What are your favourite genres?

I have three questions for you guys reading this:

 

1.     What are your favourite genres in any medium (games, books, TV, movies, etc)?

 

2.     How have these changed over time?

 

3.     And why have these changed over time?

 

In my case, when it comes to games, I spend most of my time playing strategy and RPGs, but I’ll dabble in almost anything except sports – and many of my favourite games, such as Star Control 2, Okami, and God Hand, are neither strategy nor RPGs. My tastes were even broader when I was younger – I grew up playing Civilization and SimCity 2000, but also everything from Street Fighter 2 to Zelda: Link to the Past and Herzog Zwei. The subject matter of a game, more so than its genre, is what usually interests me, and it just happens to be the case that the narratives/historical periods/imaginary worlds that I find most appealing tend to be in strategy and RPGs.

 

When it comes to every other form of media, if you asked me one or two years ago I would have called myself a pure science fiction/fantasy buff, but since then I have identified less and less with that genre. Most of my recent book purchases have been history books, always a love of mine, and what fiction I have read has increasingly been historical fiction. I read these to satisfy my growing interest in trade, prosperity, the course of empire and the slow birth of the modern world, and these are issues for which I find speculative fiction increasingly irrelevant.

Total War: Shogun 2 – The Verdict

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Total War: Shogun 2

This is the third post in my series on Shogun 2. You can find my early impressions here and my write-up of the game’s diplomacy here.

 

 

Total War: Shogun 2 is the latest entry in Creative Assembly’s grand strategy, conquer-all-before-you franchise, and its core strengths are those of the series as a whole. Play Shogun 2 for making you feel a master strategist as you build cities; develop farms and mines; raise armies and march them across a beautifully drawn map of Sengoku Japan. When those armies meet, play Shogun 2 for making you feel a natural general as your samurai flow across the battlefield with an easy click of the mouse. Play Shogun 2 for the tension as you wonder how long your beleaguered men can hold, and for the thrill of triumph as you tilt the balance with one well-timed charge.

 

But unlike its predecessors, Shogun 2 offers more than that, for this is the game where Creative Assembly applied the lessons learned from earlier missteps. Where previous Total War titles started strong but wore out their welcomes with boring late games, Shogun 2 is about planning and preparing and gathering momentum for a decisive endgame showdown. Where previous Total War titles were aptly named because diplomacy was so dysfunctional, Shogun 2 makes diplomacy not only viable, but a vital part of the preparation for that showdown. Where previous Total War titles were buggy and often crash-prone, Shogun 2 seems much more stable. Where previous Total War titles suffered from risibly inept AI, Shogun 2’s computer opponent appears more capable (though it still sends generals on suicidal cavalry charges, while failing to repair ships). Last but not least, where it was painful to keep track of a growing empire in previous Total War titles, Shogun 2 offers a far more user-friendly and better-documented experience.

 

In technical terms, then, Shogun 2 is a very good strategy game, one from which other developers could learn, and one that benefits from being built upon the foundations of previous mistakes. It even nails pacing and diplomacy, two elements that strategy games struggle to get right. The question of whether it is a great game is more subjective. As a game, Shogun 2 is so much better implemented than Empire: Total War that it makes me sad for the wasted potential in the latter, but I will still cherish how Empire brought to life a pivotal historical period and the real-world importance of seapower. Shogun 2 sheds no such light for me, but this is more a function of my own interests* rather than being any fault of the game’s. All in all, I would recommend Shogun 2 to any strategy gamer (especially one interested in the Sengoku era!) who would like to see the series’ core mechanics at their most refined.

 

*  While I am interested in Shogun 2’s subject matter, the Sengoku era in Japan, I am even more interested in Empire: Total War’s scope and subject matter: the Enlightenment, the wars of the eighteenth century and the dawn of the modern world.

 

You can buy Total War: Shogun 2 from Amazon here.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this post! To quickly find this post, and my other reviews, click the “reviews” tab at the top of this page.

 

 

The basis of my review

 

 

Length of time spent with Shogun 2: Roughly 29-30 hours’ playtime (adjusted for time spent away from the keyboard).

 

What I have played: Two short campaigns (one aborted as the Oda, one won as the Shimazu), two historical battles, several custom battles, several “classic mode” multiplayer battles.

 

What I haven’t played: The avatar conquest multiplayer mode, the multiplayer campaign.

