Tag Archives: video

Can we talk about video games?

I have about a million and one thoughts on various aspects of photography and tech (I got a Kindle Touch!) which I’m going to write about a little later, but just for now, can we talk about video games for a second?

I’ll start with this: nobody likes guys.

Nobody. Likes. Guys.

Or so says the Thought Catalog piece that sparked this piece on video games. What is it about video games, man? What is about video games that makes people start foaming at the mouth whenever someone even mentions DICE are working on a new title, or that Notch has something new on the horizon?

I wrote about Medal of Honor a little while ago, and it was while watching the new Medal of Honor trailer that it dawned on me: video games are all about enjoyment, and maybe, just maybe, feelings. When you play games like Mass Effect (I wrote about that too), with games that tell the same story over a period of years, you feel something for the characters. For Commander Shepard, and for you. When you play games like Medal of Honor and you’re falling off a cliff trying to escape from people you were previously hunting down, that feels real. For Rabbit of AFO Neptune, and for you.

I recently re-played the single-player campaign of Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor, and it was then I realised why it was enjoyable. It was about the storyline, yes, but also about experiencing gameplay as a game designer wanted you to experience it. A game designer, sitting a desk in a country you’ve only read about or seen photos of, wanted you to experience a game in a very specific way. And not just you, but everyone who played the game. How crazy is that? Think about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the multiplayer aspect of games. Even more so when playing with friends over voice comms. But I was thinking about the Fallout 3 campaign, how your choices impacted gameplay, and I realised that single player gaming will always have my attention. Single player means you have unique experiences, exactly as the game designer wanted.

And yeah, a big part of these experiences are the graphics. I’ve been looking forward to the new Medal of Honor ever since I played through the 2010 game, and the new Medal of Honor trailer looks fantastic. Rightly so, because it’s based on the same engine as Battlefield 3. But what’s up with the trailer for Ghost Recon Future Soldier looks terrible by comparison? The graphics look like something out of 2005 — honestly, they’re not that much better than the Battlefield 2 intro (the Battlefield 3 remake of which is fantastic, by the way). Call me crazy, but I know there are heaps of games that offer brilliant gameplay experiences — but if the graphics just aren’t there, then I can’t really play the for any length of time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a combination of heaps of things that mean people play games. What I’m trying to say is that you should go read the Thought Catalog piece on The Games Guys Play, because it explains everything a little better than I just did.

Choose Your Weapon


As with so many people, video games have been a major contributing medium of my cultural education since as far back as I can recall. One of my earliest memories is actually being four years old and pushing a stepstool up to a video game cabinet so I could play Q-Bert (for about 12 seconds). For this design, I wanted to highlight some of the most awesome 'weapons' from the history of video games including some of my personal favorites (but less obvious ones) like the Arkanoid paddle, the line piece from Tetris and the Katamari.

via The Limited Edition Cheap T-Shirt, Gone in 24hours! | TeeFury.

No, you can’t do that with H.264

The text could hardly be clearer: you do not have a license for commercial use of H.264. Call it “Final Cut Pro Hobbyist”. Do you post videos on your website that has Google Adwords? Do you edit video on a consulting basis? Do you want to include a video in a package sent to your customers? Do your clients send you video clips as part of your business? Then you’re using the encoder or decoder for commercial purposes, in violation of the license.


This last thing is actually a particularly interesting point. If you encode a video using one of these (open-source) unlicensed encoders, you’re practicing patents without a license, and you can be sued. But hey, maybe you’re just a scofflaw. After all, it’s not like you’re making trouble for anyone else, right? Wrong. If you send a video to a friend who uses a licensed decoder, and they watch it, you’ve caused them to violate their own software license, so they can be sued too.

via No, you can’t do that with H.264 « Digital Diary of Ben Schwartz.

Flash, Google, VP8, and the future of internet video

Where does x264 fit in all this? H.264 is certainly not going away, not for quite a while. In most sane parts of the world, software patents are a non-issue. But in the end, none of it matters for x264: we will continue our quest to create the best video compression software on Earth. Unlike Adobe, we don’t sit complacent when we are the best; we keep trying to become better. We add new features, improve compression, support new platforms, improve performance, and there’s far more to come. We don’t care that many H.264 encoders are so bad that they can be beaten by Theora or Xvid. We don’t care if VP8 comes out; that’s just another encoder to beat. We are here to ensure that the best choice is always free software by constantly making free software better.

via Diary Of An x264 Developer » Flash, Google, VP8, and the future of internet video.

On Firefox 3.5, HTML 5, and The Third Great Format War…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that Firefox 3.5 was released.

With it, came the mainstream acceptance of HTML 5, the new web standard – and as a direct result of that, XHTML is effectively dead.

What’s most interesting about HTML 5 is the new <video> tag, however – allowing web content people (what’s their name again?) to embed videos directly without using clunky <object> or <embed> tags.

About time, too. Video is now more prevalent than ever on the internet, and the widespread usage of sites such as YouTube just goes to show just how popular such sites are. Even Flickr, a primarily still-photo based site, are now incorporating video features into their lineup.

Now, about this format war…

So the story goes a little like this…

Right now, the common way to include video on the web is by use of Flash, a closed-source technology. The answer to this is the HTML5 video tag, which allows you to embed video into HTML pages without the use of Flash or any other non-HTML technology; combined with open video codecs, this could provide the perfect opportunity to further open up and standardize the web.

via Slashdot.

The problem lies in which codec they’re going to use for this video. Mozilla, along with the rest of the open-source community, think it should be something open-source, such as the Ogg Theora codec which is based on open-source standards. The issue is that not all parties in the browser war agrees – Apple and Microsoft, in particular are against the move to use an open-source codec. Being the large corporations that they are, they want to use their own patented codecs. As they’re not a small portion of the browser market, Mozilla can’t simply ignore them and implement Ogg as the primary codec for the <video> tag in HTML5 (paraphrased from Slashdot comments).

So the question is: why don’t all the parties do what Chrome is doing and just support both proposed formats (H.264 and Ogg Theora) at the same time? In my opinion, this would undoubtedly be the way to go. The issue here is that “Safari won’t support Ogg Theora and Firefox and Opera won’t support H.264 — doesn’t mean you can’t support all three browsers. It just means that to support all three, you need to include at least two <source> elements within the <video> tag, one pointing to an H.264-encoded file, the other to an Ogg Theora file” (thanks to John Gruber for that one.)

That having been said and done, pleas enjoy the video below, whichever browser you happen to be using 🙂

Okay, scratch that idea. Either I just fail at using the <video> tag, or WordPress doesn’t like it, or something. I can play video just fine on the Firefox demo page, but Firefox itself doesn’t seem to want to play ogg video from any page that I create. I’ll just go now…