December 31, 2005

XBox Live under the microscope

This Wall Street Journal article looks at the strategy behind XBox Live and outlines the challenge in convincing anyone other than hardcore games to gather to play online. The article suggests that Microsoft may have got it wrong with their huge investment and missed the point when it comes to why many play games - to escape from social interaction, not to seek it. - Microsoft Places Big Bet On Multiplayer Gaming

It's a good point to raise but what about all the soft stuff around the games? The text and audio linkups, the webcast potential. Control without defined goals can be provided more and it will be. It's just that businesses and minds creating game consoles are overly focused on the audience segment that plays the most. That doesn't mean that the rest of us, casual gamers & non-games alike, won't appropriate these kind of systems. They're expanding the framework of online entertainment and I don't think you can ever discount the degree to which this will affect people.

What happens in five years when the concept of broadband channels are mainstream and old hat? What about networked performance? What about live events that reach out and poke you? Cinema link-ups? The first time that I used XBox Live a few years ago, chatting to other players with my voice masked so that I sounded like a kid, it was obvious that the scenario spelt out in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, where networked thespians bid for online gigs, was yet another step closer.

An Xbox subscription looks far more compelling once the titles that make more than a token effort to de-emphasise interactivity outnumber the 'games'. At some point we wil look at 'interactive' and 'online' and think what quaint expressions. Computer game jiggery-pokery will mean even less than it does now to the success of a title. Trillions of polygons? Sophisticated AI? Bollocks.

We've demonstrated a primal capability to vege out in front of the box and I'm not convinced that this has been taken on board. The next paradigm shift may not come from game makers but more technically-naive linear programme makers who can lead unfamiliar audiences into a more participative space with smoke and mirrors. It will all involve game technology sure enough so a reasonable bet that Live will stay up for a while and someone will work out how to make money out of the concept..

Posted by .M. at 04:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2005

Hollywood opts out of the Google Economy

A new media strategy report details how and why the US film industry is refusing to play ball with broadband. It identifies the UK as the bellweather market in 2006. All eyes obviously remain on the BBC and BT to see how their video service offerings play out.

"...change will come largely on Hollywood's terms and at an incremental pace..."

i2 Partners::Consulting and Venture Development

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Hallam Foe: open source scripting

Going one step further than most, gapingvoid: hallam foe: open source filmmaking is an experiment in distributing a screenplay half-way through writing it. I'm not convinced it's going to catch on (neither it seems are the people involved as they've just withdrawn the Download link) but a worthy exploration even if only for the feedback to-date.

Posted by .M. at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

Google Zeitgeist

The year according to Google rates 2005 as the year of the Wiki, Myspace as the "Top Gainer" and reveals even more of Janet Jackson. The singer storms to the top of the Google News - Top Searches chart with more hits than Hurricane Katrina.

Google Press Center: Zeitgeist

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December 12, 2005

MOD Films for mash-ups

Wired 13.12: Thinking Outside the Box Office

"Interviewer: Have you thought about making a mash-up?
Steven Soderbergh: I have ideas like that - video mash-ups. Some of them I've done privately. But there's no way for them to be seen legally. I wish we could come up with a system that allowed someone to do a Grey Album without having to pay millions of dollars for music rights. A system in which rights holders share profits of a new piece of work and people can access it without breaking the law."

Looks like the appetite for MOD Films is increasing.

Posted by .M. at 06:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kong lives

I was deeply sceptical that the monkey-and-blonde-chick-flick would be anything beyond VFX candy but King Kong (2005) surpassed my expectations. If not for the plot, the cinematography, the colours, and above all the emotive performance of the world's biggest CG character make this a classic.

The godfather of mocap acting, Andy Serkis, has spent quality time hanging out with the gorillas of London Zoo and it shows. On The Culture Show, you can see gorillas responding in the background as he demonstrates a few phrases to the interviewer. One revision on from the process of creating Gollum was the 'Kongalizer', a voice-masking system that allowed Serkis to vocalize gorilla-like on set.

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December 09, 2005

Film (The Sequel)

Cass Creatives: On Film (The Sequel) is a thoughtful report on a recent debate in London where panellists looked at strategies the UK film industry may need to adopt in order to survive the next decade.

Posted by .M. at 03:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2005


stimTVmusic is a video-based online music service which cycles through short clips and allows the viewer to bookmark favourites. It's marketed as "a revolutionary way to discover music" but so far the interface looks decidely non-scalable and functionally nothing more than a cut-down Bookmarks tool.

Posted by .M. at 06:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google still under fire from publishers

The calls by publishers to block Internet search engine, from being able to monetise their content via indexing, are getting louder. The European Publishers Council has come out in support of French agency AFP which has a lawsuit out against Google News.

Group: Online content cannot remain free

Just how this dispute will be settled remains to be seen but the explosion of Web 2.0 (site-as-application) concepts and ever-increasing online search capabilities means that Microsoft and other players vying for a bigger piece of the action must be eying this one carefully. It is going to be hard to roll back the clock, regardless of how much traditional "Ask Permission first" pressure is applied. The very nature of the medium could be at stake.

I'm yet to hear any pro-active proposals from these same publishers as to how they intend to evolve their business while overzealously guarding their meta-data.

Posted by .M. at 01:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Multiverse aims to provide a MMOG platform for developers and for inter-operability between what it calls 'gated communities' (and what we know as the hit MMORPGs like World of Warcraft). No cost until you make money. We like that one but let's see how that business works in practice...

Posted by .M. at 01:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2005

VJ Peter Greenway

NoTV Visual Music - 17.06.2005: Peter Greenaway's magnificent VJ debut back in June has been documented by NOTV. About time that feature film directors get in on the action.

Posted by .M. at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack