Charles Wallace on Camazotz

Category: Links

Unsuccessful Videogame Kickstarters
I leave this here without comment.

Underground New York Public Library
I just discovered this photo blog. I love it, it’s absolutely beautiful, and not just because I’m in one of the photos.

No, I’m not telling you which one.

So Some Guy Said Some Stuff About Emotions in Games and How, Like, They’re Impossible Without Quantum Computing, Or Something
I am shocked–shocked–that the Global President of 2K Games doesn’t know jack shit about games. (Seriously, you haven’t played Cart Life yet? Go do it. Now.)

Latest Example of Why You Should Be Reading Matt Taibbi

How the Wall Street Journal can bring up the LIBOR scandal – both a textbook case of antitrust crime and more or less the ultimate example of insider trading, with banks trading against their own secret, non-disclosed manipulations of interest rates – and lump it in with things that supposedly “aren’t crimes” is beyond mind-boggling. People can and do go to jail in America for smoking marijuana or selling food stamps for rent money, but apparently it reeks of Stalinism to even suggest that even one person should go to jail for manipulating an $800 trillion market. Moreover Weill, far from simply being one of the last people on earth to admit the obvious truth about Too-Big-To-Fail banks, has instead just crossed over into the Stalinist camp.

Get angry.

Send No Email Day
I eagerly await “Make No Phone Calls Day”, “Send No Texts Day”, “Stay Off of Instant Message Day”, and “Stop Worrying So Much About Communication Technologies and Go Sit in the Park for an Hour Day”.

Jonathan Poritsky on Streaming Video Competition

It seems to me that we now have a preponderance of streaming services to choose from which yields mostly trepidation over which horse to bet on. Yes, in some cases these services compete on price and everybody wins with lower bills or better features. However, for the most part streaming services compete for exclusive content. All of a sudden we end up with two, three, four services we need to keep paying for every month.

Competition needs to happen at the top. Filmmakers and distributors need to challenge the studio system and get work out there that isn’t tied up in the awkward gerrymandering of streaming exclusivity. We can already stream six ways to Sunday, but if we really want to move into the future, we need to challenge those who make the films. That competition would be better for consumers.

This is what happens when you get rid of wholesalers. I’m not saying there should be an attempt to graft a physical distribution model onto streaming video, but placing all the onus of breaking this on the filmmakers isn’t going to get us anywhere. Musicians and authors are already complaining about how much harder it is to make a living now that the gatekeepers are much less powerful… I’m not sure adding filmmakers to that list is a great idea.

Perhaps a big director or producer could Louis CK it and sell directly to the streaming services, but I’m not sure that’ll work to break the exclusivity monster. It’s a tough problem, with no easy answers.

Plans and Pricing Announced for Google Fiber
This could be one of the most important things Google ever does. Make it a success, Kansas City.

Avellone Floats the Possibility of Kickstarting a Planescape: Torment Sequel
I’m going to be the cold water: I don’t know if this is necessary. The original game is one of the finest ever made, and I’m not sure it needs a sequel.

Of course, if it does actually happen, I’ll buy it on day one. I’m a hypocrite like that.

Libertarian Groups File Amicus Brief in Net Neutrality Case

In the brief, TechFreedom, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Free State Foundation, and the Cato Institute argue that the last year’s FCC net neutrality order “Preserving the Open Internet” (PDF), which took effect in November 2011, violates the First and Fifth Amendments, and that the FCC lacks jurisdictional authority to implement such a rule.

Specifically, the groups say that compelling private companies to “speak,” by requiring them to carry all traffic across their networks, instead of allowing them to discriminate as they see fit, violates the principle of freedom of speech.

Ah, Citizens United. The case that keeps on giving. Here’s the thing: if net neutrality violates the free speech rights of telecoms, then doesn’t the telecom giving priority to certain kinds of traffic over others violate someone else’s free speech rights?

Fez Patch Not Patched Because Microsoft Wants to Charge a Five-Figure Cost to the Developer
This story blew me away. We have:

1) Microsoft charging developers to approve patches
2) Microsoft charging developers upwards of $40,000 to approve patches
3) A buggy game will not be fixed because Microsoft wants to charge upwards of $40,000 to approve a patch
4) Fez is an Xbox 360 exclusive, so there is no other place to play the game

Perhaps most unbelievable:

“We already owe Microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform,” he said. “People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.”

I’m sorry, what?

Why would anyone agree to this deal?

Dyad Isn’t What People Expect From an “Indie” Game?

Games like this often implement the scaffolding of older games — things like lives, coins and other conventions abandoned by newer and more intuitive designs — both as nostalgic touchstones and because they are effective constraints under the right circumstances. Braid uses iconic constructs, like whimsical creatures and green pipes, to subvert expectations. It’s kind of like Mario, except for the part where you can control time.

Then there are those hoping to use the language of games to try something mostly never seen before: Thatgamecompany’s Flow and Flower Gies points to, or titles like Tale of Tales’ The Path, Dan Pinchbeck’s Dear Esther, or any number of others that prize emotion or storytelling over ensuring the player feels “hooked” or mechanically challenged.

Weird breakdown of indie games that only works if you ignore a ton of indie games. I think it’s rather pointless to even try to tease out a dominant aesthetic to any indie game–the only thing that makes them indie is that they’re… indie. But, people love categories.

The Slow Web

One of the centerpieces of the Fast Web is this notion of real-time. Your friend listens to a song, and you find out about it. The smaller the gap between these two, the closer it is to real-time.

Real-time interactions happen as they happen. Timely ones, on the other hand, happen as you need them to happen. Some real-time interactions, like breaking news about an earthquake, can be timely. But not all timely interactions are real-time. I’d argue that most are not. And where the Fast Web is built around real-timedness, the Slow Web is built around timeliness.

I like the distinction between real-time and timely: it’s a good shorthand for the change that started to occur around the turn of the century. I hope the “slow web” becomes something–I don’t believe that the human brain can handle the current speed of information flow forever. It’s too easy to miss things, important things, and that’s eventually going to be detrimental.

New Yorkers and Starbucks
Interesting account of the rise and… fall? of Starbucks in New York. The best thing about Starbucks was that it raised the bar for coffee in this city, and has spawned locally-owned coffee shops that are often pretty good.

Someone should get on Starbucks corporate about closing bathrooms, though. That’s just wrong.

3D Has Failed to Catch On for Videogames
It’s interesting that Nintendo is downplaying the 3D in the 3DS. Many people said that the glasses were the barrier to 3D adoption, but the 3DS has seemingly disproven that. I think it’s just that 3D is a fun value-add, but not something you need or want to experience all the time.

Beverly Hills Residents Protest Subway Tunnel Under High School

“The reason that we made that video is to gain Metro’s attention,” she said. “Was it over the top? Maybe. At least it got the attention of the media, and I’m hoping that this will allow Metro to halt and take a look at all this information.”

NIMBYism at its finest.