Category Archives: IT

Market(ing) Research

I was made aware of a picture that has been around for some time, it is an optional strong image and it can be used in any direction. The byline that was given was “I’m blown away that this diagram made it into a major publication” I personally agree!

The image is what I would call a 2 by 2 image of a clusterfuck that goes nowhere and openly misinforms people. The more important part is that it is based on truthful observation and that is where the cog tends to upset the machine to a much larger degree. It has two rows (very useful and not useful), two columns (Time consuming and not time consuming) and the 4 elements are labeled “Plan, Learn, Ignore and Browse”. So far one would think that it makes sense, yet the image has in each of the 4 elements:

Plan (AI, Machine Learning, Information security andStatistical Programming), Learn (Data Science, Data Visualization, and Business Intelligence), Ignore is for (Predictive analytics, Mathematics, Statistics and Data Warehousing) and Browse is reserved for (Spreadsheeting, Data Cleaning, and Financial Analysis), as such we might consider the first stage, this was made for people in marketing, for people who need to visualize data to give stakeholders a story to hold onto. The idea that some consider that Financial analyses was not time consuming to acquire is a chapter we will forego for now. It is the Ignore part that gets me, You see Marketing researchers are about the story that can be served like a Tiramisu, something that goes down easily with the Stakeholders and shareholders, yet it is the mathematics and statistics that makes them want to ask questions, not something a company wants, they want them to merely eat the cake and fuck off. But topline stories are actual stories, it is the connected mathematics and statistics that gives them the power, yet in today’s market it is an expensive trip to do and many companies don’t do that well, mainly because the statistics might show another side to all this and that is not what they want to tell the shareholders and stakeholders. And consider that a larger firm has taken the time to properly set up a Data Warehouse, do you really want to ignore all that data?

In all this there is a much larger issue. The field of what was a proper Market Research field has been replaced by mere topline storytellers and we call that Marketing Research and it is as I see it  holy useless.

Topline stories sound nice, but without the underlying statistics it is for the most conjecture and speculation but without supporting finesse. It is the merchant that looks at the tally of his shop and speculates on how they will do in the next quarter, yet it is true that to some extent they can do that, but without supporting numbers (from Statistics, and Predictive analyses) optionally cornered in mathematics, it remains speculative. It is like seeing the marketing manager and sales manager plotting out ‘their’ path towards financial success and as regression was coming up short, they relied on General Linear Modelling to fill in the blanks. In my lifetime career spanning well over a quarter of a century in Business Intelligence, I have met 6 people who truly knew the proper way to use GLM (MANOVA in the old days) In the Netherlands Hans Krijnssen and Jos van den Ronden, In Belgium Jacques Tacq, in the UK Jane Moore, and in the US there are Dave Nichols and Tony Babinec. I am not a mathematician, I recognise proper usage, but I cannot use these procedures properly myself. There are more people who know it, yet I met 6 over a term of 25 years, this is a limited field, it comes in various shapes and sizes, but they all have degrees in mathematics, it sets the analysts apart from the marketing researchers. We have become too reliant on short term goals without the essential need to have a long term direction in mind. Most companies took the bait when they were told that short term planning is the moneymaker, but there is also the need for long term planning and testing, I might think short term with my IP sale, but I am up against long term strategists who do think outside the box and that is where a lot do not wish to be, they cannot make the long term turnover, their sales training with their pipeline is all about quarterly growth and achieved sales trajectory, the image merely enforces that view, yet the larger view needs to come from what they would happily ignore. It comes down to the old story, The analyst shows you the essential path, whilst marketing is set like a politician, they make you yearn for the invoice. This now translates into marketing handing you the invoice and the numbers feeding that need for purchase are and remain absent.

How is that solving your need?

I believe that Marketing Research is the most dangerous of approaches in the near future, if they go about it with their limited topline reporting tools, someone up high will ask that one question that cannot be answered and it all falls to pieces, it will do so eventually when the storytellers rely on the short story and the process goes south too fast and the numbers will not give the shareholders any confidence, because that will happen a lot sooner than most sales people are happy with. Let me be frank, there is a market, an essential market in these topline presenters and their software tools, they take away the loads of effort and the required approach to get there, but by themselves they are not a solution, they are a supporting tool and that is where a lot of players go wrong. 

So yes, there is also the stage where the image is supporting a different text, but overall the image shows a lack of insight and a support track towards what I would call ‘deceptive conduct’ or to state it slightly less diplomatic ‘relying on misconception to sell a view to a sale’ approaches that go nowhere in the long run, especially when the people who should ask questions, actually start asking the questions that are implied to be answers, all whilst they are no such things.

