Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Damage 8tracks

Decided to put up another.

  1. The Jesus Lizard - Seasick (Goat LP)
  2. Brainbombs - Die You Fuck (Obey LP)
  3. Drive Like Jehu - Bullet Train to Vegas (S/T 7")
  4. Sonic Youth - Swimsuit Issue (Dirty LP)
  5. Big Black - Shotgun (Racer-X LP)
  6. Kilslug - Autospy Performing (Necktie Party 7")
  7. Angel Hair - Space Ape (Insect Mortality LP)
  8. The New Flesh - Scratch & Bleed (Parasite! LP)

New 8tracks

It's been a while, but I've got a new 8tracks mix up, titled Damage. It's just stuff I've been listening to recently.

  1. Clockcleaner - Hand are for Holding (The Hassler LP)
  2. Black Dice - Untitled (Semen of the Sun 7")
  3. XBXRX - Song 6 (Gop Ist Minee LP)
  4. DrunkDriver - January 02 (Knife Day 7")
  5. Pissed Jeans - Caught Licking Leather (Hope for Men LP)
  6. The Hope Conspiracy - Nervous Breakdown (Black on Black: Tribute to Black Flag LP)
  7. Slavescene - High School Head (Heaven Only Knows Cassette)
  8. Warsaw - They Walked in Line (Warsaw LP)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Resident Evil 5 Fucks Gamers

Turns out that the extra "content" for Resident Evil 5, a downloadable "Versus" mode that Capcom is charging an extra $5 for, is already on the disc:

The total download size for RE5 Versus Mode is 1.86MB. You are not, in fact, downloading the content from Xbox Live Marketplace or PlayStation Network. Instead, you are downloading a key that unlocks content already on the RE5 retail disc. The same disc you paid $60 for a month ago.
This is total bullshit. Words fail me. Is this the new trend? From one-time use codes to unique CD keys, it seems like the games industry is doing everything in its power to nickle-and-dime gamers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DRM and EULAs for PC Games

Great read over at Ars Technica about the Entertainment Consumers Association pushing for the requirement of full disclosure of DRM on PC game boxes, as well as the standardization of EULA agreements. Hal Halpin of the ECA told Ars Technica:

We suggested a few things to the FTC, one of which was we'd like to see DRM disclosed. So when people go to the store and buy the packaged good, the PC game, they'll see something on the front of the box saying there is DRM inside, and to what degree it will be invasive.

The second thing that we recommended was that EULAs get standardized, so again, rather than have 30 or 40 types of agreements, there would be one standard one for all different types of computer games. People go into the store, buy the game, open it, and they can no longer return it... by standardizing the EULA, consumers will have the confidence to know what it is they're agreeing to before they buy the product.

That didn't go over so well. There was a room of attorneys that kind of gasped when we suggested standardization. One panelist commented that the EULA really were there as consumer information, and that was the one and only time that the FTC jumped in and said "wait a second, this has nothing to do with consumer information, this is purely IP protection." I pointed out that when we ran the IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) we were able to get the size of the boxes standardized, and to get the PC CD-ROM logo on the box. These were not herculean undertakings, and they didn't require legislation. So if we can do those things, then certainly we can do these.
This can only be good for consumers, and I'm particularly pleased to see the ECA raising the conflicts that digital distribution channels like Steam have with the concept of ownership.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Is Bullshit

Leaving aside the troubling racial imagery in Capcom's Resident Evil 5, I read this on Ars Techinca:

Capcom has sent word that a Versus mode will be added to the game... for a price.


Other than a screenshot or two, that's all we know about the content, except for price: the new mode will cost 400 MS points on the Xbox 360, and $5 on the PS3. We should expect the content "a few weeks after Resident Evil 5 is available." [emphasis mine]
Resident Evil 5 was released in Japan last week, and releases here, in North America, today. Ars Techinca reported this yesterday, before the game went on sale over here. I cannot believe that this is simply "extra content"; it seems a lot more like this "Versus" mode was intentionally left out of the initial release. It feels like milking the consumer. Downloadable content is getting out-of-fucking-hand.

