Thursday, July 28, 2005

Revive You Don't Know Jack!

That's right people. If purported video game journalists can complain about having to cover news, then I, for the hell of it, can demand a new You Don't Know Jack! game. This was spawned by Justin's interview with Amanda Lannert, president of Jellyvision, over at Get The Sugar. Read the interview here.

But most importantly, do your part to revive the line with a new game! By signing this petition! (Because you all know how well internet petitions work.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jaffe's Gaffe? (or, Developer IP Part II)

Okay, God of War is getting a movie. It's a great game, and some of it's core themes, Greek mythology and barbarianism, are ones that game creator and director David Jaffe has enjoyed since school. (He said as much in a great interview over at Eurogamer.) But I'm wandering what, if any, compensation he will get from the movie. Bet your ass it's going to be well publicized that it's from a SONY videogame. But will he get a credit in the movie at all? And if so will it be as character creator, a nod like "Thanks to," or an even lesser "Sony would like to thank..."? Or will it wind up as just a trivia fact on Jaffe's IMDB page?

(edit: Thank Christ my doom and gloom thinking is completely wrong. He's involved in the pic, read about it on his blog here, and the whole process was started by a seemingly good crew, Mosiac Entertainment.)

I don't point this out to poke fun at Jaffe. He seems like a kickass guy that has made kickass games and runs a kickass blog. He likes comics and was a co-creator of Twisted Metal. Twisted Metal for Christ's sake! Wait, you didn't know that? Well, that's the problem I'm talking about. I write this to point out that there's a problem somewhere when a guy like this says:

the thing to understand about my perspective is that NAME ON THE BOX is a stepping stone to the more important aspect of CASH, and how much cash the publisher feels the key folks are worth (versus the brand name being more important). And if you look at it from a movie standpoint, you are right in that the majority of people choose genres before actors and choose actors before directors....butthe difference between games and movies in that respect is that even though most MOVIEGOERS don't know who MICHAEL BAY is or who TOM SHADYAC is (both huglely successful film directors), the STUDIOS DO know who they are and pay them many millions because of their track it's not about being recognized by game fans (or even laypersons)'s about getting the same kind of financial respect for proven ability and success that we see in other industries....My theory is that this is not happening right now in game because big game success game be generated via the BRAND NAME and an average game. BUT- once we get amazing game makers who mix art and commerce- then the publishers will see those kinds of games blowing away the average games that are jsut brand based and not emotionally/artistic ally driven.

Dude, you ARE an amazing game maker who's mixing art and commerce. Okay, granted you're not gaming's Orson Welles, on that front I blame Will Wright for being EA's bitch, but you've got a pretty damn good track record going. You should be complaining in your blog about a once-a-month-if-not-week phone call during family dinner from developers and other publishers looking to steal you away from Sony, but you won't leave because Sony has thrown fat cash at you. That you aren't says much about the industry. Unless, of course, you just aren't mentioning that part to us. And in that case, good for you.

Why many wannabes fail (or, Developer IP Part I)

Have you ever, for whatever reason, rediscovered a blog you completely forgot about? Well, Josh just linked to Psychochild's blog that I had somehow completely forgotten about. I like the guy, and I like his blog. While Josh points to a post on free speech, I was also drawn to a post on intellectual property in games.

I went to Full Sail, maybe you've heard of it. I was in their Game Design and Development program. And one surprising thing I discovered in going to a game-centric school program is that from my angle, the Industry looks a lot like the comic book industry. Often the coolest thing to do is play with the big boys toys. Many aspiring comic creators just want to work for Marvel. Many aspiring videogame creators just want to work on the next Final Fantasy, or with Blizzard or Nintendo. And that's why some of them never make it. They graduate, even doing excellent in class, and apply to four jobs that they want at companies they generally (as entry level applicants) have no chance at getting jobs at. And then they give up either going to application development or stop programming completely.

