May 22, 2007

"PC Gamer UK" Issue #175 Is Out

Evidently, some subscribers have had the issue since May 8.

If you have any questions or comments about "A Bug's Life," this is the place to ask it.

May 16, 2007

Upcoming Items

Okay, for those of you who have been on my MSN Messenger friend list, I apologize for not being on lately. We're getting ready to enter a brief period of crunch at work, and I've been falling slightly behind because of the sheer number of doctor's visits I've had.

Medically, I've got surgery coming up sometime in June to repair/remove my deviated septum. Hopefully, they'll be able to do the other apnea-related surgeries at the same time. I'm also still trying to figure out a perfect balance of my diabetes medication and my diet. I've been having some low glucose reactions lately which have been making me a bit miserable. Of course, having a plasma-equivalent glucose reading in the low 90's is better than a plasma-equivalent glucose reading in the 300's.

Professionally, we're going to be moving our back end processes over to Windows Workflow Foundation over the next eight weeks. We're also going to try to unify our data on a single platform (no more Oracle/SQL Server data joins from Hell...) and somehow get multicurrency support in all at the same time. This should be...interesting.

May 15, 2007

Episodic Isn't Dead...It's Casually Resting

The Hollywood Reporter published an article today on episodic casual gaming.

While I may have a rather severe level of distaste for Ritual, I can't fault the business model in this case. The biggest issue for episodic gaming is keeping the costs down, and when you shoot for a AAA game, there are certain costs that accompany that regardless of scale. "SiN Episodes" was only a failure in that it didn't pay for "Episode 2," but it was one of the 15% of games released last year that turned a profit.

I wish MumboJumbo luck.

May 11, 2007

The Root Of It All Is In The Nose

About six weeks ago, I had a fairly major ear infection. That infection led to me being diagnosed as a diabetic. Two weeks ago, it seemed like the ear infection was starting to return, so at my doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I brought it up and he sent me to a specialist today. One exam (including a CT scan) later, we have the root cause of my sleep apnea and the ear infections.

A little over a decade ago, I got in a major accident that really messed my face up. There are still portions of my beard that have problems growing in because of it. One of the side effects was a bloody nose, but it turns out that it did a lot more than just that. It knocked my septum out of alignment, and I now have about 90% blockage of both nostrils. That led to the sleep apnea, which led to an increase in my ear infections, and both prolonged and repeated infections and sleep apnea significantly increase your risk of diabetes.

So it seems the problem was in my head the entire time...well, my nose at least.


There's a lot of controversy going on right now regarding the IMAX poster for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."

In the IMAX poster, they made Emma Watson's breasts larger. For any other actress or role, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but Emma is only 17 and is playing a role that is only aged 15.

Of course, while everyone is up in arms about the breast enlargement, nobody is saying a damn thing about them dropping the size of her waist.

I'd rather have a kid worried about her breast size than her waist line.

May 8, 2007

ShackNews on Used Games (Full Response)

I was interviewed last night by Chris Faylor over at ShackNews regarding used game sales.

Most of my responses were either removed or edited out due to space constraints, but here is the original response I sent to Chris:
Let's start with my personal stance on sales of used anything...I don't have a problem with it. As long as you no longer have any remnant of what you are selling, you're well within your rights under the First Sale Doctrine to resell whatever you own. That, I have no problem with.

I also have significantly less of a problem with the sale of used CD's and DVD's, as CD's and DVD's are merely one income stream available to MPAA and RIAA members. Record labels receive royalties from broadcast radio and music videos and have contracts with artists that make game industry contracts seem fair and equitable in comparison; the movie industry has theatrical releases (domestic and international), cable and broadcast rights to fall back on. In contrast, games have the income from their initial release and extremely limited alternative revenue streams (GameFly/Steam/compilation packs/etc.)

While delaying used console game sales for two to four weeks after the initial release would help in a small way as far as the bottom line for game sales (especially since the first thirty days are most crucial for sales of any title), the percentage of sales ceded to used sales during the initial thirty days is severely muted by supply constraints. That said, used games are more likely to significantly impact sales after the first trimester.

It isn't hard to see the attraction that game retailers have for used games. With a new console game, their margin is usually under 10%, while their margin on a used game can be over 50%. However, there has been growing developer and publisher discontent with chains that sell used product. After all, the publishers (and because of the "Market Development Fund" (MDF) clauses in most contracts, the developers) are paying for ad circulars, shelf space, in-store contests and promotions, point-of-purchase advertising, subsidized special editions for certain chains, and more...just to bring a customer into their store who is going to buy a used copy and not help recoup any of that money.

Laws like the ones in Utah and Florida won't significantly impact sales of new or used product. The most sure-fire way that publishers could "stem the tide" of used sales would be to eliminate MDF support for chains that sell used product, but given the quantity of new product that goes through those outlets as well, that would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So, the tl;dr: Used console game sales do hurt, but not to any significant degree. Delaying the launch of a used title can help, but I'd rather see a market-driven approach than a misguided legal approach that could affect legitimate commercial ventures.

May 6, 2007

The End Of The End

The last public remnants of Ritual are pretty much gone now.

It's been months since they updated the Tribe page, and many of the names on that list are no longer around. Scott Inglis is now up at Microsoft, Scott Maclean is over at 3D Realms, Steve Hessel announced his leaving today, etc. The death spasm has given way to rigor.

Meanwhile, I'm a bit torn myself. I'm trying to stay motivated enough to at least get USEMP to an alpha state so that I can pass it off to the remaining fragments of the community, but demands from real life keep cutting into that time. This weekend, I was supposed to have the entire time to devote to USEMP since my D&D party broke up last weekend, but instead I've had to spend the time learning Windows Workflow Foundation for rearchitecting the backend of my job's site.

(Speaking of work, if you are a Dallas area contractor who knows SharePoint like the back of his/her head and would be available for a 4-6 week contract to create an Intranet site, contact me.)

May 3, 2007

Forgive The Dust...

I'm putting a new template up for the site. Because of the way that Blogger publishes to external FTP's, there may be a few pages that don't update completely.

If you notice any issues, please let me know.

May 2, 2007

PC Gamer Issue #175

After the night from Hell yesterday (17 hour shift...ugh), I woke up to a nice surprise...the final version of my column for "PC Gamer UK."

For those in the UK or anywhere else where the magazine is sold, it will be in the June 2007 issue on pages 26 and 27.

Once it hits store shelves or subscribers hands (whichever comes first), I'm going to post a comment post for the column and I'll answer any questions that it will bring up.