Yelling at EA →
Ben Kuchera: I know the Cut is usually meant to foster discussion, but sometimes it’s worthwhile just to stand up, point to something, and yell “BULLSHIT!” He might get hoarse if he does this every time an EA exec says something stupid.
Xbox One, from the company who brought us Xbox 360 because it sounded like a higher number than Playstation 3. Not that the name matters much—as I think Wii and iPad prove—but the name reflects the new direction for Microsoft with this console. It’s a set-top box with gaming functionality. At least, based on the percentage of the presentation dedicated to gaming, that’s what it seems...
Guesting on the Too Podcast
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be a guest on Too, the tech podcast by Ryan Lee Taylor and Steven Teskey. Check out their site, Do You Have a Mountain Bike for more information. (I swear, it’s got nothing to do with actual mountain bikes.) I had a great time recording with them. Their conversations are often quite rich and hit a band of tech discourse that a lot of other shows...
Think Critical v2
Welcome to the new, and hopefully improved, Think Critical. As time passes, so do design trends. And at the same time, the constant need for something “new” and “better” is always on the back burner. In the news, I consider many of the voices calling for “new” to be little more than irritating noises looking for another quick-fix pageveiw. Here, I hope that I...
Everything Apple Needs to Introduce at WWDC to... →
Justin Williams: No pressure, right? What I want to know is why he stopped at 50.
Services as Design's Next Gen
Today, Google announced…well, a lot of stuff. And that, I think, is putting it mildly. The clear message from my bird’s-eye view seems to be that Google is making their way back to being the first company of the web after a significant detour in which Google and Android became nearly synonymous. For years, Google I/O has been mostly about Android. Sure, they made significant...
Taking Your Time →
In a recent rash decision to reset my iPhone to its factory state, I’ve been forced to take a look at not only the apps that reside there but also to the content within. Instapaper was one of these. In the Read Later section, I had more articles than I was ever going to realistically get to. As I slashed and burned the list, I chose to save a handful, one of those was from Patrick Stafford,...
Marco Arment again: It’s impossible to get every customer. Fortunately, you don’t need every customer. If you sell a 99-cent app to just 1% of the people who bought new iOS devices in the 2012 holiday quarter alone, you’ll clear about $519,750. Not a bad quarter. Sound familiar?
Instapaper Sold to Betaworks →
Marco Arment: With Betaworks’ drive and resources now behind it, I’m confident that Instapaper has a very bright future. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do. I’ve been looking forward to a new version of Instapaper for quite some time now, but it seems that Marco has moved on to greener, more Magazine-esque pastures. Thing is, with Marco advising a team (however frequent or...
The Paid App →
Marco Arment: My Big Six — Instapaper, Downcast, Reeder, Tweetbot, Instagram, and Dark Sky — solve big problems exceptionally well, and with the exception of Instagram, these are problems I’ve used apps to solve for almost the entire time I’ve owned iPhones. …Competing in these categories isn’t about price: it’s about relevance and attention. If you can’t find enough customers here,...
Inventory is Evil →
Bill Banta writing for GigaOM: If inventory exceeds pre-defined levels, shut down your supply chain. Shut it down entirely. You simply can’t afford to have more product coming off the line if you’re not going to be able to sell it. You may find yourself in an uncomfortable position with your supply chain, but that discomfort is minor compared to the pain of writing off a massive...
Ken Levine on the Concept of Vibe →
Ken Levine in a wonderful interview with Tom Bissell: When I was working on Thief with Doug Church, way, way back in the day, we always said that vibe was more important than story. I think that’s the same thing as what you’re saying. Put the player in an interesting world and make him feel like there’s interesting things around the corner. That’s way more important...
The Ties That Band
This article first appeared in The Magazine, Issue 8. Back in November, I decided to try my luck with a pitch to The Magazine. I had an idea I thought would work well, and the experience to write the story. Glenn and Marco liked the idea. Here is the full article as it appeared in Issue 8. The Ties That Band Toby is struggling. In rehearsal after rehearsal, Toby can’t seem to pull it...
