Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

To emphasize ‘flawed’

There are all kinds of issues playing. Murdoch who admits that they benefitted from hacked emails (so what else is new), the call for the leadership of the Tories or even more annoying the battering ram of North Korean rants and counter rants and the nauseating gossip train of the Las Vegas shooter. All of that is worth a few dozen words, yet in my mind, in light of yesterday’s view of IP and gaming IP, I think it is clear that a few more words need to be spend on the category, but now on a different field.

IP is at the heart of the matter, but now we will look at another side. For those who have had a view of games and gaming, many will remember the awesome trilogy called Mass Effect. Those who went through the growth of the Xbox 360 brand will have been aware of the Mass effect trilogy, there is no way escaping it. The first one gave us something new and exciting. When we consider the Elder Scrolls and the Fallout games, we were clearly introduced to a competitor in this field and Mass Effect delivered something new, 2007 became an almost magical year. Then something new happened, in 2010 we saw the sequel, a sequel that is still regarded as one of the best RPG games that the Xbox 360 ever received. I will skip the final part in all this. So in this history, you might understand that the expectations were so high (perhaps too high) for Mass Effect Andromeda. The people at Bioware had 5 years to get it right and they failed. The game was flawed on several levels and even as we need to accept that it is not a bad game, the utter quality of Mass Effect 2 was not equalled, not by a long shot. I am not alone, many reviewers saw the game as one that does not equal the initial trilogy and even now, the interest of a remastered original trilogy is desired a lot more than Andromeda is. I finally played the game, I was unwilling to pay the full amount after being shown the most basic of glitches and issues, but when offered as a new (not pre-owned) game for $25, I gave it a go. So as I have finished the game in a week, I concur, the game is flawed on several levels. I am not going into the animation and graphic glitches, too many did this. The game from the beginning shows a flawed approach to several sides. Now, it is shown in the initial level, a level which I usually ignore as it tends to be an intro level as to train the gamer how to play the game. So after the intro movie (which is actually quite brilliant) we get to go to the first place. Here we see the impact of flaws. So after 650 years in travel we get to a planet and whatever they have we can use to reload our own weapons. We see a new opposing player and that is fine, yet the battle strategy, the weapons, the resources show us a flaw from the very core onwards. Ammunition is the clearest part, but it goes beyond that. The Nexus, the entire evolution that we play through, we can go two ways here. Either the game should have been a lot bigger with a lot more to do to grow us into the nexus and locations, or live with the assumption jumps that were made, jumps that were wrong on a few levels (as I personally see it). Now, we need to accept that things like this happen in action games and shooters, because the focus of such a game is different. Yet in RPG you can’t get away with it. The plot does not thicken, but the elements get to be a lot more questionable. The Salarian ark and the Turian ark are just on the surface of that. When we get confronted with those elements in the story we see the flaws grow. Patched stories for the sake of whatever they thought it was going to be. So when we see (from Wiki) “Mass Effect: Andromeda required a team of over 200 developers and, according to Aaryn Flynn, was given a total budget of C$100 million, which included marketing and research costs.” we get the first realisation on the bungled level of a game. My initial personal design (concept) of the sequel to Skyrim took less than an hour to construct in my mind and an additional 4-5 hours to type. So I got to be in a much better place from the get go. Now, do not take my word for it, because you never should. So instead I am going to introduce you to a group of 20 people, not having anywhere near such a budget. The team is Unknown Worlds Entertainment and their take on RPG with Subnautica is one of the best, one of the most refreshing (all that water helps) and amazing trips I have had in my lifetime of gaming. I hope that this game makes it to the PS4 and if it is still available on Xbox live in early release do it because it will be the best $30 you are likely to spend this year. The comparison is important because even in its non-final stage Mass Effect does not get close to what Subnautica has already delivered. OK, granted that if shooting is your need in Mass Effect, Subnautica might not be for you, but overall Subnautica kicks Mass Effects ass on several fronts. Three programmers outshine the dozens that Mass Effect had and that is just embarrassing. If you want to learn more take a look at IGP (the Indie Game Promoter) who (at https://www.youtube.com/user/TheIndieGamePromoter) has all kinds of videos. So take a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgyCiWXPZzE&index=76&list=PLVxH6E2fftrfbnmjYAXXiCJJwleb-HZvB for a first view of the game which gives a view almost two years before the final release. You want to skip to 1:45 and skip to the start of the game. The game is very much the truest view of RPG as they can get. So the intro is not as flash as Andromeda is, but that is the only time Mass Effect wins. Now, as stated, this is not a shooter, so be aware of that. The part that should amaze you is that this game is more about survival and the basic survivalist edge is often ignored by many RPG’s.

So as I am giving you a parallel on the skips of Mass Effect and also ‘story lining‘ of Mass Effect, we need to dig a little further. Now in their defence at times we cannot prevent that in the case of Mass Effect, but consider that after a trip for over 600 years, we get to aid certain players (Salarians) ‘just’ in the nick of time. This is an issue on a few levels.

Also even as we accept that many bought it soon and the game had sales close to three quarter of a billion, which is a financial success, it comes at the realisation that the game scores 72% which at the budget given is a massive flaw, yet here I will admit that the shooting side of the game is as some stated it: “The core shooting mechanics feel stronger here than anywhere else in the series“, which was made by Scott Butterworth of Gamespot and he is right, this part they did do very well and it is likely the one reason why the game remained the financial success it has turned out to be.

Yet the QA was far below par, the delivery was wrong and in the end I personally profited by getting a decent game for $25, a mere 6 months after release. So consider how this game could have gotten closer to the $1 billion mark by getting things right? An additional twice the investment by thinking things through and properly testing it from the start, and not even requiring to think too intelligent; the basic story line debated on the flaws that they needed to avoid from after the intro level onwards. Consider that the ‘Salarian Ark’ event became a basic shooting mission, whilst it optionally represented dozens of hours of additional gameplay on several levels. So apart from the timing as a ‘just in the nick of times‘ mission that is underused and oversold, we see that the other Arks become mere wasted moments in the game. In a place that has so many shortages, leaving behind an ark that has thousands of tonnes of resources seems weird, even if it does not have any lives left. It is not as the Nexus had an abundance of resources, did it? So there we see more, just after a setting that had a revolt, shortages and deviant issues, we see every time the Tempest comes and go’s (too often because of other flaws) we see that the docking level shows an environment that equals the embassy level of the citadel itself, all missed options and opportunities. There we see the option of an additional 10% score if it was done and properly tested. So now we get from 72% to 82%. Then there is the premise that this is a game with only 5 worlds to fix?

