Friday, June 21, 2013

XBox One: Playing a Bit of Devil's Advocate

People act like what Microsoft did with the XBox One's intended policy for game ownership was a transparent cash-grab that came out of the blue. In truth, we already have virtually the same system in place with games on PCs. Since consoles are really just PCs in a smaller box, why the different system? If Microsoft would have said "Every user has to buy a unique CD key to play a game," people would have understood what Microsoft was trying to do. They want the ownership of a game to be tied to accounts (ie, individual people) rather than to a physical copy of a disk. Instead, we're going to continue to have a system with two different methods of ownership:

1. the disk-based version will continue use the physical presence of an official disk to make sure the company got paid for the game (meaning you have to have the disk in your system to play, even if the game is installed on your hard drive).

2. the digital version will be linked to account ownership, meaning everyone who plays it on a different account will have to buy a unique copy (since it's the only way to make sure people using torrents or file hosts don't just share the game with ten thousand of their closest friends without the company who made it making a red cent from it).

So to everyone saying that they don't want to have to pay separately for every account (ie, every person) to play a game: you're already doing that for digital games. The only difference is Microsoft wants (or, I suppose, wanted) to extend that system to all games, regardless of the physical presence of a disk. They don't want to continue with two different methods depending on whether you installed the game from a disk or through digital download. (And maybe, just maybe, we could have gotten to the point where we could play on a console without having to have the disk in, meaning no more disk-swapping.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Elves: More than pointy ears and long lifespans

Look up 'elf' in a fantasy dictionary and you are likely to see Legolas, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy
If someone were to ask you to picture an elf, there's a good chance you would picture someone like the gentleman above: green clothing, pointy ears, nice hair, and a bow. Bonus points if you picture that elf in a forest. Elves have been a part of the fantasy genre for so long now that fantasy fans know what to expect from elves, so fantasy settings tend to gloss over them. Magic, trees, bows, ears, done. If a fantasy settings wants to create a race that will make fans sit up and take notice, they create something completely different, like D&D's Dragonborn or the Elder Scrolls' Khajiit and Argonians. World of Warcraft doesn't even have regular elves, perhaps because they thought that nobody would want to play an elf unless it was a "dark" elf or a "blood" elf.

I think that's a shame, because if you stop and think about elves for a moment, you might remember what made them so interesting in the first place. Creators should spend less time trying to come up with new and increasingly ridiculous races and perhaps spend some time thinking about how to make the classic races interesting again.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The time I took a telemarketer on a dungeon crawl

Image from iStockphoto (obv)

Image from Detras de la Pantalla
Recently, I was telling a good friend of mine about the time a telemarketer called me and I took her on an impromptu dungeon crawl. I have spent a lot of time thinking about ways I could have done a better job of it, so when my friend suggested that I blog about it, I decided it was time to revisit this geeky moment in my past.