Tag Archives: EA

Speculative design

Many do this at times. We look at something and we think ‘What if we move part N to location X?’ It is a perfectly valid idea and it keeps a brain active and in creative mode, which tends to be good for several reasons. So I was busy thinking things out, in one it is the side of pushing another IP towards public domain, it is too soon, but not by much. So the mind started to wander. The first part was the new trojan that the NSO group is suspected off (see previous story), the second was a line in the West Wing (which I am watching again during the lockdown plus curfew. There we hear about a pen designed for NASA that works upside down, one mentions that Russia solved it by using a pencil. You might not think it, but it is actually an important part. So as these elements rolled in my mind, I wondered on adding a setting (just to piss off the Iranians) in a stage to get two for the price of one, they do use Russian hardware. As such I thought that we need a few clever boffins and as such the people should call on the NSA (No Such Agency). What if we find a way to introduce a hippocampus to the hardware? A hippocampus is a trojan that is submerged (in this case) into the firing solutions. You see at some point a target needs to be setup and that moment the link becomes a weak link. You see not all systems have additional redundant systems and I am willing to bet that Iran has the latest hardware, but not every internal system is up to the latest standard. Implying that we can add something. So what if these missiles would then automatically start to be set to point X plus 1-10 miles? A submerged trojan horse might pull that off. There are a few questions that require me to have a lot more firing system knowledge. Yet when we consider the elements rocket-firing solution-guidance, we might see that the firing solution will be the easiest transgression and these systems do require to get to a base. A solution  that will hit EVERY firing system by infecting all the systems and the infection stays where it is until it fires and then it becomes a nice 4th July showtime. And there is a nice secondary part, the person firing is the one hitting ones self. Passive aggression in full view. 

So is my view realistic? I do not know, I do not care. I merely try to design a way to stop players like Iran and I will use any way possible. All whilst politicians make claims to do something and after spending truckloads on funds on long exclusive trips that tends to include a few 5 star hotels, I on the other hand, sitting on my sofa came up with ideas that had no cost, merely a few dimes of electricity. One works in whatever way the brain gets to be (more) creative. It was the same path I followed when I designed a way to push a  meltdown in the Iranian nuclear plants. OK, I also engineered two additional valve ideas and when I file for these I might get a few additional dollars as well. I do know that these solutions are pure concept, there is no guarantee it will work. But it keeps my brain busy and if it doesn’t work, it might make for a nice additional part to some TV series or movie. The creative brain can come up with a dozen ideas, just be ready that it ends up where it was not expected to go. You might find that funny and it is, but when you consider how books, games and movies got an infusion of brilliance. You merely have to consider how they got to be. Games like Ultima 3 became inspirations to a lot more RPG games (made by other makers). The EA game ShadowCaster was by way too many overlooked, yet when you see “the 49th best computer game of all time, calling it “an admirable attempt to show that RPGs don’t have to be boring””, so why was this game not remastered and redesigned for consoles and streamings? In that same light we can review all kinds of neglected hardware and see just how creative we could get with it. Everyone is so busy in making things not work that they overlook the option to make it hurt the activator and not the target. Perhaps we need to instil the need for people who work for no such agency to get better acquainted with gaming. You might not realise it but games have been on the fringe of hardware for at least 3 decades, optionally even longer and even as some ‘embrace’ that nowadays games are more advanced, people forget that the CBM-64 and Atari ST allowed for games that were often not possible, yet the game makers found a way around their limitations. Consider a game like Impossible mission (Epyx) and the fact that this game can still be enjoyed on an 8 bit system by any number of gamers today, and they got that done on a system with a mere 38KB, it can equal a game that requires an 8GB system, so there!

There are of course a few more ideas, but it is about the concept of working with limits. I ned not explain this to programmers, but some of them will grab an Azure SDK and start from there. We forget that that same company gave us the Microsoft Assembler. Azure solutions start at 765 kilo bits, whilst assembly gives us one of the smallest useful programs for a mere 4 bytes. It is not merely what solution is used, it is about what limitations can be used to our advantage and as a snow-globe gave me the idea to meltdown a reactor, an assembly program used to overcome some security on an EA game (8 bytes) might be the path to set the firing point of the Qiam-1 to the destination point as firing point + 10000 if the destination is measured in metres. At times we forget that having more space does not work, it requires limitations to give us the creativity we required to get it done.

Just my 2 bytes on the matter.

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The Lawyer wins, the law loses

Yes, it is a stage that we will be seeing soon enough. As the lawyer wins, the law loses and tht is just the beginning. As we see ‘Apple loses appeal in Fortnite court battle’ (source: Australian Financial Review) there is a secondary stage that comes up. It is not immediately clear, but someone gave the reader by Jeff Dotzler in GC Consulting in 2019 ‘Will You Get Sued if Your Business is Hacked?’ There we see “Even though the company was able to restore the records, one of the affected clients, Surfside Non-Surgical Orthopedics in Boynton Beach, sued Allscripts in federal court. Surfside accused Allscripts of not doing enough to prevent the attack or lessen its impact and sued on behalf of all affected clients for “significant business interruption and disruption and lost revenues.”” Now consider that ‘significant business interruption’ can be replaced with ‘game score disruption’, a stage I saw coming a mile away. Epic Games did not  consider the stupidity of their actions and now, should they win they will soon face several, if not well over a dozen class cases. They cannot make some ‘we are not responsible draft’, the moment ANYONE at Google or Apple squeals the setting of the hack and it comes with the accompanied ‘We could have prevented that’ Epic Games is lost, it will cost them billions in settlements and lawyer costs. If you doubt that, consider ‘SolarWinds says unknown hackers exploited newly discovered software flaw’ (at https://www.reuters.com/technology/solarwinds-says-unknown-hackers-exploited-newly-discovered-software-flaw-2021-07-12/), so they just got out of one mess only to land in a new one and these people have a decently simple system, Epic Games will have to spend on protection that is several levels higher and I feel decently certain that it is not enough. The moment any profile is transgressed on whilst there was a purchase, that is the game, loss Epic Games and loose they will, a lot. 

Even as we are told “SolarWinds said the flaw was “completely unrelated” to last year’s hack of government networks”, it will not matter, another flaw is found and there is every chance that more than one will still be found. In this Forbes gives us ‘Why SolarWinds Is The Wakeup Call No One Heard’, it comes with “everyone talks a good game, but the very structure of American (and other businesses around the globe) makes it nearly impossible to, for example, deliberately and significantly reduce EBITDA to prepare for cyber warfare” and when you consider that EBITDA is Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation. You see the problem, it is not all, it is earnings before interest and depreciation that bites, earnings before interest is all earnings with cost diminishing this and too many corporate players tend to cut cost. In some cases they have no choice in the cloud a lot does not matter but it is transgressed on (according to some numbers) for almost 90%. And when you add that Amortisation is merely anther view of  depreciation the path is clear. Steve Andriole also gives us “The number of severity of cyberattacks will explode in 2020.  Cyberwarfare has now levelled the playing field in industry, in government, and in national defence:  why spend ten or fifteen billion dollars on an aircraft carrier when you can disable it digitally?” You think that this is about defence? Do you have any idea what 50 million whining gamers can do? EVERY ransomware player will target Epic Games and with an open Android and iOS setting they will succeed. I saw this when this all started in 2020 within 5 minutes, the short sightedness will hit Epic Games and others in a few ways. Think I am BS’ing you?  Consider that several sources gave you a month ago “Hackers Stole 780GB Data Including FIFA 21 Source Code in EA Hack” and EA has been in this game a lot longer than Epic Games has been. That is not evidence, but it is a setting that we need to consider and when Epic Games loses that data the class actions start, and it is not something that they can keep quiet (apart from that being a crime), the people will talk and the parties involved, including government parties will find a nice letter making claim to financial losses. The law source (see above) also gives us a link to the Ohio Data Protection Act. There we see “Under the law, damages cannot be imposed if a state court finds your company had a reasonable cybersecurity plan when a breach occurred and followed it to the best of your ability. Or, as the legislation puts it, the law is “an incentive to encourage businesses to achieve a higher level of cybersecurity through voluntary action.”” In this I offer ‘reasonable cybersecurity plan’, was it followed through? Was there a backup if it fails, was there consideration for cross platform transgressions? In this last part I offer to the older programmers 

IF(clipper)
  
ELSE

   …
ENDIF

Those who know will nod and consider what else Epic Games and others have forgotten, what happens when someone exploits a Sony flaw over the entire system, and at that point these companies have little to no protection. 

Which gets us to ‘when a breach occurred and followed it to the best of your ability’, but the suing side will argue that the breach could have been prevented on day zero, or even day -1, which will be their way of saying that they opened the system when they were not ready and that is another billion in class actions right there, and I agree with the stage that there will be enough cases that have no bering (just like the loot box cases in the media), yet Epic Games will have to hand to their lawyers to investigate them all, the hours alone will rake up millions and that is merely year one. The lawyer wins his bread and butter for a year (at the very least) and the law is up the creek without a clause. The law was never ready for this, so the going will be good towards the coffers of Epic Games, a looting box that requires time, not money. 

So when we go back to Forbes and consider “When I took the results to the CFO (to which technology weirdly reported), his only question was, “what’s all this going to cost me?,” which of course was the wrong question.” We see there setting, but I wonder who gave that same question to the Chief Legal Officer (CLO) with the question ‘What will this cost the firm?’, a question that he can decently predict when he considers 1-5 class actions and that result has to be scary and any consideration of future profit goes straight out of the window, not merely the legal costs, marketing will have to offer a whole range of products and services to stem the tide of people leaving for the next safer harbour, the most dangerous of all settings, and that is merely the beginning of year one as Android and iOS stores open. Forbes also gives a reference to Andy Greenberg (Wired Magazine, 2019) said about why governments have been unwilling to deal with cyberthreats: “More fundamentally, governments haven’t been willing to sign on to cyberwar limitation agreements because they don’t want to limit their own freedom to launch cyberattacks at their enemies.  America may be vulnerable to crippling cyberattacks carried out by its foes, but US leaders are still hesitant to hamstring America’s own NSA and Cyber Command, who are likely the most talented and well-resourced hackers in the world.” And this is not a government setting, Epic Games will be hit be greed driven and vengeance driven hackers as well as organised crime, a %5 billion company? With the state of cybercrime convictions? They are definitely on board. A stage Epic Games could have prevented from the start, but someone saw 30% of $5,000,000,000 and did the math, but whoever did the math was not ready for the tidal wave they would be inviting through that choice. In this, Forbes had one more gem, it comes from Nicole Penroth and ‘The hubris of American exceptionalism’, when we see “More hacking, more offence, not better defence, was our answer to an increasingly virtual world order, even as we made ourselves more vulnerable, hooking up water treatment facilities, railways, thermostats and insulin pumps to the web, at a rate of 127 new devices per second”, now consider that Fortnite is on Windows, MacOS, Switch, Sony, Microsoft, iOS and Android, they drew more than 125 million players in less than a year, do you think that there will be no flaws? And how many devices a second will that add to the equation? Do you have any clue what level of protection is required, even as Sony, Solarwinds, Nintendo and Microsoft have all been hacked even though they had nowhere near that level of complexity required. This was a dangerous situation from the start and gamers will soon have to seriously consider to remove any program that has an ‘open’ store, the cost will be too high for a lot of them. 

