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  • Apr 30th, 2015 @ 3:06pm

    Fair enough, so. :)

    I can't blame anyone for misreading what Wheeler was going to be like. All signs pointed to yet another corporate cock-knocker who would grease the wheels for big business as far as he could get away with.

    That this hasn't happened is astounding and part of my brain is still expecting him to say "oh, wait, I made a mistake, lets have these rules instead", followed by a big, juicy helping of freshly-butchered consumer rights.

    It seems like we all got the man wrong. Kudos to Karl Bode for acknowledging this. Even more kudos for Wheeler, the best man for the job - and a far better man for it than anyone expected. :)

  • Apr 21st, 2015 @ 6:18am

    What's good for the goose...

    If this were reversed - say, the MPAA speaking at an event before and alongside judges who might soon have to rule on important copyright matters - I would interpret this as low-to-moderate-grade evidence of institutional bias. If I regard it as wrong on that side, I must regard it as wrong on this one. The judges did the right thing.

  • Apr 1st, 2015 @ 1:30pm

    National Emergency

    I'm not too familiar with all the various bits and bobs of Americas innumerable anti-terrorism laws and executive orders, but if memory serves, some parts of these only apply during times of National Emergency.

    This order is presumably intended to - in effect - preemptively reclassify all major hacking incidents as terrorism. Individuals and organisations identified are now subject to surveillance and response under the terms set by the Patriot Act and other rules, rather than normal due process.

    The order also functionally makes the acquisition of "trade secrets" into terrorism. "[...] any person determined [...] to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, the receipt or use [...] of trade secrets misappropriated through cyber-enabled means [...] just became subject to Patriot Act rules.

    This, logically, must include everyone involved in the last big Sony hack, every file-sharing-site where the movies appeared, everyone who downloaded copies and - you're going to love this, I just know it - every journalist who received and wrote about the various leaked emails.

    Congratulations everyone, the President of the United States of America just declared all of us to be de facto terrorists, subject to unlimited surveillance and attack, at the whim of any branch of the US government that wants to do so.

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Hmmm...

    This articles title is "How The Apathy Of IP Rights Holders About Their Copyrights Killed A Game Re-Release" - and the article as a whole seems generally written to support that assertion. However, looking at the Kotaku article this article is based on, this claim seems to be basically untrue.

    There's no question in my mind that the copyright issues depicted here are a problem for society and there's no question that those issues deserve to be highlighted, but that's not what killed No-One Lives Forever.

    Based on the Kotaku article, Warners mindless, point-blank refusal to do business is the actual reason. Any suggestion to the contrary is at best misleading and at worst a deliberate falsehood. :/

  • Mar 25th, 2015 @ 6:10am

    Hmmm...

    From the original Kotaku article, regarding Warner:

    Their hope was short-lived. In early February, Kuperman and Kick got a definitive answer from Warner: No.

    "They come back with a response that said they're not looking to either publish the game themselves at this time, or to partner with us," Kuperman said. "Those options, they're not going to accept either one of them. So basically, we're back to square one."
    From the sound of things, Night Dive, Monolith and Fox are all happy to move forward, but Warner says no.

    First thing: this article works so hard to put a Techdirt spin on things (no bad thing in itself), it no longer resembles fact particularly well. Rights confusion is part of the story, but it's not part of the ending. :/

    Second thing: If you're a content creator of any description and you care about anything you create, don't do business with Warner unless you're desperate, because those guys are assholes and they will throw your shit in the corporate dumpster as soon as they get bored with it.

    Did you like Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequels? Enjoy them while you can still play them, because once they stop being profitable, fuck you all! They'll never be released again. Same goes for anything else they have a legal interest in.

    Final thing: dear Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Inc, you suck and you may eat a dick. In fact, you may eat an entire flotilla of dicks, at your leisure. That is all. :/

  • Mar 1st, 2015 @ 1:05pm

    (untitled comment)

    I don't think I've backed any real failures, as of yet. I tend to back projects that sound like they come from someone who knows what they're doing. So far, I've not been ripped off.

    - - - - -

    A few projects do stand out as being not all that was promised.

    My biggest disappointment is Godus, by British game-development veteran Peter Molyneux and his team. They promised a God Game (an old, established genre, for those who don't know), but they delivered a mobile-phone-type game based around micropayments, something not even hinted at in the Kickstarter description. I haven't played in a long while, so perhaps there's a real game in there now, but I shall have to get around to playing it again before I know.

    Frontier Developments' space game Elite: Dangerous gets a mention for not delivering on the promise of an offline mode. I understand why they did it, I can see what they've built and are continuing to build (I play it, it's a great game for those of us with a good internet connection), but they shouldn't have made promises they couldn't keep and they shouldn't have tried to weasel out of refunding affected crowdfunders afterwards.

    I didn't back their Kickstarters myself, but US developer Double Fine Productions deserves a special mention for abusing both Kickstarter and Steam Early Access by - in my opinion - partially scamming their customers on two separate projects (Broken Age and Spacebase DF-9). I won't buy from them again.

    - - - - -

    On the subject of what crowdfunding is, I don't think any existing definition describes it adequately: it's an investment of sorts, it's a gamble of sorts, it's a pre-purchase of sorts - all of these are both true and false from different perspectives and none of them give the whole picture.

    It's crowdfunding, something new and comparatively unique. The rules that should exist - but currently don't - should reflect its special nature.

    For larger, more professional and more ambitious projects, I would ideally like to see more done to assure crowdfunders that their money won't be wasted or stolen. There should be:
    • independant, professional assessments of project viability;
    • better rules for clearly and exclusively defining projects, goals and progress-milestones - no-one should be making promises they can't be sure of keeping, or using the absence of certain promises to turn a project into something else;
    • minimum standards of communication, so we all know where we stand at any given stage;
    • independant monitoring, so we know where our money's being spent and we can be sure it's not all vapourware;
    • clear definitions of failure, by degrees if necessary, with clear and reasonable procedures for remuneration if some or all goals can't be met and finally;
    • clear rules and standards of enforcement by the fundhost, including pursuing violators and scammers through the courts, where necessary.

    For smaller and more amateur projects, which obviously can't afford those increased operational costs, or any project which is inherently much more of a gamble, there needs to be a very clear distinction that this is the case. No crowdfunding consumer should enter into an agreement uninformed about the risks.

    It may be the case that the two kinds of project are best-served with their own, separate services and definitions. Different names for them might be wise. Pro-funding versus Risk-funding, perhaps?

    Those are the basic rules, as I think they should exist, at any rate. Until such time as we have something like them, what we have now is summed up perfectly by Ehud Gavron above: whatever we'd like it to become, crowdfunding is currently a gamble. We all proceed at our own risk. :)

  • Feb 20th, 2015 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re:

    Hi, K'Tetch. :)

    You are a filthy, blaspheming heretic, but after giving the matter some consideration, I've decided to find it amusing.

    Have a nice day! :D

  • Feb 19th, 2015 @ 3:03pm

    (untitled comment)

    I'm not inclined to either be a cheerleader for the IPO, or give applause for overhyping the toxicity ange, but I am entirely in favour of the authorities seizing fake alcohol.

    In the part of London where I live, it's almost impossible to get a bottle of decent whisky in local off-licenses (our equivalent of the American liquor-store). The supply chain has been crapflooded with fake versions that cost the same as the real thing, but taste like shite, give you a much nastier headache and are worth less than half the asking price (the same stuff is sold as own-brand goods in supermarkets, so we know how much it's worth). If I want to get a decent bottle, I have to go to Waitrose and pay through the nose for it.

    God knows I'm no fan of general notions of IP, but I am entirely alongside it when it comes to getting rid of fakes and fraudsters who take our money under false pretenses, give us substandard crap in return, make the producers of the real thing look bad and generally make us all worse off.

  • Feb 13th, 2015 @ 10:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ick...

    Because I like them? The smart TV, for all its faults, allows access to a wider range of services than is otherwise available. They're very set in their ways, but that's no reason not to try to introduce them to things that will ultimately make them happier.

    It's also cheaper than their preferred option, which is a horrifyingly overpriced Sky TV subscription. The UK's free and legal services aren't great, but a combination of those, plus a low-cost Amazon Instant sub should be able to replace 98% of everything they currently pay through the nose for, at a substantially reduced cost.

    Once they're comfortable enough with the newer OS's, convincing them to stop throwing money away on Skys substandard service should be just a matter of time. :)

  • Feb 12th, 2015 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Ick...

    Disconnecting it is not the problem. Weaning the previously-mentioned old and conservative member of the household off the thing and onto a new box with a new OS - that's the tricky bit. :)

  • Feb 11th, 2015 @ 6:17pm

    Ick...

    That's really unpleasant. My household has an older Samsung smart TV. They're quite handy for some things, but increasingly, I wish we'd gone for a standard TV instead. We could presumably have bought a standalone multimedia box like Roku, but I didn't really know anything about it at the time. It's been a learning experience, I suppose.

    I have generally been ambivalent about recommending them to others. On the plus-side, they deliver a better service than none at all and they're very good for gently introducing older and more conservative family members to new forms of viewing, such as online streaming and watching films stored on hard drive.

    On the downside, performance is far too slow (why do manufacturers always think that we'll be impressed by technology when they've designed it down to a price, rather than up to a specification?), the UI is unintuitive, there's no way to upgrade the smart hardware without replacing the whole unit and I have yet to find anything on the system that can't be done better by standalone, ugradeable third-party boxes.

    After watching Sony, LG and Samsung repeatedly shit in their own soup in the intervening time, I'm not nearly so ambivalent. A standard TV and a Roku (or similar) is clearly the way to go.

    I think, as time passes and technology gets cheaper, it will only become more difficult to obtain a TV that isn't smart-capable, or even smart-dependent. If the latest slew of invasive, cretinous manufacturer decisions is anything to go by, it won't be something to look forward to.

  • Feb 7th, 2015 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: They can't.

    It's fairly clear that you've never sat down to play a bunch of old roms using an emulator...Thus, I'm sorry to say, you're not a gamer at heart.

    Your inferences are entirely wrong. I have emulators for many systems prior to PS2 and maintain a not-insubstantial collection of original titles and systems stretching back to the Sinclair ZX-81. Every now and then, I even play the things. Most people don't.

    With very few exceptions, I do not usually play online games. Your comments about e-sports are unrelated to my post or my gaming habits.

  • Feb 7th, 2015 @ 4:50am

    Re: Re: Re: "Smart phones are great handheld gaming devices"

    Although I would put the onus of invention on Miyamoto's games and on the controllers, rather than the often-underwhelming boxes, I mostly agree with you.

    But the Gamecube? Seriously? If the Gamecube did anything inventive or influential, I must have blinked and missed it.

  • Feb 7th, 2015 @ 3:53am

    Re: They can't.

    This is partially correct and worth expanding on. Licensing issues vary from game to game.

    In the case of Nintendos own works - such as Mario, Zelda, etc - there are no licensing isssues to overcome: Nintendo is the sole owner of the code inside the original console hardware and the games and can do whatever they like with them, including porting them to any platform they like without anyone else's permission.

    For non-Nintendo games, many titles are probably owned by large companies such as EA, courtesy of all the acquisitions they've made over the years. They might be willing to license their properties to Nintendo, or if profitable enough, might seek to license an emulator from Nintendo and release the games themselves.

    On the other hand, given that companies like EA, et al, have their own interests in mobile gaming, it's just as likely that they would simply refuse to allow the games to be published at all, seeing it as competition for their own newer investments.

    There are probably also many instances of orphaned works, where ownership details have gotten lost in the fog of historical acquisitions. Those titles can never be released without substantial research efforts to establish precisely who bought what and when, which is unlikely to be profitable.

    In the case of games licensed from films, such as Super Star Wars and Goldeneye, there is almost zero chance of republication. The costs of merely negotiating for the rights would vastly outstrip any potential sales.

    It's worth noting that old games are not as popular as some might think. I think that re-releases of older titles, while profitable, rarely achieve anything like the sales needed to justify significant investment. This is why there are so many buggy, bare-bones PC re-releases that barely function.

    These days, we all have access to emulators and copies of old ROMs, etc, but how many of us actually bother to play them?

    For all the value that nostalgia has for us, most of us would rather play something new.

  • Feb 6th, 2015 @ 3:31pm

    Actually...

    For once I'm going to have to disagree. Normally, I'm quite happy to decry the demented control-freakery of Nintendo, but when it comes to smartphones, I have to concede they have a point.

    Smartphones are good for games that have been designed and built for touch-screen control. For old-school games, which generally require continuous, clear sight of everything on-screen and reliable, responsive controls, they are frankly terrible.

    My experience with games on smartphones is limited, but as far as I've found it, on higher-quality smartphones, the results of porting old-form gameplay have been disappointingly poor and on lower-quality smartphones, the results can be literally unplayable.

    I'm not a big fan of Nintendo, but I can't kick them for not wanting anything to do with something that's only likely to hurt their reputations. If I were them, I wouldn't do it either.

  • Feb 2nd, 2015 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Uhhh? What? Fury / John Wick

    It's not emphasised in this article, but the original TF article was in response to the MPAAs hyperbolic claims about the EU market.

    Accordingly, TF used Findanyfilm.com, an industry service designed for finding legal content in the UK.

    The titles in question were not available in the UK at the time the article was published.

  • Feb 2nd, 2015 @ 12:48pm

    Additional Beermat Research

    In addition to the above, it's worth noting that Apple's terms & conditions and privacy policy are over 22,000 words long, which at an average reading speed will take most people at least 90 minutes to read and understand.

    If that's a reflection of the average, then signing up for the same content as an old branch of Blockbuster Video (or rather, as much as you can get, since so much is missing) will require thirteen and a half hours of reading, assuming you want to know what your rights & responsibilities are.

    As opposed to signing up with Blockbusters, when it still existed, which - if memory serves - took me about ten minutes.

    It feels odd to me, comparing new services with old and finding the new services so wanting, but then, most of the new services, despite the hype, are deliberately crippled by US industry policies. The companies who want to compete - such as Apple and Amazon - can't really do so under the current trade regime.

    It could be and should be so much better than this.
    Perhaps, one day, it will be.

  • Feb 2nd, 2015 @ 11:38am

    Heh.

    At the risk of becoming needlessly recursive, I posted this on the comments on TF. No reason not to repost it here:

    - - - - -

    The issue isn't just about whether content is theoretically available somewhere in a given region, it's also about how accessible it is.

    If consumers have to sign up for forty or more premium-priced services in order to match the content of a branch of Blockbusters, it's safe to say that content is not really available in any meaningful sense.

    In the UK most services are artificially restricted to hosting just a handful of new films and TV programmes. The Sky-owned service NowTV boasted about the issue in a blog post - and reading between the lines, it's abundantly clear that content is being centrally restricted to make all online services as useless, expensive and uncompetitive as the film industry can get away with.

    I posted some simplistic research on the issue on TechDirt some time back. I can't be arsed to do new research at the moment, so I'l just copypasta it here. It wasn't too long ago, so it should still be a fair reflection of the state of the UK VOD market.

    The only thing I'll add is that since writing this, I've had the chance to play with the apps on a Samsung Smart TV device. There's not really much on it from anywhere, but it still has more content available from south-east Asia than it does from Hollywood. When the biggest companies in the industry aren't even trying to compete with no-mark Korean and Malaysian providers, there's clearly something wrong.

    - - - - -

    UK VOD services

    No idea about US services, but for those interested, here are the UK services currently available.