There could have been a few more, and more important, changing the way the vaults were accessed on at least one world might have made the game a little less obvious (to some extent). So here we have another 5% in the making, making the game approaching a 90% game, which is a given need when you waste 5 years and a hundred million. Subnautica, when you like that part of RPG gaming is giving you at 25% of the full price of the Mass Effect game. A game that was already awesome when I decided to get it and whilst playing the early release, the game added at least 4 more expansions to the main game and they are now part of the main game. In one part Mass Effect wins. The graphics, there is no denying that the graphics of Mass Effect were really good, but we might see that an additional 80 staff members (and 90 million more) should guarantee that part. All this and as we know that RPG’s are set over time, so we can accept that growing the impact over time as we play might have given a few more options and a few more changes to the way that the game was played, giving the gamer a better game (and optionally a much larger game).

So as I have enlightened you on some of the flawed parts, there is now the link to the previous article to set. The longevity of a game as well as the IP is the sellable part of any developed game and in that part Subnautica is all about original IP and they got the IP to grow value, loads of value. Even as we see that Mass Effect is to some extent more of the same, they did grow their IP range, but only to a fraction of Subnautica. This now gets us to the setting that is the link. In the digital age the value of the service purchased is the money we invest in the product we thought we bought. You see, as gaming progresses, we see a dependency and as such we no longer buy the property, but we lease it in some ways and rent it in other ways. The gaming industry has no choice but to set the multiplayer sides into a renting foundation (buying with an open point or termination), whilst the single playing part (the missions) will be leased for the term of the console. Now consider the satisfaction you get from leasing a game that is rated at 72%. Are you willing to go on paying the amounts we see? At this point I have now shown you the essential need to properly test a game before release. You see, it is shown in the quote that several sources gave. With: “Following Mass Effect: Andromeda’s poor critical reception and lacklustre sales, BioWare put the Mass Effect series “on ice”“. So even as we saw some sources state a sales numbers surpassing $500 million whilst there was $100 million invested, so either the numbers given were wrong, or we see the impact of greed as others walk away from a $400 million milk cow. In that part, what were the true costs and why would any company walk away from a possible $100-$250 million in season pass revenue. This part and the issues had shown from several sources that the detrimental financial health of IP and IP value is shown to be at least to a larger part to be due to the flawed quality of proper testing. Ubisoft has been though it (Assassins Creed Unity) and as we see Bioware and Electronic Arts walking away from half a billion dollars, we need to consider beyond games and the value of a gamer, we need to see that the impact of IP is not set in stone and the quality of the product (or service) is at the foundation of what we think we purchase and what we expect to receive. In this there is the clear evidence of the flawed product that is Mass Effect Andromeda and the weird part is that I saw the flaw in the first hour of the game. This now sets the premise of the wrong players (read: business parties) that were in charge within Bioware and Electronic Arts. It is my personal believe that their marketing division has either too large a vote and they looked at the wrong sides of the game. This in a setting of a 100 million invested, how weird is that?

So now we get the treasure that the Cullens, Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys give us on their web site. With “Whether buying or selling a business one of the most overlooked aspects of the transaction is the intellectual property of the business. Proper identification, scrutiny and valuation of intellectual property will have benefits for both the purchaser and vendor“. It is the issue that is really the bread and butter of growing game developers. In this the word business can mean either that or it can be set to ‘product’ or ‘service’ and the realisation of this quote which is not new, shows just how flawed (or sloppy) Mass Effect Andromeda turned out to be. Now, we look at the bad sides here, but the game has loads of good sides too. Yet it missed the boat by at least 20% (72%, instead of 92%) and I lighted up 15% in the easiest of ways. The last part we see when we dig into the world of the game testers. Now I can relate here, because I reviewed and tested games for the better part of a decade. My knowledge and skills showed me the parts I illuminated and I truly believe that there are better testers than me, so that implies that none of them work for either Electronic Arts or Bioware which is statistically near impossible, so that means that the large investment was made on a flawed infrastructure, or at least that is as I personally see it. You see, the old joke (from when I was young) has been that it takes 90% of the time to fix the last 10% of a project. At some point highly educated graduates were hired in places where the foundation of art is the core of the business and they introduced the setting of ‘linearity’ of art based projects. So that a project is done at 10% a month and the last two months of the year were for testing, which is not how it works and not how it will ever work. Now, I simplified the idea for illustration, so it is not an exact given, but the clarity of flaws that Mass Effect Andromeda shows on day one of release gives the validity of my view and shows just how breached the concept of design linearity is (perhaps you remember the Ubisoft statement of ‘every year a new Assassins Creed game’). As such, I believe that the game lost out on massive revenues.

Now consider the two headlines:

Bringing Mass Effect to a new galaxy isn’t quite the shot in the arm the series needed” or “Blown away in another universe 640 years later“. The first is IGN and the second one is one I came up with, if they had done a proper job. So would you buy the game if you read ‘isn’t quite the shot‘? Gamespot had “After the first few hours of Mass Effect: Andromeda, I was discouraged“, whilst Forbes gave us “I don’t think anyone will claim it outclasses the original trilogy, outside of maybe the very first game“, so a new game merely on par with a game released a decade ago. This is the setting of a flawed product and the fact that this was not seen in the beta stage of the game is questionable. So in an age of digital rights that are moving more and more from the permanent availability into a stage of temporary usage, where we no longer get to own the product, yet merely lease (read: rent) a product also requires others to realise that the game of gaming is shifting, and these players can only continue if they ‘up the quality’ of the product or service they make available. This shows in one way just how amazing a game like Skyrim is proving to be, the fact that the game still embraces gamers 6 years later whilst Electronic Arts loses the bulk of value of a product within 26 weeks. That is the evidence that shows that flaws are becoming a much larger issue for all in these fields and it shows that the players like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and others as well, need to take a harsh look at what they offer and not merely listen to their own marketeers as the value of what they bring forth is now shifting whilst a product is in development, which is the third nail in the coffin for Electronic Arts as it took 5 years to get to a very much less than perfect place they ended up. I believe that the flawed setting can be improved upon, yet the people at Bioware better realise that the stakes are raised and they are raised by a lot, in that we need to ask whether they can match the needs of a shifted market.

I cannot answer for them, and like Nintendo Electronic Arts and Bioware are not out of the game. You see, even as Nintendo bungled the WiiU, they hit back with the Nintendo Switch, which is becoming a game changer in gaming. I believe that both Electronic Arts and Bioware can do the same, the question is whether they will, time (read: the next release) will tell. Should that fail, they could always move forward by charging their fans an additional $10 for a steel box of a game. Oh wait, they are already doing that with FIFA18, ahhh how the world turns!

 

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Tuesday Evening Quarterback

Well, good afternoon to today’s match, playing on infield, with a home advantage is Australia’s very own Honourable BS, leader of the Labor party. In the outfield is his ego.

