Laughably bad Asus Transformer sales figures

TechCrunch: Judge: Asus Transformer Isn’t Infringing On Hasbro’s Trademark – And Asus Reveals Embarrassing Sales Stats

So when court filings reveal that pre-orders for this poster child for Android 4 tablets (and it does look great) total a whopping 2,000 units as of a month ago, it’s kind of a letdown. That and 80,000 going to retailers worldwide make the device seem rather minor even in comparison to other Android products like the Nook Color and Kindle Fire. Is there a space for “premium” Android devices running just plain Android? The market seems smaller than big players like Asus would like to believe — or at least it is not growing as quickly as they expected.


Android tablets aren’t that good

Gotta Be Mobile: Why I didn’t by an Android tablet yesterday

I couldn’t see myself tossing dollars at a Tablet strategy that offered no rhyme nor reason, much less rational thought behind it.


Ken Levine, Mike Mika, and Dan Daglow on getting into the gaming industry

When it comes to getting into making video games, there are few that know better than Ken Levine, Dan Daglow, and Mike Mika. I was fortunate enough to pick their brains for a few minutes on the matter. The verdict? Get in through Q&A and love what you do.

Ken Levine, Irrational Games:

You know, a lot of people ask me about what schools and stuff to go to, and that’s tough for me, because when I was coming up there were no schools.

I know that one of the best ways to get a real understanding of game development is to come work in Q&A at a developer, not at a publisher, because you’re interacting with the developers everyday and learning the process. And a whole slate of my guys came up from Q&A. Like, senior guys from the company started in Q&A, so that’s a good place to start.

Dan Daglow, Stormfront Studios:

I could bore you for two hours with that! Most of us have something people have told us our whole lives we’re really good at. That’s a way of hearing what our talents really are. Then there’s [what your passion is]. Typically there’s an intersection between those two things. That’s the sweet spot. And that’s the place to focus on in terms of how you want to pursue your career because that’s the place your skill and your love overlap.

So for somebody for whom it’s landscape art — they love doing landscapes and backgrounds — and they love games, well, environmental artist in games is a category. Whereas somebody is an artist and loves [designing and creating] new characters, there’s character design, or concept artist, as a subcategory. That’s a case of taking that passion and combining [strengths] in the right way.

Once somebody does that, then I think [they should take part in] internships, experiences, student projects, anything that has them shipping a product. Anything where you have to build, finish, and ship.

And then, the final thing I would say after that is being prepared to not be overly discouraged — we’re all going to be discouraged. I’ve had pitches I made and [ended up not selling] the game. I’ll tell you, after 40 years, I still make pitches where I may get, ‘thank you, it was wonderful to see you, but no thank you.” Also, jobs you go for you don’t get. You know, all these things.

Eventually, somebody will say yes. If you keep following your passion, developing your skills, building, and shipping, eventually, somebody will say yes, and the opportunities will come.

We sometimes get this idealized view that for anybody who’s in these environments, it is like the movie star was discovered sitting in a restaurant when somebody walked up to them and said ‘I want you to be my movie star.’ Or the recording artist was singing karaoke and somebody walked up and said, ‘I want you to be a recording artist.’ If you talk to the actual people who do these things, they worked through years of discouragement before the good things happened. [Gaming] is the same way.

The discouragement, first of all, never stops. Forty years, and I still get no for an answer — more often than I would like! But, just persisting through that and expecting it and understanding that every time that happens there’s learning attached to it. Whatever got you the no that time, is something you can learn from, and you can take that knowledge and internalize it.

Once you build it up to a thousand no’s, you’ve learned a heck of a lot. And a lot of people think that means [they can’t do it], or it’s God’s way of trying to tell them to give up on their dream and stop[…] But the way I see it is that’s just God’s way of tell you that it’s worth doing, and it [isn’t] going to be easy. It’s going to take persistence and learning from a lot of no’s to where you know enough to finally get the yes.

