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Tycho / on Tue, Aug 15 2006 at 5:43 pm

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Armadeaddon:  Sundered Union

We have done things in the past which were not "for" you, or anybody else for that matter.  That isn’t what’s goin’ on now.  What’s going on now is we are shoveling dense chunks of fanservice into the site’s iron belly, and increased fervor in that chamber makes each comic bend and groan to please you.   

Microsoft’s GameFest is essentially their own GDC for people who create games on MS platforms.  We were surprised to find ourselves invited, because a lot of the information provided is either highly technical or "industry facing," which is to say some of the things they’re trying to get across aren’t phrased in a way that would be appealing to consumers. 

For example, we attended the presentation on the Xbox Live Marketplace where they deployed the idea of "Consumables."  It’s one of a couple new features developers will see in the September release of the development tools - like Tokens, which are promotional codes redeemable for a piece of Marketplace content - but they don’t fill a person with a sense of unease like the term "Consumables." 

1up’s Luke Smith projects a nightmare vision onto a raincloud, suggesting that in a the dark cyber future you might (instead of returning to town) choose resurrect a player in your online fantasy game with real Goddamn money.  It’s the first thing I thought of - they’re digital goods or services that you could purchase over and over.  The usage they suggested in the talk itself was somewhat less sinister, and dovetails with our own comments about the inevitability of companies seizing control of the secondary markets for their own online products.  For example, and it’s rare because companies don’t often bring their MMOs to the Xbox, but let’s say they did - you might purchase gold directly from the game.  It could even be represented as a currency exchange in the gameworld.  There are other things you might purchase multiple times, like "tickets" to take part in large-scale tournaments.  When Live extends to Windows Vista, and this is not conjecture but fact, it puts other MMO properties in reach.   

See what I mean?  It’s the gruesome sausage making process which lies just out of view - the business side of games creation and content delivery.  The events we’re usually invited to are so controlled that to see it raw - the same information that would be present at another event - was something I had not experienced.  The people who attend something like this are relying on these (currently incomplete!) technologies to create each generation of software, and it’s back-breaking, virtually thankless work.  They hardly have time to come to this fucking thing, and the language and presentation is probably still too ornamented for them.  I apologize; I thought I’d seen the actual game industry before, at other events which were clearly constructs.  I’m still coming to terms with it. 

(CW)TB out. 

  we ain’t sure where you stand

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