Let the game begin! So, when you read the article ‘Labor promises to keep medication cheaper at cost of $3.6bn over 10 years’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/22/election-2016-labor-promises-medication-cheaper-cost-over-10-years), we see an emotionally charged article that is about…. Yes, what is it about?

The by-line reads: “Bill Shorten pledges to axe 2014 budget cut to pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which has been booked as saving $1.3bn but is blocked by the Senate“, so we seem to get all huffy and puffy regarding pharmaceutical schemes and we seem to be all about stopping big Business, but the Senate will not hear about it. Yet, is that actually true?

You see, the quote “Patients will pay less for taxpayer-subsidised medication if federal Labor wins the election, but the move will cost $3.6bn over a decade” gives us some of the goods, it boils down to the next government spending another 3.6 billion. You see the Government is in debt, in debt for almost 750 billion and that move will add to that debt. We got into that debt as Labor decided to all these nice and seemingly mighty things and then left a massive invoice with the liberals. Perhaps we should take a look at the spin doctoring Bill Shorten did in February 2014 (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-10/shorten-says-car-manufacturing-shutdown-was-not-inevitable/5250834). Or consider in equal measure the fact that we see Julia Gillard smiling in a car in the Adelaide plant, whilst the people read on how GM Holden received well over 2 billion in subsidies. The response by GM Holden executive Matt Hobbs is “the subsidies underwrite tens of billions of dollars in local investment“, this sounds interesting as the timeline is off. The Hobbs statement came in April 2013 (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-02/holden-reveals-billions-in-subsidies/4604558), now consider the January 2015 news (at http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/holden-shutdown-general-motors-international-boss-stefan-jacoby-says-australia-is-better-without-car-manufacturing/news-story/af4de2d0090baa6c2a0ce24aa0e28729), 20 months later. So how was 2 billion pushed back into Australia? It gets even worse when we consider Toyota. You see, the Honourable BS is forgetting the timeline. Billions in subsidies under labor and miraculously 3 weeks after the elections the parties pull out. I remember watching Bill Shorten, boasting and stating whilst there was a really silent Kim Carr in the background. If we were to investigate the total amount of subsidies here and how much came back, will that equation be a positive one for the Australian people? Me thinks not!

This now equates to the current game being played. You see, even though the guilt of all issues should be shared (between Liberals and Labor, as both parties were around with them subsidies), the issue is that whilst Labor was in ‘attendance’ of government, they did nothing, absolutely nothing to secure cheaper medication. The first step was to stop the TPP, that paper (a document to some, a farce to others) is giving too much power to pharmaceuticals and is a first stopper for the evolution and continuation of generic medication. That part is not in view. At least that small island South East of here (New Zealand) had several people pushing back asking the hard questions. In that regard team Gillard-Rudd did too little and they did not think beyond their governing time here in parliament. If Bill Shorten really wanted cheaper medication the TPP would not be here and we would be trying to hold serious talks with India and UK to unite in a healthcare solution with the aim to provide for affordable medication.

That has not been the case and Bill Shorten knows this, making the article even more of a farce than it already was. This all aligns when we see the article (at http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/19/labor-to-end-freeze-on-medicare-rebates-with-122bn-funding-pledge) and we consider the quote “It is Labor’s biggest announcement of the election so far, and will cost $2.4bn over the next four years, and $12.2bn over the decade“, you see, I am siding with the medical side as much as possible. I believe that doctors, especially junior doctors have a raw deal, but making promises with funds you do not have is why we got into the mess we are in in the first place. It is essential for voters to realise that Labor does not have these funds and when it blows back we will be in even deeper waters. So as we realise that the Shorten-sighted approach to governing is giving away 6 billion (over 10 years) on these two elements alone, the clear dangers are that labor is soon to make the Australian people the bitch of the banks, as they want the interest owed. This is why Labor is too dangerous to be allowed to govern.

You see, when we look at the budgets and balances, Labor has no solution at all, they will blow the total debt, possibly even surpassing a trillion dollars. Now to get back to the other side in all this and that is seen when we look at the Medical Journal of Australia (at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2015/202/6/costs-australian-taxpayers-pharmaceutical-monopolies-and-proposals-extend-them), an article from 2015. ‘Costs to Australian taxpayers of pharmaceutical monopolies and proposals to extend them in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement‘,

The following summary points matter:

– Intellectual property (IP) protections proposed by the United States for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) have sparked widespread alarm about the potential negative impact on access to affordable medicines.
– Three of the greatest concerns for Australia in the recent draft include provisions that would further entrench secondary patenting and evergreening.
– Pharmaceutical monopoly protections already cost Australian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year (2013).
– Provisions still being considered for the TPPA would further entrench and extend costly monopolies, with serious implications for the budget bottom line and the sustainability of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

So not only were these elements known for some time, previous labor did almost nothing to stop this from becoming a reality (the liberals are in this, as I see it, equally guilty).

So Bill Shorten is even worse than a Monday morning quarterback. After the match is done, after the results are in, he is trying to talk you into a new match, leaving you with more debt and an even smaller piece of life to work with, all whilst being pushed into servitude to those holding the Australian debt markers.

The part that I do not get is that Bill should know better, when we get another politician hiding behind forecasters stating that next year will be better, then those politicians need to be held criminally liable if that upturn does not happen. It is time for politicians to be held accountable to the massive overspending as I see it. I reckon it is the only option left to prevent us to leave the next three generations with debts that we were unable to pay off, especially when they hide behind healthcare claims that were never realistic to begin with.

That’s just my view on the situation!

Before you decide to vote labor, ask your MP how Labor expects to pay for the total of 12 billion in changes over the next 10 years, which makes it 1.2 billion a year. Consider that total taxation collected in 2015 was $445B, you think that this would be enough, but now also consider that the total debt is 168% of the collected taxation, other services will still need to be paid, so if the debt goes down by $20B (which would be an amazing achievement), it will still take a little over 20 years to pay for our debt. Now consider, should labor be squandering this level of tax money, knowing that it will only make our lives harder down the track?

I am merely asking, because in my humble opinion, when a clear answer is not given, when the answer becomes, ‘It is really complex, even for me, but we have a solution ready!‘; at that time, do not walk away from that politician, you should run away! By the way, as a Liberal, running away from the coalition when they cannot answer these questions is equally essential. We need to focus on making Australia great. Also realise that neither side have successfully made any strong improvements regarding taxation loopholes. So, it might be very valid to read that ‘Politicians ‘double-dipping’ on property claims aren’t breaking rules – Cormann‘, yet in that regard, when tax loopholes are not set and at the same time, these politicians are spending money on ‘solutions’ that will not work and in even greater measure will land Australia in deeper debt down the line, those politicians are the ones you need to take distance from and fast, so as I personally see this, Bill Shorten should have known better!