Mike Mika, Other Ocean Interactive:

Some of the easiest ways to get into game development is to through Q&A. And Q&A is not what people traditionally think it is anymore. Q&A actually has a design role, it has a consulting role, and it’s not just finding bugs. Most games now are free-to-play or social games, that have to carry on life beyond launch, and Q&A groups are staring to take control of that. So you get to go in and learn everything about how a game is made, what the technology does, and create content for games. That kind of education, that role, is the best way to get wherever you want in the game industry.

People are hiring out of that group more often than not, out of any other field in games. You can be an engineer in school, you can be a designer in school, and you go out there and it’s really competitive to get into a design role. But if you go in through that back door in Q&A, you’re hired really quickly onto actual core teams to carry on franchises or to create new [ones].

I see it all the time. In the last week, three guys I recommended to a Q&A group ended up getting hired literally three weeks after they were in Q&A.

What Don [Daglow] was saying was absolutely true. We hired a guy who was one of the best producers I’ve ever worked with. He was a sewage worker for the city. He came in with no experience, but I told him, “if you come back with a demonstration of a game, or some idea that you have, that would be an effective game we can make, you’re in.”

So he went away and came back a month later with a working prototype of a game on a Gameboy. He had read online how to do the hardware, how to make the cartrige, and all this other stuff. He tried to reprogram one of his favorite childhood games, and he came in with that. We were like, “this guy can do anything. If he can do that, he can do anything.”

[Mobile games] are so in demand. People are doing apps. Electronic Arts, Activision, all those guys. If you come in with a finished app — even if it’s not great — they’ll probably hire you on the spot.

Good game design and game art

At the Evolution of Video Games panel at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, I asked a few of the panelists as to which games on the market really impressed them.

Ken Levine, Irrational Games:

I thought Limbo was a beautiful visual experience because instead of going bigger, and broader, and more colorful, it went the opposite direction… also the sound, as well.

In terms of design, there’s a lot of great stuff. What really struck me lately there have been a lot of sequels. Bastion [hit me] in terms of design — nice art, too. I really like what they did there. That kind of gameplay tied in with the narrative presentation. It was really terrific.

Mike Mika, Other Ocean interactive:

You know, I’m just now getting into Journey, and it’s just blowing my mind. Kellee Santiago is in the next panel, and it’s unbelievable. I think storytelling is finally maturing enough.

Heavy Rain blew my mind a little bit, too. It’s like, I can’t believe I’m emotionally connecting with a game to this level.

Don Daglow, Stormfront Studios:

There are lots of them. If you look at Thatgamecompany. All three of the games that they’ve shipped have impressed me. Her original producer and I are dear friends, and when flOw came out, I was in his office and he just hands me the controller. flOw is completely non traditional. I loved it, and he said, ‘I’m glad you do, because I just signed them to a three project deal.’

I think the Bioshock series is great. I think there’s a lot of great work going on. I think what’s cool now is you have all these different strands of really strong work being done. You have traditional large-scale console games like the Bioshock series. You have online masssively multiplayer games, like the new Star Wars game. Not that World of Warcraft is a tired old thing, you’ve got innovation there. You’ve got what would have been called “experimental” games like the stuff Thatgamecompany is doing, but they’re doing it for Sony. Here’s Sony, a mega-company paying for those projects.

I don’t think there’s a rarity of art. I think there’s a plethora of really wonderful work being that I respect as as art.

The ‘Evolution of Video Games’ panel

The Smithsonian American Art Museum began their The Art of Video Games exhibit on Friday. The Evolution of Video Games panel, headed by Chris Melissinos, kicked off the festivities with an all-star cast of industry experts. The first panel consisted of pioneers of the gaming industry. In attendance were the following:

  • Mike Mika – Chief Creative Officer and head of development at Other Ocean Interactive. Over his career, Mike has shipped over 120 games.
  • Rand Miller – Co-founder of Cyan Worlds, who notably shipped the Myst series of games.
  • Don Daglow – Creator of Neverwinter Nights, the first graphical MMORPG.
  • Keith Robinson – Designed TRON: Solar Sailor for the Intellivision.