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Deceit and Stupidity

For me it is a brand new day, it is 2:36 and I am now seriously contemplating the move of handing my IP to China. Not because I hate America, I do not, I really do not, but the stupidity that we are exposed to should not ever be accepted. The BBC reported an hour ago ‘US targets Huawei with tighter chip export rules’, there is nothing wrong with that foundation. We all have reasonings and whatever the US requires is their business. Yet in the article we see two items. The first is seen in the quotes “aimed at limiting Chinese technology giant Huawei’s access to semiconductor technology” as well as “prevent US technologies from enabling malign activities contrary to US national security and foreignpolicy interests” The second quote here is double edged. When we see “contrary to US national security ad foreignpolicy interests”, we need to realise that it can mean many things, above all it means that what America implies as foreign policy, could also mean their economic position and we all know it, in that regard America is done for. Whether or not we see the acts of the current president being of less academic value than the acts of Popov the Clown is beside the point. The US remained in the laid back position for a decade whilst innovation will never allow for this. As such Korea and China got the upper hand in IP and future technology. In the last half decade the US started to realise just how far behind they are and they are trying to rectify it be staging a cartel position, but they are already too late, now that I am adding to the IP losses in 5G they are done for, and as the people around me realise how I created the IP, as they realise where they have not been looking, everyone will see just how shortsighted US policy has become. Even as we see the words by US Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross see when we are treated to “This is not how responsible corporate citizens behave” we see the joke that this had been going on for almost a decade, a step towards iterative exploitation of technology, whilst the people around them were innovative. And in all this they are equally forgetting that the tables can be turned, whilst I address the needs of 400 million businesses, the US will be out of bounds as well, as such Europe, the Middle East and Asia will push beyond the options that American businesses have, it was a simple equation. From my point of view, the innovation that is being brought shows another side, it shows that whole technologies will now set the US in a stand still pattern until 2024, it shows that I am merely one part (one of several) where the us has no 5G options, as that market evolves we see a much larger loss, a loss where we look towards another coin to replace economic value, the US dollar is losing out and as a nation with $25,000,000,000,000 debt has no longe any say in the matter, the banks holding that debt will decide and that will be one of the only things that this US president has achieved, the US population will get to see who is truly in charge and they will wish that they could turn back the clock, but it is too late now. Even now we see how President Trump is blaming the Chinese for the spread of Covid-19. Interesting is it not, how the clear propagation of the flu is now blamed on a government, just like the Huawei accusations absent of clear evidence. 

It becomes even more interesting when we see “The US has said Huawei’s technology COULD be used for spying by the Chinese government”, all whilst there is strong evidence that Cisco equipment is used to bypass security on several levels all over the world, but that is OK? So when (not if) my IP is used to propel business to a much larger degree, the US will be barred in equal measure, as such, we will see high flying 5G consumer technology in effect all whilst the US is merely trying to not drown and the rich will be standing on the heads of the poor whilst doing so, it is apparently the American way. 

And my reasoning?

Well, it is the American way to find the best suited financial solution or my IP, in this I go where the money is and America does not have it, Google might, but they were seemingly not interested. I don’t know about IBM, Apple and Microsoft, yet they are not interesting to me as they are iterative technology boosters, they stopped being true innovators for some time. I need an innovative player and that leaves us with Huawei and Google, so Huawei is seemingly the winner.

In all this America now gets sunk by its own greedy and restrictive rules and I am not the only one, I have heard a few noises all around me and they are not that much in favour towards the US.

What can we do?

As I see it, governments should have demanded clear evidence from the US, but they did not do that, moreover, several governments let themselves be bullied by America who has no real power, merely huge debts and in this I watched several nations become the bitch of the US, so where did we sign up for that?

So far the US has remained absent of evidence, did we not learn our lesson with the Global tour of Colin Powell and his silver briefcase making the WMD farce? Is evidence THAT overrated? So whilst the US is trying to hold on to the illusion that they have what it takes (they lost that ability almost 20 years ago), the rest of the world needs to see that the superpower table is changing and it is governed by those with IP and patent value, as such we see China, optionally we see India taking a much larger claim, all whilst the US claim is diminishing, in all that they get to sit next to Russia who has an equal small stake in the IP side of it all. It leaves with the uncomfortable conversation where we see that Google is also becoming a global superpower whilst its host nation the US is losing its seat, optionally to Google. all in the same stage where we see that South Korea might end up getting invited to that table. The stakes are changing to THAT degree over the next three years, so should we have faith in a player who is about to lose its seat at THAT table? I don’t think so.

 

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Nature of the beast

There was news on how Samsung failed the net mobile options, the news was given ‘Exynos 990-powered Galaxy S20+ flops hard in gaming’ what I read came from NotebookCheck, and it is important that even as I am no friend of Samsung (due to their own doing in 1985), I tend to not be a Samsung hater. Let us not forget that I love Nintendo and I personally hated the WiiU, I also accept that sometimes a failure precedes a success like the Nintendo Switch, so Samsung might optionally be down,but they are not out. In the end the article lets out that it is basically not the fault of Samsung, but the chip (and its makers) is the cause of all the viewed hardship. The Exynos 990 seems to be below par on a few fields as such depending on that chip caused the project to go pear shaped. This is the direct result of choices, sometimes they blow back on us (WiiU anyone?). Yet in the field the hidden message is often missed. As stated ‘after 10 minutes of running PUBG Mobile, the galaxy S20+ was dropping frames to 50fps (something some recent consoles could not maintain), and as low as 40fps by the 20 minute mark’ the story is nowhere near over and Samsung has time to get up to speed in more than one way.

The writer goes on stating how it is that a $200 solution called Redmi Note 8 Pro did so much better. It is interesting that merely one example was matched. Still it is a mark on the status list of Samsung for now, yet a firm that is in the top 5 of most registered patents in the last years does not have merely one push towards the top and even as (for now) the S20+ is not likely to be a pushing power to the top, Samsng has had its share of true innovative successes and as such it will bounce back, it has done that a few times, and I have no doubt it will do so again.

They are not alone, even as Apple has no recorded future failure yet, it seems that not unlike the time of the PowerMac, they face a new chiprace. The news is that Intel just cannot get their response rate right and as we see that, Apple is considering a new path, one that is RISC or ARM, if it is the RISC, we see a return to happy times (ME: happy happy joy joy), yet that is because I am not a chip man and I know little of the ARM, I merely remember the good times of the RISC (I still have my RISC G5), that systems outdid anything available in those days and made no noise. Still that is not enough for you to rely on. In my mind I see another field starting up, all the APP developers relying on little INTEL options to get whatever they made go faster will have to rethink their options, there will be a weeding in the ranks of APP developers soon enough at that point, not to mention the people making PC games and including Apple as an option, it sets the optional parameters that the design for Apple needs to be truly for Apple. These two matters are a larger stage, last year the Irish Times reported on the collaboration between the two in regards to the iTunes movies, but I wonder if it stops there, Samsung has a much stronger infrastructure, Apple has a few unique designs and a following of millions, I wonder if there is not a larger space for more between the two, they must realise that the changed setting of Covid requires a different stage of thinking for the near future, their approach to almost unaffordable phones is nice, but millions of people are getting laid off, people who used to buy their products and that is off the table for the next two years, if not even longer. 

The changes that we are seeing will demand the largest players to find symphony and chorus between them instead of relying on the powerful solo acts that no one can afford. As such we will see a few more surprises in 2020 and 2021. Some might think that the markets will settle again, but they all forgot that to appease Wall Street too many companies were on a 90% stage with no reserves, now it shows as the bankruptcy numbers are going through the roof, even smaller players like Virgin are running for their life laying off thousands of people, without reserves there is no continuance for any of them, they ignored the common setting for keeping reserves and a 2 month shutdown was enough to make most of them buckle and it will get worse, the EU (those pulling the strings) have achieved in delaying Basel III for another year due to Covid implications. The FSB stated in one of their reports “Funding markets have been under strain amid extreme demand for cash and near-cash assets” it is a stage that is escalating, mainly because of a lack of reserves and it hits back at Samsung as well. This one failure is optionally no biggie, but when you consider that the next two years will be washed from larger revenue and profit in a stage where the time was not great to get a failure to deal with is not great, it is all about the reserves and to appease the markets too many players left ‘margin’ on the side for good reporting, it stands to reason that bad news will rule the news on several fields and it seems that Samsung will join that group that ends up having not great news, and optionally they have marginally good news that will get a downward revision up to 60-120 days later, can’t have the current quarter down, can we?

We can look and see how separate events do not add up and that would be fair, there is however a much larger field in sight and in that field the S20+ failure comes at a bad time, yet they are not alone Apple is in a similar place and forgoing individuality for 2-3 years and set combined products might be the good path for those two players. Samsung could revert to another path but overall they are not in charge, their shareholders are and they fear recession like the black plague. This is merely because 2-3 years could result in a stage of no reserves with a much stronger push towards a 3-5 year stage of no consumers and the shareholders fear that much more than anything. 

Is it not interesting how shareholders make a large company much easier to anticipate?

