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Journal Journal: An alternative to cinemas ?

As others have pointed out, the movie industry is on to a bit of a cash cow here. Some people will pay (per head) to see a movie in the theatres then again a few months later to rent / buy it, so why would they willingly kill off one of those revenue streams ?
But what if they could replace it instead ?

What if I could download a DRM controlled, time-bombed copy of the movie to watch once only, but at a time of my choosing in the comfort of my own home ? I'd pay for that.
The DRM mechanisms (sh)could allow the film to be watched once within three days of download. I should be allowed to pause, rewind and fast-forward, but the film can only be loaded once into media playing software. I'd expect the studio to shovel in a load of ads and trailers at the begining, and they'd prolly stop me skipping these ads, fair enough I can live with that, but only if the ads are relevant to me at least on a geographical basis. I live in the UK, so hearing about Best Buy's biggest ever sale is about as useful to me as a chocolate teapot.

The downside for the studios with this model is that I'm paying once to watch the movie and I could have a living room full of friends and family, they're not getting a fee per viewer as they do in the cinemas.
But on the flipside their audience would now be expanded to include single parents, shift workers, housebound and disabled folks, people who live too far away from their nearest cinema for a trip to be anything other than the rarest of treats. Someone would have to do a proper survey but I'm guessing they'd attract more viewers than they'd lose with a fee-per-head pricing structure


Journal Journal: Viewing habits

Having just moved house to a small market town in the midlands of England I found conventional TV reception in the area to be nothing short of woeful.
It's so bad our digital terrestrial service (Freeview) is unavailable.
Sky are the only satellite providers for the UK, for English language entertainment and movie channels anyway, but they're a Murdoch company which makes them iffy in the first place. There's two basic contracts you can go for, the first can be setup over the phone and you can be viewing within a couple of days, the catch is their box is wired to your phone line and uploads your viewing details every night, this data is then sold on. Call me Mr Fussy but I like my privacy. The second type of contract is less intrusive but Sky actively discourage customers from pursuing it, this type of contract typically takes about three weeks to set up and you have to buy your own equipment and get it installed at your expense. I don't mind the cost if it means I keep my privacy, but why the three week delay ??
Our local cable provider is NTL, 'nuff said really. They only take payment via direct debit and there's been too many horror stories of them taking too much cash out of peoples accounts for me to trust them. We do get some basic free-to-air channels via the cable box left behind by the previous tennant, and BBC News 24 keeps my appetite for current affairs sated.

But it isn't all doom and gloom, we do have 1MB ADSL from one of the UK's best providers, Zen Internet (, and I've been using BitTorrent for a couple of years now, so do I really need a multi-channel TV service ?
With BT I can download whatever takes my fancy and watch it whenever I like. With my Archos 420 I can even watch it wherever I like.

But doesn't this hurt the studios and threaten future program development ??
Well cry me a river, do those guys give a stuff about the viewing public ? Only in terms of numbers, which are directly equated into revenue, almost always advertising driven.
How many cheap and downright awful "reality" shows pollute our screens these days ? Do we want to support even more of that crap ?
Those programs that show a modicum of intelligence and who's creators actually listen to their fans invariably get cancelled. Firefly, Farscape, and to a lesser extent Jake 2.0 and Tru Calling are all prime examples.
Yet dross like Andromeda and the achingly PC Joan of Arcadia are churned out on a conveyer belt.

Even when a show has run long enough for the discerning viewer to figure that maybe *this* one is worth an emotional investment we wind up getting the legs cut out from under us. Think Farscape getting culled after four years, think X-Files disappearing into it's own navel after the studio refused to let it die after having lived thru its natural life cycle.

So no, no guilt, no one going to hell over here. As a footnote I'd just to add that, yes the good shows do get supported financially. I've bought every episode of Farscape on DVD after downloading them. My girlfriend's bought the first two series of Alias and Six Feet Under, I bought no less than three copies of the Firefly boxed set (two as gifts).

Broadband and BT give the viewer more control. We're not held hostage by companies like Tivo when they start to buckle under pressure from the studios, whatever happened to "TV your way" huh ? TV my way involves no ads, timeshifting, being able to sample current series then decide to go for a full season or not. It involves being able to archive older shows, rediscover ones that some kind soul has captured and uploaded.

TV my way ? I've already got it, without a dish, without a co-ax cable and without a digital tuner. Truth to tell I couldn't be happier.


Journal Journal: My Ideal Game

A thread,"The Best Games of 2003", got me thinking, what would be my ideal game ?
I've been an avid gamer for over 20 years, games were what got me into 'pooters in the first place.
I loved the idea of the MMORPG and devoted a large chunk of 2002 to playing Dark Age Of Camelot, but like many players quickly became disillusioned by the dice-roll combat system and the tedious levelling treadmill. The social aspects seemed to be mostly negative to me, maybe I was just unlucky. If it wasn't inter-Guild squabbles it was inner-Guild politics, there was always *some* damn thing kicking off.
My personal best game of recent years is Battlefield 1942. Action, vehicles (everything from subs to 4 seater bombers going via tanks, battleships and carriers), a strong tactical element and (maybe surprisingly) a good dollop of strategy thrown in as well.
So I wondered, how hard would it be to combine the gameplay of BF42 with the levelling / social aspects of an MMOG ?
BF42 lends itself very well to this scenario. It's got the action aspect of course, in various different theatres, which could be "linked" along the lines of MMOG maps. Army/brigade/division/platoon grouping syncs nicely with the guild/alliance/xp-groups of MMOGs. A ranking system along the lines used by Battle For Europe ( replaces guild / character promotion and levelling. Most elements appear to be in place already.

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