Category Archives: Things Disliked

Upsetting, dismaying, or otherwise unenjoyable.

A Moment Of Disturbing Honesty From Activision

Stephen Totilo of MTV reporting on a moment of honesty from today’s Activision/Blizzard earnings call, emphasis mine:

During today’s Activision Blizzard earnings call, a financial analyst asked the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, why the company didn’t keep all of Vivendi’s games when the two gaming companies merged.

The analyst didn’t name any games, but technically, he had to be referring to the likes of “Ghostbusters,” “50 Cent: Blood On The Sand” and the new “Riddick,” which all appear to have found new publishing homes…

Kotick responded not by addressing any of the games by name, but by talking about Activision’s publishing philosophy. The games Activision Blizzard didn’t pick up, he said, “don’t have the potential to be exploited every year on every platform with clear sequel potential and have the potential to become $100 million dollar franchises. … I think, generally, our strategy has been to focus… on the products that have those attributes and characteristics, the products that we know [that] if we release them today, we’ll be working on them 10 years from now…You still need to have production of new original property but you have to do it very selectively… the focus at retail and for the consumer is to continue to be on the big narrow and deep high profile release strategy… We’ve had enough experience that I think the strategy we employ is the most successful.”

I suppose I can appreciate the honesty, but as a gamer, I couldn’t be more nauseated.

That’s not to say I’m particularly surprised – what was the last significant franchise they created?

Tony Hawk? 1999.

Call Of Duty? 2003.

Guitar Hero? 2005.

I often love the games that are too quirky, too weird, too inaccessible, or too obscure for the mass market. And it’s sad that a company that was there when I started gaming 25 years ago has become so unwilling to take risks with their titles.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

They’re going to throw a lever and detach the tower-cable’s clip, and the man in sockless Banfis will free-fall for what’ll seem forever, until the crane’s cable’s slack is taken up and the line takes his weight and goes tight behind him and swings him way out over the grounds to the south, his arc’s upward half almost as high as the tower was, and then he’ll fall all over again, back, and get caught and swung the other way, back and forth, the man prone at the arc’s trough and seeming to stand at either apex, swinging back and forth and erect and prone against a rare-meat sunset.

And just as the crane’s cab’s blond reaches for his lever and the crowd mightily inhales, just then, I lose my nerve, in my very last moment at the Fair – I recall my childhood’s serial nightmare of being swung or whipped in an arc that threatens to come full circle – and I decline to be part of this, even as witness – and I find, again, in extremis, access to childhood’s other worst nightmare, the only sure way to obliterate all; and the sun and sky and plummeting Yuppie go out like a light.

David Foster Wallace was found dead in his home Friday evening. He had apparently hung himself; I suppose given the above, one could consider it ironic. One familiar with his work could also be glad he didn’t stick his head in a microwave.

DFW has always remained high on my list of favorite authors, largely thanks to the book for which I’ve named this post. Now seems like an appropriate time to read it, and his sprawling opus, one more time.

Vimeo vs. Gamers

Today, in tech news:

* Twitter has announced that they are banning all messages (or “tweets”) relating to Apple, due to capacity concerns, given the massive usage spikes during Apple keynotes and product releases.
* Flickr announced that screenshots and drawn artwork will no longer be allowed for upload, as they do not truly constitute ‘creative expression’ and do not jive with the mission of the site.
* LiveJournal specified new policy, banning posts about user’s parents. “We simply do not want to spend the money and resources to host these entries,” said management.

To users of these services, all of this probably sounds ridiculous. Sites based around user submitted content would be foolish to restrict content based on topic, media type, or content.

The above headlines are fake, but this one is not: Vimeo is banning videos related to video games.

“The Vimeo staff has decided that we are no longer going to allow gaming videos on Vimeo. Specifically, we are no longer going to allow game walk-throughs, game strategy videos, depictions of player vs player battles, raids, fraps, or any other video gaming videos that simply depict individuals playing a video game. Videos falling into this category will be subject to deletion as of September 1st; new videos of this type will be removed.” – Blake Whitman, Vimeo Staff

Continue reading Vimeo vs. Gamers

Buttons Is A (DJ) Trooper

Buttons Is A (DJ) Trooper

Our poor cat has been through a lot in the last 48 hours.

Like all of these sorts of stories go, it was supposed to be a regular vet checkup. But after bringing him into the Astoria Veterinary Group, it appeared that his teeth and gums – something that had been pointed out as a potential problem in the past – were in bad shape. They recommended a “deep gum cleaning”. Katie had to leave him behind at the vet, turning a day that was to be spent relaxing with the cat into a day of worry.

The call came around 2:30: he was fine, but the “deep gum cleaning” had turned into a “double tooth extraction”. His trademark fang had apparently been loose and very exposed, as had the tooth directly below it. Both were removed, turning his usual expression – a little bit of exposed fang – into a lip curled sneer that would make Elvis proud.

Buttons returned home at 7PM last night, still drugged out of his skull from the procedure. This manifested itself in odd ways, particularly in his communication skills. Normally, he gets attention with a loud, cute “WOW!” – he doesn’t meow. Last night it was more of a “Wowwwwwweeeerrrrrrooooooooooooowweee.” He also walked around the apartment at least eight times as though he had no idea where he was – although he was very sure he still wanted to go under the kitchen sink.

We’ve had the catsujin for just over five years now (he’s five and a half); this is the first time he’s undergone a procedure of any sort. Being as attached as we are, Katie and I have both acknowledged an inability to deal with the idea of something happening to our cat. Taken as a test of how we would handle a small-scale event, it is easily argued both Katie and I failed brilliantly. We followed him around trying to cheer him up, lamenting to each other that we’d hope he’d be okay and back to his normal self soon.

To what may not be a surprise, he was back to normal not long after midnight, when he nuzzled up to Katie and watched an episode of *Buffy* on her computer. (They frequently share late-night TV watching. Apparently I’m not invited.) The morning brought the usual pillow-stealing, food-demanding, and lounging on the carpet that we’ve grown accustomed to with him. He greeted us home from work with proper-sounding “WOW!”s, and as I type he’s nomnomnoming away at a catnip plush duck.

Thanks to everyone who sent well-wishes over Twitter and concerned IMs; we do tend to joke that he has a fan club but it’s nice to realize it’s not such a joke after all.

The Prom

E! Online, in an article about the Golden Globes (emphasis mine):

Earlier Monday, NBC Entertainment cochief Ben Silverman told E! News anchor Ryan Seacrest that the network was “obviously trying to find a solution to satisfy fans of these great movies and all the incredible stars who have worked so hard all year and got this incredible opportunity.

Sadly, it feels like the nerdiest, ugliest, meanest kids in the high school are trying to cancel the prom. But NBC wants to try to keep that prom alive.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so stupid said about an awards show. Keep raising that bar, NBC!

Old Man Simmons

Via mikey-san, excerpts from Billboard’s Gene Simmons: college kids killed music biz:

IT HAS BEEN NINE YEARS SINCE WE’VE SEEN A NEW KISS ALBUM. ANY PLANS TO GET BACK INTO THE STUDIO?

The record industry is in such a mess. I called for what it was when college kids first started download music for free — that they were crooks. I told every record label I spoke with that they just lit the fuse to their own bomb that was going to explode from under them and put them on the street.

There is nothing in me that wants to go in there and do new music. How are you going to deliver it? How are you going to get paid for it if people can just get it for free? I will be putting out a Gene Simmons box set called “Monster” — a collection of 150 unreleased songs. KISS will have another box set of unreleased music in the next year.

The record industry doesn’t have a f—ing clue how to make money. It’s only their fault for letting foxes get into the henhouse and then wondering why there’s no eggs or chickens. Every little college kid, every freshly-scrubbed little kid’s face should have been sued off the face of the earth. They should have taken their houses and cars and nipped it right there in the beginning. Those kids are putting 100,000 to a million people out of work. How can you pick on them? They’ve got freckles. That’s a crook. He may as well be wearing a bandit’s mask.

Doesn’t affect me. But imagine being a new band with dreams of getting on stage and putting out your own record. Forget it.

BUT SOME ARTISTS LIKE RADIOHEAD AND TRENT REZNOR ARE TRYING TO FIND A NEW BUSINESS MODEL.

That doesn’t count. You can’t pick on one person as an exception. And that’s not a business model that works. I open a store and say “Come on in and pay whatever you want.” Are you on f—ing crack? Do you really believe that’s a business model that works?

SO WHAT IF MUSIC JUST BECOMES FREE AND ARTISTS MAKE THEIR LIVING OFF OF TOURING AND MERCHANDISE?

Well therein lies the most stupid mistake anybody can make. The most important part is the music. Without that, why would you care? Even the idea that you’re considering giving the music away for free makes it easier to give it away for free. The only reason why gold is expensive is because we all agree that it is. There’s no real use for it, except we all agree and abide by the idea that gold costs a certain amount per ounce. As soon as you give people the choice to deviate from it, you have chaos and anarchy. And that’s what going on.

Don’t worry, Gene. Very few people have any interest in pirating your music.

Related reading: Prince is batshit insane. As is Elton John.

Are You McLovin?

Today, I was talking to [Matty](http://www.capndesign.com/) about [Superbad](http://www.areyousuperbad.com/). So sure, the original trailer is great, but the “red band trailer” (distinguished by the red MPAA screen) is fantastic, possibly even the stuff of legend.

But [the YouTube link](http://youtube.com/watch?v=FPc28FASaEE) I had posted before has been pulled. Now, seemingly, the only way to get at it was through the official site’s [age verification section](http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/superbad/site/agegate/index.html).

An abridged list of things we’ve learned on the Internet in the last ten years:

* CAPTCHAs don’t work.
* Cats are simultaneously hilarious and adorable.
* Anti-spam methods don’t work.
* Talking like an idiot never goes out of style.
* Age verification methods don’t work.

I’d like to focus on the last one, obviously.

The form to verify your age looks something like this:

The fine print on the same page reads:

>I understand that I am allowed to enter the Restricted Area only if I am 18 years or older and have a valid driver’s license. To verify my age, I hereby authorize Verification Financial Assurance Corporation (“VeriFAC”) to confirm the accuracy of the information I have provided against government-issued records. I acknowledge that the information I am providing on this page will not be collected by Sony and that it will only be accessed and used by VeriFAC to verify my age and for no other purposes.

So you have to have a driver’s license and be 18 or older. It would be easy to question the wisdom of forcing people to have a license to operate a motor vehicle to view an awesome movie trailer, but let’s not argue with that decision. It’s not like kids could just use their parents details – no kid under 18 knows their parents first *and* last names, let alone their birth day and their zip code. That’s some strong four-factor authentication.

Anyhow, the truly amusing part for me is that so much of the original trailer revolves around one character (Fogell, played by the incredibly named Christopher Mintz-Plasse) getting a fake ID with the name “McLovin” on it.

In what may be the greatest wasted opportunity in movie web site hisotry, the form does not successfully validate if you use a last name of “McLovin”, with a birth date of 06/03/1981 and a zip code of 96820. You get an error complaining that you didn’t fill out the first name field. Jesus, people, don’t you get it? He doesn’t even *have* a first name. HE **IS** McLOVIN.

I guess all you kids under 18 are out of luck if you want to watch [the red band trailer](http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/movies/superbad/site/SB_redband.flv), and you’ll have to wait till you’re older to see the DVD of what may be the greatest summer movie of all time. Sucks to be you, kids.

Sucks to be you.