And that is not all, as Nicole spoke about ‘an increasingly virtual world’ the danger that open stores will mean that you either have a dedicated computer, or healthcare and safety products will not be considered to be insured in your house, when that happens we get a whole new level of nightmare, I can only imagine that setting, but I am clueless as to the impact, we cannot oversee that, not with an evolving IoT and 5G evolving before our very eyes.

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New and reinforced

It all started a few hours ago, I decided not to write about the Canadian catholics, because I am too angry, some Bishop Bittman in Nelson asking for patience, we see (source: CBC) “Bittman says those buried in the unmarked graves may also include staff members of the schools”, yes, unmarked graves holding hundreds of unregistered teachers. Their families are all about dumping their carcasses in unmarked graves. Then we see “It’s coming out quite clear now tuberculosis, for example, was rampant around that time, and we know that there was overcrowding in the school”, yes, hundreds of unmarked graves, no notification to officials, as such catholic schools are not just murderous, they are stupid as well? I am in awe of Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, I personally would have scalped the whole lot of them years ago. But this is not about me, and it is not about Canada. As I was venting the rage within me I decided to browse YouTube and I cam across something I had seen before. It is a comparison of space ships from movies, games and TV series. I had seen it before but I looked again and two thoughts (optionally three) became the foundation. The first was seeing the Citadel (Mass Effect series). I was strengthened that my thoughts are still seemingly correct, EA screwed up Mass Effect Andromeda to the largest degree, and I am not sure if they can fix it, moreover the original trilogy is seemingly proving me right. So as the ships and stations pass by two places peak interest, the O4 (Halo), which might have some real life application when you consider the structural advantage that a circle has and the second one is Elysium, the station from the movie with an irradiated Matt Damon. Now consider that we find a station with a 25 mile diameter? Now some shoot them up, but a station with issues, dilemma’s and faults, abandoned for no one knows what reason and you arrive there. A station 1:1 in size and built to size, as such it will only work on a streaming system (for now). Stranded in a segment, trying to make sense of it all and not in some weird fabric way, no a station with systems, with computers with things to fix and as you go through that station you find records, books, recordings and you need to figure out what is what, a game that takes a year to complete, perhaps even longer. Do you have what it takes when it is not about the kill rate? What can be done when you get one robot fixed, then another and more. As you go through the systems, the station and the parts you can access, what more can you find? What more will you be able to do?

A game that I not a game, but it winks at places like the original SimCity, the original programs and we create a place where you work things out and learn. Would you like to learn about the foundations of hydroponics or actually use that knowledge to get a space station running again? And let’s face it, it had never been done before, that is well over half the fun of this and setting your record on your profile will fill you with a massive jolt of ego pleasure, when those around you are behind you, that is where the fun and pride take shape, a drive to be the better scientist, to be the better engineer and the greatest story collector. This is (for now) a streaming solution, to update millions of copies as things needs to improve is not a situation a console and its gamer want to endure, consider Ubisoft and Unity, if 14GB pisses you off, consider what 150GB will do and streaming has the server that keeps it all, the players will notice almost nothing. I wonder who will take a gander into the unknown first, Amazon or Netflix (Google is not developing in-house).

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The brain race

I am not sure how familiar you are with the ‘race brain’, yet mine went nuts two hours ago. It was a set of circumstances, the first was Dragon Quest Builders 2, I restarted the game only to fall over on the second island (again). As I learned to ‘follow’ the orders nearly precisely I got a bit further, but I was thwarted by the game makers who got overconfident and that is where the wheels came off the car, or was it the train went of the rails? It is almost a crossing between a close question and an open question. If you confine yourself to closed questions, you tend to miss the desired direction, and when you confide in the response of open questions you go in EVERY direction, except the right one. It is a shame really, because the game (island 1) was heaps fun, you are in a stage where the second island seems fun but frustration sets in too quickly and you go nowhere, a game that relies on fun and delivers, at least the first 2 hours, after that it goes nowhere. But that set my brain in motion, or better stated it went into overdrive. As I was relaxing I looked at the new Hogwart Legacy trailer for PS5, within seconds my mind was devising all kinds of trails to make the game ‘better’, and I could not stop it. 

A game that I have not seen yet, I have not played yet and I am already trying to improve on it, 

In one part with an adaption (or DLC) that gives a setting that a group of four one in each house are linked, an idea that has links to an old WW2 movie, but the stage never left me and now it delivered something different. It seems a silly way to waste time, but my brain would not stop. My mind went on towards the stupidity of EA and their sport games. You see, I do not agree with some voices, Their packs are not gambling and I, for the life of me cannot understand why EA is not on the offensive. 

To understand this, you need to see the stage devised by Julius Caesar, I believe it was in De Bello Gallico, he stated that a soldier is in attack, in defence or awaiting response and each links to the other, as such the attack can move to defence or anticipation, defence can move to anticipation or take the offence and so on, as all three states are covered the soldier that can move between the three without pause and move from any stance to attack, that will be the winner. EA seems to be unaware of this option and seems to be between defence and anticipation only. It is a choice but it will be the stage that always and forever leads to losing. I came up with an idea to take the offence in this. Of course as all marketing costs, it might not be cheap but it beats getting slapped around by those giving voice to idiots spending $12K on packs for a $55 game, that is more than ludicrous and the media is eating it up, something they can flame and no one is asking the questions that matter, not even the legal department of EA, or at least they do it in a way no one can hear.

Even the Times gave us 3 days ago ‘YouTube stars ‘lure Fifa gamers into gambling’’ (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/youtube-stars-lure-fifa-gamers-into-gambling-dwk8tcx3g), a stage that beckons response but it seems that EA remains largely silent. So as we get “The company behind the Fifa football video game has been accused of using “exploitative” marketing techniques to lure children into gambling”, so where is the response and the campaign by EA? I wonder where they are? You see, loot boxes are not gambling.

