Thursday, 30 March 2006

Wideload coming through

Game Tycoon's got details about a GDC session on the Wideload Production Model (known to the rest of us as Distributed Outsourcing). Wideload developed the recent Stubbs The Zombie using a very small core team and a whole load of third party suppliers.

Now, seeing as this is exactly what Sony et al are saying the new games creation model will be, Wideload's experiences are salient ones. To whit:

* Stubbs was based on a proprietary (and undocumented) engine, which made life much more difficult than it needed to be for contractors. Next time: go with a popular engine.
* Wideload didn'’t create a variety of reference assets before selecting contractors, which meant that contractors werenÂ’t sure what was expected of them. Unsurprisingly, some contractors proved unprepared to meet Wideload'’s standards.
* Wideload did not attempt to ascertain whether contractors were well-managed and well-funded enough to remain solvent throughout the life of the project. Duh!
* Contractors were expected to crunch when under pressure, the way full-time employees do. No such luck.
* Assets required substantially more post-production polish than normal.

And a bunch of other stuff. So, a) not the panacea for all known problems and b) that delay on the Ps3 is looking handier by the minute.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Rollerskating coppers defeated by turf | The Register

As El Reg says, think Daleks and stairs...

A top-notch UK crimebusting initiative - which saw London's Royal Parks Constabulary issued with in-line rollerskates - has ground to a halt after crims realised they could escape simply by scarpering across grass, the Telegraph reports.

My God, it's full of stars

Or it would be if there wasn't that dirty great one in the centre of the sky. No total eclipse up at these latitudes this time round, but we should get some fairly noticeable occlusion pretty much from sunrise on if the cloud cover burns off (well, according to Starry Night Backyard anyway).

eBay goes enigmatic

Whoa. Looks like someone is selling a genuine Enigma machine on eBay. Seriously impressive. And at €9,998 with over five days to go, seriously pricey too.

Still, unlike a house you could actually carry it around to show people, so it has its benefits...

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

An early easter story

I'd sack a PR company that released a story so perfectly designed to get up the Daily Mail's nose at easter four weeks early myself, but there you go.

Via boingboing we have the slightly headline grabbing Misbehaving players to be crucified in MMORPG. Now, release this in the run up to easter and you get 'Sicko game company crucifies kids' and all manner of sales-friendly headlines in large point in the ever-obliging tabloids. Do it now and you get people like me saying things like ' really does wonder how this sort of thing bodes for the future development of MMORPGs and online communities, especially when it comes to issues of justice and punishment'. Worthy, but it don't shift units.

Anyway: Players who misbehave in the Roman online role-playing game Roma Victor will be punished by having their characters crucified and displayed in public spaces for other players to mock and throw things at. The first crucifixion is being doled out to "Cynewulf," played by a 27 year-old electrical engineer from Flint, Michigan, whose crime is "ganking" (ripping off) new players as they first appear in game. Cynewulf will be hung on the cross for seven days.

Wonder how often he'll log in...

Universal junks ICT

More HD shenanigans, with this taken from HDTV UK. Dull but worthy.

Sony was among the first studios to choose to drop the HDCP enabled Image Constraint Token (ICT) as a means of protecting early HD movies from piracy. It has now been joined by a number of others including Universal, a stalwart of the HD DVD camp.

The ICT is the system that will downscale the HD image back to standard definition (540 lines) if it fails to find an appropriate HDMI / DVI compatible, HD Ready TV. This had been seen as potentially disastrous in the US where many of the early adopters of HDTV got in the game before HDMI had actually made it on the TVs.

The decision by studios to ignore this optional security feature marks an interesting change in tack for the big studios which are usually so vigorously protective of their content and tend to assume that most consumers are simply pirates waiting to emerge. It looks like the risk of alienating too many consumers from this new technology has helped overcome their fears of illegal copying, but rest assured this break won’t last forever.

Friday, 24 March 2006

1080p a PS3 no-no?

Meanwhile, back at the console wars...Xbox exec on PS3: "1080p... will be basically impossible" - Joystiq. A quote:

Speaking with Kikizo Games, Xbox's Director of the Game Technology Group, Scott Henson, had his doubts about Sony's claim that PS3 games will feature 'full HD' (1080p resolution): "I think 1080p, just to address that directly, will be basically impossible. I think if you talk to any developer they will tell you that they will not have a performing game at 1080p."

Which is all very well, and as a journalist I salute the muddle all this sort of stuff causes because there's a 1000 words in there easy ;-) But either both sides in the war are forgetting something or they realise they have no control over it and might as well argue over the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. To paraphrase Bill Clinton: it's the games, stupid.

Killer games sell consoles. Simple as that.

Sky HD goes for May

According to this piece at HDTV UK, Sky's launching its HD service in May, a month later than most speculation had it.

