I’ve seen a few comments out there to the effect that actually people should remember this is the first release, that mapping is hard, that it’s not their fault Google wouldn’t give them maps, and therefore Apple should be cut some slack.
To my mind, this is nonsense. It’s effectively grading Apple on a curve, giving them a pass to create something sub-standard because doing good maps is really tough.
To my mind, Flyover isn’t anywhere near a straight switch for Street View, and the worrying thing is that Apple probably won’t create something like Google’s solution. Right now, Flyover is merely an amusing toy for armchair tourism of select cities. It’s of little or no practical benefit, and it’s of no use whatsoever in finding your way to anywhere remotely obscure (unlike Google Maps, where you can see what a junction to a road in the middle of nowhere looks like, along with any helpfully odd-looking trees in the vicinity). Any pundits somehow suggesting otherwise either don’t use Maps that often for this kind of navigation or really need to share their helicopters with the rest of us.
Apple made this maps change despite its shortcomings because they put their own priorities for corporate strategy ahead of user experience. That’s a huge change for Apple in the post-iPod era, where they’ve built so much of their value by doing the hard work as a company so that things could be easy for users. I’m not suggesting (yet) that this is a pattern, and that Apple will start to regularly compromise its user experiences in order to focus on its squabbles with other tech titans. But history shows that dominant players in every era of operating system history have reached a turning point where they shift from the user experience and customer benefits which earned them their dominance to platform integration efforts which are primarily aimed at boxing out competitors. It’ll be interesting to see which direction Apple’s maps follow.
As the principle goes, among three favorable options only two are possible at the same time. Rethink core functionalities, Offer major new user features, Keep developers happy: Pick two.
I like the refinements of iOS 6. I don’t care about some new features. I don’t like the changes to the App Store search so far, and, more importantly, I don’t think the new Maps – in its current state – is good for “regular users”.
There’s a tension between the tech press – we know that Maps will get better with more data and time – and the average user, who doesn’t (and shouldn’t) know about the bad blood between Apple and Google.
Recently, I’ve started playing the original Metal Gear Solid for PSX through the PS Vita’s Classics feature. It’s a great game, but what once looked like a major milestone in “making things look like real life” is now all pixelated, fuzzy, and funny at best. Obviously, MGS compensates with other aspects to remain a masterpiece to this day.
Same with every GTA game for PS2. Back in the day, my jaw dropped when I saw CJ walking around the streets of Los Santos. Today, that realism doesn’t seem so realistic.
Compare that to timeless gems like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy Tactics, whose distinctive non-realistic style isn’t anachronistic – it looks like a deliberate choice.
My point is, it’s difficult to balance artistic direction with the lure of pursuing the latest technological advancements. After all, The Last Of Us looks fantastic, and we all want our games to look great on our HD displays. It’d be silly not to use the technologies at our disposal (military organizations are using games as simulators).
But at the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that realistic graphics alone shouldn’t define the nature of a game. What looks “realistic” today might appear silly twenty years from now, when technology will be far more advanced and complex than today.
A soulless, realistic-at-all-costs game is like fashion: it looks good today.
Art, vision, style, gameplay, and graphics should be purposefully combined to create timeless experiences that can stand the test of time under every aspect. I won’t pretend this should be true for every game – it won’t happen, ever. I just think there should be more of it.
Perhaps the lack of proper resources and technology of the ‘80s and '90s fostered a mindset devoted to imagination more than shaders.
In that case, game designers will have to double down on a new kind of creativity going forward: one that harness today’s computing power to empower the gamer with profound storytelling and presentation techniques.
Less sloppy first-person shooters, more of Pixar and Okami please.
“Anyone who thinks that emulating reality is the Holy Grail is not a great animator. Because the goal isn’t to emulate humans. The goal is to create works of art and to tell stories.”
Big changes happening at Read & Trust, the great network of writers I’m a proud member of. Gone is the weekly newsletter format with Amazon payments, leaving room for a (much better in my opinion) magazine format with beautiful layouts, great typography, and a friendlier payment system with PayPal.
Enter the Read & Trust Magazine. Rather than the weekly emails that you’ve been used to, the Read & Trust Magazine will now be a monthly collection of articles from five contributing members. The text is still the star, but the content will be delivered in a way that is better for everyone.
Every year on the 3rd of September, this takes place in my town, Viterbo.
La Macchina di Santa Rosa, a religious celebration that has been taking place in Viterbo for centuries, is, beyond the religious aspect, simply breathtaking. And it’s quite hard to describe to someone who has never experienced it.
From an engineering standpoint, you have this 5-ton tower-like structure (made of steel, aluminum, polystyrene, plaster, paint water) that is carried through the narrow streets of Viterbo by 100 men. That alone is quite a feat, considering the complex calculations that take into account center of gravity, weight, and shape of the Macchina to ensure those men can bear with oscillations (on average, each man carries 80 kilograms with oscillations up to 150 kilograms on a single shoulder – see this photo to get a sense of how they do it).
The Macchina has never fallen in modern history, but back in the ‘70s the center of gravity was miscalculated, and the “facchini” (the men that carry it) had to stop after a few minutes.
From a geographical point of view, Viterbo features a lot of uphills and downhills, so taller facchini often need to move in the back lines, and vice versa, for balance. In the narrower streets, where the top of the Macchina could touch the rooftops of nearby houses (thus posing a risk for balance, weight, etc), the “guides” have to instruct facchini to “put their heads in”, as you can see in my video.
Oh, and in the last part, they run. To ensure the Macchina won’t trip backwards in the very steep climb at the end (see left part of the image here), the men carrying the Macchina have to run, while others help pulling the base with ropes. See this video.
I’d add this: last night I bought Metal Gear Solid as a PSone Classic, and in spite of my Vita being set to English, the game was downloaded in Italian (which has terrible voiceover and translation). I assume that’s because of my PSN account being associated with an Italian credit card, but that’s no excuse for the lack of options (I can’t change it to English).
Also, again: what’s up with the PSone Classics disparity between regions?
Nice overview over at the official PlayStation Blog about the Vita’s latest system software update. I have been playing with my PS Vita a lot more lately, and I like the improvements Sony is making to the device’s software.
Notably, this version adds rear-touch scrolling for the web browser, PSone Classics support (with weekly rollouts), more visible options for notifications and maps, and physical button browsing in the Home screen. Interestingly, the European PSone Classic is far richer than the US one for now.