patent suit hits NCSoft

 Posted by (Visited 7634 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , ,
Dec 302008

A while back I mentioned that had made known the intention to sue over their virtual world patents.

Now the other shoe has dropped, as Virtual Worlds News reports that they filed suit against NCSoft on Christmas Eve.

The patents in question deal with the notion of network culling on the server in 3d worlds, trimming down the set of things sent to the client based on server-side visibility algorithms. really is a pioneer in the space — WorldsAway Worlds Chat being one of the early VW systems in the first half of the 90s. The earliest forms of the patents were filed in 1996, so pretty much all of the big 3d MMOs are later.

That said, there’s still plenty of earlier work done on network culling and yes, even 3d, and of course there’s a lot of money at stake, so expect a fight.

Catching up on reading: Ysabeau Wilce

 Posted by (Visited 6187 times)  Reading  Tagged with:
Dec 302008
Flora's Dare by Ysabeau Wilce

Flora's Dare by Ysabeau Wilce

Just finished the lavishly titled Flora’s Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room), which is itself the sequel to the similarly sesquipedalian Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog.

Picture (if you can) an alternate San Francisco named Califa, where magic is spoken in sigils called Gramatica, where there lives an adventurous fourteen year old girl named Flora, descended from a noble house (all the noble houses have what appear to be semi-Scandinavian names, despite the liberal use of Aztec and other Mexican verbiage).

Flora desperately wants to be a Ranger, like her paperback (sorry, “yellowback”) idol Nini Mo. She seems to be well on her way, as long as she doesn’t get killed what with the entanglements with the tentacles in the trendy club’s potty, the fact that her maybe-boyfriend has gone Goth with the Warlord’s daughter, her maybe-psycho father is forcing her to take lots of lessons over her school break, and oh, let’s not forget the city may crumble because of earthquakes and it’s possible that the precarious political situation of Califa may crumble, what with the anarchists and all.

If Harry Potter had been written by China Mieville, maybe it would read like this. It’s worth your time.  Besides, the Official Web Site of Ysabeau Wilce gets across enough of the flavor that you should be able to decide that Califa (and Flora!) are worth visiting. After all, it’s not like you were going to read Twilight, right? You have better taste than that. Plus, the author’s name is Ysabeau. Come on, you can’t possibly resist.

Am also midway thru Elantris, and so far it deserves its acclaim…

Dec 292008

Once you know the shape of the passage, and just how rough the road,
You’d think that it would be easier, but it’s still so hard to go.

We always have to part at the doorway, as I put on my shoes;
You give me a jacket and that wistful smile, and say “Careful out there, silly goose.”

Maybe the issue is the things that I can see that are left behind;
There are parts of me you’re keeping close, and parts of me lost to time.

There are boxes full of our old aspirations, and that one there holds our youth,
There’s crazy music coming from that one — and that one used to have truth.

When there are bridges to cross that sway in the wind, and adventure at every turn,
Wild jungles full of mystery and so many new things to learn,

I always mention that you could come, but you just always shake your head:
“Too much to do here at home, someone has to make the bed…”

But do these shelves hold all of the meaning?
If the dust is blown off, can we fly with the sun?

Or do these these pages sit here, quiet,
until all of the sun setting is done?

I try to remember to bring back a gift, from all those foreign climes
But somehow most of them are dust, even if I get them home in time.

“I swear, this was gold, that was precious diamond, and this one here was fragrant wine…”
But you brush them aside with relief in your eyes, and choose instead to hold me tight.

You say you know the shape of the passage, and just how rough the road.
You act like it should be easy for you now, but it’s still so hard to let go.

Dec 282008

The Experimental Gameplay Workshop has issued its call for submissions for 2009. Jonathan Blow says

It’s a two-hour showcase of unusual and cutting-edge game designs. Each designer gives a ten- or fifteen-minute presentation of each game, including a live demo.

We’re now looking for submissions for the 2009 workshop, which will be happening in March. If you make unconventional kinds of games, I encourage you to apply. Or, tell your friends. Or do both.

For me “telling your friends” means blogging it, so I did. 🙂

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Laptops have overtaken desktops

 Posted by (Visited 8260 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Dec 262008

In another display of the ways in which the world of PC gaming is shifting, laptop shipments exceeded that of desktops for the first time ever in the third quarter of ’08.

A big part of the reason? Netbooks, which are

  • skimpy on graphics hardware, and can’t run big AAA games
  • often don’t even have an optical drive from which to install big games
  • super-portable, thanks to small screens that have resolutions as low as 1/4 the resolution of a desktop monitor
  • fundamentally designed to be connected

The shift here is notable, because it all speaks to convenience rather than immersion. Small bites, not big ones. In fact, the Acer Aspire One netbook was the #3 seller in consumer electronics, behind a 52 inch TV and the 8GB iPod.

I was struck by the fact that there’s a whole song on the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog DVD commentary musical “Commentary!” (uh… just go get it, it’s too hard to explain) that is about a game. Not Far Cry 2. Not Left 4 Dead. No, it was about Ninja Rope. Usually if our industry gets big shoutouts from other media, it’s for a AAA game… But they played Ninja Rope on an iPhone — a transitional device halfway between a phone and a netbook itself.

Meanwhile… Amazon doesn’t even mention the PS3 and the 360 sales this holiday season, focusing instead on how the Wii dominated the charts; going into Xmas, there were as many Wiis in households as 360s and PS3s combined. Again — lower res, simpler controls, simpler games (which has some folks really mad!).

I wonder what a true AAA game designed for a netbook would look like?