Announcing my new non-fiction blog: The Optimist

How has the material wealth of England compared to that of China over the last 2,000 years?

 

What book would make for a good introduction to the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean?

 

And what could rainfall have to do with democracy?

 

Matchsticks for my Eyes’ new sibling blog, The Optimist (www.petersahui.com/optimist), examines these questions and more!  While Matchsticks for my Eyes is about “stories in all their forms”, The Optimist is its non-fiction counterpart where I discuss books or research that has caught my eye.

 

Join me at The Optimist as I set out to learn more about our wonderful world – one book, article or paper at a time.

Total War? Only for the undiplomatic: the lessons of Shogun 2

This entry is part 2 of 10 in the series Total War: Shogun 2

Update: You can find my verdict on Shogun 2 here.

Total War: Shogun 2: A diplomatic victory, but not in the way you’d think

I’ve now finished the Total War: Shogun 2 campaign (short length, Hard campaign difficulty and Normal battle difficulty, playing as the Shimazu), and I can update one of my earlier impressions. In my previous post, I mentioned that getting too close to the finish line would trigger “realm divide” – a final showdown, with “almost every single computer player in the game [declaring] war” on the human.  It turns out this is not quite correct: even after realm divide I was able to stay on good terms with several allies both large and small. How did I pull this off?

You see, realm divide’s effect is indirect – it works by lowering the human player’s relationship with the AI  players. This negative modifier is big to begin with, and grows turn after turn after turn (there is a cap, but it’s ridiculously large). When that relationship becomes sufficiently negative, the computer will declare war1.

The trick, then, is to pile on every positive modifier possible. Research techs (such as the tea ceremony) that grant a bonus to diplomacy, and keep your daimyo’s honour high so everyone will be more fond of you. Then bribe your chosen buddies to get the ball rolling. Once they’ll agree to it, wed their daughters (or vice-versa) for another, large positive modifier. Strike an alliance for a further boost to relations. Exchange hostages – in my case, an eight-year-old grandson – for yet another boost. And for good measure, declare war on their current enemies (you’ll fight them anyway once the realm divides) for a final bonus.

The net effect: I never had to take on more than a handful of enemy factions, and the ones I did fight were usually busy with wars on other fronts as well! Good relationships bought me the time to win the game before my allies, too, turned on me.  In other words, diplomacy made the final war manageable before I fired the first shot. That is how it should work in a game like this.

How Shogun 2’s diplomacy stacks up to other games

Seeing diplomacy done properly in Shogun 2 underscores how weak it was in the previous Total War games. Afterwards, I loaded up Empire: Total War – from 2009, just two years ago – to compare the available diplomatic options, and boy, has Shogun 2 come a long way since then. Empire has barely any tools I can use to influence a relationship – I can give gifts, I can return land, and, uh, that’s about it – and the options which are there, in my experience, do not work nearly so well as they do in Shogun 2. Suicidal computer players, ahoy!

Shogun 2 also showed up the weakness in the diplomatic system of another game, one you might not immediately think of: Civilization V. Its predecessor, Civ IV, is much like Shogun 2 in that it provides plenty of ways to butter up a computer player, from trade to missionaries and shared faith to open borders. Civ V is a big step back from that. It offers a bare handful of ways to influence a relationship (I can sign “declarations of friendship”, denounce people I don’t like, and… what else?); those features present are poorly documented; and the computer’s attitude can feel infuriatingly random. This was not helped by a design decision to make diplomacy feel more like interacting with other humans – who are explicitly out to win, who are harder to read, and who are more prone to treachery – and less like the application of a game system. Firaxis undid some of the damage in a patch that allowed you to see some of the factors underlying the computer’s attitude, but the lack of diplomatic tools remains. The overall result, as I wrote around Christmas 2010, is an unpleasant throwback to Civ I, a game that’s 20 years old this year.

In contrast, Shogun 2 does appear to owe something to another game renowned for its diplomacy: Galactic Civilizations II, the 2006 4X game from Stardock. I only played a moderate amount of GalCiv2, but I did observe that like Civ IV and Shogun 2, it offered plenty of tools to influence relationships – including techs that conferred a bonus to diplomacy, an idea that Shogun 2 may well have picked up from here.

