June 18, 2002

Micro-economics and open source software

Here's an interesting article on micro-economic principle of complements and open source software by Joel Spolsky.

Basically, this is what I understood about the theory:

Products can have substitutes, and/or complements. For a product X, a substitute is another product that is useful in the same way as X. The more substitutes X has, the more the competition, and the lesser its price must become. However, a complement to X is something that is useful along with X (i.e. makes X useful).

The fundamental aspect of the theory is that when X's complement reduces in price, X increases in popularity and hence potentially experiences higher sales. Therefore it is necessary to commoditize (read reduce price) X's complements in order to increase demand for X. This effect is the same as what happens when airfares to Vegas reduce -- demand for hotels on the Strip picks up.

With respect to the computer industry, the example I like the most is that of IBM: by promoting low cost Linux-based systems in the enterprise (a complement for the enterprise services market), they have created a phenomenal demand for IBM's Global Services division. Thus, by commoditizing the enterprise server market, they have increased the demand for their consulting arm.

I recommend reading the actual article for a complete elucidation.

Posted by beemboy at 03:56 PM | Comments (2)

June 04, 2002

Cel-shading

What is cel-shading? This technique seems to be the rage now and I think it began with Jet Grind Radio for the Dreamcast and Jet Set Radio Future for the PS2. This animation technique is apparently significant enough that it has won a GameSpy gaming technology award this year.

Here's a definition that I lifted from my GameSpy daily newsletter:

"...what exactly is Cel Shading? How does it work compared to normal 3D models, benefits, etc...?"

"Cell Shading" is a way of lighting 3D models in a game. Basically, the model is rendered the same way as it would be in any other 3D game, except when it comes to drawing the surface, only one or two shades of each color are used. Instead of getting all the shades and hues of a realistic surface, you get solid colors. As a result, the object looks hand-drawn -- like a cartoon. In fact, it's called "Cel Shading" because the end result looks like the "Cels" of a cartoon.

You can see an example here -- the sphere at the left is realistically lit, whereas the sphere on the right is cel shaded. What good is it? Well, it definitely gives games a cartoony feel. Some just use it as a gimmick, but really good developers make it a conscious stylistic choice and use it to lend credibility to the game world. That's the case with The Legend of Zelda, one of the best examples of Cel Shading out there. I also like Jet Set Radio Future. So many games are using this technique we gave it a special award this year.

Posted by beemboy at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

Duke Nukem comes (goes?) back...

Gamespy has a review of Duke Nukem: Manhattan project today. Interestingly, it is a side-scroller (Yeah you read that right). In the age of dime-a-dozen first-person shooters (its precursor Duke Nukem 3D was also one), here's a new twist. Is the game industry already going retro?? :-) Of course, the environment is all 3D but apparently the game should run fine on a Pentium (should I say Pentium I??).

Posted by beemboy at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)