 

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In continuation

Perhaps you noticed it, perhaps not. The last article was left a little unfinished. I had to do this because we are faced with two separate parts and I needed to isolate a few things, leaving you with the idea that this was it, alas (or fortunately) it is not!

In the past we saw that software required to pass “a manner of manufacture”, the linked issue of physicality, which is one I do believe in. It is for that reason I still consider the article by Ben McIniery ‘Physicality in Australian Patent Law‘ (at Deakin law review) to be the article that everyone in IP should read. It is an absolute must in the field. The article opened my eyes to a few parts of IP. On page 465 He goes into National Research Development Corporation v Commissioner of Patents (1959) 102 CLR 252, where we see “the High Court explained that the patentable subject matter inquiry is a broad test that recognises all new and useful innovation as patent eligible, irrespective of whether it involves a physical embodiment or a transformation of physical matter“.

This is where we are now. The gaming industry is only one side of it, the mobile data and mobile device market is the big one. No matter how much you see how mobile markets are worth hundred, two, three or even four hundred billion. As I see it, the mobile device market has now passed the 1 trillion dollar mark. As the people involved are looking at ‘their’ corners, the overall interaction market, including apps, data and hardware has exceeded a trillion dollars. So why does this now matter?

This is at the core of it all. The new games are only one side, the other side connected to all this is the value of data. There was a reason that Microsoft paid 2.2 billion for a videogame. The massive connection here is not just the data, it is the collection technology that you can link to it that matters.

Software was taken to satisfy the requirement for patentable subject matter; that is, it was “a manner of manufacture”. As articulated in the watershed NRDC decision, it is a mistake to ask if an invention (in the present context, software) is a kind of manufacture because it tends to limit one’s thinking by reference to the idea of making tangible goods by hand or by machine. Rather, the correct emphasis is that the application of a manner of manufacture results in an artificially created state of affairs, and that a manner of manufacture has an industrial, commercial or trading character in that it belongs to a useful art, as distinct from a fine art, and consequently its value to the country is in a field of economic endeavour. Software would appear to satisfy that requirement. Apple found that out the hard way, when it ‘learned’ that Smartflash owned the patent (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-ip-apple-verdict-idUSKBN0LT0E720150225), the bandage for that pain has been set at half a billion dollars. Here we see the link to both gaming and mobile devices.

The hottest ticket in the gaming industry is not just the game, it is the one who gets the race horse right on cross platform workings. So, a person on an Xbox One meets a person on a PlayStation 4 and they both fight it out ‘Doom’ style, who is the baddest, deadliest and most determined player on his console? That is currently not an option to the extent it should be. If you think it is easy, than think again, Bethesda with its Elder Scrolls online has not been able to bring that baby to life (Neither has Diablo 3 for that matter, who has a lot more experience in this field).

The jackpot value goes up even more when we consider the Android and IOS devices. Cross platform is the one ticket (read: patent) that once solved will hold the trump card to instant super wealth. Leave it to greed to properly motivate innovation, but that is usually the case.

So as we see the E3 to the largest extent about gaming. I am looking at it from the additional view of Intellectual property. If you have read yesterday’s article called ‘As the heart thumps‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/06/15/as-the-heart-thumps/), you might wonder if there is a reason behind my focus on the navigational view of Elite: Dangerous. Now consider the design patents that Microsoft holds and consider the Elite HUD in a car window as a heads up display. It is the next step. You see, several players (read: car manufacturers) have been looking at implementing something like this, but the costs were scary. Now consider Corning’s Gorilla Glass technology solutions, not just to be a stronger screen, but a screen ‘film’ solution on the inside of the glass linked to a device that feeds the screen, whoever holds the quality design patent here will make a killing. The ‘technology’ that we saw in games for HUD, is technically already possible, now it only needs one clear implementation with the right patent and that person is sitting on the platinum patent. That same train is linked to interactive data transfer and consolidation cross platforms. Not what you think already exists (like feeds to every device), no, I am talking about true bi-directional interaction of the mobile world. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet.

In gaming terms, we are talking interactive intelligence versus scripted moments. The bulk of all games still rely on scripted moments. When you walk into a door, a new house, or meeting that ‘special’ character in the game. Games are full of that, no it is the intelligent design, regardless of moment, character or location that decides the interaction. That will be the upcoming frontier. Yes, you might think that this is about gaming, which is partially true. Yet that part is one step away from intuitive marketing; to reach any person regardless of device, location or state of travel, the holy grails of Direct Marketing and the Business Intelligence field is pursuing. You see, when we travel we tend to be decently idle. That is the moment marketing could hit us square in the face, possible resulting in us pressing the ‘buy’ button. That is as I say the platinum patent that allows for almost instant wealth beyond measure. Most of the technologies exist in generic form, whoever delivers the focus narrow enough to get set into patent will be holding onto the Chalice of Avarice.

In all this, the IP market remains in development, in addition, these events with added complication of what the TPP will offer large corporations is centre as to why I had an issue with the TPP. It gives unbalanced strength to large corporations, whilst diminishing the efforts of small innovators and it is the latter part that is most likely to come up with the golden idea, which was always my issue against the TPP.

So, when you take another look at what the E3 offers in gaming, consider how much bigger the net is that could catch options in other parts and other business segments.

 

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Trolls are real

No, this is not an episode of Grimm, where we see the Hässlich as they collect their fee. This is not the case of David Giuntoli, beheading reapers and taking care of the trolls. This is today, the trolls are real and the fee goes up by hundreds of millions. This is the case of SMARTFLASH LLC, et al. v. APPLE, INC., et al. The article was from Cnet, but I got wind of it through EpicTimes. All this got to blows not because of the amount, but because this issue has been allowed to fester for well over two decades. The issue takes a legal leap into the unknown, which is still unmanaged at present. The questions that we have to pose is in two parts.

  1. Is this a festering scene?

You see, it is nice for Apple to cry wolf, but is it a valid scene of the crying?  The fact is that Smartflash LLC has 7 patents, the first one filed Oct 25, 2000, with a Foreign Application Priority date (UK) of Nov 25th 1999, and this makes it a patent that was filed before the initial release of Apple’s iTunes, which was January 9th, 2001.

The Apple response we see (at http://www.cnet.com/news/apple-ordered-to-pay-533-million-over-alleged-itunes-patent-infringement/)

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system”, so let’s take a look at the slightly empty response as I see it:

Makes no products‘, is not a prerequisite for a patent;

Has no employees‘, is also not an issue, someone filed for this case and someone filed for a patent. Whether this is an employee is not an issue;

Exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented‘, is slightly moot. The patent was filed before iTunes existed, hence, we could argue that Apple did not invent what they did, the latter statement is an incorrect one, but I will return to this.

