Rozovian’s Music Log

www.ocremix.org/artist/4795/

Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

Maybe I should pirate more?

Posted by Ad on August 4, 2012

So I grabbed a bunch of games during Steam’s Summer Sale. Games that were cheap enough for my atm meager funds, games that would work on mac. The problem is that this mac compatibility isn’t that great… and it surprises me that game devs don’t consider the obvious solution:

Don’t put graphics above gameplay!

Crusader Kings II looks like a pretty cool game from the screenshots. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on my machines. One machine can’t run it at all because it has the wrong graphics card, and the other runs it at a ridiculous frame rate, not to mention screws up the colors. Sure, a purple sea (tho it still looks like water) might not be the best creative choice despite that might work for a more moody scenario, but if the frame rate is horrible, the game is unplayable. As the game is really just a bunch of screens with stats on them, plus a map with random troops on it, the graphics can be at a FreeCiv level. FreeCiv is hardly the epitome of graphics, but the game works.

Anyway, I find that SimCity 4 has a bit of the same frame rate problem as well, plus some bizarre and amusing texture issues, but it’s far from unplayable. The problem there is that Steam didn’t offer a mac version, but I found ways around that problem.

The thing is, these aren’t games that need all that much graphics. In fact, most games don’t need anything past what we were able to render a decade ago. A multiplayer FPS would need it to let players blend into the environment realistically, and any real-time game would need it to make sure players get to react as soon as something happens rather than suffer a second’s delay before they see what’s going on and having to work the interface for a few seconds before getting their troops/vehicle/dude/whatever to do what it’s supposed to do. Civ V doesn’t need the graphics it has, the gameplay doesn’t need those graphics. The Strategic View is unfortunately not the default view, nor are its symbols as easy to identify at a glance as the units in the standard view. CKII doesn’t need its 3d display and fancy window decor (and the decor would load faster if the 3d stuff wasn’t hogging the graphics processing). Many games of today are more for show than for gaming, and it’s shutting ppl out from getting to play them.

I wonder if it makes business sense. I mean, I get how it works for the marketing department; they get screenshots and videos and stuff that look good. It’s easier to market than game mechanics. “It looks great, lemme prove it with this non-interactive, print-friendly thing.” But with games like Civ and CK and SC and others, it’s the mechanics that are the game, the graphics are just packaging. They’re harder to market based on gameplay.

Not that I’d want the graphics reduced to the lowest common denominator, but a low-resource alternative graphics option would be nice to have, one that’s less picky about the graphics card and doesn’t require platform specific libraries or only runs on select graphics chipsets. Likewise, the option to not load all the resource-hogging stuff when you start the game (I may have mentioned this before). More graphics options would open up games to a variety of platforms, ultimately getting more players into the game.

Anyway, on a semi-related note…

Posted in video game industry | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ninja Consumers

Posted by Ad on March 27, 2012

Finland’s allegedly trailing way behind our neighbor Sweden in consumption of streamed and downloaded music. I don’t believe that, I think it’s just a difference in behavior that accounts for the over 30% difference.

I may have mentioned having attempted to buy Logic 9 on the App Store, but was unable to actually pay. The store only accepts a bunch of credit cards, which I know better than to get. After some correspondence with Apple’s customer service (who politely/robotically suggested, repeatedly, that I should just get a credit card), I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. So far, Logic Express 8 serves me fine, and when that fails, I can move to a different DAW. I’ve heard good things about Digital Performer, I’ve been looking at Ableton Live for live performance reasons, there’s always the very affordable Reaper, and beyond those a myriad of other options.

What bothered me the most is the lack of a PayPal option in Apple’s stores, as it’s an option in the US but not here. That’s what I use to buy stuff on Steam and Bandcamp, it’s a very convenient payment options that Apple seems to allow in other countries. Having to get a credit card is a hoop I might jump through if there was no other option. But that’s not the case. There’s other software… and other means.

My theory on piracy is that there’s three types of pirates: pirates of convenience, pirates of economy, and pirates of ideals. Pirates of ideals are the free-culture hippies that think information shouldn’t be locked up and everything should be available for free. Not sure to what extent I agree with them, there’s freedom of information acts on one side, and indie artists’ earnings stolen by labels and royalty-collecting agencies on the other. Pirates of economy are the ones who can’t afford the stuff they pirate, or who just don’t want to pay. In the developing world, I support this attitude. Get stuff, use stuff, build business and education. In the developed world, there’s certainly a lower class that may not be able to afford to keep up with the music and movies their more affluent neighbors consume, but the majority population can afford the 10 bucks an album costs these days.

