Tag Archives: fluid media

SIMs Devastated as Llama Fund Dries Up, Opens Micro Black Hole that Swallows Simtropolis

If you’ve played some of the earlier SIM City games, you might remember the news ticker and its strangely charming “news reports” about things going on in your city or SIM nation.   Today’s headline is in homage to that style.  For one reason or another the staff at Maxis games had an obsession over llamas, and based on a 2000 interview the original architect revealed why (here is the entire interview):

Question from strat440: Why are there so many references to llamas in “SimCity”?

Will Wright: Good question. Actually, many years ago, we had a company-wide vote for our informal company-wide mascot, and the choices came down to the Boston tree fern, beef tape worm and a llama. And somehow the llama won the vote!

In case you missed it, “SIMs Devastated as Llama Fund Dries Up, Opens Micro Black Hole” is a reference to the huge debacle faced by developer company Maxis and current parent company Electronic Arts (EA) on the latest SIM City release this past Tuesday, March 5, 2013.  In short, folks that had already spent countless hours building their municipality were suddenly kicked offline and all of their work disappeared forever.  As of late as Friday, there were still legions of SIM fans demanding refunds due to ongoing poor access to play the game along with a host of companion issues from the blackout.   There is even a Change.org petition going around about the issue that features a video of what is considered by gamers to now be a “broken promise” issued by a producer of the game.

As I read the comments in various forums, it appears EA was slow to respond to refund requests at first. By the weekend, EA seems to have finally ironed out customer service policy from the top on down to service agents in order to please irate gamers.

You might be wondering, how did all this happen, can’t people just not go online to play this?   Nope.

There’s this hot topic called Digital Right Management (DRM) = going cloud-based/online only to stop some piracy while creating inconvenience for paying customers.

Also, the game was built with the hopes that entire regions of cities could be crowdsourced together by all the users combining their individual efforts, a virtually-based positive economic impact if you will.

Here are some other problems that have stemmed from the blackout issue:

In the past, major game companies always had a leg up on being able to distribute game discs and cartridges through standard retail channels.   Now that game distribution is being pushed more into cloud-based services, foul-ups such as this leave companies such as EA in a very vulnerable position of staying at the top of the heap for the longer term.   The success of such indie online games like Minecraft and a whole host of app-based games like Rovio’s Angry Birds, who used to make games FOR EA, was nearly bankrupt in 2009 and somehow set out on their own to release the smash hit, point to building evidence that a relative no-name can grab market share quite quickly if the game play and access to the games works fine.

Among others, a special thanks to the crew over at Polygon.com, it’s a great site that has a real pulse on the gaming world if you’re in to that and I have found it to be a great resource throughout my IMC 619 Emerging Media and the Market course and this particular blog post.

While I am bummed to see this happen to the denizens tethered to the PC-only release, I’m hopeful that the MAC version coming out later while leave me pleased as punch.  Otherwise I’ll be

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Vine, Vine You’re So Fine

Is Twitter’s new Vine feature the ticket for moving up the food chain in fluid media?

vinestosky

“Vines to the Sky” – Matt Krack, digital photo, 2012

If you don’t know what Vine is, it is a lot like and a lot unlike Twitter itself.  Instead of a text and links only format of a tweet, a Vine video is limited to 6 seconds of audio+video footage.  Outside of choosing which 6 seconds of reality you can consecutively squash into your file, no editing is allowed.   Once the indication bar tells you that your footage has hit 6-seconds, you can either send it or delete it.   Because Vine is only enabled on iOS for the moment (<get it there and follow me @mkrack <WARNING- I CAN BE A HAM>), at least that 6 seconds is in sweet High-def format, the standard for iPhones.  Speaking of Apple, it has been purported that the tech behemoth has been  in secret talks with the Twitter camp since July 2012.   With Apple being a lover of rich media applications, is Vine ready to soon be unleashed on a much wider scale than just the early adopters of the service?   My thought is perhaps it will never make it to Android or any other non-Apple platform, but they might “share” with others later on.

It’s been over a month since the release and no non-Apple developers have been able to pounce on – I’m calling it for Vine now – the hottest new platform since Pinterest, though porn posters have threatened its long-term viability.   My confidence lies in Twitter Co. to figure out how to suppress and weed out the vast majority of those posts by creating slight posting delays for suspect posts to be able run them through some sort of recognition algorithm perhaps.  Anyone else have ideas on how Twitter could keep porn from running rampant over Vine?   I also think if Apple is really going to step in on this one, they are the de-facto experts in creating a safe and fuzzy environment for everyone.

Vine is also competing against a plethora of platforms already out there such as Branch, which is already on iOS and Android, not to mention a whole host of other thornily-competing apps and platforms.

So, what do you think?