I appreciate Cliffski for saying what he thinks (and making cool games) 8)
I’ve been asked if I am still working on Gratuitous Space Battles 2. And I am not. I’ve been accused of all sorts of stuff as a result. I wont repeat that here. What I want to talk about is the economics of this question, why people get angry, and why it makes sense that I am not working on Gratuitous Space Battles 2 right now.
First some facts. GSB2 started work around November 2013. It was released on the 16th April 2015. So the dev time was about 17 months.
Now the game was in beta for a while before release, with sales from my site, and is on sale also at GoG and the humble store, but most people wont have any idea how well it sells on any of those, so lets just look at the steam sales as reported by steam spy:
Owners 10,876. Assume average of 50% off maybe? so assume $10 a copy? so lets say it made $108,000 and add in another $50,000 from other sources. However steam take their cut so thats really only about $120,000. Actually thats a bit shy of the real figure, which is just over $150,000. So I guess some people (mostly kids) are screaming at me at this point for being a greedy scumbag and so on, because I am implying the game failed or I can’t afford to keep working on it.
The development & marketing cost for that game was $115,000. The *profit* so far is about $40,000. If I look at the hours I spent working on it, I earned about $12.74 per hour. That is assuming I stopped work on it when it shipped, even though I did not, and continued to add patches, fix bugs, add new features and polish existing ones for months after release. Something that made zero economic sense.
If you think $12.74 an hour is good for a software developer with more than twenty years experience you are flat out wrong. If you think that you can run a business in the UK earning £17,549 which is the sterling equivalent, you are flat out wrong.
Gratuitous Space Battles 2 failed, partly because it was released into a sea of space strategy games that are so numerous I cannot possibly list them all. I still think its a darned good game and am very proud of the engine that was coded for it. I think it is superior in every way to the game that came before it. I’m sure it will continue to earn some money in the long run on steam, but not nearly enough to make it anything other than a relative flop.
And yet…people will still hurl abuse at me for moving on. Of course I am moving on, that is why I am still in business, and that is why I am able to pay the rent for the server on which this blog post resides. Some games are hits, some are flops. Almost all indie game studios have flops and it normally puts them out of business. I am not asking for any sympathy, I do not want any, I am not blaming anyone but myself, and …oh for fucks sake, why even bother typing any further, as I know I will get nothing but abuse and vitriol for even posting this because many teenage gamers think that I should be working from now until my death bed to implement every possible idea, tweak, or change that they can imagine for the game because they paid $10 for it once.
That makes no economic sense, and when you harass and bully and scream at the devs of ‘your favorite games’ to do this, all you do is accelerate the date at which they go out of business and stop making games. If there is a way to turn off comments just on one post I’m going to do it here, but I expect abuse on twitter and so on anyway. Apparently thats what you have to put with for $$11.74 an hour in 2015.
FWIW positech overall is doing just fine, I’m developing a new game and publishing others. I am also personally fine, I just know many devs feel this way but are too scared to say so, I’m doing their venting for them :D
The insides make this piece awesome 8) And the large floppy disk drives look just like the real things 8)
For some time now LEGO artist Chris McVeigh has been bringing us palm-sized chunks of hi-tech nostalgia heaven, such as his Atari 2600 and Apple Macintosh kits. But now Chris jumps into the unfashionable-yet-practical camp of “IBM compatibles” with this picture-perfect 80’s era DOS computer. This certainly brings memories of my first tech job flooding back – twin floppies, Hammer pants, and all.
The kit is currently available for pre-order from Chris’ store. Or if you prefer, as of today you can now download the instructions and build one from your own collection of bricks. But here’s all the narly stuff you’ll get if you order the full kit:
I know what I’m putting at the top of my list of stocking stuffers this Christmas! Hmmm, but I guess the important question is: Have I been naughty or nice?
"Haloo? Eikö minulla ole enää väliä? Muistatteko vielä minut? Minä kirjoitin biisit! No ainakin tein sanoitukset, ja suoraan sanoen, jos olen täysin rehellinen itselleni ja kaikille muille, en usko että kukaan osti Sex Pistolsin levyä kitarasoolon tai rumpu- tai bassosoundin takia."
Raivoa ja voimaa (alk. Anger is an Energy! The New Autobiography), 2015, John Lydon, Like kustannus, arvostelukappale
Oh how we all love these "I sent you an email in the middle of the night on a Saturday and no one had replied to it by early Monday morning!" folks :p
The last line of PHP ever can not be written soon enough :p
Under the UK's new Snoopers Charter (AKA the Investigatory Powers Bill), the Secretary of State will be able to order companies to introduce security vulnerabilities into their software ("backdoors") and then bind those companies over to perpetual secrecy on the matter, with punishments of up to a year in prison for speaking out, even in court. (more…)
"Privacy has always been a major issue in the European Union. EU Member States have implemented a number of privacy directives to protect individuals’ personal data,"
They say this as if it was a bad thing...