Now let me rephrase the Apple statement in a very unflattering way: “Smartflash had an original idea, the idea was not novel because this is the direction the world was moving to”. This notion was a clear given ever since day two that Napster got active. The people understanding these technologies would innovate and come up with ideas. Unlike me, who  was a Patent Virgin in 1999 (and unaware of the power they hold) would see that the future is all about IP, so some of these people would file the ideas and they would stick. Now we see that Apple might have reinvented the wheel, but reinvention is no invention at all. It becomes a license and Smartflash LLC only had to wait for their chooks to grow and grow. Now pay day has arrived.

So as we go back to the initial part, questions come to mind. Questions many (including Apple) might not want an answer to, because the answer might be a lot scarier than we all imagine. You see, in previous blogs I discussed the dangers of a faltering and collapsing economy, because those in charge remained too flaccid to actually act on issues. The consequence is that if a monetary system collapses, what will replace it? In my view, the new currency for any corporation and government is Intellectual Property. If that is true, than those who own the property will become the new true wealth.

This makes Patrick Racz a visionary of massive fortune, if we see the first fee that Apple will end up paying, what will happen to the next step? What will the Samsung invoice become? Beyond that, Apple now has a choice to make, the entire DRM future is now no longer in the hands of the large industrials, so that coin will be making massive waves soon enough.

So where is the festering part? Well, Patent Trolls are not a new group. This ‘valid’ group has existed since the early 90’s. So over the last two decades, this groups had not been dealt with. The valid question becomes, should Patent Trolls be dealt with? You see, patents get bought all the time, someone goes bankrupt, the patent is bought, perhaps sold by a bank trying to limit its losses. This market evolved, because the issue as is, is that corporate ‘losses’ due to patent trolling has been exceeding 20 billion a year from 2010 onwards. So, why not act against trolling?

The question becomes is it wrong to be a troll? The Hässlich might disagree if we say yes. The fact is that those with the novel idea, might not have the means to pursue the real deal. So they might want to file their original idea. To give you an example, which you might not believe, is that I came up with the idea around 1994. Now, it could be seen as a DPod (Data Pod), my idea was not in that direction, you see. In my past I was confronted with the ‘joke’, that was known as a tape streamer. It was a backup solution that never properly worked in households. So I had the idea to make the Minidisc a backup device. To connect it to computers, so that we could copy files, the Minidisc looked like a 3.5″ floppy, but could hold hundreds of megabytes. It could have evolved the need for diskettes and it would have propelled data halve a decade earlier. I would have been decently wealthy. So, I should have patented the idea (although, in those days I did not realise I could). So as such, Patrick Racz was the clever one. Yet, in view of all this, did Apple lag? That becomes the cornerstone in all this. Does it matter? Is a more apt question. A patent was filed, Apple did not do its homework as I see it a cost comes into play.

So now we get a new issue, will Apple et al ‘force’ a change in patenting? Will capping be imposed? All decent questions that are for tomorrow. For today, Apple gets to admire its own armour, which is not as shiny as it was yesterday. I must however state, that I personally do not think that Apple did anything wrong. Now I return to the initial exploiting part I promised to revisit. They came up with an idea and they designed it. In 1370, a Dutchman named Laurens Janszoon Coster came up with an idea, it was the printing press. He came up with the idea around the same time Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg came up with the same idea. They both had similar (not identical) ideas in a time when the need for a cheaper solution was needed. The Dutch and the Germans all state that their citizen discovered the idea, which is fair enough. I think that this is a similar situation. In all fairness it seems to me that the patent system did not allow for such a situation, it does not make it right or wrong, the situation just is. In a land (US) where it is all about number one, it must now bite that this patent is in hands of a non-American. So as we realise that any system is flawed, is it flawed enough? If patents are about innovation, are the little people the solution? I have always believed that true innovation will survive, big companies will need to consider the age old situation, having the person with the ‘nice’ PowerPoint, does not mean that they have the innovation.

  1. Is it unmanaged?

Like any legal system, the Patent system is good, but is it good enough? This one case is calling for visibility, but one case does not a change make. If we go back to 2013 we see the following in Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2013/10/04/for-most-small-companies-patents-are-just-about-worthless/). “But, TechCo will need to use a lot of other technology to build and deliver a complete product, e.g., the product design might be protected by a patent, but the manufacturing process might be subject to another company’s “blocking” patent“. Here is the kicker, there has been a lot of noise on how large corporations have the ability to block others. If we accept Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com.au/chart-of-the-day-the-totally-useless-patent-wars-2014-10) “In other words, based on patent cases brought to court by Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, and a host of others, litigation is, more often than not, a serious waste of time and money for all parties involved“. The question is, should the system change? Because these big boys are in disagreement, does not mean that the system should just fall away. Are these patent cases valid to begin with? If we look at the quote “As it turns out, only 20 or the 222 patent assertions (9%) were able to establish liability, but even in that small sample, only 10 of those 20 cases resulted in “lasting injunctive relief.” Mueller says that number would be even smaller if “the patents underlying Nokia’s German injunctions against HTC had come to judgment in the Federal Patent Court.”“. My question is that if the numbers are this skewed, why take it to court in the first place? What was the tactic behind it? Delay? A mere pissing contest or was this about satisfying the need for additional costs? I have no idea, but the result data speaks for itself. Is the score so impressive that pursuing a 10% chance is essential, worth the effort or it is something else?

I do not proclaim to have the answer, but the questions are not getting asked, moreover, the press at large have all quoted Apple on their ‘indignation’, but answer me this, how many papers gave any view, brought any decent quotes from Brad Caldwell apart from the one liner victory? In addition, when we see Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-ip-apple-verdict-idUSKBN0LT0E720150225), the quote “Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason reform was needed in the patent system to curb litigation by companies that don’t make products themselves“, that sounds nice in theory, but that leaves only the large companies in charge of it all, it takes out the small innovators whilst large corporations are left choking those small innovators for a mere tuppence to get complete control. Patents were never designed to give power to the manufacturers, they were an exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. However, as the world became all about shore term goals and iterative exploitation, in that regard patents are a massive impropriety to the need of large corporations.

Time will tell what direction the legal industry makes, for now, as Apple and Google are so about non tax accountability, the danger of actual change remains not too large (only for now).

 

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The Toothless tiger

It is roughly 1,544,400 minutes since we saw this message “The newspaper and magazine industry today takes the first steps towards setting up the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the new regulator for the press called for by Lord Justice Leveson” (at http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk/08/jul/13/independent-press-standards-organisation, in July 2013).

So when I saw the words ‘press’, ‘regulator’ and ‘sham’ together in one sentence (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/sep/07/victims-press-regulator-ipso-leveson ) I was not that overly surprised. Let’s not forget that the implied innuendo in regards to the press cleaning up its act was never a reality.