I have no doubt that Samsung will survive this era, just like it did in 1985, so far history has proven me right again and again, yet the entire Corona escalation is new to too many players and to me too, as such there is a lot we cannot see in a stage of feigned ‘non-panic’, even as these people have no idea just how bad things can get, and they need their shareholders to have faith, as such there remains an unknown. 

Time and profit are the ruling elements of the beast that devours, for the most it devours profit, yet what will it resort to when there is no profit?

 

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Remaking the past, facing tomorrow

I have been working on my novel, at 58,000 words, I am more likely only 50% done, but there is a lot more to come and as I was considering (creating in the mind) a new IP in the form of a new TV series I realised that the same idea could be an addition to the book I am writing. As such I felt a little bit of a traitor, as such I feel I have to make amends, even as no one has been hurt, I felt that smudge of treason to the idea. As such, my mind decided to take a turn towards the past, not the distant past (Iran in the old days), but a little more present (like the 70’s). I have written about the best drama series that the UK ever made (I Claudius), yet it was not alone, in that age two other series were made, both in the 70’s and both had a Greek origin. The first was Who pays the ferryman and the other was the Aphrodite inheritance. Both (for that time) excellent pieces of work, both based on excellent books and both with a setting that was mesmerising. Who pays the ferryman gave me the interest for Crete an interest that still lives on today, I have seen it three times. 

Cyprus (where the Aphrodite Inheritance was made) was less on my radar, yet the story was fun and gripping. 

I believe that places like Apple and Netflix could turn these two into interesting remakes, put Greece again and more visibly on the map. Even as the episodes are timely, the remake could set the spirit in the now and the issues that grip Greece, the stories could be upgraded and the issues that were skated round can be gripped with connected nearby historic places like Spinalonga, a stronger interaction with Agios Nikolaos and so on. Crete has plenty of stages and plenty of options. 

The Aphrodite Inheritance, started strong and the story takes on a nice turn, yet in today’s environment, the stage could be set with optional IP theft and industrial espionage (on top of the relic part in the story). It all hit me as I saw the Aphrodite inheritance on YouTube the other day, I believe that the older series and especially the mini series are getting more and more views, not because of the lockdown (partially driven by it), but the fact that plenty of Americans are now looking through the UK base of drama and it has them hooked (I agree that is speculative of me). Yet the number of views and the turn that SBS is making with Name of the Rose, shows that there is a growing interest in remaking good drama into something larger and even more astounding. I admit that I was skeptic on seeing the first few episodes of Name of the Rose, but so far that series exceeded whatever I thought was possible and I think that players like Netflix and Apple are always looking towards new IP, yet they too realise that what was made almost half a century ago was often not surpassed in all these years and the two titles I mention are on that list too. 

And in addition, no matter how many franchises there are and how many Marvel movies are coming, the people also want excellent drama and a lot of franchises just do not deliver on that to the degree described (neither do the Marvel movies). This is nothing against the Marvel movies as their origin is very different from many movies and we get that, and we love them. Yet we want more and we seem to want it now. Apple seems to be on top of the New IP with the new shamalamadingdong series (the man who made the Sixth sense) and now with Servant he makes another stab at our dread factor, he does it (as stated by others) in an exceptional way. 

Yet in this day and age, movies and TV series that rely on the Wow factor do not make it very long and that is where the stage of drama can add to the venue. In the first, the rewatchability of any drama is a lot higher than most other series. Yes, we love horror and Science fiction, yet how often will we rewatch them? Consider an American drama series like The West Wing, the fact that even today a lot want to see it again, even as the series ended well over 10 years ago is decently exceptional, there are other series and yes, there are plenty of wow based series that have the same, but the stage of drama is larger, there is no denying it. Whether a drama is dipped in Fantasy, Science Fiction or Horror does not matter, it is the drama effect that draws the people in and I believe that the audience wants to see more of that and there is every chance that Netflix needs to adhere to that part if they do not want to witness a audience transfer towards Apple plus. That will be seen towards the end of the year as more series and remakes hit Apple plus, they took a swing and hit the ball out of the ballpark. The remakes are more than just a choice, series and movies that were quirky and often fun will optionally become the TV series that are drama’s with a coating of wow. There is no way to tell how this will fare, and this is not an attack on Netflix, but Apple took the war to the next stage and they were ready for bear in this fight. To coin a phrase ‘they brought a bazooka to a gunfight’, and that bazooka merely has to be aimed into the vicinity of Netflix, Netflix will get hit no matter what, the amount of damage cannot be foreseen and the entire Covid setting brought it to the forefront. It hastens the setting we see now and even as Netflix has a lot more series, there is every indication that a 10% shift might be enough to get the Netflix investors running for cover and for them to find a way to break even at best. Yes, we see how Netflix shares are rising faster and faster, but lets not forget that as Americans and Europeans get back to work, they will stop using Netflix to a much larger degree, and in all this the internet congestion we see all over the world does not help Netflix, Internet providers were not ready all whilst they claimed they were. I warned people of that fact in 2018, now I am proven correct, even better, there is every chance that the entire congestion stage will increase over the near future and it has nothing to do with gamers. Zoom with its conferencing side will set a much larger international stage and consider how many firms work internationally now and under the strain of a reduced workforce how many more zoom meetings people have to look forward to.

