Sunday, November 29, 2009

WGC to CRTC: Please look at the man behind the curtain...

Noting that money spent by broadcasters, both in total and as a percentage of Advertising revenue, on Canadian programming has decreased on a fairly regular basis (from $75M to $54M), since the CRTC decision in 1999 to remove expenditure requirements while money spent on US shows has nearly doubled (from $285M to $490M), The Writers Guild of Canada joins me in pointing out the obvious:
Should the current trend continue high-quality Canadian dramas will disappear from the air. CTV, Global, Rogers and the smaller conventional broadcasters would cease to be distinguishable from U.S. broadcasters and hence would no longer have a reason to exist.
So, they've provided their own set of guidelines they'd like the CRTC to enforce (from the document above), the baseline being:
A Canadian programming CPE for all conventional services owned by a corporate group, to be set at possibly 35% of gross revenues.
which would then be divided amongst Drama, Docs, and Children's Programming and include any "new" sources of revenue in a effort to prevent the sudden development of things like Internet distribution from stepping in and being abused because they're not specifically stated in the agreement. The immediate question raised by this suggestion is: how easy is it for accountants to cook gross revenues on the books when one considers the tendency for things in the entertainment industry to never show profit?*

The other main suggestion is:
Mandatory exhibition of all drama and documentaries produced under the framework at least once on conventional stations in the group between 8pm and 11pm, Sunday to Friday, within two years of availability. Mandatory exhibition of all children‟s programming produced under the framework at least once on conventional stations in the group at an age appropriate time within two years of availability.
to prevent the current practice of broadcasters purchasing shows just to prevent other networks from showing them.

More detail, including a rather detailed history of the networks whining and the CRTC behaving like all good committees and simply continuing to ask for input, at the link.

* One of the better examples of this from recent history is Peter Jackson's fight with New Line over his share of the "profits" from the Lord Of the Rings trilogy of films - a series of films which are estimated to have cost ~$300M to make and grossed over $1B at US theatres before DVD, ancillary, and foreign revenue was added in.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things Left Unsaid: Perhaps that's why you're looking for Husband #3...

Her: "I mean, the entire purpose of a relationship is to help fix the other person, no?"

Me: ".... you're kidding, right?"

For future reference, every single one of these consists of something someone I was talking to said and what the infamous filter kept me from saying in response.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On The CRTC and "Local Television"

Understand the following: Being Erica isn't 'Local' Television. Flashpoint, also not 'Local' Television. ET: Canada. Nope, not 'Local' Television either. They're Entertainment programming by definition, Canadian made by happenstance.

'Local' Television is TV about your community. These days, on major networks, that basically covers the Nightly News. Now frequently banished to hours in which you're driving home, or 11:30 if you're lucky and enough of an insomniac to stay up past the National news at 11 to see what's going on in your back yard. Major networks don't, say, carry your local sports team anymore, CBC Hockey notwithstanding, while the various talk programs and community shows have steadily lost their time slots to Infomercials that generate money instead of cost money*.

So, functionally, in saving 'Local' television, you're basically paying to keep getting the News. Interestingly, in the US, Local News on affiliate stations is enough of a profit centre that Jay Leno is currently having nightmares about what happens if he drops below a 1 rating and starts biting into their profits. But then, they actually still know how to run a TV station there.

Here, the reality is that we've lost that. Our main networks are addicted to a steady stream of US produced programming to the point where, now that they control the vast majority of cable specialty channels between them, they believe a threat to withdraw said programming from the public is the best way to line up more cash. Not only that, but they look at the steady revenue from cable subscribers their "subscription" channels get and then declare that their Broadcast stations are a drag on their revenue because they're not as easy to leech money from. Oh, and the Canadian entertainment programming and 'local' programming? That's a Tax on their profits.

Which raises the question: if our TV providers believe producing News and Canadian TV is above them, that they need just be affiliates of the US nets in everything but name, then why not just let in the US Networks and be done with it? At least they still know how to make TV and it's not like they're going to be any more antagonistic towards Canadian Content than this crew...

Or, perhaps it's time to undo the mess the CRTC has created over the last few years and force the networks to divest themselves of the Cable Specialty Channels they think enable them to survive without running TV stations anymore.

*Interestingly, and I'm surprised the Cable Co's aren't making more of this, all those sports talk, high school sports, JR A hockey games, community events, Local style shows are sitting on Community Cable.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On Boss Mods

There's really only three main ones worth mentioning, two that have been around for a while and one that's fairly newish. BigWigs was good for a while, but circa 3.2 has seen it's reputation drop. Deadly Boss Mods (DBM) is the defacto standard in that it does what needs to be done and does it well enough.

However, these days Deus Vox Encounters pisses all over both of them in many ways. The timers are right on and there are multiple directional arrows built in to help you avoid directional/mobile damage like the spikes on Anub, the propagating terror effect in P2 Yogg, or the Burning Bile's on Northrend Beasts. The only place it fails is in it's sound effects: they're frequently too quiet/short/fracking cute* to effectively communicate something bad is happening now or, particularly, what kind of bad it is. Especially if you're used to DBM's reuse of infamous get the fuck out chants like "Run Away Little Girl". It's still highly worth using, and I found I could through trial and error get some stuff to audibly alert the way I wanted or figure out what I was supposed to be listening for, but it's really just a proper sound mix away from being perfect out of the box.

* quite a few are straight out of R2's vocabulary, although the one you're most likely to disable is the FF Victory tune on boss death.

Friday, November 13, 2009

10 Things You Learn: Doing Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms + Kalimdor

  1. Cataclysm can't blow up the old world soon enough. Once you've done the 2nd quest chain that's taken you across 5 zones and two continents you realize just how god awful the classic questing layout was. It's not worth saving. (ps: this is why Blasted Lands is getting a revamp despite the fact no one would notice if it didn't - the only real quest chain there requires you to go spend an hour in Azshara. Now, since Azshara's about to become a lvl 10-20 zone...)
  2. There's a quest in the Badlands where the quest item has a drop rate roughly equivalent to a Dark Whelpling. Seriously. I'm not making this up. And it's for a bloody green reward.
  3. Flight is going to be a godsend for doing whatever future equivalent is implemented in Cataclysm as I won't be surprised if the current Loremaster title becomes a Feat of Strength given the pending quest changes. It took me about twice as long for each of these two zones to knock off the ~375 quests I had left to do in each as it took me to catch up on the ~300 quests I had left in Outlands (time spent waiting on a GM to sort out a bugged quest notwithstanding). Most of that difference can be allocated to riding/flight time differences.
  4. Lowbies can take a rather haughty attitude towards a LVL 80 roaming around "their" zone. I eventually reached a point where the next person self-righteously implying that I was merely there to get in their way and for no other logical reason was going to be offered the option of having me doing just that for a bit. 'cause trust me, after spending an hour or so running up and down the main road in Darkshore, you're definitely going to be ready to be an asshole to someone. Especially when you wave, get rejected upon inviting, jump up and down, and generally get tired of waiting for them to engage that escort quest they're now reaming you for starting for yourself...
  5. If those Blasted Lands quests were how you used to get "flasks", Vanilla Raiding can go fuck itself. Getting what I needed to drop for each of them took forever and I don't even want to know how that would've been like on a PVP server.
  6. Having done them all, not even the quest in point 2 can cost Desolace the title of worst zone in the game. The combination of monotone environment with quests that require you to run back and forth all over the place is just painful. It's just not a fun place to go and play for any large period of time.
  7. There's a quest hidden on the south coast of Azshara that's WoW's equivalent of a GNDN Conduit. You can fight off packs of Naga indefinitely 'cause the quest just keeps resetting: it's apparent related questline a savage victim of failure to implement. It also doesn't count towards the Loremaster achievement, so you're now forewarned to save the trip unless you want to see the poor stranded crew one last time before the Goblins come and kill them all.
  8. Places I never want to see again: Maraudon, Gnomer, U/LBRS, BRD. I suspect if I had played them new and taken the time to get to know them, I wouldn't mind. But, as is they're all too fracking huge for their own good and BRS is god awful twisty with a lot of blind turns and way too many ways to end up running in circles if you're not familiar with it.
  9. Because it can't be said enough: Friends don't let Friends run Gnomer.
  10. People will waste a hideous amount of time for a silly title.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reading for comprehension good.

So, anyways, the latest round of reading to reinforce your own preconceptions popped up over at where the writer took off on this post from a Paladin tanking blog suggesting aura's be changed to function more like stances to waste a the start of the article going on a tangent about the "hybrid tax" again even though it's not mentioned at all in the source material. Lets ignore the fact that Death Knights already exist in the game to consume the game mechanic as largely described or that there's only one hybrid tax applied only to DPS, not a stacking bill for every spec you can play or buff brought to the table, to get down to the fundamental issue here: the recent round of Paladin "nerfs" have little to do with the classes hybrid status and everything to do with the fact that a 50K prot paly who can instant heal for 50K and then bubble + heal up again, functionally having the HP of a 5 man mob, is just a bit of a crazily overpowered situation in PvP. Even when you wear that down to the 25-30K health of a typical Retribution Paladin at current gearing, it's still 75 to 90K worth of health to burn through. The defensive talents built into the class have some game breaking effects* when used in combination that are really inarguable at the core when applied to PvP.

The response to pointing this out has been: "Well, obviously we don't hit hard enough if they can kill us three times!!!!", to which the appropriate response is: "If they were able to do 75 to 150K worth of damage to you before you could kill them in return then, with all due respect, you were either countered or simply outclassed. Thanks for playing. Don't let the kick at your ego hit you on the way out the door :)".

There are arguments to be made against these changes, mostly in regard to PvP constantly screwing around with PvE balance, but suggesting the class engage in some sort of screwball bastard child hybrid system of the Death Knight and Warrior classes isn't really where I suspect the game needs to go to fix it. Functionally, it's about finding that sweet spot in PvP survivability where the class isn't getting solo nuked in 3 seconds nor retains a functionally insane health pool unless facing superior numbers and preferably doing so without trashing the classes ability to tank in PvE. The more straightforward method is to move some of the survivability abilities into the Protection tree, where stat buff talents that are being moved to Mastery in Cataclysm will be looking to be replaced, which could then be balanced by mobility talents shifted to the Ret/Holy tree. Start by moving Divine Protection in there: it's primary use is as a shield wall anyways. Or, perhaps better, make Divine Protection the 25 point Protection talent, Divine Shield the 25 point Retribution talent, and Lay on Hands the 25 point Holy talent; deep enough that it's possible to take two yet also in a position where one has to make a choice to drop other talents of interest to do so.

PS: Keep Righteous Fury available to everyone. It's nice when uber heals combine with a Retribution Paladin to make for quick heroic runs :)

* back in Burning Crusade I was in WSG and managed to down a Hunter one on one by effectively using my cooldowns. As Holy. Uber heals or not, and trust me I wasn't even remotely geared for nor knowledgeable of shockadin at the time, these are the kinds of things that just shouldn't happen at equivalent gear/skill levels even if only once every 20 minutes or so.