Apps Have No Intrinsic Value

Today I saw this article online. Granted the information is from 2012, but the article reports the conclusion from an analytical firm that 60% of the apps in the App Store have never been downloaded, even once.

This figure is both astonishing and completely unsurprising.

You might argue that discoverability is a big problem, and that other App Stores that let you see new or recently updated apps easier might not have this problem.

You might also argue that a large portion of these are fart apps or redundant flashlight apps, or other things that you would not expect people to use regardless.

However, in my personal opinion, this points to a more fundamental problem.

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Thoughts on the GearVR

The other day I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone.  I had preordered the GearVR but I wasn’t able to use it until I got the phone.

“This is the future.” – everyone who’s used my Gear VR, including myself.

The killer app for VR is probably going to be Oculus Cinema.  I have a movie theater that I can throw in a backpack.  I also took a flying tour over Ireland and played Breakout with my face in Proton Pulse.

Screenshot_NormalAppImage(3)Setup is as easy as plug and play.  Considering how much of a hassle getting anything to work well on the DK2 is, this is really a point not to be overlooked.  The trackpad interface is intuitive and really quite nice; I hope the Oculus Rift consumer version and other headsets adopt this as a standard.  The trackpad works based off of simple gestures, and its nice to have physical input on the headset itself.  Very very elegant.  The interface is high quality and the app store is full of polished demos and games.  Screenshot_NormalAppImage(2)

The resolution is better than the DK2, and good enough for me though it could still use some improvement.  I had no problems with heat or battery life issues, despite my worries.  I do wish there were built in headphones though, a feature that the consumer Rift is apparently going to have.

There’s some noticeable motion blur at times, and the lack of positional tracking is sometimes jarring but is honestly not a big deal.  Beyond that the tracking is perfect in every app I’ve tried.  Screenshot_NormalAppImage(4)

There will be room for more complex experiences that are worth tethering yourself to a PC and dealing with all the nightmares of getting the software to work properly, but there’s also room for something like this.

That’s really all I have to say… it works as well as could be hoped.  Things will get better and I have ideas for software but this is an excellent start.  I hate it when I have to return to flatland.

Thoughts on the announced Myst TV Series

What is there to say about Myst?  It’s one of gaming’s first genuine hits with mainstream audiences.  It was a pioneer of computer graphics and game visuals.  It’s approach to storytelling and puzzle design have inspired modern games like The Room and Gone Home, and its sense of mystery and wonder was one of the big inspirations behind the TV series Lost.  For me, it was one of the games that got me into wanting to learn computer graphics and make immersive worlds, alongside the original Doom.

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While later games in the series released in the early 2000’s eventually lost the widespread appeal that the early games did, the series made a splash again when it was released on iOS in 2009.  It was on the top sellers lists for a while, as people who owned the game back in the day but never finished it bought it again on their touch devices, and it found a new audience as well.  It also was a pioneer of “serious” games on mobile, with its success at an (at the time) astonishing 727 MB download encouraged other developers to make bigger games on the platform.

In this light, Legendary’s recently announced partnership with Cyan to make a Myst television show alongside a transmedia game element makes a lot of sense.

I look at the comments sections of articles reporting the announcement, and I see a lot of reactions similar to this Penny Arcade joke.  I’m not sure how much of this is the internet snark machine and how much of this is people not understanding how much potential there is in this idea, so I figured I’d talk about why I think it’s a good idea and talk about my theories about what it might look like.

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Thoughts On Microconsoles

I’ve been thinking about microconsoles.  When the Ouya, Gamestick, etc were first announced I thought it was a really interesting phenomenon coinciding with the emergence of mobile gaming, mobile graphics, streaming, app stores, and the indie games boom.  I’ve also insisted for a long time that there’s a ton of untapped potential for these sorts of devices in terms of local multiplayer using both the tv and everyone’s phones and tablets.  I still do think that there’s some things inherently more interesting about this sort of platform.

All I’ve really wanted from the “big players” in consoles for a while is just for one of them to steal the app store model and allow a more democratic form of development on their platform.  PC and mobile have been getting tons of interesting content using the app store model that the barriers to entry on consoles simply don’t allow.  To top it off, in theory, the microconsoles themselves are lower cost devices to begin with, reducing barriers to entry for the mainstream gamers that mostly know gaming through their phone, to start gaming with a controller in front of their TV.

In practice however, it seems like there are several problems with this, stopping microconsoles from really taking off.

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Thoughts on the Oculus Rift

I recently had the privilege of testing out an Oculus Rift.  I felt compelled to write up my first impressions.  I’ve been meaning to start a personal blog to write about whatever for a while, and this is as good a place to start as any.  Feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you want to skip the intro stuff.  My name is Chris, and I’m a graphics programmer.  I will use this space to write about whatever I’m thinking about that I feel merits sharing and discussion, regardless of topic, but there will be a bias towards computers/programming, music/metal, and fictional media since that’s what occupies a lot of my headspace.  I’ll probably write up a proper intro at some point, but for now, on to the Rift!

I got to try a demo setup of the Rift Dev Kit 2 at work two weeks ago.  This first demo had some issues; certain demos had some kind of weird flickering when you moved your head, and some had some kind of RGB color separation.  Later on I got to demo the Rift again on a setup without these issues and it was an even more amazing experience, but even with these issues I was still impressed.

The first demo I tried was the Oculus World Tuscany demo.  It’s basically a Unity Engine test demo where you walk around and look at some okay art assets.  Normally it’s something I wouldn’t even bother to download, but with the rift, it’s fuckin’ cool.

The first thing I noticed was the head tracking.  The word I would use for it is “immaculate”.  Every other virtual reality type experience I’ve tried was missing this.  I played some sword fighting game at Disney Quest something like a decade ago between the weight of the headset and the touch of lag, it felt like I was playing a virtual reality video game.  While I’m hoping that the consumer headsets are a bit lighter, the Rift doesn’t really have this problem; it’s like being transported to a place.  I felt like I’d become a ghost when, seconds after putting the Rift on, I held my hand in front of my face and saw nothing.

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