Still, the most interesting type are the pirates of convenience. These include brats with a runaway sense of entitlement as well as lazy ppl who just want stuff in the most convenient way possible, and probably further still in… some direction. I use Steam because it’s convenient. It’s the ultimate combination of store, personal library and networking tool. I’ve used other means of getting the stuff I wanted… because it was convenient.

The thing is, pirates of convenience may well pay for their stuff (even to the point where they aren’t pirates anymore) if they get it without jumping through hoops. Bandcamp does this well. With a clean interface and a few clicks, I buy music and support the artist. I typically listen to music by my friends, released on Bandcamp (or ocremix), but if I wanted something else, Apple’s iTunes Store is among the last places I’d buy from. No credit card, no PayPal option, no way of paying short of buying a dozen of those iTunes Store cards from Apple Stores irl. Considering there are music stores out there that attempt to sell stuff released for free (eg free releases from Bandcamp, ocremix albums et al), I feel safer getting music from a place where I know the wrong ppl aren’t profiting from the artists’ work.

Despite speaking from a very limited experience with music stores, I think the main reason Finland’s trailing in music downloading/streaming is in measuring the wrong thing: only purchases and streaming services that are being tracked by the music… tracking… ppl. There’s YouTube (-to-mp3), there’s torrents, there’s a lot of ways to get music besides iTunes, Spotify, and whatever else was tracked.

It’s not like Finns are tech-illiterates. It may actually be the opposite. That’s why I don’t think my ISP blocking The Pirate Bay is gonna stop ppl.

Two more things, mostly unrelated: I’ve got a plan/idea/design for a movie/tv-show site, one that includes a way to make money from the site. There’s just the problems of convincing advertisers, and to consolidate shows and movies into a single service rather than have each studio and network demand special treatment/jack up prices for their catalogues or otherwise make their own services… thus driving ppl to the quasi-legal link sites and torrent searches instead. Tho for a single-network service it might work, too. Maybe I should just patent my idea and sit on it, then sue anyone that came up with it independently if they get big. That’s apparently how the big tech companies do it. If only game devs could do the same with to get CloneVille (as in Zynga) off the map.

The other thing is my new album plan: my old music as a free album… or album series. We’ll see. I think I have four tracks being worked on atm that fits my old methods, so they’re candidates for this album. Any proper album would be a later concern, now I’ll just focus on finishing random tracks and giving some extra attention to my few thousands of old tracks.

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…on _my_ internet!?

Posted by Ad on February 22, 2012

I’ve been keeping an eye on Techdirt and a few other internet-centric news sources for a while now, ever since the whole SOPA/PIPA thing made the rounds a few months ago. Techdirt was recently blocked in Germany as it was deemed harmful to minors. It’s a site that discusses the internet and related stuff. Who would find that harmful to minors, if not an oppressive regime bordering on an example of Godwin’s Law just a few sentences into this post.

But no, fortunately, it seems it’s a machine that made this mistake, flagging a discussion of content on the internet, which includes pornography, as actual pornography. While it’s a good thing we’re not talking about outright suppression of dissent, we are talking about giving machines a bit too much power. Imagine if a global censorship machine decided an entire country was harmful to minors, and blocked the whole thing from the wider internet community.

Imagine if that country was the USA, with its media giants. The thought amuses me. Seriously, why doesn’t the EU just step up and tell the USA to clean its own figurative nose before sticking its fingers in other nations’s noses. Why doesn’t the EU say that it’ll block all media business with the USA until they’ve sorted out their corrupt government.

Okay, hard words. Really, tho, I think the US government, as a whole, is either inept or corrupt. During the SOPA/PIPA talks in US Congress and Senate, it became apparent that lawmakers are not denizens of the internet and have little to no understanding of how it works. The Daily Show hilariously and wonderfully pointed out that during the hearings, the representatives admitted to not being “nerds” and suggested “nerds” would be brought in. Stewart suggested they use the term “experts”, since they would be brought in for their expertise.

In lack of a clip of that, here’s one from The Alyona Show. Also amusing.

Either inept, or corrupt. Possibly both, given how easily copyright owners were given the keys to the bulldozer while the internet was represented by a handcuffed dude on a plastic tricycle. This changed when Wikipedia and numerous other sites went dark one January day, bringing attention to all of this.

Since then, I’ve learned that lawyers are trolls, lawmakers are tech-illiterate and gullible (or possibly play dumb while being paid by lobbyists), and media giants are trying to take over the world. It’s like a game of Illuminati!, only instead of having the power to control, neutralize, or destroy groups that threaten my Power Structure, I can at most raise the issue in my corner of the web. No MegaBucks to spend, no Transferable Power to offer anyone on my side, no alignment advantage… (yes, I’m using terms from a game)

It doesn’t help that China and Russia are making a play for control of the Internet as well. I don’t like the look of things.

TL;DR: Machines are stupid and should not run the internet. Old people are tech-illiterate and should not run the internet. Media giants are not a democracy and should not run the internet. I’ll leave you with this quote (by me, cuz I thought I wrote something good) on the difference between the lawmaker generation and the internet generation:

“I’d say it’s more a case of (the internet) being a mere communication and information tool for the older generation. Not in the sense that they use it more than we do for those purposes. It’s just that to them, it’s a telegraph and a library rolled into one, and nothing more.

To us, it’s a free theatre, and we can be both on stage and in the audience. To us, it’s a town square, with market booths for everyone with something to sell. To us, it’s watching tv and playing outdoors at the same time. To us, it’s a club where you can meet strangers and a community where you meet friends. To us, it’s a new frontier to explore, right in our own back yard. To us, it’s a world. To them, it’s a means they could do without.”

(wow, this blog used to be about music and games, and the overlap between the two.)

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SEO

Posted by Ad on May 6, 2011

So there’s this thing websites do… or actually, the ppl running the websites, do. It’s when they utilize a variety of techniques to make their site seem more popular and more important to search engines. This is bugging me, and has been for some time. I like reading about ppl’s thoughts on my music. I like it when ppl mention me or my music. I like it when I inspire jewelry¬†(really made my day, also mentioned on my twitter).

What I don’t like is having to spend so much time rewriting my searches so I can actually find this. Google’s selective searches do a decent job at filtering out some of the sites that pop up, but how do I know I’m not missing out on sites with genuine interst in my work?

So instead of blog and forum posts that mention my music, I get hundreds of free mp3 sites that offer for free a free mp3 of my music as free mp3s. I can’t think of any way it’s ethical to distribute my music on a site that does more to get in the way of my searches than to actually provide ppl with my music. I tried out a few of them, and in most cases they wanted me to install some executable. Even if this isn’t spyware of some kind, most of my music atm is free and shouldn’t require any hoops to get to. Especially not when someone else stands more to gain from those hoops than I do. I mean, I made the music.

And they hide behind the “we just provide access to the content, it’s not on our servers” excuse. I can understand the youtube newb uploading an album or music video of his/her favorite band/artist without considering this is possible sales and views lost from the artist/band (then again, piracy does increase interest and thus sales… at least with Minecraft). This is done out of appreciation for the music. Ripping game contents to share with other enthusiasts and provide a resource for potential enthusiasts? Fine with me. The modding community? I kind’a wanna join it. Free mp3 download for free get rozovian music free download downloads? Leave my music alone you soulless webcrawling zombie algorithms.

When I have an album out, I’ll want ppl to buy it. I’ll want ppl to tell me what they think. I’ll want ppl to stream it from places where I actually get some revenue back. I want _people_ to hear it. I want ppl to hear it from _me_, not from some spamtastic adful directory (that looks like crap anyway).

Some years ago, the only web find for “rozovian” was some Russian philosophy book (not why I chose the name). Then I got on fictionpress with my teen ambitions, I had a depressing blog about being me as a teen, I had a mikser.net account with two semi-decent original tracks, and I had some accounts on some forums. And then ocremix happened. Now I’m all over the web. Almost every mention of “rozovian” online is me and my ocremix tracks. For better or worse.¬†Even that vid of some dude’s oil change tutorial with my music in the background is all over the place. And apparently on every other oil-related site out there spamming themselves with quasi-related content in order to look important to Google.

At least ocremix is big enough to be the top result for “rozovian”. At least for me.

And yes, I’m intentionally adding lots of links to me. Not accidentally. I want the algorithms to know they’re all me, and think they’re all more important. At least more important that free mp3s blah blah blah.

