Monthly Archives: January 2008

Prosecution against Pirate Bay, again…

I don’t know if its just, but I can’t seem to get the story strait on the whole Pirate Bay story. In the last year I’ve heard so many versions on what happens. But now it seems like the duel is going down once and for all. Today the prosecution against the site begins in Swedish court, when a big group of international movie company, records labels and video game publisher are suing the site for enabling piracy of copyrighted material.

Last night on Swedish tv-channel TV4, there were a debate about the subject with representative’s from the record industry (Bert Carlsson, who doesn’t even have a computer) and a spokesperson from The Pirate Bay. And frankly I was really pissed at the low state of the discussion. They just nagged on about the usual stuff concerning piracy. The record labels still nagging about how piracy is the reason for the declining in record sales and the music industries profit. And Pirate Bay still claims they don’t see any moral problem wih their site and the BitTorrent technology. Yes the technology isn’t illegal, its what people use it for is.

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Again I say it, I’m not for stealing and people who do honest work should get paid. But I simply can’t stop wondering who cares about us common people? The industries (videogame, movie and music) is only interested in making as huge profit as possible to then place these back in to new productions. And the Torrent-“industry” defend their right to continue to develop their technology and sites. Sort of a statment against the entertainment industry…. I don’t know.

But the reality is that lots of people download copyright material for free, rather then buying it. And this have been going on for years! I remember in the late 90s then the Mp3 format came, it was a revolution, and it took the music industry years to realise the potential. Some of my old friends asked me last year when I would go work in the music industry, apparently it was written in the stars according to them. My answer still is probably never and if so not until the music industry get their shit together. They still hang on to the CD format and want people to buy their music over and over again! And they release many versions and some times add new tracks so people will buy the CD again! Again… many people download music for free, and what does that tell you? That people don’t like music? People love music and with the technology of the modern day (read Internet), they have new was to discover new  and more music than before. And they want the music to be theirs and to be able to do what they want with it. But the record labels haven’t been keeping up with their most important client, their customer! Their just interested in getting the best artist who will create best music to earn the record labels the most amount of profit. Have they ever asked us consumer how we want our music? Most of the people downloading music isn’t bad guys or criminals, but average people! That should be an indication to the music industry to try to change it self instead of just holding on to the past and the old business model that obviously doesn’t work in today society.

And if Pirate Bay should be convicted or even shut down, many other stand waiting to take over. The new distribution of media and files can’t be stopped…  so try to see the possibility’s and use it right! So many attempts have been made from the entertainment industry, some managed to make it work, many many failed!!! In music one could say that the first real “success” was Apples iTunes, and yet again the record labels and movie industry isn’t happy and just want more money. NBC Univeral wanted more, Steve Jobs said that the people don’t want to pay more and NBC Universal couldn’t accept that. So they went to Amazon, (but now it seems they going back to Apple after all). The failure of locked CDs and DRM protected MP3 took the music industry years to understand wouldn’t work. Again… maybe just try to listen to what people want and don’t treat them like criminals or idiots. They are the most important thing for corporations, they decided the future of entertainment industry’s. I really think that the music industry’s executives should get down from their high horses and face reality. They have lost power, so live with it.

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Hackers to take down religon?

The recent month have been interesting, watching hacker groups infiltrate many big Swedish webportals. The year of the hackers, perhaps?
Just read this news, that a group of anonyms hacker have published a video on YouTube, declaring that they have a goal and agenda… to take down Scientology! The revolution comes from down-under. I think its good at the same time its scary. In this particular case I think its great, but what if it were the other way around? Religion or terrorists trying to take down their enemies through the web.

But what I like about it is the possibilities for the little people to fight a higher power with new weapons. And that states, corporations, cults and religions can’t just do what they want today just cause they have money or power. That they should fear us, the grunt folks. And that we will respond and not just take the shit!

