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Games And Gamery

Archive for October, 2010

I Hope The MacBook Air Gets Copied

Posted by Stropp on October 22, 2010

Well, not so much the Air itself, more like some of the features.

Personally I like the following:

  • Really fast bootup times in the order of 15 seconds. I really like this, as conventional harddrives get bigger, the seek time for files gets proportionally longer. Since the MacBook uses Solid State Drives (SSDs) there’s no spin up required and no need to wait for drives to rotate. It’s also likely the newer Mac OS helps here.
  • Deprecating optical drives. If something goes wrong and the MacBook needs to reload the OS, Apple provide the reloader on a thumbdrive, not on a CDDVDBluRay. That’s neat, and a great start. Thumbdrives still don’t have the capacity of optical storage, and since that’s still growing, they aren’t likely too for a while, and with some media a DVD or BluRay will still be the optimal solution, but Solid State tech will get there and eventually optical drives will go the way of the Floppy Disk.
  • Lightweightedness. I like that the MacBook is lightweight. Not so much that it’s small. I like a lot of screen real estate when I’m programming so I don’t see small devices helping me there, but bigger lightweight devices that are less power hungry.

However, Apple scares me.

I really don’t like the closedness of the Apple, or is it Jobs, philosophy. Sure they make an gorgeous product, but they lock it down so that Apple are the only gatekeeper to getting an application onto the device. This is the way the iPhone has gone, as well as the iPad. For these it’s no so much a big deal if you consider them consumer devices, but the MacBook is a computer.

During the presentation Apple took the logical step of introducing an App Store for the Lion version of OSX. This App Store will operate under similar rules to the iPhone and iPad App Stores. Developers will create apps, pay US$99 a year for access rights, and submit their apps for approval to the store, and Apple takes 30 percent of every sale. Wether or not the OSX App Store will be as strict as the others remains to be seen, but given Apples propensity to be control freaks on what they allow in their other app stores, I’d say there’d be at least some level of standards.

But what does this mean for the future?

It’s quite clear that Apple are not happy with some third party developers, like Adobe, and would be happy to be able to deny them the ability to put software on any Apple platform. Jobs has come out and said that the majority of crashes on Apple hardware are due to Flash. Wether or not this is true, it’s clear Jobs wants them gone from Apple. The only way this can happen is if Apple completely lock down their hardware and only allow approved apps.

Will this happen?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. There’d be a huge outcry if it did and many developers would jump ship. Lack of openess on Apples part lost them market share in the early days of personal computing, allowing the much more open i86 platform to take off. I don’t see them making the same mistake. Although, there are a few tech commentators saying that Apple will lose market share on their iPhone and iPad devices when the open competitors start coming online. Closing up the entire consumer range though? Probably a bit too much.

But Apple is still, and will always lean towards closed platforms with Apple as the gatekeeper. This is why I’d like to see other devices start to take on the newly announced MacBook features.

I’d love to see:

  • Windows N delivered on a thumbdrive, with a reinstallrepair process built in.
  • Desktop and Notebook Wintel PCs with built in SSDs for the OS and conventional superfast and high capacity harddrives for data storage.
  • Superfast bootup and shutdown times for Windows, with Sleep data written to the SSD.
  • A continued open environment for developers and users. This is a must.
  • App Stores that give developers a marketplace for their products, but open market places where the gatekeeper requirements are low. I think this is already happening on Windows and Google Chrome OS.
  • All of the above for the Chrome/Linux/Unix OS variants.

What MacBook features would you like to see implemented on other platforms?

Things That Make You Go Gagh!

Posted by Stropp on October 22, 2010

I sometimes borrow the expression, Things That Make You Go Hmm. It refers to those things that cause me amusement, bemusement, head-shaking, confusion, or other minor forms of mental disturbance. Sometimes though, that’s not enough.

So what are Things That Make Me Go Gagh?

Gagh! is the internationally and parentally recognised term for disgust. That and it’s also a Klingon delicacy.

This morning I awoke and checked my feed reader and found myself universally disgusted by the self-entitled douchebaggery being perpetrated against the developer of the Minecraft game, Marcus Persson by a bunch of criminals/script kiddies/12 year old/crybabies who think that they can ruin someone elses livelihood because they’re not happy with the pace of the games development.

These people who want Notch to increase the frequency of updates to once a week have been running a DDOS attack on the Minecraft servers now using a botnet of some 80,000 hijacked computers. It took a while apparently for Notch to figure out that it was in fact a DDOS attack, and then a message appeared on the 4chan message boards.

Minecraft is currently experiencing a stimulation provided by us.

It’s purpose is to send Notch a clear message of how the future of minecraft will turn out unless he gets to work, namely by influencing the amount of sales taking place, due to the attacks.

Start providing your customers with the updates that you promise them.

We have roughly 83,000 bots available, and preserved for this seizure, we could if we wanted to keep this going for weeks, however we have decided to give it a week, and see whether or not your attitude, and commitment will change, we believe it will when money stops rolling in for the time being…

anyhow, no we’re not from roblox, or any other minecraft clone, not to mention none of us have been around 4chan for years, and nor has any real 4channers for that matter, its all newfags now, and has been for quite a few years.”

The stupidity of this statement astounds me.

First of all, Notch is providing the updates the he has promised. There’s a Halloween update due out on the 31st of October, which I am sure he has been working hard on. Although now with the time he has had to devote to dealing with this DDOS attack, will the Halloween update be ready? Notch has said on his blog that he is behind schedule.

Second. As Living Worlds points out, Notch is a single developer working on this project, he’s getting married sometime soon, and he is forming a company to continue the development of Minecraft. While I don’t agree with the characterisation of the DDOSers as terrorists (I think the term is tossed around too freely these days) since there is no terror involved. However, the activity is certainly criminal in several ways. But I digress.

  • Programming is hard. It’s also not an exact science. Sometimes implementing features or fixing bugs take as long as they take. This is so much more the case with only one developer¬† when you can’t run a bit of code past some other eyes.
  • The guy is getting married. Even though the bride does most of the planning and work on getting the day right, the groom also takes on a lot of time consuming responsibility. Unless he is Raymond. How selfish is it to demand Notch put the wedding on hold just because you think he’s not working hard enough?
  • Setting up a company takes time, depending on where you live. I know. I did that myself late last year, and while Australia makes it easy to set up a company, it’s not set and forget. I understand the US also makes it easy to start a company, but Persson hails from Sweden and I believe many of the European countries make it very difficult to start a company. That’s got to take time away from development.

A third point. While Notch may be the sole developer on Minecraft, currently, he is taking on developers to work on the game. That alone will slow down the pace of development, at least initially. These new developers will have to be brought up to productivity and that will take time. Notch will be the one training them, and that will take his time away from development. It’s well known in the software industry that adding programmers to a late project only makes it later, and that is the reason.

While Minecraft is not late since it doesn’t have a release schedule, adding developers will slow it down for a while. Anyone with half a brain would know that.

And finally. This whole attack is the epitome of the saying, cutting off your nose to spite your face.

It’s purpose is to send Notch a clear message of how the future of minecraft will turn out unless he gets to work, namely by influencing the amount of sales taking place, due to the attacks.

Putting the future of Minecraft in jeopardy because you want more updates to the game you’re playing, and you want them now?

At the very least, they’re delaying the very updates they want more of.

These people are dense.

So yeah. Currently full of disgust for these self-entitled idiots who think the world revolves around them.


Is There An Expectation Of Privacy In Social Games?

Posted by Stropp on October 20, 2010

Sometimes I just have to shake my head.

Players of Facebook games appear to have had their trust violated by Zynga and some other social gaming providers. It turns out that Facebook has a flaw that allowed these companies to collect personal information on players of games like Farmville. Zynga then allegedly sold this data to a third party market research company which then ‘accidentally’ released that data to other companies. Hmmm.

I recently gave some of the social games on Facebook a bit of a go, but found them very lacking. There were three I tried out, City of Wonders, Farmville, and a space empire 4X style game. Of all three, only the 4X game (can’t remember the name off hand, sorry) kept my interest for any time. Both City of Wonders and Farmville insist on inviting Facebook friends in order to progress. While some players obviously don’t mind that, if your friends don’t respond to game requests (noone responded to my CoW requests… awwww) then there is no way to progress. So not my cup of tea.

Anyway, it now bothers me that since I spent some time playing these games, there is a likelihood that my personally identifiable data is now in the hands of some marketing dude because an unscrupulous company broke the rules. And it’s not just the Facebook users who have lost here. Facebook itself has taken great pains to improve it’s handling of user data. Zynga screwed Facebook over here.

Should Facebook users have an expectation of privacy when playing social games on the Facebook network?

Should Facebook ban Zynga?

Show Me The Players!

Posted by Stropp on October 20, 2010

There’s a hole bigger than the one Tom Cruise put in Oprah’s couch, in the MMORPG playerbase.

Last post, I suggested that World of Warcraft might be able to achieve greater than 20 million subscribers after Cataclysm releases because many former players will resubscribe simply to see the changes to much of the low level content throughout Azeroth. While I still believe that, I find myself wondering where all those old subscribers are hiding.

World of Warcraft has been out for nearly six years now, and WoW will be six years by the time Cataclysm releases. Yet despite the games growth, far more players have left World of Warcraft than have stayed. If you consider that there is a constant churn of players coming and going, then a best guess could put the number of former World of Warcraft players at more than 20 million, and that could be just the Western players.

I have no hard figures here, while Blizzard let us know the peaks of their subscriber numbers, we don’t know the actual churn rate. The actual number of former subscribers could be lower, or much higher.

So where are they?

I used to believe that despite World of Warcrafts perceived flaws, that it was a great gateway game for the MMORPG genre. When a player started to want more than WoW had to offer, then they would go out and find a game more suitable for their needs. I used to think that when a player got sick of WoW, they’d go out and pick up another MMORPG and give that a try.

That does not seem to have happened as much as the numbers suggest it should have. There are a few reasons why this could be the case.

  • WoW has less actual subscribers than we are lead to believe.
  • The churn rate is much lower than expected. Players that start the game stay with it for years, but not many new players are coming in.
  • The World of Warcraft experience is so offputting, players give up on MMORPGs entirely.
  • Players are just trying out MMORPGs starting with WoW and aren’t hooked enough to keep going with the genre. If box sales add to the subscriber numbers, then players leaving after the free month might account for this part of the churn.
  • Players may have liked WoW, but don’t want to invest the same amount of time in a new MMOG.

To be honest, none of these reasons is a satisfying explanation for the missing MMORPG player conundrum.

We do have sales figures from retail chains showing that box sales of WoW are continuing, hence new players are coming into the game. Coupled with the relatively static subscriber numbers, and Blizzard really doesn’t have much of a reason to lie about these numbers. The conclusion is that the churn rate is also consistent and that Blizzard has a very large number of ex-subscribers.

And WoW is popular, despite it not being everyones cup of tea, it’s been a remarkably successful game for a long time. That kinda indicates that the experience is enjoyable for a lot of players. These players should then be open to a new game, at least a reasonable percentage should be. That also applies to players that are unsure about the time commitment for a new game, many should overcome that and get into other MMOGs. Yet we don’t seem to be seeing that.

The only explanation that hold any weight is that a lot of players are just giving the game a try and don’t get past the first month. Blizzard in the past has said that a lot of players never make it past level 10, and these are probably the trial/free month players. Of course that means that Blizzard has to count a trial download, or a box sale as a subscriber for their figures, and they might do that for shareholder reporting. But is this enough to distort the churn rate enough to hide all ex-subscribers? I’m not sure it does.

So where have all the players gone?

What do you think has happened here?

Could World Of Warcraft Hit 20 Million?

