First off, I cannot recall the last time I ever really looked at the face of a character in an MMO while I was playing. Largely this is because every game has gone third person, and with the camera pulled back to get a tactical view of the game the opportunity to even see faces, much less the expression on them, is extremely small.
Second, while I think facial expressions might have a place in role play, most MMOs have forsaken role play for game play so much that you have to essentially stop playing the game to talk to other players. The only people doing any serious role play are the ones sitting in town, not playing the game.
And that second point brings me to the one subset of players who will likely make the most use of a technology like this: ERP. If you don’t know what that is, it’s Erotic Role Play. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across it before, maybe wandering into a random empty building in town or through some little played alley (for WoW players, Iron Forge is full of “empty” buildings, and the tunnel the tram uses to go back and forth to Stormwind is one of those “alleys”). Or maybe you’ve been slapped in the face with it (for WoW players, go onto pretty much any of the RP servers, create a human character in Stormwind, and then run down the road to Goldshire – or as some people call it: Pornshire). The simple fact is that beyond a person taking screenshots of themselves in various poses to post on Facebook and other places, the people who will get the most use from facial expressions are the people who sit really really close to each other talking in hushed tones.
Does EQ2 really need this? No, not really. It’s a neat toy, but isn’t going to add very much to the game. But now that it exists and can be in the design of a future MMO in the early stages (for example, EverQuest Next, coming from SOE), perhaps it could be very cool.
That said, the guys over at Second Life are probably already looking into licensing this technology. Now there is a game that would get a ton of use out of the ability to show the world your O face.
Ralphie May – Too Big To Ignore : Some of it was very funny, and some of it I’m sure would have been funny if I understood it. Completely unmentioned in my review, every time he tells a joke that involves black people, they cut to the exact same black guy in the audience laughing.
Bruce found a hole in the fence that surrounded the warehouse and carefully slipped through it. The building loomed dark and ominous, so he started his search by walking the perimeter. Deliberate steps avoiding kicking anything or stepping on anything, his head constantly turning left and right scanning from the warehouse to the street outside the fence. It was clear. Every step and the longer it stayed clear just amped up his internal tension. By the time he got back to the hole in the fence he was practically jumping out of his skin.
Turning toward the building, his palms started to sweat. Bruce had not brought with him any sort of weapon. It was a little stupid, but then without a weapon he wouldn’t be tempted to try to stand and fight. Flight back to the safety of the compound was the real goal.
All the doors to the warehouse were open. There was no light inside save for where the sun shone through. He took the three steps up to the nearest open door slowly and peered inside.
It was an empty shell. Probably abandoned long before the zombies came. There were shadows in places, but none so dark he couldn’t see into them. Once inside and his eyes adjusted slightly, the building wasn’t nearly as foreboding as it had appeared from outside. There were no zombies here. No other survivors either. And no supplies of any sort. Not an entirely wasted trip, however, since he now knew there was nothing here.
Bruce stopped being careful and jogged back to the fence, slipped through the hole and ran back to the wall. He scrambled over the top of the wall and dropped to the ground, safe. All the tension flowed out of his body and he collapsed back against the wall.
“Find anything,” a voice called from above. Bruce looked up and shielded his eyes from the sun to see the shape of Candy standing on the edge of the police station roof.
“Nope. Just an empty warehouse.” He got up and dusted himself off.
“The way you shot over the top of the wall, I thought maybe you were being chased.” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“Just excited to get back inside. Johnny back yet?”
“Superman said that Gray flashed some Morse code using a hand mirror. The kid was back inside, found some people who might join us if our illustrious leader goes over to pay them a visit.”
“Is the hospital safe?”
“No idea. You’ll have to ask the kid yourself.”
“Jason said he might have to stay the night to win over any new recruits. And the scavengers want to be thorough, so they’ll be outside tonight too.”
Bruce nodded. “Thanks, Candy. Good lookin’ out.”
“It’s my job now.” With that she vanished back away from the edge.
