Sunday, April 30, 2006

Funky Bass

Came into the office tonight to get some work done. Have some tunes crankin' in order to do so. Tonight's work involved some contract authoring, and that meant one thing: Disco time.

Sly (and family) know what it's like to wade through the legalese!
Anyhow, all I have to say is that if you played the bass, there was no better time to be alive than the late seventies. The roles of the bass and guitar have been flipped ever since, as it was the only time in history where the bass was the dominant instrument and the guitar was strictly background (wacka-wacka).

All apologies to Flea, Les Claypool and funky-ass-bass-est of them all, Norwood Fisher, for keeping the dream alive, but I'm afraid it's all been downhill for bass players since the Disco Inferno.
(BTW, where do I get me a killer leopard print suit like that dude is rockin?!)

This week's (and last's) links

Oops. Forgot to do this last week. Here's stuff I flagged as interesting for a variety of reasons over the past two weeks:

Saturday, April 29, 2006

360 woes

Well, finally got myself a 360. Yay! Got it home.... GPU overheating problem. Doh!...

3% of systems, eh? Hmm....

Anyhow, back to swap it out this afternoon.

Haven't connected to live yet (have a core system right now. Still need me a hard drive), but will in the near future. Gamertag (0 points, the shame of it all) at right.

[Update: Swapped it out, no hassles, and the replacement works fine. Played a little PGR3 tonight (Alisa had a go as well), and spent an hour or so playing Tomb Raider Legend]

Friday, April 28, 2006

Killer app. Duh!

Group Dating strikes me as a *killer* app in the already-huge online matchmaking/dating market.

Remember when you were single (for those that aren't any more)? Meeting people amongst groups of friends was always less risky and more fun than akward blind dates, no?

Yet another thing I wish I'd thought of!

Now, figure out a way to make a game out of it and/or combine it with location-based gaming, and you give it context. Hmm....

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Is how I like to pronounce it :-)

Revolution's name is officially Wii

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Today's post brought to you by the letter S

Souris (Hustler of Culture), Stefanie (aka DJ Step1) and Steve (of ABritAbroad and former MS fame) added to the blogroll. Go check'em out!

Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006!

Such the awesome!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Faceturbation & my long downward spiral into metrosexual hell

It's not easy to admit. To come out of the closet, so to speak. To come clean with what you've denied not only to yourself, but to others.

I... am a closet metrosexual.

There. I've said it.

Now let me explain. I've always thought of my self as a regular pudgy suburbanite. Oh sure, I've been known to wear the occasional striped shirt, but aside from that, nothing out of the ordinary.

However, over the past months I've been finding myself increasingly obsessed with the quest for the perfect shave. And had I any idea how far it would lead me, well, I may have opted to go all unix-beard on everyone and call it a day! But alas, I didn't and so begins my story.

It's worth noting that at some point in the not-so-distant past, the techno-geek within me kicked this off. The M3Power razor launched and I thought, hey, technology put to use! why not? And with that, I was on the $15-per-4-pack cartridge refill treadmill.

Sometime later, I discovered Weldon Barber, a coup de cheveux a la metrosexuelle if ever there was one.

While at Weldon Barber, I was turned on to Sharps Kid Glove Shave Gel, and my days with the gel-to-foam crap from the corner store were done.

The whole time I am beginning this dangerous descent, I was listening to the DSC on my commutes, and Adam Curry's talking shaving during his "metrosexual moment", and several people leave comments singing the praises of sugar scrub so off I go.

Turns out that I find some at Trader Joe's while doing my groceries. So now, holy mackerel, I'm not only exfoliating, fer cryin out loud, I'm doing so with something that leaves me smelling of almond oil and tangerines - and that's before I even shave! For what it's worth though, this was an AWESOME purchase. I'm assuming shaving oil does the same thing - basically lubricates the face for the razor to glide over it easily - but man what a difference.

Also mentioned on the show was the new Fusion four-blades-and-if-that-wasnt-enough-theres-a-fifth-on-the-back, razor. This I found disappointing. While it shaves closer, it's more at the expense of taking off skin in order to get there. Used up the razors that came with it but probably won't buy more.