You see, after all that visibility, on March 25th we see the report from the Daily Telegraph with the headline “Flight MHG370 ‘suicide mission’“, was anyone even surprised that the press regards themselves ‘beyond the law’?

Yet, if we are to properly assess the situation, we must therefore also allow matters of defence. So what is the issue that bites us so much? The letters from the 30 victims of press intrusion stated to Sir Alan Moses the following (as stated in the article of the Guardian):

By rejecting the majority of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations, the paymasters and controllers of Ipso are rejecting due process

In its current form, Ipso retains no credibility with us or with the wider British public.

It furthermore states: “it was not truly independent, breaches of the industry code of practice would go unreported and unpunished, and there would be no effective and transparent investigation of serious or systematic wrongdoing“.

Now, after what happened in the hacking scandal, I am all for bashing the press, but let us all be honest, if we are to convict a group, let us do it for valid and preferably legal reasons.

About these pictures!

This all links to several issues that I wrote about in the past few days, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton might be the most famous ones, but they are by no means to most important ones (I feel for these victims, but reality shows us bigger problems). Yes, there is an issue that links to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian. If we go by the words of Reddit, we should use the quote “The site, which had an online forum named ‘The Fappening’, was one of the main places the hacked nudes were being posted and the website has now banned the page, six days after the photographs of the Hunger Games star first surfaced. It is thought the main reason bosses have finally pulled down the forum is NOT because of the J-Law snaps, but because photographs of Olympian McKayla Maroney which were also posted on the site are believed to show her underage.” which came from the Mirror. These places have been hiding behind the ‘innocent disseminator‘ flag for far too long. Their income is real and based upon bandwidth. If we want change, then perhaps forcing a tax bracket on bandwidth, especially with a bankrupt America, might be a novel way for debtors to get their coin back. Yet this is not about that. The fact that Jennifer Lawrence is now partially safe is only because another victim was a minor when the pictures were taken. This makes for a massively inhumane disaster and one that also affects the press. It is interesting that when we look at the name McKayla Maroney we see two events, both the hacked ‘under-dressed’ images as well as the Gamergate reference to Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian.

Vox Media stood alone

It is Vox (at http://www.vox.com) who seems to be on top of it, so we see one place, which might be regarded as ‘trivial’ by some covers the real issues that many ‘major’ papers have been ignoring all over the US and in places far beyond the US. You can read their words in depth at http://www.vox.com/2014/9/6/6111065/gamergate-explained-everybody-fighting. It is well worth reading; however, there are a few parts I do not agree with. Let’s go over those, for they are all linked.

Here is the first part: “If it was just to bring attention to Quinn’s personal life, that’s, as stated, already happened. And if it was to create better ethical disclosures in online journalism, that’s happening, too. The Escapist is drafting new guidelines, while Kotaku is now forbidding its writers from financially supporting independent designers on Patreon, a popular method for backing independent artists, unless the site’s writers need to donate to Patreon for coverage purposes (since many developers release material first to their Patreon backers). And Vox sister site Polygon requires disclosures of this sort of support“.

I do not agree for the following reasons:

  1. If we look at the press at large, Quinn’s plight is less than a hot drop on a plate. “Jennifer Lawrence”, “Nude” and “shoot” gives us 41 MILLION hits when we use all the keywords. “Zoe Quinn” gives us 70,000 hits with less than a dozen reputable sources (including Vox Media). So, I think we can safely say that visibility is not even close to being a factor there.
  2. Better ethical disclosures in online journalism? Sorry, but are they for real? Most of these writers have never seen a class in ethics, it is also likely that some of them cannot ever write ‘ethics’ correctly. That being said, many of them write for mere passion on games, their transgression of alleged ‘corruption’ usually goes no further then receiving the free game. How corrupt is that? In all this, my issue with Gamespot has almost forever been with the open sponsor Ubi-Soft. They are not hiding it, so that is good, but I seem to colour my faith to any Ubi-soft review. Overall the writers and makers like Carolyn Petit, Jess McDonell, Danny O’Dwyer, Justin Haywald, Chris Watters, Cam Robinson and Kevin VanOrd do an interesting job. Depending on their ‘preference’ of gaming we tend to favour a certain person, whilst not ‘liking’ another one. The sad news that some of these writers are leaving as Gamespot is changing should be sad news to all gamers.

Scoops

This all goes towards “forbidding its writers from financially supporting independent designers on Patreon“, why? Is the likely fact that reviewers would have the inside track on a game and by personally backing a developer they will have a scoop? Is that not what pretty much every newspaper does? If not, how about cancelling ALL advertisements from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and Adobe? How long until they are missing out on scoops? I think support should not hidden, but if I was still in the business I would be funding No Man’s Sky or Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar (I have been a lifelong Ultima fan), if it gives me a scoop days in advance of others, than so much the better. The question becomes is this truly about implied corruption or about mainstreaming a 100 billion dollar plus business? You see, the gaming groups was for a long time ignored (especially in the time I was involved)

True Scenario: “I went to the ‘Efficiency Beurs’ (a Dutch IT/Technology trade show) in the RAI in Amsterdam in the early 90’s (1991/1994), I forgot the exact time. Anyway, I was already deep into the gaming world and sound would be the next big issue. PS speakers were no good, Adlib was an option, SoundBlaster was the new kid and those with real money (read wealthy parents) there was the Roland card, which costed a fortune. This is the age when the PC was a wild market, CBM-64 and Atari were on a high and the PC was relying on blips and bleeps. So, I walk to the IBM representative and asked him on the new PS/2 PC’s and whether the soundcards in the growing gaming market was a field that IBM was looking at, as well as, whether IBM had considered adding a sound card to the PC-Private projects (which was a tax deductable PC scheme in the Netherlands). I was ‘walked off’ the stand with the response that IBM was for ‘professional’ use only. This same IBM is now advertising ‘Smarter Serious Games’ (at http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/gaming/)“.

So, these ‘losers’ (just to coin a phrase), who would not consider this industry for a long time are now trying to leech of a 100 billion dollar industry by ‘Simming’ (Sims joke) it on, so nice of IBM to join the party almost two decades late (they did however join the party decently before 2013). So now we get this escalation on several fields and interestingly enough all at the same time. Several approaches of wild growth is seen, personally I reckon this all truly took off in high gear in September 2013 when one game made one billion in only three days and passed the 2 billion mark this June making a videogame more successful then the most successful Hollywood production in history. Now nearly everyone wants to jump on board and it also seems to allow for a ‘wild growth’ of certain ‘elements’. IBM is not a party to this (they move in different circles), yet, those growing wildly on our shores hoping for their billion are learning hard and fast that gamers can easily spot the quality from the chaff and as such we see escalations. Whether we take Forbes article (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/03/21/gaming-the-system-how-a-gaming-journalist-lost-his-job-over-a-negative-review/) for granted or not, it seems that the name Sony and the possibility of pulling away advertisements apply in several corners (like the PS4 release and Terms of Service issues). So, to avoid ‘ethical’ issues, it seems to me that newspapers at large just ignored the plight of over 60 million customers and any link to ‘changes to the terms of service’. So how does this all link to ‘corruption’?

