Corporate Hijacking

Microsoft has been recently accused of trying to hijack another company’s private property, NoIP’s DNS service. While that is definitely not a good thing, if looked at just on its own, it is important to remember that Microsoft is, currently, one of the biggest and more active players in the fight for internet security and safety. They are running multiple operations to take down botnets and disable malware running systems all over the globe.

So, dear legal system, don’t let a company order another company to hand over property but let’s try and do accommodate the, maybe self-appointed, sheriff trying to bring order to this wild west country we call the internet even if they do need a slap on the wrist every once in a while to figure out how to actually get things done properly.

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Selling Overhead

Is what this Gamasutra article called the recent trend in game development to sell “the things that usually end up on the game studio’s cutting room floor”. It’s talking about things like Early Access, selling the game while it’s being developed, and mostly about selling the “Prologue” to Metal Gear Solid V and selling access to Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight.

First of all, I don’t think it’s really surprising in this age where Publishers are mostly going the way of the dinosaurs and more developers retaking control of their creations and trying to hit the audience directly, saving money while still trying to make hiqh-quality (i.e. expensive) titles. The money has to come from somewhere.

The writer stresses the Double Fine and Metal Gear Solid V angle a lot, Double Fine selling access to their prototypes (things we usually couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t see) and Metal Gear Solid being split into (at least) two parts with the first one serving as “prologue” whose content might or might not later also appear in the full game, but I would like to point out two counter examples and say that, once again, when satisfaction is concerned, it’s all about expectations.


The current customer expects that when she pays 60$ for a new game it will contain at least 10-20 hours of meaningful gameplay. Whether this is reasonable considering what we pay for movies, music, etc… is a different discussion – this is what we currently expect. In the days of the first StarCraft it was reasonable to sell a main game for 60$ and then an expansion with more missions and story for 30$. We then evolved the model of selling the main game for 60$ and tiny bundles of story/gameplay/extras for 5-15$ and lately we’ve also added alphafunding. Some of these models seem weird but, again, it’s all about expectations. And also honesty and transparency. (Here come the two examples).

  1. Decent Early Access Games/Developers – Look at Mojang, Vlambeer and all the others that decided to go the alphafunding/early access route but did it candidly. Mojang sold Minecraft from the very early (and sometimes broken versions) but they were honest about it. They said the game is in development, it might break, and you’re actually paying for the game’s development as it is being developed. The customers were promised that, they were promised that the game will be updated and improved and they won’t have to pay more despite the initial entry fee always increasing. And fucking hell, that model works for them. Vlambeer went with Steam Early Access for Nuclear Throne. They were upfront in saying that the game is in development, it will be cheaper after it’s done and there will be no sales or bundles until release. They said that this is only for those who want to support the developers during development. And they live-stream development and upload a new build every week. Which is awesome. They promised specific things and they deliver on what the customers expect from that.
  2. Stoic went a bit of a different route with The Banner Saga. They started from a Kickstarter campaign, raised funds and used those funds to start development. Roughly a year later, they released Factions, the Free-To-Play competitive version of the game featuring their beautiful art but mostly consisting of just the combat aspect of the game. They did that because they saw that development will take longer than previously expected and they wanted to put out something that people can play. But, mostly, they did that so they could get more help (than just backers) with fine tuning the combat aspect (the main game loop in The Banner Saga) and bring it to a mirror polish, thus making the final game better for everyone. But, they released it free to play. Meaning, you could play the “no-campaign” version of the game for free and if you wanted to, you could sink some money into it to fund development of the full game. They told gamers what to expect and they delivered on those promises, honestly and ethically. Then, another year later, you could buy the campaign-full, complete version of the game for a very competitive price of 25$.

Conclusion: I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to develop or sell your game. The only wrong thing is no fulfilling your customer’s expectation. Yes, sometimes those expectations are not up to you and you can roll with it or sit in the corner and cry. But, if you notice it, the only times gamers rise in uproar about how a game is sold/played/whatever is when it doesn’t fulfill expectations. I don’t know exactly how the Metal Gear Solid V thing is going to work but if Ground Zeros is selling for 30$ and The Phantom Pain will sell for 60$ and Ground Zeros won’t deliver at least half the satisfaction of The Phantom Pain and/or The Phantom Pain will actually contain some, half and especially most or all of the gameplay of Ground Zeros, you can definitely expect an uproar.


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My Coding Conventions

When I run my own company or lead a brand new team, everyone will follow coding conventions. My Coding Conventions!

Here they are, to the best of my current knowledge and by probable order of importance.