Why?
To call it gambling you need to consider that you lose your money, this would only happen if you buy a loot pack and the only thing you get one card stating ‘Thank you!, but that is not the case. In my case (NHL19), I get a free pack every 8 hours, then each pack has also coins and a token, there are each month 3 packs that can be gotten with these tokens and they are three good packs. Beyond that you get non trade-able cards and the coins can be used to buy or bid for items in the auction part. When you hit a milestone (some small achievement, you also get options for packs and in some cases a specific player.

Within a month I had all 30 arena’s, all NHL home and away jerseys and in three months I also had all the NHL goalie masks and a ton of other stuff, I never spend a dollar on this. One site tells me that FIFA21 does not offer this, I am not sure about NFL21, so why not? It would solve all issues for EA. You see, people are staring blindly on the alleged gambling, but the stage of gambling is never truly properly investigated. You see when we gamble we see two options. The first is ‘play games of chance for money, but that stage has the unwritten law that you can lose and this never happens, you always get cards, common, uncommon and one rare card. The second version of gamble is ‘take risky action in the hope of a desired result’, that part too is not met, because the desired result is always the same, one rare card, several uncommon cards and the rest are all common cards. This stage is not the one we consider because the outcome is always the same. What most people forget is that in FIFA 21 (allegedly) we see “30 official leagues, over 700 clubs, and over 17,000 players”, if that is correct, there is every chance that there are 2,000 rare players, which means that any rare card has a 0.05% chance of coming out, so if you want Messi, Beckham or Ronaldo you need to get really really lucky and lets face it, every club in the world wants these three players. But that part is close to never considered, and when we go back to the adult idiot spending $12,000 on packs, that person need to get his credit score adjusted to -15000. Is there an issue? Perhaps there is and I think that EA made a few blunders on several levels, but that does not make it gambling, and as we never see anyone receiving a pack with only a thank you card, the stage of gambling is, as I personally see it never reached. 

So how did I get there? 
Well my brain will not stop thinking things through in creative ways and it is reason for another case of insomnia. I watched the trailer of the Unholy (which looks awesome) and immediately my brain went towards a remake of Stigmata (a Rupert Wainwright gem), why? I have no clue, when my brain is in this mode it needs to run its course, which is keeping me awake pondering N+1 issues all whilst N was the maximum I could contemplate. So at present I am typing this whilst I am trying to calm down my brain by listening to the Mikado (Gilbert and Sullivan). 

The creative brain can be a curse, not an unholy one, but a curse none the less. So whilst we see what is next my brain (overzealously) adapted Hogwarts legacy before seeing the final product, I considered a new version of Stigmata, I am still contemplating a backdrop for ‘How to assassinate a politician’, which at present is set in the Hague and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Then there is the idea I had regarding ‘Keno Diastima’, here I believe they should nearly all be new actors, no famous people there, I will not say to much because the cliffhangers 2-3 and 3-4 will be brutal, which is how it should be. 

An idea came to mind on a prequel to ‘Soylent Green’ with Chris Hemsworth in the lead (almost 2 years ago), yet here I fear that the story is just not good enough, the setting is great but I feel that it would end up being some cult movie and not a real breaking movie, a stage that precedes near perfection is also a dangerous step to make and it could backfire in a horrible way, which is why my mind remains the great dangers. I considered the idea before (2019-2020), but I never figured out the part that matter, no matter how good the prequel is, the stage needs to go beyond something nice, and Richard Fleischer did set the stage in a phenomenal way. One can say it is like buying a raincoat to warn against the rain that has been going on for weeks, the flood will drown you long before the usage of a raincoat is validated. There are other idea’s and I wrote about them before, so I want to avoid repetition, but the stage will soon come that Hollywood will look in other directions for new idea’s. Outside of the Marvel and DC range and there have been so many really good idea’s, I merely wonder why that path was not traversed before by Hollywood, Bollywood or Nollywood. And as my brain is seemingly slowing down, I end today’s article and will try to get some sleep (one can dream, can one not?)

Consider the two sidelines that are hidden between the lines and contemplate why it was done, because there might be madness in my methods, but there is also methodology in my insanity, it is merely what we aim for and whether we realise what we were aiming for in the first place.

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It’s good to be evil

It is the the phase that gave life and fame to Dungeon Keeper 2, it was not used by the first game that was released in 1997, but the fame of the first game was not less, it was a time when games were still in its infancy and good ideas were wasted all over the place. Both the first and second dungeon keeper were amazing games, as was an earlier release by Bullfrog named Magic Carpet. Still the IP was used later on by EA to set Dungeon Keeper in a stage of micro transactions and there EA screwed up the IP for life. A stage set to ‘maximise’ earnings became the downfall of EA. Yet the original games are still revered by a lot of people, as such wouldn’t it be nice if EA cleaned up its act? In the last week we got ‘EA now owns Codemasters and its many, many racing games’, ‘Here’s why Glu is an excellent strategic fit for EA’, as well as ‘The Silence After EA’s Anthem 2.0 Decision is Concerning’, you see Glu could be a good buy, yet in all this it only sets out the stage if there is an option to get a return on investment towards the $2,100,000,000 spend on this. The investigation (at https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-02-22-heres-why-glu-is-an-excellent-strategic-fit-for-ea) is quite good. It shows a part that I never considered and that does not matter, yet what is important is “The acquisition helps EA address a weakness by acquiring a suite of high-grossing titles that are very female-friendly and have large, loyal audiences. Plus, Glu’s expertise with these genres means that EA is gaining a lot more knowledge and insight into this demographic, which we expect will translate into enhancements for future Sims games.” It is important, because we see an element that is mostly ignored “have large, loyal audiences” is nice, but only if you treat them right and that is where EA loses the wheels on their wagons, not once, but multiple times. As I see it greed driven executives tend to destroy signs of loyalty. And there the shoe becomes a larger stage of concern. You see we can accept that we can either do right by loyalty or create it, the first tends to be easy, muzzle the greed driven executive is a first, creating it requires the greed driven executive to leave the room permanently and EA does not seem to be able to do this. 