Taken Care Of →
Ben Kuchera on reader reactions to female heroes and same-sex relationships in gaming: They don’t see a problem, because they’re taken care of. Games are aimed at them. The problem is how many people we leave out, and that doesn’t have to be the case in games… Worth the click if only to see the leading image (I won’t spoil it). Mainstream outlets should address the...
Hardware vs. Form-Factor →
Brent Dirks of App Advice: If Apple sticks to its previous release cycles, the new iPhone’s hardware will be identical, or at least very similar, to the iPhone 5. Hardware and form-factor are not interchangeable. As someone who owned an iPhone 4—and is still using a 4S—internal components make an enormous difference. What pundits like Dirks don’t seem to understand is that on the best...
Apple's Copy →
Disclaimer: I am not a copy-editor, nor do I make the claim that the writing on my site is evidence of my authority in said discipline. Apple recently posted a new promotional section on their site for the iPhone. I had no intent to mention it here, as I see little benefit in commenting on marketing materials. However, when I came across this piece from Youssef Sarhan, I couldn’t resist. ...
The New Apple →
Gizmodo on the Galaxy S IV: There has been a ton of hype and build-up to this device, and ultimately, it left us feeling cold. The S IV feels uninspired. There are small spec bumps from the previous generation and there’s a ton of software which will largely sit unused. There’s just no wow-factor here. Wow. Maybe Samsung really is the new Apple.
A 28nm A6X Precursor →
Marco Arment: We can still reasonably assume that the Apple TV doesn’t justify custom processors on its own, but since the A5 is used in multiple products in mostly uninteresting ways, we can no longer infer anything more interesting than a manufacturing detail — like an upcoming Retina iPad Mini — from this. I have to respectfully disagree. As Marco says himself, there seems to be no...
Ben Kuchera: The only way to stop this bullshit is to not download the game. Don’t give them money. Show them just how much we hate this sort of behavior. A free-to-play racing game where you buy packs of cars at a time, or even a series of events, isn’t a terrible idea if the economics aren’t insane, but Real Racing 3 is pure greed. Couldn’t agree more, though I’ve already said that...
It's not the Nickels, It's the Noise →
Cliff Bleszinski on the capitalist nature of the games industry: I’ve seen a lot of comments online about microtransactions. They’re a dirty word lately, it seems. Gamers are upset that publishers/developers are “nickel and diming them.” They’re raging at “big and evil corporations who are clueless and trying to steal their money.” I wrote about this earlier, and I respect Bleszinski, but...
Define Whiny →
Harry Marks: Everyone else can write whiny blog posts on their MacBook Airs and iPads about the rough lives they lead. I have to go be a grown-up now. I didn’t agree with John Siracusa’s anti-credit section either, but I have to wonder which model of Mac Marks uses to write his (certainly not whiny) blog posts.
With Wednesday’s post in mind, the PS4 announcement has come and gone. How did the industry do in their comments about Sony’s new console? For one, it seems that many were expecting (perhaps unreasonably, considering the history) to see the device itself at some point during the presentation. Over the years, Apple has made it almost mandatory to show a device, a price, and a release date in such...
Witless BuzzFeed or Weak Gaming Press →
In the lead-up to Sony’s announcement today, a clash occurred between BuzzFeed’s Joseph Bernstein and PA Report’s Ben Kuchera. The discussion centers around the gaming press’s ability to cover a console launch with an unbiased assessment. Unfortunately, Bernstein made several errors in constructing his piece. Kuchera takes him to task: He claims we weren’t skeptical of the console, selectively...
