Friday, March 31, 2006

Why better price won't make GameTap better

GameTap, the 'all you can eat' PC gaming service, has dropped it's price from $15/month to $10/month. They've also added Video-on-Demand to their line up.

It'll be interesting to see the consumer reaction to it. It's also interesting to guess as to the change in strategy. Since one can surmise they didn't just kick back and thing "Hmm... we're making too much money here. How can we reduce it by 33%?", there are two possible reasons for the change:

1. The service has been so successful that they've decided that the audience is larger than anticipated, they've tapped the 'hard-core market', and so are doing this to grow the user base.
2. The number of subscribers has been below expectations, and are blaming price.

Since they haven't been touting their growth (a quick look at their press site shows NOTHING on number of customers, which they'd brag about if they had a lot of them). I'm going to assume it's the latter. And while there's certainly a standard price elasticity arguement that says "lower price - more people", I really doubt that's their problem.

Their problem is, IMHO, two-fold.

First, the service doesn't work as promised. I've tried it out (though it was some time ago) and run into crashes and artifacts. However, this is a very minor problem, and would be fixable if they addressed they next- bigger - problem:

I think they have too many games.

But that's not really the problem either. That's a symptom.

In Inside The Tornado (if you were to be stranded on a deserted island and could only take one business book with you...), Geoffrey Moore talks about new products and services needing 'bowling pin' strategies. Pick one very specific niche, deliver a product that serves that niche PERFECTLY, and let that niche be a bowling pin that (a) provides revenue and learnings to go tackle the next niche, and (b) let the pin fall and help you tackle the next niche.

To pick an overused example: iPod. Initially, didn't view photos, didn't play video, just music. Vertically integrated with a single service - which in theory meant a more limited set of content than a horizontal model with multiple vendors services. However, it did that one thing *super well*. And that's what consumers want. That 'bowling pin' let them tackle photos. And now video. Textbook case.

In the world of digital distribution services for games, you've got a number of different entrants. Steam (Bowling pin? HL2 customers. perfect); MMOs (Bowling pin? The audience for that one game, which in some cases is defined narrowly enough); Xbox Live Arcade? Well, that's a longer discussion - but you could argue that hardcore console gamers were the first pin, and you aim at it by doing a console well. Digital distribution in that case could be part of a larger game, but I digress...

GameTap does just games, right? Sure, but that's painting with pretty wide brush. It's the retro-arcade platform (but doesn't have them all), the retro-console platform (but doesn't have them all), the retro-PC platform (but doesn't have them all, and they don't all work), and the current-and-recent-PC-hits platform (but only has a few of them and there's no clear group they 'own').

So what does that mean to the consumer? What's the message to them that gets them to say "I sure am itching to take my money out of my pocket and put it in Mr. Turner's!"?

The official message right now is (snip) "For the first time ever, gamers of all ages will be able to play the greatest games in their original format, regardless of platform, right on their personal computers." (/snip) - and I'd contend its at best misleading (note the future tense of 'will be able to play') and at worst just false advertising.

To anyone that looks past the press release at the service itself, the message they'll come away with is "we offer a bunch of games". Will it have what they want? Maybe. Will it have the games on teh computer/console they had as a kid? Maybe. Will it have the PC games they loved playing over the last decade? Maybe.

So it does a bunch of different things *kind of well*, but nothing *really* well.

And that's GameTap's real problem. They don't have a particular customer they are trying to serve perfectly. They have a huge number of customers they are going after at once, and serving them all inadequately.

Now, I get why they can't have EVERYTHING there. They aren't going to land agreements with all the IP holders, and there are limits to the emulation tech they are running for some of the titles. I'm not saying they should have everything.

What I am saying is that as long as they offer a bunch of stuff that is maybe what you want, and maybe works, they are going to find consumers are *maybe* interested, but most likely not.

They'd have been better off focusing on getting one group of content for a particular niche *really* nailed, and then grown it over time. (Of course, that idea would ahve been hard to pitch at Turner, due to big-company-therefore-it-must-be-a-billion-dollar-business syndrome, but that's another post for another time).