In this, there are a few options, consider the stage we saw when we were offered Magic Carpet. So what happens when that game is relaunched in an upgraded version, one that would play wildly on a Nintendo Switch. Elements of the game can remain in place but the game needs alteration as to not infringe on the IP of Bullfrog (now EA), I feel justified as EA ignored it old IP for well over a decade and the ones they did not ignore was clobbered towards the stone age. 

As such Magic Carpet could be a much larger sandbox game. A map of Iraq extending to the Mediterranean Sea, with parts of Saudi Arabia and Iran. A stage where the power of your castle and the magic carpet comes from growth, a stage where we can learn new tricks and new abilities are found all over the map. You see the old systems could never do this, the computers were not powerful enough, but the Switch might make a new setting true, its controllers will have one for movement, one for fighting. A stage grown to the new systems. As such we can grow the fortress, and as abilities are acquired we can do more, go further and unlock more. As such the game takes a rather new turn.

The same can be done with Dungeon keeper, but that will have to take a massive adjustment, the stage of Dungeon keeper is too set. Still the idea was awesome. Consider the stage of Silent Hill, but now you are not the player, you are pyramid head, a stage where we consider the games were you play the antagonist. Pyramid Head is one of the more famous ones, yet consider that station with the man Dirk Garthwaite who became wrecker (a Marvel character), what if we can reshape such a person to our personal taste? We are all getting overwhelmed with the Norse gods through TV series and games, yet that same setting might come from Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Inca or Aztec deities. All options to consider in the stage of making a game, yet how many still embrace the good old slogan ‘It’s good to be evil’?

I am asking because some sources give us ‘Global game revenue to reach $29bn by 2021’, all whilst a country like Australia only set their notch on $140 million, which amounts to 0.4%, not a lot to write home about is it? If loyalty is indeed key and when we see EA (and a few others) bungle the cake, how come they still end up with a large slice of that pie? As I see it, it should be relatively easy to take it from them with a better product and a better product is key in gaining loyalty. EA might have paid $2.1 billion for that database, but that will not stop competitors Nintendo and optionally Amazon to take over that cake. These two players are driven to loyalty and they can have it if they play their cards right. 

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Doubt and consideration

Yes, we all have them, doubts that is. And I had mine yesterday and this morning. I got a whiff of a game called Sandship (on iOS) and it did not take me long to get hooked. Now, we all get hooked, but hooked can be short term and long term. This game has all the trimmings that we can expect to see. It has some sort of storyline, it has puzzles, a sort of challenge setting and of course there is always the option of micro transactions. All these games have them now, but in this game it is done in both an ingenious and non-invasive way. As I was looking at what is possible, I realised that there was doubt in me. You see, I feel certain that a game like this would be a huge success on the Nintendo Switch, it would need some tweaking, but the foundation of the game is close to perfect. And as far as I can tell, Nintendo has nothing like this in their arsenal, especially when you consider that there is some level of operational education in the game. I get it, some will doubt my view on this, yet I also find myself wondering whether the makers took a look towards the Console, or are they in a stage where they will rely on micro transactions? For a beginning developer it is a fair call to rely on the micro transactions, yet this is not a game made by a beginner, if so that person is a real gaming savant. 

The doubt is whether I am seeing it correctly, I am to some degree anti-MT, yet I understand that these MT’s are a good starting point for any developer. In addition, even as I accept that some people want to play on their phones, some games need a tablet or a decent TV screen. It just works better that way.

The consideration is for some of these developers, once they have a starting capital, did they consider setting the game, optionally adjusted on a console and with cloud gaming on the rise that consideration will soon be a lot more important than ever before. It is more important because extending existing IP is a lot more important and optionally a lot cheaper than making up new IP. 

This gets me to part 3 in this, you see there was a game in 1985, it was made by Epyx and it was called Chipwits, now the game seems redundant, but the educational side as well as the challenge in all this was amazing, especially for a computer with only 64KB (RAM and ROM), consider what could be done with a Nintendo Switch that has 62,500 times the memory and a CPU that is probably just as excessively more powerful than the 6502 in the CBM-64 was. One of many games that are as easily remembered as some of the other games that some gamers idolised. Why? Because these games were truly innovative and original. And even now as as we see some developers concentrate on the flash and the bang, they are all seemingly forgetting that gamers come in all shapes and sizes, in addition, plenty of younger gamers are dependant on the parents and guess what, these parents are not a great fan of games like Manhunter 2, but they are  always seemingly willing to buy the additional game that has an educational character. But that might be mere speculation.

What is in view is that too many games rely on one path, whilst they could add paths to their software range and in these days having more than one path is important, especially when the waning range of downloadable games that can be surpassed every new week, yet the games we purchase are the games we keep around, often for a long time. There are plenty of examples. 

It is that part that shows the folly of Google when they dropped certain paths from their Stadia range, I wonder what Amazon will do, because we have 4 generations of consoles that show us that original and exclusive games make the console. PSX, N64, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox360, PS4 and PS5. They all had their range and gathered clusters of 1000’s if not hundreds of thousands. Microsoft had their Master Sergeant, Sony had Lara, Kratos (and a few others), it is the exclusives that makes and break the console, yet original games are still part of that equation and the makers need to realise that, because there is every indication that some are relying on makers like Ubisoft and EA (complete with bugs), yet that comes with a risk, the moment the gamer has had enough the entire development house will be regarded as toxic, whether that is fair or not, the gamer will almost always act out of emotion and emotion does not really consider the balance of the topic, merely his bruised ego and the aggravation of glitches. As such all consoles need a stack of options, options that Google (as I was told) has done away with, giving a larger playing field to Amazon. It is in this light that we will optionally sooner than expected see:

1. Sony
2. Nintendo 
3. Microsoft

Turn into 

1. Sony
2. Nintendo
3. Amazon
4. Microsoft
4. Google

This is not a typo, Even if Amazon wins, there is no real telling how Microsoft ends up against Google Stadia, I think that is the fear that drove their Xcloud. You remember the pictures? 