Now, I don't know what happened after that, but at some point, I was referred to ShaveBlog. BTW, Mark mentioned shaveblog in his blog today, which inspired this post.

Discovering Shaveblog was similar for me to when I went shopping for BBQ's a couple years back for the one I built in the back yard in portland. There was a moment when I discovered that the $1000 price where the high-end Home Depot grills were topped out, was in fact the starting point for a WHOLE OTHER WORLD of bbq's in specialty shops and such.

First, it led to me switching from the Sharps to a proper shaving brush and old-school shaving soap.

And most recently, I picked up an adjustable double edge safety razor. $60 seems like a lot, but compared to the Fusion's $20 per refill pack, it's not extravagant.

Shaving now is a major undertaking (bad), riskier for cuts (bad), way more comfortable afterward (no redness, burning, etc - good), and the shave is the closest ever (good). As Shaveblog points out, this leads to the risk of faceturbation - not being able to resist groping one's own face for hours afterward.

Where will it end? I can't say. I'm already thinking of ordering some NancyBoy shave cream, and am thinking about higher-end blades for the DE.

Not to mention the aura of metrosexual machismo surrounding the idea of going to a straight razor.

Anyone know of a twelve-step program? Maybe a twelve-blade program? Help!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Casual Game Arms Race?

A little thought to get some discussion going:

Looking at the spit'n'polish being applied to casual games these days, its easy to note their presentation is increasing in quality. Look at titles from some of the leading developers over time and you'll see the graphics, ambient content, 'back story', etc, is really growing around the core game experience (which depending on the, may or may not be changing - which is fine).

For an example of this, look at something like Bejewelled or Zuma (both a couple years old now), and then look at something newer, like 7 Wonders, or Mosaic, and you'll see the difference.

Anyhow, I just got done watching the trailer for Ubisoft's Paradise. I haven't played it, but from the trailer it looks like a kind of "Myst with a Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones back story". I don't mean that in a derogatory way. The game looks great.

So here's the question: Fast forward five years. Is the endpoint for casual games? If the filesize and bandwidth grow to accomodate a huge download; and if the market grows to accomodate such budgets at the top end of the casual market; could it happen?

Not saying I beleive so, just thought I'd throw the question out there...

Next Gen Physics Sweetness

IGN's got an article up about work being done on the Indiana Jones title. We'll see how well the game turns out, but regardless, the vids of the NaturalMotion technology are sweetness. The blending between animation and physics-driven motion is really nice. Come a long way since Siggraphy stuff I looked at a couple years back.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Brokeback... the Future.

Clever Mashup.

I Love the Internet

Such crazy things:

  • HumanClock: Clock refreshed every minute. Every photo is of a representation of the time (e.g. 2:25) submitted by a different person somewhere in the world.
  • PimpMySnack: Someone with instructions to create giant versions of your favorite confectioneries (e.g make your own 4lb snickers bar). Yes, the latter is painful to look at on the Keep-Kim's-Hands-off-the-chocs diet.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Public Service Games

A mini-meme seems to have caught regarding government funding and 'public service games':

  • Serious Games Source
    David Rejeski kicks of a meme about government as potential funding source for games 'in the public good ... (tags: GameBiz Games game-development Culture)
  • Wonderland: On public service gaming
    Alice posts some thoughts that are, well, thought provoking, on the 'public service games' meme. ... (tags: games gamebiz game-development funding publishing)
  • Raph’s Website » Wonderland: On public service gaming Raph posts a good follow-up to Alice's piece on 'public service games'. His point on the fight for visibility with increasingly choice-innundated consumers is a good one. ... (tags: gamebiz games Culture publishing funding)

All three are good reads. While I'm tempted to post a lengthy follow-up, I haven't the time right now. Here's the short version:

  • Terms like "enlighten the public" and "public good" are pretty loaded terms. No different than with other mediums, except perhaps that the decision about 'whats good for you' is likely to fall, in the short term anyway, in the hands of the non-gaming generation. That aside though, there's still a values issue here.
  • I'm curious to see if the meme spreads, and what the different take will be country to country. e.g. We've already seen US and UK PoV's. Any canucks ready to chime in? Chinese?
  • Related to the above, and I guess this holds true for TV in the age of internet broadcast - when a gov't agency makes a choice about making content in the 'public good' - who's public are they looking at? What you produce will be consumed in other countries as well...

