Tanks are easily identified, easily engaged, much-feared targets which attract all the fire on the battlefield. When all is said and done, a tank is a small steel box crammed with inflammable or explosive substances which is easily converted into a mobile crematorium for its highly skilled crew.”

– Brigadier Shelford Bidwell


Conquest Dynamics will be demoing a tactical simulation game at CultureTech this week. I’m not going to post any screen shots. You’ll have to come and see us.

My Cloud Tabs

This is a list of the open tabs across my devices. Pretty much articles I am reading or intend to read over the next day or two.

Remote Operator

Construction Workers

Last night, our youngest was putting the finishing touches on his latest Minecraft creation. We have a home-grown Minecraft server running on an iMac in the house which permits all of the kids to connect to the same Minecraft instance, wherever they are.

My wife commented that if Minecraft was the real world, the kids would have built a tunnel to China by now. I replied that in a few years, with 3D printing (in the scale of houses) and remote operation of vehicles (like military UAVs and the Curiosity Rover), it’s entirely possible that by shipping a couple of robots (a 3D printer and a “lifter”), you could have entire towns built by the time humans were ready to occupy them. And it is remote operation skills (like the skills used by kids operating Minecraft) that would create it.

And, if you wanted to keep your feet on the ground, why isn’t this house building duo already in operation in areas hit by quakes or other natural disasters?


The BBC:

Video-game enthusiasts are not typically associated with tests of gruelling physical endurance or demonstrations of strength. But in an age where digital technology rules all, are gamers the new form of athletes?

I don’t share the scepticism of @WeeManStudios.

Movies like Real Steel (and the old comic series …) highlighted the possibilities for current athletics being performed by robot counterparts. But I think actual video games could present an interesting alternative for athletic achievement.

For gamers of a certain vintage, Capturing the Flag in Hall of the Giants will always bring back a rush of nostalgia-induced adrenaline.


In 2010, it was reported that a British pensioner yesterday became the world’s first patient to have heart surgery using a fully remote-controlled robotic arm. It was done remotely due to radiation levels during the surgery but there is no reason this could not be performed for routine operations.


It’s well known that the Us Air Force already uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) piloted by remote operators. And they intend to triple the number of UAV pilots by the end of 2012 even though the perception of the UAV pilot among real pilots is poor.

Samsung vs Apple is good for the consumer.

Unless you’ve been living under a stone, someone will have shoved an opinion about the Apple vs Samsung case in your face and, depending on what they have in their pocket, it will be one of two things.

Apple are evil. Their stuff is obvious stuff. They’re a bully and I will never allow another Apple product into my house even if they are a better and cheaper product. Samsung were justified in defending theemselves and it’s only a matter of time before some of Apple’s redundant patents are rendered non-valid by the USPTO. A billion dollars isn’t a lot to Samsung who have made ten times that in mobile devices.

Apple were justified in suing. They invested in making stuff that was so “obvious” once it was invented that everyone just nods when they see it. They get it immediately. Samsung didn’t just copy Apple, they knew they were copying, they were trying to copy. And because they did it deliberately, they probably haven’t paid enough. A billion dollars isn’t a lot to Samsung who have made ten times that in mobile devices.

Samsung came out with this statement:

Today’s verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation, and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies. Consumers have the right to choices, and they know what they are buying when they purchase Samsung products. This is not the final word in this case or in battles being waged in courts and tribunals around the world, some of which have already rejected many of Apple’s claims. Samsung will continue to innovate and offer choices for the consumer.

My comment on this?

Stopping companies from copying others actually should lead to more choice in the industry, more innovation in the industry and, yes, because someone will need to engender that innovation, higher prices. Essentially they’re admitting they copied the iPhone and they’re proud of it. I can’t help if this is a culture clash compounded by extreme capitalism.

Consumers do have the right to choose – they’re not entitled to choices. And if they want an iPhone or an “almost-iPhone” then they should be able to make a choice. Too often, however, choices are foisted on consumers as a result of sales commission drivers or just plain dishonesty. The latter is responsible for the success of Samsungs copies in my opinion.

The Galaxy S3 proves that Samsung didn’t need to copy. It proves they can make great hardware. It proves that there is more than one way to make a smartphone. We should be glad, as consumers, that Samsung is ending their regime of slavishly copying the work of others. And I imagine that if the Lumia 800 had been the smartphone of choice, Samsung would have copied that too.