Consumers are willing to part with their money for quality products and services. I'm not sure what the going rate is for "It might work and you might find what you want", but I'm pretty sure it's not just 1/3 off from what they'd pay for 'great'.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Second round for Second Life

Second Life has scored $11M in a second round of funding.

While I find many of the developments that I read are occurring in the 'game', I really hope they use a big chunk of that money to license a 3D engine, or write a new one, that is not, well, ass.

I've tried my hand at SL a couple of times but have zero patience for circa 1998 style rendering artifacts and crashes.

Also, last time I spent any significant amount of time in SL, I deemed it a "digital shanty town" that was in dire need of an urban planner. Perhaps that part has improved, or they can use this money to hire one. I can't tell if it's improved because I tried to log in the other day and it only ran at 2fps on my 3Ghz multi-threaded box with uber GPU. :-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


OK, I didn't want a DS, because HW design-wise, it was ass compared to the PSP.

Then I started seeing titles. And I wanted a DS. But I didn't get one because no one titles was *really* killer enough for me to go get it.

Then I saw the brain-training game, and I wanted one, but still didn't do it.

Then as I pointed out to Justin, this 'pictochat' stuff that I thought was just for note-passing in class, well, isn't. It's for note-passing at conferences! Or more constructively labelled, back-channel conversation during lectures & keynotes.

And now I really, really, want one.

But there's a new form factor coming out soon, so I'll hold off :-)

Carb shortage

After a discussion with a friend at GDC (and you know who you are), I've decided to have a go at the low-carb thing to lose a few pounds.

This is problematic because it cuts a couple food groups from my diet entirely. Of course, by food groups, I don't mean the ones you learned about in school, but those by which I've divided my own spectrum of sustenance. In order of priority, these are:

  1. Caffeine.
  2. Pork products.
  3. Foods containing complex carbohydrates, processed sugar, and fat. Ideally, fried. (This delicious Venn diagram intersection includes things like doughnuts. Mmm... doughnuts... and cake. Mmm... cake). I know it's covered by 4,5,6, but I think it deserves it's own group.
  4. Carbohydrates. Yes, dammit. It's a food group.
  5. Sugar.
  6. Fat. The more the better.
  7. Other meat products
  8. Chocolate. (And not poor quality chocolate, which is not edible. period)
  9. Fried grains/breads/tubers
  10. grains/breads/tubers
  11. Stuff lemurs eat (fruit, insects)
  12. Stuff rabbits eat (lettuce, carrots, other insects)

So, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 and 10, are all off the menu. I'm doing a little bit of 11/12 (minus insects) but mainly to cleanse the palette between varieties of pork products.

Wish me luck!

[I'd have drawn this into a nifty diagram but I'm a little woozy right now as my DDI (doughnut digestive index) is low so I'm not up to it.]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tradeshow Fatigue Factor

Jason "Representati" Della Rocca has a nifty post about how he wore a pedometer around GDC this year to see how many miles he put on his legs.

Got me thinking....

I've worked a lot of shows, and people always gripe about doing them, but some are definitely harder than others. I think we could come up with a formula to provide a more objective rating of how difficult the event was for someone. This would let other people compare notes. ("You going to E3 this year? Yeah, that was a TFF of (insert number here) for me last year. Tough show").

So, here's my crack at it (suggestions for improvement welcome):


  • Start with Distance walked for duration of event (wear a pedometer the whole time, including to/from lodging, evenings, etc), divide by number of days of the event to get an average per day, then, divide by 10,000 (per Jason's suggested baseline). You should now have a multiplier of how much more or less you walked than an "average healty day's pace".
  • Multiply by a 'show duration factor'. one or two days: 1. three days: 1.5. four or five days days: 2. Longer than 5 days (e.g. Cebit): 4. This is the event itself, not travel time, and is for days you are present and working at the show.
  • Multiply by an endurance factor for length of your shift (i.e. time working a booth, in meetings, presenting, attending sessions - but excluding cocktails and dinners even if work related). Less than six hours - 1. six to eight hours 1.5. eight to ten hours: 2. More than 10 hours: 3.
  • Presenting at the show? Add 2 points per session. 4 points per session if the crowd is over 200 people.
  • Had to fly more than 5 time zones to get to the show? Extra 2 points.
  • Are attendees allowed to smoke on the show floor? (ugh. Again, Cebit) Extra point per day working a booth.
  • Setup & Tear down? 2 points each.
  • 1 point for every meal you were forced to skip for schedule/work reasons (being hung over from the Sony party does not count!)
  • Subract 5 points if it's in great location and you get any time off to enjoy it (*ahem* Aussie GDC).

OK, this is beginning to sound a little Cosmo-esque. So perhaps we could publish it in Wired, the tech industry's Cosmo :-)

The GDC Post

Saturday I returned home from GDC, exhausted, hoarse-voiced, and (the good news) a few pounds lighter than when I arrived - testament to the rigors of an event where you are basically always "on" from 8am to 2am (and those were the early nights!)

This was GDC number 11 for me, and it doesn't get old. The industry changes, the event grows and changes, and my role has changed too - meaning it's a very different event year-to-year.

Last year was pulling together a bunch of stuff around the Intel booth, managing a team that was staffing it, working on demos for months before the show, helping with event organization, and I also spoke at the IGDA "Quality of Life" event.

This year, I spent about 60% of my time in a meeting room talking to casual game developers & publishers, and other related companies. Big change.

Aside from getting business done, I managed to walk the show floor a bit (got to see my alma mater's TripleHead2Go product in action - sweet!), and attended two sessions (yup, only two - The Experimental Gameplay Workshop, and the Game Developers Rant session - both of which were really awesome).

I also had some great impromptu meetings in the hall, and checked out some games. (I loved Jon Blow's "Braid" despite the fact that it made my brain hurt!)

As usual, the best discussions were in hallway chats, and over lunches and dinners or drinks "in the pit" at the Fairmont. It was great having lengthy discussions with people I'd never or only briefly met in person. It was also great seeing friends I'd not seen for some time (Robin, Alice, Mark, Dan, Dean, Will, Jason, Jon, Souris, Sylvio, and.... well, the list could go on quite a bit).

I'm going to wrap this post for now, but I will get around to posting at length about the subjects of some of those discussions when I have more time. In particular, there were 3-4 topics that came up in *multiple* discussions with different people. The short versions, to plant the seed:

  • What does it mean to make MySpace a game - and what happens when we do so?
  • The sex & violence in games issue, and to what degree to have a responsability (or if you prefer, market opportunity) to create media that is guided by a differently oriented moral compass than our own?
  • Managing innovation; and managing creativity vs craft.
  • Christensen Effect and its effect on the Developer Relations/Evangelism process for HW companies

But you'll have to wait for those posts. I have a day job to get to!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

GDC = The Crazy

I'm flying down to GDC wed morning on the 6am (yawn!) for a few crazy days of back-to-back meetings. I hope I actually make it to some sessions! I hope I make it to the show floor! I hope I actually make it out of the meeting room!

If you are down there, say hi. I'll try to make the blogger meetup on wed at 4, and will be at the Minna Mingle, Sony Party, and MS party.

Also, if you are down there, don't forget to contribute to the wiki!.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Where've you been?

Raph points to this nifty little site that lets you draw maps of where you've been:


create your own visited countries map

It would appear I have a couple continents that need some attention!


create your own visited states map

GDC 2006 Wiki is up!

A couple days back, I posted something saying it might be a nifty idea for someone to put together a wiki for everyone to collaborate on their GDC session summaries. I had the idea after reading a bunch of people post about how they were struggling with the conference session overlap due to all the choice content.

Well, super-hero Will put something together in a hurry, which everyone can start using today. I registered a domain and pointed to it, but it'll probably take a day or so to propagate across domain servers. So, you can try:
[UPDATE: This seems to redirect properly as of noon today]

and if that doesn't work, go here:

Feel free to post session notes, or if you are going to blog them on your own blog, then post a link to your blog entry in the appropriate place on the wiki.