A stage that goes from bad to worse and there is no way to stop that event. Yet this too is a stage we must give value to, as I see it the entire congestion setting is a drama all by itself, a stge of interactions that will not work and will show other wait time and loading icons, but no movie and no shows to see. It is important because it will hit both Apple plus and Netflix. 

There is nothing as hilarious as both offering 4K whilst the internet providers cannot deliver, the entire Corona stage is merely pushing to the foreground what was there all along. So as that stage is debunked more and more all over Europe and the US, we will soon see a stage where the material not the resolution matters and there we see another stage evolve, the quality of the story, because a wow film is only as good as we get to 4K and uninterrupted view and so far there was a lag and has been for almost 2 years, and as we see the congestion pushed to the foreground more and more, because under 5G the matters will only get worse, not less. 

Yet in all that the remakes will give rise to another lag, the stage of crowd control on the internet. Yes, you might laugh yet the stage is already there, the people will demand the full service all whilst Netflix, Google and others are limiting resolutions to appease the covid pressures of online. And in that stage we see a much larger need, the need to deal with congestion right in the middle of the stage of switching between 4G and 5G. Congestion has not been dealt with and cannot be dealt with, not in the immediate future, as such the people will see a much larger shift to appease their demand and the smaller players will now face the hardship of not being able to deliver, it is a drama all by itself.

No matter how we see the coming of more remakes, they are the stuff we demand, for all kinds of reasons, yet enjoying it on a decent quality will remain a question not merely for the direct future, for the larger timespan, even as people will stop to some degree the stage of streaming, the stage of TV series without advertisements is a lot more appealing than most think and when they are confronted with advertisements the entire stage of Apple Plus, Netflix et al will come to the forefront again and still it comes with internet congestion just below the surface, pushing its head above the waterline sooner than ever before. 

A view to face in the sights of tomorrow.

 

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Parallels

I started playing a new video game. Well, it is not new, I have played it 7 times (I think), I played it on the Xbox 360, the PS3,the Xbox One and the PS4. The game was released on 11/11/11 and it is called Skyrim. I have loved this game since its release and it all started with the predecessor Oblivion. So how does a game become this amazing? There is a parallel with the series I Claudius made in the 70’s. You see there are two distinct differences, this game is great, not great through marketing (Microsoft never learned that lesson). In I Claudius its greatness came from 4 elements. 

  1. The Script
  2. The Cast
  3. The Director
  4. The Environment

I believe that games have a similar side to it, and we can see the difference between a good game and a great game. Even as there is no real cast in Skyrim, the makers have to define the characters, on TV they are played but the impact is similar. It is the environment that has the greater pull, whilst it was Roman times for Claudius, the medieval era that the Elder Scrolls exhibit have a similar pull on people.

It drove me to make the first design for TES: Restoration, yet in all this, I do recognise that another Skyrim was not going to make it, gamers are innovative driven not iterative and we have seen this going back to Tomb Raider 2 (1997) and even before that. 

The first question becomes ‘How can we continue a franchise and remain innovative?’, the second one is ‘How can gaming be pushed towards future greatness?’ In the first case we need to investigate, the second one is for the visionaries. The first question is important because what was released between Assassin Creed 2 and Assassins Creed Origin was less and less and almost destroyed the franchise, it is nice that Ubisoft remains in denial and after that makes a ‘Looking towards the future comment’, yet the issue is much more important than you think. 

Great gaming does not happen overnight and places like CD Project Red are really rare. A lot of game designers tend to be one trick ponies when it comes to great games and so far they pulled it off more than once, as did Bethesda as did a few others. Yet the ones that do are a minority and in the light of console wars investigating what is possible matters, good gaming is good for all, the era where Microsoft and Sony keeping each other one their toes driving gaming is almost a thing of the past and we need to see better games to resolve that issue. It does not matter how it goes, but at present only Sony and Nintendo remain great, Microsoft a lot less so and as such it will impact great gaming for Sony players down the line. 

