We’ve just heard word from Ed Husic, MP for Chifley, who has tweeted that the Coalition has asked that the R18+ bill be sent for an inquiry.
As part of the legislation process, if one MP calls for an inquiry on a proposed bill, that bill must undergo extra scrutiny and further examination by a Standing Committee. This inquiry process is usually utilised for bills that are deemed complex or controversial.
The frustration with this is that, as far as anyone can tell, this really isn’t a controversial topic for anyone but a few vocal minorities. All public consultation on the matter has been overwhelmingly in the postive so referring it to an inquiry seems like the work of someone just looking to delay this as long as possible. The timing is rather curious as well as if the bill doesn’t come back before parliament sits again in March then it won’t be looked at again until May, since they don’t sit in April.
There’s a slim bit of hope that this will be handled by those knowledgeable on the matter and that the turn around time for it could just be a single day. Well this particular news story broke 2 days ago now and I haven’t heard anything so my guess is that it’s not being fast tracked as everyone was hoping it would be. Is that a surprise? Not really as any government process usually takes at least 20 times as long as anyone expects it to but it does show how desperate the gaming community is to see this through if we’re willing to hope for something like that to happen.
And who can blame them really. By the time this legislation gets into gear it will be well over a decade since it was first talked about and 3 years since people started forming grass roots initiatives to make it happen. It took one Attorney-General retiring, another capitulating and a Minister on a war path just to get to this point and that’s with overwhelming public support. Why something as simple as this has been so difficult for the Australian political system to handle is really beyond me and calls into question just who these people in parliament are representing.
Yes I’m pissed off about this as the only reason this is happening is because we have certain MPs who pay far too much attention to certain lobby groups. Whilst I’m glad it’s not as bad as it is in America it still seems like we, the gaming community, are the butt of some long play legislative trolling as I’ve never seen something with such great support endure such torture on its way to realisation. The worst part about it is that, for now at least, there’s not a whole lot we can do. If it gets referred for a full inquiry then we’ll be able to have our voice heard (again) but I’d much rather just see it go through the houses without this kind of time-wasting tactics employed.
But who am I kidding, I’ve been blogging about this for 3 years and I really should know better.
The last thing you want as a developer is your code to go out into the wild before its ready. When that happens people start to build expectations on a product that’s not yet complete and will form assumptions that, for better or worse, don’t align with the vision you had so carefully constructed. Most often this happens as a result of management pressure and there’s been many a time in my career where I’ve seen systems moved up into production long before they’re ready for prime time. However the damage done there pales in comparison to that can be done to a game that’s released before its ready and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve delved into this dark world of game leaks before.
The key word there is, of course, almost.
I remember my first steps into this world quite well. It was late 2002 and news began to make the rounds that someone had leaked an early alpha build of Doom 3, the next installment in the series in almost a decade. I was incredibly intrigued and began my search for the ill-gotten booty scouring the vast recesses of e-Donkey and Direct Connect, looking for someone who had the magical files. Not long after I was downloading the 380MB file over my dial up connection and I sat back whilst I waited for it to come down.
After it finished downloading I unzipped the package and waited whilst the crazy compression program they had used did its work, feverishly reassembling the code so that I could play it. This took almost an hour and the eventual result was close to double the size of the file I downloaded, something I was quite thankful for. After a few tension filled seconds of staring at the screen I double clicked the executable and I was greeted with the not yet released version of Doom 3. The game ran extremely poorly on my little box but even then I was awe struck, soaking up every second until it crashed on me. Satisfied I sank back into my chair and hopped onto Trillian to talk to my friends about what I had just seen.
It wasn’t long until I jumped back into this world again. Just under a year later rumors started to make the rounds that none other than Valve had been subjected to a sophisticated attack and the current version of Half Life 2 copied. The gaming community’s reaction was mixed as we had been promised that the game was ready to be released this year but as far as everyone could tell the current build was no where near ready. Instead of jumping straight in this time however I sat back and considered my position. Whilst I was extremely eager to see Valve’s latest offering I had seen the damage that had been done with Doom 3’s premature release and my respect for Valve gave me much trepidation when considering taking the plunge once again. Seeing the files on someone’s computer at a LAN I couldn’t let the opportunity go by and I snagged myself a copy.