That is the part that seems to elude many, it is not ‘just’ about corruption, it is about alleged corruption with the writers (emphasis on alleged), implied corruption with their bosses in what they publish but more importantly what they DO NOT publish. The last part is on streamlining it all. If anything, GTA-V shows us that a billion plus revenue takes more than just a good game, it is about marketing and advertising, which shows now exactly the issue on visibility.

I am not alone with these views; some of them were discussed by Ashton Liu in her blog at http://rpgfanashton.tumblr.com/. She has an interesting view I had not considered. She writers “It has been no secret to the gaming community that many video game news sites have been employing increasingly extremist and reprehensible tactics to gain site hits and forward their ideology“. In that regard she seems on top of it all, I saw the harassment of Quinn and Sarkeesian as idiots who should go the way of the Dodo yesterday, if at all possible. Yet in her view, we are dealing with more than just blatant ‘ranters’, it is entirely possible that there is a corporate push behind it all. If we consider the actions by Sony and the market they need to ‘rule’ is that such a far-fetched statement? If people are willing to sell their souls for a niche market, what is Sony willing to do to remain the number one on the market, especially if you can motivate non-journalists (read non-accountable people) to speak out loudly?

What makes a Journalist?

It is a side, that until the article of Ashton Liu I had ignored. Ashton is like me, an ideologist, we seem to share a passion for RPG games and we are willing to put some time into sending the message of the Role Playing Game, hoping to introduce it to others. Yet, part of the view she offers seems incorrect, is this all about true gaming journalists? Many of them are not journalists at all, they do not have a degree in journalism, so let’s all agree that unless the person has a degree in Journalism that this person is just a games reviewer (I myself am a games reviewer), I have degrees in Law and IT, but not in Journalism, which makes me a non-journalist!

This is where the issues become (slightly) clear. Many are not journalists at all, so journalists are compared to ranters and outspoken ideologists, whilst not getting painted on grounds of evidence, which is almost slander (I said almost). We are all in need of more clarity, clarity I am asking for, whilst trying to remain clear, clarity Ashton is trying to give the readers and there are the additional thousands online, ranting all over the place. So what is a reader to believe?

Corporations

Perhaps that is the part we all forgot about? We seem to ignore the corporate site. Is that the background of those who remained with Gamespot? Is CBS changing the gaming area by starting to cut away the ‘non-professional’ staff? I do not know, I am asking this. I have no issue with any writer at Gamespot (even if they cater to games I never play), their passion has for a long time been without question, yet, if this streamlining requires the presence of education, not just knowledge, then those without Journalistic skills to be ‘relocated’ and not all end up within the CBS structure.

So as Ashton made the statement I disagreed with “These journalists behave terribly and browbeat anyone whose opinions don’t fall lock step with their own“, the question “which are the real journalists” come to mind. This is where we return to Leveson, the issues that IPSO is accused of and how this relates to Journalism.

IPSO is regarded as a toothless tiger (perhaps correctly so), yet as papers are more and more online and as we see more and more ‘contributions’ from critics and reviewers, we will see that their painting of a group ‘as ignored’ as stated by the phone hacking scandal victims, we see a corporate move by many newspapers that employ reviewers and critics who are likely non-members of the official Journalistic core, but in the online mash no one can really tell anymore. This is at the heart of several issues, next to the editors relying on people whose family name tends to be “well-placed sources within”; I wish I had a relative like that.

This all gets me to the only part of the Vox article that I have an issue with. It is not really an issue, it is more a disagreement. They stated “Because what #GamerGate is all about isn’t who is or isn’t a gamer, or what role the press should play. It’s about what games should be and who they should be for. And that’s worth a real discussion, not just a hash tag“. I think that anyone enjoying a game is in the smallest extent a gamer, and as his or her passion grows, so will the Gamer part of that person. I think it is MASSIVELY important the part the press plays and to some extent they need to be judged on what they publish and to some extent even more on what they ignore, not unlikely for favours from the advertisers. You see, what happens when it is no longer them, but also the stakeholders? Consider the stakeholders for projects of Ubi-Soft and Electronic Arts. The moment they start ruffling feathers on ‘their’ dividend and the press ‘obliges’ that is the true moment when we will no longer see whatever ails a gaming community. When it goes through a journalist we do end up with the smallest protection, but ‘small’ beats ‘none’ every time.

It is ‘what games are and who they are for‘ is as I agree an important discussion, yet the implied evidence at present gives little support that that true vision will come from #Gamergate, because anyone willing to develop a game, no matter what gender, what topic and what ethnicity of graphics we are presented with should be a reason for bias and/or discrimination. These are parts #Gamersgate seems to be ignoring.

Streamlining is also all about who owns the IP, that is the one part they all seem to ignore, if the future is about IP (Intellectual Property), then it is the novel idea that has the future of gaming fortune, which is all about streamlining in the eyes of EA, Ubi-soft and Sony (to name a few big companies in this field), you see, who owns the IP will continue and not unlike the flaccid economists of Wall Street, larger companies have been all about continuing a brand and less about the new idea, which makes indie developers the future (consider the massive success of Mojang with Minecraft), that is the streamline part all ignored. This is why I think it is important to protect them! This is seen in the slightly dangerous statement by Vox Media in the article as they state “Some argue that the focus on harassment distracts from the real issue, which is that indie game developers and the online gaming press have gotten too cozy“, is that true, or are the larger players realising that they passed the buck for too long and driving a wedge between the press and the Indie developer is essential to their survival as they try to ‘rekindle’ the press and push indie developers towards the ‘cheap’ deals where they can take over the IP. That part is at large ignored by most. If we look at 2014 we see a massive host of new versions of the same brand, whilst none of the truly new games are coming out in 2014. Splatoon, ignored by many is the new kid and so far it seems that it might largely drive sales for Nintendo. You see these larger houses have forgotten to cater to THEIR audience (not just bring a cool presentation about something not due for 15 months) and as such are under scrutiny facing an endangered future. When we see a headline like this ‘Battlefield 4 – It’s so bad, its actually funny!‘, they know that they are in trouble, no matter how much you pay marketing to focus on the small stuff and micro transactions, which some call ‘Blood Money‘. In my view this is partially the result of letting ‘Excel users’ anywhere near the gaming market and when these investments do not pan out panic will be the natural consequence.

