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The Rock Band pricing fiasco

Add 170 to 70, then google "240 euros in dollars" - first hit: ZOMG is EA / Harmonix nuts asking for 370 frickin' dollars for Rockband? For comparison: the same bundle costs $150 in the U.S. - 97 Euros. So that's over twice as expensive.

You know? With most games, I wait a year or so till the price drops. Rock Band I was actually kind of excited about, to the point I asked Amazon to email me when I could order it. But maybe I will wait.

Note all the single star reviews on Amazon.

Amazon's rabbit hole

Start with this book on Amazon, then explore the similar books (there are two lists on every page). Try to guess which books are completely serious, actually existing books. It's like a weird parallel world. Cheese Problems Solved? What connects a book about huge ships to The Big Book of Lebian Horse Stories? It's like a little ARG. Or is it?Don't ask how I found that book. That page was just open on my computer one day.

DreamWorks to make 'Ghost in The Shell' / James Cameron on 3D moviemaking

According to Variety, DreamWorks is going to turn 'Ghost In The Shell' into a 3-D live-action movie. Steven Spielberg was involved in the deal. Presumably they're adapting the movie by Mamoru Oshii, not the comic by Masamune Shirow.

I am a big GITS fan. I like the comic, the sequel of the comic, the movie, the sequel of the movie, the two TV series, even though they are all quite different. GITS was the first time that I really, really liked a movie adapted from a story that I really, really liked. The comic is cheerfully upbeat about the cruelty and inhumanity of the future, whereas the movie is much more serious and melancholic. Both Ghost In The Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface (the sequel to the comic) and Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence (the sequel to the movie) are less comprehensible than their predecessors, but both definitely have their charms. Man-Machine Interface is almost dreamlike in its opaqueness (and this is saying something when the original comic has footnotes from the author saying 'I have no idea what is meant here'). I remember reading Man-Machine Interface for the first time, then having certain memories of the story and its events... then rereading it about a year later and finding a completely different story. It is highly impressive in that it is this close to becoming ridiculous - characters are constantly floating in cyberspace and saying things like 'Activate defense barriers AX-4E on ports 5, 6 and 19 and seed the attack lines with viruses' - for hundreds of pages. At least, that is how I currently remember the comic... who knows which story I will find next time I read it? In any case, given that I have enjoyed GITS in so many incarnations, I am not as anxious about a Hollywood adaptation as I might be if some other favorite story were involved. Which reminds me that Ghibli Studio's Earthsee adaptation apparently went straight to DVD in Austria and Germany... I should have a look at that.

In related news, there was a fascinating interview, again in Variety, with James Cameron about HD and 3-D moviemaking.

Other than that, for digital 3-D, would you rather see energy going into moving from 2K to 4K, or into moving from 24 fps to 48 or 72 fps, and why?

4K is a concept born in fear. When the studios were looking at converting to digital cinemas, they were afraid of change, and searched for reasons not to do it. One reason they hit upon was that if people were buying HD monitors for the home, with 1080x1920 resolution, and that was virtually the same as the 2K standard being proposed, then why would people go to the cinema? Which ignores the fact that the social situation is entirely different, and that the cinema screen is 100 times larger in area. So they somehow hit on 4K, which people should remember is not twice the amount of picture data, it is four times the data. Meaning servers need to be four times the capacity, as does the delivery pipe to the theater, etc.

But 4K doesn't solve the curse of 24 frames per second. In fact it tends to stand in the way of the solutions to that more fundamental problem. The NBA execs made a bold decision to do the All Star Game 3-D simulcast at 60 frames per second, because they didn't like the judder. The effect of the high-frame-rate 3-D was visually astonishing, a huge crowdpleaser.

And much more interesting stuf.

(James Cameron interview via Boing Boing.)

Info about Valve's new project

John Scalzi, prize-winning SF author, visited Valve Software recently and reports:

What did I see there? I can't tell you (I signed an NDA). What did I do there? I can't tell you (see above). Did I have a good time? Oh, yeah. Should you, as a video game fan, be immensely, immensely jealous? See above. I can say this: If you're a gamer, I think you're going to like what's coming down the pike from Valve. Even the stuff I saw in rough form was very cool. I can also say that the folks at Valve were all very smart, very talented and building really interesting stuff. As I said, when you see it (eventually), you'll probably agree.

Gee, thanks Mr. Scalzi. Could it be a sci-fi title? Involving headcrabs?

Remember, you read it here first.

Greenhouse, Penny Arcade's digital distribution system

Penny Arcade is setting up their own digital distribution system, Greenhouse, together with Hothead Games. This will be used to distribute PA's game "On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness" (which is coming out for the Mac, yay), as well as... other games. They're not saying much for now. Probably because they don't know yet.

According to this interview over at Wired it was just a logical extrapolation of the way they do things. They control the distribution of their comic, so why not of their game?

No mention anywhere of that other indie game digital distributor, Manifesto Games.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Chef Owners Who Work The Line

First a dance video, now a cooking story? Yes.

Here is Shuna Fish Lydon, in her own inimitable style, telling a story about a day at work, ten years ago, cooking at the French Laundry.

Finally Eric says something that makes us all look up from our minute, detail oriented tasks. "You heard me, get off the line, all of you, I'm going to show you how to cook."


"Stand over here, I'm going to show you how to put out this table, I'm going to show you how to cook, how to work like a team, how to put out just one ticket."

And then he did. He cooked every single course, by himself, with not another soul on the line touching sauce pots or spatulas or garnishes. He jumped this way and that, gracefully, using every part of his body, talking, admonishing, telling, teaching, showing, explaining as he went.

It was the most amazing thing I ever saw in a kitchen.

There's more. It's a good read (lol @ "I didn't know what I was doing, I was drunk when I opened that restaurant"). A meal at the French Laundry looks like this - she's not talking about frying some schnitzels here.

Does this have anything to do with games? Of course it does. I recognize many things. You may see other ones. If you don't see any correspondence, you're not thinking hard enough about what you are doing.

I previously linked to Shuna's blog here and mentioned Thomas Keller here.