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Another great example of is the failure of Fox News “debate” about the nudity in Mass Effect, which have angered the gaming community. Even anti-gaming profile Jack Thompson think this debate is ridiculous. The “expert” psychologist who was invited to comment on the game (which she hadn’t even played), where on the show mostly to promote her book. And the whole news was obviously written to black paint (Swedish expression direct translated 😉 ) videogames, again! The response have be many, EA publisher of the game have complained to Fox for the poorly and pathetic story. The author/psychologists book have been receiving wretched review on her book on Amazon, mostly from gamers, and have now gone out and withdraw her statement. I even think this have had a huge impact on Fox News credibility, if it ever had any before that is!

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DICEs are rolling

Sweden as a gaming country has a high value, in an international perspective. We have many great development studios, an international digital distribution platform (Gamersgate) and lots of great e-gamers in online games like Counter-Strike and WoW. But especially when it comes to development, we’ve got a good reputation. With studios like Grin, Starbreeze, Avalanche, Massive and maybe the biggest, DICE. Its been quiet from them now a while, the only big thing is some news of Battlefield: Bad Company.

Mirror EdgeBut now they really show how much they have in their pipeline. Battlefield Heroes, Mirror´s Edge and the one mentioned above. DICE recently released 2 screenshots of Mirror’s Edge, which have created a great buzz of the game. I read about the game in Edge Magazine a few mouth ago, so it isn’t really big news.

Battlefield Heroes on the other hand is really interesting, no for the cartoony 3rd person gameplay, but rather the business model of Ad-driven free game. Its been tested before, for example Far Cry. I downloaded the ad-version, but it didn’t work so I trashed it.
But this Battlefield game is a brand new game of a “old” and successful franchise, and a part of a new EA concept called Play 4 Free. The basic idea is to make games more appealing towards the mass-market, easy to start playing and a graphical style that people recognize (read Pixar and Team Fortress 2-style). Many podcast I’ve listened to last week commented on that fact, that it feels like a rip-off on Team Fortress 2. I can understand that, but I don’t think it’s a big deal! Other developers should have taking after the TF2 style eventually. And this Battlefield game isn’t even a FPS, rather a 3rd person shooter. So its like a combination of Team Fortress 2 and Warhawk, Awsome!
As mentioned earlier, the big thing with this game is the free, Ads- and microtransaction business model. Microtransaction is the big model in Asia, but haven’t really worked here. So this should be interesting. And this Ads revenue model… what I’ve heard (somewhere I don’t remember the source), its not like Battlefield HeroesIn-Game advertisement. But rather between games and in the meny or was it on the website where you download the game? Something like that. For that model to work I sure hope they really thing about who they sell Ad-space to, so they make sense and is relevant for the visitors.

Also I get the feeling that Battlefield Bad Company is more focused on the singleplayer experience and Battlefield Heroes more like complement for the multiplayer part. Battlefield BC sure look nice and all, but maybe not the most optimized for smooth online multiplayer for a mass market that don’t have new computers. Heroes feels more planed to work for basically everybody. But I don’t really know all of EA and Dice plans, I’m just speculating.

Self Marketing (or Personal Marketing)

Feels like I’ve got clarity and opened my eyes. Last week I finished reading the book Game by Neil Strauss. A sort of introduction manual to the world of Pick-Up-Artists and the social game of people. I found it very inspiring, especially from a social and communication view. How people work and act in social context. And I have though about that ever sense I started reading the book… That it all boils down to basically, who to market your self. This is important in many aspect, and people do it with out thinking about it. But if you’re aware of it, the chances will increase to be more successful.

Self_MarketingI constantly think of how I market myself professionally in my work. To define what I want to work with, investing much of my freetime in that area and show it. A great example is this blog. One of the reasons I started it was to promote myself and my knowledge, accessible to everyone with a internet connection. And its a media form I strongly recommend to people, and to actively work with their self marketing process. To analyse one self, that’s my goals, strengthens and weaknesses. With that in mind, you have a better start when working with promoting yourself.

And blog is a wounderful form to do it. Easy, free and accessible! But if you start doing it, you have to (with everything) love what you do and it should come natural. You can’t force yourself to write if you don’t have the interest. I wouldn’t have my current job, if it weren’t for my actively blog writing and studying of Search Engine Marketing on my free time. A good example why I recommend people to work harder with new media like blogs and constantly updated with all the news in the fields that interest you! I scanned a few web pages on the subject Self Marketing, and the discussed many things like appearance and self-confidence, which is important to, but in my view only a small piece of the whole picture. But a good think to keep in mind, always be aware of what you publish when working with blogs, and how it will be viewed in others eyes.

I’ve heard many sceptical people on the subject of blogs. “Who reads them?”, “Aren’t they just filled with personal bullshit about uninteresting people?”. Yes there are lots of blogs about flat out shit, but people have trouble to understand the things with blogs in my experience. For me a blog is sort of a framework, webpage’s with technical features that makes them easy to work with. The hard question and work with a blog is what you write. A blog is really just the hardware, the platform, and you create the content. And the content is the only thing that matters! For example, I have laid out rules for my self not to write to personal things in my blog, and constantly think once or twice about what I write. That’s not to say I write strictly academic texts, my self as a person have to shine through. A mistake I made in the beginning. It have to feel like there’s a person behind the keyboard. But to me it’s a tool for my personal marketing, and a place to display my knowledge and store it, so I don’t forget. ;)It’s just a matter of how you work with the medium.

The basic principle of Marketing are useful in many aspect of life. To analyse a situation or problem, and figure out the best approach. For example, when you want to hit on a nice girl on party’s or when your out. What are the condition of the situation, how do you wanna sell yourself and your image to her. Whats your Unique Selling Points? And instead of analysing the market (which you do in a way), you study the social situation, and adapt. And that’s one thing discussed in The Game, to be able and adapt to the situation when meeting new people. But I still believe its important to still stay true to yourself, and not become someone your not, or at least to a certain degree.

Boondocks myspace

[Update]
By some strange reason, all my most creative thoughts come when I’m going to sleep at night (ench the reason why I’m often tired…). Last night I lay and remembered many things I forgot to discuss in this post, so I simply update it now.

One of the bigger points I wanted to stretch out, was the notion of working with your self as a brand! And what do I mean by that? Simply that the same principles for creating and maintaining a strong brand, can be translated and used on your self. You are your own brand, with value in the same sense as corporate brands. And who are you then? My view is that your brand value is the sum of your experience, moral valuation and knowledge. I might have forgotten something, but what the heck… The point is that it’s your job to work with yourself to increase or just maintain a high personal brand value.

And a personal brand, again like a corporate brand, will have different value or reference, depending of other people’s eyes or views. Everybody have some kind of relationship with a brand. Love it, hate it, don’t know it or something else, the variations are limitless. Even if people don’t recognise your brand, that’s a relationship to it (the most easy one to change). And the same can be said about your own relationship to other people. This is reason I mention the importance to adapt, to read the situation and people around to sell your brand in the best way. Here’s another similarity, corporations and marketers want people to have a good felling and relationship with their brand, to remember it and buy it again and again. Almost create an addictive feeling. They don’t say it flat out, but that’s their dream! And that feeling are the same you hopefully want people you meet to have. To remember you with a positive memory, and a feeling of talking more to you. That feeling Neil Strauss talk about in his book, to get the girls to want you more.

As with any market, everybody struggle towards being the leader, to dominate the market. Again the same can be said about people and groups. I can only speak from my view as a guy, but isn’t everyone in someway trying to be the alpha male (= market leader?). The one people remember and talk about, hopefully in a positive way. People look up to that person (brand) and want to be that guy. Sometimes described as a trendsetter that constantly ahead of the others who blindly follow. And here as with the rest of the world, there are many different markets. Different segments and nisched markets that require the ability to read the situation and adapt. When I read The Game, it often felt like many of the techniques and theories he presented could be linked to basic marketing theories.

Apples in the Air

Once again Steve Job have spoken to the world, at the annual Macworld Expo, and this time he didn’t present anything really huge. Rather all the small things he did and talked about was right, in my opinion. The expectations on his keynotes are always sky high, even if I watch them maybe more just to study his presentation skills. According to some sites, when I’ve looked around, they consider the news on the latest keynote to a bit disappointing and nothing really new. But then again, they can’t always blow us away?