Gamers should not be charged extra for modes of play that, for all intents and purposes, should have been released with the original game! Whatever you want to call this "Versus" mode, it most definitely is not an expansion pack. Beyond the Sword is an expansion pack for Civilization IV. Broodwar is an expansion pack for Starcraft. Capcom's "expansion" for Resident Evil 5 is more like the developer deciding to release an online tournament mode for Street Fighter IV, a noted omission from the initial release, as a $5 download (don't get any ideas, Capcom!)

I really hope no one buys this and Capcom realizes that gamers won't be swindled, but I know I'll be wrong. The popularity of XBox Live is enough to prove that there are a lot of suckers out there.

[UPDATE]: This is downloadable content done right:
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin fans are in for a treat next month, as Monolith has announced that it's going to be releasing "Toy Soldiers," the game's first new map pack, in mid-April. Of course, the biggest part of the news, though, is that the DLC is going to be free. [emphasis mine]

Monday, March 2, 2009

Amazon Caves to Copyright Fear Mongers

Last week Author's Guild president Roy Blount Jr. wrote a column for the New York Times arguing that Amazon's Kindle 2 is in violation of copyright law because of the unit's text-to-speech functionality. Blount argued that such functionality was a derivative work -- I won't get into why that is incorrect, since BoingBoing has a nice refutation of Blount's argument.

Today, I read an Associated Press article which reports that Amazon has caved to the Author's Guild: Inc. changed course Friday and said it would allow copyright holders to decide whether they will permit their works to be read aloud using the second-generation Kindle electronic reader's new text-to-speech feature.
The worst part, though, is this:
The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal — and wouldn't require Amazon to pay out additional royalties — because a book read aloud doesn't constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.
If the feature is legal, why cave to the Author's Guild? Allowing the author of a work to disable the functionality of Amazon's Kindle isn't good for users of the product. That would be like VCR manufacturers giving television broadcasters the ability to disable home recording for any particular program. Amazon's move here doesn't make any sense. Giving in to the unreasonable demands of overly-restrictive copyright proponents will only give credence to their arguments. Amazon should take a stand; the fact that Amazon's position is clearly of the right side of the law should have made this an easy decision.

I hope this blows up in the face of the Author's Guild and that e-books which allow the text-to-speech feature sell far beyond those that don't.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blackberry: The Tool of Choice for Big Brother

You may have seen this new Blackberry commercial in which Research In Motion Limited (RIM) asks, "What if delivery people ran the world?" All I have to say is that I hope they never do.

The commercial begins with a teacher taking roll. One student, Callahan, is absent. The teacher uses his new Blackberry phone/walkie-talkie to ask around the school for the student. First he asks the bus driver, who "delivers" children from the back of trucks rather than using buses, who states that the kid was dropped off already. The image of children coming out of the back of the trucks adds a kind of police state flavor to the commercial, as well. The teacher rings the gym and the hallway, looking for Callahan (the hallway monitor just finds a rather nerdy-looking freshman in a locker...) but is told that the student cannot be found. The teacher then uses his Blackberry to check for any emails from the kid's parents. When none are found, the teacher informs drivers on the street to find and detain Callahan to be brought back for detention.

What message is this commercial really sending? Technology can solve problems, and the side effects of such technologies are inconsequential to getting the job done.

Blackberry is ready to bring the Orwellian nightmare one step closer to reality. Imagine living in a world in which your every action was monitored and your freedom of choice removed. This is what RIM thinks would be a better way, all brought to you by a communications device.

Neil Postman would find this an example of the technopoly; we are so utterly in love with the belief that technology can solve problems, that we forget about the cultural values our technologies make obsolete.

For reference, here is the commercial:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breaking Conventional Wisdom On Sharing, Remixing, and Reusing Content

Nine Inch Nails' CC-licensed mp3 album, Ghosts I-IV, is also the best selling mp3 album on Amazon. A perfect summary is already available, here.

In other words, despite the fact that NIN's CC license meant that the digital album could be freely shared, remixed and reused, it was still the #1 selling album on Amazon.

RIAA, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Patent Law Absurdity: Claims Ownership of the Concept of MMOs

I came across this Penny Arcade comic today, which is troubling. is suing NCsoft for patent infringement, claiming that the game developer has infringed on their "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space" patent. Yeah, you read that right. More information can be read here and here.

If the suit is successful, I'd suspect to go after all other developers of MMOs. What will happen to World of Warcraft? The new Warhammer: Age of Reckoning? Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures? And the dozens of other existing MMOs?