Every year the United States Trade Representative (USTR) inventorizes what problems local industries face when doing business abroad.
The major Hollywood studios, represented by the MPAA, just submitted their latest overview listing trade barriers across the globe.
The MPAA points out that many countries don’t do enough to deter piracy. This is also a common theme in Europe, where privacy laws and regulations make it harder for copyright holders to go after online pirates.
“Privacy has always been a major issue in the European Union. EU Member States have implemented a number of privacy directives to protect individuals’ personal data,” MPAA writes.
According to the MPAA, European privacy rules are extremely complex and difficult. As a result they are often used against efforts that could help to prevent copyright infringement.
For example, IP-addresses are protected as private personal information in several countries including Italy, where they can only be used in criminal cases.
“All EU Member States have detailed data protection laws. These rules, often very strict, are subject to the interpretation of the national data protection authorities,” MPAA notes (pdf).
“Most of them consider IP addresses as personal data and believe that the privacy rules apply to their use,” they add.
The MPAA points out that privacy rights of citizens often trump the rights of copyright holders, which they believe is a “very problematic” development.
As a result, Internet providers often refuse to cooperate with copyright holders claiming that this violates the privacy of their users. This makes it hard for the content industries to cooperate with these companies in various anti-piracy efforts.
“Telecommunications operators and ISPs constantly invoke data protection rules to avoid any meaningful cooperation with the content sector,” MPAA writes.
“Such restrictive interpretations preclude meaningful cooperation with Internet intermediaries, such as telecommunications operators and ISPs, in particular cooperation to combat IP theft.”
In addition, the MPAA is not happy with the EU Court of Justice decision to no longer make data retention mandatory. As a result, many ISPs no longer keep extensive IP-address logs.
The movie studios believe that data retention is an important law enforcement tool, suggesting that it’s harder to track down online pirates without logs.
“Data retention remains a very valuable tool for law enforcement. Rights holders have always claimed the need for reasonable rules and legal certainty. This decision has created even more legal uncertainty in this field.
“Member States have started to respond to the consequences of this decision with legislation and some have invalidated their rules,” MPAA adds.
The data retention argument is not new, but it’s worth noting that the U.S. itself has no mandatory data retention laws. This makes it hard for the U.S. Government to demand that other countries adopt them.
It’s clear though, that the MPAA is not happy with the increased interest in online privacy. With or without help from the U.S. government, they will continue to try and minimize the impact it has on their enforcement efforts.
Twitch's recent marathon of 403 episodes of the charming PBS show The Joy of Painting introduced a new generation to Bob Ross and his painting technique, capturing our hearts. Over its week-long broadcast, Twitch recorded more than 5.6 million unique viewers and 3.8 million uses of its new KappaRoss emote. The final episode was seen by more than 180,000 people, making it far and away the most popular stream on Friday night when it was shown, leading to widespread calls to "#keepbob."
After the stream ended, instead of going dead, it showed a mysterious countdown with just under three days on the clock. That countdown expires at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific, and we now know what it's counting down to. Those hoping to #keepbob are getting their wish.
Starting today, Twitch will show one season of The Joy of Painting a week at 6pm Eastern every Monday. Each season will run as a six and a half hour mini-marathon, performing the full cycle over 31 seasons every seven months or so.
Deus Ex’s appeal is often boiled down to ‘lots of options’, but obviously that doesn’t quite cover it. Right now I’m looking to redesign the ‘sneaking inside spaceships’ part of Heat Signature, so I need more than a vague line about what’s cool about Deus Ex – I need a practical understanding of specifically why it works, and why similar games don’t. So I’m replaying Deus Ex 1 and 3, to figure out what it is I want to steal. And I think it is options, but it’s not just number. They have to fill a certain set of requirements, and this is my attempt to nail down what those are.
I’ve been mostly playing Human Revolution so far, but I’ll also use some examples for DX1 since there’s so much overlap.
We’re talking about ‘ways to achieve your objective’. The objective itself is not optional, or different depending on your play style. Heat Signature does have an element of that, but it’s not what’s interesting about Deus Ex – most of the time, especially in 1 and 3, you have no say in what your objective is. The interesting part is in how you get to it. That generally breaks down into:
Routes: the various paths you can take. Some are easily visible, some might be hidden.
