Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Is it better to innovate, or imitate in games?

I’m asking myself this one because it has come up recently in my work.

When you look at the successful companies in the game world, what you end up seeing are a lot of imitators who just happen to do it the best or at least better than the rest. Blizzard wasn’t the first to make an RTS, but they did it very well, and then they continued to improve on their previous models. No doubt Starcraft II will be a serious improvement over Starcraft I, but will it be an innovative game?

I think people get stuck on the idea of innovating. Of making something from absolutely nothing. The truth of the matter is, we as humans have been building our knowledge based on old knowledge since we started. To have a truly new thought that has no basis on anything before it is actually quite impossible. Everything we do is based on something that we have already learned or been taught. Even if you could actually come up with something like that, no one would understand it, and no one would pay you to make a game out of it.

So what it comes down to (for games at least) is how much should you push for innovation over imitation. The truly successful companies don’t innovate much. How different (really now) is Gears of War compared to Doom? If you look at all the things that came between Doom and Gears of War, you’ll see that GoW really is only about 3% innovation. The rest is built upon hundreds of established (and obscure) games.

When something truly new comes out, almost no one plays it. Where is the game built upon the foundations of the arguably very innovative Facade? I want to do that, but damned if I can find a company willing to let me (or anyone willing to fund me). Most companies shun innovation on a large scale. In fact, most innovations are afterthoughts that come from sudden technological inspirations (Endwar’s voice commands for instance came in during the last few months of production).

Blizzard in particular has made an empire out of copying the best things from all its competitors and cutting the things that aren’t fun. Practically no innovation comes out of Blizzard, yet they are the number one PC game maker in the world (I think).

Is it the consumer that doesn’t value innovation? They cry out for something new, but when it comes time to make a purchase will they buy a game based on Facade that they may not understand, or will they buy Starcraft II? My money is on Starcraft II. =P

Of course, it’s funny how many game companies I’ve been at that don’t understand the very simple Blizzard model. Most companies can’t comprehend how amazing games can come from simply stealing all the good things your competitors have done. Maybe they think that innovation really is the way to get more marketshare, but I know that’s a fallacy. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Innovate too much and the consumer will run away screaming. But take everything they like from other games and package it together, they’ll buy millions of copies. That’s why I’m working on the ultimate version of Solitaire combined with Minesweeper.

So is it better to innovate or imitate in game design? Well that depends on how much money you want to make… ;D

posted by CommanderHate at 8:44 am  

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Historic Presidency?
Voting, Politics and You

I’ve only discussed politics a little since I started this blog, but politics are a very important issue to me. Primarily because they determine the outcome of our economy, how much the government will be watching over our shoulder, and what our future will hold. Most recently I’ve been watching the primaries very carefully.

I initially supported Ron Paul for his anti-government stance. This is what Republicans were originally supposed to be about. Less government, more freedom. Now it would seem Republicans are about Jesus and wiping out foreign countries and making certain the rich people stay richer and the poor people get ass fucked until they bleed out. Libertarians are what Republicans used to be (a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away), which is probably why I identify with that party the most (less government, yay). However, Ron Paul was ultimately rejected as a candidate by the populace at large and the Republicans now have John McCain at their helm.

As a side note, I find it incredibly amusing that Barack Obama is the prominent figure on both the democratic and republican web pages. It almost doesn’t matter who the Republican candidate is… In addition, the Republican website is entirely about showing the democratic nominee in as negative a light as possible, while the democratic one is about showing the democratic nominee in a positive light. I find it incredibly lame that a political party would go entirely for a smear campaign instead of telling us what they would do right… That makes me wonder what their real agenda is. =P

In 2004 I was pro-Howard Dean because he was the only candidate who wasn’t owned by a lobbyist group or ten. Dean’s money came from web donations from normal people and his policies made a lot of sense. Take care of the people, stop corporations from having the upper hand on everyone and get the government to have some damn fiscal responsibility (Bush had already put us billions into the hole, which sucked after Clinton had gotten us so close to being out of the hole). Yet people laughed at Howard Dean as a candidate, and instead of looking at his policies, the vast majority of people mocked his (over)excitement during a political rally and made him look like a clown. I always seem to be backing the people who are the least corrupt by politics, and they always seem to get laughed out of the political race. I guess, in a really sad way, that makes sense.

