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Thursday 31 August 2006

Scary Movie [Spiny]

So this is how they breed them?...yikes. Trailer.

Core 2 Duo - holy cow! [Lurks]

I haven't been this impressed with a technology generation for some time and Intel's Core 2 Duo processor is so damn good, it has ramifications for all of us because you are going to want to upgrade. First a bit of a backgrounder; following the Intel Pentium III processor, they needed a new architecture because the existing one was running out of steam at higher clock rates. I can only assume Intel had a range of possible directions to take but ultimately they settled on Netburst, the architecture that ended up in the Pentium 4.
Choosing Netburst, I believe, was motivated by marketing. People didn't really understand the crazy performance vs megahertz ratings that were in the market place. Netburst meant big MHz ratings, bigger than what AMD could hope to achieve, so they went with that. Of course the processor was a LOT slower for a given MHz than the competition and even the previous Pentium III but they still thought it was a good idea. Let's be clear, nothing about Pentium 4s were good and they were particularly absurd when you examined the dual-core varieties which was dramatically slower than AMD Athlon X2s, hotter and more expensive.
Meanwhile, in Israel, a seperate Intel unit worked on mobile processors. With power to performance as a primary consideration, they settled on a revised Pentium III architecture which became known as the Pentium-m. I've blogged about this 18 months ago when I upgraded my lounge server 'Wench' to a 2.0GHz Pentium-m Dothan processor using a kooky specialist desktop board. Pentium-m was, basically, faster than Pentium 4 and managed to do it while using a fraction as much power. In fact Pentium-m was so good, it gave the highest end desktop processors a run for their money. Take a look at Digit Life's views at the time.
Intel's fortunes as a result of this internal politics fiasco that left them without a decent desktop processor, fell somewhat. To the point where the CEO issued a company wide memo saying that it was time to get the house in order. That was the first clue we had that Intel were going to get things back on track. What they delivered was a processor technology called Conroe. I work for a computer manufacturer and the chaps in R&D playing with these samples couldn't shut up about the sort of performance they were getting and then shortly thereafter, the press were saying it too.
Let's cut to the chase. Core 2 Duo is incredible. It's not just a little bit faster than AMD, it absolutely positively wipes the floor with AMD. I intend to do blog on creation of an ultimate games PC with Core 2 Duo later on but that's going to have to wait for the availability of the NVIDIA nForce 590 chipset motherboards to come out. First, however, I needed a little hands on. Wench, my lounge server, doesn't have enough grunt to playback H264 encoded HD video. The processing power this needs should be self evident if it can't play back smoothly in busy scenes on a no-slouch Pentium-m 2.0GHz processor.
Still, some crazy processor would be overkill for a lounge server so I went with the cheapest Core 2 Duo available. The E6300 which is clocked at a miserly 1.86GHz. This is a 266MHz quad pumped FSB (1066MHz actual) by 7 multiplier. It can be had for about £120 with a retail heatsink fan which sits somewhere between the cost of an AMD Athlon X2 3800+ and a 4200+.
First stop, let's just take a quick look to see how it compares in SiSoft Sandra's Arithmetic benchmarks versus my old Pentium-m.

Ah, quite alot faster then. Let's drop a caveat in though, this is a dual core processor. The benchmark you're seeing here is a multi-threaded benchmark so the E6300 is cheating by having two cores but that's kind of valid don't you think? Bare in mind that a Pentium-M of exactly the same clock speed, the Pentium M 750, costs £160 and is slower than the one shown.
See here's the thing though, Core 2 Duo isn't even stretching Intel's fab technology right now. Enthusiasts around the world are buying these things and overclocking the hell out of them. Anand has a great guide. Let's cut to the chase though, here's that £120 processor, overclocked on the standard reference cooler thrashing the AMD FX-62 in games and that's a processor which costs around £550. To do that Anand overclocked a humble E6300 to 2.592Ghz up from 1.86Ghz stock. That's a pretty nice overclock but in the end 186fps in Half-Life 2: Episode One versus 171fps from the AMD is really quite amazing.
So, anyway, I upgraded Wench with a brand spanking Gigabyte GA-965P-S3 motherboard and it all went without a hitch, booting into Windows right away. Then I went into the BIOS and raised the FSB from 266MHz to 357MHz. Set the FSB to DRAM ratio to 4:5. That gives a CPU clock speed of 2499MHz on an FSB running at 1.4GHz and a DRAM clock speed of 446MHz. PC6400 DDR2 memory running at PC7136 speed if you prefer to look at things like that. Fast, anyway. All on the stock air cooler which simply pushes on to the board, no faffing about. It booted, it's been running all day and night without a hitch. No CPU voltage hikes necessary, nothing. 2.5GHz out of an E6300. That's just a shade short of the speed Anand did in the above feature so you could expect benchmarks around that mark. Wench basically now has a processor faster than an FX-62. Bloody hell.

