Killed the car for a faster horse? Not me.

I was very happy for Microsoft to continue with their original xbox one plans. I just wasn’t going to buy it. At that point it stopped being my problem and started being Microsoft’s problem. Now enthusiasts who were in favour of Microsoft’s original direction are blaming the army of comentards of which I was one for halting progress but we must remember it was Microsoft’s decision to U-turn.

English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone...
English: Steve Jobs shows off the white iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference Español: Presentación del iPhone 4 por Steve Jobs en la Worldwide Developers Conference del año 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apple under the masterful leadership of the late Steve Jobs were a fantastic example of a company saying we’re going to do something new, something a bit different, something we think is better, and we hope you’ll come with us. People did. Apple and in particular Steve Jobs were genuine thought leaders.

Companies do not have a fundamental right to our money. Most of us live in fairly free countries where personal choice is paramount, and that extends to what we choose to spend our money on. You can produce something radically different but if you want us to buy it, we must want to buy it. That is where Microsoft failed.

I can see the argument for online games with massive worlds which evolve even when you’re not playing, games in which my save has an impact on my friends and we can interact directly and indirectly and that is very exciting, I can see games like this being huge. But if you make a game like that then you are making an online game. No one expects an online game to work offline.

Mandating to sign in, even if only once every 24hours, to play purely offline games such as Peggle is nothing other than intrusive DRM.

To those who would blame me and those like me for killing progress you must remember all we could ever have done is not buy it. Microsoft pulled the trigger.


We’re trying to make gaming more welcoming to girls but there’s just too many trolls in here

Women gamers tend to be more intelligent than the average male gamer. I’ll caveat that this is based purely on my own anecdotal experience but I wanted an attention grabbing first line to appear in the preview panel ;-). We know intelligent people tend to be less susceptible to advertising so irrespective of our own opinions otherwise it’s easy to see why the marketing money is spent pitching at young men.

New Troll and Old Troll (Front)

New Troll and Old Troll (Front) (Photo credit: Dunechaser)

We shouldn’t blame the industry as a whole. The hard working creators of games do not create their products trying to keep women out, they make them for anyone who would enjoy them so why a small subset of gamers in immature male trolls feel games are their exclusive domain baffles me.

The success of a marketing campaign can only really be measured in sales numbers and the low-hanging-fruit in this case are young men who can be convinced to pre-order any game of sequel number four or higher. But this male-oriented marketing only serves to reinforce the idea that hardcore gaming is a male only affair.

Mature gamers male and female alike are working to dispel this myth of male entitlement in favour of equality but it’s hard to do in-game without feeding the trolls. There are people who believe the world is flat and there is nothing we can say to convince them otherwise. Likewise with immature gamers how can we reason with people who won’t listen, who instead respond with a barrage of insults they would never say to someone’s face.

There needs to be real-world implications. The British Police have already started prosecuting for grossly offensive tweets, maybe this should be applied to in-game chatter as well. Even permabans are having little effect.

Microsoft set to boost PC sales

Historic Microsoft photo of Paul Allen (left) ...

Historic Microsoft photo of Paul Allen (left) and Bill Gates (respectively) on October 19, 1981 surrounded by PCs after signing a major contract with IBM to develop software for its upcoming PC line. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who follows the tech industry as a whole will know PC sales have plummeted and many industry analysts put a sizeable part of the blame on Microsoft for the disastrously un-intuitive Windows 8.

I’ve been delighted to see Microsoft rectify this and announce plans set to boost PC sales… by revealing details for an utterly terrible xbox one.

Signing in once a day doesn’t sound too bad on the surface but when we look at the availability issues Microsoft has had with Office 365 then what do we do when we need to “check in” at a time they’re down? I can do always on but I’m not confident Microsoft can. What about later on down the line when the xbox 4 comes out, are they going to turn the serves off and force us to upgrade?

I don’t like the idea of having to beg Microsoft to let me play my games (and they are my games because I paid for them) and them having the ability to turn my console into a very expensive brick when it’s no longer profitable for them.

What this console war has abundantly hammered home to me is just how flexible and open PC gaming is. A friend of mine was telling me about Skyrim mods, I love Skyrim but finding out about some of these high end mods makes me feel I lost out. Some are like having a near-professionally made 20+ hour DLC pack but for free.

If Microsoft insist on viewing me as a wallet on legs then I’m going to use those legs and walk.

Today I cancelled my xbox live automatic renewal subscription.