However, 2008 has shaped up to be the most promising election to date. We had a woman and an african american as the potential democratic nominees. Barack Obama has won the primary now and is the first ever african american candidate running from a major political party (the only other one I know of was Frederick Douglas in 1872, a former slave, who ran for VP with Victoria Woodhull running for President under the Equal Rights Party, she was the first female to run for the presidency). Have we come a long way?

That remains to be seen, as a lot of the voting in the democratic primaries seemed to be split along racial lines. I like to think that both black and white voters are just voting for the candidate they think is best based on their political stances, but that’s a little too far on the side of optimism for my taste. At the very least I hope that people agree with all his economic and political talking points if they are voting for him, rather than because his skin is closer to the same shade as theirs.

That being said, I am voting for him and my skin is about as white as it gets without becoming translucent. There are a number of reasons for this, the primary ones being that I have researched the issues and I agree the most with Obama’s policies. The secondary reason is that he seems the least corrupted by his political dealings. He also got a lot of his money from web donations as opposed to lobbyists and corporations. I don’t like the idea that our president can be bought (like our last one clearly was).

Anyways, this is a historic event in our country. We’re finally at a point where both a woman and an african american were taken seriously as presidential candidates. I expect record numbers of voters to come out for the presidential election given that a precedent has already been set for shaking up our political system. Who knows, maybe in 8 more years we’ll be ready for a whole new political party to take the limelight (Libertarians or the Green party perhaps).

Either way, the onus is now on you to make a decision based on what’s best for you and the country. If you haven’t realized it by now, the Republican party has steadily become a corrupt entity hell bent on twisting the United States towards feeding their corporate greed. Capitalism is all well and good, but the government of the United States should not be directly feeding corporate entities at the expense of the health and welfare of its own citizens (particularly entities that are owned or tied to people IN THE FRIGGIN GOVERNMENT).

So I want you to answer this question aloud (if you can) right now. Just say the first thing that comes to mind. Who are you voting for in the coming election?

Did you answer that yet? It’s important your answer is spontaneous…

Okay…

So if you said the following: “I am voting Republican,” or “I am voting Democrat,” or “I am voting insert_political_party,” you have made the biggest error you can possibly make when it comes to making an informed decision in a voting process. The error is that you are voting for a party instead of a candidate. The presidency is one person, their political party is almost irrelevant, that person will be helping make decisions for the U.S. of A. Not the political party they happen to belong to.

It’s also very telling if someone says they’re voting for a political party instead of an actual candidate, because that means that either they haven’t researched the candidates (and thus their opinion is uninformed) or they intend to vote for their political party REGARDLESS of who the candidate of that party is. This is the worst thing you could ever do, because you are basically casting your vote for someone you don’t even like just because you believe that you are of a certain political party. This is worrisome to me so I have a little homework assignment for you.

I want you to take a good hard look at what you actually believe and make sure that the reasons you believe those things are because you honestly think that way. You would be amazed how many people can’t reason through their own beliefs.