These people don't want to make their own games, they're just fans of existing IP. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a fan; I'm a fan of many characters/series/lines/etc. And I'm not talking the majority of wannabes here. But if you're a film fan, your goal probably isn't to make a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie. You may love the line, but that's someone else's IP. You should be making your own. Something that's important to you. That's why I'm amazed when a short while back I saw a post at Scott Miller's blog in which he said:
A good industry friend of mine is trying to start a new studio with some well known developers. He wrote to me: Scott, I've been making the rounds, pitching that idea for a new development studio -- where we retain the IP. Not an easy sell -- but no one has officially passed yet. Everyone asks -- "Why do you care so much about owning the IP?" I say, "So I can someday sell it, like 3D Realms!"
It's 2005 for Christ's sake. If a Big Name wants to make a movie off of your IP, but they required that they own all of the rights, you should laugh at them. If a Big Name wants to distribute your album, but wanted to own your catalog, you should call them insane. If a Big Name offers to print your comic but demands that own your character/story/artwork, they're just idiots to think you'd agree. If you believe in your work, why wouldn't you want to own it?

But, why do some wannabes just want to work on others' IP? I have no damn clue.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Microsoft embraces indy game devs.

The great news is that Microsoft not only has a plan to allow developers to purchase a devkit directly from them, but a free Prototype Kit to allow anyone to test their XBox code on PC hardware! Read it here! The bad news? It was announced in 2000, before the XBox launched, and to my knowledge a single kit was never shipped by this program. I've scoured Google and have found no mention of anyone working with these programs. I can't find any mention of them ever coming to fruition at all. It seems they were announced, a few individuals (sometimes people on one forum with one post) showed interest, and there was an internet-wide unspoken agreement to never mention them again. What became of it? I'm not sure, but my guess is the it is the direct precursor to both the XBox Live Marketplace and XNA.

Back in January of this year I actually emailed Microsoft about this program, and much to my suprise, I actually got a human response! Score one for Microsoft's customer service! I emailed:
I'm looking for information about the XBox Independent Developer Program. All I've been able to find on it are mentions of the original press release ( Was this program scrapped, or is the XBox Prototype Kit still available to independent developers as part of XBox's Registered Developer Program?

I'm emailing on behalf of myself and four associates, the majority of
whom have graduated from Full Sail: Real World Education
( A large reason we're interested is
because of the possibilities that we see for small development teams
in the XBox Live Arcade.

If you are able to give me any information that may help me, or are
able to point me toward someone who could, I would greatly appreciate
it. Feel free to email me back at this address which I check daily,
or contact me by your preferred means.
Followed by my name/number/address/etc. The reply was as follows:
Mr. Bridges,

The program you mentioned is no longer in operation. We have a Registered Developer Program, but it is only open to established studios. While you would be unlikely to be accepted into the Xbox Registered Developer Program, there is a viable alternative for smaller and/or independent developers. The Xbox console is built around DirectX, and any expertise you develop using DirectX on a Windows PC will be of great use on any future work you may do on Xbox. Other advantages to developing for Windows are the ease and low cost of access to tools and hardware. I would encourage you to develop prototypes using Windows and DirectX and to use those to interest publishers in your work. The DirectX SDK and a wealth of developer resources may be freely accessed at

Thank you for considering the Xbox console as your development platform and good luck with your efforts.

Scott xxxxxxxx
Microsoft Corporation

So basically, "No, you can't develop for XBox hardware, go program for PC." But I don't blame Scott; it's not like he cut the program, right? (I've got my eye on you, Scott.) And I appreciate his info about Direct X, even if I already knew it. He was as helpful as he could have been. I see this and say "Well, okay, let's make a game and shop it around for publishers. No doubt some of them are going to be making XBox Live Arcade games anyway. Maybe they'd look at our stuff. And my friends, whom I thought were as gung-ho as I was, decided pursuing individual careers would be best (and as of this date, one of us five has a job programming. They're all great guys, mind you.)