Tax? Let me Google that for you

In recent months much has been said about multi-billion pound companies not paying “enough” tax in the UK. It’s important to note that these are for the most part not originally British companies – Google, Amazon, Starbucks…


google_logo (Photo credit: keso)

Whilst the politicians have succeeded in generating lots of press about this, in my own anecdotal experience the general consensus amongst the educated sections of the British middle class is they’ve done nothing wrong. The belief being that as no law has been broken, the onus lies on the law makers to refine the rules to make them pay.

We haven’t boycotted Google, although that may be because no-one wants to ‘Bing’ anything. Really. No-one.

But of course we’d like these big foreign multi- billion pound companies to pay more tax without closing off t

he same/similar loop-holes being used by mere multi-million pound British companies. It’s that contradiction that I’m struggling with. Should we give British companies a legislated ‘leg up’ on British soil? It seems so anti-competitive. Unfair.

No, we should compete head to head. We may want Google to pay more tax but if we won’t do it in law we should stop talking about it in the press.

Do Kids still lend games?

Starting this post in typical Yorkshire fashion: When I was a lad I remember taking my copy of EA’s NHLPA 93 (which incidentally I bought for £5 un-boxed 2nd hand off the market) to a fellow hockey-loving friend’s house, plugging it into his Mega-drive and it JustWorkedTM.


(on a side note, Go Sharks! Whoop!)

I’d even lend it to him for a few weeks at a time so he could practice and we could have competitive two player matches. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who did this, we all must have got sick of the “you always win ‘cause you own the game” arguments.

I’m wondering if this is still the case. Single/split-screen multi-player games have been becoming a rarity with the trend now being I buy my copy, you buy your copy, and we all sit at home on our own playing over interweb. I’m showing my age here but multi-player gaming always used to be a social thing where you’d get together with your friends, chat, and have a few drinks (beer now, budget supermarket cola then).

I’m a big fan of Xbox Live’s Games on Demand. You can’t sell them. You can’t lend them. But importantly you don’t have to get up off your arse to change the game. If I’m too lazy to walk across my living room I’m far far too lazy to walk down to a shop and sell them.

The move towards post-physical non-transferable game licences’ suits people like me with disposable incomes fine but it’s the younger-me who had more time and liked to share with friends that loose out.

Graphics are there. But load times Must improve

Bethesda developed the Creation Engine for Sky...

Bethesda developed the Creation Engine for Skyrim. It allows for dynamic snowfall, and the integration of dragons in gameplay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Skyrim. Fantastic game, graphics are immense, seems like hundreds of NPCs wondering around, many with their own face and loads with voiced conversations. The game is so immersive that I forget the seemingly epic load times.  Until I realise I forgot to put my collected ‘ingots’ in my storage chest and have to go back into my house [load screen] drop them off and come back out [load screen]. And of course fast-travel halfway across the map [load screen] to my next [load screen riddled] quest.

Skyrim is worth the wait but few games are. With the next generation of consoles and higher specs around the corner we should see load times drop again but with this comes another push towards photo-realism with higher resolution textures and more detailed models. [load screen].

As a veteran of the Sinclair Spectrum ZX, I’ll confess load times have been worse. We don’t have time to have our dinner during these waits and don’t have to listen to those awful screeches anymore and yes insta load cartridges of the 8 and 16-bit era are perhaps prohibitively expensive at modern scale but we must have a middle ground.

There is hope. The number of person-hours to make these higher resolution higher poly and higher quantity of models is ever increasing but the £40 ($60) we’re willing to pay for them is not. Can we not stop there with graphic and use the specs for faster load times?

Devs will find that depressing but I just don’t want to see another [load screen].


If I could predict the future I’d sell it to the highest bidder

Super Heroes

Super Heroes (Photo credit: Olaf)

Technology should give us super powers. Still waiting for flight and not holding my breath for invisibility but predicting the future is getting better all the time.

Big Data isn’t about “big” data. Its orders of magnitude lower than what the Large Hadron Collider spits out in a day. But the combination of the right nuggets of information can yield some big predictions.

What I find most interesting is the huge breath of variables tracked and used to make predictions. More obvious ones include the weather impacting public mood and buying decisions but things like results of football matches can have an impact.

If Liverpool have a big win against Manchester United there’ll be lots of gamblers in Liverpool with some extra money. Target your advertising that way? Likewise if United win there’ll be windfalls in London. What if Everton win, Microsoft’s stock drops, it rains in Kent and there’s a wedding on East Enders?

Monitoring and weighing up all these small impacts and working out which ones are relevant to making an accurate prediction about the future is currently beyond me, but you may have heard of the US clothing company Target being able to predict a teenager is pregnant before she has time to tell her parents.

This is an exciting but terrifying area and one I’ll be following closely.