  1. Every method will be documented! That includes purpose, parameters, proper usage, etc…
  2. Every property will be documented! Yes. Exactly the same.
  3. Every class will be documented! Especially about recommended uses and where it is suppose to go.
  4. Every public field which is not incredibly obvious will also be documented!
  5. Every conditional block will be an actual block, with parentheses. Even if it’s one line!
  6. Starting parentheses always get a new line! Exception: if it’s a conditional or property and it fits in one line.
  7. Every method shall appear in full before its first use. This makes the code more readable! Do It!
  8. Design for any part of the program should be ironed out ahead of time and with as much detail as reasonableness allows.
  9. To be continued… (Suggestion welcome)

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הילד שקרא “לייק!”

או תופעת דילול העוצמה האישית באינטרנט.

הרשתות החברתיות מאפשרות לנו, לפחות מאז הגל השני של התופעה (Facebook, Google+, YouTube…), להגיב על הודעות ב-Like, או מקבילתו. אני רואה את הלחיצה על הכפתור כסוג של “I Approve of this Message”, כמו אמרתי “כן, מה שהוא אמר. אין לי מה להוסיף.” או “כל הכבוד. אני בעדך.” ואצלי, מעט מאוד דברים נכנסים לקטגוריה הזאת.

יש כאלו שיגידו שזה בגלל הרגשות נמוכי העוצמה שלי, שאני לא מתלהב כמו בן אדם ממוצע אבל אני חושב שזה לא נכון. או לפחות לא קשור לנושא. זה קשור לנושא של דילול העוצמה. כמו שנאמר, כשכולם מיוחדים, אף אחד מיוחד. או, בהשלכה למקרה שלנו, כשלוחצים Like על הכל then you don’t really Like anything.

קוראינו המבוגרים יותר בטח זוכרים את הסיפור על הילד שקרא זאב. לטובת הקוראים הצעירים יותר, הנה התקציר: הסיפור הוא על ילד שמשעמום מחליט לרוץ לכפר ולצעוק שזאב תוקף את העדר שלו. הכפר כולו מתחמש לעזור להדוף את החיה אבל כשהם מגיעים, הילד צוחק עליהם כי הוא עבד עליהם והם האמינו לו. המקרה חוזר עוד פעמיים או שלוש עד שהכפר כבר לא מאמין לו. וחבל, כי זאת בדיוק הפעם שזאב כן מגיע וטורף את כל העדר.

המשל שאני לוקח מזה הוא “תגיד משהו בקלילות יותר מדי פעמים, כשבאמת תתכוון לזה אז כבר לא יאמינו לך”. בהשלכה למקרה הרשתות החברתיות, אם לוחצים Like על כל דבר שזז, כשיבוא משהו שבאמת ילהיב אותך, כולם יגידו “כמובן שזה טוב, אתה לוחץ Like על כל דבר.”

וזה הכל, זה לא צריך להיות נושא ארוך. רק הסבר ללמה אני ממעט להתלהב. למה סולם התגובות הבסיסי שלי הוא “איכס, Meh, בסדר, נהדר, מדהים!”. ולמה אני מרגיש קצת רע עם העובדה שכוחו של אותו Like מדולל על ידי רוב האוכלוסיה. למה זה מפריע לי שאין לו את העוצמה שצריכה להיות לו, שאנשים לא משתמשים בו ככלי, ככוח אלא רק כתגובה תת-הכרתית.

אני רק רוצה להעביר את המסר שכשאני לוחץ Like, כשאני נותן תגובה חיובית, זה כי אני באמת מתכוון לזה ולא סתם מנימוס.

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The Results Are In!

And you can see the awesome game we made at the Global Game Jam on my Projects page.

The Global Game Jam Game page is right here.

And thanks to everyone for a great time and great work.

And our Music and Sound Designer is Alon Kaplan, starring as Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Picture.

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My Kind of Jam

Global Game Jam.

Don’t try to reach me until Saturday night.

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Now That I’m Slightly Back from the Brink of Death by Schoolwork…

Here are some recent updates.

As evident by yesterday’s post, I’ve passed the big test I had to pass and that’s a huge load off my mind. I’m still waiting on the last grade, my last assignment. On one hand, it’s a grade I feel much better about and could probably argue for it if it’s not high enough. But on the other hand, if I can’t get the grade that I want, I’m more screwed than with Computability.

I’ve had one job interview with a game company on Sunday and I have another today. I got some homework from the first company. A kind of demo of me being able to do what the company does. It’s an interesting request whose legality I still question. I mean, I am doing work for them and I’m not getting payed for it but, at this stage, I’ll do what I can to impress.

The next interview I have is for a company that is kind of big in the Israeli Game Development scene and I hope it goes well. Overall, having options is best.

I also have an interview lined up with Microsoft. And I know what they say about Microsoft but they do have great researchers and, stack ranking aside, if I do get accepted, I hope the team is good and I get some experience, at least.

In the mean time, I’m trying to get a job, trying to gain control of all the everyday monsters that grew more powerful over the past two months when I didn’t have time for them. So I need to read through all the news, really clean the apartment, rearrange some of it and get started (or continued) on some personal projects (including three games, one game system, one long form story and several short form).

That’s it for now. Maybe tomorrow I’ll update about today’s interview.

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The U.S. Government Shutdown

The United States government has shut down, sending what is probably thousands of people on unpaid leave and grinding to a halt many services that, I guess, many Americans take for granted.

So far, which is a few days until now, nothing has been resolved and there will be no “unnecessary” government workers doing their jobs (such as rangers and probably museum employees and stuff like that) until it is resolved.

The debt ceiling is expected to be hit some time before this month is over. Meaning, the USA will not be able to borrow more money if they don’t fix that too, in a law. No such law was able to reach the top of the food chain for quite a while now. If they won’t be able to borrow more, the United States will default on its debts which, as I understand it, is a form of declaring bankruptcy. Which could lead to a total collapse of the US governmental and financial systems.

(I know, I’m exaggerating, it’s probably less grim than I make it sound)

And when the biggest superpower in the world is going down the toilet… I care about the fact that I can’t get my Astronomy Picture of the Day!

You can get it here, by the way.

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It is done.

And by it, I mean this.

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T אנשים בצורת

במדריך לעובד של Valve יש קטע מאוד מעניין שמדבר על אנשים בצורת T. לפי ההגדרה, אנשים בצורת T הם אנשים שיש להם מרחב גדול של ידע וכישורים אבל הם גם מאוד ממוקדים וחזקים בתחום לחודי. אני מנסה להיות כזה בן אדם. לא רק כי “Valve, יאיי! אני רוצה לעבוד שם!” אלא גם כי אני חושב שזה מתכון טוב לכל אדם מקצועי שמנסה לחצוב לעצמו נתיב בתחום שלו. ואני גם אוהב לחשוב שאני, כמו שצריך להיות כל בוגר טכניון, בן אדם יחסית כללי בתחום שלי. זאת אומרת, במדעי המחשב לומדים הרבה תחומים רחבים ואני מצפה שלכל טכניוניסט שיוצא משם יהיה לפחות את החלק העליון של ה-T כבר בתהליכי בנייה מתקדמים. אני מרגיש שכשאני יוצא מהטכניון אז יש בעברי מספר שפות תכנות שונות (לפחות C, C++ ו-JAVA בצורה חזקה, ותלוי לאן הולכים, גם Python, C#, ML, BASH, JavaScript וכן הלאה), מספר סביבות פיתוח שונות (Visual Studio, Eclipse ו-GCC/++G עם GDB/DDD לפחות ואצלי גם MonoDevelop, Unity, Qt וכן הלאה) והרבה הרבה שיטות עבודה וטכניקות. וזאת התחלה לא רעה.

עכשיו אני רק מנסה למצוא ולייסד את החלק התחתון של ה-T שלי.

נ.ב. רק לשם הרישום ואולי השוואה לאחר כך, מ-0 עד 10 כאשר 0 זה כלום ו-10 זה מישהו שבגיל שלי עבד רק עם זה לעומק, הנה הערכה שלי:

  • C++ = 6
  • Java = 6
  • C = 5
  • JavaScript = 4
  • HTML = 4
  • SQL = 4
  • C# = 3
  • WordPress/PHP = 2
  • Python = 2
  • ML = 2
  • Prolog = 2
  • Pascal = 1
  • Assembley = 1
  • Visual Studio = 6
  • Eclipse = 6
  • Qt = 5
  • GCC/G++ = 4
  • Unity/MonoDevelop = 3

זאת אומרת, אני בן אדם דיי כללי כרגע ולכן יש לי קצת בעיה עם כל הצעות העבודה בהן מחפשים “מומחה JAVA” או “תותח #C” כי אני יודע Java ואני יודע #C אבל לא הייתי מגדיר את עצמי כמומחה, אפילו כמה שאפשר עם כמות הנסיון שיכולתי לצבור (בטח אין לי 2-5 שנות נסיון), אבל יש לי בסיס, אני לומד מהר ואם מקום עבודה רוצה שאני אתמקד ב”הכנס שם כלי אקראי כלשהו כאן” אז אני חושב שתוך חודש-חודשיים אני אשתמש בזה כאילו זה כבר חלק ממני.

Posted in Humanity, IT, Life, Me, Programming, Thinking Out Loud by with 2 comments.