What makes Shogun 2’s diplomacy work – lessons for other strategy games

What underpins the successful diplomacy in Shogun 2 is the clear link between investment and payoff. In an RPG, if I spend points on my speech skill, that visibly pays off when I unlock new dialogue options. In Shogun 2, if I spend my money raising an army, that visibly pays off when I take my new recruits and use them to conquer my neighbour. And in Shogun 2, if I spend my money on bribes/gifts to other factions, my in-game time researching the tea ceremony when I could be researching gunpowder, and my real-world time messing around in diplomacy screens, that visibly pays off in a secure border and healthy profits from trade.

In turn, this is the result of both successful design and execution. From a design perspective, Shogun 2 provides players with a whole menu of options, most of which involve a tradeoff of some kind (the “investment” part of the equation), while making it very difficult to take on everyone at once in the endgame, especially in the absence of trade income (the “payoff” part of the equation). And from an execution standpoint, these tools work because the diplomatic AI in Shogun 2 is not – at least, in my experience so far – the spiteful and bloody-minded brute that it is in so many other games. Offer a good enough deal, and it will accept. Treat it well enough, and it will be your staunch ally for years.

The benefits to gameplay are real. Good in-game diplomacy means less whack-a-mole, more choices, more strategy. More intangibly, it contributes to immersion and suspension of disbelief. RPGs have party members and non-violent quest solutions, adventure games and shooters have sidekicks and snappy dialogue, Gondor had Rohan, and strategy games should have proper alliances. If even so martial a game as Shogun 2 can succeed here, then other strategy games should follow suit and offer us the rewards of jaw-jaw.

  1. I believe, but do not know for a fact, that realm divide makes the computer more willing to go to war when the relationship is negative (whereas pre-realm divide, a computer player that hates my guts may be more willing to keep the peace). This is conjecture, though, based on how quickly the computer is willing to attack, post realm-divide, once the relationship becomes low enough.

Matchsticks for my Eyes moves to a new address – please update bookmarks, RSS feeds, etc

This weekend was a big one for this blog! Matchsticks for my Eyes moved off WordPress.com and to its own site. The new address is http://www.matchstickeyes.com.

 

If you came here by typing the old address into your browser, following a link, or by loading a bookmark, you should have been automatically redirected to the new site. In fact, you should not have noticed any differences. Just update your link or bookmark with the new address.

 

If, however, you came here via RSS or email subscription, you may need to resubscribe at the new address. I will no longer update the old site and posts may not come through on the old feed.


Thanks for all your support! I hope to see you around at the new place.

Tactics Ogre: A tragic misunderstanding

This is the fourth post in my series on Tactics Ogre. Check out my earlier impressions of the game’s (1) character profiles; (2) four things it does better than FFT (and one it doesn’t); (3) how I used different character classes in battle; and (5) my verdict on the game.

 

The legend of King Arthur reaches its tragic end at the battle of Camlann, one that could have been avoided but for a stroke of ill luck. Arthur and his foe Mordred, so the story goes, sat down to negotiate. Their armies looked on, ready to pounce in the event of treachery. Sure enough, one knight pulled his sword – but it was to strike at a snake, not the king. It did not matter. The armies saw the steel, not the snake. And when it was over, Mordred was dead and Arthur lay dying.

 

Certain events in Tactics Ogre, though far, far less drastic, reminded me of Camlann all the same.

 

(Minor spoilers follow.)


At one point in Tactics Ogre, the story calls for the main character to set off on a parley. But I didn’t do this immediately. It took me a couple of hours of real time to get around to it—for one, I had to fight another story battle, and I think I must also have spent some time grinding in random battles, crafting, or rearranging my party.

 

Upon finally making it to the negotiations, up popped the party selection screen – the same one that comes up before every battle. “Hmm,” I thought. After all, Tactics Ogre is a tactical RPG – battles are the meat and potatoes of the gameplay. The obvious implication was that the day would end in bloodshed. So I did what I always do when I see that screen: I sent in the hero plus a full complement of party members, all of them armed like medieval Rambos. Sure enough, the resulting cut-scene showed the situation degenerating into violence. I shrugged, mowed down my foes, and moved on with the story.

 

And then, several days later, I learned from GameFAQs that the bloodshed could have been avoided, had I sent in the hero alone and unarmed.

 

“Wait a minute!” I thought. “How on earth was I supposed to know to do that?!” But something still bothered me. Maybe the game had given me the appropriate hint, and I’d just forgotten about it?

 

So I went back to re-watch the cut-scene before the hero left for his ill-fated parley. And sure enough, he did say that he should go alone and unarmed.

 

Oooops.

 

The game’s developers had indeed given me a hint about what to do, and I had indeed forgotten during the time it took me to get around to the parley. But even if I had remembered that line of dialogue, it would have been undermined by the game having conditioned me, by that point, to expect a fight after seeing the “party selection” screen. So moral of the story #1 is to reaffirm the hidden danger to taking time off from a game’s plot. Moral of the story #2 is, when gameplay mechanics train the player to do X in a given situation, designers should be wary about then expecting the player to do Y instead. This would all be small comfort to the generic enemies who lay dead in the snow. Sorry, guys, I’ll be sure to spare your lives on my next run!

 

At least I got an in-game title, “Bloodstained Hero”, out of the affair…

Shogun 2 impressions: THIS is a difficulty spike

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Total War: Shogun 2

EDIT: I’ve since won the Shogun 2 campaign! You can find my updated views on diplomacy here, and my verdict on Shogun 2 here.

 

 

A while back I declared that I’d hold off buying Shogun 2, but in the end, positive reviews and word of mouth, even from skeptics of the series, were enough to change my mind. I’ve now played an abortive campaign as the Oda on Normal, and I’m in the early-to-midgame of a Shimazu campaign on Hard. What are my impressions the game now that I’ve had the chance to play the full version?

 

For starters, two points were quick to jump out at me:

 

1. Shogun 2 is much more user-friendly than its predecessors: Compared to the earlier games, Shogun 2’s interface makes it much easier to keep track of your empire. In Shogun 2, a handy panel on the right-hand side of the screen that allows you to quickly jump to any army, province, fleet, and so on (a little bit like the information panel in Europa Universalis III). Previously, you had to open up separate menus to access this information; now, not only is it more convenient to access, it makes it much easier to hop between locations on the map. And Shogun 2 also makes an effort to better document itself: the various unit blurbs and statistics are now collated in the in-game encyclopaedia.

 

2. The diplomatic AI lives on the same planet as the player (on Normal difficulty): One issue endemic to strategy games is computer players that just will not say die. Their armies can be shattered, their homelands aflame; no matter, when you drag them to the negotiating table, they’ll demand your firstborn. But my Oda game was an overdue exception – if I beat a rival clan badly enough, they’d come to me begging for peace, and once I was even able to use diplomacy to demand a beaten clan become my vassal. I am not sure, however, whether the diplomatic AI is always sensible on the higher difficulty levels; in my Hard Shimazu game, AI players have a stubborn tendency to outright refuse (without even making counter-offers!) to sign trade agreements with me. (That said, even on Hard, the AI will surrender when it knows it’s beaten.)

 

And as I played more of the game, a more fundamental difference jumped out at me. My standard gripe with the Total War games – again, as with many other strategy games – is that they’re challenging for a few turns, then I break out of my starting position and snowball until I grow bored and quit.  Shogun 2 changes this formula in two ways: it’s both shorter and sharper.

 

3. In Shogun 2, the short campaign really does seem short: The short campaign requires the player to conquer 25 provinces, including Kyoto – and in about five or six hours of play as the Oda (and auto-resolving trivial battles), I wasn’t far off from the 20-province mark. I think that a skilful player, on Normal, could finish the short campaign over a single weekend, which is a pleasant change from long slogfests. However, in order to finish, you’d have to survive the endgame. And that leads me to my next point….

 

4. This game is the textbook example of a “difficulty spike”: All too rare in grand strategy games, Shogun 2 finishes with a bang rather than a fizzle. This is how my Oda campaign, on normal, compares to the other Total War games I’ve played:

 

Shogun 2 - the difficulty spike is not an exaggeration
Shogun 2 - the difficulty spike is not an exaggeration

 

Remember the win condition in the short campaign is to capture 25 provinces including Kyoto? Well, when you draw too near to victory by capturing 20-odd provinces (the precise number can vary) or Kyoto, that is Shogun 2’s “crossing the Rubicon” moment. This triggers a “realm divide” event that will make almost every single computer player in the game declare war on you. Allies, trade partners, neutrals, formerly subservient vassals, even clans all the way on the other end of Japan – all of them will soon be at your throat. UPDATE – I have corrected this observation; refer to my post on the game’s diplomacy.