Be nice to see this get used. :-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

New wheels

Tom got a new trike today. Ahem, and I quote "WANNAGOOUTSIDERIDEANEWBIKE!!!"

It's both fun and kind of sad to think that you are WAY happier at 2 1/2 getting one of these than you will ever be at 30+ getting one of these:

(In other news, the Shozu service totally rocks. SO easy to use. Now I *really* want a decent camera in my phone. If I could get something half decent I'd never go back to my 5Mpixel except on rare occasions.)


I'd imagine we are going to see hundreds of blogs with session transcripts from GDC. Someone really ought to start a wiki for the purpose.

Any takers?

Testing Shozu

Originally uploaded by Kim Pallister.
I just set up the free ShoZu app/service that Scoble pointed to in his blog. I can now directly send camphone pix to my flickr account (finally set one up) and then from there blog them.

Should come in handy at GDC next week.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cinq cent

This is post has no other purpose but to mark the fact that it is the 500th post to this blog [which has been up for 440 days, for a rate of about 1.36 posts per day, averages about 80 visits a day (wassup with that?), and according to the fantasy-riffic BlogShares, is worth 13,257.86, for which I would sell it in a new york minute :-)]

GDC Lunacy

Ok, the schedule now is crazy. I'm only attending a handful of sessions, with most of my time in meetings.

The party schedule is crazy too. Wednesday night is quadruple-booked. Make the rounds at all four or just pick one and trade off schmoozing for consumption? Decisions, decisions...

Big Performance

Just got back from my kids' first big stage performance. Their daycare puts on a once-a-year show that they prepare, and use to raise some money for charity. Tonight's show was a pirate-themed one and they brought the kids out by age group. Mine were in the first group - the two year olds. All in little sailor outfits. They "sang" (i.e. occasionally caught a word right) along with "A Sailor went to Sea". Death by cute. I'll post some pix when I get them off the camera.

It's all about BEER

I like good beer. And I like good analogies. So I sure was happy when on I read this fabulous quote from Glenn Reynolds. He was drawing an analogy between journalism and beer making, but I think it could equally be applied to game development & the indie games:

  • Without formal training and using cheap equipment, almost anyone can do it. The quality may be variable, but the best home-brews are tastier than the stuff you see advertised during the Super Bowl. This is because big brewers, particularly in America, have long aimed to reach the largest market by pushing bland brands that offend no one. The rise of home-brewing, however, has forced them to create "micro-brews" that actually taste of something. In the same way, argues Mr Reynolds, bloggers--individuals who publish their thoughts on the internet--have shaken up the mainstream media (or MSM, in blogger parlance).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Still smokin' crack

Sony today in Japan announced the PS3 pushout of the launch is official and is happening in November, world-wide.

Back in January, when one of my predictions was that the PS3 would not ship in ANY territory in 2006, some said I was "smoking crack".

Well, I'm still smokin' it. I still don't think it's going to happen this year. November is a short stint from 2007, and there's a lot that can happen in between now and then to force just a little slip. Hardware launches are complicated, designing your own silicon is complicated, learning to harness the power of a multi-threaded architecture is complicated, building games that can show a demonstrable difference from current competition is complicated, launching an online service is complicated.

Then again, Sony did build Aibo, so they are capable of amazing things. Still though, I think it's 2007. Guess we'll have to see if we have playable units at Tokyo Game Show in Sept, as that'd be a good indicator (and more or less a mirror of the 360 timeline of last year).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Living the Artists Life

The other day I received a free copy of Living the Artist's Life. Thanks to Souris for the link to the offer for bloggers.

Anyhow, I haven't had the chance to dig into it yet (way too many in-process reads going at the moment, plus GDC prep is underway). Regardless, I think my daughter has her own ideas about what the artist's life is:

No need to panic. Water soluable markers are a good thing :-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

A peek into the world of goldfarming

There's been no shortage of talk about "Goldfarming" in MMO's over the past year. The term refers to the practice of professionally playing an MMO, usually in an emerging market country like China, to develop characters & items for sale to other players in exchange for real world currency.