Why keep on pushing this when you have a console that comes close to the PS5? No one is asking that question. We see speculative settings on Xcloud and mobiles, yet the real gamer does not consider a mobile screen to be a real screen. So facilitating to more games will push Microsoft further to the back of the console line. I wonder how much Amazon and Google are considering that path, and there are options, there are games that matter, but will the hardware people consider the options that are decently in abundance?

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A penny for your brain

On the side of the road was a car, it was near Buvika. The car was empty, yet next to the car was a blanket, on it a man, a woman and two children, a boy and a girl. They were having a nice lunch in the summer sun, basking in the sun. They were enjoying the weather and the food, it was a stop a they were on the road towards Molde. It would take a few more hours, so they would arrive in the early evening, yet in these white nights, there would be great visibility until long after they arrived. The parents were having a conversation, what about was unknown to Inge, but she was enjoying the view of the field towards the water. She got up and walked towards the Trondheim fjord. She was enjoying the view of the water, she looked for a few more minutes when she heard her father shout, she turned around waved and she walked back, yet as she had walked less than a dozen steps her foot gave way and her leg sunk into the grass. She got up and looked down, she saw two yellow coins, she picked up the coins, put them in her pocket and walked back. Her mother looked at her smudged light trousers. She shrugged “A small hole I stepped in”, and laughed. They got into the car and drove off, they ended up at their destination 4 hours later.

In the burrow was a man, he was a frightening man, he was a warrior with power and authority, as he felt his treasure leave the silent shout was almost deafening to any who could have heard it. He felt betrayed, he was stolen and he would have payback. The shield was broken and rotten, but the skull cleaver was comforting in his hand, he focussed and he felt the ground give way, and as this happened he moved up and forward, even now as the light dimmed, he felt the summer sun on his skin, and as he noticed looked to the south west, he saw a golden glow, that is where he had to go and he made one step after another.

It was not for many hours when he came up to a farm, he could feel life in there and he had no army, he stepped towards the farm, the door was there but he pushed the door into splinters and threw it into the house like it was nothing. He walked in and a woman looked around, this shield maiden screamed and he took notice, he pushed the skull cleaver into her chest, she never had a chance. A man came running in, he too was dispensed with, there was no other noise but the sound of horses and cattle. It was only one hour later when the warrior had two new soldiers, the man picked up a pickaxe, the woman picked up a hoe and they looked at the warrior, he never spoke but they followed as he made course into the fields towards the golden glow.

Well, I came up with the ‘draugar’ horror story a few nights ago and this was as good a time as any to add it, making it the foundation of movie number three in as many months. I was amazed just how much folklore there is on the Nordic Draugr, there was even more I never knew (who knew) and I have not used that part yet. A stage where we see the danger coming from the North, so with Covid from the east (and now from any direction), Draugr from the north. I wonder what we can throw against us from the west (perhaps a Trumped up demon) and optionally an Afreet from the south, not the worst day to do something about the population explosion, so far Covid-19 only killed a little less than 2.5 million, so we might as well write in a few more options. And let’s face it, when Wall Street does not have a few billion consumers to worry about, they might overhaul their greed driven numbers system.

Which is an essential thought when you consider that Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7,500,000,000, EA spend $2.5 billion on IP and that race will continue on an exceeding scale, so me throwing some free IP towards public domain on areas like movies, games and TV series is not the worst idea. So whilst two players have spend a combined $10 billion, I hand out IP to public domain and original decent game developers will get a shot at showing those two players that the power of original IP will trump bought IP, IP that is not original pretty much any day of the week.

I do have a hidden agenda, but it is not time for that yet and the idea of showing Microsoft the error of their way is a massively satisfying stage for any ego, even mine (which is not that big to begin with).

When players learn that solidified dreams cannot be set to currency, they might actually learn the one lesson they ignored for well over a decade, I will be there the laugh in the rafters, to that I have no doubt.

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The path overlooked

Yes, we all overlook paths, options of choice, you, me, we all do it. It has nothing to do with intent. Most of the time we forgot that the option was there. Yet this time around it becomes an essential part, you see 2021 will offer a larger stage, a stage where Microsoft has an advantage (Bethesda, Bioware, EA), they might be in denial and some will make carefully phrased denials or reconsiderations with last November “PS5 will still get Bethesda games — but they’ll be ‘first or better’ on Xbox”, now, the first part is fine, Microsoft paid $7,500,000,000 for that privilege, it is the ‘or better’ part that I have a problem with, as such I set out and designed (conceptual design) of a new RPG to be used freely by Sony in previous blogs, but that is not enough. There is every indication that Mass Effect might not make it to PS5 either and that too is fair, it is a Microsoft stage and I worry, because Mass Effect remastered will contain Mass Effect 2, which is pretty much one of the best games in history, anyone denying that is nuts. So I need to have to be creative and set the stage for Sony too. Now, Sony has its own stage of exclusives and they are way good, but to set the stage that an independent software house can freely use for a PS5 exclusive is not the worst idea, I am a writer, not a game programmer. Intelligence and business intelligence yes, games no, I am a simple guy (to some extent). 