Now, from a thematic perspective, I like this a lot, for the same reason that I liked the noble lords dashing for the capital at the end of an old strategy game, Emperor of the Fading Suns. From a game structure perspective, I like this, too – I’ve argued before that games should build to a climax, and showdowns don’t come much more climactic than Player vs Everyone Else.

But a clever difficulty spike is still a difficulty spike. My Oda game went from “pushover” to “unwinnable” in the blink of an eye, as armies attacked me on every front. I had been able to coast up until that point; my fortifications were pretty minimal and my armies largely consisted of ashigaru zerg swarms, but they worked. By the time realm divide rolled around, I was complacent. Boy, did the actual endgame come as a nasty shock after that. Given that I did complain about the series’ tendency to have “a drawn-out, grindy and ultimately boring late game”, maybe this was a case of “be careful what you wish for”…

 

So far, the game is promising enough for me to keep playing. This time, with the Shimazu, I intend to dig in and tech up as much as I can before realm divide sets in. I’ve set the campaign length to “short”, this time, so the game should end on a high note with the realm divide showdown. And I’m looking forward to that, even after the hammering I took the first time. Finally, a challenge worthy of the name “Total War”!

Let’s Play the Empire: Total War Multiplayer Campaign – Introduction

The Total War series of PC strategy games does not dream small. Players choose a nation – a sweeping empire, ambitious upstart republic, barbarian horde, or anything in between – and set out to conquer all before them. On the games’ strategic map, players move around armies, spies, and generals; form new alliances and break outdated ones; and sink their money into economic development or raising fresh troops. When those armies clash, the game swoops down to put the players in control of a 3D battlefield showing hundreds or thousands of men at a time, charging, fighting, dying, fleeing. Set in periods such as the late classical world (Rome: Total War), Sengoku Japan (Shogun: Total War), and the Middle Ages (Medieval: Total War), the games wear a veneer of history, but ultimately they are not about accurately representing the past. They are about bringing toy-soldier childhood play to thrilling life.

 

The series’ ambition reached its zenith in Empire: Total War (my writeup here). Set in the 1700s – a century which started with a war over who should become king of Spain, and culminated with the American and French revolutions – Empire propelled the series into the age of gunpowder. And instead of tasking the player with the conquest of Europe or Japan, Empire broadened its scope to the whole world. In Empire, players can fight in three main theatres (Europe, North America, and the Indian subcontinent) and send ships to four lesser ones (the coasts of Brazil, West Africa, and the East Indies, and the straits of Madagascar). British redcoats can square off not just against French regulars in the fields of Flanders, but Iroquois warriors in the Thirteen Colonies, Maratha cavalry in India, or those same French in Quebec. Empire also plunges into naval warfare, allowing players to command their ships in battle and using overseas trade as a carrot to reward players for achieving command of the seas.

 

Unfortunately, Empire has a particularly noticeable Achilles’ heel. As with many other strategy games, the computer player cannot keep up with a human over the course of the campaign*.

 

The option to play the campaign in multiplayer alleviates this problem.

 

And this is what Peter Davies, aka beefeater1980 (edit: later replaced by Shane Murphy, aka Talorc), and I are doing. Each of us manages his respective kingdom and commands his troops and ships on the battlefield. And the way the Empire multiplayer campaign works, each time one human player fights a battle against a computer player, the other player is given the chance to take over for the computer. The result should be a game that’s exciting and epic in equal measure, and so far, it has lived up to our hopes.

 

The game: Empire: Total War.

 

The rules: The winner of the game will be determined by Prestige, which as far as we can tell is awarded for researching certain technologies, and building fancy public buildings ranging from infrastructure to palaces. We have set the campaign difficulty to Hard (which gives a boost to the computer players) and the battle difficulty to Normal.

 

The two sides: Peter Sahui (PS) as Britain (that’s me!). Peter Davies (PD) and later Shane Murphy as France.

 

Our game begins in 1700; historically, this was the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession. Great Britain** is allied to Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria and Hannover. France is allied to Spain. Britain controls the British Isles, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Prince Rupert’s Land; France controls metropolitan France, the Windward Isles and what, today, is eastern Canada. Each of us also has certain American possessions represented by a computer-controlled ally: the Thirteen Colonies for me, Louisiana for the French. Geography presents several obvious potential flashpoints for the two powers. But while conflict is inevitable, when it will break out, and the form it will take, are not set in stone.

 

And now, over to France…

 

 

* Based on my personal experience playing as the British in single-player.

** In real life, England and Scotland did not come together to form Great Britain until the Act of Union in 1707;  however, the game represents them under the British banner from the start.

How a (now-defunct) gold-farming business actually worked

Here’s a bit of fascinating reading for anyone interested in the MMO phenomenon of gold farming – ICTs for Development profiles an actual World of Warcraft gold farming business, complete with a brief profit and loss statement. How many people work for the business? Which in-game tasks do they perform to earn their gold? How much does the business pay its staff, and what is its profit at the end of the day? Which intermediaries does it use, and what is their mark-up? The article discusses these topics, and more.

 

Note that eventually, the proprietor described in the article abandoned gold farming. The price at which he could realise 1,000 WoW gold fell from US$7.10 in March 2009 to US$3.37 in January 2010 to just US$1.00 as of the time of writing (March 2011), a pretty steep decline in just two years!

 

The same author, Richard Heeks, has also written a working paper on gold farming in general. I have only skimmed it, but it looks as though it could also be worth a look for anyone following the topic.

 

(Link courtesy of Gama Sutra)

Gamestop’s acquisition of Impulse and Spawn – my thoughts

A couple of days ago, Gamestop, the video game retailer, announced its acquisition of Impulse, the digital distribution (i.e. downloads) service, and Spawn, a streaming technology company. What are my thoughts? The usual disclaimers apply: my perspective is just that of a consumer, since I know little about the business end of the industry. With that out of the way…

 

The news did not surprise me at all, at least where Impulse was concerned.

 

From a financial perspective, Impulse is probably not that big a deal to begin with. Gamestop disclosed neither the expected revenue from Impulse nor the purchase price in its announcement, which makes me think it cannot have been that material.

 

From a strategic perspective, though, this makes perfect sense as a way to ward off threats to Gamestop’s traditional business by jumping into a new, and hopefully growing, market. One, we’ve all seen the rise of digital distribution services. But did you know that EA’s CEO, John Riccitello, expressed his belief in January that the digital business would overtake packaged goods by the end of this year?  Two, publishers are beginning to take real measures to stamp out used games (see the “day 1 DLC” included in the recent Bioware games) – and used games made up 26% of Gamestop’s revenue and 46% of gross profit for fiscal ’10. In each case, the potential danger is obvious. And from Gamestop’s actions, we can deduce where it believes the future of the industry is (or could be).

 

Possibly even more interesting is the Spawn acquisition. I am not personally familiar with Spawn’s services, whereas I have bought a number of games through Impulse. However, the Gamestop press release had this to say:

 

“Once the Spawn Labs integration and testing on a new consumer interface is complete, users will have immediate access to a wide selection of high-definition video games on demand on any Internet-enabled device.”

 

 

That sounds rather like OnLive, doesn’t it? For a more detailed discussion, I refer you to the Dallas Morning News, which filed two stories from Gamestop’s investor day presentations. The Morning News’ report describes Spawn’s capabilities, and what it could possibly do, in more vivid terms:

 

“I saw a live, real-time demo of Halo: Reach activated through a web browser on a PC.

 

But while the games can be played on basically any Internet-connected device at up to 720p resolution, each game actually connects to an individual Xbox 360 (or PS3, if it’s a PS3 game) console in Spawn Labs’ data center in Austin.

 

In other words, the browser is essentially a display for a console hundreds of miles away. It’s fast, seamless and the games look great.

 

But GameStop isn’t just enthused about the service itself. It’s also eager to make Spawn’s technology work on a myriad of mobile devices. While phones are a possibility, tablets and laptops are the real goal.

 

Imagine being able to play Halo on your iPad (or Android tablet or whatever kind of tablet) over the Wi-Fi connection in an airport departure lounge. Or at home in bed while the kids monopolize your living room TV.”

 

Doesn’t that sound fascinating?

 

Even as a consumer down in the trenches, I can see the new forces rippling through the industry: casual and social gaming, multipurpose devices, digital distribution, DLC, free-to-play. This struck me as a glimpse of how one incumbent is responding to those forces. And I will be very interested to see how the situation plays out in the future.