The Journey Continues

Earlier I posted about beginning a practice in organizational consulting.  While it is indeed something I’m passionate about and good at, I’ve decided to refine my focus a bit more.  That decision was the result of personal examination of the differences between clients and customers.  There’s probably an essay in there somewhere. Here are the results at whoneedsnormal.com.  It may not be the destination, but it’s definitely a fun part of the journey.

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Crackpot Scheme #763, or Why MMOs Suck

This was an earlier contribution to The Secret Lair and can be read in context here. I confess. I am a wannabe junky for Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs).  I say wannabe, because I have yet to find the right game that scratches my itch for the MMO experience. Perhaps the closest I have ever come to that level of passion and devotion was when playing the original Everquest.  That experience ended with the birth of our first child, when my wife said to me “I don’t think you realize the extent to which this child has changed our life.”  She was right, of course. Being a dad is a lot more important (and fun) than camping for another <generic creature> to kill and acquire another <generic material> to make another piece of <generic armor>. Since that time, I have sampled many MMOs, but I have not stuck with any of them for more than a month or so. I have also spent a lot of time thinking about why those games fall short of what, in my opinion, prevents them from being great games.  Let us hit a few of the highlights: Endless Combat Is this all the Role Playing game has become? Must everything be about the next kill / battle / raid? Grinding Constantly repeating actions in order to advance skill just so you can reach the next level is not that much fun. I have seen people wedge their keyboard keys down so they can keep running or swimming just to increase those skills. Career Options Really, you can only be an exceptional craftsperson (merchant) if you have the fighting skills to go out and get your own supplies. Want to be a priest, monk, or cartographer, you’d better be a fighter first. Instances “Lord Muckgrunk is a real challenge to take down, so we’re going to let everyone kill him once every ten minutes.” or “That other group just entered that dungeon, but don’t worry about running into them. They have entered a parallel dimension where everything is fresh and new for them.”  Instances might as well be minigames in a pub for as much as they contribute to a persistent game world. Yard Trash Apparently, all major metropolitan areas within games cannot extend their peaceful existence more than about fifty yards from their front gate. NPCs, or Lack Thereof I played a game for a while where frequently I was the only person in the entire city, and the only NPCs in the city  stood stock still in their shops all hours of the day and night. There were no wandering NPCs, no other players, and apparently undead shopkeepers. It was creepy. Ganking and Consequences, or Lack Thereof I’ll address the accusations of “Care Bear” gaming a bit later, but giving gamers free reign to kill or take advantage of other players without consequence is just dumb. I’m all about dangerous gameplay, however there should be consequences beyond “this faction now hates you and you…

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Flux Capacitor USB Hub

I’ve had this idea for a while.  It’s inspired by all of the many DIY projects for building home versions of the Flux Capacitor found on the interwebs.  I really want a cool USB hub, and I might try to build on of these if I had the time.  Knowing that I’ll likely never take the time, I’ll leave it here as a concept image that I mocked up in Photoshop:   -kingfish

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It’s Time for a Digital Comics Business Model

I think the e-reader evolution has just reached a tipping point.  In fact it’s may just be my personal tipping point, since the release of the new Kindle 2 has generated a significant amount of gadget lust in me.  Every night at bedtime, I am faced with the 3 or 4 reading choices living on my night stand.  The idea of having an entire collection of books, magazines, blogs, and personal documents at my disposal holds a great deal of appeal.  By all accounts, the screen size of the Kindle and it’s main competitor, the Sony 505, are plenty big for your average novel or plain text document.  At $300 – $400, that still makes them a pretty steep gadget investment.  The really drool-inducing gadget in this up-and-coming technology is the unfortunately named FLEPia from Fujitsu, which not only supports full color, but a screen size comparable to a full sheet of paper and freedom from any proprietary file formats or subscription services.  It, however, will likely weigh in at a whopping $900 when it is finally released.  All in all, it still looks like the best way to enjoy comics books in the digital age.  I want one.  Badly. As noted in my participation in the “little known fact about me” meme, I haven’t purchased a single issue comic book in about 20 years.  I love comics, but if a particular storyline is not available as a collected volume or graphic novel, then I don’t buy it.  I’m not a collector, and I still contend that the whole comic-book-as-investment concept is just an illusion, perpetuated by the marketing machines of the publishing industry.  I especially get annoyed at having to follow a particular storyline through many different individual titles.  Serialized storytelling should not feel like a expensive scavenger hunt, but that’s a rant for another day. Much like browsing a large retail bookstore, I will peruse the comics titles that interest me in a digital format.  If I like them, I will almost certainly buy them in collected print form.  Many of the gems on my bookshelf originated this way, such as Superman: Birthright, Superman: Secret Identity, and Lex Luthor: Man of Steel(hmmm, I believe a theme is emerging here).  Having read these titles digitally first actually made me more likely to purchase them in print.  The difficulty here is trying to curl up with a laptop at bedtime or use it to read in the car.  It’s just no fun (it’s heavy, it’s hot, it’s slow, and I usually have to plug it in).  Only slightly less cumbersome is the tablet PC that I use for work.  At least with the tablet, I can read a comic in portrait mode and not scroll up and down in landscape mode. And thus we return to e-readers.  As much as I would like a Kindle or a Sony, they can’t read comics.  Technically, I guess you could say that they can, but who wants to read comics in black and white on a six inch screen?  Now the full-sized color Fujitsu…

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