Eight news stories 19.6

  • Very bad news for any gaming enthusiast. The British appeals court say that modchips don’t circumvent copyright protection. It is only by protecting copyright that game developers can be paid for their work. And if they aren’t paid for their work then they won’t make games as we have seen so many times before.
  • Now the federal police are taking an interest in Jack Thompson with a visit from two federal marshalls. He brings this on himself so it is impossible to be sympathetic. He has harmed people’s attitudes towards gaming with his lies so we can only hope his credibility is now zero.
  • TIGA, the game developers trade organisation in the UK, has asked the government to fund research into the videogames industry to come up with standardised information. And they do have a point, when you are engaging in debate it does help if you know what you are talking about. One thing that does seem to be missing from their list of items is growth rate. Because if you extrapolate to get the coming potential of this industry for the national wealth the figures would be staggering. Which is why Canada is so clever in investing so much in gaming.
  • How a computer game is made. I like this a lot. The BBC have made a short video that gives a glimpse of the scale and complexity of modern game development. Seeing this would blow away a lot of people’s false preconceptions about our industry. Well worth spreading knowledge of this video, every bit of understanding of what we do helps.
  • It only takes £12,000 to develop a casual game. According to the people that know. This is just like the 8 bit days all over again, where the game mechanic is the most important thing. One thing that will come out of this is a lot of innovation.
  • ELSPA are spot on with their battle against the BBFC. The current system works, why bring in an expensive and un-needed bureaucracy which would have the added disadvantage of being parochially British? So it is good that ELSPA are using the well proven marketing tool of a bit of consumer research to help make their point. It seems that a good majority of adults in the UK would prefer a pan European game rating system. Personally I would have expected most UK adults not to care what happened to the game age rating system, they are more concerned with house prices and paying for car fuel.
  • The more I read about what John Riccitiello is doing at Electronic Arts the more I like it. The Need For Speed team were working to a 12 month cycle which was hammering product quality. Now there are two Need For Speed teams working on overlapping 24 month cycles, a tactic that nVidia used to overtake it’s competitors in the GPU market. Let’s hope it works because product quality is paramount when games are so very expensive.
  • David Braben of Frontier Developments says: “95 per cent of videogaming degrees are simply not fit for purpose” and “these degrees are a waste of time for all concerned. We are facing a serious decline in the quality of graduates looking to enter the industry – the death of maths, physics and computer science graduates is hitting us hard”.  With 80 videogames degree courses available at UK universities only 4 are accredited by Skillset. We can see what’s happening here, just about every kid wants to be a game designer and the universities are happy to take their money off them with academics traditional disregard for the real world and the needs of industry. What is needed here is a professional association for people who work in the game industry. Just like accountants, doctors and lawyers have. Which lays down standards and sets professional exams. So the university course would be a foundation, followed by a couple of years apprentiship in industry, followed by professional exams, after which the person would actually be qualified. That would raise standards.


  1. A 12 month development cycle? Lucky sods …my last two games took several months each. Admittedly one of them was a DS game 😛

  2. And, at the moment is the system not already similar to what David Braben wants? You do a degree for a foundation (I don’t agree with Skillset 100%, but working out the bad from the good is what portfolios are for), then you get a graduate job, then you try not to get sacked for 2+ years, then you can start applying for ‘proper’ programming jobs. All that’s missing is a final exam …that is unworkable, like most games academia.

    And, while I’m at it …NFS is an iterative car racing game. 12 months sounds like more than enough to keep churning out the same tat and hitting number 1 every other xmas.

  3. Except that modchips DON’T in themselves enable piracy any more than “owning a PC” enables piracy of PC games.

  4. About the modchips: very GOOD news to combat the region division stupidity. And for homebrew.

    We bought consoles, we didn’t rent them. We should be able to do whatever we want with them.

    My god, anyone says cheese, you say PIRACY BAD!!!. There are more uses for them, you know?

    And about EA and Riccitiello: go speak with anyone of the ¿hundreds? of people that can’t play the copy of Mass Effect they bought. And now, see the pirates?. They can play with no hassle. Again, DRM hurts the customer. EA is doing a big disservice to their customers, and the worse thing is that when their games have less sales because of this, you and them will say PIRACY BAD!!! instead of addressing the real problem.

  5. Oh yes, its a terrible day for gaming enthusiasts when we can actually play our imported games that weren’t released where we lived. A terrible day indeed.

  6. Yes I must remember how evil mod chips are when my friends and I are playing our thousands of dollars of imported software. Truly horrible things. Imagine if we couldn’t circumvent region protection? We might have had to spend our money on an entirely different industry. I’m sorry game developers!

  7. On a 1.0-1.5 Xbox a modchip offers no more piracy-related features than does the onboard, flashable TSOP. A hacked BIOS (or a legitimate BIOS, or a Linux BIOS) can be installed on either.
    On a 1.6 Xbox a modchip offers the owner the flexibility that was already built in to the 1.0-1.5 Xboxes.

    On a 360 DVD drive, once again, a modchip offers no more piracy-related features than does the onboard, flashable TSOP. Either a patched BIOS can be flashed to the drive or a modchip can be fitted that patches the BIOS while it’s running.
    I haven’t paid much attention to the Infectus, but as far as I know any motherboard-and-Infectus modding leads to dashboard rollbacks and Linux booting, rather than the playing of backups.

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