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Mass Defect

Posted by Ad on December 15, 2010

A copy of Mass Effect recently appeared near one of my computers. It said it worked on Mac. It kind’a did. After a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem, I think I’m sure it’s the graphics card. The game allegedly runs fine of an nVidia-MacBook, but not on my Radeon-iMac. And obviously not on my pre-Intel Radeon PowerBook.

So what bothers me about this? That there’s no official Mac version? That it works on some macs and not others? That it took me hours to figure this all out? Yes to all applicable, but the last one more than the others.

The game and the audio works just fine, but the 3d parts of the screen turns white and a lot of models are missing. I saw vistas of space and empty chairs in the intro, then a quick whiteout and flashes of the geometry. Said white flashes might be effects, since they managed to obscure just part of a hallway at one point, but once I turned too far the whole world went white again. Not the HUD, just the world.

On a related note, we have a lot of snow outside. They say there were these things called ditches than ran across the lawns. I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Anyway, missing models and a big whiteness. And there are instances where I found myself probably in a corner with the camera inside some thing, outside the geometry. There I could see something, but it was pretty weird and abstract looking. And dark, so probably just the other side of the thing I was looking through.

I might have spent 2-3 hours on figuring this out, trying different settings and seeing if the same problems persist, googling how to tell if the firmware is up to date and how to force an OS X 10.5-compatible updater to update on 10.6, rendering issues and how to access the graphics card’s settings, getting all kinds of support forum posts and torrent links in all that searching. And it all leads me to a simple solution:

I need to steal that laptop.

Also, I came across probably dozens of threads with ppl stating these same problems, or similar. On that note, some Radeon-OS X compatibility problem could explain the weird texture things happening on big ships in FreeSpace 2. Or did I solve that with some vSync thing, I don’t remember.

And to address the piracy issue, I’d buy a Steam licence if the game would work for me. It’s just 15 euros. BioWare, do you hear me? Make an official Mac version available, or leak a Radeon-compatible Cider version or something. Keyword: Radeon-compatible.

Post title refers to defects, not defecting. It’s punny in writing.

Posted in computers, the internet, video game industry | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Entitlement

Posted by Ad on November 4, 2010

From time to time, I google myself. It’s interesting to see what crops up then: a mention on a blog, listed in “listening to” references, youtube video clones, free download sites…

As I don’t have anything commersial out there, I don’t have a problem with any of this, but it has me worried. When I release an album, one I wanna earn some dough with, who’s to say it won’t end up uploaded everywhere so everyone can grab everything for free?

The internet is changing. Content creators have to come up with new ideas all the time to get money. Donations, merchandize, concerts, licensing… While some pirates may be pirates of convenience who would pay if it was easy enough – take Steam as a great example of how to deal with pirates of convenience: make buying _more_ convenient – others are pirates of economy or entitlement – they wouldn’t buy at all. Why should they get for free what I worked hard to produce? Spotify kind’a does the same with music as Steam does with games, it makes it convenient. Which reminds me, I should get Spotify. I need new music.

From time to time I deal with ppl with an inflated sense of entitlement on ocremix’ forums; people who expect to be good at music because they have good software, and expect to get their remix posted on ocremix because they made it. Why should they be any different from the ppl who spent years learning to make music? It’s unfair! Well it would be: it took me about a year of learning on ocremix before I got a remix posted, and that was after 5-6 years of making music. Was I annoyed at my first NO? Yes I was. Did that put my sense of entitlement in check? Yes it did. Would it be fair if any n00b with an audio file could get their stuff posted there? No it wouldn’t.

Because a lot of ppl grow up in a world where mom and dad get them whatever they want, and mom and dad have vague jobs somewhere out there, ppl might not make the connection between work and earnings. So ppl grow up with the idea of money as this thing that ppl just have. Not good.

I’ve been thinking about money a lot. With the world economy (and especially the US economy) dropping into the toilet, I looked up all these economy things I never cared for before. I realized there is no money. Money is just a promise of labor, or a proof of labor, depending on how you wanna look at it. Everyone has to work for something to get something. Back in the day, you’d farm your land, you’d get food. Or someone else would farm their land, you’d make them shovels and plows, and you’d get food. Money is the middle man. They give you money for the tools, you give them money for the food.

If I make music for you, don’t I sort of work for you? Shouldn’t I then get paid? Who’s supposed to pay me?

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