Obstacles: any elements that need to be overcome or avoided on a route – enemies, high walls, locked doors, toxic gas.
Methods: anything that lets you get past an obstacle, including basic skills like sneaking, conventional means like guns, environmental things like a switch, and specialised tools like a hacking upgrade.
This is not interesting:
Multiple routes, but who cares? They’re all the same.
This is more interesting but still pretty trivial:
Multiple routes, but one is clearly more trouble than the others, so the choice isn’t interesting.
This is getting Deus Exy:
Multiple routes, obstacles on all, and each requires a different Method. Do you have a Method for clearing debris? Do you have a Method for dealing with enemies? Do you have a Method for dealing with locked doors? Which brings us to:
This is one area DXHR massively improved over DX1. In Deus Ex 1 a single cheap hacking upgrade got you into every computer in the game, and the aug options were binary choices: A or B, where B is often useless. DXHR makes everything Augs, and both unlocking and upgrading them take the same, painfully rare currency. That gives you enormous power to specialise, and also puts enormous weight on those early decisions. The first few Methods you unlock with this system will be all you have, for a time.
I used to think the virtue of lots of routes was that the player always has a big decision to make as they approach each objective. But replaying the Deus Ex games and really examining the situations I find myself in, that’s not it. Most of the time the choice is already made for me by a previous decision about either the playstyle I want to use or the upgrades I’ve picked. If I’ve got the strength upgrade and I’m playing stealthy, when I see a vent blocked by a drinks machine, I’m moving the drinks machine and getting in the vent. I don’t even need to see the other options.
And that’s OK! The actual deciding process is not the sole pleasure of playing a game. A lot of the fun comes in living out your decision, and seeing it rewarded by Routes that it lets you exploit. You got the strength upgrade? Good choice! Now you get to move this heavy thing and access this special route, which is gonna get you close to your objective with minimal resistance. That makes your playthrough feel personal, it makes your choices feel relevant, and it makes you feel clever.
If every obstacle was solved for free by some particular Method, and impassable otherwise, that would probably be OK for a while. But pretty soon your choices would either feel irrelevant (if every Method unlocked a Route) or unfair (if your chosen Methods left you with no Route).
Methods need to have different costs, otherwise unlocking new ones wouldn’t be appealing. Basic sneaking is a Method, but it gets harder and more time consuming to use alone as the game progresses. The kinds of costs Methods can have are things like:
Combat is special. While it’s technically an avoidable obstacle like the others, almost every playstyle and route involves it at some point, and as players we expect it to be ten times richer and more interesting than any other type. We’re a lot less forgiving of a game that only has one type of weapon than a game that only has one type of lockpick.
This is true for me as much as anyone – every one of my favourite Deus Ex anecdotes involves violence either by or against me. In fact, the first moment that sold me on Deus Ex was getting stuck on a bit with two guards – I couldn’t take them both out before one killed me. Then I realised I could round the corner, spray a fire extinguisher at them both, and shoot them while they choke. It felt like I was fighting against unfair odds, improvising a desperate and clever way to overcome them.
In DXHR it’s less about improvisation, but my favourite thing to do is very similar. Lots of situations involve three guards – I like to stand near two of them, shoot the third in the head with the silenced pistol, then immediately hit the takedown key to use my upgraded close combat move on both the others. It feels like a spectacular explosion of violence, too sudden for anyone to stop and yet almost perfectly silent.
So combat needs:
The fire extinguisher can’t hurt anyone, but it can immobilise two people very suddenly without much skill. The pistol can kill in one shot, but only if it’s to the head, and it’s hard to hit a moving head.
If combat tools each have different strengths – range, damage, stun, area, delay – you’re encouraged to come up with some way to combine them to solve the situation at hand, which feels inventive, improvisational and clever.
That’s what I have so far. As with any analysis, it’s not the only way to break it down, and it doesn’t cover everything. I have one more element I want to write up, but I think FTL may be a better example of it, so it feels like a separate post. And if replaying DX1 throws up anything big that this doesn’t cover, that’ll be its own post too.
With 30 chapters and more than 2000 pages, it'll be a long weekend read.
Quick highlights dug out by first responders on Twitter and Reddit: Copyright is lifetime plus 75 years; Internet service providers must give your name if requested by copyright holders; ISPs must remove material upon receipt of a copyright claim; and you can't sue if the claim was bogus.
The Hill on what comes next:
The release of the text will probably be followed by an “intent to sign” message to Congress from President Obama, meaning there will be 90 days before he can sign the deal, a rule that is part of the trade promotion authority (TPA) or “fast-track” legislation signed into law this summer.