The game I played back then, whilst by no means a full game, still left a long lasting impression on me. The graphics and environments were beautiful and the only level I got to work properly (I believe it was the beach level) was made all the more fun by the inclusion of the makeshift jeep. I couldn’t bring myself to play it for long though as whilst I knew that the code leak wasn’t the sole reason Valve delayed Half Life 2 I knew it wasn’t going to bring the game to me any faster. This time around I deleted my copy of the leaked game and waited patiently for its final release.
Most recently it came to my attention that the Crysis 2 source, which apparently includes the full game and a whole host of other goodies, made its way on most popular BitTorrent sites. This time around however I haven’t even bothered to go and download the game, even just for curiosity’s sake. There’s less than a month to go until the official release and really I’d rather wait that long to play it legitimately than diving back into that dark world I had left behind so long ago. The temptation was definitely there though, especially considering how much fun I had in the original Crysis, but a month isn’t a long time to wait especially with the other games I’ve got on my current backlog.
If there’s one common theme I’ve seen when these leaks come out it’s the passion that the community has for these game development companies and their flagship titles. Sure its misplaced but the fever pitch that was reached in each of these leaks shows just how much people care about these games. Whilst it might damage the project initially many of them go on to be quite successful, as both Half Life 2 and Doom 3 did. Crysis 2 should be no different but I can still understand the heartache that those developers must be going through, I don’t know what I’d do if someone nicked off with the source code to Lobaco.
Will I ever download a leaked copy of a game before it’s release? I can’t be sure in all honesty. Although I tend to avoid the hype these days I still do get really excited when I hear about some titles (Deus Ex: Human Revolution for example) and that could easily overwhelm my sensibility circuits forcing me to download the game. I do make good on purchasing the games when they’re released however and since I’m a bit of a collector’s edition nut I believe I’ve paid my penance for delving into the darker side of the gaming world. I can completely understand if game developers don’t see eye to eye with me on this issue but I hope they recognize passion, however misplaced, when they see it.
Forewarning: This will probably be a rather sad/emo/ranty post so if you want to save yourself 5 minutes reading it, I won’t judge you. But for those who want to hear my thoughts, I thank you.
I rolled over a looked at my alarm clock, it stared back at me with it’s dim orange display reading 7:30 indicating I had woken up 30 minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I was pretty awake already by the time I had rolled over but I continued to lay there with my eyes closed enjoying the first night where the temperature in my room was just right. I had packaged up everything the night before so I could make a swift get away in the morning, ensuring that nothing would be left to chance on this fateful day. Today I was to see a space shuttle launch its mighty self into the darkness of space and realise a dream that I had only had for a couple years.
The ground was drenched everywhere with the near constant drizzle that had been coming down since the day before. I was hopeful though since the sky was mostly clear with only a hint of clouds on the horizon. If the launch was going to be cancelled by weather it would have to be a rather sudden occurrence and in my research the night before the KSC Visitor Complex had still stated that the launch was still on for today, bolstering my hopes that everything would be ok. I set about driving out there with the instructions I had taken down off my computer before I left, the excitement started to build with every mile that I got closer to the KSC.
Something didn’t feel right however. In the documentation I had with me from NASA they stated that the entire island would be closed off to anyone who didn’t have a vehicle placard but there were many people right behind me who weren’t displaying theirs. In fact none of them were but I wrote it off, thinking that the blockades would come somewhere further down the line. Then I saw it, the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex with mock ups of all of the kinds of rockets that NASA used for its manned exploration missions. The site was impressive but those uneasy feelings just weren’t going away, I still hadn’t seen any form of a blockade. Then it hit me.
A sign read “Discovery is scheduled to launch Thursday, November 4 3:52PM”.