But now I see Microsoft is building the X360 around XNA as opposed ot Direct X. Hey, why help the gaming industry out for free when you can instead charge people to be stuck with your code? Code that Microsoft possibly won't support in a few years if the X360 and their constant framework changes are any indication.

(After this and the 'Someone Bitchslap Greg Costikyan' post titles, I'm really going to try to cut back on the sensationalistic titles and instead rely on my wit, I promise. Wish me luck.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I call BS.

San Andreas recalled? If hardcore pornography was submitted for approval by the MPAA do you know what it would receive? An NC-17. Why? That's the strictest rating that the MPAA has. How about in the case of music albums? Oh, wait, they don't have age-limits. They only have one sticker that is absent if the album is completely wholesome (in a mind-numbingly pointless way.) What in San Andreas would require someone be 18 years or older to purchase that they could not get at the age of 17 from a film? Anyone? So why is 17 years old inappropriate for people to buy this game at? I've seen posts calling this decision 'saddening' and 'out of hand', but it's more than that. It's complete bullshit. And the worst part of it? It's all voluntary.

And I know it's easy for someone (namely me) to talk trash when they have nothing on the line, but at what point is it the job of Rockstar to coddle every child that may possibly play their game? Obviously even they shied away from releasing the actual content for people to play. Think about that. Rockstar said "okay, this is too much." This is the Rockstar that said killing people in GTA3 is equivalent to Pac-Man eating dots! (And they were right.) Come to think of it, I'm not disappointed about all of this uproar about the content. I'm disappointed that Rockstar was so quick to buckle. And I'm downright pissed that Rockstar didn't include it from day one. I'm pro-"entertainment with sick and twisted shit." Requiem For A Dream was an amazing movie. Go ahead, give it the AO rating. People will still buy it. It's Grand Theft Auto for Christ's sake.

In an interview over at Cathode Tan, Jeff Freeman (a designer with Star Wars Galaxies, and more impressively a parent,) best summed up the the problem by talking about the attitude of most parents. "I can't stop my little children from playing 37 hours a week of Baby-Killer 3, because I don't understand this little letter on the box it came in!"

In fact, Mr. Freeman even goes on to make another great point in his blog about abolishing either the M or the AO rating. Why differentiate between 17 and 18 at all? Y'know, I like that Freeman guy. Hell, I'm tempted to go buy Star Wars: Galaxies in support of such a common sense attitude. Wonder how much I can trade in my copy of San Andreas for...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The pants in the gaming family

This whole post is more or less a look at another post, this post. David Jaffe, designer of the fantastical PS2 game God of War, made a post a few weeks ago regarding a Deconstruction Group he sat in on. The Deconstruction Group, in David's words:

It was started by the head of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences along with two other key industry folks (one is a game writer, the other heads up the USC game department). Every 3-6 weeks the group takes over a game company's conference room in So Cal (this week it was Naugty Dog), invites a bunch game industry folks, and has a few USC grad students play the key parts of interesting and popular games. As they play, the indsutry types network and chat and discuss the game, while the grad students deconstruct the game, explaining what worked for them, what did not, etc....It's a really cool idea and helps those of us that are sometimes too busy making our own games to explore the newer titles. It's also a nice time to meet up with people in the biz, say hey to old buddies, and make new ones!

Sounds like a great concept to me. He goes on to say "God of War was lots of fun to see being played, chat about,etc....BUT it was when Psychonauts came up that sparks started to fly." And a discussion about developer's rights ensued. He goes on to say "those publisher execs are right in that consumers purchase brands, not games made by specific teams or by specific designers....but they are only right FOR THE TIME BEING...." My God this guy needs to spend more time with Dave Perry, Jason Rubin, and Scott Miller. The time is now! Seize the day! Etc!

Of course the "knock-out punch" in my book is Jason Booth saying "
It allways cracks me up when publishers say that branding the developer dilutes the brand of the title. If that were the case, then they wouldn't put "EA" on the box at all. Try pitching that to them."

