Anime North 2015

Ami & Mami Futami

Today is actually Day 1 of Anime North, the largest anime con in Toronto. This year it reaches the mandatory daily cap faster than last year. I think the weekend passes sold out in about a few weeks. There are also panels on Thursday this year. I didn’t check if that was the case last  year, but that might be true.

I’m going to be there throwing up some events. Mostly just going to hang out with all the other largely-single-tracked minds at the con, balancing if we can squeeze in a Nabatame autograph or panel here or there. She should be quite the fascinating character. But I’m there for Asapon.

Doing a “proper” offkai in a land far from home is otherwise going to consume all my time. Let’s see how it goes. I mean, this is the offkai at the offkai. Cosplayers might go do a formal ball thing, Producers just hang out and cry to footage of IM@S 9th Anniversary. Both pay for a ticket to go.

If you are also dropping by the con, ping me as per usual.

This is my “first” con of the year, and it would set a record for the latest start for me since a long time ago, except I actually went to Otakon Vegas, as little as I did there. I mean I literally went there for a badge on Thursday, to buy some goods on Friday (at 1 booth), and attended an autograph and meet & greet session on  Sunday. Well, all is according to plan.


Mobile Gaming, Hard Boys and Girls

TL;DR: it’s false.

Archer and Archer

Recently I read the following articles:

Why Gaming Journalism Should Update Its Thinking on TechCrunch

“You’re Watching It Wrong” on Wrong Every Time

And I think both articles are talking about the same thing, at least when it comes to “first impression.” The religiously zealousness of how some people cling onto their one singular truths may or may not really be so much of a thing, to me, because I can’t quite tell the difference between someone hating on Bobduh and someone being ironic. Thanks, Gators.

The similarity continues to games as entertainment. Ironically here, Fate/stay night is a “traditional” video game, traditional in quotes because the average commenters that left their doo doo in the internet comments section of that TechCrunch article typically would snob down on visual novels. If we describe gamers as circles of hell, Type-Lunatics are probably well above average, so maybe just the first couple circles.

Well, I don’t know. The visual novel fandom out west, at least given my casual impressions, runs the gamut from terrible pirate-whiners-entitlers to bottom-feeding memesters living off just the culture that the other weeaboo fishes leaves off as scraps. I’m probably more the latter. There are above-board guys, too, especially now that this silo is being farmed as much as it has been deserving, so props to those entrepreneurs licensing stuff and localizing it for profit.

Since we’re still at it, let’s compare how much the particular groups make life worse for the other groups. Fate-Lunatics do not much besides harass people on the internet, casually. So not very harmful. Thanks, 4chan. The majority of mobile gamers, at least revenue-wise, come from Asia. Most of them give 2 schlicks, tops, to what western game media has to say about how terrible mobile games is for your bank account, et cetera. Of course, because they are busying playing those games.  So they don’t even really count, by more than one calculation .(Western) gamers are a big deal, I guess, and in a way the “bad” actors in the industry gets a lot of credit for things turning out not-so-great? The game-as-an-art, hierarchical and tradition-laden inertia behind gaming presses is only going to affect people who care to listen to them, which by this point forms more an echo chamber, even including gaters (in a “it-takes-two-to-tango” way). I think irreverence and “games as failing comic book industry” route is where things might be going, except I also don’t think they would simply because people know what video games are like, and they are fun. And we want to know what’s the next fun thing to try. [And on that note, Avengers 2 is not that fun.]

And starting that discovery process from friends is where I’d say most people go first. Which is to say, when they play hand-held, touch-based games and find them fun, they would probably not care too much about the snobbery either. I think there is a subcurrent about social media and how it is slowly replacing the press/media, because precisely these online friends serve both as support group and discovery mechanism. And this mobile snobbery will, in some capacity, help further drive it. Which is also why you can spend big bucks on ad revenue on mobile and do a lot of installs on mobile (at least for some of these games). Which circles back to that TechCrunch article about the problems on mobile. Which also circles back to my initial reaction after reading the first dozen comments.

It is one of empathy. It’s as if none of those people had fun playing a game on their tablet or phone. I mean, there are some good games out there, and it’s not that hard to find them. Even LLSIF is not horrible, although that sates a particular niche for certain gaming demographics, let’s just say. The real irony is that if the game press did a better job covering what’s good and what’s not on mobile gaming, maybe some of these people would have had their opinion changed.