Needless to say it plays H264 HD video without hitch now :-) I also threw a cheap PCI-E GeForce 6300GT graphics card in the box to replace the previous GeForce 2 MX400 peice of crap and I just had to fire up World of Warcraft on my projector. Bah, I'd play from my couch, kicking back to a 9-foot screen if it wasn't for the fact I need a Logitech G15 keyboard for all my keys :-)
And here's running the SiSoft Sandra Multimedia benchmark running at 2.5Ghz and comparing it to a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 840 and an AMD Athlon X2 4800+ among others:

I was expecting to need to buy a more expensive processor when going back to revisit the upgrade boogy with my gaming desktop but now I'm really not so sure. This little processor is basically running just a little shy of a top-end E6700 processor which is about £386 worth of processor. For an uber gaming rig I'd probably buy the E6400 processor for around £163 and then clock the thing within a fanny hair of Core 2 Extreme, a £771 processor.
Bottom line here, Intel done good. It's hard seeing how AMD are going to bounce back from this one any time soon.

Thursday 24 August 2006

And then there were eight... [DrDave]

Well, the combined might of astronomy's best eggheads have got together and decided that Pluto is no longer a planet. This means that a truth that you have all grown up with, that the solar system has nine planets, is now incorrect. Pub quiz goers should probably revise the new formation.
The commitee rejected a previous proposal to enlarge the solar system by three to include the more exotic outer system objects like Charon or 2003 UB313.
So this new classification leaves Pluto out of the planet-club, and lumped together with other Kuiper-belt objects as the rather nondescript sounding "trans-neptunians". Personally, I'm a little bewildered at this decision, as it seems to serve no purpose. Firstly, if you're going to classify things based on arbitrary cutoffs, why not do it in such a way as to not render school textbooks wrong. Why not say: "a planet is defined as a body orbiting a star with a diameter greater than x kms at a distance less than y AUs", where x and y are Pluto's properties.
Secondly, the term planet is so utterly nebulous anyway that it serves no scientific purpose. Why are pluto and mercury morphologically different, but mercury and jupiter morphologically similar? Oh, we've now got the "Terrestrial, Jovian and Dwarf" sub-classification, so why not make Pluto a dwarf?
Mind you, if nothing else, this will really fuck with the mind of astrologers!

Wednesday 23 August 2006

There are only two countries left in the Axis of Evil [Beej]

A recent article in the Sunday papers seems to have passed the average punter by, and its fair enough because we're all becoming blase to Iraq and "Terror" and in general to to a Government which has spun itself a bit too far. The article is interesting because its a little under the radar, but maybe its something we're going to be reminded of whenever it might be that the West gets bored of Iran's diplomatic games over nukes.
Three Iranian factories 'mass-produce bombs to kill British in Iraq'
Well hey, that headline grabs me folks. Some journo is saying that there is a suggestion that Iran, that unfairly picked on energy-developing nation, is not just playing around in Iraq trying to make a quick buck, but is actively running a production line of advanced bombs at facilities in Tehran and handing them over to terrorists attacking British soldiers? Whoah. Pretty heavyweight suggestion there I think. Certainly one that gives us a reason to get off the fence.
So what's so significant? Well I'll tell you what I reckon we're missing here: This is the first claim that terrorist attacks in Iraq can be linked to the Iranian Government.
Aha. But haven't the UK press been banging on about Iranian involvement in Iraq for nearly a year? Well yes. Here's a reminder from November 2005:

"[the] technology certainly, and probably the equipment, is coming through Iran"

So it's been pointed out the deaths of some British squaddies isn't 100% organic to Iraq, it's not some underdog resistance fighters figuring out bomb technology and tactics as they go along, plucky scamps. But isn't this a case of Shia Terrorist A in support of Shia Terrorist B, a bit like the way the Scots and the French might have a snog whenever the hilarious English football team loses? Well yes, it is like that. At a low level. But you see, now there's this suggestion that actually, the support isn't from the other side of the hill from where a line was drawn on a map, somewhere a thousand miles from Tehran, so hey they might not even know, and that border is intangible, ooh it's just like Pakistan and Afghanistan, give the benefit of the doubt because its all so feudal and we're applying rigid Western values to tribal lawlessness!
Yeah, maybe... but maybe not. If we're going to bang on with British liberalism, a worthy tradition that gives the benefit of the doubt, let's also entertain the far-out fantasy that Iran is run by servants of God under a religion which does not tolerate unbelievers and isn't adapting to modern values too well. Hold that thought, and let's spin something that The Sun could splash:
  1. The bombs used to kill British soldiers are made in Iran (yeah yeah, so we heard)
  2. These bombs aren't made in a quiet town in the mountains, they're made in Tehran (oh?)
  3. At least one of the three factories allegedly produces weapons for Iranian Army (interesting claim!)

Now it's important to wheel out the caveat, so Guardian readers, start your engines please: The. Source. Is. A. Pro. Democracy. Anti. Iranian. Group. pass the salt, and whilst you're at it, pass the link to remind us about faulty intelligence that the West were suckers for because of that ghastly man Chalabi. The source of this bomb-making article is apparently a bit politically untidy and maybe that's one reason why with the present British Government running on empty, the Yanks aren't rushing to push the claim either.
The article got me thinking about how the Iran issue has gone a bit quiet despite UN deadlines and with Lebanon as a bit of a distraction. So step back. Take the long term view.
Countries announced as Evil in the way back when:
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Libya
  • Syria
  • Cuba
  • North Korea
  • Venezuela (only kidding Hugo! Hating America doesn't qualify as evil, otherwise most of Europe would be on this list)

Now update this list with four and a half years of international politics and "War on Terror":
  • Iran
  • Iraq (invaded in March 2003, under occuption three weeks later)
  • Libya (kicked the terrorism habit the same year)
  • Syria (gone quiet and under subtle but serious pressure since 2005)
  • Cuba (Castro is unwell and detente seems as imminent as The Reaper)
  • North Korea

With hindsight, is it a surprise that there's just two of the six untouched? Maybe. Did we think the list would be rattled through this quickly? (Sadly we didn't blog what we thought at the time). It's not hard to guesstimate which one of these countries might be seeing some pressure over the next few months, and maybe the claim linking terrorism in Iraq directly to Tehran is a pointer at what's brewing for the next year or two.

V Festival 2006 - a quid too far? [Lurks]