Finally, if anyone at the CBC is listening, I'm all for their funding games, and would imagine there are a ton of game scenarios that could be wrapped around the Beachcombers license. And I for one, would be first to sign up to develop the "Toronto Maple Leafs Sweatshirt" animated vignette into a game. (This won't make sense to most, but somewhere, a Canadian is giggling).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Carb curbing continued

A while back I posted that I was going to try my hand at the low-carb thing. 18 days, down 14 pounds.

Yes, this is just a boast in order to keep myself honest for fear of embarrassment should I fall off the wagon.

Don't miss bread too much, but do on occasion. On the other hand, I would sell my mother to the Huns for a five minute chocolate binge. :-)

On another note, I've been having a lot of jerky as snack material, which gets old after a while. I tried a couple kinds, including ahi tuna jerky, which I would recomment should come with the following warning: WARNING: THIS JERKY SOAK THOROUGHLY IN SALIVA BEFORE CHEWING TO AVOID SHATTERING INTO SALTY, FISHY, GLASS-LIKE SHARDS. :-)

This week's links

Trying my hand at the thing.

Various articles I flagged as interesting over the past couple weeks:

VentureBlog: The Web 2.0 List
A VC's take on the downside of the incredible number of Web 2.0 startups that have hit the radar in recent months. This sentence says it all "Considering only those companies that made the list, on average, our four portfolio companies face 33 -- yes, tha ... (tags: Web20, VentureCapital, business, Startups)
Fire Someone Today: Ups and downs at
Author of Fire Someone Today talks about 'spammers' on Amazon, in this case, someone affiliated with another book gaming Amazon by post reviews that are disguised references to other books on the site. ... (tags: Amazon, hacks, books, publishing)
Game Tycoon»Blog Archive » The End of the Eye-Candy Arms Race
A good take on the current state of the high-end games biz, and how we may see a combo of diminishing returns, uncanny valley, and Christensen effect finally "push us over the edge" toward spending time and resources on non-graphics problems. ... (tags: graphics GameBiz game-development)
Following the Rich Media money - Blog Maverick - _
A look at broadcast TV vs Video on the web, and where the real value lies in the value chain of each (its different). Good food for thought for drawing parallels with the games industry. ... (tags: business advertising portals GameBiz)
Shotgun Marketing BLOG: Paving Cowpaths
Iteresting post about user-created content and how it doesn't always turn out to be a good thing for the owners of the IP for which the content is being created ... (tags: Marketing UserCreatedContent Blogging)
/Message: Steven Levy and Brad Stone on The New Wisdom of the Web
(tags: W)
MAKE: Blog: The Future of Credit Cards - Earning virtual currency for spending in the real world & other world bridging
Rather than that "US Airlines VISA", why not get a "World of Warcraft VISA". Interesting idea that can't be far off ... (tags: Games Economics GameBiz Credit WoW secon)
Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace
Creating Passionate Users: Ultra-fast release cycles and the new plane
The new way to design software? ... (tags: Web20 Design Culture)
"G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide"
A crash course in culture and it's implications for software design - social software in particular. Awesome paper ... (tags: MySpace Flickr Design SoftwareDesign Community Culture)
Next Generation - Spend The Night
Putting the "Mmmmm.... Ohhh" in MMO, It was bound to happen.... a sex-themed MMO ... (tags: mmo sex onlinegaming)
Bona tempora volvantur--by Guy Kawasaki: How To Be a Great Moderator
A good post for anyone that has, will, or wants to moderate panel discussions. Most is straight-forward, but it never hurts to be hit over the head with it :-) ... (tags: moderating paneldiscussion conference GuyKowasaki)
Marquee de Sells: Chris's insight outlet
Chris Sells' $399 Vista PC ... (tags: Vista CheapPC SystemRequirements)
novel thoughts. » Blog Archive » Un-branding.
A guitar-themed lesson on brand value ... (tags: guitar martin branding marketing)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pause 2 Play

I normally don't use my blog to hawk our products or activities, but I thought this one was kind of neat.

The Casual Games group just launched a 'Pause2Play' campaign, doing some mainstream marketing of games as a way to relax, take a break, etc.