The moral of this post? Just a bunch of questions. The Deconstruction Group is a great idea, and I have to wonder how common such things are. And seriously, what are some developers thinking? "It's okay if I don't get credit. One day people will recognize our genius on their own?!"

I mean, most casual gamers I know think that EA makes all of the games with 'EA' on them. Good job developers. Since Atari you've done little but give yourself over as indentured servants to publishers for the glorious opportunity to work in games. As a result, when Atari crashed publishers came around and bought everything for pennies on the dollar and they continue to do it today as a course of normal business that it's quickly forgotten. EA bought Criterion for $48 million. You don't think Burnout, the upcoming Black, and Renderware are worth that much? It's like someone wanted to get rid of Criterion.

And how scary is it when developers are okay with EA saying "having your game associated with you will hurt the game," but I and others like me, folks who wants to get jobs desperately, have huge issues with applying at EA?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The perfect "Hot Coffee" analogy

Eureka! I've found an analogy that conveys to those (often non-programmers?) who don't get why I don't hold Rockstar North/Take-Two responsible.

If I downloaded and applied a patch to San Andreas that caused the game to crash and never work until I uninstalled and re-installed the entire game, does that mean Rockstar/Take-Two put out a shoddy product? Do they owe me a refund? Because I can write such a patch in a heartbeat. Hell, I can do that for any game. If I did, would it be the job of Rockstar North/Take-Two to make sure that such code changes didn't affect the game? If not, why not? It's the exact same thing that Patrick Wildenborg did to make the 'Hot Coffee' missions playable? If RN/TT is responsible in his case, why not mine?

And if you think that they are responsible for my changing the code to introduce a crashing bug... Wow.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Someone bitchslap Greg Costikyan

Seriously, after this post... I don't see the problem why anyone should be angry with Rockstar or Take Two over the Hot Coffee mod. At least not yet. I, like Greg Costikyan, assume that the content (minigame code, animations, and other resource files, are all included on the San Andreas disc. (edit: It is. Here are the Action Replay Max codes to play it on your PS2.) But he (and others) take Rockstar to task for even allowing it on the disc, available to players or not. From his blog:
However, I think it likelier that this is entirely and wholly intentional. It is, in fact, standard industry practice to include game features that are not "public," and release knowledge of them later semi-surreptitiously, to spur a little more gamer interest and public exposure. That's why we have cheats.


So if I'm right--that is, if the material is indeed on the disc, and Rockstar not only knew but approved its inclusion--Rockstar seriously deserves a bitch-slapping.

Here's what I proposed: The ESRB should refuse to give any Take Two product a rating for the next two years. They can release their games as unrated if they want--and good luck getting them into Wal-Mart.
I think that's a bit much. It's no secret that developers leave extra features hidden for later release. But it's also no secret that developers often leave junk data on discs. Just read up on Halo, where the flame-thrower, gravity gun, and other items were discovered. Fable left traces of items, characters, and even an unfinished level on the gamedisc. Knights of the Old Republic 2 left the majority of the original ending to the game, that was completely scrapped and replaced by a much-lamented "shoddier" ending in time to make their release date, all on the game disc. And players love to look on discs to see what else developers have left behind. So, was it obvious that someone would look around San Andreas? I would say no. Because I've never heard of someone looking on the other GTA discs for loose info. Why not? I don't know. But I haven't heard of it.

The real question comes in when you ask the question of "how did the patch author find out about this?" If he did it by searching the disc and finding it through old-fashioned ingenuity? Fine. Kudos to him and everyone should get off of Rockstar's back. A developer having unintentional material unearthed from a disc was going to happen one day, and it's today. This is a warning to all developers. They now all know. But if Take Two did this on purpose, then I'm for a punishment, but two years of no rated games? How about, instead, we try to think up new ways to educate non-gamers on how games are just as relevant as any other field? No movie would be rated NC-17 for minute-long depictions of sexual scenes. And the number of unnecessary times it can be played, like the number of times a viewer would rewind a movie to watch the scene, is inconsequential. Do we really want to do our best to set the bar so low for AO games?

So, please. Someone bitchslap Greg Costikyan. (I almost apologize for the attention-whoring post title. It was too good to resist! :D Nothing but love, Greg! Nothing but love!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I'm Jeffool. Welcome to my blog.

Hi. I'm new to gameblogging. Hell, I'm practically new to blogging. Sure I've got four posts, but those are largely posts that were started when I initially got the bug to blog. So, this is what I should've started off with but never got around to, the introduction. Hi, I'm Jeffool. Sound silly? I choose Jeffool partly for branding reasons (because my real name, "Jeff Bridges" is impossible to google and get results for me,) and partly because, well, I've used it for so long in games and on the internet that I'm sticking with it. It's worked fine for me so far.

I started blogging because I like to talk (, or write as it is,) and conversation helps me flesh out my ideas and opinions. I have no doubts about no one/few people reading this, and that's cool. It's just a place for me to stretch my mental legs as it is. I'm a programmer by habit; I have an Associates of Science from Full Sail. (Which isn't a bad place, despite the rumors. There's some good teachers there.) While in school I found Jamie Fristrom's blog. Before, I was anti-blog, but now, well, I am a blogger. Blame him.

I do hope to one day join the commercial games industry, and to be honest, I want to change the world. Hey, why half-ass it? I have a bit of an ego sometimes. But I think I'm generally an affable guy. I enjoy programming, but that's not why I chose games. I chose games because I want to make my own games. Programming is a means to do that. Just like if someone wanted to make their own comic, they better learn to draw.

More or less, I'm just a gamer with a blog.

Friday, July 08, 2005

What do we make of China?

Terra Nova asked a very important question the other day. They noted Blizzard's localizing of WoW for China. When looking at the aspect of 1.3 billion new consumers potentially entering the gaming market, "What do we make of China? And what do we make of Chinese gamers, now and in the future?" Two easy answers for that one. The first? Family.

1.3 Billion potential gamers. What could we do except welcome them with open arms? They outnumber us, but more importantly they are us. Granted WoW-China will have it's own servers, but eventually we'll all be playing the same games anyway. What to do isn't much of a debate; games are an excellent learning tool. Maybe this potential interaction will help us learn from each other. Maybe even more interesting, we can study how we all play and compare. After all, if we are so different, it would seem that we would be different at play as well. So, that's what we do. We watch, we interact, and we learn. And hopefully we all get along.

The second answer is we fight. This is what will really happen. Need proof? Play Halo 2 on XBox Live sometime. I can't go five games without being called either a 'nigger' or 'faggot'. Try it sometime. Sometimes it's enough to just make me put the controller down and walk away. Similar points were made by Brooks Brown, the Columbine student who spoke about video game violence, and the blame to be placed on children who go wrong. And think MMORPGs are different? Think players are more 'enlightened'? I'd agree largely, but it's not like it doesn't exist. From the makes-you-wonder hijinks of Leeroy Jenkins to just plain name calling, it happens.

Though there was one thing that gave me hope. Pardon me while I tell a tale.

Playing Halo 2 I was on a team with three other English speakers, and four guys who seemingly spoke an Asian language. It was an eight-on-eight battle and we absolutely wiped the other team out, scoring 3-1 on Capture the Flag. Almost like it was planned the second the game started the four English speakers took the vehicles and went to get the other teams flag. We lost a guy, but we managed to come back with the flag. The second we jumped out to put the flag in the base and score, the non-English speakers were taking off with the vehicles to score on their own, and they did it without losing a guy. After that we lost the vehicles, but we all ran up the same side of the map, grabbed the enemy flag, and ran back. The enemy only took our flag once and got it half-way. (We met them on the way back the third time and killed them, leaving some guys to guard the flag, while others took their flag to our base.)