Anyhow, if you are like me and have trouble wrapping your head around the reality of it, check this out: A preview video clip from an upcoming documentary about Goldfarming, which includes interviews with the Chinese 'farmers' and the people that run the companies that employ them. Wow.

Via TerraNova.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Game Recruitment-themed game

MGS has a recruitment ad up that is... yes, an advergame.

OK, so the gameplay is pure Track-and-Field (and as such, may actually be a nefarious plan to get people to more keyboards from our peripherals group :-) but it's still a nifty idea!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wacky co-passenger

I had to fly down to San Francisco yesterday for some meetings, and caught the 6:15am out of Seatac to get down in time.

I get a middle seat (grr..) in the last row of the plane (double grr...). In the 15 rows in front of me, and in the seat to my right, are about 50 college kids on their way to Cabo for spring break. Needless to say, the plane was quite loud. My annoyance was equal parts "too much noise, damn kids" and "I wish I was going to Cabo with those damn kids!"

On my left, a guy in his (guessing) mid-twenties who was really friendly but seemed a little odd. Turns out he is a (HIS description, not mine) "Recently released from psych, bi-polar, homeless, born again christian and spoken word poet & rapper".

So anyhow, this guy alternates between preventing me from working by involving me in conversations (interesting ones, at least some) and shouting prayers at the kids on the plane to try and prevent them from committing too many sins while in Cabo (uh, yeah. Good luck with that).

Anyhow, it was an interesting flight.

He did say one thing that amused me though. When a few folks were comparing where they were from (there were some Canadians on the plane too), someone asked him his nationality and he replied "I'm originally from Pennsylvania, but I like to introduce myself as Pangaean". I got a kick out of that.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The $39 Experiment

The 39 Dollar Eexpriment is way cool. Rather that read about it here, just go check it out. It's a quick read and a pretty nifty idea.

Hollywood and Games conference(s)

Souris points us to a recently announced "Hollywood & Games" conference, put together by the folks that do GDC, together with The Hollywood Reporter.

As I commented on her post, this seems to be somewhat direct competition for the games audience of Digital Hollywood, a small conference that seems to have been gathering some steam over the past couple years. Will be interesting to see if they both thrive or if HGC eats the games portion of DH's audience.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The Gaping Void

I'm digging the Gaping Void blog & cartoons therein.

[Warning: Some of them are pretty crass (esp most of those about women & sex) but the ones about business & blogging are pretty good. ]

Monday, March 6, 2006


This Flagr mashup (you can tell that's what it is because it's got that r-without-the-e naming thing, which is getting old, people!) is a pretty nifty use of Google maps and social networking. Tag interesting locations (with pics if you want), restaurants, bars, ski resorts, etc, and push-pin them on a map. It just launched today and pins are popping up already.

And 'sharewhere' is a clever subtitle (supertitle? go see their logo, you'll see what I mean)

Seth Godin Google talk

This is an AMAZING lecture by Seth Godin given to a bunch of Google employees.

In it he talks a lot about creating meaning and giving people something to talk about. There are definitely conclusions applicable to the game development world. (i.e. his talk about little girls' socks reminded me an awful lot of how Katamari Damacy's popularity spread amongst teh gaming community. i.e. Did you play the game? Why? Because you read an ad? A review? I'd venture to say that most people that played it had it recommended or shown to them by a friend).

Anyhow, he's a great speaker and it's a pleasure to watch. The content is definite must-see, so GO NOW!

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Thoughts on Innovation

Lots of people talking about innovation in games this past week, mostly due the catalyst article that is Jeff Vogel indie dev article "View From the Bottom #2" . Not one to miss the meme, I thought I'd chime in with some thoughts.

Among the posts that caught my attention:

  • Raph Koster references the above article and extracts a worthy quote.
  • Robin references the same article and points out that innovation is hard. (Amen)
  • Someone else pointed me to this post by Dan C from a year ago about innovation in games (good read, though I don't agree with all of it)

So that do we mean by "innovation" and why is it a problem? Well, innovation is quite simply "the act of introducing something new". And why is that a problem? Well, it's twofold:

  1. You need to *invent* (or 'create', depending if you are a left- or right-brainer :-) something new, and there's a risk that you may fail, and
  2. You have to hope that people will buy it.

