Archive for December, 2011

Why SWG is better than SWTOR

December 31, 2011

Star Wars Galaxies pre CU/NGE = Sandbox MMO

Star Wars the Old Republic =  Themepark MMO

Cantinas

SWG - Full of players socializing, entertainer classes designed to be in these buildings, music and dance used to buff combat classes

SWTOR - Empty as hell except for a few NPC's. If it weren't for the trainers and mission instances in the back of the cantina, nobody would go in here.

Crafting

SWG - complex yet rewarding. Survey the ground for a resource, assess its quality and stick a bunch of harvesters permanently in the game to harvest it. Build a factory to mass produce whatever good you want to sell. Then open up a shop to sell your goods. Customize the name of your shop and stick furniture / display cases in it. Hire an NPC or droid to sell your goods, customize his greeting. All this stays in the world permanently.

SWTOR - A step above WoW in that it lets companion crew skills to do the boring click/create stuff. Yet why has MMORPG crafting become so boring in the first place that we now need a gameplay mechanic to NOT have to do it?

Classes

SWG - 34 different professions, many non-combat such as image designers, chefs, engineers, in addition to combat professions like Bounty Hunter, Rifleman, Fencer. Ability to train one character in multiple classes and switch classes.

SWTOR - Combat only, all based off standard archetypes of tank, mage, rogue, healer or hybrids thereof.

Player Housing 

SWG - Buy a house deed from an architect. Place it on a plot of land to claim it as your own. Place furniture all around it. Put your name on the sign outside so people know who lives there. Invite other players to visit and check it out.

SWTOR - None. Well you get a spaceship but you can't customize it and nobody else but you is allowed on it. It's basically just a small instance.

Character Customization

SWG - Extremely detailed. Able to make a character that looked like you. You could even set your character's mood, which would change your character's facial expression.

SWTOR - Limited set of race specific skins. A bunch of the sliders only have 3 or 4 options on it.

Vanity Pets

SWG - Put 6 points in the Creature Handler profession, go out and find a baby creature. Tame it successfully, name it, buy food from a chef profession to feed it, watch it grow into an adult. Teach it tricks. Do it several times and arrange all your pets in a formation. Use them for combat or mounts if they're suitable. Give them away as gifts to other players.

SWTOR - Tiny little graphics that follow you around and do nothing.

Space Combat

360 degree freedom. Pilot profession that would grant you the ability to fly better spacecraft as your skill developed.

SWTOR - Starfox 64 rail shooter

Mob AI

SWG - Friendly creatures would approach you with a question mark and check you out before running back to their herd. Certain creatures would have unique behaviors and non-combat AI. Cats would track and stalk you. One aggressive creature would kill its babies when threatened. NPC's from different factions would be locked in battle.

SWTOR - Friendly creatures just sit there and do nothing. Aggressive ones attack you until you run away or one of you is dead. No non-combat AI.

Tippin a 40 to the memory of the Sandbox MMO, and all the innovation that got squashed when developers decided copying WOW was the only way to go

Why Rovio is a joke

December 15, 2011

Hi, my name is Rovio.  I want your $$$.  My CEO is running around telling everyone I’m gonna be bigger than Disney. Here’s why you should invest in me and lose your money.

Introducing Steve Ballmer 2.0

1. I suck at making games.  I have one hit, Angry Birds.  To make this hit, I used someone else’s physics engine and ripped off a game called Crush the Castle without permission.  Crush the Castle had catapults chucking rocks at knights wearing armor in a castle.  In order to not get sued, I changed the catapult to a slingshot, rocks to birds, and knights to pigs.  Except I was too lazy to take the armor off the pigs.

People bought my hack game anyway and turned it into a brand.  I owe this all to our graphic designers, who were able to create bird characters and pigs that are iconic and memorable.  Unlike everyone else who works for me, these graphic designers are great and hopefully they get poached soon.  The rest of our programmers on the otherhand are useless.

They have no clue how to make a new game to carry this brand.  Then again my programmers just jack stuff so that’s to be expected.  Since my graphic designers are the only good employees, I have to put them to work and have them reskin the same game over and over for the next 2-3 years.  That way I can pretend I’m releasing brand new games and fool everyone.