At first I simply ignored it, thinking that they had just gotten the date wrong. To prove to myself that I wasn’t seeing things I drove past it again, the same fateful message scrolling across the red LED screen. Suddenly I felt an ache spreading across my entire upper body, a pain that came from no where and took away my ability to focus on anything else. I drove back into the parking lot and idly looked at the launch pack I had received from NASA all those months ago. Throwing it aside I drove out of there not wanting to be near the place that had done me any wrong. I drove just up the road and turned around again, going back for no particular reason. After wallowing in this state for a while I resolved myself to finding out why this happened and promptly headed for Cocoa Beach.
I came across a McDonalds long before I hit my destination so I pulled in and hit up their free wifi. The articles I found on the various sites confirmed that it had been delayed due various minor reasons, but enough to have them push the flight back a day. It was no comfort but by this time I had resolved myself to at least see the visitor centre, salvaging what I could from these dim prospects. I headed back over there and put on my best game face, hiding the torment I was feeling from having so many months of planning and time away from my beloved wife to all be for nothing. I got right up to the ticket booth when I froze, I just couldn’t go in there. I was meant to be visiting this place as something special, a part of a larger experience of immersing myself in the reality that is pinnacle of human spaceflight. With that taken away from me all I saw was a tourist trap, a place that would bilk money away from people giving them little in return. I couldn’t stand being near all those people there either, I had to get away.
I found solitude in another McDonald’s back in Orlando. I sat there for a while eating my lunch, drinking the iced tea and trying to console myself with my social networks. It didn’t work, all I could think about was the experience that had been taken from me, the almost 2 weeks I spent by myself here in Florida with only a tenuous connection to those who I really wanted to share it with. Driving around for a while I eventually found a shady place where I could sit down to read and I did so for the next 4 hours, until I was able to check into my hotel for the night.
It took me a while to come to terms with the emotions I was feeling, having not been like this for the better part of a decade. You see for most of my teenage life I was depressed, although I didn’t really figure it was a problem since, as far as I knew, that’s how I always felt. Today being ripped from the heights of elation to those dark depths shocked me in ways I didn’t think were possible anymore. I had thought myself above these emotions, completely able to control myself in any situation that was thrown at me. This proved however that I am in no way capable of that, especially when ramming my rental car into the raised draw bridge seemed like a good idea, in some messed up way that I told myself was logical.
Whilst writing this post has brought some of those emotions back to the surface I simply had to write it. Sure I could’ve made a footnote in an otherwise regular post that I was somewhat disappointed with what happened and glossed over the whole emotional roller-coaster, but that’s not what happened. Today was all about having a dream ripped from you by no means you could have controlled. I weighed up the possibility of ringing my travel agent, rebooking all the shit and trying for just one more day but unfortunately the damage was done. My hail mary was done a couple days ago when I was certain that it would only be delayed one more day. To attempt to reschedule again without the certainty of the launch happening opens myself up to a world of hurt that I’m not quite ready to deal with just yet. It’s the reverse of the beaten wife’s syndrome, I’ve been hit once and I don’t have any inclination to stick around to see if he comes good or if he will just hit me again.
Tomorrow I’ll leave this forsaken place behind me and hopefully I can soon forget this black mark on what had otherwise been a good holiday thus far. I have no idea what’s in store for me in Canada but it wouldn’t have to be much to beat the shit of a day I’ve lived through. For those of you that read this far just let me say thank you once again. You’re the people I enjoy writing to since you’re more than just a pageview, you actually care about what I have to say.
In all honesty I’m starting to get bored with bashing the Internet filter. I’ve attacked it from almost every angle and there’s no way that the current idea that Conroy and his department have drummed up can be spun into something that I could wholeheartedly endorse. I’ve been willing to put my partial support behind a filter that at the very least lets you opt-out but even then I’m doing so because apart from killing the legislation completely it seems to be the only idea that’s gaining any traction in parliament. It’s been almost 2 years since the Rudd government started talking about a filter and many months have passed since it was supposed to be implemented and frankly I just keep hoping it will go away so I don’t have to think about it anymore.
It’s no secret that it’s not particularly popular policy, especially with our friendly Internet giants and overseas counterparts. This is especially true with the technology community who have polled overwhelmingly against the filter, to the tune of over 90%. There’s still been little study of what the wider Australian populace thinks about the policy but what has been done shows that most people don’t want the government nor ISPs to be in charge of what they or their children see on the Internet and the majority are concerned that once the filter has been implemented it will be abused for political purposes.