As such I started to work and after half a dozen ideas (that looked too much like something that existed already), and after I had set the stage of a completely redesigned Murder on the Zinderneuf (optionally now with a different title) and a completely new approach to Seven Cities of Gold, I found the setting I forgot about (all whilst I also made an approach towards Fallout Shelter, yet not the same game, but now set on a space station called Babylon 5) I found the solution in this in an approach taking a coin from the TV series Smallville. Yet this is not a game about Superman, Superboy or Tom Welling. Consider a city, I would say Any city and perhaps that is apt, you see there will be 4 towns, the size of Lancaster, PA. In these towns (you get one randomly assigned at the start of the game). We have a town with 12,000-18,000 NPC’s, we will also have events that impact the town (not unlike the TV series Haven), but not the same, anyhow, you start as a boy (or girl) as a sophomore and you will have abilities and there you can make a directional choice. But here the complication starts, the powers you have have limitations, they drain after use and take almost a full day to recharge, yet as you use a power, you make the power stronger and as such it can be used faster (up to 3 times a day) and as you use one power new options will evolve. 

SO you need to be wise in its use and also consider the option of being clever and find another solution. This will not make it easy, but that is the challenge, get to the end of high school and win all challenges. We have seen a partial setting in Buffy, Angel and Smallville, but no one considered to make a game out of it. 

So why will it work?
I believe it will work as the game maker needs to evolve the NPC part of the game way beyond Ubisoft ever achieved to do so. You need to keep track of up to 18,000 people and their family, if one person will not make it, it will affect at least a dozen people and as you fail to save people, there is a chance that the police will start to investigate you as an optional criminal. 

It sets a new stage where you need to plan your steps ahead, it is no longer fly by the seat of your pants, it becomes fly by wire and you are the Boeing 737, as far as I can tell, it has never been done before and if the makers pulls it off, it is the setting for an almost legendary achievement. And let’s face it, these series have had its settings of antagonists, in this we get the setting that we make some of these antagonists heroes. Some of them have been unfortunately in that regard.  A nice example is Sandman (Spiderman), Alicia Baker (Smallville), Amy Madison (Buffy), Sylar (Heroes), the list goes on and on and no one considered to set this approach of abilities in another frame and not merely there, there are a few more settings. 

Why this path?
Well, we can have another run through the story games like there are so many, but games like Spiderman (PS4, PS5) are successful, not merely because they are perfect, but because they offer choice, we get to go into the game in whatever direction we want to take it. We know that at times we need to follow the main story, but the large stage of freedom is why these games are so adored and replayed. We never considered to take that stage and evolve it. Yet we must also see the path of originality, which is why I merely gave examples. I saw ‘inFAMOUS Second Son’ as an average game, not because of the start, the start is pretty fantastic, a smoke ability? The issue becomes that the game based in Seattle becomes linear way too soon, so as you mark of all the missions per district, as you clean up each segment, you end up with enough power-points to immediately upgrade whatever power you unlock, the stage of choice is great, but always per district and always linear, that is why it is not a great game, but a good game, and the concrete power at the end is not used to the larger stage. Laser power is too powerful. All stages of near hits, but still an original game. A 90%+ game that ended being a mere 80% game, such a shame, such a waste. In my mind I am setting  stage that avoids that, and a stage where the town becomes the sandbox and the NPC’s are the triggers that starts missions (optionally puzzle inclined), and as I do this, I am wondering what happens when we remaster Soul Reaver to a new stage, enlarged, interacted and also take away the weakness the first one had (repetitive and a little shallow). Sony has great IP, I wonder who was sitting and considering what they hd only to fall into the same trap Microsoft is in (it needs to be new, it needs to be cool), and all that time, Sony has access to IP 20 years old that was regarded as an original game. It needs work, no one denies that, but it is something Microsoft does not have, as such we need to consider it, because the more exclusive games, the less chance Microsoft has and we need to acknowledge that the Bethesda deal gives them an advantage, not enough, but why give them that much leeway in the first place?

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Copyright? Copy left

As a trained IP attorney (minus the experience), I am always in line with IP and the traps and tricks are to some degree well known to me, so one question with any design my mind makes is “Is it more alike to the previous version, or not?” This is important, I have no doubt that making TESVII: Restoration myself implies that Bethesda (or their legal team) calls and demands all the materials I copied with an added cease and desist and that would be fair, IP is protected and I will not copy what is not mine, but a good idea is a good idea and that is a larger stage. As such, my mind has been considering a new version of seven cities of gold and when I saw new, I mean totally new. The part of exploration is pretty much the only part that not all mine, but that is too generic as such my version has options. 

As such the game is in two settings, the first one is the original world, with all the bells and whistles and the gamer can start (and should start there) so that he or she can get their feet wet. After this and after the immediate training, you can start a second game, a new game, yet this version will redesign the world, so you will be in a massively new area, an area that differs largely from the original. It will design a new map roughly 1000 by 1000 miles, you start in one part, and that is 200 by 200 miles. You get to explore, map, set sights and start foundations. You get to build a fort, from the fort you grow a trade post, from there a village, a town and if you are good enough a city. But it is not merely ‘building’, you have vassals for that. A city with infrastructure, religion, logistics, a setting that grows with every choice you make yet it is not that mundane. As I was thinking it through, I was listening to Jordi Savall, and a  consideration grew, what if music is part of growth? As the town band grows, its music increases, all production goes up, yet not always, some react to the beat, some to tempo and some to melody, as you set the stage for the local music, you set in motion a choice. We explore and we find, but there is a sort of randomiser in play, so not everything will be there, some parts will be, some will not, some area’s will have hides, a forest has lumber and as we explore what is and what can be grown, we alter the foundation of growth, the game needs to be entertaining, but it can be educational as well. When we played Civilisation, we had the research to make changes, what if something like that is in the game, but different? What if we had writings, but we set a larger stage with laws, we make choices, common law or civil law, later the introduction of accounting, criminal law and taxation, but they can only come into effect if certain conditions are met. And when the addition is made we see the larger benefit, politics, republic, monarchy, all choices that impact the bottom line of life, but we need to see the changes in a larger stage, the settings of natural laws, the benefit of a nameless religion (in the beginning there was a benefit), yet all these elements are in a different shape, this is not civilisation. So what happens when the world is a 1000 by 1000 miles and you can run through it all? Transport becomes important, we start with horses, and as we see more and more challenges, we can also fathom the impact. We get to shape the world as we see it, as we want it to be. Run around like in AC Brotherhood, but here there are no shops, no banks and no buildings, we get to build it all. Build to close together and space becomes a problem, choose the wrong location and you might be cut off from resources a town needs, we want an exploration game that is true to reality and the new consoles allow for that, cloud gaming allows for that. So when you see the AC Brotherhood map below, consider that 25 times the size, if the X and Y axes represented 10 miles, consider it now at 50 miles in each direction, and that is merely stage one.

