Thursday, June 30, 2011

Free-to-Play or Pay-to-Play

Within the last two days something almost astounding has happened. Blizzard, the company behind one of the worst Geek/Nerd Adictions (World of Warcraft) made a slight change to a portion of their business model. Previously there were three versions of World of Warcraft available, a 10-Day Trial, a 14-Day Trial, and the Full game that had a subscription cost. They flipped the game on the trial versions of WoW though, eliminating them entirely. In the place of them they put a new system. World of Warcraft: Starter Edition, which is entirely free. Once I finish the download and have a chance to play with it a bit I will do a full post about it, but this blog post is about something slightly different that WoW:SE sparked in my mind: the thought that right now games, especially MMORPGs cost too much. Hear me out on this a little bit: do  you want to pay a monthly cost to be able to play a game you already bought? World of Warcraft isn't free to begin with and then you have to figure the subscription costs into the equation. In the end the game winds up costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not happening with me. At the same rate do you really wanna have to shell out around $60 bucks or more on a game? Again not really. This is where I think that we need to take a new approach to things. Two business models that work: Free-to-Play and FreeMium (which are essentially the same thing). 

Heres the deal with FtP and FM: The game itself is free to download (cut out physical media, that costs $$$), the entire game is free, and not shelling out a penny won't hinder your game experience at all. HOWEVER, you are given the option to shell out money to get various add-ons in the game to give you a slight advantage over other players or to enhance your own experience. This model works. The best example of it is game design company Nexon who specializes in Free-to-Play games. Their current line up includes "Combat Arms" which is essentially the multiplayer mode from any frist person shooter game; "Mapel Story" which is a 2D side-scrolling MMORPH; "Vindictus" and action game; "Atlanrica Online" an MMORPG Real Time Strategy game; and several others (the info on all these games can be found at )

The point is that these are great games, especially "Combat Arms". A friend of mine introduced me to it and I have logged a lot of hours in it, it runs very smoothly on my slightly above average laptop, and it does basically everything a $60 top of the line game can do for free. 

The makers of "Team Fortress 2" recently put that game in the Steam market as a Free-to-Play game that again offers a great experience for no money down and no money taken from you if you so choose not to hand any over. The game World of Warcraft currently is not totally free as it is capped at level 20, but this could be signs that it's time for Blizzard to go totally free with WoW and then offer extras to paying customers without making the free users take a beating. 

This sparks the question though: should more games go Free-to-Play or FreeMium or are the game companies within their rights to be bloodsucking leeches and take insane prices and subscription fees for something that has been proven to be dones just as good for free. Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below and tell me this as well: what Free-to-Play or FreeMium games do you like to play? 


Google+ : What is It?

Hello everyone, Dan here with another look into the Mind of Dan. Right now I want to take the time to talk to you about something a little different than movies and a lack of originality in the world. I want to talk to you about social networking which is the topic that is filling the blogosphere right now because Google (you know, that company that owns everything on the internet except for iTunes and Facebook) has released a field test version of their newest *cough* *cough* attempt at a "FaceBook" killer. The test this time? Google+. Yes you read that right....Google+ If you haven't heard about the story by now (I myself discovered it in a video from Chris Pirillo on YouTube the other day) I'm here to fill you in.

The best place to start is the beginning. A long time ago MySpace came out and everybody thought it was the greatest thing on the planet and that it would never leave and that it would remain the greatest social networking site ever. Well a little ways down the road this kid at Harvard invented a communication system that eventually became (just watch "The Social Network" for that story). So anyway, Facebook comes out and Google (the big rainbowed colored giant) decided they wanted in on the social networking game, just like Facebook and Twitter. What did they launch? Google Buzz. Google Buzz probably could have held it's own had they not focused on it's tie in to GMail so much, which meant about 1/3 of the population knew about it. Once that failed (yet Google Buzz is still active, you can find me there as HollywoodLights1992) they decided to take a second approach to the game. This time it was called Orkut. Here's an idea of how great Orkut was: give me a second to go run a quick Google search on what the Hell it was so I can give you the 411.

Ok, I'm back. Here's the 411 on Orkut. It's 6 years older than Google Buzz and has 100 Million active users. SOMEHOW, I JUST MANAGED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS ONE. Good work on the promotion there Google. Stellar effort. I may join later just to see if it is at all decent.

So now Google is taking it's next step, Google+. Here's the gist on that: first off, the offical blog about Google+ says that, and I quote, "In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.". I'm pretty sure this was the mission statement the last few times, along with every social network ever made. Social networking isn't going to be perfect. Live with it. Getting back on topic Google+ is broken into...*counts*1...2...3...ALOT of different areas. Here's a quick rundown of each.

*Circles- Basically the idea is this. You get a bunch of circles you can lable and put each of your friends into a different circle and then selectively share all of your information with different circles (ie if you have those incriminating Beer Pong photos you would rather not have your boss see). My take on this is that it could actually be a decent feature to have in a social network....get some control.

*Sparks- What I can gather from the video on this one is that it's a way to search your hobbies and interests and then Google will send you links, vids, and blogs that you will find interesting that you can then share with your applicable circles. Interesting.

*Hangouts- I'm not getting into this one a lot, it's simple. Face to Face, multiperson, video chatting.

