The end-of-year release schedule, and how it messes up the games industry

The games-release calendar generally stinks. Most of the year’s game releases are crammed up from September through November. Games will get pushed out the door, ready or not, just to get them on the shelves by Black Friday or Cyber Monday, with a short-tail of releases winding down through December for those titles that just weren’t ready enough or couldn’t get fabrication time.

The idea, of course, is to make huge quantities of revenue. In practice, though, what’s happening is that the games industry is shorting its own revenues, killing game franchises, and often putting studios out of business.

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Booth-babes

Nothing a games-publisher does says “We have no respect whatsoever for our customers” than booth-babes – except perhaps the EA Sports division.

I know, some of you EA marketing folks are among the regular readers here, and I’m not tarring you all with the same brush, but you might want to hide under your desks for a few minutes, because I’m going to speak very plainly.

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Women dominate PC gaming

Actually, that’s something we’ve known for a long time. In the US, UK, and Australia, women 25 years and older are more likely to play a game at the PC than men in the same age-group. It’s a statistic that’s frequently discarded by games publishers, because teens and tweens are easier to market to, even though they’re not actually that sizeable a gaming demographic. That’s confirmed every year by surveys and research.

In a bit of a round-table discussion, one commentator wondered about the people being surveyed, asking, “Who are these people?”

One of my co-workers said, “Nobody you know.”

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Simple setup for DOSBox games

How to!Though DOSBox is probably the best way to run old DOS software (particularly old DOS games) on pretty much any system or Operating System, it can be a little bit on the daunting side, being that it is all jam-packed with options. Options you don’t want to have to wade through.

It doesn’t actually have to be a big deal if you’re on Windows, because there’s a companion tool that will make things a whole lot simpler.

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An awkward moment

...at least, not yet! Actually, this is a bit embarrassing. You see there was this place called White Lightning Productions (a comics publisher) – well, more specifically their WLP shirts division. I was going to write a piece about them for some very clever, witty and some genuinely laugh-out-loud geek and gamer tee-shirts.

Only now they’re advertising on my sidebar, quite unexpectedly (at least at the time I’m writing this), which makes me feel a bit awkward about actually posting about them. But darn it all, I was planning on writing about them anyway!

doit-d20v So, I’m not sleeping with them (or with Captain Jack Harkness, darnit!), it’s just one of those coincidences.

Play it now – Alien Legacy

I leafed through my reports. Fully seven of our colonies on two planets were suffering damage and loss of life from attacks by the native animals and even plants. Originally there had been nine colonies on those worlds, but we’d had to abandon New Hope and New-New York.

While I’d been taken aback by the power requirements of the defensive shields the technical team had developed, I’d just now approved the construction of a siphoning facility that would allow us to generate vast amounts of power resources from the local gas giant, possibly even making some of our local power-stations redundant, if we could get the logistics right. A key part of the plan, however, required getting materials to the facility for maintenance. Chief Scientist Patel had proposed mass-drivers to tackle that part of the transportation chain.

What didn’t sound good was Patel and Officer Williams arguing about whether to destroy or study the series of alien towers that our exploration teams had found on the planet below us. One of them was very close to our primary colony and seemed somehow to be linked to our current problems.

Whatever I chose, I knew I wouldn’t hear the end of it in a hurry.

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Play it now – Penumbra: Overture, Black Plague and Requiem

Play It NowI’m crouching in the dark. I have a flashlight, but I dare not turn it on. I’m trying to keep quiet, and huddle close to my inadequate cover. I can hear the creature growl softly as it gets closer. Will it see me? I don’t dare look, because I know I’ll panic and it will be on me in an instant. I steal quick glances at it, then huddle behind the crate to calm down, like a kid hiding under a blanket from the monster under the bed.

Is it a dog? It’s might be some kind of a dog. I dare not face it. Maybe it was a dog … once. I don’t know what it is now.

I don’t dare move. The sound of its feet stops. It sniffs the air and growls softly, a bit like a dog, but something is very… wrong about the sound. It snuffles and I think I hear it move away. I steal a terrified glance. It’s moving away from me now. I creep as fast as I dare into a cross tunnel, and head for where I think the store-rooms are. Anywhere is better than here, right?

Wrong.

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Play it now – The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall

Play it now! It’s fifteen years old now, which is young for a person, but positively venerable for a computer game. It’s one of the most expansive computer RPGs ever written, making Bethesda Softwork’s followups Morrowind and Oblivion seem positively cramped by comparison.

It’s always been buggy, DOS-based, low-res, the graphics are dated, and don’t have even a lick of hardware acceleration. It’s The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, and it is still a darn fine game, if you give it a chance.

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Deviancy and the balance of immersion

Immersion occupies an interesting and multifaceted place in our societies and cultures. It is a quality of focus and attention. It’s what your boss wishes you had more of when it comes to your tasks and meetings. It’s what your teachers wish you had more of when it comes to lessons and homework. It’s what your spouse wishes you had more of when it comes to the dishes, cooking and the laundry. It’s what your kids wish you had more of when they’re telling you about their day.

And when we wind up immersed in anything else – particularly if it is something personally enjoyable or fulfilling – it is considered deeply suspect and somehow wrong.

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