As to how to fix this, I have no idea. Yet the thought does propel me forward and I Claudius is still a prime example of what makes a product great. The fact that it can stand against any drama produced almost 50 years later is proof of that, yet in that regard looking at the elements help us. The two elements that are the strong drivers here are the Script (the game story) and the environment. In that regard Bethesda is sitting pretty for now. Evenas there is no finality towards Hammerfell (2021), the signs are good and as I personally see it, it would also benefit my idea of TES: Restoration. It doesn’t change the premise, it merely makes it larger and the new consoles are ready for that, the fact that PC’s need to reserve 150GB for the new flight simulator confirms that and gamers do not care about that space, they will do a lot more to their budget to get the best out of games. Thousands of Elite Dangerous fans are evidence of that, they beat flight simulators fans almost two to one on hardware. Andforthese fans storage is an important element (another thing Microsoft never learned in 8 years). And the setting is not PS5 against Microsoft, it is old, stale and Microsoft lost. It is getting The Apple and Google Solution to par off beyond Nintendo. It is not an easy trip but it can be done and a few good games is all that is needed. Not games already released (Diablo 3 and Skyrim), but actual new IP that the others do not have, that makes any new great game 5 times the challenge for the existing consoles. And it can be done, in all this I refuse to discard Apple, when it comes to TV Shows, they are showing to give Netflix a run for their money, and if they can do it on TV, they can do it on gaming too. 

It is a wild west of digital format and both Google and Apple are on equal footing for now, yet the stage in 2022 is not known and cannot be set until the IP comes out for comparison. So all the junkies that are hardware driven will learn a very interesting lesson, the lesson that it was never about the hardware. The CBM64 people saw it, the PS1 and N64 people lived it and no one seems to catch on. It has always been about great games and as we see copies of great amiga games arrive on Android the decision makers are starting to wake up, yet they lost dozens of opportune IP that is now in the hands of those making a few dollars from microtransactions. It is the loss that we have seen over a year and the larger players are apparently not catching on, so where do the gamers stand?

Well, that remains to be seen. I Claudius was almost never a reality and so far has never been remade. The chance of equalling I Claudius is rare to say the least and surpassing it will be almost impossible. It is the impact of a near perfect TV series and games have had that same impact. On TV we saw other series making it good, even great and games can do that too. Will we see it? I have no idea, but if I can come up with 4 golden idea’s in a year there is no way that there is no one else doing that same thing. My biggest issue is that it is unlikely to be Ubisoft, it is more and more likely that several indie developers are sitting on that great idea and finding them by the right people is what counts towards the next console battle. As I personally (and speculatively) see it, someone (high up) at Microsoft will open their mouth making a needed jump to their precious Azure solution, making the game a no go, as such I am more and more curious on what Apple and Google pull off. They might have what it takes to become a member of the big 4, the question at this point will be, does Microsoft have what it takes to remain one of the big four in 2023. The game is open for a lot of players, yet will they have the software to make it count?

 

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Hoping the best

The earlier piece was merely the introduction, it matters as we all make choices, we all embrace what appeals to us. I have seen this path all the way going back to the VIC-20, and it was a good path. I have seen on system after system how new players made true innovation happen. If we consider the Atari ST/CBM Amiga, it was the ground where Psygnosis made several steps of true innovation in gaming. There was Westwood (Command and Conquer, Red Alert), Bullfrog (Populous, Dungeon Keeper), and there is no escaping the one true original Faster then Light with Dungeon Master.  The list goes on, whether you accept it or not, but the bulk of all new games created have a foundation towards the old originals. Many have forgotten, and many never knew. There is no blame here, we all have our history with games and gaming, some started with Candy Crush, some have been around when games were not cool.

We grew up watching games evolve, when it was limited to the hardware of a system. The foundations of civilization and Elite were set to systems with only 64 Kilobytes, as such you can imagine the creativity that these people needed to employ to get past these hardware limitations and get beyond this. 

As new systems are coming, so is the need for new IP, new ways for software companies to create a cash incentive. Some rely on microtransactions, the option to grind for time and push for additional paid incentives. Yet the treasure trove that is there, the trove that is absent of IP protection is a worthy chest full of new makes. Most have forgotten that and as they try to find a way to appease Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and optionally Google, they look for what not yet is and forget the amazing benefit to investigate what was. A simple list of titles Millennium 2.2, Paradroid, Seven Cities of gold, Laser Squad, Chipbits and even the Ultima series. All games mostly forgotten by all but the seasoned fans. I would mention System Shock, but that is being remade at present (hopefully being released in 2020).

