E3 Finale Podcast Thoughts

After all the hype and craziness I finally made some time to check out the closing E3 Bombcast and decided I should collect my thoughts in a blog post.

 Hello, nice to see you Bradley

First off, Leigh Alexander caused quite the stir on the internet and while I don’t want to dwell on this any further I do have to address it. Plain and simple, Leigh is not an interesting podcast guest. Her laughable attempts to present herself as the professional business journalist were intermixed with cries of “Fuck Boston”, slurred explanations and apologies for her past appearance, and the ridiculous Activision party budget fabrication.   I felt bad listening to Barnett just rip her for it, but it was completely deserved.

The "Leigh is embarrassing herself" signal 
My favorite Leigh moment was when she molested the just arrived Mr. Shoemaker while everyone else made the gang sign: 

Having said all that, it’s too bad she’s being personally attacked on twitter. She certainly poured gasoline on the fire with some of her comments though…

I think that after a couple years of E3 podcasting we now have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the finale podcast. A chaotic booze-fuelled clusterfuck that frequently goes right off the rails. Sometimes this creates great entertainment, other times it’s just hard to listen to. I understand where the guys are coming. They’ve been busting their asses for the duration of the show and they’re ready to celebrate. It’s just too bad because there are seeds of interesting discussion that can never really get off the ground due to fatigue and brewskies. You can see it in their faces at times, just too damn tired to get invested in the deep stuff.

Paul Barnett has just surpassed John Davison as my favorite video game industry person to listen to. The man can tell a story like no other and brings an amazing perspective. Both his bread maker analogy and William Shattner story were great examples of this. I just wish we could listen to him in a more traditional podcast with fewer guests and more order.

I found the other guests were good. Dino seemed especially cool. I enjoyed Pope’s bumbling attempt to exclusively reveal his Rock Band track list, which turned into a podcast-long joke.

Despite the madness, the crew had an extraordinary show and pumped out the most interesting E3 content I saw on the web. 

   
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Some Thoughts on Internet Usage Caps - International Perspective

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m motivated to post this blog because of the quest system. I’m not proud to say that, but these are the facts. 

  

From following Ryan Davis on twitter I have been really interested to hear his comments regarding Comcast’s Internet usage caps. Ryan was expressing concerns about a 250 GB cap limiting his Internet experience. I understand that when you have unlimited usage and all of a sudden your provider imposes a cap, you’re going to be upset. Nobody likes having a service that is taken away or scaled back. Ever. But it did kind of make me chuckle when I considered it from a different perspective.

Although I'm not an expert in global bandwidth charges, I really believe that many users outside of the United States have a rather different set of expectations for their high-speed internet. Even in Canada, we have had much greater restrictions in my experience.

I had been using a 1 Mbps connection for years through Rogers (the major cable/internet/mobile provider here in Canada). Now this was never the fastest package they offered, but it always suited my needs and for 35 bucks a month I could deal. Now I don’t remember the exact moment, but at some point a 60 GB download cap was put in place for the package. I dealt with this for the most part, with small overages from time to time. But as the years passed and more and more content became available online, this cap became a larger concern.

Rogers then proceeds to “adjust their product offerings” and takes the speed from 1 to 3 Mbps on my package. Bonus right? Well, not when they also brought a usage cap decrease from 60GB to 25GB. Yeah, 25 gigabytes. Totally unacceptable you say? You’re damn right.

After some strategic retention department phone calls, I was able to upgrade to a 10Mbps 95 GB usage cap package for nearly the same price (normally this is a $60/month package). This 95 GB is still nowhere near the 250 GB cap in place from Comcast.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that outside of the USA, bandwidth is a major issue. It’s just not always available at the speeds, quantity and value that many are accustomed to. This is very important to consider whenever you start talking about digital distribution of content. Often when the subject of digital vs. retail copies of games or music comes up, the issues that are talked about are issues with DRM or the satisfaction of having a physical thing on your shelf in your collection (although I agree that these are both legitimate concerns).  

When the digital pipeline is being throttled so badly that it affects how you are using the internet, there is a major problem. No end user should have to look at their “account usage to date” when they make a decision about what they will visit, stream or download online. Until this problem is fixed for the wider global audience, there will be a major obstacle in the widespread adoption of digital content. 

 

I’d be interested to hear perspectives from other users, especially as it relates to your local options. Thanks for checking in.

  

   
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Reasonable Thoughts on Steam for Mac

I’ve been thinking about the whole idea of Valve bringing Steam to Mac for a while and I think we could look back on this as a very significant event in the years to come. 

First of all, I think it’s important to get some background on my perspective because fanboys can easily spin this type of talk out of control in a hurry. I grew up playing PC games starting with a 386 machine. Shareware games like Crystal Caves, Lost Vikings, and Jazz Jackrabbit are how I started out in gaming. I had a few upgrades along the way and I was really exclusively a PC gamer until I purchased a Playstation right at the ends of it’s life. I’m definitely happy working with PCs and have no problems using them whatsoever.

This past fall I purchased laptop for Teacher’s College and decided to go with a 13” Macbook Pro because I fell in love with the form factor, relatively good performance and battery performance. I would have been happy going with a PC but could never find something I was totally happy with. At the end of the day, whether it’s a Windows or Mac OSX machine, I’m fine either way. 

So on to the topic…

I’ve been drawn back in to PC gaming and the lure of building a machine and enjoying some good old mouse and keyboard action. Better judgment has prevailed and I’ve decided that for both practical and financial reasons I just don’t need to build a desktop PC. Still, browsing through the Steam catalogue, I find it hard to resist some of the older games I really love like KOTOR, Unreal Tournament and Half-Life.

Also, Valve is incredibly smart. They know computer gaming better than any other developer/publisher out there. They know how to create games that suck people in and keep them hooked. If I had to trust any developer across any platform with a project, Valve would be in my top two picks (the other being Blizzard, who also support Mac gaming...).

Here’s where PC fanboys could get irritated. The apple market is growing, like it or not. Like crazy. All you need to do is walk around a college or university campus library and look around. You’ll see young people with macbooks, iPods and iPhones everywhere. Younger people are in to Macs and Apple’s various iterations of their products will continue to keep these people sucked in. Many of these users are more casual computer users. They love their Mac and they are scared of PCs because they’ve had bad experiences with viruses, spyware or other problems (usually caused by their own ignorance).  These people like to play games on their iPhones, there’s no reason they wouldn’t play games on their Macbooks.

I think the real clincher for this whole venture could be how apple chooses to support Steam. Joystiq’s recent interview with John Cook from Valve confirmed that they have been working with Apple on the Steam for Mac project. If Apple continues their support in the launch and support of Steam for Mac, they could help to bridge the gap between Mac users and Valve’s game offerings. Apple’s marketing and PR is a powerful machine that has a huge impact on their users.

Very curious to hear how you feel about this topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for checking in.

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