I suppose there is a third problem which is that you hope someone doesn't build it first - but by definition if you are innovating your chance of this being a problem are lower than if you are building "the same old thing", so let's just focus on the first two problems.

The claim from many is that the first problem isn't a problem, that there's many ideas out there, just no one willing to fund them. Well, if that's the case then it's just another flavor of problem number two, right? People (with $5M) have to buy that it can be built. Then you build it, then you hope that other people (like, a couple hundred thousand of them, with $50 each) will buy it.

That's if you are doing Big Innovation. The kind Jeff says only EA can do. Nonsense, others say, EA won't take risks (I'm guilty of saying this myself, but I have to take it back based on what I'm going to say later in this post) and it's the little Indie guy with nothin' to lose that can take the risks. Well, tell that to Indie guy who's got to eat and all that.

At the end of the day, it's risk taking. And anyone, regardless of the size of their bank account, has a level at which they are uncomfortable. MS, of course, has a fairly sizeable bank account, but I'd venture to say (and I'm guessing, it's not my group) that when the whole Xbox Live thing got underway, some people where feeling that comfort level being stretched. And some people would claim it's innovative (at least parts of it).

So I was ready to dismiss it at that. Big guys can take big risks on little projects (Namco and Katamari) or little risks on big projects (EA's Neil Young's example of innovate a bit within an established genre or franchise), little guys can take little risks in little projects or big risks in, well, little projects (examples to follow).

I *was* ready to dismiss it at that, and then 3 things happened.

  • Adam Lake had a think. Adam (a former co-worker at Intel) is enjoying one of Intel's perks, his sabbatical, and is currently trekking around Australian and New Zealand doing things like catering to his girlfriends tropical fruit fetish and spelunking into caves to look at glow worms. (I didn't even know those were real! Note to self - less virtual experiences, more real ones.). Anyhow. Adam's doing some reading on his trip and just got through Stephenson's Quicksilver and made some comparisons to the historical references therein to tipping points. Hmm... innovation. Tipping points.

Is innovation really about carrying everyone from 'as we are' to 'as we could be' single handedly? Or is it a bucket brigade? Or a mix of both.

  • The second thing that happened was that I got forwarded to Plasma Pong. Stop now, go play. Ok, you are back? I don't know about you, but I'd say making pong fun again - making pong anything other than tedium - is innovation.

Plasma Pong.

But what is the innovation? Pong's been done. The author credits Jos Stam's fluid dynamics work from a couple years back for that part of it. There's probably some IHV demo code influence behind the choice graphics. Innovation? Or tipping point? Or is this one step away from a more finely tuned multiplayer version that sells a few hundred thousand units on Xbox Live Arcade, and would that be the tipping point?

  • The third thing that occurred to me is one I can't talk about, and it's too bad because it's the biggest one. I saw a game prototype (I see a lot of stuff in my new job here) that was a significant twist on a mechanic within a well established casual game genre. Not a "oh, that's neat, it changes it a bit" kind of twist. More of a "Holy crap, you've invented a new genre" kind of twist. A "Why in tarnation has no one in twenty years of this genre existing not thought of this!?". This was less "there's gold in them there hills" and more "turns out there's a secret gold mine under New York city".

Ok, maybe now I'm overstating it, but I have a point to make. Innovation is all around us. Anytime someone pushes their comfort level a little and takes a risk on something new, there's a chance they may innovate in some way. Building on these, both the good and the mistakes, pushes us forward.

I play a lot of casual games *A LOT* as part of my new job. I came into it with the same prejudice of "not another dang match-3 game", only to realize that there is far more innovation than people realize. Sure, there are clones, but there are many interesting twists, changes to mechanics or theme or gameplay balance, that make many of these innovative games. And it occurred to me that the negative stereotype of the match three games wasn't coming from people that played them - it was coming from the hardcore gamer crowd. Guess what guys and gals, outside fans of the FPS genre, Half Life 2 was just "another game where you kill people". Your gramma might confuse it with Unreal.