Bruce headed into the station and found a spot to sit down. He broke out the granola bar he hadn’t eaten for lunch and nibbled at it. After a short while, Johnny walked in and pulled up a chair.
“So, now what?”
“I suppose,” Bruce said between nibbles, “we get a good night’s sleep, then head out to scout more tomorrow. How was the hospital?”
“Clear, mostly.” Johnny picked up a small bag of chips, tore it open and started eating. “There are some zombies locked in rooms, maybe some wandering the upper floors, but it’s safe enough. There are a few people living in there. Didn’t try to convince them to come back with me though.”
“Yeah. I don’t like talking to gun barrels.”
“I want to go take a look at the neighborhood to the north-east. You mind checking out the trailer park to the south-west?”
“I guess not. I supposed this is my job now.”
Bruce smiled and sighed, “At least until we come up with something better.”
They both laughed, just a little, and then wandered off to find places to sleep.
In the morning, everyone met up for breakfast, ate in silence, and then went back to their duties. Johnny strolled off toward the trailers, and Bruce ambled off toward the houses.
I like to write. I hate to write sitting at my desk. I would love to be able to write anywhere. Being a left hander brought up in a school system that refused to teach left-handed writing styles, I have horrible form and it hurts to write manually for extended periods, which prevents me from using pen and paper for any long form writing. I love computers. I have a completely bizarre typing style that has developed over years that doesn’t result in any discomfort or carpel tunnel issues. And when I say write anywhere, I mean anywhere, including sitting on a beach in broad daylight.
So, what I really need is essentially an eInk Kindle, in landscape mode, perhaps a slightly longer/wider screen, with an attached clamshell keyboard – a real keyword, for use with fingers not just thumbs. It could have wi-fi, but really only for some sort of wireless sync. All I need it to be able to do is create new document files, open existing document files, save files, delete files and support some form of hierarchy so that I can associate multiple documents to each other – such as chapters to a book – and see it visually. Something that simple, with no need for additional software and browsers and Internet and such, could run for hundreds of hours on a single charge, and being that the files are only text, a small amount of memory can go a very, very long way.
I know these days people and companies are in love with multi-function devices. Phones that are also music players and cameras and PDAs and web browsers and email clients and so on and so on. But I still like my single function devices too. I like having a Zune for my music/podcasts and nothing else. I like having a Kindle for reading books. And I would love to have a device that is simply for writing and not for gaming and a million other functions.
Looking around at other simple eInk tablets/readers that exist, I think this could be put together and sold for around $79, probably less, and at that price I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I doubt such a thing would ever exist. It’s too simple, and whenever I bring up the idea to someone they always respond with either “Get a Tablet” or “Get a Netbook”. I have a netbook and a Kindle Fire, and neither of them are what I want – mostly because the screens are less than useful in sunlight, and the Fire lacks a full physical keyboard. Plus, the battery life on them both is terrible. 8 hours? Bah!
I’d be happy to be wrong though. If there is an eInk document writer with a full keyboard, let me know. I’d be forever in your debt.
I can’t say that I have any insider knowledge, because I don’t, but in light of the recent events surrounding 38 Studios and their Project Copernicus (no links, just Google it) I figured I’d throw up a post about a tangential topic.
Want to know how not to generate true excitement for the game you are developing? Give out no details of the world or game, no videos, no screen shots, nothing, but keep saying, “We are building a really great game and world and we can’t wait for you to see it!”
If you can’t wait… don’t!
When Green Monster Games first announced they were beginning work on an MMO and started hiring people, I was excited. Then they changed their name to 38 Studios and hired more people. They announced they were working with Todd McFarland and R.A. Salvatore somewhere in there, and I was excited. And then… nothing. For years the only thing we heard was “We are building a really great game and world and we can’t wait for you to see it!”
And now we probably never will.
Every game, every developer, I think believes they have something special and awesome that they have to keep a secret, to protect it from being stolen or to save it for that shocking unveiling. The problem is, if it goes on too long, you end up with only the rabid fanboys still interested and the casual observers move on to companies who actually do more than say ”We are building a really great game and world and we can’t wait for you to see it!”