Here's a quote: If you are an existing subscriber you’ll pay £299 for the HD box and £10 a month on top of your existing subscription. Viewers get installation and a Sky+ subscription if they haven’t already got one – free. There's no mention of viewers getting any upgrade benefits to swap current SD boxes for HD ones.

No current news on the size of the hard drive of the box, but big is probably a good guess.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Take *that* Thetan swine

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | South Park gets revenge on Chef

True genius: "South Park has exacted revenge on its former star Isaac Hayes by turning his character Chef into a paedophile and seemingly killing him off."

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Underwear perverts ahoy!

Bit of backstory here. It seems that Marvel and DC have invoked the ire of right-thinking people the web over by trying to trademark the term 'superhero'. Creative little indie comicbook publisher A produces innovative graphic novel B and quickly gets slapped with writ C. Nasty business.

So, led by the crusading boingboing and building on a suggestion by industry legend Warren Ellis, a campaign has been started to refer to superheroes as 'underwear perverts' at every available opportunity. also aims to out underwear perverts as just plain nasty guys in overly tight pants. Hence the site has a whole selection of examples of Superman frankly being a bit of a bastard. Perhaps more entertaining yet though is the unintentional innuendo exposed in the Seduction of the Innocent section from whence the illustrative image comes. As for the lame super powers section...Behold KiteMan!

Go look, it really is excellent.

Digital switchoff league table

For anyone still languishing back in the analogue dark ages, Meeja Grauniad's got a report on where individual countries are on the digital switchoff

Finland's set to be first to go in 2007, a year ahead of its near neighbour Sweden in 2008. Which is interesting, because Sweden's still only got half a million subscribers out of a shade under 4 million TV households.

Anyway, the EC has set a 2010 switchover target and the dates expected by country at the moment are:

2008: Norway and Italy.

2009: US and Denmark

2010: France, Germany, Belgium and Spain

2011: Japan

2012: UK, Australia and Austria

Now, given that the UK pretty much leads the world in digital penetration, something tells me that some of those dates might just slip...

Monday, 20 March 2006

The Post-Scarcity Culture

A Boing Boing entry based on and linking too a Grauniad article from a few weeks ago. It makes some interesting points, esp. goods getting cheaper and space getting more expensive. Looks like David Harvey's concept of turnover time of capital might have to be re-evaluated to take account of some of the miniscule timescales in operation, not to mention the corralling of the consumers themselves into the whole process. As the feature says:

Unashamedly "disposable" cheap goods, you could argue, are turning us into traders rather than curators of our possessions. It is another victory for capitalism: we have internalised the unsentimental stock control of the modern retailer.

The Digital Revolution Stops Here

A quick report from Wired on ShoWest that suggests the US cinema industry is at best agnostic about digital cinema. Starts with the following fairly damning paragraph:

"Digital cinema developers descended here last week to convince theater owners that the future of their industry has finally arrived. But, after years of failed promises, newfangled confections like dark-chocolate Raisinets appeared to get a better hearing (two thumbs up.)"

Sunday, 19 March 2006

New! Improved! Earth!

The RL version might be going to hell in a handbag, but at least we'll see it in realtime. This Wired story rhapsodises about new improved satellites, which a) will give the rest of us something even more addictive than Google Earth to play with and b) will really piss off the Black Helicopter owners by showing their rotor blades in glorious monochrome .

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Trekkie dating

Via the superb Wonderland, Trekkie dating

A quote from a genuine Trekkie personal:

Your basic Spock-like personality here, seeking a woman with a personality somewhere in the Deanna Troi to Subcommander T'Pol range. Will consider B'Elana Torres to Kira Nerys types depending on extenuating circumstances. No tribbles, please.

Words fail me. Besides, I was always more into Babylon 5...

Sergio Leone news from Sony

Bad = Sony's delaying the PS3 to November due to problems with Blu-ray

Good = At the moment it's planning a global roll-out for the machine

Ugly = Any of that might slip

Psychological warfare

Total and utter genius.

I don't pretend to understand all the basketball references - it's not a game that anyone outside the US is meant to comprehend anyways - but in terms of setting someone up and then pulling the rug from under their feet, this is priceless.

Schneier on Security: Basketball Prank

Bath are playing Leicester in a week and a half. Anyone got Martin Corry's phone number?

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

Sony 1: HD-DVD 0

Remember that rather nasty sting in the tale about HD-DVD discs downrezzing the picture to old TVs with analogue inputs and no HDMI cable present? Well, according to the good people at Gizmodo here, Blu-ray's not going to do that.

The company's Don Eklund has gone on the record as saying that the company is more concerned about piracy of the digital HDTV signal rather than analogue signals coming through component cables.

