Send in the CloneZ

Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Is anyone else getting tired of the DayZ: Stand Alone copy-cat games that are appearing? It feels like every time I launch Steam I am berated with advertising for games that look a heck of a lot like the aforementioned. In particular, today we have Dead State and 7 Days to Die (in addition to DayZ) as some of the thirteen Featured Selections (Rust gets a pass but don’t look past other similar titles such as The Dead Linger, Nether, How to Survive, Project Zomboid, Castleminer Z, et al.)

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery the DayZ team should be pretty darn flattered. Now I do not pretend to know the development time frame for these other games (perhaps some have been around for some time), however, the fact that they are being marketed here and now in a manner similar to DayZ smacks of Johnny-come-lately cash-in.  The most famous case of this was in 2012 with The War Z (now titled Infestation: Survivor Stories,) a blatant ripoff of the then ARMA II Mod DayZ.

In some regard this cloning degrades a game that has not even been fully released yet. The competitors piggy-backing on not-fully-developed features and ideas takes away from the execution of DayZ and its potentiality. Why would a DayZ developer want to continue down a path already tread by an imitator? Or, for that matter, continue with an as yet unreleased idea that has been executed by a competitor, for fear that they (DayZ) would look like the clone? When every game coming down the pike is labeled with terms like crafting, survival, and scavenge we are not left with much but mimicry. Not to mention that these games are also all Early Release, as if this adds cachet.

DayZ does not have exclusive ownership on these terms but it has set the watermark through its beginnings as a Mod and now Alpha Stand Alone status and its future as a true example of ingenuity maybe stifled by lackluster competitors. As a dollar and cents example, the idea that one does not have the $29.99 for DayZ but does have the $19.99 for SurvivorX will erode the better product in terms of sales and user base in the long run is an all too true reality.

One of the great things about DayZ’s development is how open it has been in terms of garnering community feedback and showing use of features in development. I have not seen too many other games take this route and I am afraid that this refreshing transparency will be discouraged if other developers come in and loot their ideas. We are returned then to a development model of closed door secrecy and P.R. schemes of leaked screenshots to build momentum for games that are often poorly built and not out of the beta stage when they reach the consumer at $59.99.

I write as a fan of DayZ that thinks the better game is being besmirched by a lot of idea-stealing competition and that large game distribution channels such as Valve/Steam need to be mindful of promoting first class products and letting those other games first find their audience (in much the same way DayZ did) in ways that do not detract from the established brand. Let innovation, originality, and good game play win out.

Kali-ho!

Few things in this life are permanent.  Like a tattoo, however,  the online gaming software Kali, touts “life-time subscription[s]” (italics theirs) and thus, a form of permanence.

For those who started PC gaming relatively recently (sometime this decade), you may be unfamiliar with Kali. It can best be equated as a mid-90’s precursor of Xfire, however, it also added a unique element necessary for its times, network emulation.

Continue reading “Kali-ho!”

(Free) Box of Kotex Tampons-Super Plus (via Craigslist)

Found tonight under the free section on Craigslist in Philadelphia:

“Unopened box of Kotex Super Plus tampons. They will be in a plastic bag hanging on the mailbox at 359 Richfield Road in Upper Darby. Don’t bother emailing, just come and get them. Post will be removed as soon as they’re gone.”

Caller I.D. Culture

Since its popular inception, by some estimates about ten years ago, Caller I.D. (the ability to see the phone number that is calling you) has changed the way we communicate. This seemingly simple convenience has turned communication on its ear and transformed its legions of tacit adopters (Caller I.D. was once exclusively a landline pay service that now comes standard with most cell phones) into a bourgeoning generation of call screeners and selective recluses.

A friend recently started a new job that came equipped with the standard means of communication in phone and e-mail. He was reluctant to give out his new work contact information to family and friends as he feared this would lead to distraction. They had his cell phone number or any of the myriad of personal e-mail addresses should they choose to contact him. The problem surfaced a few weeks into the new job as he would use the office phone to place calls to friends as reception for his cell was not too good in the office or when his cell minutes were low. It seemed that relations, not recognizing buddies’ number on their Caller I.D. chose to ignore his calls at a frequent rate.

At my own home were up until recently we had Caller I.D. block (the evil practice of disabling those receiving your calls from knowing the number from which they originate) people would often not answer as they did not know who is calling. With some friends, they had another phone company provided service that would automatically not receive calls from locations that did broadcast their numbers. This created either a mutually destructive phone call with neither party getting through or the act of having the block disabled on one end or the other albeit temporarily until the phone is dialed again. Some friends knew it was us calling by the fact that their Caller I.D. read Restricted. My own brother called me from a restricted phone the other day (not his usual M.O.). I ignored him unknowingly.

This all leads me to the fact that we are now identified by the ring tones and pictures/icons/avatars or in the most basic case, digits that appear on our friends and families’ phones marked by Caller I.D. We are all marked, tagged, and identified in a matter of rings and just as quickly decided upon by that calls receiver if we are destined for voicemail. The former binary configuration of telephone operation is gone. We no longer answer a ringing phone based on our desire to communicate damning the fact that it could be a telemarketer and not my friend with the baseball tickets for tonight’s game. No, we are now, thanks to Caller I.D., thrust into the more complex game of do I or do I not want to interact with this person.

The further implication is one that has been a hurdle for many forms of burgeoning technology, that is, does this cast us off more from society and interaction. Can what is basically a phone utility actually breakdown the forms of communication? Some say it can and it does as users of Caller I.D. that are perhaps depressed or desiring isolation (the latter being not always a bad thing) cut themselves off further.

So the next time you find yourself calling from an alien number or up against a prompt telling you to leave a message after a paltry three or four rings, the chances are you have been I.D.’d and discarded for later. Welcome to the world of Caller I.D. culture. Maybe you should have tried text messaging your sentiment instead?