*Mobile- This is the one that I am most concerned with, as I spend a lot more time on my iPhone out and about than I do on the internet these days. Luckily Google+ has thought of that. Location is a big mobile deal so just like every other social network out there it gives you the option to add your location to posts. Theres also instant uploads. You snap pictures and you can send them right to an album in the cloud so that you can get them on any device as you see fit. It'll be interesting to see how this works on the iPhone as opposed to Android devices (which we can assume will have Google+ built right in with the release of Android OS 3).

*Huddle- All this is is a group messaging experience. Hard to find that interesting.

According to the GoogleBlog post (6/28/2001 10:45:00 AM) Google+ is currently available in the Android Market and Mobile Web and will be hitting the App Store for iPhone soon. The service is currently in an invitation only field test, but be sure to check back to this blog for updates as I will give Google+ a chance and do a review on it once it is out.

Until next time,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are There Any Original Ideas Anymore?

Hey there everyone. Welcome back to "From the Mind of Dan". I was just sitting around playing "Angry Birds" in Google Chrome (yes, this dedicated FireFox user uses Chrome to play freakin' "Angry Birds") and listening to "Weird Al" Yankovic. For those of you who don't know Al (@AlYankovic on Twitter), he's a parody artist who takes original songs by artists (examples: "My Sharona" by the Knack, "Lola" by the Kinks, "Party in the USA" by Miley  Cyrus, and so on) and morphs them into something new. Now mind you, he does do original songs too. I got to thinking though, are there really any ORIGINAL ideas anymore. Now I am not here to call Al a theif (he's one of my favorite artists) or anyone for that matter, but now a days I believe everything borrows from somewhere. 

Now sometimes a TV show borrows from a TV (can you say 'cheap TV cross over' boys and girls) or it takes a nice established premise ("The Simpsons") and adjusts it for a more mature audience ("Family Guy"). Sometimes it's a cheap spin off that people aren't entirely interested in. In other cases it's a musical artist that borrows from elsewhere. The best form I can really think of though is movies borrowing from literature. The biggest culprit of this? Disney. Disney has little to no original movies from the list of their most popular ones. Granted their work with Pixar is original and a few of their films aren't blatantly plot borrowers but a lot of them are. I now present for you a brief list of a few Disney offenders. 

*"The Lion King"- Everyone loves the story of Simba! Simba as a young boy (cub) has his father, the king (Mufasa) killed by his evil uncle (Scar) who then blames Simba for it and assumes the throne, only to have Simba to return years later and gain his vengeance. I love that film and I love that story. Audiences also enjoyed that story a few centuries ago when William Shakespear first published and performed the play "Hamlet". 

*"Beauty and the Beast"- Who doesn't know the story of this one? Beauty goes to castle and falls in love with a beast. It's a movie that teaches you to look past a persons outward appearence and look at their inner beauty. Ironically this was the intention of the original French fairy tale "La Belle et la Bete"! 

*"Aladdin"- Here's a classic tale that spawned a few sequels, video games, and a TV series. There's no way ANYTHING in this one was ripped off...wait....Aladdin...a magic lamp and a wish granting Genie....40 Theives....didn't....oh yeah, those are some of the tales in "1001 Arabian Nights". NEXT!

*"The Little Mermaid"- Fairy tale. 

*"Snow White"- Fairy Tale

*"Hercules"- Greek and Roman Mythology.

*"Mary Poppins"- A children's novel series written by P.L. Tavers. 

Yes it's true there are some Disney movies that I can neither confirm or deny are original like "Bambi" but for the most part Disney lifts their content from elsewhere and then takes the liberty of making it kid friendly, so now I ask you, do you think there are still truly original ideas out there or do you believe that everything is borrowing from something at this point. Sound off with your thoughts below in the comments. 

From the Mind of Dan this is Dan Signing off. 

Welcome to The Mind Of Dan

Hey all. Welcome to the very first post on my new blog "From the Mind of Dan". The goal here is to tie this into the rest of my social media and what not. Anyway, the best way to start with all this is to run down the list of locations where you can find me to interact with me. First off, there is the blog here. But I am also on the 140 character social network, Twitter. You can find me there at and yes, I do actually tweet. More so now than I did. I post pictures pretty regulary now on my account, which is HollywoodLights1992. Sometimes the pics are ones from my webcam album from when I am bored, or sometimes they are a picture from a memory I have or something. I like to mix it up. I like to post writing and poetry and art on my account which is DragonKing1992 so I would love for you to join me there. I actively post videos on a account, HollywoodLights1992. I haven't been to the next one in a while but I am getting active again on 
At this time those are my only profiles that I have tagged here and in YouTube videos and stuff. I do use Empire Avenue a little now so look me up on there. You can also follow me on the iPhone App Miso so let me know if you want to follow me there. That falls under the movie side of me and the side of me that wants to be an actor someday. For the geek side I am a memeber of 

As far as the content I write I want to blog on everything I can think of (hense the title). I blog on tech, I blog on video games, I blog on movies and TV shows and music and anything else that can possibly enter my mind. I hope you will decide to read this blog and comment on it. Let me know what you want to see and ask questions. I will be glad to answer them. 

Until next time this is Dan signing out,