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Comment Tulalip (Score 2) 134

That sounds like a big gamble... (oh ha ha. oh it hurts. ha ha. ha)

(To add a thin veneer of content to this otherwise horrible joke, Tulalip is a town near Seattle, much as Whistler and Blackcomb are nearby mountains. Tulalip is best known in the Seattle area for several casinos. I wouldn't be surprise if MS intended the name to be a nod towards the gamble of it all.)

Comment You keep on using that amendment... (Score 1) 341

I do not think it means what you think it means.

But even assuming we're going to let you stretch the Fifth Amendment to say what you think it says, it still doesn't apply. Net Neutrality's not "taking" anything; that would be forcing a company to transmit internet packets whether they wanted to or not. It's just saying that, if you are going to transmit packets, you need to transmit all the ones you're handed without bias. You're not required to quarter soldiers in your home, but if you're running a boarding house, you can't prevent soldiers from staying. You're not required to run a restaurant, but if you do, you can't disallow a given race/religion/other protected class.

There are many good arguments both for and against Net Neutrality legislation. This is not one of them.

Comment Re:Favorite graphic designer story (Score 1) 304

Reminds me of a time I was implementing the HUD for a game. This was about 10 years ago, so back when HUD graphics still meant blting actual bits rather than rendering textured tris. The publisher was a movie company, so very concerned about how an image looks but largely uninformed about how computers function.

I was working on the HUD layouts for the different resolutions with their art director. Great guy, great eye, great art director, but this was his first time working on a computer-based project. He was happy with how the 640x480 and 1024x768 screens looked, but felt there was something off with 800x600.

"Could you...", he pauses, searching. "No, that's too much. Could you move it over half a pixel?"

I chuckle. "You know Roger, there are a lot of times that I say I can't do something, when what I really mean is that it would take too long or consume too many resources to be practical. In this case, I really mean I *can't*."

Comment Re:It's a whole lot more basic than that (Score 1) 312

>Second, just because the current systems (and most current US military systems in general) are expensive doesn't mean one couldn't come up with an economic system.

I agree; just because we've never seen an economical approach to military procurement in modern history, and only rarely throughout recorded history, that's no reason to assume it's not going to happen soon. Maybe even tomorrow! We could fund it by buying lottery tickets!

> Build a sub? Not cheap nor easy. Build a cruise missile? Not cheap nor easy.

Minisubs are used by drug runners all the time, and cruise missiles have been built in people's backyards. ( ) Just because you're used to seeing something done in a huge, expensive way doesn't mean that's the only way to do it.

Comment Re:It's also better than nothing (Score 1) 312

Is a missile really the most likely delivery vehicle? North Korea has not shown any capability to hit mainland USA with a missile, and given the likely small number of warheads they would initially be able to create, they would be unlikely to risk them on unproven technology.

I would expect the bomb to get here through cargo shipping or some similar civilian means. Long-range missile programs are the domain of large, well-funded enemy countries, the foes of the past. Smaller rogue nations and terrorist groups are the more likely, and more serious, threats to consider for the future, and I don't think a missile defense system (even at 100%) buys us much against them.

Comment Re:The trend on Nintendo Consoles (Score 4, Insightful) 249

Posting anon since I probably shouldn't be this specific, but the market for DS software has totally collapsed in Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy, where you sell virtually nothing. Titles in Europe are moving literally 10% of of what they do in NA. Many, if not most, major publishers are currently abandoning the DS completely, since the loss of Europe knocks out a huge chunk of their projected ROI.

Now, I'm in the radical camp that actually reads scientific studies and approaches new phenomena with an eye to determine how they work, rather than shut them down, so I think a lot of the focus on piracy as theft is misplaced. An R40, or similar "piracy" device, also makes your DS dramatically more useful since you can carry around a large library of titles at once. Even better for kids, obviously a key demographic, it prevents the tiny cartridges getting lost or destroyed. When they came out, probably 50% of the people I knew immediately got them, and many for their kids as well. (Note that this is a very skewed sample: I work at a game development company, so we're all pretty hardcore, often each of our kids has their own DS, things like that.) Many of these people started off determined not to pirate and just use it for the convenience. (again, skewed sample - we're voracious, hardcore gamers, but we make them for a living, so we take piracy a little more seriously. Doesn't mean we don't do it, but it often does mean we try not to.) Then they were just downloading the titles to try them out. And so on.

I think piracy is usually as much about convenience as free product. It's just like prohibition: if you try to prevent behavior that everyone sees as reasonable, people will ignore those rules and proceed to behavior they wouldn't have considered reasonable before. The best way to fight piracy on the DS is to give us an easy way to store games on the device digitally. You'll probably want to pair this with a digital distribution scheme, which is fine, and gives you a nice place to ensure that we get free demos of all games. Yes, this will mean that people won't buy the crappy games, which leads to lower licensing revenues for Nintendo, but the DS badly needs to have the wheat cut from the chaff to restore confidence in the platform.

These are just two examples, and more than this is needed to defeat the piracy problem, but the key is the strategy. Don't focus on preventing piracy, focus on your products delivering the real value that your customers want better than the pirates can. You've got economies of scale all over them, and if you don't know your own products and consumers better than the pirates do, you don't deserve either.

Massive piracy on DS ensures fewer risky, expensive titles like The World Ends With You and more of the easy, safe, "40 different versions of Imagine Babysitter and Pony Lover DS". The best way to fix the piracy problem is to give people what they want, which isn't really games for free.

Comment Re:Just give us a name (Score 1) 1204

> What kind of asshole reports a lost item as stolen after he gets it back?

Wait, what? About a year ago, the police knocked on my door at 3 AM to tell me that they pulled over two teenagers who had stolen my car. The theft and recovery happened while I slept, so I'm an asshole for not telling the police to drop charges?

If I found your phone, spread some private data around the web, and then gave you the phone back before you noticed it was missing, that would be cool with you?

Comment New movie made possible by *really good* games (Score 4, Insightful) 160

Attention every IP holder looking to create licensed games: the reason this worked is that the game was truly excellent. (PC 90, Xbox 88

Bad games suck long-term value out of the IP and into short-term profits; great games add enduring value to the IP. I've made games with licensed IP before, and I'm almost certain to do so again, so I care about this sinking in. There are lots of reasons that movie games are usually poor, but one of the biggest is that the license holders think that the added value of the license will make up for a rushed job*. The license will sucker some people into buying, but there's a big cost to that. Please, Hollywood, find a way to work with us so that we can both make great product. There's more fun (and more money) for everyone that way.

*Why is the job rushed you ask? That's the biggest problem with movie games - differing production cycles. Movies have a really long pre-prod with ~3 guys on it, followed by production in something like 1 yr. Games (good, big, AAA ones) want around 6 months pre-prod with ~10 (plus ideally engine dev with 10-20). Then it's 18-24 months of full production, and you can see where the problem comes in. Especially when the game usually needs to wait to design key assets/areas until they can see what the movie is doing.

Comment Re:Half the cost for another platform? (Score 1) 157

Cause and effect are getting confused here. It's not that going from single-platform to multi-platform takes your budget from 10M to 20M, it's that having a 20M budget means you have to be multi-platform, while a smaller, 10M game can make its money back on a single platform.

Multiplatform dev does increase cost by a bit, but not a staggering amount. The main costs are usually in engineering (and QA, but the cost of QA guys is miniscule next to the cost of programmers). Several people have pointed out that higher-level content like models, levels, and audio is usually portable, but when the different platforms want differing model descriptions, data layouts, and audio formats, it's a lot of programming work to make that happen.

Comment Big internet access bonus for the DC area (Score 4, Insightful) 145

So anything that's unclaimed like this defaults back to the city? I wonder what they're going to do with the remainder of everyone's unclaimed, unlimited internet access each month. Did they pool the unused hours off of old AOL CDs? What about all-you-can-eat buffets? Solved DC's hunger problems right there.

Comment Like your ISP, cell phone company, etc? (Score 2, Insightful) 297

There are already tons of service providers we use (bank, credit card, hospital, ISP, cable company, cell phone company, etc.) that have a similar or greater amount of data. How does this pose any new problems?

I'd certainly like to see more clearly defined legal standards for how this kind of data may be used, but I'd assume that the tangled mess we have now would apply to the data that the power companies gather as well.

Comment Re:The hiss is where it hides (Score 1) 849

> Sometimes flaws improve art,

OT, but a chance to wheel out a favorite story.
On the Super Nintendo, there was a classic puzzle game called Tetris Attack. Gameplay consisted, as it often does, of shifting blocks around to make larger groupings disappear, causing those above to fall, etc. There was also a system of combos, chains, and hidden tiles, which could all add up to tons of effects and motion going on when someone pulled off a big move. The number of particles and sprites would frequently overwhelm the SNES, causing the framerate to bog down.

Years later, when they were remaking the game for the Nintendo 64 (this time with a Pokemon license), they made sure to keep that same slowdown when the chaos hit. There was no technical reason for it anymore, but it slowed the world down right when you needed the extra reaction time.

Any highly-evolved, highly-specialized form will make use of, and even become dependent on, the defects in its environment. (If you don't believe, go into any game company and listen to the howls of pain when you turn on the overhead lights.)

Comment Re:EA rears its ugly head (Score 2, Informative) 241

Speaking as a developer that's gone through this process, folding the DLC team into the main team wouldn't necessarily have helped speed things up much.

There are a lot of different roles in game development (programmer, artist, designer, QA, each with dozens of specialties within them), and these different roles taper off at different rates as a project finishes up. Usually your art guys are done well before the programmers, then a chunk of designers and programmers come off, then the more of those, and finally QA.

So the DLC team isn't really a totally new set of guys; they were almost certainly part of the main team for a while, but as their areas got finished, it made more sense to roll them onto DLC than clutter someone else's area with too many cooks. QA, especially, wouldn't have the bandwidth to test to the additional content at the same time as the main game. By making it DLC, QA can hit it after the main game passes cert, but before it actually ships. There's usually a 2-3 month lag time (duplication, printing, etc.) after you're done making the game before it appears on shelves, which DLC doesn't have to wait through.

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