Maybe 38 didn’t have anything to show? I doubt it… the video that came out in the last week and the screen shots that have trickled out, and the comments by former employees saying things like “When I left the office today for the last time, our servers were still up, running the whole world with tens of thousands of NPCs going about their business. I choose to believe that they’ll be there, remembering us forever.” I think they had plenty to show, but, for whatever reason, they didn’t.
Now we just have to wonder, if they’d been less secretive, if they’d shown more progress, could they have attracted investors and saved the game?
To everyone who used to be a part of 38, I’m sorry this happened and wish you the best in your future endeavors.
In my opinion, there is almost nothing quite as fantastic as seeing a good movie in the theater. The superior sound and the giant screen enveloping your vision and sucking you right into the story. Even the audience matters. Listening to people enjoying the movie too is part of the greatness. The gasps and laughs, the sniffing of stifled tears. It is unique and wonderful. But increasingly it isn’t worth the price of admission.
Before we even get to the literal price, there is so much more that is wrong with the movie going experience. As much as I love the idea of crowds, the reality of them is always so much less. If your kids aren’t capable of sitting still for a couple of hours and watching a movie, don’t bring them – get a sitter. Not only will everyone else enjoy the movie more, YOU will enjoy the movie more. Also, don’t go to the movies if you have trouble following plots. Nothing will annoy your neighbors more than you constantly asking your friend what’s going on. And if you aren’t enjoying a movie, consider leaving and asking for your money back rather than decide for everyone that this drama should be a comedy by adding your lame remarks in your loudest voice.
People who text or talk on cell phones during movies should be shot. And I’m not being hyperbolic here. Security should come in, drag the texter out of the theater, take them to a room and shoot them. Perhaps just in the hand. Maybe take off a finger, the little one. I bet if they lost a finger they’d stop texting during the movies. Assholes.
And theaters should be required to maintain a certain level of quality. There is a theater near me that I almost never go to because, as I say, “You pay for one movie and you get to listen to two!” The sound barrier between their screens is so poor that you literally get to hear two movies. If your movie is the loud action pack thrill ride, no problem, but if your movie is the dramatic quiet tear jerker, listening to soldiers bark commands and things explode while the main character of your film is supposed to be silently weeping his loss kind of ruins things. At the very least, theaters with shitty quality should charge shitty quality prices.
But before I get to ticket prices, it would be remiss not to mention the concession stand. I can buy a bag of popcorn at the grocery store for about a $1.50, so I wouldn’t be surprised to have to pay $3 to but the same amount of popcorn at a theater where they serve it to me – the people have to get paid somehow. But having to pay $5 to $7 for that amount of popcorn is stupid. And I’m not even going to bother with the $7 sodas. What?!? But what about those $3.75 to $5.75 boxes of candy that are only half filled? I understand that the theaters need the revenue, but every facet of their concession stand appears to be designed to make me angry and never want to buy anything there. These days I don’t even bother. Despite the hanging of signs saying it is forbidden, I bring my own soda and snacks to the movie. And don’t try to sell me on the “but if you buy a large you get free refills!” stuff, because I never leave the theater during the film if I can help it. Why on Earth would I miss part of the movie I just paid that much to see?
Which brings us to the ticket prices. My local theaters are between $9 and $12 for an evening ticket. The $9 is for a theater that is of lower quality. Of course, when I do go to see a movie, I pretty much always go to a matinée on the weekend, before noon, where the price is often $6, maybe $7, for the better quality houses. Still the price is high. For the wife and I to go see a movie it’s going to cost $12 to $24, just for the tickets. And for my money we get to see the movie one time. Whereas if I wait six months, I can buy the movie on DVD or Blu-ray for around the same price, and own the movie – which I can watch as many times as I want or watch it once and then sell it to get some of my money back.
