Venom and Diamonds

Pushing my buttons and spending my money

8:30 July 30th '04

So, Doom³ is on it's way, and I've emerged from five years of laptop-induced 3D-gaming hibernation to buy a brand-spanking new desktop system because of it. It's funny the way the thought of a new computer had been quietly bubbling away in the back of my mind ("hmm, maybe around christmastime, no big hurry") until I read that fateful bit of news a couple of weeks ago: Doom³ has gone gold (i.e. gone to press). Then POW, off I go, researching components and replanning my budget.

Well, now I've got my new bit of kit with its fancy graphics card and sound card and 3GHz processor and whatnot, and I'm simply left with the two-week wait for the game's European release.

It looks like it might even turn out to fulfill all it's hype. The little tasters on the official site are certainly exciting. In the developer interviews video section John Carmack says this about the original Doom:

"All of a sudden the world was vivid enough that normal people could look at a computer game and understand what computer gamers were always excited about."

I'd like to point out that if normal people understood Doom, then the logical progression from that is that computer gamers were immersed further than they had ever been. I certainly was, and the main reason for not managing to play it through in one sitting was not a lack of time, but a lack of bravery. It's strange how it's possible to make yourself real-world scared of a bits-and-pixels Imp.

Back then, of course, I was a little kid. Honestly, as if I'm going to get scared by a computer program any more.

I hope.


14:01 July 19th '04

RescuePods is a fun game. Play it.

Use your brain

19:59 July 17th '04

A lot of people object to Michael Moore's latest film, and you'd expect that. They're probably the kind of people any reasonable person would want to offend - so good on him for doing that. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of intelligent reasons why Fahrenheit 9/11 is a stupid white movie.

Bowie Blam

10:37 July 13th '04

In my usual fashion of being the last to know, David Bowie's operation last month was reported at the same moment as I entered a four-day media blackout on my recent trip to Sheffield (unless you count a copy of the Sheffield Star I got on Saturday - which you shouldn't, really).

While there is an evil, covetous voice in me that hopes I might have caught his penultimate (and excellent) full show ever when he played Sein?joki on June 20th, the rest of me heartily wishes the great man speedy recovery and good health.

A side effect of the news has been that I've now got Suffragette City stuck in my head, as I always end up doing once having been on BowieNet, thanks to the news editor being called Total Blam Blam.

It's a really effective in-head jukebox, albeit with the drawback of not having power switch. I'd settle for a pause button, really...

...hey man, droogie don't crash here. there's only room for one and here she comes, here she comes...

It's no game

7:49 July 5th '04

Strange things have always been traded on Ebay. It's also not news that virtual property, i.e. items and characters and such from online games, also makes quite a turnover. Heck some people make a living off of it.

Slightly more interesting is the fact that people have taken each other to real-life court over dealings in digital, imaginary merchandise. At first it seems simple: someone has a particular item in a game, then you send them some real money for them to hand it over to you in-game. Except then they don't, and you take them to court. But did they even own the item in the first place? After all, it's just bits on the game server, which is owned by the game developers.

One good analogy is to think of a good old game of Monopoly at a friend's house (on a real physical board with pieces and play money, that is): if you land on Park Avenue and pay the bank to buy it, you don't actually cut out that bit of the board and take it with you. You accept that it's someone else's game set, even if in the game you own that bit of real estate. Of course even in there you could pay your friend some real money to hand you something in the game, but in that context it seems obviously wrong: it's not in the spirit of a board game to mix real-world economics into it.

Online, however, it now seems par for the course to use real-world wealth to gain an in-game advantage. Hence the need for whitepapers like "The Pitfalls of Virtual Property" from The Themis Group. The big problem is that now that there is a legal precedent for online property being analogous with real property, game developers are in for a potentially rough ride.

Maybe this is part of the reason why so many massively multiplayer projects have been buried recently? Like Warhammer Online that I was so looking forward to. It certainly makes you wonder if developing online games is worth the risk until the legal situation has been clarified.

get off the cross, dear / we need the wood