Nikon vs. Adobe

Their current argument over the encryption system in Nikon’s Raw file format is pretty funny. In the past, Adobe has been just as protective about their own format: Adobe’s font formats were not open, and the Photoshop SDK stopped being freely available around version 7. So, I am the happy owner of two Nikon digital cameras, I dislike unnecessary protection / encryption systems, Photoshop is an amazing piece of software, and my experiences with Adobe’s tech support people have been horribly bad. I don’t know who to root for!

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SOE endorses sales of MMO properties

It was bound to happen, sooner or later, but it is still shocking to see it materialized. I have never been interested in buying online properties, since I assume that acquiring them in the game is one of the main reasons for playing in the first place. Playing a MMO has to be fun in itself, but as we know already, fun is a dish with many ingredients.

So, rather than find my own stance among all the moral, ethical, emotional, rational debates about the meaning of this, I’ll be realistic about my assumptions, and simply sit back and see what happens. It’s possible that future MMO’s will lean in this direction, in which case I’ll likely stop playing them. Or it may be that it remains a relatively minor side within these virtual worlds.

As a quick aside, it’s fun to see Scott Miller’s blog be updated a lot less frequently since he started "checking" World Of Warcraft. I find it hard to refrain from bragging about how slowly my chars are leveling up in WoW, an odd reversal of the classic "uber e-peen contests" so typical among MMO players.

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Lecture at the University

Looks like the people at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid haven’t got tired of me yet, and have invited me to give a lecture by the end of April. Details here:

In the lecture I try to explore four key areas of videogames as a professional career: the business side, the engineering (the lecture is for their Computer Science campus), entertainment, and the value of games as art. Broad topic! I spent quite a while working on the structure and slides, until I felt confident that it would at least make sense for the audience. My biggest doubt at the moment is if I’ll be able to cover all the ground in the available time.

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Weird things happen

Allow me to chuckle over this: [Majesco]’s NASDAQ symbol has been switched from MJES to COOL. The changes are designed to "more accurately reflect the company’s identity as a diversified digital entertainment company."

I got a link (which I’m not spreading here) to a pretty sick site: lots of pictures of a cute bunny, and the promise that the animal will die at a certain date if the site owner hasn’t received $50K in donations.

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I watched Shakespeare In Love and Cyrano de Bergerac again this week… two masterpieces in my opinion. Witty, heartwarming and flawlessly executed. I love how well the music works in both of them (Shakespeare’s Oscar-winning score is one of my favourite movie soundtracks of all time).

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Devil May Cry 3

It has happened! I love World of Warcraft, but I have only played it for a couple hours in the past week (4 weeks if you count my Scotland trip).

One of the reasons is Devil May Cry 3 on the Playstation 2. The concept: you are a human-demon slashing and gunning hordes of demons in a quest to prevent the Demon World from taking over Earth, while uncovering the secrets of your family as you progress. Character names and title are inspired by Dante Alighieri’s "Divine Comedy", but that’s about as intellectual as it gets. The rest is fast combat, over-the-top combos, high-impact weapons, gothic environments and lame dialogues.

Devil May Cry 1 was the first game I played all through several times since Quake 2 and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The sequel tried to expand the game, but chose the wrong directions. DMC3 takes the few good points of DMC2 (wallrunning for example) and delivers a supercharged version of the first game’s gameplay. Different combat styles, more skills then you can ever hope to buy, and a large collection of bosses.

And a pretty tough difficulty curve.

DMC1 had a "rite of passage" in the form of the boss in level 3. It was incredibly hard, at a point when you were still getting used to the game’s controls. Many of us were offered switching to "Easy Mode" by the game itself after a few deaths, and could only defeat the Balrog-like scorpion thanks to online tips and walkthroughs.

DMC3 provides many such challenges, almost one per mission. And always at the end. Yes, you will find yourself replaying missions quite frequently. It gets a bit frustrating, especially when the rest of the game is fairly easy. I have died in excess of 20 times, every single one of them at an end boss.

But this problem is easily forgiven, because the game is truly fun and rewarding, with fantastic producion value (the best engine-driven cutscnes I’ve ever seen). Lengthwise I think it will prove short but very replayable.

Reports are that God of War is just as good as DMC3… It’s going to be a great month for my PS2.

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