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Log On, LOGIN!

Brasse -- 2009-03-31 12:00:49

There are three distinct topics for today's comic, all having to do with the LOGIN Conference, held May 11-14 this year, in Seattle.

One. Wren simply does not get why I and thousands like me find the innards of game development so fascinating.

Two. The early bird registration fee of $595 is only available until end of day TOMORROW, March 31st. If you're going to LOGIN, book it. Book it now, and use the savings on buying me some beer at the event.

Three. LOGIN just can't get a break. In the latest drama (oh how we love industry drama!), United Business Media (UBM) gets all snotty about their "intellectual property rights." Give it a rest, people.

Now, grab some coffee (or ale if it's after 5pm) and follow the pasty white Dwarf down the rabbit-hole. It's a long ways down...

ONE. Who is LOGIN for?

Any time I start to talk about game development or what's going on in a studio, Wren's eyes start to glaze over. Sometimes I will amuse myself by continuing until, going completely slackjawed, she drools on her shirt. Always worth it.

I myself find the unbelievably convoluted process of game development endlessly fascinating, and love to take in all that I can. Each group of developers has its own plans, goals and unique perspective on the development cycle. Some studios are very workmanlike and production-line oriented, and others, guided by "visionaries" (read: often marginally insane and in need of meds) are just downright entertaining to watch.

A conference such as LOGIN allows us all to listen in on the experiences and plans different development teams have. For some reason, the presenters tend to be more honest and straightforward at LOGIN than at similar conferences, perhaps because it is far more industry than press-oriented, and I see far fewer taser-weilding PR people lurking by the podiums.

Seeing what goes into game development, through the eyes of a few dozen studios and affiliates, allows me to better understand how and why the games I play are structured as they are. In many cases, devs have boxed themselves in with early design decisions that turned out to be inflexible, while others happily continue to evolve in response to player demands.

When I talked to LOGIN's swiss-army-knife-gopher-aide Paul Philleo some time ago, I mentioned that I especially enjoyed the several sessions that had to do with emergent legal issues in online gaming. He said that several people had complained that there were too many. TOO MANY? I was surprised at this, and feel that any development team that fails to watch and study the rapidly growing 90,000 lb. gorilla in the back of the room is just waiting for a lawsuit to put their studio out of business. Given the somewhat irrational nature of the legal system at home, and the global industry of online gaming, legal issues surrounding video games have yet to be thoroughly tested in the courts, but one day.... one day.... POW, RIGHT IN THE KISSER!

So who should be filling in their registration form?

Anyone who works in the online gaming industry. Period. Ask for the time off and legitimately call it "professional development" because it is. If you are a self-employed or unemployed game-industry geek, go, knowing you can claim it as a business expense. Legitimately. You may have less luck with the bar tab you run up in the evenings.

Anyone who is interested in broadening their contacts in the gaming industry. I am talking to those seeking new jobs, new projects, or maybe even a foot in the door. Nowhere else will you have the same degree of relaxed freedom to sit with devs and execs from game companies of such variety. LOGIN is not like a commercial trade show; people go to learn, to exchange ideas and enjoy interesting conversations over lunch or between sessions. Bring business cards. Get to know folks. Ask questions.

People like me, who are interested in what goes on behind the scenes. To learn why it is so damn hard to get a new armor design for your favorite MMOG, or why some servers crash more than others. To find out why a project failed (post-mortems for both successful and dead projects are among my personal favorites at LOGIN), or to find out how the same team would do things differently next time. I have learned so very much over the years.

To save time and before Wren runs out of drool, let me link a blog that conference organizer Peter Freese posted about who LOGIN is aimed at: Not just for MMO developers.

TWO. Self-explanatory. Register for LOGIN now, not later. Let's run down the options, shall we?

Early bird, until March 31, 2009: $595
Awesome. Register now and book flight/rooms later, there is plenty of time for that.

Regular April 1 to April 28, 2009: $695
Pretty good for slackers, but it cost you your beer money!

Late, April 29 to May 8, 2009: $795
You should only wait this long if someone else is paying... like your boss who couldn't get around to approving attendance in a reasonable time-frame. We call this "business expense creep." Whatever you do, don't let them book your flight, or you'll be on the 11:47pm flight, arriving at 5:14am somewhere. Not good. We call this "employee abuse."

Onsite After May 8, 2009: $995
Clearly more money than brains, so you are buying MY beer. Better than NOT going, and still half the price of GDC.

Clicky on the LOGIN ad at upper right on the page, or right here to go directly to the registration page.

LOGIN has just finalized their schedule, so take a peek! I will pick up a Magic 8 Ball to help me decide which sessions to take in.

THREE. There is more drama in the game industry than in all soap operas rolled together, including those in Spanish. Some of the latter are more easily understandable than the weird stuff that goes on in gaming circles, and I don't speak a word of Spanish.

LOGIN, quietly minding its own business, formed a peripheral partnership with the China Game Development Conference (run by Howell International Trade Fair Ltd., sometimes called Howell Media or Howell Expo). China is a huge emerging market (and also impending source of competition) for the online gaming industry, and the two organizations decided to work together to exchange speaker contacts and compare notes. Most call this networking, smart and forward-thinking.

Unless you happen to be United Business Media (UBM), who decided that this partnership violated its "intellectual property rights" and sent a grumpy letter from their legal counsel, demanding that LOGIN remove any and all references to CGDC from their site and "stop collaborating with Howell Expo in violation of UBM's intellectual property rights."

