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Comment Death of AAA Hardcore Games (Score 1) 438

There is a simple fact that unless an executive is stupid, deranged or seriously in love with their own ideas, development money follows revenue money. That is, they're going to sink in money into more of whatever is earning them profits this time around. That's why we get sequels and copies of popular games. But it can also appeal to whole categories or qualities of games as well, and if revenue money is coming from casual games, most game companies are going to read the writing on the wall and go with it. Or else we'll have Darwinian selection at work and get the same result the hard way.

My own feeling is that as casual games start producing increasing amounts of profits or games that are friendly to a casual audience such as World of Warcraft (and yes, everything short of the endgame is very casual-friendly), then we are going to see development money be sunk into casual or casual-friendly games. I have little doubt that Blizzard is going to make sure that Diablo III is as easy as possible for casual gamers to pick up and play. Diablo and Diablo II were very simple point and click games on a fundamental level. There's a reason WoW has done so well.

The flip side of that is that as hardcore games start declining in terms of revenue, the development money is going to go out of them (as well as the marketing money, but that's just part of investment costs). That's probably going to produce a vicious circle in terms of the hardcore gaming industry. Not that it is going to die, but we're going to see a definite decline in AAA high development budget high marketing budget games. The money for the AAA blockbusters will be aiming at the much larger market of casual gamers of various sorts.

In the end, no gaming market will truly die off as long as there are developers willing to code what they want to play. And the existence of online gaming stores is going to make it easier for indie developers to put out small games. But my own feeling is that most of those gaming stores will be pushing the casual games and there's going to be a small section of the store with the label 'hardcore' on it catering to a smaller niche of gamers.


The DRM Scorecard 543

An anonymous reader writes "InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe put together a scorecard which makes the obvious but interesting point that, when you list every major DRM technology implemented to "protect" music and video, they've all been cracked. This includes Apple's FairPlay, Microsoft's Windows Media DRM, the old-style Content Scrambling System (CSS) used on early DVDs and the new AACS for high-definition DVDs. And of course there was the Sony Rootkit disaster of 2005. Can anyone think of a DRM technology which hasn't been cracked, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't the industry just give up and go DRM-free?"

Comment The real point of the essay (Score 3, Insightful) 979

was not that we can't colonize space, but more that the classic SF view of people setting up space stations orbiting the sun, domed or underground colonies on the Moon and other planets, and space freighters setting up some sort of interplanetary trade (space pirates optional), much less interstellar freighters shipping people and goods between star systems ain't gonna happen barring a miracle that breaks the laws of physics as we know them. Which is not to say it can't happen but there are interesting consequences to such feats.

A lot of the focus in the essay was on human beings settling off Earth. If we go with robots, heavily altered human beings and various other forms of transcended beings, then colonization of other worlds is perfectly possible, as long as we adapt the people for harsh climes. But that's not the point of the essay. Humanity for the most part was evolved to live on Earth and getting us to survive anywhere else is next to impossible or of dubious effort at best.

And then there is the fact that for the energy/time cost of manufacturing widgets on one planet in our system and shipping it to another part, it would be a lot cheaper/faster to simply send the schematic by electromagnetic transmission and then have some manufacturing facility on the destination planet build it there. Moving matter is expensive. Moving information is a lot cheaper. Space freighters, whether interplanetary or interstellar, don't make any sense. Just because it worked for sea ships doesn't mean it works for space ships.

Does Charlie Stross think we couldn't send sentient robots to Mars to build a colony of sentient robots? I doubt it, but that wasn't the point of the essay. The question is whether humans could settle Mars, and he's rightfully skeptical of that. So am I. If anything from this world settles Mars and forms a viable self-sustaining colony there, it won't be human as we conceive of it.

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