I'm a regular music festival goer. You either get festivals, or you don't really. The fact is they're a couple of days of rough living 48-hour party with music as the main focus. Yet within that limit there's a heck of a lot of room for each festival to carve out it's niche. In the last few years, the British music festival phenomena has become bigger than anyone would imagine given the typically unpredictable weather. V Festival is one of the newer festivals and was basically conceived as a commercial branding excersize in order to market to youth culture.
That's not necessarily bad. After all, if the music line up is good and it's often brilliant at V Festival, then you know what you're getting. This year I went with none of my regular festival going vets and instead a bunch of festival virgins. By and large they seemed to enjoy themselves although, predictably enough, the ladies were pretty non-plussed about the whole portaloo experience. Let's face it, if you had to use one just to take a leak then you'd be not too pleased either.
About the festival: It was basically alright. The lineup wasn't as good as previous years. Tickets were basically available up until the last minute which meant I got shafted on some tickets I bought for a friend of a friend, assuming they'd be in hot demand. In the end I got half face value. I thought the festival would be somehow less popular but in fact it was bigger than ever, it was just the result of putting tickets on sale late. At any rate, we had crap weather, we had good weather, we had crap bands, we had good bands. It was your pretty much par for the course festival experience and I think we all enjoyed ourselves.
I wouldn't say it at the time to the new folks though, but I think this V Fest was just a stretch too far on the commercialisation. It's always been a festival on my 'guest list' so's to speak, I go when the line up is good or to fill a gap. No Glasto this year swung it. However after this performance, I'm going to have to strike it off. It's just too big, too commercialised, too damn expensive and for all of that it's lacking that festival atmosphere which draws me to festivals in the first place.
It's amazing to read on efestivals about how many people in general are moaning about V. Much of it seems to be people complaining about stuff you'd find at any festival. Conversely though, there were a lot of things that were wrong. It never occured to the organisers to actually guide people to what they need to do when they arrive such as approaching unmarked desks to obtain wrist bands and neither did many of the event staff have much of a clue either. The thing most people, rightly, complained about was the absurd £10 lanyards required just to know who was playing when. That was firmly into taking-the-piss territory given that you've paid £120 to show up and you'll be paying outrageous prices all weekend for food and drink. It's not so much that the crowd can't afford it, it's just a blatant rip-off and I think as the BBC article shows, there's a bit of a backlash now.
A low point for me, though, was the security staff arbitrarily deciding on the second day that you couldn't bring fold up chairs referred to in Aussie slang as chair millionaires into the festival. Now bare in mind I've been coming to festivals for years using these things, they're a festival vet's best kept secret. We could take them in earlier in the day and the day before, they just decided at some point you couldn't. Which was stupid because folks were selling them inside the festival. When you've been walking/dancing for a day already and the ground is pure mud and there's nowhere to sit, believe me you want one of these chairs. In the end I managed to sneak them in, barely, but only because I went in early on Sunday. The fact they think it's alright to do this sort of thing means I'll simply take my festival custom elsewhere next time.
Also much was made of the huge amounts of straw that had been obtained for the inevitable mud given the weather reports. In the end they didn't use any of it and the steep slopes to camp sites became six inches deep in fast flowing mud. I'm baffled why.
Radiohead was clearly the act of the weekend for us although a personal festival highlight would have to be Hayseed Dixie who performed their bluegrass covers of metal songs with a gusto that makes their albums sound second class by comparison. Not a lot of amazing music and acts there really and even the appearance of my favorite artist, Imogen Heap, was hampered by a short set with cataclysmically inept sound (levels, feedback etc)and some twat stood up the back with an airhorn who was not, by all accounts, afraid to use it.
So, in the end I kept on a brave face for the festival new folks in the hopes I can entice them back to a real one at some point in the future. Broadly speaking though, I could sum up this year's V Festival as being a soul-less over commercialised, expensive, inconvienient jobsworth of a festival. My idea of a good festival is one with less general drunken loutishness, more weird stuff, lots more weird stuff, plenty of hippy types/vegetarians/spiritual claptrap, a choice of alcohol that I can choose to purchase rather than fecking Carling or Strongbow and above all else, one that keeps the action going past midnight so you can party into the night. V Festival was none of those things and I feel sorry that anyone would think that it is remotely indicative of the average British festival.
I still had a good time, in parts, and had a laugh with my mates. It's just there's better places to do it where the organisers are at least doing their bit for ensuring you have a good time rather than going to extrodinary lengths to fleece you for cash. In retrospect I cannot believe that I was ever slightly annoyed with Michael Eavis' lefty tendancies because if this is the alternative, sign me up to the communist party baby.
Of course not everyone thinks the same. On the coach back I had a conversation with some people about how I'll now be doing smaller festivals instead and mentioned my next one, Bestival, as an example. They weren't fussed because there wasn't some big music line up. Some people go for the music. Myself, sufficiently tanked up and grinning with my pals, will enjoy the music and atmosphere whatever it is. I know that's not a view shared by the folks that came for the first time either since our own [EED]Slim said to me "I've I'm going to leave the island I want to see big bands that I can't see at home." And fair enough. I've been able to go to big band gigs whenever I want, so I guess it's a supply and demand issue.
The bottom line is I like the huge crowd headlining gigs of the current uber band like the next man, but most of the time at a festival you're trying to find somewhere comfortable to be, something nice to watch, something good to eat and get slowly ever more drunk with your friends. That's the sort of thing which is, to my mind, infintely better at smaller festivals (with the exception of Glasto of course) than it is stuff like V Festival. V-Fest basically isn't a festival at all, it's just a big gig with camping.
Next year we'll have a car and we'll be driving and I intend to hit some of the smaller fringe festivals and maybe discover some more which will be put on my permanent list along with Bestival and Glastonbury. Maybe next year we can think about hitting one overseas ones like Roskilde in Norway or that big Spanish one. There's enough of these things around now that you really don't have to put up with second best. And so I shan't :-)

Wednesday 16 August 2006

Dell, sperm and exploding batteries [Lurks]

You'd have to be hiding under a rock to miss the press of the famous Dell exploding laptop. The basic thing is this, lithium ion batteries are inherently dangerous but they bring so many advantages in terms of power density for the weight and low self discharge rates that the industry has adopted them anyway and chosen to deal with the complicated charging regime and safety features required to use them. Dell, being a pretty large provider of laptops, ends up being the unlucky bastards that had one of their products at an IT press event that suffered a catestrophic battery failure leading to the above linked press.
Now this story has been simmering on for awhile now and a number of laptop battery safety exposés have appeared. Americans being quite absurdly litigious have by and large forced their corporations to behave in an ultra conservative manner. Eg. the remarkable ass covering moves you see them engage in day to day for fear of something coming to bite them on said ass down the road. A direct result of that situation and the simmering press, lead Dell to recall 4.4 million batteries in the most widespread and, dare I say, expensive recall in IT history.
The thing is, it's all batteries made by Sony which Dell is pointing the finger at. Now if you're read this far, I want to reward you in some sense for reading an otherwise tedious blog. While Dell has obviously carefully considered this entire move and is plotting it's PR efforts with considerable calculation, Rick Clancy, senior vice president of corporate communications at Sony Electronics, found himself put on the spot by what amounts to Dell finger pointing at his products. He quite reasonably started out:

"You try to eliminate that in the manufacturing process, but to eliminate them 100 percent is very difficult. Usually when you have a short circuit, it might lead to a battery powering down so you’d have a dead battery, but other times it could lead to incidents including flaming," Clancy said.

... and then of course issues some diversionary tactics to try explain that the problem with the batteries could be a design flaw in the laptops. Then, amazingly, he uses a fresh analogy.

"The chances of a short circuit depend on the design of each PC, such as whether the battery cells are aligned in parallel or perpendicular, and their proximity to heat sources like the processor and power supply. But ultimately, the odds are against the engineers, since any given particle can create a short, just as any given sperm can make a baby."

Yes, that's right Mr Clancy, it's exactly like fucking! But wait, there's more!

"It’s kind of like impregnating someone. It only takes one, so the more of them there are, the more likely that you’ll impregnate someone."

Haha! At this point it becomes unclear if he's still talking about sperm or lots of men fucking the same woman. For those who are having difficulty understanding the entire story, I'll paraphrase for you.
Dell says "Sony batteries are dodgy, they explode". Sony says "No no, our laptop batteries are like several men fucking the same woman. It takes only one to get her pregnant and explode!"