    While I assume this info is largely accurate (no-one would bother to make it up), it is largely from sites I've not previously heard of -- mostly http://anonym.to/?http://community.nowtv.com/t5/Movies/Movies-Latest-amp-Biggest/td-p/7604 -- and the original post is from February, so some details have probably changed since then.

    There are probably more reliable and up-to-date sites for this information, somewhere, but this is the best I could find without a more substantial research effort.

    VOD sites -- Monthly Movies Subscription Costs

    • Now TV (the online version of Rupert-Murdoch-owned Sky Movies) - £9
    • Netflix - £6
    • Amazon Prime Instant Video - £6
    • Wuaki - £6 sub, PPV @ £4.50/new film rental
    • Knowhow Movies - no sub, PPV @ £5/new film rental
    • Blinkbox (from Tesco) - no sub, PPV @ £4.50/new film rental
    • Apple iTunes - no sub, PPV@ £4.50/new film rental
    • Google Play - no sub, PPV@ £4.50/new film rental
    • Xbox Video - no sub, PPV@ £4.50/new film rental

    US readers may wish to note that the UK version of Netflix is generally regarded as an aborted washing-machine foetus of a service, when compared with its US counterpart.

    All PPV prices are for the highest definition versions, which is usually 720p, with a couple of services offering 1080p. Older titles and SD rentals are normally cheaper. TV episodes are usually available - prices vary widely, but are usually cheaper than films.

    As far as I know, all providers -- both subscription and pay-per-view -- require the installation of crapware from either Adobe or Microsoft and all require their users to allow the monitoring and commercial exploitation of their viewing habits.

    Most content available is nearly identical across services. New content - i.e. movies released in the last few years - is heavily restricted. NowTV has a blog post on the subject - http://anonym.to/?http://community.nowtv.com/t5/Movies/Movies-Latest-amp-Biggest/td-p/7604 - which they update monthly:

    The list below shows the top 100 UK box office films in the last 18 months from 29th August 2014.

    Of the titles on the list available to watch on the relevant services at 5th September 2014; Sky Movies has 44, Amazon Prime Instant Video has 4 and Netflix has 4.

    Wuaki Selection is not listed, as this service does not currently feature any titles in the top 100 list.

    When a movie is first available on Sky Movies it will not be available on Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video for at least 12 months.

    Source: Rentrak

    The blog post then goes on to list the top 100.

    While the numbers change and have recently shifted in Sky Movies' favour, the figures have strangely consistent ratios from month to month, with retail getting everything, Sky getting a big chunk -- now at 44% -- and Netflix and Amazon both getting the same amount -- now 4%.

    The other 48% or so does not appear to be available, except for retail, the online version of which also shows remarkable consistency of pricing.

    It's fairly apparent that both prices and content are being centrally set by Hollywood, with the intention of driving as much business as possible to their preferred vendors and neutering new services as far as they can get away with.

    This may or may not be legal under UK law, but since there is no prospect of their friends in Parliament ever prosecuting them for anything, it doesn't really matter.

    In any event, it's clear that consumer choice is not on the agenda for the movie industry.

    Not even slightly.

  • Jan 29th, 2015 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not whether you're on the watch-lists, it's how high up you are.

    They're almost certainly already on the lists, along with everyone else who lives in, works in or ever visits anywhere near a location that's a potential terrorist target, such as government buildings, shopping centres, schools, parks or streets or houses containing more than three people.

    The few people who never go near any of the above are, of course, Officially Suspicious Bastards and go straight to the top of every list there is.

    The only guaranteed way not to be on someone's list is if you were conceived within the last five minutes. This is clearly an oversight that will be corrected in due course. Terrorist embryos around the world beware: the CIA is coming for you soon, with their special $60,000 anti-terrorist coat-hangers.

  • Jan 29th, 2015 @ 11:02pm

    Re:

    It's a trademark dispute, not a certification dispute.

    The article fails to give much information, but this comes from TorrentFreak who in turn got it from apparent originators BizJournals, both of whom go into more detail.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2015/01/27/612brew-ratedr-ipa-unrated-name-change- mpaa-fight.html

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