This is no different than kids saying "opera is crap" and old folks saying "that dang heavy metal music all sounds the same". Each wouldn't recognize innovation in the genre they dislike.

So I'd argue again that innovation is alive and well. It hurts to take risk - for anyone. Nothing new there. Maybe part of the problem is that incremental risk and incremental innovation doesn't breed anything but incremental reward and recognition. Is the problem that both fans and developers alike want "hero innovation" of the Carmack kind? We want to be wowwed all in one go in a big orgasm of innovative gaming, or we want to be the hero that delivered it.

Food for thought.


My old buddies at Matrox have intro'd a pretty nifty product.

I was running a Parhelia for a long time in my system at home until a combo of HL2 taxing it too much and the Vista beta wanting a little more graphics mips made me upgrade.

Unfortunately, I had to give up the sweet "surround gaming" triple monitor setup that only that card offered. But now they've intro'd a pretty nifty bit of tech that serves as an external breakout box for your Nvidia or ATI card and makes your 3 monitors look like one WIDE monitor.

Oh boy. Need me that screen real estate!

When I had this setup previously, I played UT2k4 and Medal of Honor (among other titles) start to finish with the wide aspect ratio and it was totally killer.

Good for productivity too. It was sweet for editing big-ass powerpoint presos in thumbnail view. You could lay out 3 screens worth of thumbnails and actually read all the text on them.

Now I just need them to ship it!!! I really mis my 3840*1024 desktop setup. :-(

I'll post some notes on how well the gizmo works once I get hold of one.

(on a 'strange bedfellows' note: Old enemies ATI & Nvidia should suddenly love these guys for this. This is going to eat a little fill rate, to say the least).


Mark posted a link to the creepy/awesome video of the BigDog robot, but I didn't bother posting a link.

Today, though, I couldn't resist after GameSetWatch's *spot on* comparison to M.U.L.E. in both form and intended function.

Solar Flare! Energy Production is up!

(BTW, I have personally decided to wait until BigDog is in production until I take up camping again. Finally, something to help me pack in the required amount of beer for a decent camping trip :-)

Friday, March 3, 2006

Yay! I'm on air!

Daily Source Code's friday show played a piece of audio feedback I sent.

Adam Curry's been suing a tabloid in an interesting court case where the tabloid wrote an article about him in which they used images they'd ripped off his Flickr site. The images were posted under Creative Commons license, and so this will likely set some precedent as how well Creative Commons can apply (esp in Europe).

I sent some feedback regarding Flickr's (and thus Yahoo's) terms of service.

(and for the record - I didn't have the laundry running in the background, it was the stupid cooling fan on my laptop that fires up occasionally when the processor gets hot. oh well. time to get an external mic!)

Yay! I'm a carny!

I made this month's Carnival of Gamers!

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Nintendo DS Download Station review

Gaming Steve (who runs a half-decent podcast if you can stomach the obnoxious jingle :-) has a great, very detailed review, of his experience using the first US Nintendo DS Download Station (location-based wireless service that lets you download demos and such to your DS). Sounds pretty nifty. Definitely sounds easy to use.

I could imagine expanding these to have location-specific games as promotional offerings (e.g. having a disney-themed mini-game at Disneyland, or McDonalds-themed game at McDonalds locations. (not THIS game though ;-).

Math & Nature

Anyone you's ever spent any time looking at fractals will love the "gardens in a petri" post on the Pruned blog.

Nature rawks!

(Thanks to kottke's blog for the link)

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Fast Food Nation: The Game

Difficult Sim; Brilliant Parody.

It's the McDonald's Game!

Everyone's talking about it, you should check it out too. At the very least, walk through the tutorial, you'll get a laugh out of it.

Interview with the developer on Gamasutra here. On a serious note, this is very much an example of the whole "games as art" thing. It's social commentary more than entertainment experience.

(Thanks to JayIsGames for the initial pointer)

Monster Katamari

They call it the "Monster-Pod" but any gamer will tell you what it really is - a real-life Katamari!!!