Saturday 12 August 2006

No liquids, no gels, no pastes [brit]

For the last week I have been living in a bubble, habiting hotels various between Italy and France.
This afternoon I grab a daily from the International Press section of the local newsie and discover two things:
1. Under the auspices of Osama Bin Fuckhead, a group of enterprising morons were brought to heel as they plotted to blow up a whole load of planes with some sort of liquid chemical 'thing' and...
2. David Beckham has been dropped from the England team after having collected 94 caps, and apparently cried like a baby when told of his droppage.
Now, the reason for this blog having the title it does is that I am currently sat 15ft away from a sign that says precisely that; any hope of duty free purchase has vanished and I've had to go through a security check normally associated with last minute jaunts to Tel Aviv.
Other than that, I hope the security services do their thing, dust off the thumb screws and show the idiots involved why fucking around like they did is a very silly thing to do.
David Beckham being dropped made me laugh out loud however - it is about time someone had the guts to tell him to fuck off and I suppose his World Cup performance (especially the night we wnt out) sealed the deal. Either way, I rather suspect his teary outburst wasn't so much to do with his football, but more to do with now having to spend so much more time with his talentless wife, watching her suck cash off Mr VISA quicker than Moss snorting Bolivia's finest.
Living in a self imposed bubble of ignorance for the win!

Monday 7 August 2006

Arnie Films - Pick the Best [DrDave]

Let's be honest, as gentlemen of a certain age, no other pop culture icon has contributed to our upbringing more than weight lifting, porn starring, movie making, god fearing Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Which of us can avoid asking for a "phased plasma bolt rifle in the 40 watt range" when we go to buy guns? Who amongst us can deny experiencing an almost Godlike feeling of power whenever we hear a mini-gun discharge? And who doesn't carry around a wet towel for those times when you're avoiding interplanetary oxygen cartels? No-one.
Face it, to lads who were young in the late 80s, Arnie is the daddy. And I expect most young ladies of a similar vintage have sneaked a look at their other half's Conan The Barbarian DVD on those long winter night alone, dig?
So dear readers, I pose the following: Pick three Arnie movies from his vast body of masterworks, the three films that you would most like to watch at an evening's Arnold Schwarzenegger retrospective.

Tuesday 1 August 2006

The End of E3 [Lurks]