What more, whenever you make a new game, you get a new map and you have no idea where you are so navigation and cartography become important, no YouTube in that space, in 1607 JamesTown was founded, consider that stage and see if you can do better, a game that has its own little sidesteps, because wildlife could kill you as you ride too far away, no option to get back in time, as such you will see the results of choices. Seven cities of gold was a great idea and what they got out of the CBM64 with 38Kb of space was pretty awesome, so we can take that idea and evolve it into something really serious and from there we get something entirely new, something never seen before, and all this in a third person view, not a top view that is map like, but the actual view, and consider that you might be playing a very different set of rules from your best friend, you can actually consider discussing what the best road to act is, a game setting we rarely see. 

Is it doable? 
I believe it is, the new consoles, PC’s and cloud consoles (Google Stadia) can easily deal with it, the question is, can it be done in such a way to entice the player to dip its toe in the exploration waters and see what will come next? I am game, but I am merely one view, there is a commercial side to this and a game designed to appeal to 10-499 people is not a triumph, it is a niche that has no place to go, it is the 3-5 million group we want to reach, that makes a setting achievable and something worth pursuing. It is merely my view on the matter, but I believe that banking on value for money is never a bad idea. 

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Alternative income

It seems that I hate Bethesda, I do not, I am not happy that they are part of Microsoft now, but that was their right. It is Microsoft I do not trust. So as I was playing (yet again) Fallout Shelter, we need to see how close to perfect that game is and it is a free game. The optionally dropped the ball on two issues, maybe three if they played their cards right, but that was their choice, gamer ended up with a near perfect version of gaming and that is what we all wanted (even though I would have paid $5-$15 for the game). Yet the game is not new, it is innovative adjusted, the origins of this setting goes back to Dungeon Keeper (1997), we tend to forget these little details. And when I say ‘innovate’ Bethesda truly did that to the game and their game rocks. 

It did however made me consider the stage and how it could be adapted. There was a Westworld edition, I had only heard about it, I never played it. The game was too much of a copy. Yet the setting of Dungeon keeper is one I tend to circle back to. It is the origin of that game that drives my thoughts. There is no advantage setting this to a larger Bethesda stage, Bethesda already owns it, but perhaps there are options in the Ultima stage (Richard Garriott), there could be a drive  through Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, there are plenty of options, but it is the drive of creation, with a little grasp of pragmatism (perhaps 1-3 optional micro transactions) that would make it work. The first thing is not the game, it is understanding the drive of the gamer, from that point we can move on to see what optional franchise has the larger cluster. We can chose any game, but if it has only 20 fans, the drive to a population large enough to make it work is one that we have to surpass and greed driven people always want revenue now (not me though). There are the protected franchises (Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings) that had its own barriers. There are less known franchises (Ultima) that has dedicated protectors, so we can align ourselves with a protector, or find IP that is no longer protected (which tends to take time). I stated it before and will do so again, on the Amiga Millennium 2.2 had close to all we need, so how to make that a success? To do that you need to understand the mechanics of the game. We can work with clocks, the free game only allows a clock speed of 4 and 5 skip days per day, when you buy anything, even once you get the option of clock speed 8 and that can be avoided by a one time payment of $4 giving you direct access to 16 times the speed and unlimited skips, considering that it takes up 235 days to fly to Uranus (I had to allow for that pun), we see a game that could show us optional revenue. Then there is the stage of the arcade, change your mobile into an arcade machine, play the old games for $0.99 and it will keep a track of up to 3 games, for $4 you can add 10 slots and every month another game is released, another of the classic games that can be played, the amounts of fathers that spend a fortune in quarters can now play their favourite game (optionally) for a mere $0.99, how is that not a guaranteed drive? And the nice part is that dozens of these games were never IP protected, it was not an issue in those days. 

There is a whole world out there ready for the visionary programmer to dig into, covid be damned. 

And when we see that some older games are almost forgotten (Paradroid, Boulder Dash, Spy vs Spy,  Joust, and not to forget Theme Hospital), we tend to think as what is old is useless, but there are real diamonds there. I still believe that a proper set Magic Carpet could do really well on consoles (no micro transactions), optionally mobiles could people forget their destinations when they get sucked into Populous, as such I wonder why the people at Electronic Arts are not awake. Another larger player used to be Epyx, and I cannot fathom why a game like Chip-bits, never was rereleased when the systems grew up, there are other players like Laser Squad, that might have gotten right what a legendary game like X-Com missed when they relaunched. And when the Rock (Dwayne Johnson) relaunched the game as a movie, no one considered that Arcade classic was fun to play and relaunching it might have been an option? I am not sure if there were IP’s in place and who owned it, but it seems that the owners did not move on the IP, as such I merely wonder why. 

As for the number one question you all have, why am I not doing it? The answer is simple. I am not a programmer and I am ready with my IP, but those with the $$$ (or £££) haven’t reacted yet, but that does not stop my mind of remaining creative and if it is a win for the gamers, it is a win for all of us. Life at times is that simple. I know my strengths, I also know my weaknesses and limitations, the latter two you tend to avoid for obvious reasons. Well, it is time to fee the inner person with a shepherds pie, I am feeling peckish!

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