MSN® Games has teamed up with Dr. Kathleen Hall, a renowned stress expert and authority on work-life balance, to create the Pause to Play initiative. Being launched today in conjunction with Stress Awareness Month, Pause to Play ( ) is a month-long program to raise awareness about the simple solution of taking periodic mental breaks to achieve a better work-life balance.

Press release here.

site here.

Nice to see something positive in the mainstream press to counter all the GTA-3-style hype.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Radio feels the podcasting dent in ratings

In this news article about Bridge Ratings latest findings (they are to radio as Neilson is to TV ratings), there are some interesting stats about how traditional radio is feeling the digital hit. Among the interesting points:

  • Today's 94% penetration for traditional terrestrial radio is projected to hit 85% by 2010. i.e. bleeding 3 points a year. OUCH! And that's assuming no drastic new tech and/or biz model breakthroughs.
  • Thought the hit was due to Stern and satellite? Nope. They are also dropping. Average hours/week amongst satellite users is down from 16 to 12 hours (just among those that have continued using the service for more than a year. So it could be they are getting bored, but either way, it's down).
  • Of those asked why they listen to radio less or not at all any more, 27% said due to MP3's, 3% attributed it to podcast listening. "Podcasting is beginning to show evidence of cannibalizing radio's time-spent-listening" is how they put it.

MAN! I love disruptive tech.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

McDonalds piloting drive-thru order-taking outsourcing

Mark posted the craziest thing I've heard in a while.

McDonald's is piloting a program where your drive-through order is taken by a remote call-center, sent back to the restaurant's computer system, and delivered to you as normal at the pick up window.

That this could save money is hard to wrap your head around. It makes sense when you think about it (economies of scale, average-load-balancing resulting in less down-time, rush-hour loads absorbed across time-zones...) but it's still nuts.

The world is a crazy place.

The pilot has the call center based in California, but it's not a leap to imagine that if successful, it'd be moved to India in short order (pun intended). If this occurs, there's a delicious (yes, intended) irony in all those burger orders being taken in a land with a large (~3/4 IIRC) Hindu populace.

This paragraph about the call center worker's job was particularly Orwellian:

Vargas seems unfazed by her job, even though it involves being subjected to constant electronic scrutiny. Software tracks her productivity and speed, and every so often a red box pops up on her screen to test whether she is paying attention. She is expected to click on it within 1.75 seconds. In the break room, a computer screen lets employees know just how many minutes have elapsed since they left their workstations.

"Hello, may I take your order?"
"Sure, I'll get the Soylent Green trio."

C'est ma fete!

Well, happy birthday to me. How old am I? Old, dang nabbit!

For my birthday, I got an absolutely *crazy* day at work. While busy, it was very cool in that I met with three different companies all doing really cool, really different, things. While I of course can't say who or what it was all about, it was interesting to see that in three completely different parts of the digital universe, amazing things are going on. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it was a very eye-opening and encouraging day.

However, I had to stay till almost seven, which wouldn't have been too bad except I had the wife & kids waiting at home with dinner & b-day cake. And yes, I ingested my first carb-loaded food since I decided to go low-carb. I am now back on the wagon and ALisa will just need to eat the rest of the cake herself, of course with the munchkins more than willing to help.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The perfect storm (for the end of graphics focus?)

Game Tycoon posts a good take on the current state of the high-end games biz, labelled "The End of the Eye Candy Arms Race".

I don't agree with all the specifics, but I agree with the end result, and would put it another way:

We are seeing a 'perfect storm' combination of (a) diminishing returns on investment in graphics, (b) increasing proximity to the edge of the 'uncanny valley', and (c) a Christensen effect on tech (e.g. someone can invest far less than you and come 90% as close with their graphics engine - related to (a) but different). This perfect storm is going to be (scratch that - is currently) the thing that finally pushes the industry over the edge to spending time & money on non-graphics problems.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Article on Xbox360 design

This article on the design of the 360 is a pretty good read from a different perspective. It's written by David Kemp, a principal at JDK, one of the (many) firms involved in the design project.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Free Games for Bloggers

Phil Steinmeyer is trying his hand at a little viral self-promotion. He's giving away a copy of his game Bonnie's Bookstore, to any blogger that promises to write 75 words or more about it - regardless of whether the writeup is good or bad.

