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7. January 2013

As per this story on The Register, nVidia has announced they are creating a new handheld console named "Shield".

 

Let's start off with the most obvious.  It's ugly, exceedingly ugly.  The form factor isn't exactly practical either, this isn't a handheld you are going to be slipping in your pocket anytime soon.  Which begs the question then… why make a handheld at all?

 

 

The Shield, nVidia's clamshell portable console.

nVidia Shield Handheld console

 

Told you it was ugly!  Basically it's a tablet pasted to an Xbox 360 controller.  I am surprised with the recent spat of clones and copycat controllers, like this one or worse... the WiiU, that Microsoft isn't launching lawsuits.

 

Alright, those are all the negatives, now to some positives.  First off the thing is beefy.  It's powered by nVidia's Tegra4 chipset and a quad core ARM processor.  It runs Android, Jelly Bean currently and should be compatible with all the games in the current App Store.  Although I can't really imagine touch only games being comfortable if the controller isn't detachable.  It also ships with HDMI out, for those looking for the full console experience.  The screen itself is 720p.

 

Now the one feature that might actually redeem the thing… it can connect to your PC and play your Steam games by streaming them over wifi.  Now that feature… is neat.  I've actually done this already with existing iOS and Android software, and the latency is actually fine, it's always the controls that let you down.  So I expect the experience to actually be quite nice.  However, if you are home and able to stream your Steam games, why not just play them on your PC?  Now if it lets you buy games from Steam without a PC, that could be a game changer.

 

As you may be able to tell from my text, I think nVidia are crazy.  It's too niche a product entering a segment that is struggling already.  Especially when the OUYA Android console already exist and Steam are rumoured to be bringing out a console shortly.  Plus, it really is ugly and unwieldy.  

 

It's apparently in beta now and could be coming to market within months.

News Totally Off Topic


10. December 2012

 

I don’t throw around words like ‘Nanny State’ often or lightly, but when it comes to epically stupid “think of the children” laws effecting video games I take notice.  This one is a whopper though.  When I think Nanny State… there are a few countries and companies I think of, Germany and Nintendo nearly topping both of those lists ( well.. and Australia…  they’ve mastered the art of stupid law making in the name of protecting children ).  When Germany and Nintendo combine, the results are some epic stupidity.

 

As of right now you can’t buy games online in Europe that have a PEGI 18 rating, unless it’s after 11PM and before 3AM.  So, if you want to buy Assassin's Creed or ZombieU online and aren’t a night owl, you can’t.

 

Here is a quote from Nintendo in response to Eurogamer:

“At Nintendo we always aim to provide a safe gaming experience for fans of all ages and ensure that we comply with applicable legal age restriction requirements across Europe,” a Nintendo spokesperson told Eurogamer.

“Legal age restriction requirements vary across a number of European countries. Since Nintendo of Europe is based in Germany, Nintendo eShop is complying with German youth protection regulation which therefore applies to all our European markets. Under German law, content rated 18+ must be made available only at night.

“Therefore the accessibility of 18+ content in Nintendo eShop is limited to [USK: 22:00 UTC until 4:00 UTC] [PEGI: 23:00 UTC until 3:00 UTC].”

 

So, Germany has a downright stupid child protection law on the books, and Nintendo Europe’s offices are based out of Germany, so they are applying the law TO ALL OF EUROPE.

 

So, Germany get’s the stupid prize for enacting a law that makes not a lick of sense.  It’s modeled in the mode of television restrictions where adult content can’t be played until a certain time window, which itself is completely ignorant of 10 years of progress in digital distribution rendering the entire concept archaic and mostly pointless.  Not to mention the fact… what are the demographic that are up between 11 and 3?  Outside the university crowd…  that’s basically insomniacs, people working nights and….  well, students under the age of 18!  Buying *ANY* content on the app store already requires users submit their age, making the entire scheme redundant anyways.  All you are doing is annoying your users.

 

Nintendo obviously takes their share of the blame here.  They have a history of stupidity when it comes to online, "protecting” users behind those god awful friend codes being the most glaring example.  This just seems to be another example of them being pretty out of touch with online reality.  Now it may be a legal requirement due to their office location, but this doesn’t absolve them of responsibility.  First off, basing your European operations out of the most legally anti-video game country in Europe is a downright stupid decision to start with.  The fact they can’t seem to work their way around a problem that EVERY other online retailer solved years ago… well, that’s 100% on Nintendo.  It would take their lawyers about 20 minutes to spin the eStore European division off as a subsidiary and open an unmanned office in a more legally friendly country.  Instead they took the lazy and downright stupid approach of applying this bad restriction to all of their customers.