This court case is not the end. This is just the beginning. We will see a series of appeals and counters where Samsung will try to defeat more of the patents and Apple will seek punitive damages. We will likely see other companies stepping into the fray and we will see Apple go after other companies who are slavishly copying them, bolstered by the win they have received. No, this is not the end of a case, this is the beginning of a tsunami of disruption that will ultimately benefit all of us as consumers.

We want choices. We don’t want clones of the same thing again and again. We want truly great products at competitive prices. That’s the heart of this court case. This is absolutely about choices.

Emergent Gameplay asks questions…

Watch this sneaky bastard.

At first, I’m thinking that the sneaky bastard should win the Internet.

Then I’m wondering why the hostages did not warn the victim? Is that poor AI? Is that a missed opportunity (being a hostage in a game might not be a heap of fun for the average gamer but it would mean a more realistic reaction).

It ends up asking more questions than it answers.

Use Process to create Progress and Success

Dismissing that failure as losing the “app store lottery” (meaning that success or failure is out of your control) dodges important questions.

Among pundits (and would-be pundits), luck seems to be the only route to success. All games and all apps are created equal. And the success of one over another is a mystery.

Except that it probably isn’t.

I remember reading an article about an approach to getting a job from the point of view of a ‘person of religion’. To get a job you must:

  1. Perform religious ritual
  2. Research the job and the company
  3. Perform religious ritual
  4. Prepare yourself for interview
  5. Perform religious ritual
  6. Present yourself for interview, in your best attire.

It doesn’t matter which religion was involved, the process was the same. The obvious logic is that there were probably a few steps that could be removed from this process to get the same result (considering that some atheists have jobs).

This is relevant because there are also points in the process which are not mumbo-jumbo. There are elements in the process which, if not carried out, will cause the process to fail. This is the same with the App Store process. To succeed there are steps you must carry out and there are steps which are entirely voluntary. The danger is when you mix them up.

Write your process for your software release. Use a tool like Planzai to document your process and make it repeatable. And make sure you peer review, make sure you adapt it to each new market and, out of all, make sure you follow it.

The religious rituals in this case are entirely optional.

What is a fair price for entertainment?

Jonathan is a Game designer, previously of Braid, now of The Witness. Partner in IndieFund.

The economics of selling games is complex.

Developers give away games to get up the charts, to gain users, to get reviews. But they need to earn a crust too. Jonathan seems to be asking for developers to make games worth paying for. While I applaud the concept (and it is but a concept because there will always be dreck on the stores), it does little to resolve the core issue. What is a fair price for entertainment?

…and all because Twitter was being a dick

As you can see, App.net just hit their $500,000 funding threshold. They were crowdfunding their start-up cash because they plan to run the service at $50 a year. You sign up, you get your username and they’re permitting folk to port over from Twitter too.

And Twitter needs to realise that a competitor just got funded with half-a-million dollars. And this wasn’t from some venture fund or seed fund, this was from the very people who made Twitter the success it became. They’re the alpha geeks, the encouragers, the networkers, the influencers. And they just sent a half-a-million dollar message to Twitter: U R A DICK.

Twitter started being a bit dickish by buying up some of the best third party clients for Twitter and then killing support for them. They continued by cutting support in those clients for useful services like TwitLonger. They then started plopping adverts into your stream. Then they revamped the iOS client and added a pointless “Discover” tab which drew the ire of everyone. They all but discontinued the best Mac client for Twitter. They’re doubling down on irritating developers and demolishing third party client support and still, after all of this, they’re still struggling for a decent business model – so much so they’ve decided to just sell all of us to the highest bidder.

App.net might make it. They might not. They need to add all sort of things, they need to get new users and they’re going to have a hard time convincing the rank and file out there to part with $50 a year when Twitter is “free-ish”. They need some kick-ass clients out there, they need to be developer friendly and they need to convince the alpha geeks to fork out the extra cash to get family and friends on there. They need to make the mobile web version work really well and they need to make the Android clients sing. They need to integrate as much as possible with existing APIs out there, they need to entice us with easy ways to share our content and, bottom line, provide ways where everyone can win, including third party developers. Give us the permissions to build app.net messages into our games, to protect ourselves from online predators and also to allow us to build micro-communities of interest.

They’ve already got my $50. You can give yours in here.