Quite right too. Manufacturer in Outbreak of Common Sense shocker. Can it last?

Monday, 13 March 2006

Web 3.0 ;-)


isolatr beta

British Rail flying saucer unearthed

One from El Reg (and the frontpage of thegrauniad...hadn't quite got round to buying it when I posted)

Seems that British Rail submitted a patent for a flying saucer back in 1973. Powered by thermonuclear fusion, the story is much enlivened by the description of Prof Colin Pillinger, he of Beagle 2 infamy, as a 'hilariously mutton-chopped space wurzel'.

Scroll down the pages at UFo Today for some entertaining, nay unhinged, speculation on the device being tested over Iran, New Zealand and anywhere else where stoned hippies used to congregate. Not to mention a bit where Tom Cruise's involvement in Spielberg's War of the Worlds is seen as a way of softening up the public for news of a forthcoming alien invasion.


As to the BRUFO: "However the patent expired in 1976 as British Rail decided that, technically, the saucer was too far in advance of its time." Bit like getting a train to run from Didcot to London on schedule then...

Now that's what I call cricket

BBC SPORT | Cricket | SA shatter record to beat Aussies

Australia score 434 in their 50 overs, shattering the old record set by Sri Lanka vs Kenya and go on to lose as SA post 438 with a four of the second to last ball. Unbelievable.

Records broken include: Highest Team Score, Highest Score Batting Second, Highest Match Aggregate and Most Expensive Bowling Analysis.

Over in Paris, meanwhile, England's rugby team also shatter records, easily now holding the Most Inept Display In White Shirts Since the 1970s...

Saturday, 11 March 2006

You call this progress?

So, having lived with the ignominy of being Wesley Crusher for a year or two on the Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You? quiz, it now turns out that I'm Data.

Great, from an annoying teenage squit to a bloody android. Still, at least I slept with Tasha Yar I suppose...

Preserving Our Rights in the Mashosphere

A Wired piece all about mashups, intellectual property rights and Web 2.0 technologies. Preserving Our Rights in the Mashosphere

Here's a para or two:

The driving philosophy behind mashups and other Web 2.0 technologies is that data should be open, exposed, and sharable. This so-called "Right to Remix" doesn't mean that people should be required to give up their rights to their own intellectual property, but it does mean that people have to be willing to share in order for development to continue along its current arc of progression....

This willingness to share isn't likely to fade any time soon, either. It's in our nature. We post to blogs, show our faces in our Flickr accounts, maintain our Digg profiles and our MySpace pages because we want to share. And we like to look just as much as we like to show and tell. The Web 2.0 scene thrives because of our curiosity and our exhibitionism. Most of us would be downright excited to see our photo appear in a mashup.

Too right. Information wants to be free etc!

Friday, 10 March 2006

.eu domain fiestyness

Nice story from the Beeb. Seems that in the sale to trademark holders of the new .eu domain:

Volkswagen scooped the domain name, despite fierce competition from Ralph Lauren and Polo-mint maker Nestle. NetNames said the trio applied within five minutes of each other, and Ralph Lauren, owner of, missed out by only three minutes and 24 seconds.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Volkswagen 'gets Polo web name'

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Origami news

With a rash of Origami fakes over the web in the past couple of days, CEBIT's own daily newspaper, CEBITNEWS, is probably the most reliable source for pictures. Just check out the thumb-driven Qwerty interface on this new Samsung machine.

Sorry to come over all IT Crowd, but that's bloody sexy.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Google vs The World

One from El Reg about how Google wants to mirror the entire world's hard drives Google outspooks the spooks with Total Information Awareness plan.

Now, this isn't totally beyond the realms of possibility, seeing as how the World's Fluffiest Megacorp (tm) actually mirrors the entire internet every couple of days and searches through it on its own Brobdingagian computers (and you wondered why all those searches are so fast). However, net activists are already exceedingly twitchy over Gobble's current power, so this just adds fuel to the flames.

Absolute power corrupts, don'tcha know.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Lucas: Farewell Cashola

So, with the annual glitz-a-thon that is the Oscars thankfully over for another year, the minds of the great and the good turn to what's really preying on their subconscious this year: the future of the film industry. Yup, forget all that 35mm vs digital debate or 2k vs 4k vs 6k guff, what matters is bums on pews. Of the two non luvvie speeches on Oscars night, 100% of them can be summarised as 'People of America, get off your DVD-watching arses and get into the cinemas'.

George Lucas, the man that virtually single-handedly invented the event movie, now reckons that: "In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies," Lucas declared. "I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million."

So, he'll be trying even harder to cane in the money using Jar Jar Binks dolls then...

There is a link to the NY Times article that mentions this, but seeing as how the rest of it is celebrity twaddle about the film Hellotocracy, I'll spare you.