Sure it's just one story. And it's not a rosy picture of pleasantly working together interchangeably... But it's a start. And it was great. The moral? Hopefully we'll do more learning and playing, and less hating and assholing. (Yes, assholing.)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Narratology v. Ludology: My opinion.

Why read my opinion?  You've read the opinion of everyone else under the sun on interactive storytelling, so why not?  So, is it possible?  Sure.  Will it happen?  Yup.  Will it be good?  Sometimes.

Just like any other game, sometimes it'll be a pain, sometimes it will be amazing, and sometimes it will be completely inconsequential.  The thing I don't get why people make such a big deal out of it.  Let the narratologists do their thing.  Let the ludologists do theirs.  Occasionally stop in the others camp and say "Hey, how's it going?  Invented the Citizen Kane of interactive storytelling yet?"  "No.  How's that 'game that can make you cry' coming along?"  "Fine."  Live together and be done with it.  Blah.  Seems to me it's a lot of noise about nothing.

The narratologists are seemingly convinced that the world will implode.  "It's impossible," they say, "Impossible!"  Of course the ludologists usually aren't too different.  "It WILL work, and when it does, narrative stories will be the thing of movies and books!  Games will rule the media landscape!"  Y'know what really scares both groups of people?  What if it works?  I mean, what if we DO get the genuine "interactive story" up and going strong?  What happens then?  Who will be right?  My guess?  Neither.  Games will still be relegated to second class citizen status in the world of media for some time regardless of what they offer.  (Acceptance only comes with maturity.)

But supposing it does happen soon, do ludologists really think anything will change?  It'll be relegated to bullet-point status immediately.  Narratologists calm your fears, you'll still have jobs in a decade's time.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Variety in Games, and How We Lost Creativity

Commercially successful indy film, music, books, and comics all offer a huge variety to the mainstream forms of each entertainment and nearly without-fail have much fewer resources at hand and a higher (or equal) financial bar to clear.

And I think the lack of this happening isn't even a technological impetus, but a problem of distribution. We've all made programs that we send to our friends over the internet that do something nifty, if not a tiny game we thought up and wanted to get an opinion on.

Game makers can do this, but it severely hampers the potential consumer base. (It's just a matter of customers being technically proficient and knowing what they're getting into. So few gamers are willing to buy a new game from a complete unkown over the internet. We're just not 'there' yet. Why? That's another post.) But I honestly think that when the people who made Eets, Gish, Hapland, or even interactive fiction are able to burn (or have pressed) discs and sell them out of the trunk of their car, then you'll see variety in gaming. Hell, then people will complain about too much choice.

This entire post started out as a reply to something I read over at Brett Douville's blog a bit back, but I decided to make it a blog post instead. Now that I'm finally blogging, here it is. Brett said:
Lately I'm really interested in how costs can be lowered so that the bar to entry gets low enough for there to be single auteurs, or at the very least, a smaller set of auteurs. I'm starting to wonder if that's not the way to get more interesting games.

Sure, there are means by which single auteur games can get made, but they are unlikely to see distribution beyond a very small group. Interactive fiction continues to be alive, but it's a small audience and there's not really a way to make money from it.
I couldn't agree more on his saying smaller teams could be good for games. It's definitely possible for two hundred essentially nameless film professionals to make a good movie from a script handed down to them from their bosses in the movie company. There's a tiny chance it'll even be a great movie. But you give Robert Rodriguez and a crew of twenty of his guys a camera and you'll get a movie I'd pay to see without knowing anything about it. It makes perfect sense to me that smaller teams (or those with a more unified vision that they actively care for) could make a more cohesive game. (Given the technical proficiency to pull it off, of course.) It only makes sense that more people on a team means more interpretations of any given aspect of said game, and that more team members are more likely to not be interested at all.