Phil Steinmeyer is trying his hand at a little viral self-promotion. He's giving away a copy of his game Bonnie's Bookstore, to any blogger that promises to write 75 words or more about it - regardless of whether the writeup is good or bad.

I'm curious to see how it works out. I hope it works well for him. (and Phil, if you are reading this, it would be interested to somehow track a tree of who blogged about it, where they read about it initially, etc. Interesting to see how it propogates).


This month's Carnival of Gamers is online here. I have two links in there ;-)

Console Wars

Too good not to link. Friday break time.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

The virtual "property" promise

I don't play MMO's. Hate'em. I've tried and tried, but just doesn't do it for me.

However, I do follow the goings-on in and around them, as it's facinating stuff.

Terra Nova had a question posted, spawned by the Oblivion "buy yerself some horse armor" thing:

Oblivion now allows you to buy armor kits for your horse using real world currencies, in a way that is almost exactly the same as real money trades (RMTs) which have been occuring in MMOGs for years. In 1000 words or less, discuss whether either of these types of assets are property for the purposes of any legal systems, paying particular attention to why few people would think that the Oblivion armor kits are property, but the same is not true for virtual assets

I posted an answer I am rather fond of and would like readers to tear apart for the sake of good bloggy discussion. Here it is:

I do not think they are property. It's a purchase of a promisory note of sorts. A promise of a service that will be delivered, in a certain way, under certain conditions.
At the end of the day, there are bits on a server somewhere, on a hard drive. And the hard drive still belongs to the owner of the physical device.

However, by offering a service (an MMO, virtual world, whatever) the provider has made a contract with the player. That service agreement had obligations from both sides. Part of the terms of which might include some detail about how people may or may not exchange such promisory notes with one another. The note is a negotiable instrument.

In other words, player 1 says to player 2 "you give me 100 of those 'gold coin' promises, and I'll give you 1 of these 'horse armor' promises."

Just as a dollar bill in the real world is promise from an institution that it will provide a certain value or perform a certain function, so to is the case here. In this case, the service provider (game owner) has an understanding of what functionality it will provide in the game software for a "gold coin promise" or a "horse armor promise".

That's my two cents worth (where 'cent' here is a promise of a very amateurish attempt at a legal point of view on the subject :-)

OK. comments?

In case you need to be told: Don't diss Carmack!

In general, not a good way to endear yourself to a gamer audience. Or so Peter Hofstee, IBM's cell architecture dude learned the hard way.

This week's mandatory reading

Jon Blow’s excellent rant from the “Burn Baby Burn: Game Developers Rant” GDC session, has been posted in text form here.

Clint Hocking’s Montreal Game Summit game design talk from last November (which was my favorite of the conference by far), entitled “Next! The Game Designers Generation” has been posted here. (36Mb download)

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Has User Created Content jumped the shark?

Scoble's posted a few links to bloggers posting about 'user created content' being a way over used, over-hyped phrase. It's becoming meme-du-jour and I have to agree.

Its worth noting that I am biased here, and have been ranting about this for some time (e.g. My Spore rant from last june).

My issues isn't with user created content specifically, it's more that:

- People point to Sturgeon's Revelation- that 90% of everything is crud. However, I'd argue that in the age of filterless publishing, that figure is exponentially out of date. 99.9% of UCC is crud.

- People (like the CEO's referred to in the Scoble post) are using UCC as a placeholder for a business model. (e.g. how are you going to retain users? Well, there'll be bucketloads of UCC for everyone. Problem solved).

- While that 0.1% of UCC will be interesting, no one has a solution to finding it and highlighting it to people, short of "some percentage of our users will sift through the crap for the greater good". This mythical serf needs a name. I hereby coin the acronym Servant of User Created Content Excellence Rating, or SUCCER. :-)

I do, on the other hand, beleive that user created content may be good for one to ten of their close friends and family, which is a different proposition. If you are building something that serves that model, then you are building a service. If you are building something that is dependant on high-quality UCC for the masses, that's a business model with a dependance on content with a TBD next to in the business plan.