The complaint revolves around the mere use of the term "GDC" (also the reason LOGIN initially changed its name from OGDC a few years ago). You see, UBM has registered "Game Developer's Conference" and "GDC" as trademarks.

Without even getting into an argument about whether or not the term "game developer" can be legitimately trademarked or not (apparently it can), this just strikes me as pissy.

We are in a global market in the gaming industry, and until the lawyers rule the earth and manifest "One law to rule them all and in the darkness bind them," it seems childish to send cease and desist letters to a third party, when LOGIN is only peripherally associated with the Howell/CDGC, and certainly has no control over what their industry partners call themselves.

I am a media partner for LOGIN, but that doesn't mean that if someone trademarks "Brasse" that their lawyers should harrass LOGIN. UBM should take up the matter with China Game Developer's Conference directly. Apparently they used to be involved in the venture (with Howell Expo) but went their separate ways. UBM is now producing a CDGC on its own.

Maybe the Chinese event group will change their name to CLOGIN, heheh. I'll pack my wooden shoes! Meanwhile, for those of you who love to peruse the original disputes in all their glory, here is the word from the CDGC on the matter.

In summary, Howell and CGDC politely paraphrase the time honored Dwarven phrase, "GIT STUFFED!"

[UPDATE March 31: Think Services (GDC) has sent us their reply to the CDGC (Howell) issue, which I have posted here in our forums.]

From sandboxes and matchbox cars to legal mud-flinging... we don't change much as we grow up - our words just get bigger.
I'll make the popcorn.

...and people think legal discussions at trade shows are boring? HAH!


Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Devan -- 2009-03-30 17:51:36

Hahah, the pendulum of Intellectual Property "rights" has swung much to far into restrictive territory, and shows no sign of stopping. Lawmakers need to realize that this kind of nit-picking and hoarding trademarks, patents etc. is hurting innovation, not rewarding it.
I'm glad to see the CGDC isn't folding under the threats.

Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Grumble -- 2009-03-31 08:43:23

I want you to know I slogged through the entire comic AND after comic comments. ALL of it!

I deserve a cookie...

Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Brasse -- 2009-03-31 09:59:04

Slogged? SLOGGED???

I sit here and type my fingers to the bone with my brilliant and amazing thoughts, and you claim SLOGGING?
I've been slagged!

Heheh, yah, I know it's a bit long for my typical style. I only just learned about Part Three, and could not resist adding it in. Just... couldn't... resist!


Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Rog -- 2009-03-31 11:44:17

Eeek! Lawyers.

Have fun at LOGIN, I wish I could go but alas I've got plans for that week. I'm especially curious about any news from 38 Studios, so I'll be happy to see whatever you post when you get back. =)

Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Leon -- 2009-03-31 11:50:42

"Conversely, the next time you hear an event being claimed as the "official" event of the games industry, think about how much you valuable independent and unique voices, and consider the price of silencing them." from the http://lobby.loginconference.com/profiles/blogs/convergence-1 Conference Organisers Blog.

It really Pi**es me off. no matter what aspect of life, whether poiltics, business, religion or whatever, there will always be some Cousin of "Big Brother" there with his "Thats my Ball, its red its called Ball, and nobody else can use the term Ball, create a Ball, of any colour because we own Ball, and every aspect of Ball, who we say Plays Ball, and when they play it, and we charge what the hell we want for any aspect of interaction with Ball. oh! and Red! Red's a colour so we own all colour too, we bought the rights."

I frickin hate with a vengeance this form of restrictiveness, that is purely out to strangle every aspect of life into one flavour, owned by one company. Look at the takeover of our small community shops by the massive Corporate Supermarkets, that buy cheap, pay low and swamp out the little guys. Then market forces strangle the ecconomy until a small handfull of people own the rights to everything we do, eat, wear, and damn well PlaaaaaaYYY!!

<cough> hehe, intentionaly OTT, but you get my point now a lot better than a thousand word essay right? But this form of control and insidious ownership really does rankle and often scare the hell out of me. Its like fascism and totalitarianism are slowly leaking into every aspect of our lives, including the parts we get our "fix from the f*c*ups and frustrations of the rest of the stranglehold that encircles every other aspect of our life".

It's not new, but its getting biger and its geting worse. You only have to look at a US game from a Worldwide version. Things are taken out, smoothed out, watered down. I am fairly lucky I generally can get Euro versions of Console games, and MMO's are pretty much universal so no diferences much there mainstream wise. But it still annoys the crap out of me that someone somewhere can take a great concept and dumb it down. (just an example these things happen worldwide)

If we look at this article one can see the shadows circling, the insidious fear of companies, partnerships, that would have the audasity to promote independence and uniqueness in a world that is slowly Homoginising into a bland Tofu over a grand banquet.

How dare someone attempt to draw in free and likeminded people into something that will affect our profit margins? Create and promote the ideas of freedom of choice? not comply? not bow and kneel? grovel and worship and in the end OBEY!!?


Power to the "Mouse" my friends, rant over. :p
(I could rant all night, I could rant all night ...to the music of...etc)

Edited a few missed key typos.

Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Brasse -- 2009-03-31 12:03:52

Missed a few more typos, friend Leon! Glad I am not the only one who needs a proof-reader, hehe. Always good to hear your opinions.

I have just updated the article with a link to the rebuttal letter that Think Services (GDC) has just sent me. It is posted here in our forums.


Re: Log On, LOGIN!

Grumble -- 2009-04-01 08:21:59

I still want my cookie.
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