Games that are not merely ported, but games that can be upgraded in all kinds of ways, the new consoles allow for much more options as they are almost 1,000 times the power and ability that the CBM 64 had. I am not merely talking about a new version of a game, but a game with additional sides and more depth then before. 

Consider the option of a game that could be out in under a year, all upgraded to the max of the new systems. That is the race they now face, that is where the initial coin was. Microsoft (and Sony) are at present in the setting where gaming is backward compatible and I am fine with that. Yet you as a gamer, would you prefer a PS4 or Xbox game, or a PS5/Xbox One X game?

I am not going to Speculate what these two larger players will do, yet I believe that the game makers will have additional options, they merely have to look into the right direction. I personally believe that there is a larger option here and the right developer will find a lucrative business, especially with players like Ubisoft being in the shape it is. Consider No Man’s Sky, in 2015 very few knew of him, there was a trailer out and that was it. Less than 5 years later everyone in gaming knows him, one title did that. People might think of him one way or the other, but he is there and he produced a game everyone remembers, that path is open to any developer who is willing to make a run for the gold.

It is great that some want to create a new level of IP, yet with 1.2 million games out there over time, making and creating something new is becoming increasingly difficult. Yet close to 25% of the games out there are old, forgotten and no protection on that IP as it remained unregistered. There is an awful lot of digital gold in the out and the open getting ignored.

This is the opportunity that the big three have, all three have systems capable of supporting an evolved and upgraded game that would stand up to any game created today. That is before you consider the options that are out in the open. EA made a game in the early 80’s called ‘Murder on the Hindenburg’, now combine it with the 1993 game ‘Iron Helix’ and you have the making of a new game, optionally first person with a zepplin mapped out and the need to find a murderer. As you have a library of NPC people you can replay the game again and again with different outcomes every time. So it would be a whodunnit heaven for anyone that loves the genre. Add to this the option to select the detective you play (and the strengths and weaknesses of them) and the game becomes something more. More evolved, deeper even as we merely are in one large location, yet does it need to be? 

All options from two individual games that became more than the sum of both. It took me 5 minutes to work that out, and I am but one person. So how many new games are there at the heart of being picked up by others?

There is a great time ahead for gamers, but will they face that utopian future? Time will tell.

 

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Sources of negativity

We are all binomial in origin, we like yes/no, we dislike yes/no, we hate yes/no and we love yes/no, yet most of us hide this in long winded excuses of reasoning, we all do that (including me). I partially hate Microsoft for what they did, for how they destroyed something that was pretty fabulous, I am upset with Ubisoft or how they squandered excellent IP and hid into the woodworks and made a quick buck, destroying the IP they created in the meantime. And as such as I was looking online for a few more tidbits as we approach the demise of Xbox, I came across a few items that puzzled me. 

I love Bethesda, I do not love all their products, which is fine. I am no lover of Rage, but others are, and that is fine. On the other hand I love Fallout, but was never a fan of Fallout 76 and that is fine too. I prefer my games not online and single player. Still, I accept that this is a pathBethesda went on, we all have growing curves and there is a collection of people (a large one) who do like Fallout 76. Perhaps the evolution of Fallout 76 will turn into Fallout 176, Fallout 276 and whatever comes and I will like it at some point, but the barricade that is out there is not one that Bethesda created. In another story we see the interaction, ‘Call of Duty: Warzone console players are turning off crossplay to escape PC cheaters’ it is merely one reason why I hate online play, I do not really hate it because I loved online Mass Effect 3, I was addicted to it, but the world has enough cheaters, when I game I want to get away from that and play on a level playing field, as such I focus on single player only, and in that my taste goes wide. 

As time went by I must have invested tens of thousands of dollars in console gaming, I agree when people say that it is wasted money, but that was my choice, I had a good job, my last ‘true’ vacation was in 1998, so when I get home I need escapism and puzzles, or challenges all at the same time and the consoles provide. It got me to the first issue on consoles, the pricing YouTubes are a little redundant and obsolete when you realise the origin.

When I look back, I started with the VIC-20, then the CBM64 ($1349) with disk drive. Overtime I evolved my systems. CBM Amiga ($700), Atari ST ($700) and there was the PC to use (I’ll get to that soon). As a gamer and reviewer I had made some waves, as such the Sega Dreamcast was free (christmas present from Sega), the Sony Playstation (I forgot what I paid for it, but it was less than the N4) The Nintendo 64 ($699) and after that I pushed towards the Sony PSX-II ($899). It was followed by the Nintendo Gamecube, a machine I loved. After that there was a small lull, I got the Xbox at the end of its lifetime for free with my mobile and it brought a few highpoints. We are now getting close to the time where everything changed. I was happy with my Xbox, the controller was a little bulky, but I have large hands, so it was a blessing in disguise. I played several of the games and Time Splitters 3 was an awesome trip, so good that I got it completed to 98% in hard mode. Then Microsoft upped the game, the Xbox360 came and I truly loved it, it was close to perfect in many ways, the 20GB drive was a little small, but you could upgrade it to a 120GB and within a year I did. Gaming life was close to perfect. I mentioned Time Splitters and it matters, there was the clear claim of backward compatibility and I fell for it, yet soon thereafter I learned the hard way that it was not and I never got Time Splitters 3 to 100%, the first annoyance was created. In all honesty, it is close to one defect in its life cycle. I too received the red rings of death and Microsoft replaced it, as such I was 3 weeks without my 360, but that was not an issue, the replacement was faster, the resolution was clearly better and gaming was at an all time high. Microsoft was a clear player in all this. The next step was the PSX3, Sony had always been great but I was not drawn to the third version, I was actually still enjoying the PSX2 (as well as the GameCube). So it was a nice relief when I bought a new TV and the PSX3 was part of this as a bonus, to be honest, I was not drawn to the PSX3, I did love the games I played on it, but overall, until Metal Gear Solid IV, games of the patriot arrived, I was not madly gaming it. As such, when it did the shift was starting to happen. 

Before that time the Xbox360 had 70% of my time, the GameCube 20% and 10% was for the PSX3. MGSIV was the first game to attack that pattern. Sony would give us more games on that system that impacted the consoles.As Sony got more adapt in exclusive games, the PSX3 would consume time: God of War 3, Infamous(1 and 2), Ratchet and Clank, Beyond two Souls, Gran Turismo and the end there was the Last of Us, Sony was reacquiring the timeline. Even as I had Oblivion and Mass Effect 3 on my Xbox, the timeline had shifted to 40% X360, 40% PSX3 and 20% Gamecube. Sony was back through great games, just like it did before and Xbox was not to blame. In all this I did not mention PC Gaming and that was on purpose, from 1989 onwards my PC was for gaming and I had more often than not the best of the best. A soundblaster card? I had it and when the first games came needing the better processor I had that system. Unreal Tournament, Black an White, System Shock(1 and 2), Wing Commander (1,2,3), Red Alert, Populous, Ultima, the list goes on, it was when Thief came that I ‘woke up’, I had a really good Diamond card yet Thief forced me to upgrade to the Diamond Viper 2 (no regrets) and the realisation set in (around 2003). Gaming is about the graphics card, sound, storage and the processor and at that point a graphics card was $600, the soundcard $500, and storage came as is. As such a console was a lot cheaper and my need for gaming was fulfilled. Only two years later a high end graphics card was $999 and as such console gaming was becoming increasingly cheap.

This all matters, when we are confronted with the pricing of the Xbox One X and the PS5, we forget that what came before was a lot more expensie and offers less, it was also the time that we started to realise that we need increasingly more space, the Xbox360 and the PSX3 already taught us that, as such the faults in the Xbox were more than merely stupid. Sony solved it by letting people selecting a larger drive and replacing the old drive, Microsoft had not caught on and would not catch on for the entire life cycle of the Xbox One, it is only now that they are seeing the light and their other flaws (always online) are showing that they are no longer to be the trustworthy system and trust is everything here. 

So when I see this tyrade of options and systems and whether I (and many other gamers) are willing to pay only $500 or are willing to pay $550, I wonder if these people realise that they are continuing a consumer base that goes into pillions and they have spent a massive amount of money. Microsoft is also making the mistake to hunt towards the most powerful systems whilst good games is where it is at, so where are the great games?  This is where Ubisoft comes into the mix, exclusive or not they went from great game maker to mediocre game maker and you merely have to look at the exclusive sony titles to realise that. Whilst the creation of titles gave them 90+% games, we now see that 80%+ is the best they can muster and for the most pushed deadlines and marketing promises that cannot be kept are the cause. The lack of proper testing is another matter where they failed and it impacts the choices of consoles we have, because whether we want to accept it or now, Ubisoft is a big deal in console gaming and as they fail, the exclusives are where it is at and there Sony wins, it is a landslide win. To get the greatest games we need Microsoft and Ubisoft to get back to the top or we need someone to replace them, it is that simple.

Players like Bethesda, Capcom and others help, yet the more the merrier (in the high end gaming cycle) and we are all starved for good games and the consoles are a driving force.

Let’s hope that this gaming force is driven to the max at the highest peaks for years to come by as many players as possible, for in that setting the gamer truly wins, no matter who tops the bill.

 

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