 

I imagine in time common sense will prevail… at least, I certainly hope it does.

 

This post isn’t as off topic as it might seem.  These kind of legal hassles, especially as it applies to digital distribution, should be of concern to all indie game developers.  When or if you register your company, you should be exceptionally mindful of your host countries laws and how they can impact your legal rights and liabilities.

Totally Off Topic News


6. December 2012

 

 

You may notice that the number of posts around here have dropped off recently and will drop off for a bit longer.  First off, let me just say sorry.  I know I personally hate it when I check on a website in my daily rotation if there isn’t any new updates. 

 

So why so quite?

 

Well, there are a couple reasons. 

 

First, the industry is a bit quite this time of year, no news means nothing to talk about.

 

Second, I am just coming to the end of a large project I’ve been working on that I can announce more details about shortly.

 

Third, well, it’s the holidays in my parts.  Oddly enough, all of my celebrations are early this year and the holidays are nothing if not time consuming. There is an ironic flipside to this… later in the month, when the actual holidays approach, well I will have tons of free time, so expect to see new content then by the truckload… at least, if its a very small truck.

 

So, let me wish you an early Happy Holidays and say, don’t worry… new content is in the works… it will just be a bit slow to appear.

Totally Off Topic


2. December 2012

 

Having too much fun and want to make life a bit duller?

 

If so, I have the perfect site for you!  There is a newly launched game development blog at Dull as Dishwater. It’s extremely young at this point in time, with exactly two posts, one of which is the introduction post. 

 

image

 

Why then am I bothering to point it out?  That would be because the premise behind the blog is absolutely brilliant ( and boring! ).  He intends to cover the nuts and bolts “boring” parts of game development.  Game development blogs tend to focus heavily on the “exciting” parts of game development… graphics, audio and pushing the boundaries of the meaning of the word exciting, algorithms.

 

DullAsDishwater on the other hand is going to focus on the boring minutiae that go in to every game.  Currently the only technical post covers dealing with mouse cursor sensitivity across display resolutions.  Not the most exciting thing, but one of those things you will have to deal with.

 

So here’s hoping he continues to keep up bored with new updates in the future.

Totally Off Topic


13. November 2012

 

Almost exactly one year ago today, I wrote this post discussing the impact a change in leadership at Microsoft had on all our lives.  The TL;DR version was, two senior VPs at Microsoft went head to head over the future of the company, one lost ( J Allard, father of the Xbox ) and one won, Steven Sinofsky.  Well, as of today, it is looking like Microsoft picked the wrong horse!

 

Simply put, after shipping Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky announced his departure.

 

This can have a pretty profound effect on future directions at Microsoft.  The fallout from J Allards departure were pretty massive.  From a developers perspective, lets see…  XNA has been axed.  Windows Phone 7.x has been axed.  Silverlight has been axed.  The Courier tablet was axed ( imagine the difference the world would have seen if Microsoft entered the tablet market *before* the iPad??? ). We now have Windows 8 as the target for every device, the Windows Store ( I have a feeling this one is an accountants decision, not Sinofsky’s ).  There have even been some micro-level changes as a result.  We have the increased focus on C++ and JavaScript at Microsoft, and the decreased focus on .NET.

 

What’s going to come next?  Who knows actually… and that part is kind of scary.  Agree with his decisions or not, Sinofsky got stuff done and had vision.  Is there a leader remaining?  It’s certainly not Ballmer, that man has been making epically stupid knee jerk decisions since taking the helm.  ( 34 billion for Yahoo?  8 billion for Skype?  )  I really don’t know what is coming next, but I will tell you one thing… up until about 8 months ago, I held Microsoft stock.  I sold it and if I held it today, I would be on the phone to my broker now.

 

That’s the shame too, as Microsoft has managed to recruit some of the best A-list programming talent in the world.  Too bad they can’t do the same thing for their management.  Then again, you aren’t going to fix management at Microsoft when you have an idiot at the helm… they tried that once bringing Ray Ozzie in and Ballmer pushed him out.

General Totally Off Topic


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