The New Arcade
Insert Coin to Continue Hey! I remember that. Don’t you? All around, a clanking, beeping, whirring clatter. The feel of a pocket-warmed quarter. The two-minute (or usually less) chance to mash some buttons on a game you’d never have the cash to fully master. But you didn’t have to buy the games up front, just buy time. It was the arcade of the late eighties and the early...
iPad's Built-in Accessibility →
Steven Aquino writing for The Magazine on the magic of accessibility features in iOS: The iPad’s power for these children lies in the fact that we don’t need to teach how to use the thing. As an educator with students of varying levels of ability, I’d support this point and add that this is the very reason for iOS’s continued success. My students are in junior high and high...
The Math on the iPhone+
It seems almost nothing is hotter in Apple rumor circles these days than the speculation concerning a larger iPhone that would not simply replace the current model, but enter the lineup as a second size in addition to it. I’ve said before that I would be happier with a smaller iPhone—meaning something with a screen size similar to the 4S—but the trend is definitely going larger, rather than...
Time to Reflect on the Effect of Violent Games →
Mitch Krpata: Obviously, playing violent video games does not, by itself, cause people to kill other people, because millions of us do play violent video games and have never even been in a fistfight. But saying so should not allow us to elide the deeper question. Frankly, I am not convinced that playing violent games can be ruled out as one of many contributing factors to violent behavior,...
When Audiences Attack
After a recent episode of The Incomparable which addresses my favorite 12 hours of motion-picture content ever made, I was annoyed. During the initial moments of the show, all of the hosts—including those who had seen the movies multiple times both in and out of theaters—were making jokes and complaining about a series that I enjoy every time I decide to sit down with it again. To me, Peter...
Content Seekers are Becoming Subscribers →
David Hepworth on the traditional publishing industry’s performance in light of The Magazine’s (and other digital-native content’s) emphasis on steak over sizzle: If they were honest with themselves, they might look at their own declining circulation figures and reach the conclusion that what they have traditionally considered exciting material no longer has the same sway...
Extended iPad Mini Trial
I recently had a chance to spend a significant amount of time with an iPad mini. It wasn’t mine, but it wasn’t in an Apple store. It did have all of my information and my most-used apps. After putting it through its paces, I have come to a couple of conclusions. First, these devices are truly only as good as their screens. Retina may not be considered revolutionary by some, but after...
The Ties That Band: The Magazine Issue 8 →
If you haven’t seen it yet, my article, “The Ties That Band” was published in issue 8 of The Magazine alongside four other excellent pieces. To Marco Arment and Glenn Fleishman, I’d like to say thanks for the opportunity and for all of the editing work.
The Two Inextricable Sides of Games Criticism →
From Part 4 of L. Rhodes’ series on the coming-of-age of games criticism: The contrast between those two points is a polarity that opened up in the heart of game criticism when it moved beyond reviews that treated games primarily as consumer products. Think of them as the Orphean and Archimedean styles of criticism, respectively. Like Orpheus descending into the underworld in hopes of...
Apple's Innovation Give and Take →
Jim Dalrymple: Apple designs its products to work, from a software and hardware design perspective, not to be like something a competitor has released. I hear and read this type of argument a lot. It’s true that most of Apple’s products are designed to “just work.” Recently though, some of their designs “just don’t” in a number of ways for some users. But it is the second part of the...
Neven Mrgan: The "whoa" business model →
mrgan: You read that right. The theater showed no house ads, no local ads, no previews for TV shows, no featurettes, no trailers. At 7:45 PM, the advertised screening time, they showed the movie we came to see…. I would love to see this catch on.
iPhones of All Sizes →
Eric Slivka of MacRumors on Brian White’s report of an iPhone “5S” in multiple colors and sizes: As for screen size, White believes that Apple may for the first time offer a brand-new model with multiple screen size options for different segments of the market. I don’t know how likely it is that Apple will release a larger iPhone directly after increasing the screen size on the most recent...
Purged and Returned: Tweetbot vs. Twitterrific 5
Tweetie 2 is the first Twitter client I remember really enjoying on iOS. There were others before it, but those mostly served to make Twitter useful to me in any way. I had no desire to use the website. And if that ever becomes the only way to interact with Twitter, I will likely cease to be a user at all (not out of spite, rather from simple neglect). Then, Loren Brichter went to work for...