Listening to these gentlemen speak about their game experiences was beyond fascinating. Trying to wrap your head around a world of gaming that was completely different is a difficult thing to do. Technologically speaking, games were minuscule in scope compared to today, and the limitations during that era seem trivial now, but it surely gave the games a certain je ne sais quoi in the character department. Here are a few choice quotes from the discussion.

“All the early games were 4kb [in size]. Comparatively, the icon for Firefox in OS X is 64kb.” – Chris Melissinos.

“Red on an NTSC screen bleeds very easily. Artwork was developed with that in mind to create images, and [artists] would use that to create images and the way they would move and animate.” – Mike Mika.

Honestly, you should watch the video just to get a sense of how far games have come. PS – yours truly makes a cameo, but I’m not telling where.

The second panel moved a bit further in time, dealing with where gaming is headed. In tow were:

  • Mark DeLoura – VP of technology at THQ.
  • Paul Barnett – Senior Creative Director for BioWare-Mythic.
  • Ken Levine – Creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games.
  • Kellee Santiago – Co-founder and president of Thatgamecompany

Like the previous panel, this one was full of intelligent words. Paul Barnett’s notion that a unique “Golden Age” in gaming exists for every gamer is a fascinating one. According to Barnett, everyone’s Golden Age will have some sort of effect on them in life, whether they get into making games or not. It can influence the games you make, or just bring back vivid memories of what you were doing at a particular time.

“Everything about the future is going to come from the past. The people who are going to make the games in the future are people who are playing the games now. And it’s the game players today who are going to grow up and go ‘I’m going to make games!'”


Every gamer has a Golden Age. They have a period that they started becoming obsessed with games, and then they play them, and something happens. I think [the change has] something to do with when they have to pay the bills.”

However, everyone’s Golden Age mileage may vary; Kellee Santiago wasn’t too hot on the idea, so there are definitely nay-sayers. Her counterpoint to that idea was based on that game concepts are effectively recycled from generation to generation. It may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. That’s just how ideas get improved upon. No one brought up the “good artists copy, but great artists steal” quote, but that holds true, even for gaming. How many Doom clones have we had over the years? One can make a case that almost every shooter is one.

Other topics of import included diversity in those who make games, expression, and disruption in distribution models.

“It’s nobody’s business on how I want to express myself.” – Ken Levine.

The video is available online here. PS – I do not make a cameo in this video. Sorry.


‘No, I’m good’

In the video Peter Rojas (founder of Engadget, Gizmodo, and gdgt) talks worst-case scenario for online piracy killing content industries. His argument: scarcity of new content will actually create an abundance of old content. We already have enough books, television, music, and YouTube — basically all forms of consumable content — to last anyone a lifetime. So why need anything more?

iPad review roundup: it’s all about the screen

The iPad reviews are out, and — surprise, surprise — they’re positive. Even less surprising, the super high-res 2048×1536 pixel display was highly praised. I was able to get a look at the new iPad’s screen late last week, and there isn’t anything more impressive than its screen at the moment. It is beyond crisp, and colors look fantastic. Honestly, you have to see it to believe it.

Joshua Topolsky, The Verge

You literally can’t see pixels on the iPad’s display when you hold it at a regular distance, and even up close you have to really inspect the thing to see dots. For rendered text or high resolution images, it just looks otherworldly; like a glowing piece of paper.

When you compare the old iPad to the new one, or to any other tablet for that matter, you’ll start to wonder how you were ever able to look at anything else. I’m not saying that the screen alone is reason enough to buy this product, especially if you’ve got a tablet you’re happy with right now, but I do think the quality of this display could make you a sudden convert. It’s just really, really good.

Jason Snell, Macworld

Users of the iPad 2 shouldn’t fret: Their iPad investment is certainly good for another year. But they might not want to look too closely at the new iPad’s screen. Once you get a load of that Retina display, it’s hard to go back to anything else.

David Phelan, Pocket-Lint

Suddenly, even if you completely prefer reading books to ebooks – and who wouldn’t? – the new iPad becomes a much more tempting prospect. Of course, it is still a backlit screen rather than restful-on-the-eyes paper, but this is the first iPad to be a better e-reader than the Kindle in terms of sharpness. Though in bright sunlight Amazon’s e-ink screen still wins out.