But who am I kidding, if you’re reading this blog it’s pretty much guaranteed you’re in opposition to this filter as well and you already know all these facts. What has just recently come to pass is the admission by omission of the government that even they don’t believe this is popular policy and they’re pushing it to the backburner so it doesn’t become an election issue:
KEVIN Rudd has put another election promise on the backburner with his controversial internet filtering legislation set to be shelved until after the next election. A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said yesterday the legislation would not be introduced next month’s or the June sittings of parliament.
With parliament not sitting again until the last week of August, the laws are unlikely to be passed before the election.
Labor promised before the last election it would force internet service providers to block access to illegal content such as child pornography and X-rated images.
With Conroy spouting such fervent rhetoric against those who would oppose the scheme you’d think that he was damned sure this was what the Australian public wanted and would do anything to see it passed. Being held back until after the election tells us a couple things. First Rudd doesn’t believe that pushing this through (and thus following through on an election promise) will win him any favours and you can be damned sure the tech crowd would vote against him in droves if he did. Secondly the rhetoric that Conroy spews constantly mirrors his own views quite consistently as it wasn’t him but one of his spokespeople who made the announcement. Had his belief in the filter been faltering in anyway you can be assured that he would be the one talking about it, since up until now he’s been the only one talking to the press about it.
Broken election promises are nothing new but when something like this, which started out as a proposal that no one cared about since NetAlert failed and it was going to be opt-in (even that apparently wasn’t feasible), gets pushed back again and again you start to question why it keeps happening. I’ve always been of the mind that the government is trying to let it die a slow and quiet death so that they can say they tried to do something but ramble off a list of excuses to save face. Traegically it seems that we’re doomed to a constant cycle of delays and rhetorical battles between the government and the wider world with no end in sight. If they would just hurry up and try to pass this thing we could hopefully see it shot down once and for all. It seems for now we will be denied this pleasure for at least another 5 months.
They say there’s no good fishing story that doesn’t have at least one lie in it and the same can be said for space missions and delays. Look at practically any space mission and you’re more than likely to find that it ran over time for one reason or another and really it’s to be expected. Space travel is still on the bleeding edge of human capability and even routine missions can have unknowns in them that will cause the critical path to be affected. It should then come as no surprise that NASA’s latest endeavour, the Ares I-X which forms part of the Constellation program, has suffered the same fate:
A faulty part in the steering system for NASA’s new Ares I-X rocket has delayed the booster’s trek to its Florida launch pad by at least a day as engineers work to fix the glitch.
The rocket, a suborbital version of NASA’s new Ares I booster designed to launch astronauts into orbit and ultimately back to the moon, was slated to roll out to Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center Monday for a planned Oct. 27 test launch. But a malfunctioning hydraulics component at the base of the towering, 327-foot (100-meter) tall rocket has stalled that plan, NASA spokesperson George Diller told SPACE.com.
“It’s at least a day [of delay], but it’s still kind of a developing story,” Diller said. “We’ll have to see how things go for us.”
Now I’m usually one of the first to fawn all over whatever NASA is doing at any point in time but the Ares I-X booster is a rare moment where I question what the heck they think they’re doing. For the most part the rocket is nothing like the final Ares I booster will be like, namely with the missing 5th part of the first stage and the second and third stages being just mock ups. I can understand the Orion capsule on top being a dummy payload, but for the rest of it I’m raising a cautious eyebrow as to how much useful data such a launch can gather.
The wiki article on the booster shows what NASA thinks they’ll get out of this mission:
Ares I-X will be the first test flight of a launch vehicle like the Ares I. The test flight objectives include:
- Demonstrating control of a dynamically similar vehicle using control algorithms similar to those used for Ares I.
- Performing an in-flight separation/staging event between an Ares I-similar First Stage and a representative Upper Stage.
- Demonstrating assembly and recovery of an Ares I-like First Stage at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
- Demonstrating First Stage separation sequencing, and measuring First Stage atmospheric entry dynamics, and parachute performance.