2. Since my game design skills suck, I figured we can make more money by selling bird toys and t-shirts. Obviously this won’t last because people are gonna get sick of them, but I’m gonna pretend it will.

Mmmm hmmm yea

3. My CEO is running around telling everyone I’m gonna be the next Disney.  You should believe him because comparisons are everywhere.  Disney put out several cartoons and films to further the brand.  I only have one game.  Disney pioneered audio video technology in his cartoons.  My one game pioneers nothing.  It took Disney 3 years to create his first animated feature.  It takes me a couple months to reskin my one game for Chinese New Year.  It took Disney over 30 years before they went public and by then they’d put out Bambi, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Fantasia, Alice and Wonderland, Peter Pan, etc and proven they can duplicate success several times over.  I want your money now and all I got is this one game.

4. My CEO doesn’t give a shit about protecting IP.  He’s happy China hijacked my Angry Birds IP to create an unofficial theme park.  Later on, if someone gets killed on a ride over there and a PR backlash happens that affects me, hopefully he will still be happy.

nice legs, ugly face

5. My CEO is bringing back balloons from China for me to copy.  This is because my marketing group is asleep.

Cheers to everyone who has the foresight to short me in a few years.

ugly girl ruins the picture once again

Why Apple won’t kill Nintendo

December 6, 2011

1. The App store’s business model is too fucked up to compete with Nintendo. Games are too cheap, and it’s not AAA game experience for a bargain cheap. It’s that’s all I’m willing to pay for this inferior gaming experience cheap. The games have little depth and owe it all to mobile’s budget price point. You get what you pay for.

Shitty games for sale!!!

Because of the lower pricing standard, it’s not profitable to make AAA games for core gamers AKA the demographic that’s been supporting the market for the past 20+ years. Instead it’s only profitable to make casual games or cheap IP ripoff games (Hi Gameloft) that capture submarkets – bored housewives with nothing to do, guys who have to sit on the A train while it goes through all of Manhattan, people who game on the toilet, and fanboys willing to buy any hardcore looking mobile game so they can pretend it’s the real deal.

In order to kill consoles/handheld, first and foremost mobile needs to have games that are better than the ones on consoles/handheld. They don’t, and when a game that costs more than a small pizza is considered too expensive, they’re not gonna be able to.

Why does my iPhone even have a GPU?

2. Mobile gaming is ridiculously commoditized – an increasing number of way too many games to pick from. So as the saturated market gets even more saturated, it becomes harder for developers to get their game noticed. In response, mobile’s already cheap pricepoint gets driven down even further and the gap in quality between mobile and dedicated grows even more.

At the beginning, iOS games ran $1-5. Then developers started migrating to Freemium. Analysts who confuse causation and correlation want you to believe devs are going to Freemium because it’s a superior business model. In reality, devs are jumping on Freemium because the iOS market is so saturated, you now have to give away your game to get someone to download it. Even worse, some companies are starting to wholesale their IP under a subscription model. iOS is going from being the dollar store of video games to the Costco of dollar stores video games.

3. Because of commoditization, marketing is impossible. When a AAA console/handheld game gets released, it’s a big deal. When an iOS game gets released, nobody gives a shit. Once in awhile you’ll have a game like N.O.V.A or Infinity Blade 2 that gets hyped up. Difference is, they’re hyped up because they got Apple to demo the game at WWDC to help sell the newest iPad. But if you’re a developer who’s not in bed with Apple, good luck with getting the word out on your game.

With Infinity Blade, I think the trick is to get Apple to promote your game on stage! [laughs] Oh, and in their commercials. We didn’t spend a penny on Infinity Blade marketing. We were thinking about it but never got round to it. It’s been a very profitable game for us.  – Mike Capps, Epic Games

The only marketing that really matters is getting your game on the top 10 chart in a market that’s so commoditized, it’s like playing the lottery. You’re basically hoping to hit what Malcolm Gladwell calls the tipping point. So are all the other tens of thousands of iOS game developers so it’s like one giant raffle from hell. And just like that, we can watch any innovative idea that could’ve challenged console/handheld gameplay get buried.

The online gaming industry is hotter than it has ever been thanks largely to Facebook and Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhone, which are bringing video games to vast new audiences who have never been gamers before.

But lower barriers to entry for game developers mean competition is intense, and would-be market entrants should beware of being carried away by the success of a handful of games like Angry Birds, industry executives said this week. – Reuters

4. Apple isn’t vested in gaming. They’re not like Nintendo where they have to care about the quality of games on their platform. If the 3DS has proven anything, it’s that for a Nintendo device, the games have to be stellar for the hardware to sell. Meanwhile, if your iOS games suck, there are 50 other reasons for you to use your iDevice and give Apple your money. Which is why Apple can just kick back and whitelist every IP ripoff and minigame that gets submitted. Contrast this with Nintendo, who wouldn’t release Super Mario 3D Land early even though 3DS sales badly needed it, because they wanted it to be perfect. The quality gap widens even more.

5. Mobile gaming is a bubble. If you believe everything I’m writing right now, you can see the hype that makes it a bubble. Analysts are jumping to conclusions about it killing off console makers even though the games suck. Analysts tout the specs of the latest iOS device even though the average iOS game looks like it can run in a browser. Features like Airplay Mirroring get hyped up as console killers even though nobody can name a game that takes advantage of it other than Real Racing. And much of mobile gaming’s success hedges on social gaming, which many people, mobile developers included, think is a bubble as well.

Innovation at its finest

When Zynga, a company who jacks code and game ideas, is getting investors to buy into their IPO, that’s funny. When Rovio, a one hit wonder that can’t do anything except reskin the same game 4 or 5 times and make bird toys, is drawing investors, that’s funny too. These companies have no return drivers for long-term growth. EA meanwhile is trying to position itself as the mobile leader by snatching up any mobile game developer with one hit to their name, degrading the value of its existing IP to by converting it to Freemium, and still remains mediocre. A trainwreck’s coming.

6. Whenever analysts cite data showing mobile taking over handheld marketshare, they cite Flurry. They usually show a bunch of Flurry pie graphs side by side and put a line in their article that says, “according to Flurry research” without even knowing who Flurry is. Flurry is a company that makes money by contracting its services to mobile developers and has a vested interest in the mobile app market’s success. All those pie graphs you see on every article proclaiming the death of Nintendo and Sony come off their blog, which if you’ve ever seen it, is essentially a long sales pitch to iOS/Android app developers to get them to sign up and pay for Flurry services. Which is why whenever Flurry talks about marketshare, they do funny stuff like use pie graph %’s instead of units sold, post revenue instead of profits, and leave out pertinent information like whether or not the market has expanded. Nice biased source.

According to our graphs, mobile is winning. Now give us your money

7. Control problems. Touch is good for things like physics games, diner dash type stuff, tower defense – basically a good chunk of casual game genres. It sucks for everything else. As much as the hype police would have you believe touch is the future of gaming and buttons are unneeded, iOS developers still put virtual buttons and analog sticks on the screen. If I had to guess why, it’s because there is no other alternative – buttons are superior.  The only difference is on mobile they take up half the screen real estate, there are fewer of them, and there’s no haptic feedback.

NBA 2K12 AKA Double Dribble for iPhone

8. A ton of pro-mobile arguments are predicated on some wierd logic suggesting console technology doesn’t grow.  They go something like this:

“Within the next few years, tablets will reach the power of current gaming consoles” – Infinity Blade 2 Developer

“It’s unquestionable that within a very short time, we’re going to have portable cell phones that are more powerful than the current-gen consoles.” – John Carmack, ID Software

So what?  My Windows Pocket PC was more powerful than my Sega Genesis.  My iPhone 4 is more powerful than a Playstation 2.  Mobile has always reached the power of console technology within a few years. In other news, the next generation console will reach the power of current high end desktops in a few years.  This has been the trend for the past couple decades.  Why are you stating the obvious and what does this have to do with mobile challenging the console market?  Nobody knows.

9. The whole mobile is gonna kill handheld/console argument came up when the current generation of flagship handhelds, the DS and the PSP, were toward the end of their life cycle, making mobile seem like more of a threat than it really is. The threat was hyped up by parties like Flurry trying to capitalize on the whole app surgence, Apple talking up iOS gaming as a dominant force in order to sell the latest iDevice, analysts who enjoy number crunching more than playing video games, and journalists who plagiarize each other because they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

The truth is that mobile is disruptive, but it’s not a game changer. The next couple years, when the next generation of consoles/handhelds takes off, will prove it.

Toast to all the gamers who intuitively understand that flinging a bird at a pig 500 times in a row won’t replace a good Mario game.

What I’ve learned over the past 2 days trying to get LibSVM 3.11 for Matlab installed on a Mac running OS X Lion

December 6, 2011

LibSVM comes as software package written in C. To get it to work with Matlab you need to compile it by typing “make” in the LibSVM/Matlab directory.

“make” will look for the C compiler on your computer and run it. The compiler’s name is g++ and is inside a software suite called XCode.

XCode is Apple’s set of tools for developers and does not come preinstalled on OSX.  Instead you have to download it.  Xcode 4.2 is free off the Mac App Store if you’re running Lion. If you’re running Snow Leopard, you need to register for free to get on the Apple developers website, where you can download XCode 3.2.6.

Knowing all this there are a bunch of different reasons why “make” could give you an error. The two I ran across are:

1. Xcode is not installed. If you have no Developer directory on your hard drive, you don’t have it.If this is the case you’ll get a few lines of error that look something like this:

/Applications/MATLAB_R2009aSV.app/bin/mex: line 1102: gcc-4.0: command not found
/Applications/MATLAB_R2009aSV.app/bin/mex: line 1081: gcc-4.0: command not found
/Applications/MATLAB_R2009aSV.app/bin/mex: line 992: gcc-4.0: command not found

Install XCode to fix this.

2.If you have XCode installed, you can still get errors if there are version conflicts between Xcode, Matlab, and OSX. Basically, all 3 have to match in order to for the makefile to work.  If they don’t, you’ll probably get some kind of giant block of scrolling text error.

svm.cpp:1:18: error: math.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:2:19: error: stdio.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:3:20: error: stdlib.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:4:19: error: ctype.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:5:19: error: float.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:6:20: error: string.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp:7:20: error: stdarg.h: No such file or directory
svm.cpp: In function ‘void clone(T*&, S*, int)’:
svm.cpp:22: error: there are no arguments to ‘memcpy’ that depend on a template parameter, so a declaration of ‘memcpy’ must be available
svm.cpp:22: error: (if you use ‘-fpermissive’, G++ will accept your code, but allowing the use of an undeclared name is deprecated)
svm.cpp: In function ‘void print_string_stdout(const char*)’:
svm.cpp:41: error: ‘stdout’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:41: error: ‘fputs’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:42: error: ‘fflush’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp: In function ‘void info(const char*, …)’:
svm.cpp:48: error: ‘BUFSIZ’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:49: error: ‘va_list’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:49: error: expected `;’ before ‘ap’
svm.cpp:50: error: ‘ap’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:50: error: ‘va_start’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:51: error: ‘buf’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:51: error: ‘vsprintf’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp:52: error: ‘va_end’ was not declared in this scope
svm.cpp: In constructor ‘Cache::Cache(int, long int)’:
ETC ETC ETC

I was running Matlab R2009a, OS X Lion, and didn’t have XCode installed.

I got the first error which was resolved by installing XCode 4.2

I then got the second error and found my version of Matlab was not compatible with 4.2.It was older and needed the 3.X revision (according to this nifty chart from Mathworks). So I uninstalled 4.2 and installed 3.2

I then got the second type of error again and yelled out WTF. Eventually I looked at the Developer/Library directory and realized half of the directories were empty. Found out that XCode Rev 3.2 is not supposed to be installed on Lion and if you try, it only does a partial install because Apple disabled the Toolkit installation for anything non-Lion. The Toolkit contains everything that’s important… including the uninstall script.

At this point, my choices were to either upgrade Matlab to the latest version and use XCode 4.2 and Lion, or use old version Matlab, XCode 3.2, and downgrade OS X to Snow Leopard.

My version of Matlab is the student version, but I’m not registered this semester so I couldn’t do the upgrade process (the one where they make you submit your fingerprints, 10 photo ID’s, and social security # just to get a license). So I sat there ready to downgrade OS X.

But lucky for me, I found a hack on the internet which let me install XCode Rev 3.2 on Lion. Thanks to Anatomic Wax for this. I have no clue who he is but he saved me a headache since I have no clue where my Snow Leopard disc is anyway.

Cheers