Sunday, June 28, 2009

Settlers Of Catan

Wired has an Article About Settlers Of Catan. It takes an honest view about one of the defining classics in boardgaming that hasn't sold as well as it should have in the American market.

Yet in the US, only a few types of games have really taken off. There are so-called lifestyle games, like Scrabble and chess, intellectual skill-based games whose devotees are interested in playing little else; party games like Trivial Pursuit and Jenga; and traditional strategy games like Risk and Monopoly, which are generally seen as child's play or possibly something to do while trapped in a snowstorm without power—just before you eat your own foot.

But part of the reason we don't play much Risk and Monopoly as adults is that those are actually poorly designed games, at least in the German sense. Derk Solko, a garrulous former Wall Streeter who cofounded the Web site in 2000 after discovering Settlers, explains it this way: "Monopoly has you grinding your opponents into dust. It's a very negative experience. It's all about cackling when your opponent lands on your space and you get to take all their money." Monopoly, in fact, is a classic example of what economists call a zero-sum game. For me to gain $100, you have to lose $100. For me to win, you have to be bankrupt. Gouging and exploiting may be perfect for humiliating your siblings, but they're not so great for relaxing with friends.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cove

A while ago I did a post called People Don't Need (Disturbing, NSFW) where I liked to some animal cruelty videos. The Dolphin ma secure video to this date is still the most disturbing that I have seen. Now there is documentary being shown at festivals on the matter. I am looking forward to seeing it even with the subject matter being so disturbing.

[ Official Site ]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Microsoft Could Have Done Natal Earlier

This is a clear example of management not getting an idea. Years ago Microsoft Research was doing a load of camera research and when the XBox Vision Camera was leaked I got all exsighted and wrote a post called Two Cameras Not One for the XBox360 where I talked about the stuff that Research was working on. I was excited because I seen the potential of what they where showing and how that could be worked into gaming. The videos in that post have all been taken down and the best I could find was a small image of GWindows Here, but what they where showing in 2005 was components of what Natal is.

I know that they could have done Natal in 2005, but didn't and I suspect the cause of this was short sighted management, as soon as the Wii was proven to print money, Microsoft called up Research and they made Natal.

This makes me annoyed because I know of a dozen other cool technologies that MS Research has that I know now will never see the light of day until some other company blazes the way forward and creates a market for it. And then when Microsoft responds everybody calls it a Me-Too! move from Microsoft and Research doesn't get any credit for their work outside of a black cube on their windowsill (they get one of these everytime they file a patent).