There are so many things I haven’t done. Sites I haven’t built, blogs I haven’t started, posts I haven’t published. Why should I, if what I’m doing has been echoed at least a hundred times elsewhere in the world?
That’s really been the downside of the Internet. There’s not really such a thing as a new idea anymore – we’re just rehashing bits of everything else.
And that sucks, for people like me, who fancy the idea of creating something unique and original. Something that’s unlike what exists today – to find (or even create) some gap in the worldwide market, then fill it.
The fact is, though, that it’s all been done before. The human life has been lived ten billion times in the last ten thousand years. Not until people start writing propulsion control software for faster-than-light drives will there be any significant breakthroughs in technology or creativity.
So then why do it? Why even bother, starting some site that’s been done a hundred times before, or some blog that’s almost identical to thousands of competing blogs in the same sphere? Why paint the same paintings, sing the same songs, do the same dances?
Because you’re doing it. Not them, not that world out there that’s everything but you. Fuck them. They’re not you, they’ll never be you, and you’ll never be them.
That’s the difference between a full portfolio and an empty life. Originality? The concept doesn’t really exist in the 21st century, and certainly not when it comes to online media. But that’s not what it’s about.
It’s not about making the first mark – it’s about making your mark. And despite the fact that you’re covering the same material, despite the fact that you’re copy-pasting ideas and methods followed by a hundred thousand other people, despite the fact that your content competes in a sea of thousands of near-duplicates, it’s you doing the work. It’s you that gets to list that stuff under “crap I’ve done”.
I know that this is the mental block that’s been holding me back for quite a while. I’ve left a lot of stuff unsaid, mostly because someone else said it first. And ultimately, I wouldn’t achieve anything in advancing the creater collective of human knowledge – but you know what? I’ve begun not caring. It’s not about what I can do for this world anymore, it’s about what I can do for me.
And through that, through creating something that’s uniquely mine, purely for the sake of creation, I’ll be creating something that quite simply didn’t exist before, and invariably, I’ll be doing the rest of the world some small favor. I’ll be giving it something of myself.
(2AM Mondays, gotta love ‘em)
Today is an important day in the history of Mininova. From now on, we are limiting Mininova.org to our Content Distribution service. By doing so, we comply with the ruling of the Court of Utrecht of last August. [link]
The law seems to have finally won out. Mininova was the largest (by traffic – I checked) torrent distribution site & tracker on the Web, and they’ve since been forced to close down. Not entirely, though – they’re now using their existing technology to offer a strict Content Distribution service to musicians, filmmakers, content owners, etc.
This should prove interesting. BitTorrent is a fantastic distribution platform, even if the majority use worldwide has been overwhelmingly piracy. Now we’ll get to see BT perform in its true capacity – as a medium for cost-effective content distribution.
It might also give movie distribution companies a nudge. Digital is quite simply the cheapest way of distributing stuff, since your main cost is bandwidth – and BitTorrent near eliminates that. If an account-based secured tracker actually functions, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see some major movie house release a Steam-like client for media, with the actual downloading taking place over a P2P network.
As it happens, ISP Axxess (YAY for my ISP!) has launched a beta service – movies on demand, offering paid-for movie downloads over local bandwidth. Pricing, etc still needs to be worked out, and it’s curious that they’d try it in a market like SA. Link: http://axxess.co.za/mod.php.
I’ll still have to give that MoD thingy a go…
Pretty much says it all, really…
One word: meh.
A few more: Generic. A distillation of everything BioWare, with a healthy dose of Tolkien.
Yes, it handles well, looks nice, etc etc, but it’s essentially the same game as SW: KOTOR II. And KOTOR was better. In KOTOR, you had lightsabers. And Force powers. And spaceships, aliens, swoop racing, pazzak, and everything was generally labelled in English, and there wasn’t this massive Codex Of All Knowledge you had to leaf through. Did I mention you had lightsabers?
I suppose the zeropunctuation review sums it up well, as well as the pervasive issues with games like this. Or, in fact, games produced by BioWare. Over the last few iterations, all they’ve really been doing is refining their Generic Machine Of RPG Gameplay, with new skins and voice acting. Way to go for profit – who needs to innovate when all you really need to do is re-license the same engine to different dev houses and make even more money that way?