Need proof? I recently read in Game Developer magazine that EALA (EA Los Angeles) is adopting Will Wright's concepts of "cells" in which during the time no game is being produced, groups of 7 developers form and brainstorm on ideas. Yup. They've officially co-opted creativity and taken it away as a tool for the small dev to get a leg-up. It was small dev's last weapon, but now the fields are truly even and the creativity itself will be judged.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Gaming Needs Gizmos.

Today I saw yesterday's post over at Penny Arcade that mirrored the opinions of a post from the same day by Josh of Cathode Tan. They both lament the lack of consoles that allow user-created code to be executed. But I have the answer. Games need more gizmos.

Well, 'a' GISMOS, actually. Gaming and Interactive Simulation Machine/Open Standard. But for marketing purposes I'll settle on calling it this new console a Gismo. Yes, Games needs a new console. Not just any console, mind you, but one that applies a base standard and is open to all producers. Now you're asking "What the hell are you talking about?" DVDs are a standard. All DVD players will play a 'standard' DVD. And anyone can produce a DVD; WB, Sony, Fox ,etc.
And anyone can produce a DVD player; Toshiba, Samsung, etc. Games needs the same.

I initially thought "the first console manufacturer to do this will be my hero!" But then reality sets in as I realize there that it will not come from within games. This is a case of evolution vs.
revolution, and revolution is the only way. The current hardware manufacturers lose money on hardware and make money on licensing the right to publish games for their console, so they'd obviously be insane to create an open standard for Games. They're vying for a monopoly on what they want Game Consoles to become. You know, Consoles as "an in-road to the center of the household with one unit that will control every thing about a house." You've heard the
bullshit line before. It will be your game player, movie player, music player, and your DVR for movies, music, TV, not to mention your VoIP-phone.

They won't be Game Consoles at all. They'll be 'Media Managers'.

But you won't be replacing your all of those contraptions in your entertainment center with one small box. Nope. If this game keeps up eventually you'll have it slam full of Media Managers. One for Sony products, one for Fox, and one for Microsoft (with associated 3rd party content creators.) Of course this doesn't count the Nintendo game console that you'll have to keep on the floor due to lack of room. Think I'm crazy? Let's see if the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD groups can compromise rather than release two competing formats, each backed by different companies.

Now let's look at the future on the opposite end of the spectrum. The hardware producers decide that graphics are finally cooling down and that entering the game consoles business doesn't mean getting into a hardware war they will never win. They decide that customers have realized that graphics aren't everything. Hardware manufacturers offer Sony, MS, and Nintendo the chance to help join their standards board at the ground floor and form the gaming platform of the future. Which of these three would accept this?

Surely not Sony. Their marketing and hardware has them with a solid lead this generation with the PS3. And they make their money by licensing games for their hardware. And Microsoft? They've lost so much money on the XBox and X360 hardware that to quit two systems in
would be insane. Especially considering the ground they've covered in becoming a strong second in the consoles with the X360. Nintendo? Here's something interesting. Now in third, what do they do? They have a shot at being the sole company whose IP would be in this new format, assuming the format succeeded. So why wouldn't they do it? They quit the hardware war with the Revolution. They've long been the only company to make money off of hardware. Sure they're in third, but they're turning profit.

So, none of the current console manufacturers make the move. (Maaaybe Nintendo, if they realize their strongest suit is their software.) Now, this isn't a new idea by any means. Lots of people have thought about it and even blogged about it. But it's an idea whose time is nearly here. As graphical improvements slow down the likelihood increases. The question is "Who would but it?" If it was an open standard that allowed me to run my own games? I sure as hell would. And I'm sure many other "hardcore gamers" and "hobbyists" would just so they could have trade homebrew. But what game developers would support it? In today's world of DRM-hysteria game companies are looking at ways to stop piracy, not make it as easy as DVD and CD piracy.

They could allow a scheme like CSS on DVDs, but gamers are a more technical crowd. That'll be taken apart in no time. Any have serious suggestions on how to allow homebrew but not allow rampant piracy of copyrighted games?