- Characterizing the magnitude of integrated vehicle roll torque throughout First Stage flight.
The word “similar” used in the first two points is what makes me uncomfortable with the whole endeavour. They’ve publicly acknowledged that the Ares I-X is significantly different from the final flight hardware and that this particular stack will never be built again. The next two points demonstrate that they’re just trying to test out the construction and roll out process of the rocket, something they could do without actually launching anything. The last point is somewhat important, but it is lost when 80% of the mission seems completely pointless. Many of the secondary objectives mentioned could also be performed on a completed Ares I stack so the question remains: why the heck are they doing this?
For the most part I believe it is to show that they’re making progress with George W.’s vision for space exploration. Gone are the high budgets of the late 60’s and the focus of an entire nation, nowadays it’s all about what the government is spending on and what the public is getting out of it. The current rocket has been in development for about 5 years and it’s hard to go that long on developing something without showing that you’ve actually done some work. The Ares I-X is then a demonstration to appease the political overlords and hopefully draw some press so that the rest of the constellation program doesn’t get completely canned. Whilst I can appreciate the situation NASA has been put in I still would’ve liked to have seen what kind of delay they would’ve had to go through in order to launch a fully stacked Ares I right off the bat instead of the boondoggle they’re rolling out now.
It makes them look even worse when a company that has been built up from the ground from scratch will be launching a fully functional rocket with similar capabilities to the Ares I sometime soon. I am of course referring to the Falcon-9 from SpaceX, and it really demonstrates how bloated with bureaucracy has become when they can do the work of thousands with just 800 employees.
I guess I’m just nostalgic for the old days when space was seen as something of a national pride and the bureaucracy was kept to a minimum. I’m still hoping they continue down the Ares path however as the the Ares V will be a phenomenal power house unlike nothing we’ve seen before. However these kinds of demonstrations do the project’s timeline no good and I’m glad that it is the only one of its kind planned.
A couple weeks ago I had come to the conclusion that my time in World of Warcraft had to come to an end. Whilst I had enjoyed rediscovering the game with a bunch of my close friends I started to become the angsty, late night hardcore raiding nut that I was throughout university and that didn’t sit well with me. Still I can always look back on the last 6 months of my foray back into the World of Warcraft with fond memories but giving it up has left me with a fair bit of free time. Part of it has been dedicated to Geon but of course part of it has gone back into gaming. Knowing there were a few titles scheduled to be released soon I thought I’d check up on them, boy was I surprised.
If you cast your mind back to long ago when the PS3 was still the giddy dream of the dominating powerhouse console that every man, woman and child on earth would want you’d probably be familiar with a game called White Knight Chronicles. It was a beautiful looking game that promised battles between massively scaled foes and showed of an interface that was by all accounts one of the smoothest I’d seen for a game like this. My heart ached as every year afterwards I found that the game was slated for next year until finally it saw a release in Japan on Christmas day last year, I knew it couldn’t be far away. It is now slated for Q1 2010 with the promise of not just a translated release. It seems my heart will ache for another year.
Probably the most devastating delay that I found coming out of my World of Warcraft stupor was that Heavy Rain had also been hit by the delay bug. After my initial gush about this game I was hoping to do a full review of it this year, but it seems that I will have to settle for it at the start of next year. It’s almost as if they want me to go back to WoW, although I really can’t bring myself to do it right now.
These aren’t the only ones to suffer the delay stick with other games like Bioshock 2, Mafia II, Red Dead Redemption, Tiberium all getting the same treatment. Having a dig around to see why all these games were suffering the same fate I couldn’t find a common thread, so it just seems like they’re all dealing with their own problems at the moment.
As a long time gamer I should be used to this kind of thing now. After Blizzard started taking the stance of “done when it’s done” game delays seem to become the norm with few making their initially scheduled release dates. This isn’t a bad thing as it typically leads to a much more polished game. However it’s never easy to get funding to develop a game and the only way to get attention and therefore dollars is to showcase what you have long before you have a releasable product. The only people who really suffer for this are the anxious customers like myself but I guess it’s better then the alternative.
Maybe I’m just too impatient. I still have a backlog of last year’s blockbuster releases to play through.