After that, the White House will send implementing language to Capitol Hill, starting the clock for the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees to begin their process of moving the TPP through their panels and to their respective floors for a final up-and-down vote.
Hardly surprising :|
TSA screeners' ability to detect weapons in luggage is "pitiful," according to classified reports on the security administration's ongoing story of failure and fear.
We know about them because lawmakers are tiring of the charade and the complacency that comes with it. Ars Technica reports:
"In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking Tuesday during a House Oversight hearing concerning classified reports from federal watchdogs. "Just thinking about the breaches there, it's horrific," he added.
Auditors from the Inspector General's Office, posing as travelers, discovered enormous loopholes in the TSA's screening process. A leaked classified report this summer found that as much as 95 percent of contraband, like weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. Lynch's comments were in response to the classified report's findings.
What will the future bring? We all love puppies, don't we?
I'm not going to confirm or deny any of this :p
"The upgrade notifications will also be made clearer and more compelling." I really don't think they can achieve that. My guess is that it's even more annoying and bothersome than what the adware piece I received was.
The Windows 10 free upgrade program has so far concentrated on those Windows 7 and 8 users who reserved their copy in the weeks leading up to the operating system's release. Over the coming months, Microsoft will start to spread the operating system to a wider audience. The Windows 10 upgrade will soon be posted as an "Optional Update" in Windows Update, advertising it to anyone who examines that list of updates.
Then, early next year, it will be categorized as a "Recommended Update." This is significant, because it means that systems that are configured to download and install recommended updates—which for most people is the safest option—will automatically fetch the upgrade and start its installer. The installer will still require human intervention to actually complete—you won't wake up to find your PC with a different operating system—but Windows users will no longer need to actively seek the upgrade.
This mirrors an accidental change that Microsoft did earlier this month. The Windows 10 upgrade was showing up for some people as a recommended update and the installer started automatically.
Soo…if you read this blog a lot you may remember that positech is funding a school being built in Cameroon. I’ve just got an update on progress that I thought I’d share. I love hearing about this, I am so proud of it.
Anyway…originally we had one site for the school, but for various reasons that then shifted to a different site called Salle. To give you an idea of where this is, lets look at it in google earth:
So..yeah, not exactly urban. This is a great place to do something like this, because they just are not going to make an economic case for a country with Cameroons GDP to pay for a decent school there. Anyway…zooming out a bit…
So…it’s there. Progress on the school actually seems pretty darned good, although progress in camera phone quality in Cameroon seems to be less good :D Here are the pics:
So we have walls! Proper ones, made of brick, rather than wood, and built properly by proper builders, meaning this school is going to be a LOT better than the small wooden construction they had before. The timeline shows that plastering and flooring should be done this week painting by the end of the month, and the handover to the community by early November.
When its all finished the school will provide:
The previous school enrollment dropped from 72 to 52 children over a year, almost certainly due to the condition of the building, so this should fix that, and I suspect boost overall enrollment a lot, plus there should be a big boost to the children’s health from the improvement in the facilities.
I should get much better pics in a few months, as a representative from the charity is going there to take a look.
For anyone wondering, doing this costs roughly £18,000.
"Our own testing shows that, yes, the optional update is getting chosen by default, and that's not supposed to happen to optional updates."
Yeah, that's all I'm going to say in addition to "wtf".
For the first year of its availability, Windows 10 is available for free to most Windows 7 and 8 users, and Microsoft has been trying to coax those users to make the switch by delivering the operating system through Windows Update. Until now, the OS has been delivered as an optional update; while Windows Update gives it prominent positioning, it shouldn't be installed automatically.
This system has already generated some complaints, as Windows Update will download the sizeable operating system installer even if you don't intend to upgrade any time soon, but, over the last couple of days, the situation seems to have become a little more aggressive. We've received a number of reports that people's systems are not merely downloading the installer but actually starting it up.
Our own testing shows that, yes, the optional update is getting chosen by default, and that's not supposed to happen to optional updates.
A couple of weeks ago Adam Savage made a screaming rubber bird bomb. Now he has made an even bigger, more awesome, screaming rubber bird bomb.
Apple doesn't give a flying fuck about the copyrights of the others? Colour me surprised...
One of Apple's A7 chips at the heart of the patent lawsuit. (credit: iFixit)
A jury has found Apple's A7 and A8 chips violate a patent belonging to the licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin, and the world's richest smartphone maker is now on the hook for up to $862 million in damages.