Back to IPSO

Yet, this also reflects on IPSO, because is the story ignored not as irresponsible as calling a tragedy a suicide mission? I wonder if the two elements would have been anywhere near as extreme if IPSO had not been toothless. I cannot state this for America, but I am certain that many gaming issues would have been a lot more visible, which might have reduced the risk and abuse of both Quinn and Sarkeesian. If you do not believe the press to have any influence, then consider the Art ‘expose’ called “Fear Google“, which is exactly the method of News the Sun used to rely on for at least one page (a page 3 joke only the British understand), or as we could call it, how Rupert Murdoch got through his early years. So here we see the beginning of the future, as Jennifer will end up getting shown to the world in states of non-dressing, her stolen pictures are less likely to be stopped as they are not getting sold, even if sold, the chance of enough people getting convicted becomes a serious question.

We can safely say that there is a group of toothless tigers, law partially became toothless as it catered to business enterprise and as we see more and more ‘free’ services we see an abundance of innocent dissemination that no one seems to be able to stop, ‘oh yes’, for some reason many were ‘suddenly’, within hours, able to stop the film where a Journalist ‘suddenly’ lost his head. It seems that ‘sudden’ acts are at times possible, so why this entire system is not better regulated is to be perfectly honest beyond me, but you better realise that someone is making loads of money, not just the hacker (read: thief) that got a hold of the pictures.

 

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Story about a game!

This all started with a video blog. It can be found at Gamespot and it is given by Danny O’Dwyer in a segment called ‘the point’ (at http://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-is-marketing-killing-the-wonder-of-games/2300-6420070/).

He hit an interesting snare with the topic of over marketing and I agree. When I started to think this through, I also got to the point that it is not all about the marketing side of that caper, but another side to the ‘lack of wonder’ as he put it in gaming. He was talking to someone from an upcoming game called ‘No man’s sky‘, the man is a Minecraft fan, which pretty much had my attention from the very beginning.

You see, gaming has become too much about getting to the end of the track with an added need to get achievements. Too many games are a chase. Minecraft is all about just having fun. It is virtual LEGO at its very finest; this awakens the creators in us, which is always a great thing. The issue ‘missed’ (which might be the wrong term) is that one side in the lack of gaming wonder (as I see it) is an off-set between freedom and storyline. It is the combination that has always drawn me to gaming, which makes me a sucker for any decent RPG.

Minecraft does not have any story, but it counters this with an amazing amount of freedom and exploration. I am not stating that Minecraft needs a story, but as we get the freedom to explore, discover and do whatever we feel like, the impact of a story is less of a factor. As freedom moves away (like towards a Call of Duty or a Ghost Recon), the story becomes more and more important. Some get it right (the Mass Effect series and The Last of Us), where the story drives us, whilst we get a limited amount of freedom to do whatever we like, or we get added parameters (challenges), many get it decent (Far Cry & Tomb Raider) not to mention, Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriot, which is still one of the best games of its kind, even a whole console generation later. Some lose out a little as I personally see it (Call of Duty & Halo), but these games counter it with another extra, which I will get back to shortly. Against these games are the open games like Oblivion, Fallout, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim, where there is a decent story, yet the additional openness of the game makes a massive impact.

There are a few that lose massive points, because they got the story kind of right, but then the game-play, linearity and the lack of insight suddenly made what could be a massive hit, but got to be no better than mediocre as I see it. In this category we see games like Thief and Second Son (Infamous3).

Second Son is the strongest in that regard, as I see it; the game was over-hyped and over marketed. The game starts really nice, then after a while the designer gets sloppy. The evidence as I see it? Consider that you cleaned the first Island and as your smoke powers grew, you got decently into the story, at some point you get the 3rd power (video), instead of reopening the first island, adding additional challenges and added missions, perhaps even adding more laser and speed missions (2nd power), maximising the power of video, you continue on the linear path to the conclusion of the game. In addition, instead of actually giving added powers to the concrete power by adding challenges for cleaning the city or removing the concrete power out of the soldiers, the game pretty much ends and the concrete power actually becomes kind of ‘lame’, the one power you coveted the most is the one power you can happily do without.

It is that lack that is also killing the wonder in games and gaming. It is a sloppy side.

I mentioned Halo and Call of Duty. These games survive on the challenge of multi-player and that is fine, but I think that these gamers could get a boost of gaming if the story was something you could get through, or even explore a little, instead of run through to the end. Perhaps that is not what they want, which is fair enough, but the reception that Far Cry 3 got (including from me), gives a little strength to the view I personally have. I admit that not all gamers will agree here. In addition, I will reopen the talks on multi-player. Most gamers who are into this side, love (and demand) a good multi-player side to the game. I have never been a Halo fan, but I hear good things about it, some games have a massive downturn in multi-player gaming. In that regard, it is Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider that are the worst of them. You see, I believe that things either are balanced or they get an edge, having neither is a bad thing. With these two games, I have tried several times and when you start as a level 1 person, getting stacked against level 50 people, only to get stuck in a bottle neck with opposing you mini guns, one shot killing bows and people with 2-3 bonus skills, you know that the makers missed out and soon thereafter most will have had enough. In opposition I would like to mention God of War, which had an amazing multi-player mode. I was really impressed. You go 4 against 4 and you might have a weapons edge, or not, the fact that it is about the group achievement, you still get some points and soon thereafter you become an equal and even an asset in the multi-player version. A game like that invites multi-player and entices players to get out and do it multi style, which is how it should be. The last one to mention here is Mass Effect 3, which I consider to be the greatest multi-player game of all time. You go in groups of four, you go against a decent AI (at times an overwhelming one) and you go into maps you might have already seen. The options to improve the skills of the characters, the weapons, and armour by playing and buying upgrades is just too much fun. It is the most addictive multi-player form I have ever experienced. I met some of the best players ever. At one point I reached the top 2% of the multi-players, considering that there are over 1.2 million Mass Effect 3 players is just an AWESOME feeling! In all that time, the multi-player remained true to the story (given is that it is just to kill enemies, how wrong can you go) and true to the atmosphere of the game. In Mass Effect 3, it was NEVER about the multi-player, which makes it all even better.

I feel that gaming could move up a notch, not because of the nextgen in consoles, but because the developers will pay better and more attention to the story they hand out.

Even though we all still enjoy a game of Galaga at times, a game that was never about the story and all about zapping the baddies.Most of us will always love to have at least one game like that. I got Scribble Shooter and it is great fun! It is about the other 24 games we buy and we must consider that the next 5-8 years of all franchises will be about the IP (Intellectual Property), making a better story part of the mix will only bind us stronger to the game of our choice, which is one thing the developer will love.

In the end we the gamer win and through this so will the developer!

 

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