November 2009

Oh, Hi, I Have A Blog

I’ve been kind of busy. There’s also the thumbsucking pieces I submit to every Wednesday (last week’s, which I didn’t repost here, was on the “No Russian” level in Modern Warfare 2, this next week’s will be about expansion packs). Don’t know how long I’ll be able to make time to write them, given how garrulous I’ve been here and all. Maybe by the time I hang it up Sanya Weathers will be ready to step back in!

A lot of you seem to really like posting in the comments a LOT. Which is somewhat cool but after a certain point it really has all been said and around comment #50 most people tend to tune it out. I briefly considered putting up forums but then realized ARE YOU FRACKING INSANE????!!!????? and stopped considering it. So, um, use some self-control or something. Or just keep the web server humming while I go 2 weeks without posting anything!

Two Brief Programming Notes

My latest column is up: this one is on RMT, which I’m sure a few have one or two opinions about. I tend to write these columns with an eye towards a reader that *doesn’t* obsessively read every MMO-focused blog and message board, as opposed to you, Dear Readers, who I assume know far more about MMO-related drama than I do.

Ironically, I've never actually watched any of the CSI shows.

Ironically, I've never actually watched any of the CSI shows.

Also, I’m employed! (At least for 3 months – after the end of which we’ll see if I move to full-time from contracting.) I’m a developer attached to NCsoft’s Customer Surveillance Unit (CSU) team, which is being put together to quash RMT, botting, and such in NCsoft’s titles. The irony of not having to ask where to go for the job interview did not escape me.

It’s not a design position – I’m still determining if I want to get back into design at some point in the future or just work on my own garage-band titles. Heading up the design for two large projects roughly one after the other which failed to make it out the door – well, I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been difficult for my ego. We’ll just have to see where things go – in the mean time this new position certainly has some interesting challenges of its own.

Yes, I Bought Modern Warfare 2 Because I Wanted It To Be Just Like A Michael Bay Movie

No, really, it says it's unique right there and everything.

No, really, it says it's unique right there and everything.

David Allen responds to criticism that his latest game, World of Alganon, may be just a wee bit derivative.

Players aren’t upset there’s a game that resembles WoW. They’re upset that for the past few years they’ve been bombarded and desensitized by a combination of “weak” games and advertising that sells them on the idea that “similar is bad.” When people say a movie that reminds them of their favorite film, but with a different plot, characters and setting, that means they enjoyed the movie. When you have a meal that reminds you of the home cooking you loved as a kid, that is a great thing. However, for the past few years, every MMOG released has spent millions of dollars trying to convince gamers that “fun doesn’t matter; different is what you want,” and for many gamers, this marketing worked.

Well, that’s certainly an interesting way to defend cloning. “No, really… we totally meant to do that.”

EA: It’s In The Game (The Unemployment Line, Specifically)

Yeah, this kind of sucks for a lot of people I know.

Yeah, this kind of sucks for a lot of people I know.

From EA’s earning report:

This action will result in the closure of several facilities and a headcount reduction of approximately 1,500 positions, of which 1,300 are included in a restructuring plan. The majority of these actions will be completed by March 31, 2010. This plan will result in annual cost savings of at least $100 million and restructuring charges of $130 to $150 million.

Which is important, given how they just spent $300 million to buy a Facebook game developer!

The axe is already falling everywhere, with Mythic in particular being gutted. No idea on specific numbers, but unofficial reports have “80 people today, which is about 40% of the company and responsible for 90% of the content”. (Source)

Not a good time to be looking for work. Ahem.