Crowd-Sourcing the Future of Asset Production →
Brian Fargo of inXile in an interview with Penny-Arcade Report (emphasis mine): Seeing the money that came in, you look at what you have, and then you ask how you’re going to do it. You just can’t operate as normal. We got to use existing tools, and to be more clever. We’re being smart and efficient about how we use the money and resources. Reading this, I can’t help but think that the core...
We Need Apple to Fix TV
When I recently switched from Dish Network to Time Warner Cable, I was reminded just exactly how badly the television industry needs Apple’s help. As it stands, I have several problems that the current system simply cannot solve. I’m paying for more than I use. I watch somewhere between four and seven different channels. On Dish I had some 150 to choose from while on Cable the number...
Apple TV, Bluetooth Keyboards, and Living-room... →
Seth Weintraub, writing for 9to5Mac on Apple’s inclusion of Bluetooth Keyboard support in the latest Apple TV update: Until now, you’ve been able to pair an iOS device to an Apple TV with the Remote app to handle keyboard entry, but it appears Apple is ready to expand that. I find this interesting, and maybe I’m just projecting what I’d like Apple to do onto what they are...
Stories and Final Fantasy X →
Jill Scharr at Unwinnable explains the inner workings of one of my all-time favorite games, Final Fantasy X. Why these characters and their stories have stuck with me for so long, I’ve never been able to fully articulate, but Scharr’s article goes a long way. Essentially, FFX is a story about stories (which makes perfect sense considering my interests and chosen profession). Also,...
Microsoft Surface in Person
I finally got a chance to get my hands on a Surface today. Overall, it’s a nice product. The build quality is about as solid as you could expect from something that isn’t made of metal. But you’ve heard about that already. You’ve heard that in the desktop mode, it’s a little sluggish, that the UI doesn’t seem to be fully designed for a tablet-only experience. You’ve probably even heard that...
The Bittersweetest Thing: The Female Perspective... →
dgaider: I happen to be fortunate. My team of writers on Dragon Age currently consists of nine people— most of which are female…. The most dangerous sort of bias is the one that we never even notice in ourselves. We’re all guilty, but it can make all the difference to merely be aware that everyone is susceptible, including yourself. All we can do is try to find those biases and...
Clear App Designer on Skeuomorphs →
Christopher Downer of Realmac Software: A common misconception is that a user interface that contains realistic-looking elements, but doesn’t actually mimic any physical objects, is skeuomorphic. Great post on skeuomorphism by someone with actual experience designing on both sides of the argument. He seems, in the end, to feel that heavy design elements (like linen or leather) work best if...
Scott Simpson writing for Issue #4 of the Magazine: The people who were interesting told good stories. They were also inquisitive: willing to work to expand their social and intellectual range. Most important, interesting people were also the best listeners. They knew when to ask questions. This was the set of people whose shows I would subscribe to, whose writing I would seek out, and whose...
Macalope on the LA Times →
“Hey, did you know that a recent survey of Android device owners showed that more than 75 percent of them owned Android devices? Total Apple fail.” Sometimes the Macalope just makes my morning.
Alex writing for Nightmare Mode: Cycles spin on and there’s no way to break them. They must break you, you must stop, relent. Give up, like everyone else does. That’s the real heart of the game – not ‘Prepare to Die’ but ‘You Can’t Win’. The only choice is when to give up. If you have even a cursory interest in Dark Souls, read the whole thing. It’s bleak, inevitable, and...
Black Ops 2 Sells $500 Million →
Wow. That’s a lot of money for a game I have almost no desire to play.
iPad Mini in Person →
Marco Arment: If you’ve never used a Retina-screened device, you probably won’t care, but if you’ve been spoiled by Retina, you’ll notice the lack of it in the Mini almost every time you turn it on. That was my experience when I tried out a Mini this weekend. Great form-factor, but non-retina is a serious downgrade. It’s not bad, just not as good if you’re coming from a retina...