The nexus of these two narratives, between debating UBW viewing order and the nature of gaming press on mobile games, hits home for this Producer who spends his hard-earned money on Million Live. But at this point I’m not even sure the western gaming scene deserves something this good. When the conception of what makes a good game is so narrow, guarded by so many bigots, is it even worth it? It takes a dose of foolishness and a lot of tough love to bring something like that over. There is every pressure to not go outside the box. Japanese Ps understand if you got on board via Anim@s you are not automatically inferior than someone who’s paid his dues during Arcadem@s. This is the kind of fandom model that builds a trashing lols game from the dim-lit and smoke-filled arcade to a baseball stadium.

I wonder if there’s enough fans of Nasuverse to do the same.

Actually, I too struggle with feeling comfortable

PS. Being old enough to remember the introduction of the App store, it makes me wonder if the initial price points (and the ulterior purpose of selling iOS devices via a diverse App ecosystem of affordable applications) ultimately drives mobile gaming towards a certain direction. Like how when Apple parrots out every WWDC how much they’ve paid developers, maybe developers should consider the BATNA in an alternate universe where prices are not set by Apple Marketing, but by the devs themselves. Of course, F2P is still going to prevail as today’s trend, but maybe this facilitation towards the bottom would’ve took out fewer projects and developers and made the transition less device-oriented.


Chain Chronicle Rant

This applies only to the EN version. Meanwhile, have some Mayayan advertising the JP game.

Continue reading


Crowdfunding: Copyright in Fandom

GITHUB YEAAAA

For completeness, I am talking about this particular kickstarter – School Idol Tomodachi. They’re just two folks doing it like it’s 1999, and are operating with a minimal regard to copyright at least as per my interpretation. You can make your own interpretation, as I’m posting the Q&A I have submitted. Or rather, what I PM’d them on KS:

Is this licensed by klab or bushiroad? Do you have permission?

Deby & Engil says:

Hi!
Though we never talked to them directly nor got an official authorization from them, we know that they are aware of the existence of this website and tolerate it, as they tolerate fan sites since it helps them grow their users base.
Every single fan site violates copyrights in a certain way, and it’s up to the license owner to sue. Most of the time, and this is the case, they consider it as “fair use” and let people do their stuff, since it’s free advertisement for them and it’s harmless.
If at some point the lisence’s owners change their mind and ask us to take the site down or close the Kickstarter, we will do it.
Hope that helps~

And it does. Thank you.

I don’t really have a bone with the concept behind it, but it still rubs me the wrong way when someone promotes his or her own project by selling straight-up stuff they don’t own to market it. It’s one “commercial activity” too far for this ossan. I guess there’s nothing wrong with it per se, but from a business point of view it would be weird to see a fan project go raise money when the actual commercial products the site is a fan of can’t be equally shameless. That Kickstarter (TM?) stuff still is worth something in PR money. Well, for shame tiering, there is always that Clannad Man thing as a lowest tier (that I care to signal boost). This is somewhere above that.

To an extent, too, this is largely a changing mores kind of thing. These two developers are just 23 years old. Kickstarter was a thing before they even started college, assuming they were on a standard path. Paying for your own fandom from your own pocket is getting to be passe, it seems. Of course, at the same time, crowdfunding works for fandom precisely because it enables that “country club” thing for things beyond large tracts of land for golfing. The bone I have with it is just, again, as with Kickstarters in general, the simple buyer-seller relationship that Kickstarter permits to happen in the context that has been largely reserved for traditionally memberships. That ~30% that Kickstarter and its payment processor takes out of is 30% a private fundraising via paypal will not (which is just ~3%).

At least if you kickstart a con, you can do what Otakon does… When you are kickstarting a CD album or a board game or a smartwatch, you really are just preordering. And if this fansite kickstarter kept it clean, it wouldn’t be as bad as those. But now it’s a question of “is it okay to second-hand sell loveca”? Is this a question you want to even ask in the first place? Among other things.

Another interpretation is just that these folks don’t know any better. It is not out of the question. I think Dave choosing Indiegogo is a smart move, for example. Good for you, Kawaiikochan Man.

PS.

This School Idol site publishes a public API so you can pull its card entries (among other things). It’s both hilariously bad and pretty cool at the same time. I mean, like, AWS is not cheap. It’s like one-upping a production committee by putting out your favorite light novel’s anime adaptation. Except in this case it’s code that the production committee don’t care about? And the fans are trying to sell things the committee would sell? Because, like, how else can you raise money, besides selling t-shirts with Honkers printed on it, right?