I haven’t even gotten into the latest trend: 3D. Currently, you pay a premium for 3D, an extra $3 to $5 per ticket. They’ll tell you that the extra cost is to cover the glasses (which they ask you to give back so they can recycle them) or to recoup the cost of upgrading their projectors. If that’s true, though, at some point they should finish recovering the projector cost and glasses production & recycling should level off that the premium should go away. It should become standard. Of course, that’ll never happen as they will be too busy enjoying the extra profits. And you know it’s all about the money as every movie seems to be getting a 3D release – and most of those are post-production conversions, not filmed in 3D with special cameras.
I am a movie lover. And back in the days of tickets being $5 to $6 and a concession combo (drink & popcorn) was $4 to $5, I’d go see a movie every single week. It was what I did on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, they’ve doubled the prices and the result is that I never get concessions and I see a movie once every couple of months. And I have to imagine that I’m not alone. These days, my Friday or Saturday nights are often spent streaming a movie off Netflix or Amazon where I pay a movie ticket a month for unlimited streaming of thousands and thousands of movies. I don’t know who is to blame for the skyrocketing prices – the theater companies, the movie producers, someone else – but I do know that it is pricing me out of the market.
I read an article once, and I wish I could find it again (but I think it was in print, not on the Internet), that Hollywood and theater owners were both lamenting “event movies” – stuff like The Avengers, the Harry Potter films, Avatar – movies that draw people into theaters. Part of their lament was that smaller films just didn’t sell in theaters, and it was only these giant budget risks that stood a chance. I can’t help but think that they’re looking at everything all wrong. The problem is that it’s only these huge “must see” films that get people to ignore the high cost of admission. At half the price, at $6 or $5… or in my dream world $3, I feel people would be a lot more willing to take a risk on a movie. For $3, I would pretty much go see any movie in the theater – even if it was poorly reviewed, for $3 I’d be willing to judge it for myself. On the other hand, for $12 (or $15 in 3D), the movie better be well reviewed and give me two hours worth of awesome entertainment or else not only will I be unhappy but I’m likely to avoid going to the movies for a while. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.
So what do I recommend? First off, do some research on the movies you are going to see. Check this list, and if the movie says it was originally filmed in 2D, see it in 2D. Don’t reward people for going for the 3D cash grab. Second, go to weekend matinées. See the movie at 11am, then go for lunch, do some shopping, whatever, make a day of it – but start with the movie. Plus, if you eat breakfast, and then see a movie with the plan to get lunch after, you don’t need movie snacks, just sit back and enjoy the show. And third, find local theaters with good quality sound setups and stick to them. Reward theaters for being good theaters.
That third step can be the most difficult as movie distribution is a scam just like everything else. The best local theater nearest me doesn’t get all the best movies. They have 24 screens and didn’t get The Avengers, the 16 screen house down the road with lower quality got it. Two different movie theater companies, but they are serviced by the same distributor who ensures they take turns on the blockbusters and don’t compete. Lame.
Rebuild is a game by Sarah Northway. It’s best described as a survival sim and it’s done in the after action report style. Meaning you assign people to tasks that have chances of success or failure, then when you are done the game calculates the results and gives them back to you. In Rebuild, each turn is a day. But enough about that… this game is about zombies, and the story goes like this:
It all started in Holland…
The media called it the Dutch Flu, and connected it to some kind of weird tulip eating cult. The Netherlands used to export a quarter of the world’s tomatoes and cucumbers, but that wasn’t all. They were exporting the undead. Armageddon.
During that first year, survivors banded together to fend off the zombies, always staying on the movie and never looking back. But we’re not going to run any more. We’re putting out feet down here and we’re going to reclaim this place in the name of Humanity. Today… we begin to rebuild.
But I’m not just here to tell you about a nifty game. I’m a writer… I’m here to tell you a story. So what follows in this post, and for the rest of this series, is a narrative of the plight of Kingston Falls, a 10×10 city in Rebuild on the Nightmare difficulty level.
Jason watched as Bruce Collins secured the last piece of the fence. Jason had convinced them to stop running, to try to make a safe place to fight back against the shambling husks. And it began in a police station and then spread to two small neighborhoods and a field they were already working to grow food in.
“You know,” Bruce said, “running was a lot safer than this.”