That’s really the problem with games these days. None of them are really bad – they look good, play good, have stories and quests – it’s just that they’re all the same. The Industry has found a few formulas that work (DA, GTA, WOW, etc), and are just tweaking bits and pieces, selling the same stuff over and over and over again. Which saves on innovation costs, obviously.
So, yes, if you like swords and bows and arcane magic (nipped that one right from WOW, I reckon), DA satisfies that craving. Quite frankly, I’m in the process of rediscovering Evil Genius. Now that was a game…
I know that, at some point, I probably said something miserable about Steam. Ok, maybe a few miserable things. Quite a few. Fact is, up until yesterday, I honestly didn’t see the point – especially when you’re trying to install games you bought on CDs, that requires you to tie it to a Steam account before you can even launch it.
Score one down for sharing. I remember back in the late 90s when our whole street would be swapping 1.44″ floppies, registration be damned. THAT was social gaming – this new crap’s just competitive-slash-elitist.
Still, I hadn’t yet seen Steam in its Crowning Glory Mode: That is to say, digital game distribution. Then, yesterday morning, my SARS rebate came through, and since it’s money I didn’t plan for (at all), I figured I might as well poke around the listings. I quickly settled on a few games, based mainly on reviews and metacritic scores, purchased the lot, and started the downloads.
With the exception of Saints Row 2 (which I bought a disc for), My Games currently looks like:
That’s 3 games purchased and downloaded through Steam. I thought I’d probably stop at one, but then it proved itself to be a very capable system, with a much larger store than I originally anticipated. To date, I’ve spent nearly $80/R600 on Steam, and I’m willing to bet that, over the next month, it’ll become my first source for games. With several thousand in spend by this time next year >.>
Of course, in order to even use Steam, you first need ADSL. Preferably uncapped ADSL, in which you spend 1 amount per month regardless of usage (and then use the crap out of it). Which, in SA, costs an arm. Otherwise, you’re looking at additional costs to downloading your games.
For instance: The download for Dragon Age came in at 8GB, and just the game alone cost R370 through Steam. Add in topups for intl. cap to that, even at R40/gig, and you’re looking at a grand total of R890 to get the game. At that cost, you’re more likely to wait for the disc version.
Once ADSL is taken care of, Steam suddenly becomes easy, and much cheaper. With one advantage for trigger-happy psychotic reformatters like myself: Games are tied to accounts, which sucks when you need to activate them, but comes as a blessing when you need to change operating systems. Plus, Steam makes it easy to export a copy of your games. As a disc-less system, it works.
Now, of course, I need to turn all of that off. I promised myself I wouldn’t touch any of my purchases until my NaNo wordcount was back on track. And that’ll be quite a feat of authorship.
Somebody please explain to me what’s wrong in this screenshot:
(If you search for that at jump.co.za right now, you might even see those results yourself.)
Granted, Sims 1 has become a rare game, but a price difference of R960? You’re kidding me, right? As it happens, Amazon.com has Sims: Complete Collection on sale for $133, with a whole lot of second-hand versions listed (I’ve seen some as low as $15).
Chances are, both Have2Have and WantItAll would buy that game from Amazon and ship it in (or maybe they still have 1 or 2 in stock that they’re trying to move at below cost), but that doesn’t explain (nor excuse) a R960 price difference. Even less if they manage to get the game (in good condition) from a second-hand supplier.
I wonder how WantItAll even sustains itself as a business with massive margins like that – just about all their products are available elsewhere in SA, almost definitely for cheaper. Are people really that stupid? eCommerce is still relatively new in SA, so I doubt there’s any laws or regulations around imports and markups, but it wouldn’t surprise me if WantItAll would end up breaking those if they were ever formed.
I also wonder how many other online stores are out there, trying to take advantage of SA’s naivety when it comes to shopping online. Beyond the product and shipping, it’s not a privilege you have to pay heavily for.
Still, since you can’t criticize anything without providing alternatives these days, I’ll offer up the stores I use the most:
All of them, in my book, have done a fantastic job, and (especially in Take2’s case), at incredibly reasonable prices.
“Create or die” – short, memorable, and one of the more powerful mantras coined by http://gapingvoid.com. I felt I was getting bored with my 3D rendered desktops, so I put together one based on this slogan. I think it has just the right amount of psychotic prod, really, and so far, it’s helped. The jpeg is 1440×900, but you can safely center/zoom it – download here (right click, Save Link As).
Yes, dramatic post title, but at least it’s not “Wave sucks!” – I actually have a few reasons as to why Google’s latest techwonderchild might not have the impact the authors were hoping for.
Wave does one thing, and one thing well: Simplifies communication. However, like Einstein so rightly pointed out, simplify things as much as possible, but no further, and I reckon Wave’s going into that “no further” territory.
Pick a normal, natural, voice conversation (the ones we’re having less and less of every day). How does it flow? One person starts, mentally composes something, says it, and gives the other person/people time to digest it and respond. It’s a back-and-forth one-at-a-time exchange of information, and it’s proven to work in 1-on-1, 1-on-many, and many-on-many social groups.
Skype, for instance, does this extremely well. Single and group conversations, link, file and media sharing, group VoIP and webcam conferencing, all in one.
But now Wave comes along, and tries to push past that “realtime” barrier a little more. In Wave, you watch people typing while they type, and you can start responding before they’ve even finished their sentence. This is starting to infringe on the natural laws of conversation, and it’s got quite a few nasty side-effects.
For one, you know that person that always knows everything, and finishes your sentences for you? They’re generally not nice or productive people to talk to (generally – there are exceptions). It gets even worse when you’re one of those fast-paced people, trying to talk to someone who takes a lot of time to say what they’re trying to say.
There’s also SMS Syndrome. With shrinking character limits and instant transmission, ppl r strtng 2 tlk lik dis 2 sav spc nd gt d msg acrs quikr. To fit more into less, quicker, it wouldn’t surprise me to see people start adopting shortform for a lot of things that they say over Wave.
This has a long-term degradation effect, as English teachers are no doubt experiencing in the SMS-ridden classrooms of today.
And we’re not even at group conversations yet. In Wave, it’ll be a little bit like chaos. Everyone speaking at once, before anyone has even made a point, haphazardly dropping media and links into the conversation? How on earth would anyone get anything done? Imagine trying to have a thought train of your own if you have a railway exchange running through your brain – Wave will be just a little like that.
Oh, undoubtedly, over time, people will realise that the basic, fundamental laws of conversation still apply. Listen before speaking, etc, and will develop “waviquette” as a result. But then, if Wave is used like that, what is the point of having a system like this at all?
Everyone already has Skype, or MSN, or Google Talk, and the only things it doesn’t allow for? Realtime per-character conversations, playbacks (though it has conversation logs, which are arguably better, since you can reconsume at your own pace, as well as find specific stuff on demand), and possibly the only useful thing Wave has introduced: realtime translation.
Put realtime translation into the web-based Google Talk, and you effectively have all the features that people actually need from their IM application.
While no-one’s denying that Wave is impressive technology, a monumental achievement in what can be done with a browser, I don’t think the unenlightened masses of users will use Wave simply because it’s impressive. They’ll use it if it’s useful, and it looks like Google dropped off the steep end of the diminishing-returns graph here: Spending a lot of time and money developing features that are so beyond what people need, that people might not end up using them.
Everything here is based on my opinion of the service, and since you might have another, I have 10 invitations to get rid of give away – just drop a comment if you’d like one. I doubt I’ll be using Wave for anything professional (or personal) in the near future anyway.
Yes, I know, I haven’t blogged in a while. Or used Twitter, for that matter – last tweet is about 2 weeks ago. I’ve just been strangely busy, what with my newfound career in gaming and whatnot. Who actually has the time to sit and crank out digital drivel like this?
But now that you’re here, I will recommend a few other things that kept me busy:
- Hosted-WordPress.com – Having realised which part of the online marketing pie I’m excellent at, I decided to make a service out of it.
- Zero Punctuation – Game reviews tempered with, well, awesomeness. Like this one.
- Numerous failed attempts at developing something new. I’ll crack it eventually, though.
- Pondering whether or not to participate in NaNoWriMo-09. Last year was a total bust.
- Doctor Who – FUCKING AWESOME! If you haven’t seen any, you’re missing out!
Other than that, not much. Cruising, as they might say