It’s not like I dislike any of this. But this is no longer about copyright as much as businesses trying to make money and how fans fill the gap in a very meta kind of way, and copyright only goes to show how inadequate it is at trying to cordon off a way to get it done. It’s entirely too weaksauce for this 21st century stuff.

Maybe Gaben should take note on this.


Theme Cafes and Mobage

I was reading some twitter tweets to Swallowtail, the famed Ikebukuro butler cafe. It struck me that these are the kind of things well-executed theme restaurants do. And then it also struck me that this is why I play IM@S Million Live, because it is a well-executed game in a similar manner.

It may or may not be fair to say that theme restaurants are gimmicky. Well, they are just normal eateries with a focus. Andrew Zimmern went to one that’s a prison-themed place. I went to an IDOLM@STER themed cafe (I suppose a cafe or a restaurant is an equally important distinction). I don’t know what is different between the two other than the focus and the type of food each places serve.

Hit-Girl?

If we consider social games or mobile games in that sense, they are gameplay-as-a-secondary-offering games with various themes. And it’s about how these themes execute that makes them or break them, at least for some people. If you want to dine in prison, as a theme restaurant patron, what does it mean? What should go into it? Perhaps it still should be comfortable, but in a way that reminds you that you are in a prison. Perhaps the food should reflect thematically. The atmosphere of the place might be prison-like. It goes on.

And by “secondary offering” I merely mean it is not the central point, as much as it is at best just as important to the purpose of these games or restaurant, which is about some kind of entertaining user experience. Anyway, I don’t want to belittle somehow these things as games or not. Just like I wouldn’t belittle a delicious meal served by cosplayers or by just about anyone else.

Things are a little more vague when we talk about details. To put it in context, when we dine and review the experience, it is usually things like service, quality of food, the value of the meal, if the taste meets the expectation, atmosphere, wait time, and other things like that. In video games, it’s about similar things, except we would translate it to how fun it is, the complexity, the learning curve, how the gameplay integrate with the game’s narrative, how polished the code is, what have you. Like your average yelp or whatever review.

It’s entirely possible to rate a game based on the number of idols available in it.

Ever read reviews like these? And think it’s retarded? I guess that’s kind of like rating how good a buffet restaurant with how many dishes…wait. I guess it just goes to show how video game reviews seem to be a little oddish when put into that “casual” point of view.

But details nonetheless. Like the cylume color of Shiho’s card for Liar Rouge is white and not red? Or blue? Or brown? Because fans called it out on them? Or the selection of images that may make up a collage which tells a narrative behind an ongoing event? Or how the CD releases coordinates with in-game events? Or how in-game cards nods at in-fandom jokes?

Well, that’s par for the course for these character-collecting social games. It’s the extra mile a game like ML goes that impresses me over the other ones I’ve played. But I think this case can be made across the genre, especially when they’re mixed-media franchises with room to collaborate between all of these things.

But for those of us who are easier to please, or who might be open to these kinds of experiences, what values is the execution, the exquisiteness, the finer details of life. It doesn’t matter if you are tapping against rings shooting out of a moving beat or trying to figure out how much money you need to spend to win, it’s more about what it brings to you; what it buys. For those of us that time and money can actually buy things that make us happy in this context–it might be an after-meal espresso or a pile of “energy drinks” that replenishes your in-game stamina–is it worthwhile?

Yeah, it is closer to gambling (the casino style) as a lifestyle and entertainment than, say, buying a book so you can read it on your own terms, even if it exists somewhere in between. But I don’t think the world would want only one or the other and never both, to exist as options for anyone and everyone. At the same time, if you’ve ever been to places like Atlantic City or Las Vegas, these are pretty crass institutions. When a dirt-cheap looking mobile game can deliver (I still feel like Cinderella Girls is just a glorified pachinko interface, at least the Japanese one) the same experience on your budget smart-whatever device, maybe it’s time to rethink all this.

It also explains why there’s still all this resistance from what typifies as “gamers” to accept mobile gaming. I don’t think of it either way, other than as long as people are comfortable with this sort of things coexisting.

Which is also to say there are not much in terms of maid cafes and that type of theme restaurants in the US for much the same reasons. It’s a pity.