“Sure. But it also kept us on edge all the time. Perhaps behind a secure fence we can relax a little.”
“Relaxing gets you dead.”
“I did say ‘a little’.” Jason turned and headed back toward the police station. Bruce trailed behind him. Along the way they ran into others, everyone heading toward the meeting Jason had called. Inside, they all took seats and sat silently for a while.
“Who’s on the wall?”
Jason didn’t see who asked it, but he ticked off the names aloud anyway. “Gray, Candy and Superman.” The soldier already had that nickname when Jason had met him, but he’d seen enough action out of the man to know the guy deserved it. Lately he’d taken to watch duty. They called it ‘sitting the wall’ but in reality they were on roof tops. Superman was up on the police station now, along with Candy. Gray was out on one of the houses, which was just as well since the scientist’s talking to himself made everyone a little uneasy. They were all a little stressed and tired, run down, but Gray might just be full-blown crazy.
The room fell to silence again. Ever since the decision had been made to stand some ground, the whole group had been looking to Jason for orders. “Eric,” he said at last, “you and Tom, grab some sacks and see if you can scrounge up some more food from that other field just south of the wall. Take Private Walker with you.” The three of them nodded. “Bruce, if you’re up to it, I want you to go outside the fence, north-west, and check out the warehouse we can see from the roof.”
“Aye aye.” Bruce tapped his fingers to his brow in salute.
“Cut that out.” Bruce smirked back at Jason. “Johnny, you know this town, right?”
Johnny was a skinny kid. He’d probably be in high school if not for the end of the world. “Yeah.”
“You know the hospital to the south-east at all?”
“I’ve been there once. A long time ago.”
“Well, I’d like you to go check the place out and see what you can find. Eventually I want to move the fence to include it. A lot of that equipment could be useful.” Johnny gave a half nod and hung his head. It was clear to everyone that he didn’t want to go outside. ”That just leaves me and Private Kane. We’ll be looking in on the apartment building to the north. I think I saw some people in there.”
“Might be zeds,” Kane blurted out.
“That’s why you are going with me. You and that M-16.” Kane smiled from ear to ear. “Anyone got anything else to add? No? Well then, everyone has a job to do, so let’s do it.”
I’ve been a little lax in posting to my blog. Which isn’t unusual at all. Since 1998, in all its various forms, my blog has always been updated in fits and starts. I post every day for a couple of weeks and then vanish, more or less. Sometimes the posting lasts longer, sometimes shorter, and sometimes the gaps are narrow and sometimes the gaps are wide. Many times I try to break this habit by instituting series of posts. However, most times the series dies, either because I lose interest or because no one else seems to care (I’ve come to grips with the fact that blogging is essentially attention whoring, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying when no one comments on what I blog).
This time, despite the most recent gap, I have a real plan.
From this day forward, this blog will continue to be about personal random thoughts – sometimes on gaming, sometimes on zombies, sometimes on writing, and more – but will also serve as a crucible for ideas. This is really no different from how it has been as I’ve always just sort of thrown things against the wall to see what sticks. The important change is what happens when something sticks.
Once upon a time, this blog was at the root of the domain, and then I moved it to this sub-domain with the idea that I would do something with the main site. I redesigned the site a bunch of times. I even temporarily had it looking more business like with products and services and everything – and some of that might show up again, depending on what direction things go in. But I finally got things “right” in that I finished the design and actually am happy with it, to the point of putting real content there instead of half-assing it.
With the design done, now when something from this blog “sticks” (which has more to do with me and less to do with you – I’m getting better at that not needing attention thing) it will migrate to the main site. For example, the Man vs Wife series. Friday’s post will be the last time it appears in full on this blog. In the future, posts here will be more of a “Hey, another Man vs Wife is up! Go check it out!” with the full post being on the ProbablyNot Limited site. So, yeah, I’m going to make you check two websites! (Or at least subscribe to two RSS feeds.)
So, we’ll see how this goes. In a few months it may be a total crash and burn, but I’m hoping not.