The Wisconsin jury reached a verdict on Monday that Apple infringed US Patent No. 5,781,752, and the trial now enters a separate damages phase. The patent is owned by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a university patent-licensing organization that was suing over patents before it was cool.
WARF sued Sony over patents in 2003, and both IBM and Samsung in 2004. It asserted the same patent Apple was found to infringe to sue Intel in 2008, but the case settled just before trial the following year.
"Our customers should always know we value them," the AT&T code says. "We listen to our customers... We earn and preserve their trust by treating them with honesty and integrity and in a professional, courteous manner."
Yeah, I have noticed that in the news over the years :D
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. (credit: AT&T)
Alfred Valrie of Los Angeles is a loyal AT&T customer, paying for pretty much everything the company offers: cellular service, a landline, home Internet, and TV.
But Valrie recently made the mistake of sending a polite e-mail to the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson. (Stephenson's e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and other contact information have been online for a few years.) In the e-mail, Valrie suggested that AT&T should offer unlimited data to DSL customers and cheaper, limited text messaging plans for people who don't need unlimited messages.
Valrie signed the message, "Your lifelong customer, Alfred Valrie."
And that's why I still call refer to them as Rootkit-Sony and declare absolutely no support to the company.
Oct 31 2005: Security researcher Mark Russinovich blows the whistle on Sony-BMG, whose latest "audio CDs" were actually multi-session data-discs, deliberately designed to covertly infect Windows computers when inserted into their optical drives. (more…)
Strange... but Black Sabbath is always good. Especially War Pigs. So: thumbs up!
This is an incredibly cool edit of the trippiest episodes of Spongebob Squarepants cut to accompany "Warpigs" by Black Sabbath.
10 years sounds much more tolerable than lifetime + 70 which makes absolutely no sense at all. Unless you own that blasted Rat, of course, then it makes plenty of sense. And money.
Tim Harford, the Financial Times's Undercover Economist, writes about the Happy Birthday to You court case, which finally settled the question of whether the familiar birthday song was still in copyright (it isn't) and uses that as a springboard to ask the question: how long should copyright last? (more…)
(credit: Horia Varlan)
A day after 11 Pacific Rim nations and the US agreed to the wording of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, New Zealand revealed Tuesday that the section on intellectual property lines up with how copyright terms are treated in the US.
The deal, which now needs approval from the pact's member nations, makes copyrights last for the life of the creator plus 70 years after death, according to the New Zealand government (PDF). That's basically the same as in the US.
The New Zealand government wrote:
With this year's "ag-gag" law, Wyoming has made it a crime to gather evidence of agricultural wrongdoing, from illegal pollution to animal cruelty, even from public land -- and also prohibits regulators from acting on information gathered in violation of the law. (more…)
Who in their right mind calls *any* pope a good one? Yes, this one may have some better ideas than some others but he's still the head of that cult. And good people don't climb up high in cults.
Where is your Cool Pope now, America? His PR game is undoubtedly on fleek, but he's still beholden to the same homophobic crap we know and love from the Catholic Church, the world's most powerful supporter of impunity for priestly pedophiles.
So… As I’ve talked about in the past, I came to the conclusion that I should release a new patch to beef-up the quality of Democracy 3, fix some long standing issues, improve and re-balance some features, and so on. (Right now this is for Windows…other formats coming in a few days…). Here is a run-down of everything thats changed in video form:
And here it is in non-video form for people who prefer screenshots :D
First big change is new achievements. We added 12. We also put an achievements link button on the main menu for a change, so you can now get to it from there as well as the in-game button:
We then revamped that page that tells you about security threats to your government. Rather than leaving you to ‘guess’ about how that ‘security effectiveness:poor’ value is calculated, we now show icons that link to all the contributing policies, and show how strongly they are implemented:
The voter group screen got some reformatting, so it extends vertically if needed, plus it also now has an extra window, when needed showing which pressure groups and terrorist groups are being fed into by anger among the selected voter group. This should make the link between angry voters and security threats a lot more obvious and clear.
The finance screen now shows information at the bottom that illustrates how effectively your government money is being raised and spent, which is directly tied to the minister in charge of each department. This was always the case, but we make it clearer how much of an effect this has now…
…And we also have added a bunch of new events… not going to tell you what they are…but here are the images :D
The screen that shows the popularity of policies is now totally re-coded to the calculations make a ton more sense…
And we have also done a fair bit of tweaking the GUI here and there, and made a small number of minor balance changes. Hopefully this has made the game better in small but noticeable ways./ I hope you like the patch :D If for some CRAZY reason you don’t already own a copy of the game, you can grab it from BmtMicro, GoG, the humble store or steam: