August 31, 2009

Stop Being Greedy Video Game Business!

Will the video game industry listen to me?  Nah, I doubt it.  

Some of you may be aware that in the video game industry a war is going on between the developers, publishers and designers of video games and the used game sellers.  Apparently a lot of people in the game-making business think that they should make profit off of used video game sales.

Um, excuse me?

This is the system they want to implement, and I will try to explain this with an example...

A game development team, let's call them Team Every Penny or TEP, makes a video game called Awesome Ninja Ducks.  They develop it and then distribute it to game sellers across the country, including Best Buy, Toy's R Us, Target and other similar stores.  These stores buy each copy of Awesome Ninja ducks for 55 bucks.  They can't mark up the game too much if they want customers like me to buy the game, so in stores Awesome Ninja Ducks is priced around 60 bucks.  In this process, TEP has earned 55 bucks per unit sold so far.

I decide to buy Awesome Ninja Ducks.  I pay 60 bucks for it, giving the Target I bought it from a mere 5 dollar profit.  Remember, they had to pay 55 bucks to put that game on their shelves.  I play the game for a month, but after a while I've beaten it twice and I'm not as into it anymore.  I don't want it to waste space on the shelf, so I decide to sell it back.  Let's say I go to Gamestop for this purpose.

Here's where it gets tricky.  I sell it back to Gamestop for only 15, but they sell it for 35 bucks to some guy named Doug.  I make back 15 bucks for selling my game, and Gamestop will sell my used copy of Awesome Ninja Duck for a $20 profit from some guy named Doug.  TEP will expect a kickback from Gamestop for selling a used game that they helped create, oh let's just say 25%.  So really, because TEP wants to continuously get paid for the game they produced every time it's sold, they'll get 5 bucks from Gamestop when they sell the used version of Awesome Ninja Ducks, giving Gamestop only 15 bucks profit.


Can you see a problem with this?  The game Awesome Ninja Ducks exchanged ownership at least four times in this scenario: 

 TEP-->Target-->Me-->Gamestop-->Some guy named Doug

TEP have every right to sell the physical copy of Awesome Ninja buck for profit when they give it to Target, but why in the world would they have any reason to get money from Gamestop when TEP doesn't even own the game anymore?  Gamestop owns the game now, not TEP, so TEP has no right to the profits.  Unless of course they want to act like the mob and "protect" Gamestop from "dangerous people", which of course is super illegal.

A lot of people in the industry don't see it that way.  They still see the game as their property when Gamestop sells it, so why shouldn't they get a kickback?  Recently David Jaffe, developer of God of War and Twisted Metal, has gotten into some hot water for not only argue a point I find extremely flawed, but not arguing his point well.  In response to people sending him tons of logic, he has seemed to shut himself away from the internet.  Way to show 'em, Jaffe.  He and a couple others are making the industry look horrible by not only making them look greedy, but ignorant and stubborn as well.

The problem is that a lot of the property that publishers/developers/designers complain of owning and hence wanting profit from is not the physical ownership of a game disk and case, like me buying a copy of Awesome Ninja Ducks.  They're talking more about the intellectual property that they have created, i.e. the characters, story line, setting, engine, etc.  But that doesn't work the same way that selling the physical game does.  You essentially are getting paid for letting the company use the idea in the game that they will produce.  The people at TEP get paid for their ideas and the development of them, they are not getting paid for the disks that they don't physically produce.  So no, TEP doesn't own those disks as they travel from hand to hand.  As soon as TEP sells those disks to stores like Target, they no longer own the disks.

TEP, however, can still make a profit on the ideas.  If another company, lets say Break In Games or BIG, has a lot of money and would like the rights to use the content for Awesome Ninja Ducks for the sequel, TEP can sell those rights for big profit.  And companies do that all the time.  Does it mean that BIG will make Awesome Ninja Ducks 2 a better game?  Hell no.  It does mean that the first selling of the original Awesome Ninja Ducks is not the only way TEP can make a profit.

In conclusion, the video game industry needs to get over itself and realize they have no power over the used game market.

August 28, 2009

Blogs I don't get: The Snuggie Sutra

There is a part of me that wishes I thought of The Snuggie Sutra first, but when you take a gander at it you just kind of have to wonder what this person was thinking.  It's not as beautiful as I think it could be.

Okay, I take that back.  I don't think this concept could ever be quite beautiful.

Edit: Forgot to say thanks to my friend Liz for showing this to me.  Well, maybe not thanks but still, she guided me to it!

August 27, 2009

Tip to Writers: Watch Blake 7

Have you seen Blake 7?  No?  Well why not?  It's one of the best sci-fi shows that british television has produced.  Not because of any hi-tech science facts or special effects, but because it was a good old human drama.  

Premise (if you want to watch from the beginning, know that there will be some spoilers after the first paragraph)

The show starts out with Blake being told that he once lead an entire revolution, and he was just recently brainwashed to apologize for all his rebellious acts and then brainwashed again to not remember any of it, including the apology.  He sneaks off to a meeting, and once being overloaded with this information, catches some here.  He comes back to see everyone in the rebel meeting killed, and he's caught and tried as the murdered and traitor.  He's sent to prison on a ship with a bunch of other convicts, and on course a strange space ship is discovered.  Blake and 6 others are ordered to explore the ship, which welcomes them and helps them escape.  Hence, Blake's 7!  Crazy adventures across the universe ensue.

As time goes on, the team of people change and after a point some of the team starts to die off.  And then the producers take a big risk.  They kill off Blake.  That's right, the  guy who the show is named after gets killed!  And a new leader takes hold...
and he is an asshole.

This is Avon.  Avon is one of the original members of Blake's 7.  He's one arrogant, devious, conniving bastard, but he's also smart.  Blake keeps him around for the cunning advice, although you never really know who Avon is rooting for, other than himself.  He's a great example of someone who in the D&D universe is labeled as True Neutral.  He'll stick together if it's in his benefit, but once his needs are calling loud enough he'll skip out.  He was a wild card that you had to worry about.  And then to top it off he was the captain of the ship!

THIS is what makes great TV.  A character who is skilled and flawed at the same time.  The crew ends up depending on Avon even when he clearly tries to abandon them from time to time.  He's super secretive about what he does, keeping everyone--especially the viewer--on their toes.  

This is why reality TV is gaining speed.  It's because writers are having a hard time making the complex characters that keep us watching, so instead they use psychology to set up regular people to have complex reactions.  Writers, step it up!  Give us some Avons!  Give us somebody who we can empathize with even though he's a dick!  Give us a conflicted woman who isn't conflicted between work and popping babies!  There's more to being a woman than that!  Give me some humanity!

August 26, 2009

... and then I quit. But there's an exciting announcement!

I quit that job after realizing what I was doing for that job...

I essentially look through a phone book and hope to find people willing to talk to me about the company's services in the hopes of getting an appointment.

And since it was 100% commission sales, I wasn't getting paid for any of the time I was looking. Not getting paid for any outside research. In fact there was no suggestion whatsoever for outside research, which I think was kind of bad on the company's part. They didn't really help their workers get an edge.

I'm now in the job market again. I've cut what little losses I have with that job and I'm back in full force looking for something amazing. This will also give me time to figure out what my new blog is going to be.

What new blog?

Well my fellow readers, I think I'm ready for some friendly investigative journalism of the nerdy kind. I will announce my new project...

September 1st, 2009

Until then you get to quake in your boots to guess what it's about.

Now back to square one.  Le sigh.

August 23, 2009


While I was on vacation I became employed by a sales company, and this ain't being no avon lady. Still going to involve a lot of meeting new people all around Chicago, and a lot of hard work.

I'll still be blogging, and I'm still working up the courage to start the next side project in my life, but hey! I have an income now! Hooray!

My first investment will be clothes for work, but my next investment will be a gaming computer made by The Boyfriend. Yep, I know my priorities.

August 18, 2009

Starcraft II Trailer worth watching!

I am PSYCHED for Starcraft II and I love this new trailer that's out.  WOOT!

I love RTSs and I am getting better at them. I outlasted the Boyfriend in a three way battle! I was so proud. And then our friend Kdogg slaughter me. But It's okay, I'm still learning.

I have to get back into to the campaign mode for Starcraft and the expansion. And I plan to die... a LOT. Thank God it's a fictional game.


I didn't realize Tank from the Matrix was played by African-American/Chinese actor  Marcus Chong!   Crazy discovery!

As multiracial person I always get excited about finding out about more cool mixed people.  And this one was in a fantastic nerdy movie!  Smart move to bank out before Matrix 2 and 3.  Dear God those were train wrecks.

And if you look him up on imdb like I did, you'll find out he comes from a family of mixed actors.  Awesome!  So awesome that I can't stop using exclamation points!!!!!

This gives me a chance to say that I am going on a trip to visit family.  I may not be blogging as much as I'd like.  But I will be talking about a new project soon. :D

August 17, 2009

Mii Love

The Boyfriend sent me this picture of our Miis skydiving, and it's friggin' adorable, so I had to share.  If you can't tell, I'm the one without the glasses.

Oh, and Wii Sport Resort?  It's pretty fun, but you'll be playing swordplay the most.

Extremely frustrated at Baldur's Gate on Gamecube

The Boyfriend and I love to play games together, but there aren't a lot of multi-player adventure games we can do together.  The Boyfriend found one that had a lot of promise--Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance on the Gamecube.

It's based on the Forgotten Realms setting from Dungeons and Dragons.  You can choose from one of three characters and then essentially hack and slash your way through different landscapes.  Sounds fantastic right?

Well there are some bad game design issues I had, but I am only going to talk about one that really frustrates me.  Mainly the experience points issues I had.  In Baldur's Gate you gain experience points by killing a monster.  You can do this with magic, with arrows or with melee combat.  So I'm a magic character, a female elf, and The Boyfriend is a melee person as a male dwarf.  Essentially I stay back and cast spells on enemies as The Boyfriend kicks their ass.

And this is where the mechanics are starting to piss me off.  So because I have a lot of long range attacks, and for some reason the damage isn't as good as the weapons that The Boyfriend uses, I am more than half the experience points behind him.  The Boyfriend gets a lot of the last blows, and hence more kills under his belt.  It won't matter if I've kept them cooking with burning hands for the entirety of the battle.  I get nothing if I don't give the last blow.  But that's not what my character is designed to do!  My character is designed towards support, especially since my spells do not compare to the damage that The Boyfriend's weapons can do consistently.  

As we progress in the game the gap is getting wider, and to top it off some of the spells will go out of their way to hit The Boyfriend!  Why would magic missile hit him when I'm casting it?  WHY?  The mechanics are just annoying.  I also haven't figured out the targeting system, and allegedly there is one.  

I understand that there would've been a slight gap merely because the boyfriend has more video games under his belt than I do.  But this gap is getting wider and it has nothing to do with skill.  It has everything to do with the fact that I'm not getting credit for the kills I know I'm contributing to overall.  

Also, since I'm not a melee person, I can't level up as fast supplementing the magic with some close combat.  Especially as the monsters get harder to fight, me being in the middle of melee is a horrible idea.

If I do pick up the game again, it won't be for a while.  I just need a break.  Trying to catch up with experience points feels like an exercise in futility right now, and it's not something i want to worry about.  Thanks to crappy game mechanics, the game isn't fun anymore.

August 15, 2009

Twilight is bad for your relationship!

I am a bit of a Twilight hater.  Not to the point where I think anyone who likes the series is an idiot or lacks brain cells, but more because I can't get past a lot of the flaws in the series.  One flaw is how the relationships work in the series, but I can only attest to how people who read it described it to me.  So for this post, I'm not going to rag on how ridiculousness the Bella-Edward relationship is in the series. 

This article will, though, since that woman has read the book, thus saving me from my eyes bleeding.  Because they would bleed, readers.  Oh they would bleed.

From what I've heard and read and even seen in the movie (though I drank to enjoy that movie) the relationship between Bella and Edward is abusive.  How Edward stalks her tells her what to do and say is very reminiscent of those Lifetime movies I try to avoid where the woman is being abused.  To think that a ton of adolescent girls think this is what romance is supposed to be like sickens me.  Let's raise our little girls to be weak and feeble and depend on men for everything!  And let's raise these girls to want a man who will be overly protective and will have to know everything they do and say!  Perfect plan!

I'm not saying that one book will cause a whole generation of girls to be like this.  It's just a little messed up in my opinion.

Also, I'm extremely biased towards anything that's supposed to be sparkly and menacing.  It's a formula that doesn't work for me.

From the deviant art page of blastedgoose.

P.S. Did you notice this is my 100th post? I almost didn't!  Hooray for 20 Sided Woman!

August 12, 2009

Focus Group thoughts.

I can't say much.  The non-disclosure agreement says I can't talk about anything for two years.  I will say that you've all probably heard about this product before, even though it's not ready for mass consumption just yet.  It's more that if they use any new ideas, I know where they came from.

Remind me two years from today that I can talk about it, and I shall. 

August 11, 2009

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Sunday I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI.  It's right on the border of WI and IL, so it was a mere hour drive away from me.  And to top it off I have a good enough costume to go as a pirate!  WOOT!

For those of your who have never been to a Ren Faire before, the deal is you pay for an experience where the theme is the Elizabethan era.  I say theme because not everyone speaks strange or pokes fun at your modern technology, but sometimes that's part of the deal.  Do you have to go in costume?  No.  Do you have more fun that way?  In my opinion, yes.  

At Bristol there are lots of shows with great entertainment, lots of shops with great products, and lots of fun people who are fun to talk to.  At the two ren faires I've been to, this one and the one in Tuxedo, NY, the people are fun and approachable.  Those are the kind of people hired for the faire.  Or I should say those are the kind of people that apply for the job in the first place.  So unless you are a complete sourpuss or the most catastrophic life experience just happen, you're guaranteed to have a good time.

Shows I liked:

Tartanic: High energy bagpipe band that definitely were lively and fun.  Good music, which will surprise you if you thought you didn't like bagpipes.  I actually saw them twice and the two shows were not exactly the same.  These guys live to play music and entertain, especially the front guy who loves interacting with the audience.  Check them out if you like fun celtic music and men in kilts.  Unfortunately they were only at faire that weekend, but you can check them out elsewhere if you check out their site.
The Swordsmen:  Dirk and Guido out on a hilarious comedy routine that involves swords play, self-deprecating jokes and embarrassing audience interaction if you're into that kind of thing.  It's comedy that's just intelligent enough to make everyone laugh without feeling like you lost all your brain cells, unlike shows like Jackass that I secretly appreciate.  Dirk's facial expressions will carry half of your laughs, for he's blessed with the gift of comical exaggerated emoting.  Not to forget Guido who's partly funny because at first you think he's the smart one of the group, looking just slightly more dignified. Nay!  He's just as stupid as the show goes on.  Check this out for laughs at stupid men with dangerous objects.
1 Flaming Idiot: I don't think this guy has his own website, or at least I can't find it.  But Rob Williams does have a few videos of him making a bologna sandwich with his feet.  And yeah, I was the person who ate that sandwich.  By the way, it was delicious and was the cheapest food at faire.  He also complimented the fact that I was dressed as a pirate, aka a terrorist from two-hundred years ago.  He made a good point.  Anyway, his act is more than just the sandwich with his feet, and he is definitely one of those people who has utilized his crazy energy for the good of other people's entertainment.  I definitely appreciate that.  Check him out whenever you need a bizarre show in your life.

Shops I liked:

Ravensburg Chain Maille: A great selection of chain accessories and gear, for people who want something for their ren faire garb or just a unique piece of jewelry that all their friends will ask about.  Unfortunately I can't find a website for them, but click here to email them, or specifically Steven Dalton who's name is on the card.
Arms and Armor Inc.: Very knowledgeable people who make great swords and other weapons.  And when I mean other weapons, I mean flails and spears and pole axes.  For example, the reason I want to promote them is because this High Gothic Mace tickled my fancy.  I really liked it, and one day when I have the right mantle to place it on I will buy it.  They also do a lot of custom work, and looking at the stuff in person you can tell that the stuff is impressive and pretty.  And any place that makes weapons for the Globe Theatre in London, I am impressed.
The Leather Guy: I think this was the only person at faire who was actually selling raw materials.  A great selection of different kinds of skins and leathers for any seriously crafty person to pick up and work on.  The friend I went to faire with picked some up for a pretty reasonable price and the guy even gave him a discount on some leather when he thought it wasn't the best quality.  If you don't work with skins then you probably shouldn't check the store out, but if you do I will attest to there being an impressive selection for anyone that sets up a raw materials shop at a ren faire.
The Isle of Man Woodworking: the website does not show the extensive amount of well made wood products that these guys put out this year.  I especially like the mugs that they have, but they have everything else from staffs to cutting boards to wands.  Yes wands.  And a lot of the work is in creative patterns with different types of colorful wood.  I really like those mugs and when I have the money I will probably purchase one.

All in all a fantastic ren faire, and I think everyone who is even vaguely interested in some of this stuff should check it out if they're in the area.  Or a ren faire closer to you if you wish.  Trust me, it's fun!

August 8, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Today I went to the memorial service for the teacher that led the sci-fi and fantasy club at my high school.  My friends and I affectionately called her Lady P, and she was definitely the glue that held the club together.  She was a smart and charming woman who, although wasn't the biggest sci-fi fan, loved the kids and the discussions we had.

I went to the service merely as a gesture of good faith.  I had served as Vice President the year after she retired, and for multiple reason the club never got back to it's strong following.  This is partly because the sci-fi club was really held together by Lady P.  She made it such a welcoming atmosphere for everyone, and helped us think of fantastic activities.  I also have to thank her for introducing me to a lot of new things that broadened my horizons.  

However, I never really thought about that until today.  I didn't realize that she was a big part in shaping who I was in high school, which evolved into the nerdy girl I am today.  She was a confident nerdy woman, and I think that's part of the reason why our club was dominated by females.  Sure we were all nerdy females, but a lot of the time it's hard for girls to get into their local sci-fi and fantasy clubs because they're so male dominated.  A lot of girls find that intimidating.  Lady P helped with that.  But overall, she helped the sci-fi club be the little family it was when she was there.  Her presence was profoundly missed and I wish there were more people like her just as teachers in general.

Today I went to the service not expecting to be moved but here I am tearing up like I did hours ago because I realize I wouldn't be the confident nerd woman I am without people like her in my life.  She touched me and so many other students with that club.  My friends and I met some from the inception of her running the club in 1991.  They still remembered her and how she was the backbone of us nerd kids.  And she helped us have a safe space for hobbies that even today will still get persecuted against by our peers in school for whatever reason.  

So today, I said goodbye to Lady P, and hope she knew how thankful we all were for what she did for us all those years.

August 6, 2009

The Quest!

When you're apparently really good at being unemployed without even trying, you have to make little projects here and there to keep yourself occupied.  So I have given myself a quest: to find as many locally owned gaming stores as possible in the area.

I've already been to GamePlus in Mount Prospect, and that place is pretty good.  I usually go there when I'm going on a dice binge and they've been somewhat sympathetic to my addiction.  It's what a gaming store should be and sticks to the classic model pretty well.  The classic model also includes a bunch of male staff.  And a lot of them are older than me too.  To me they are still approachable and probably even more approachable than some of the staff I've seen at other hobby/gaming stores.  And the staff has always been willing to help and hasn't had a problem with my gender like I've heard that a few girl gamers have dealt with before.  

The point is every time I've been to Games Plus it's been fun and I'm always willing to go back and give them more of my money.  The staff are knowledgeable and almost every time I walk in there is a great nerdy conversation going on that's fun to listen to.  And it's classic, it's your neighborhood hobby store.  It's just reeks of the memories of when you first picked up a D&D book and you were forever hooked.

But I want to see if there is more out there.  Who else is indulging in my hobbies?  Well there are a couple stores I hope to write about here soon when I get the chance to travel.  

Black Sun Games and Chicagoland Games are the only two I've been able to find in the area, so I'm going to check both of them out.  Right now it looks like Chicagoland Games is winning point for me, both in accessibility (Taking the el straight is a lot easier than taking bus, then el, then bus) and in web page layout.  

I'm also thinking of starting my investigation of girl gamers there.  I'm wondering how unkosher it is to start asking opinions of women gaming and stuff to the people who run the stores and such.  Who knows?  All I can do it just see what happens.  

This Quest, however, may have to wait until its closer to the end of the month.  By then I will be less busy and have some income from some random sources.  So that's the plan as of now.

I'm going to have a better game plan for my investigation later, which I'll post here.  If for some reason you get a lead or an idea for that project, feel free to drop me a line.  I'd like to thank EastwoodDC for trying to help me out earlier.  Any helpful gesture is definitely appreciated.

August 5, 2009

Focus group in a week!

While I sit here sniffling the cold I starting right now, and applying for jobs left and right, I am looking forward to some time next week where I will take place in a focus group!

It's not any kind of focus group, but it's something that involves video games.  Squee!  For all I know I'm trying some new game out.  

Of course when I get there and test it out I'm sure I will have to sign some non-disclosure agreement.  So no ranting and raving about it on the blog.  However I will let you know how I feel about the experience.  Not that professing my feelings about something I can't describe will let you know what's actually going on in that focus group, but hey, it's something to talk about right?


Still working on getting a post together about my sims 3 adventures.  Have to ask the Boyfriend how to access the pictures I took in game so far.  And since I'm all sick and tired, I think after some more job searching I will play it some more.  

August 3, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2: Why I am NOT offended.

The media is at it again!  Another debate about race in video games.  I'm a little late on picking up this one but that's okay, I was late with the RE5 issue as well.  

Again, this is coming from a GamePolitics article that read a post in a blog by a writer from the Houston Chronicle who's saying that Valve is being insensitive by putting black zombies in their Left 4 Dead sequel that takes place in New Orleans.

Okay... what?

Let's take a look at some game play, shall we?

Did you watch?  Okay, did you see anything that offends you?  I didn't.  If you are offended let me know because I might be missing something.  But I don't find anything that's inheriently racist.  There are zombies.  You are trying to shoot at them.  Or beat them with a frying pan, which makes a very satisfying PANG on a zombie's head.

The writer for the Chronicle says that Valve should be more careful about using the former disaster zone in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with the remembrance of "bloated bodies".  I understand that, but almost every story has a tragedy.  Should we not have games that have fires in Chicago, or earthquakes in L.A.  Yes, Katrina is recent, we're approaching the 4 year anniversary (I remember because I had just moved into my dorms as a freshmen in college).  But we have to give valve the chance to deal with the situation appropriately.  If we don't you know I will whine about it on the internet.

I think what ticks me off is that unlike the RE5 incident, there aren't any instances where the game play has racist images or messages.  Yes, there are black zombies.  But New Orleans has black people in it, and I don't see African Americans being immune to a zombie outbreak.  Although that would be pretty sweet.  Anyway, there are also two black protagonist that don't seem to be overt stereotypes either.  There's just nothing for this writer to cement his assertion on.  Luckily the developers of the game are calling it "utter insanity".  Because it is, not every game with black zombies are racist.  In fact, none of them have to be as long as people think things through, and hopefully Valve will prove that they have thought things through.

I invite you to look at all the media available on Gametrailers here.  To be honest I haven't watched anything, but I have watched a substantial amount without seeing anything that is offensive to me as a black person.  Although, their standard redneck character might offended someone.

If you go to the article in GamePolitics, you might see that one commenter says it's a way to gain readership for the Chronicle.  I will say if it is, it's probably working.

August 2, 2009

Go Play Audiosurf

So I thought the next few days would have involved more playing sims than what has happened.  It's not that I haven't been playing the sims for hours, it's more that I found out the Boyfriend has one of the most addictive games known to man.

This game is Audiosurf.

Here's the deal for this "puzzle racer": The game finds a song file, analyzes it, and from there makes a level for the actual game.  When you play the game you are trying to collect all the colored blocks.  The block then takes up a space on a grid right under your ship.  You can see how it works in the picture I've posted.  When three or more blocks are grouped on the grid, you score major points! Depending on the song it can be either relaxing and easy or brutally hard.  

The best thing about this game is that it's ridiculously easy to pick up but yet hard to master.  It's about finding the rhythm as well as good reflexes.  There are a good amount of variations, but there's no shame in keeping it simple.  I usually just play Mono, the easiest one, because the game is so fun even when I'm not sure of what song I've picked from The Boyfriend's hard drive.

Audiosurf has been out for a while, so I may not be surprising anyone.  But if you don't have just go here and buy it.  It is worth all ten bucks.  That's right, ten bucks for a PC game that uses your own personal soundtrack.  That's a great deal.

I know I sound like a sales person, but this game is fantastic and I think everyone should own it. 

Only downfall, well at least for me, is that it doesn't have a Mac version.  Oh well.