Industrial Age

This month I have been mostly playing Half-Life 2, and Counter-Strike: Source.
Half-Life 2 is definitely the best game this year and represents a sea-change in FPS games. Doom 3 turned out to be just hype, but HL2 delivers, and delivers in spades.
Of course, it is not without some quirks. The vehicle sections go on a bit [plus, i found the tau cannon a bit weak. I would stop and use the pistol to take out the soldiers] and the OICW was not in the game. The HK MP7 seems to throw grenades from nowhere. Perhaps they should have had the M8, the M16 replacement, with its M320 grenade launcher as a rifle. [Instead of the huge, and abandoned OICW]
But apart from that the game is well paced and feels very much like you are inside a movie. The NPC’s are so convincing that you get quite attached to them. [The ‘mad monk’ and sexy Alex being the two characters that I thought seemed most convincing.]
One of the complaints that seemed quite prevalent in online forums is the use of Steam as a distribution and authentication medium.
Frankly I don’t get the complaints. For ages the techie community have been complaining about the strangle-hold that distributors have on the digital media industry, and then when a producer has its own home-grown direct distribution method, something that people have been arguing for, everyone complains!
I think Steam is the future of digital media distribution. Direct from the producers of the works to the consumers.
Imagine a world where you buy direct from the artists. No need for record labels taking their percentage.
Or buying DVD quality video direct from Pixar, and cutting out Disney!
It is the utopia that techies have been crying for, on slashdot and elsewhere, and I am sure it has the RIAA and other Industry types, Quaking in their boots.
The only issue with this scenario is that there is no Open Source DRM system.
Steam is home grown, and closed source. It only applies to Valve products.
If the net community wants the digital future free from the chains of Industry Lobby groups and give the power and rights to individual artists and producers, it needs to produce an Open Source DRM that is applicable to ALL digital media, from games to songs, from applications to videos. [And perhaps to link it up with Creative Commons for licensing.]
Only then can we have a brighter, open, digital future.

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