering the item drop probabilities involved.

Secondly - bought items are not tradeable. This means that even if someone else did buy the item and for some inexplicable reason was prepared to trade the "item set" hat away, you couldn't get it from them. Right now the only way you will get the set bonuses is by buying the set(s) yourself, with cold hard cash.

What this means in very simple terms is that set bonuses such as "+25 health for Scout", which are a significant advantage in the right hands, is something that will affect the gameplay of those that choose not (or can't afford) to participate.

Microtransactions for alternative (but not necessarily better) weaponry and cosmetic items are one thing, having no other option but to pay to get an ingame discernable advantage is something completely different and not something I ever imagined Valve stooping to.

Comment Re:Next step to prevent PC piracy (Score 1) 795

You've hit the nail on the head for me.

Unfortunately the biggest problem in my opinion with piracy discussions and the "what if" arguments is that they are formed from a position that is already skewed. Because it is so easy to pirate software it is easy for people to say that "they wouldn't have bought it anyway". They don't realise or appreciate that if it were the case that software couldn't be pirated then they would be left with the decision of whether they enjoy the media they're used to copying (music, games, movies) or do without completely. Faced with that decision I'm sure the people who could afford to buy it but choose not to because - why pay for something you can get easily for free? - would end up buying it.

There is of course valid arguments around draconian DRM and the like but quite honestly I think this is a smokescreen for the most part, and statistics like this just prove it. People who say "if it didn't have DRM I would buy it" clearly aren't telling the truth, probably because it's a convenient thing to say because they know DRM is here to stay anyway, or as in this case when it comes to the crunch and they're presented with something with no DRM at all they still choose to steal it.

Comment "VAC is infallible" (Score 5, Insightful) 202

As good a move as this I can't help but wonder about the comments made by volunteers moderators on the SPUFs (Steam Powered User Forum) about how "VAC doesn't make mistakes", how bans were permanent and indisputable, etc.

I wasn't on the receiving end of one of these bans myself but if I had been I would've felt pretty aggreived to be tacitly labelled a cheater and that my account "was gone", with moderators talking about a computerised system being impossible to fool and never wrong, etc.

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