Posted by Stropp on October 8, 2010

World of Warcraft, according to some articles popping up around the web, has just hit 12 million subscribers.

This is after sitting on 11.5 million subs for quite a while. It seems that the announcement of the Cataclysm expansion release date has spurred some players into reactivating old accounts in order to get started. That’s to be expected.

Still, I’m wondering what Cataclysm is going to do to WoWs subscriber count. That 11.5 million isn’t the same 11.5 million players that have been playing all along. There’s a lot of attrition in a MMORPG. And since Cataclysm is promising a radical change to the original zones, it’s entirely possible a very large number of former players will resubscribe.

Could we see World of Warcraft hit 20+ million subscribers the months after Cataclysms release?

On related news, I received an eMail from Blizzard late last night (early this morning.) It appears someone tried to log into my WoW account from a different IP and Blizzard locked the account. It’s kind of an interesting situation because I unsubscribed some time ago and haven’t been near it since then. It’s definitely odd since I’m wondering how anyone could get my account/login details if I haven’t actually logged into my account for months.

Anyhow, I logged in to the BattleNet account to verify the situation and changed the password.

Though, I’m yet to decide if I want to go to the trouble of getting the account unlocked as I’m highly unlikely to be one of those returning subscribers I mentioned above. Cataclysm doesn’t hold any appeal for me, and with my limited time I’d rather play other games.

I think I’m done with WoW.

I Love You All

Posted by Stropp on October 5, 2010

Yet another insightful post by Tobold, in part responding to a post by Klepsacovic on negativity in the MMORPG blogosphere. Tobold’s main point is that since every other hobby/activity that is represented on the Internet appears to draw people together, then why does the gaming genre, in particular, seem to breed such negativity and resentment between the various bloggers and even between bloggers and fans?

First thing to be said. It’s quite an assumption that other groups all get along. The sad fact is that they don’t. Not really.

Arguments and negativity abound in any group that allows for differing opinions. Hey, back in the day the Star Trek newsgroup had a huge thread devoted to the behaviour of a bottle of champaign in a micro-gravity vacuum. And I’ve seen no small web-rage in any number of programming forums.

Where people are, dissension occurs.

Having said that, I do agree on the main point. There’s too much negativity in the blogosphere, and there’s too much hatred directed at players who don’t fit into a particular play-style, or who like one game over another.

Does it matter if someone likes World of Warcraft the way it is? You’ve got Darkfall, Eve, Everquest, and a myriad other games available to play.

Does it matter if a casual player has a different path to get the same gear that you raided your arse off for? Really, does that lower your enjoyment of the game?

Does it matter if a hardcore player gets access to content that you, a casual player, cannot because they’ve done a ton of hard work? If you’re enjoying the content you do have access to, what does it matter?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Can't We Just All Get Along?

I Love You All

I love reading blogs on gaming. I love seeing what others think of the different games, and different game mechanics. I enjoy the humour. And yes, sometimes I enjoy the conflict between different bloggers.

It doesn’t mean I agree with everything I read. Sometimes I read posts that make me shake my head, laugh at the inanity, or get a little hot under the collar. I move on when this happens, or make a remark.

I’ve met a lot of people online over the years, and have gotten along with most of them. There are people I love hanging out with in a game. And people I really enjoy grouping up with.

I love the gaming community, despite the bitching and negativity.

I love you all.

Hey! SEO People. Stop Spamming Me.

Posted by Stropp on October 1, 2010

For some reason, over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting more and more messages through the Contact form on this site from people wanting me to use their services to improve my SEO ranking for my search terms.

Stropp’s World is a hobby blog. Sure I’ve put up some ads to help defray my costs over the years, but it’s not a serious business. And… if I do one day decide to make this site into a money maker, I won’t be using some random guy with a gmail address and no company affiliation.¬† That’s likely to result in some bad link spamming ‘SEO’ that will just get Stropp’s World penalised by Google.

Besides, I know enough SEO to do at least as well promoting my site as you would. Why would I pay for that?

So forget it, I’m not going to use your services. Don’t waste your time.