Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we look at the originality of intellectual properties, the theft of things that don't really exist, and the clanging of the cowbell.
- First up this week is the latest post from 3D Realms' Scott Miller. As he regularly does on his weblog, Miller opens up debate amongst his readers over a relevant issue, and this latest post is inspired by Game Developer magazine's article on the success of original versus licensed intellectual properties in games. Dan Lee Rogers' research in the June-July 2005 issue suggests that something like 80% of the most successful game properties are original to their gaming formats. "Given the success of original brands over licensed ones, why don't publishers invest more in original IP?" asks Miller. "There can be only one answer: They're not good at it. They're afraid." Not everyone agrees though, and while the developer consensus seems to be that original IPs are 'better', it seems that there are too many great licenses (Star Wars, Riddick, Bond and Lord of the Rings to name but a few) to denigrate, or simply ignore, the importance and success of ideas arriving in games from other media. Whatever your opinion on the matter, licensed games aren't going to go away any time soon, especially with the rising costs associated with their production.
- The quasi-criminal practices revolving around stealing imaginary items inspires blogging from both communal MMO-thoughtspac, Terra Nova, and the ever vigilant GamerDad. In the wake of the new Trojan designed to steal World of Warcraft information, Terra Nova posts a few thoughts and links, including a mention of a recent move in UK politics highlighted by The Register, which could classify hackers as terrorists under law. GamerDad meanwhile discusses the recent alleged duping spate in EQII: "No matter how you feel, the story itself creates so many questions about virtual property. Who owns the items in these games? Does the game maker ultimately own all the goods you "earn" through playing because they created it all in the first place? If they don't, then are they liable for damages if they have a catastrophic server crash and lose all your virtual goods in the process? If you ultimately are the owner, then selling these goods online seems like an ok thing to do. What about this specific case? Most people would probably agree that a banning is ok due to using an exploit to manufacture virtual goods, but is it?"
- Jamie Fristrom's blog is as busy as ever, with plenty of thoughts and opinions emerging from his experiences in game design, including the problem of developer teams not being able to reference games to each other when they haven't been able to play them all: "How do we avoid the blind men and the elephant problem; where we all think videogames are something different?" And our development concept of the month: Cowbell. Say what? "In a word - explosions," says Fristrom. "But more than just explosions. They mean seeing your buddy get capped right in front of you. They mean a plane gets shot down overhead and plummets straight at you, trailing smoke. They mean stuff catching fire. They mean the building collapses around you. I like to think Half-Life invented the videogame equivalent of cowbell. But they probably didn't call it that." Does this news piece need a bit more cowbell, readers?
[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his progressive games journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times, to name but a few.]