Apple gamesGamedaily have an article were they point out some of the great things Apple does, and what the console manufactures don’t. Basically what Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo could learn from Apple. Everything from physical design, interface design, distribution and one of the most important things, consumer focus.
In the Apple keynote, I reacted to a few things Steve talked about. First when he simply started with a big “Thank you!” in his presentation slide. And told all Apple fans and costumers how grateful he and the company was for their success, because of the costumers. How many companies really do that, really thanks their costumers, even if its nothing big it still counts. The second thing I reacted to was when he admitted to have been wrong with the Apple TV, just acknowledge mistakes and try to correct them says alot! And finally, during the presentation of the Macbook Air, then he somewhat answered all the talk of Apples lack in environment work.
Anyhow… my point is that Apple really try to, at least, create the feeling of the consumer as the centerpiece for everything they do. I’ve stated this many times, but I really like what Apple does. One think for example is when NBC Universal wanted to raise the price for Tv shows in iTunes Store to make more money, and Steve said that people (=costumers!) don’t want to pay more. Costumers are the most fucking important thing in the worlds for big companies, and if they don’t acknowledge that, then they have no damn right to complain ever!

Also, it seems that Apple is slowly adapting to the request of games for the Mac. Or maybe that the game companies see that Mac is taking more marketshares, and don’t want to shut that segment out, I don’t know…

Games 2008

Next Generation listen some of the games, likely or less likely, to be released this year, and which they’re excited about. Thought I would list some of the game I look forward to. I only focus on the PC, Wii and PS3 platforms, cause those are the platforms I own and play most.

PCStarcraft 2 Zerg

Now that I finally bout a new computer I’m really excited about the upcoming releases. Also the PC as a game platform have had hugh competition as consoles taking a big part of the market. The PC games I look forward to this year is:

  • Far Cry 2 – If its released this year I definitely gonna play it. The first one is good, and I hope the second is even better. Thou I should say that I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t finished the first game to the end :/ .
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky – I have the first game, but havn’t played it. But I’ve been recommended to play it. And I really like FPSs and RPG so I should like it (I hope).
  • Left 4 Dead – Newly Valve owned developers Turtle Rock Studios zombie FPS have a nice concept for their game Left 4 Dead. Blast zombies to hell!!! Who doesn’t like that!?
  • Starcraft 2 – Really sceptical if this one gonna be released this year, but if it is, I think its gona kick ass! Played the hell out of the first one, so the expectations is way high!Mario Kart Wii

Wii

Okey, I got a Wii, but I can’t say it have stolen to much time from me. I don’t have that many games, and is maybe a little disappointed with the Wii game catalogue. Okami would have been on the list, if I didn’t already own it for the PS2. None of the Wii games are games I desperately want to play, I still have to buy and play Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime : Corruption.

  • Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors – Again, still havn’t finished the previous game, but this look a little more action oriented. So I hope it isn’t so slow paced as the previous PS2 game.
  • Mario Kart Wii – Mario Kart is Mario Kart. Probably never as good as the SNES version, and I hope they innovate this one. And, please, try to use the internet potential!?

Playstation 3

2007 was the year for Playstation 3 for me. The platform I spend most time playing on. And I hope they work equally as hard this year to release good games. Games for the PS3 I’m stoked about is:

  • Haze – In recent years I’ve gotten used to play FPS on consoles, and think it works great. Especially Call of Duty 4 online worked really good, and I hope the trend will continue in 2008 with Haze. First scheduled for 2007, this game should come this year.
  • Little Big Planet – Not really a game in my eyes, but I’m still interested to see what exactly it is. And what will happen with the community side.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 : Guns of the Patriots – Metal Gear!!! Thats all Ill say!
  • Killzone 2Killzone 2 – It took me some time to purchase Killzone, but it was the game that introduced me to FPS for consoles. And I really enjoyed that game. (Fun fact: I bout it mostly cause it got really good review scores, the same with God of War)
  • Final Fantasy 13 – Another game I doubt will be done this year. But you can always hope. I only hope its better than FF12, which according to me was a hugh disappointment!
  • Resistance 2 – one of the launch titles for the PS3, a ordinary FPS to kill some time with. The sequel under development, which was expected. I only hope they don’t put to much energy for the multiplayer side.
  • Motorstorm 2 – Please… implement splitsrceen mode!!!!!!!
  • Rock Band – Released in the US, I hope to enjoy this here in Sweden in the beginning in start of 2008

Then there’s probably will come games that totally blow me away (I hope).
Almost every podcast I’ve listened to recently have had these list, so I though it would be an idea to make one my self. What’s your list?Final Fantasy 13

Games designed to be addictive? Well döh!

Saw this video yesterday. A discussion on the ever returning subject of videogame addiction. They talk to a mama, who’s son committed suicide after getting addicted to EverQuest. She have started a site that focus on the addiction of videogames, for other parents to join the discussion and educate them about games.

I can respect and understand that, but what I react to is when she says that games are designed (especially through the different rewards systems) to be addictive. A good game is an experience that keeps the player playing, much like corporations want people to buy their products over and over again. Like the prime example World of Warcraft with its 9 million subscribers paying over 10 dollars a month! Now that company wouldn’t want that? Marketers work their asses of and spend million of dollars to get the same effect, and if they succeed, no one complain.

Then its always a question of personality. It differs from person to person who can handle their gaming. Same way with others addictive stuff like alcohol and sex, some people can’t handle them. But don’t go blame game developers for doing their jobs! They work til they bleed to create new and fun experience, and one component is a good reward system (among other) to keep people playing. And people obviously want that, cause game industry break new records every year. I just get so sick of this discussion. If games didn’t had that “thing” which makes gamers return, the game industry wouldn’t exist today. The game them self isn’t evil, its how people use them. Kind a like guns…

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Fan develop the use with Wii technology

Its late Friday night (early Saturday morning), and I’m watching On the Spot as every Friday, and they showed this video clip from YouTube. I was totally blown away! If Nintendo watch this they just have to hire this guy and try to create a peripherals of it! Screw WiiZaper and WiiFit, even all the talk about 3D tv and the lack of hardware power of the Wii. This is that the futures about!!! And a good example of a fan taking the development of the new technology in there own hands!

I out of words, just blown away… Watch and be amazed!

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New year, new computer

Finally, a new year and new adventures. And what better way to start the new year, then with a new computer. My current computer still works, but it have problems with the latest games, video editing and 3D modeling. So I decided to buy a new, and even try to overclock this one. All the parts have been ordered, but the graphic card isn’t in stock, so I wait for that one.

The system I’ve ordered is this:

  • Cooler Master Centurion 5 Miditower ATX WHITE without PSU/utan nätagg.
  • Xion AXP 630W PSU 120mm Cooling Fans ATX 2.2
  • MSI P35 NEO2-FIR iP35 4DDR2-DIMM 2PCI 4PCIe SATA Raid Audio GB-LAN Socket775 ATX
  • Intel Core 2 QUAD Q6600 2.4GHz 8MB FSB1066 Boxed (with cpu-cooler!) Socket 775
  • Zalman CNPS9700LED Giant Copper 110mm Ultra Quiet CPU Heatpipe Cooler
  • Mushkin SP2-6400 2x2048MB (tot. 4096MB) DDR2 PC2-6400 800MHz 5-5-5-12
  • Seagate Barracuda ST3320620AS 7200.10 320GB 7200rpm 16MB cache SATA2
  • Western Digital Caviar XL WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200rpm 16MB SATA2
  • Samsung SH-S203B DVD±RW Dual-Layer 20X WHITE bulk SATA
  • Leadtek WinFast GeForce 8800GT 512MB DDR3 TV-out HDTV DUAL DVI RETAIL PCI Express
  • Auzentech HDA X-Plosion 7.1 GOLD/Dolby Digital Live DTS-Connect PCI
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit DVD Svensk OEM

I’m really exited and barely can’t wait for it. Hopefully I get all the parts within the next 2 weeks. I’ll post some pictures of it later when I build it.