Vincent Nguyen, Slashgear

The new iPad’s Retina Display does to the tablet segment what the iPhone 4′s Retina Display did to smartphones: in short, shakes it up entirely. Where the iPad 2 runs at 1024 x 768 resolution, the new iPad comes in at 2048 x 1536, meaning four times more pixels in the same 9.7-inch space. In fact, at 3.1m pixels, that’s 1m more than a Full HD television.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch

Even if you have perfect vision, indulge me here for a second. You know when you go in for an eye exam and you’re asked to look at a combination of letters and numbers on a chart against a far wall? You read the first few lines, then realize you actually can’t go any further. Then you get prescribed glasses (or contacts) and you can all of a sudden read every letter and number. And even the ones you could read before are now so much clearer.

Web pages look almost as if they’re being displayed in a high-quality glossy magazine. Photos look like photos — the printed out kind. Text is razor sharp and crisp, just like print.

Walt Mossberg, All Things D

It has the most spectacular display I have ever seen in a mobile device. The company squeezed four times the pixels into the same physical space as on the iPad 2 and claims the new iPad’s screen has a million more pixels than an HDTV. All I know is that text is much sharper, and photos look richer.

Edward C. Baig, USA Today

Examine the new screen side-by-side with one of its near-10-inch predecessors, and you’ll swear you just had Lasik surgery. Text on Web pages or in books is so crisp and sharp that you don’t want to go back to reading on an older iPad. Movies and photographs reveal rich detail.

David Pogue, New York Times

The biggest new feature is what Apple calls the Retina display: like the one on the iPhone 4S, it’s a very, very sharp screen. It’s four times as sharp as the iPad 2 — in fact, it’s the sharpest ever on a mobile device. This screen has 3.1 million pixels, which is 1 million pixels more than on a high-definition TV set. (At least Apple says that that’s how many pixels it has; I quit counting after three days.)

In principle, that avalanche of pixels (and their increased color saturation) means that photos, videos, maps and text should look jaw-droppingly good — and, in apps that have been rewritten for the new screen, they do. Apple’s own apps, like Photos, Maps and iBooks, are just incredibly sharp and clear.

‘After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses’

New York Times: After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses

In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project.

Sad news, indeed.

The 95 percent


Sparrow, a fantastic Gmail app for the Mac, is making its way to the iPhone, and it’s 95 percent done. Shouldn’t be much longer.

Path 2.1


We are delighted to announce Nike as the first Path API partner. Starting today, you can connect Nike+ GPS to Path to share your runs, in real time, with your family and close friends.


We’ve also taken time with 2.1 to improve two popular Path stories: Music and Photos. To Music, we’ve added what we call Music Match, a single button you can tap to record and recognize the music playing around you, so even an unfamiliar song in a coffee shop or a newly released track playing at a friend’s house can be remembered and shared easily with the ones you love on Path. For Photos we’ve worked hard to refine each of our free lenses, and we’ve also added a new comic book-inspired lens called Pow. Camera previews are now high-definition, and a new advanced feature that separates focus and exposure points will help you take beautiful photos, even in the trickiest lighting situations.

The inclusion of APIs, ways for other apps to hook into the one you’re using, really makes Path way more attractive for new users, and to keep its current 2 million users happy. However, it’s only Nike+ for now. Gotta start somewhere, right?

GDC awards

Here’s a rundown of the Game Developers Choice awards. I’m a tad impartial, but I’m glad to see Portal 2 and Bastion getting the recognition they deserve.

Game of the Year
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

Innovation Award
Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

Best Debut
Supergiant Games (Bastion)

Best Audio
Portal 2 (Valve Corporation

Best Game Design
Portal 2 (Valve Corporation)

Best Technology
Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Best Visual Arts
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Narrative
Portal 2 (Valve Corporation)

Best Downloadable Game
Bastion (Supergiant Games)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Warren Spector

Pioneer Award
Dave Theurer

‘The new iPad’

Prediction: the next iPhone will be marketed as “the new iPhone” and will simply be called “iPhone.” The number scheme is useless at this point, and dropping the numbers makes a ton of sense.

