Little League, and FCBD

These week’s Saturday Morning Cartoon isn’t a cartoon at all, it’s a comic.

Be sure to read it from the start. It’s only up to 37 strips so far, and it is awesome. Once you are caught up, follow it on tumblr to stay up to date.

Today is Free Comic Book Day. I hope you are reading this on your phone from your local comic book shop, or after you’ve gotten home from there. What? You don’t have a local comic book shop? Use the locator and find one, and go. I don’t go as often as I would like, but in my youth I went to Dr. No’s every week. These days I don’t have the disposable income to keep up with a bunch of monthly titles and stick mostly to trades, but I met some very nice and very awesome people through the comic book shop. It’s because of them that I went to my first Dragon*Con. Anyway, today is a good day to go out and support them.

The Sacrifice

Left 4 Dead: The SacrificeThis shouldn’t be news to anyone who is a fan of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, but yesterday the final chapter of The Sacrifice comic came out online.  Such a good story.  Go read it.  I’ll wait.

These sorts of things are why I love Valve Software.  Not only are their games well built and fun to play, but they understand story.  From Half-Life to Left 4 Dead to Portal to even Team Fortress 2, a game will little story of its own but surrounded by tons of great videos and other stuff.

Anyway, to get back on the Zombie Wednesdays bandwagon, yesterday also saw the release of The Sacrifice DLC for L4D and L4D2.  It’s great to fill in the gap of how our original survivors get down to New Orleans, and it’s also nice that they released it for the original game as well, just in case there are some purists out there still clinging to the L4D2 boycott and never bought the sequel.

Want to play?  On Live, I’m Jhaer.  Friend me, but also be sure to tell me who you are…

To Stop GameStop

StopGameStopThe Internet exploded last week (in the gaming sphere at least) beginning with an article and a comic.  It was followed by tons of articles…

So, lets talk…  First, the guy from THQ isn’t wrong.  Anytime you buy anything second hand, the original creators see nothing of that sale.  This is true of video games just as it is true of books and DVDs.  I’ve got one friend who is all up in arms about this, that we need to stop second hand video game sales, to help protect the industry, but he’s also a comic book collector.  So I asked, “When you sell a comic, do you sent the author and artist their cut?”  He doesn’t.  I asked him if this needed to change, he didn’t think so.  He couldn’t explain how the two were different.

And of course, no one really bats an eye at second hand DVD sales.  But then, a DVD retails for under $20 in most cases.  Buying it for $10 might be saving you 50% but it’s only saving you $10.  A video game, however, might be $60 new, and $30 used.  Still 50% but now it’s $30 of savings.  Really though, the guys in the industry aren’t upset at the $30 sale of a year old game.  Their ire, which they don’t specifically state, is leveled at games less than a month old that places like GameStop are selling for $55.  In this case, someone bought it for $60, then sold it to GameStop for $20 (might be more, might be less – it varies), and GameStop turns around and sells it for $55.  People are saving $5 here and bilking the game company out of any cut at all.

If THQ really wanted to stop GameStop, you know what they’d do?  Drop their price to $55.  They’d garner a few new customers, the ones willing to pay $55 but not $60.  GameStop would probably drop to $50, and THQ could decide if going to $50 is worth it.  Games that come out for consoles currently tend to retail at $60.  If the same game is available on PC, they tend to retail at $50 or even $40, so clearly there is room to move the price around, especially since the console version often has less packaging than the PC version (who knows… perhaps producing a cardboard box and a jewel case is less expensive than the DVD case console versions get).

Or, they can do what they are planning to do, which is to put a one-time code in the game that unlocks some content (levels, online play, etc).  Their solution is fine, in my opinion, so long as they never hamstring the game so that it is unplayable.  I have no problem with them putting a code on online play since often online play means that they run servers, and they can always sell online play as DLC through the systems their games appear on, so that a player who buys used will still have to pay a small fee if they want online play.

Personally, I’d love to see prices drop.  I know I’d buy more games sooner if I could afford them, but as it is I wait usually six months or more so that I can pick them up for $40 or less (often a year or more later when I can get the Platinum Hits edition for $20).  That is less likely to happen than the one-time code hostage situation that is developing.  Oh well… I’ll just have more time for watching TV and reading books.

Movie Round-Up: April 23rd, 2010


What would Earth Day be without a documentary about the planet or animals or both?  These movies always look impressive, but not a single one has actually gotten me in the theater to see them.  I’m not exactly sure why.  I like nature.  It just seems odd to spend $10 to watch something I could see on TV.  Is this in 3D?  It probably should be in 3D.  That might get me there, but still unlikely.

The Back-up Plan:

I feel a little bad for Alex O’Loughlin.  He’s featured prominently on the poster, but he didn’t get above the title billing with J.Lo.  Sure, he’s not as big of a super-duper-mega-star, but still, he is the male lead in this romantic comedy.  Which I happened to see thanks to GoFoBo.  So this is a movie about a woman who has decided to go ahead and get pregnant using a sperm donor and within an hour of being inseminated meets the perfect guy.  First she doesn’t tell him, then she does, then they decide to give it a shot, then things don’t work out, then they do, and so on.  You don’t go to these sorts of films for shocking twists and turns, you go for the funny.  And surprisingly I found this movie to be pretty funny.  Also, the most graphic, wince inducing, yet hilarious birthing scene I’ve ever watched.  If the premise of this movie sounds good to you, then it’s probably worth your money to go see it.

The Losers:

It was a busy week, with The Back-up Plan, a movie that doesn’t drop until mid-May, and this one.  (Thanks again GoFoBo!)  Like last week’s Kick-Ass, this film is based on a comic book.  I’ve never read the comic, but I saw the movie and it feels like a comic.  The action is way over the top.  Despite the large amount of violence in the movie it keeps its PG-13 rating by keeping that violence as clean as possible.  That doesn’t really hurt the film, and in fact helps keep it lighter and fun.  All in all, I enjoyed this movie a lot and I’d say it’s worth seeing on the big screen.

RSS and Advertising

Yesterday I decided to go through and make sure my RSS feeds in my reader were up to date.  I ended up dropping a couple where they haven’t posted anything in a while (a year), and decided that while I was doing it I’d try to see if feeds were available for some websites that I visit frequently.

Out of all the web comics that I added to the feed reader, only one (xkcd) actually had the comic in the feed.  The rest, at best, gave you a feed item letting you know that a new comic had been posted and you needed to visit the site to see it.

Now, I am not stupid.  I know exactly why they do this… advertising.  See, most of these sites, in order to offset the cost of hosting the comic (bandwidth and all that), have advertisements.  And as is the trend of ads on the web these days, most sites don’t manage their own advertising directly, they sign up with a banner providing site and then throw snippets of code on their site that will request an ad from the ad provider.  They do have some control over the ads, usually the ability to block ads they don’t wish to support, and overall I suppose they do a good job of keeping the ads “on message” with the rest of the site.

My problem is… well, why can’t the code snippets live in the RSS parser as well and tack on an ad at the bottom of a feed item.  Same banner image (though not the Flash “punch a monkey”/”you’ve just won two free ipod nano” ads), a line of text and a link/url to follow.  The capability exists.  WordPress has a plugin that does exactly that by putting a footer on RSS items.  Of course, not all web comics are using WordPress, but if it exists for one system it has to be possible for other systems.

Anyway, the result is, after adding a bunch of comics to my feed reader, I then removed all of them except xkcd.  For all the ones I removed, I’ll go back to visiting them when I remember to, which is usually once a month.  Just think, if they put the comic and an ad in their feed, they’d make me a daily reader of both their comics and their ads…