I've been to E3 five or six times having worked in the games industry and related fields. One bit of news I didn't see coming is that basically they're killing E3 as we know it and turning it into an 'intimate' trade event. No more 60,000 visitor games mega-show at the LA convention centre, instead it will be some trade-only event for press and retail etc. It will be located in a couple of hotels instead with the use of private suites for appointments and such-forth. This is stupid.
This is exactly what happened to the UK's only games show, ECTS. The show which eagle-eyed readers may note is now no more. The UK is without a games show full stop. What they've done to E3 is basically the same thing they did to ECTS when they decided that it was a bad idea to piggy back a consumer show and a trade show. I say 'they' what I mean is one or two of the large publishers. That's how this stuff starts. One of them says "Hey, this is costing us double digit millions of dollars, let's not do it!" and it kicks off from there. Let's just get past the fact that the reason the whole thing costs so much money is because these guys engaged in an arms race of ever more expensive booth extravaganzas in the first place. It didn't need to cost that much. You just needed to get over the fact Microsoft and EA's stand was going to be bigger than yours. Everyone agreed E3 was getting silly but the solution was to kill it off? Surely there was a reason you were spending all that money?
Here's the thing though, once you've succeeded in kicking out all the filthy unwashed public and you've created your wonderful little industry love-in, the down-size stops there? It doesn't. Why? Because games publisher marketing director guy realises that if he's going to get a bunch of the press along to see his stuff exclusively and doesn't have to worry about constructing a huge stand and hiring some booth babes, he has this other thought. "Heeeeey! Why don't I just run my own event in a nice location and we can fly out all the journalists and trade dudes and it's still cheaper than doing mini-E3!". That's true, it is. This does, however, completely miss the point of a show.
The thing about a games show is this: is demonstrates the industry and provides a focal point via a substantial famous event brand that generates a heck of a lot of interest outside of where you are focusing your marketing and business development efforts. In one place you can see the new product portfolios upcoming from the publishers, check out the press and public reaction first hand and then, assuming your business aligns somehow, actually go grab a representative from that company and do some business. Yes, it's not great for Boris from PC Games Ninja or whatever and I know he complains he doesn't get enough quality time with your dev team. So what for Christ's sake? You have 20 web guys you never even knew before coming by, each of them has more readers than that guy.
If you cut down attendees, you've cut down a bunch of people who would come by your stand and perhaps engage in some meaningful business with you because it didn't actually occur for them to call you up or for you to call them up. And let's face it, your corporate web site does an excellent job of hiding any real contacts from people that might want to do business with you. The games industry is really quite incestuous enough in terms of the fact most business gets done due to who knows who, who owns who and who is bonking who. You go shove it behind closed doors and you've just killed the tangible benefits of having a show and kicked out any new fresh blood to mix up your stagnant gene pool.
If you've been to E3, you'll bump into all sorts of press from the most incredibly unlikely place. The Ayres Rock Gazette or some shit. They've come because they know E3 is a big thing. They can take some remarkably impressive photos, get a quick tasted on all the new upcoming stuff and they can write it up in their mainstream newspaper. Are you going to entice a reporter away from a daily paper to cover some private industry love-in? No. Well done, at a stroke you've just lowered the visibility of the entire games industry.
So the pattern of the long-slow-death goes as follows. First they create the more intimate trade-only event. A number of game publishers realise that there's absolutely no need for them to pay the exhorbitant costs of the hotel functions the organises have put on, so they start running their own stuff in the same town at the same time just as we saw at ECTS. The original event starts to look a bit anemic, then the game publishers realise that it's really not such a big deal any more - why should they fight for the same mind-share as the other publishers, they can run their OWN trade event at corporate HQ or some nice place where they can go skiing afterwards or something. Bingo, the entire thing dies completely. Just like ECTS.
The argument is that there's big game shows at Leipzig and the Toyko games shows. It's like they're saying that there's no room for a big consumer games show in the English-speaking world. Well, I think that's pretty damn unfortunate really. It's a spiral of self-destruction we've already seen. E3 in LA was a far bigger, more famous event, among consumers and the press, than either Leipzig or Tokyo are worldwide. You go to either, you see pretty rapidly that they aren't E3. In the case of Toyko, it doesn't even represent the world games industry particularly well.
I'm not saying that E3 isn't annoying because of all the fanbois and 16 year olds with "Director of Kicking Ass" badges or anything. However I think that a consumer game show is a great time and a great place to do business behide (seperate) closed doors and demonstrate to the world's mainstream press (the press that actually matters at the end of the day because this is the press that isn't preaching to the converted) that the games industry is an exciting place through delivering a loud, yearly, focal point for the games industry.
I kinda felt like the Game Stars show in London, which died after the first year, was actually a good template. Run a big consumer game show in a hall showing off all the new stuff you want to show off. Then across the way, run your game developer conferences, open areas, meeting rooms, workshops, bars etc for getting business done. However I think to do it, you've got to hand over the organisation to an outfit that does consumer shows and can go and market it effectively. They might want to hire some guy that understands that big white spotlights aren't great for gaming atmosphere either. Some guy that had, you know, been to E3.
The problem, ultimately, is that you need to engage the brain-challenged game publisher marketing directors. These are the guys that will happily rape your event and do something in town at the same time, because they think they're getting more out of it for them, rather than coming on board to support the organisers and the industry as a whole.
The thinking that has lead to this move ignores the modern landscape of social technology and communication too. It's more valuable now to engage all the guys you didn't know existed, than to have some cosey relationship with the biggest magazine in town. Gamers and potential gamers are getting turned on the products of the games industry by an ever wider range of media, web sites, blogs, pod-casts, web-comics, guild-forums and Christ knows what else. You can't target this stuff by inviting it to your private shit any more, the need for a proper games show to reach out to all these guys is greater than it's ever been before.
Unfortunately this whole episode basically stinks of outmoded thinking, a failure to correctly strategise the most effective way to market your products in the modern age. Not for the first time I'm struck by the fact that the games industry's worst enemy is the games industry.