Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside...
I can't admit to having been up to much in the time since the last blog I wrote - I made the trip down to Brighton to attend the "Develop" conference, which somehow manages to consume a whole week, plus preparation and the time I'm spending now writing up all the insights, thoughts and meetings that I had there.
Unfortunately, there's not much of general interest that I think I can share from the conference. I mostly attended some dry technical presentations that would bore the socks off most of you. Both ATI and NVidia had cool demos running of GPU based physics, and I fully expect someone to make a game about blowing up large chimneys in the near future. I did go to a lecture about "Everything you know about MMOGs is wrong", but I'm maintaining some healthy skepticism about some of the ideas raised in it (at least in the way they were presented).
I think the future of MMOs and online game spaces is going to be much broader in definition than it is today, but I also think it's a mistake to phrase things as a revolution that will replace what exists at the moment - for one thing, I expect much more prevalence in multi-platform with breadth of experience for different play styles and needs (like, say, swapping your skill training by phone at work, and tapping off that quick urgent eve-mail on your PDA or laptop?).
Tekken ranking systems that were talked about at length seemed a little late for a revelation, given Xbox Live, although being able to rank yourself locally is a neat idea. Browser based games have been around for quite a while too, I don't think this counts as a sudden revolution as much as an incremental evolution that's been going on for some time now, with some cool new stuff involving Flash / Java - packaging this as a revelation ignores the people who were innovating in this area back in 2001 and earlier.
The big catfight I definitely expect is the clash of the billing / subscription / pay-for-items systems and RMT in online spaces - it's been going on for some time, and it's definitely coming to a head more rapidly now. My biggest skepticism is when people start talking about "Web 2.0" in the same way I saw everyone jumping on the internet bubble - anyone who doesn't keep their feet on the ground and starts jabbering away without thinking enough is more likely to run headlong into the ground than find a huge revolution.
[ That's just my natural cynicism talking, not any particular expertise or qualification for comment. ]
My typical trip back to the UK also usually involves a trip or five to the sorts of stores where you can pick up anime and a load of books, so I've come back stocked up with some new books on macroeconomics and the Appleseed (remake) and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex DVDs I was missing. Waiting for new fiction, like waiting for new PC games, seems to be an exercise in patience - luckily, I'm not too picky with my fiction, although the horror and romance sections hold all the appeal of some particularly nasty STDs to me.
I'm going to chime in by giving props to EveTV on an excellent production, that I think has taken everyone by surprise with its quality and success. Certainly, when I was sitting in the airport for 6 hours waiting for my flight, it kept me amused in ways that if other things amused me, I'd say "Ohh, Yeah.". There were a lot of people passing me who stopped to have a look.
I also thought I'd stop to mention something that's easily ignored in this focus on graphical spiffiness - our "Graphics Cell" expanded some months ago now with "Developer NULL", who's been single-handedly updating our old and dilapidated tools to sleek, shiny monster tools that bristle with more cool functionality than a Swiss army knife. The enthusiasm there is entirely warranted, as the downfall of any modern game is almost inevitably its content pipeline, and our future graphical enhancements make us even more dependent on having the right tools for the job.
There's been no time to make, or steal an image of anything cool this time, and it's entirely likely that this will also be the case for my next blog. What does everyone feel about some comments about the economics of Eve, in lieu of sparkle?
[ Blogs have always seemed an entirely egocentric form of communication to me, more a projection of opinion than real form of discussion, and generally something that seems to be to reinforce an artificial impression of expertise where none may really exist. Because of that, I'm a little concerned that posting my opinion on things that I'm not an "expert" on is a somewhat dodgy proposition, but the flip side is that I have access to the logs of transactions in one of the most interesting economic games in the world, and maybe it's worth the danger of making a fool of myself to post some interesting stuff. :) ]