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Adventures in Engineering
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2008-04-08 11:17
  Subject:   Video game publishers are the new record companies.
  Music:Public Enemy - Welcome To The Terrordrome
  Tags:  reddit

Hey, I've got a really awesome deal I'd like to offer to anybody who'll take it: If you will give me $20, I will happily pay you $12 in return. Sound like a great deal? No? It occurred to me this weekend that it's the kind of deal most independent video game developers keep making with publishers, again and again.

Part of this was brought about by a post Scorpia made this weekend about a number of studios closing up shop. I've begun taking a little bit more of an interest in investing lately, and I realized that based on very fundamental criteria, I'd never invest in a traditional independent game development studio. Because - the way royalties and advances are being handled nowadays, from the development studio's perspective at least - they are spending more to make a game than it has a reasonable chance of breaking even on. So they may spend $8 million on a game that will likely only make them $5 million.

But that's all to recoup the publisher's advance - which the publisher treats as "funding" the game with a zillion strings attached all the way up until the point where the game begins to sell. At that point it reverts to its legal status as an "advance towards royalties" at the developers pathetic royalty rate. Meanwhile, that $5 million really becomes $0, because it's an advance on royalties and - as it turns out - was the developer's money the whole time. And the publisher - who is raking in much more money on the game, is making a modest profit. Except in the rare instances where the game far outperforms expectations, in which case the publisher makes enough money to cover a ton of losses (which they also take, admittedly - particularly when they cancel contracts), and the developer actually sees back-end royalties for a change.


Sounds exactly like The Problem With Music.

And the solution is the same, too. Cut out the middle-man. Cut 'em out like cancer. Sell your product on the interwebs, directly to your customers. Valve is already doing it. The Penny Arcade guys are also doing it.
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2008-04-08 11:37
  Subject:   Who Won Iraq's "Decisive" Battle?
  Music:Rage Against The Machine - Vietnow
  Tags:  iraq, politics, reddit

What happened in Iraq this week was a beautiful lesson in the weird laws of guerrilla warfare. Unfortunately, it was the Americans who got schooled. Even now, people at my office are saying, "We won, right? Sadr told his men to give up, right?" Wrong. Sadr won big. Iran won even bigger. Maliki, Petraeus and Cheney lost.

If you want to know how NOT to think about Iraq, just start with anything ever said or imagined by Cheney or Bush. Our Commander in Chief declared a week ago, when the Iraqi Army first marched into Basra, "I would say this is a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq." But when the Iraqi Army fled a few days later, he suddenly got very quiet. But anybody could see how deluded the poor fucker is just by all the nonsense he managed to cram into that 15-word sentence. I mean, "the history of a free Iraq"? That’s like that Mad Magazine joke about the "World’s Shortest Books." But that’s nothing compared to Bush’s fundamentally wrong notion that there’s even such a thing as a "defining moment" in an urban guerrilla war. Guerrilla wars are slow, crock-pot wars. To win this kind of war, the long war, takes patience. Trying to force a "defining moment" by military action is not just ignorant and idiotic, but risks further demoralizing your side when that moment doesn’t happen, as it inevitably won’t. What happens when you launch premature strikes on a neighborhood-based group like the Mahdi Army is that you just end up convincing their neighborhoods that the occupiers are the enemy, and the Mahdi boys — all local kids you’ve known all your life — are heroes, defending your glorious slum from the foreigners and their lackeys.

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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2008-04-08 17:44
  Subject:   Yes, the Feds are tracking you by your cell phone.
  Tags:  reddit

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been routinely monitoring the e-mails, instant messages and cell phone calls of suspects across the United States -- and has done so, in many cases, without the approval of a court.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act and given to the Washington Post -- which stuck the story on page three -- show that the FBI's massive dragnet, connected to the backends of telecommunications carriers, "allows authorized FBI agents and analysts, with point-and-click ease, to receive e-mails, instant messages, cellphone calls and other communications that tell them not only what a suspect is saying, but where he is and where he has been, depending on the wording of a court order or a government directive," the Post says.


Who's been telling you so since 2k3?
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May 2015