  • iPhone – first iPhone.
  • iPhone 3G – second iPhone.
  • iPhone 3GS – third iPhone.
  • iPhone 4 – fourth iPhone.
  • iPhone 4S – fifth iPhone.
  • iPhone __ – sixth iPhone.

What’ll the next iPhone be named? “5” obviously can’t be used; it’s the sixth model, and the fourth design. However, knowing that Apple sells two versions of the iPhone — the current at full price, and the old one at a discount — they may keep some type of naming scheme to solely differentiate the two. But I’ll put money on it being only “the new iPhone” and the “$99 iPhone.”

SmartPlanet talks to Bill Nye

SmartPlanet: Q&A: Bill Nye, the Planetary Guy

Looking back on Bill Nye the Science Guy, how would the show need to change if you were making it for kids today?

There are some details. We might have Madonna, but we’d have Lady Gaga. We wouldn’t have the Spin Doctors, we’d have Rihanna. We would be in high-def. If I had it to do again, and I don’t, we’d have merchandise. It didn’t occur to me that the Walt Disney Corporation wouldn’t have merchandise. It just never crossed my mind. And people want it. The big picture and the demonstrations would be pretty much the same.
And I would not pull any punches about climate change. On the old show, there are three really obvious demonstrations or mentions of climate change, but we’d do a lot more on it.

Always fascinating to read.

25 billion


25 billion apps downloaded.png

Valve working on ‘Steam Box’ console?

Joshua Topolsky of The Verge:

According to sources, the company has been working on a hardware spec and associated software which would make up the backbone of a “Steam Box.” The actual devices may be made by a variety of partners, and the software would be readily available to any company that wants to get in the game.


Give it five minutes

Jason Fried: Give it five minutes

There are two things in this world that take no skill: 1. Spending other people’s money and 2. Dismissing an idea.

Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn’t involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That’s easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.

So next time you hear something, or someone, talk about an idea, pitch an idea, or suggest an idea, give it five minutes. Think about it a little bit before pushing back, before saying it’s too hard or it’s too much work. Those things may be true, but there may be another truth in there too: It may be worth it.

Everyone should read this.

via Daring Fireball

The web is a set of filters

Arnold Kim

Because a lot of what we do is to curate and filter the web. MacRumors happens to filter against Apple news and rumors. If that’s the topic you are interested and you like the content we filter, then MacRumors is a great fit for you.

That’s not everyone’s goal, of course. Traditional journalists probably don’t see themselves as curators of the news. In fact, the term “aggregator” is now used as a derogatory comment amongst news blogs. The suggestion is that there is no actual value to the act of aggregation, and that it’s just the piggybacking on other people’s hard work.

Assassin’s Creed 3 box art subtleties

AC3 differences hand

European box art (above) and North American (below)

While looking at the different Assassin’s Creed 3 box art, I found it interesting that Ubisoft made sure to note the region each of the covers belonged to. After a closer look, I realized why. Firstly, the color tones are slightly different. It’s seemingly minor, but the European box art features warmer colors than the North American one. Secondly, the American cover was missing the Assassin’s hand wrapped around the Red Coat’s throat, which, I presume, was censored as a courtesy to the region and the United States’ history here.

It may just be me, but in the North American box art — with the cooler colors — our new Assassin looks African American.

In the image below, the European box art is on the left, and the North American box art is on the right.

click to enlarge

Assassin’s Creed 3 box cover

Assassin's Creed 3 cover.jpeg

Today Ubisoft revealed the box art for Assassin’s Creed 3, and saying that I’m excited is an understatement. From what I can gather, it’s set during the American Revolution. It was pointed out to me that our new Assassin is definitely not Caucasian, and him wielding a tomahawk shaped like the assassin’s symbol does put credence to him being Native American.

iPad event on March 7

The Verge

“We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

Mark your calendars.