As an example: If you believe abortion is wrong because your parents said it was wrong or because your political party says it is wrong, you have not really thought about abortion. If you believe it is wrong because abortion is murdering something that will eventually become a human being, you’re probably actually thinking about it in real terms. I personally believe in abortion because a baby is technically a parasite within a woman’s body and should have no rights of its own until it is able to survive without using her body to do it. If I were a woman I might feel differently, but as a man I have no idea what the whole baby growing inside you thing feels like so if they want to get it out of them, let ’em. Their body, their right, etc. And yeah yeah yeah, I wouldn’t care if my parents aborted me, I wouldn’t be alive to give a shit about that. For all I know, my not being born could have brought about a renaissance of humanity, but I think I’m giving myself far too much credit.
I digress…

The point is this. To make an informed decision, you must be informed. To pick a proper candidate you must stop looking at race, pin wearing, political party, etc, and actually learn what the candidates intend to do when they are president. When you find a candidate that you agree with, VOTE FOR THEM! If you choose a candidate for any other reason, you are making a mockery of the reason we have a voting system in the first place. To pick the people we honestly believe should be running our country.

So do your research, I’ll see you at the voting booths.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:47 pm  

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ode to Blizzard

You are at the pinnacle of fame,
And we all will love your new game,
It’s Starcraft plus one,
And it might be real fun,
But it’s really just more of the same.

posted by CommanderHate at 6:55 pm  

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ode To The Collective

Your company is destined to fail,
No deal can possibly bail,
You’re in debt to your ass,
Your games are a pass,
But your stupidity will always prevail.

posted by CommanderHate at 11:40 pm  

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

HD-DVD is Dead
Damn you Sony

Well, I guess it was inevitable but Sony has finally won the high definition DVD format war. With Toshiba abandoning its own format, there’s really no competition left to stand against Blu-Ray. It’s too bad cause I was really enjoying this particular technological war.

The color coding was perfect. Blu-Ray went with blue boxes for everything so it was easy to see in stores. So naturally, HD-DVD went with the red box. It was like some sort of mockery of the democratic system. Though I personally would have made Blu-Ray the Red Republicans and HD-DVD the Blue Democrats since Toshiba was sort of the format of choice whereas Sony was just buying everyone out to convert them to their format. It was also Sony that stonewalled the talks of combining the two technologies.

It’s funny how this reminds me of the original reason to buy a Playstation 2 when it was first coming out. Even then it was severely overpriced, but DVDs were the new big thing. The PS2 played DVD movies, and it just happened to be one of the cheapest DVD players on the market at the time. It became highly coveted as a result (despite not having any good games for about a year or more). People would flip out when a PS2 was offered as a prize at some stupid company raffle. Probably because it was so overpriced.

Anyways, now that Blu-Ray has won the format war, that pretty much opens the door for PS3 domination of the game market again. Despite its expensive nature, if you want to get maximum use out of your high def tv, you need a high definition movie player. The PS3 is the cheapest one on the market at the moment. Plus it plays games…

What sucks is that Blu-Ray is also the more expensive DVD format. In Sony’s hands, it will become practically intolerable. They love to charge all sorts of fees for people using their format, so expect Blu-Ray DVD prices to stay high for a very long time (even as the manufacturing costs decrease). That’s just Sony’s way. Sony has been quite arrogant for a long time and I was really hoping that they’d lose this format war and eat a bit of humble pie. But I guess it wasn’t to be.

There is one glimmer of hope though. Digital distribution could surpass all disc media formats and come to the forefront fairly soon. The 360 already allows high definition TV shows to be downloaded directly. TiVo now allows you to record shows in high def, and they also allow you to download movies from Amazon.com directly to your TiVo over any internet connection. We are an inherently lazy people, and digital distribution really rubs us in all the right areas. Imagine never having to get up off your couch to put a new disc into the DVD player… You just turn on your 360 or TiVo using the wireless remote, select the movie from a list and hit play. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it, you can already do it, right now.

So you can have your little blue laser technology Sony. You can overprice your stupid product out of the market too. You can also keep your lame blu-ray DVDs at a high premium if you want. I for one, have moved straight to the digital model and while I will sorely miss the workout of getting up to change the disc in my DVD player, I won’t miss your arrogance and your overpricing, Sony.

If I were a betting man, I’d start investing heavily into colostomy bags and dialysis machines…

posted by CommanderHate at 6:30 pm  

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