Archive for February, 2008

My name is Inigo Montoya…

Posted in Games, Industry Rants, Links from the In-tar-web on February 12th, 2008 by MrCranky

Well, someone must have been taking pity on my and my excruciatingly long train journey filled day yesterday, because I found this little gem on my morning news trawl. I’ve been a Princess Bride fan since the first time I saw it, years ago, so it’s a bit of a no brainer that I would happily shell out cash to play a game version, so the pre-order went in about 5 minutes after finding the site. Looking at the trailers and concept art, I think I’ll be pleased with the end result – definitely looking forward to the release date later in the year.

On an unrelated note, my train journey down to our client’s site yesterday was capped by a mother and her kids joining me at my table, a boy of around 6 and a girl probably 9 or 10. The boy had a PSP and was playing away, engrossed, but he would keep banging my laptop in his efforts to show this or that to his mother. So I asked what he was playing, and he replied “Grand Theft Auto”.

“Hmm,” I said, “Liberty City Stories?”.

“Uh-huh”, with an eager nod.

“That would be the 18 rated Liberty City Stories then?”, which I accompanied by a look for his mother which I hope conveyed the level of my disgust and disappointment in her parenting skills.

“Oh, ” she says, a bit flustered, “is it?”

“Yeah”

And with that the conversation died, thankfully. Anything else I could have said would have boiled down to “you’re really just a bad parent”. Really though, come on: you wouldn’t let your five year old watch The Exorcist, or Goodfellas, what on earth makes you think that letting them play an 18 rated game is okay?

The government is apparently planning to ‘clamp down’ on unsuitable video games. If I believed that it was anything other than a cynical vote-grabbing ploy to pander to Daily Mail readers I would heartily endorse this, as I’ve always been in favour of proper age regulation on games content, just as there is for films and television. Thing is, it’s already there. The games industry gets a BBFC/PEGI age rating on pretty much every title that goes out there. The console platform holders (Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo) insist on it as part of the publishing process. Big publishers would never think about not getting their game rated, it’s just part of making games. All in all, we’ve got a great record of self regulation – we are open and up front about the content of games, and we’re not trying to sneak games into the hands of younger gamers.

None of that makes a blind bit of difference though, as long as irresponsible parents refuse to accept that games deserve the same level of care as films. So you’ve found your 14 year old playing Manhunt, or GTA with the Hot Coffee mod – you think it’s outrageous that the developers can make such games. Well here’s a newsflash – we didn’t make those games for your 14 year old. We didn’t sell them to your 14 year old (high street retailers thankfully do pay attention to age ratings). But if their gran bought them the game for Christmas and you said “Oh, that’s nice, now go play” without ever actually checking what the game was like, then I’m afraid that the blame for your child’s emotional scarring lies firmly and squarely with you, the responsible adult. Stop trying to blame others for your actions.

[Huggles web server]

Posted in Random Stuff, Tales from the grind-stone on February 9th, 2008 by MrCranky

And we’re back! By which I assume that the scheduled down-time while our server was migrated to another data centre has been completed without a hitch. I did intend to post here that it was going to happen, but it did in fact catch me by surprise because I thought it was supposed to be last Friday.

My only real mistake was to start reading some of the comments on the Dreamhost status blog regarding the move. Despite the fact that they were open and up front about the move – giving warning on the status page as well as by email more than 2 weeks in advance, they are still customers who feel free to bitch and moan in a most personal and horrific way. Seriously – this sort of stuff really makes me sad to see the sort of attitudes people have these days. Nowhere in the Dreamhost sales pitch does it imply that your 8 USD a month was somehow buying you a service that would be up for absolutely 100% of the time, and yet these folk think that even the best handled server downtime is grounds for some personal abuse. If I were running Dreamhost, I wouldn’t hesitate to respond to any of those “this is unacceptable” comments with “Oh I’m sorry, here’s a refund for the rest of your service, don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out”.

Anyway, trust in Dreamhost’s tech staff aside, my paranoia has been in high overdrive recently, so I had taken this opportunity to double check that our nightly backup procedure was working properly – and I was pleased to find it had. Which means that, should Dreamhost fall over at a critical juncture, we can fall back on our local mirror of the server and only lose work done since the previous night. Not that I’m expecting DH to fall over – they seem to have gotten on top of their random downtime issues, and since I’ve been tracking it with an external tool we’ve only been off-line for 4 hours out of the last 6 months, and no more than 2 hours in a single outage. Why don’t we just host our work locally and use an off-site backup? Well, we do a lot of collaboration with other client, and upstream bandwidth from the office is rather precious. That and the fact that Dreamhost already have quite a few mechanisms in place to restore connection and hardware problems, so they’re probably far more reliable than our local server machines anyway.

Of course, even that’s not enough for us, paranoia wise – not only do we have the primary copies in a well maintained place off site, and secondary copies in the office, we also keep physical (DVD) copies of the repositories in yet another location. Of course the first two are all automated, but the third requires me to actually go over and poke the office server to make a DVD and take it away with me. Unfortunately my attempts to train the local squirrels to do automate the process for me have been unsuccessful, but I have high hopes…


Email: info@blackcompanystudios.co.uk
Black Company Studios Limited, 14 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3BL
Registered in Scotland (SC283017) VAT Reg. No.: 886 4592 64
Last modified: August 14 2014.