Lord Maitreya's Internet Marketing Adventures

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Persistence is key

I was doing my daily article round-up today, and I came across an interesting article about how people want to attack the Troll problem online.  For those of you who don’t know, a troll is someone who says defamatory and ridiculous things for the sole purpose of having all the attention on them, and to make everyone else super angry and write in ALL CAPS.

It’s easy to be a troll.  Pick a politically charged topic and come up with an absurd stance on it, and post it online.  People get really pissed, and they pay a lot of attention to you.  I’ve done it.  It’s EASY.

But it also costs companies money.  People bashing their products or scaring people out of their message boards (which happens FREQUENTLY) result in a series of missed opportunities for these companies, and they want the trolls gone.  Much like the wild west, the trolls (like cowboys) want everything to stay the same, but the people who have money are bringing the law and commerce crashing down on the heads of trolls everywhere.

How?

Persistent Logins.

It’s not ridiculous, and it WILL happen.  It’s easy to go online and flame someone because you’re anonymous.  That’s part of the appeal of the internet.  That’s really going to change.  In Korea, every internet user has to enter a unique code to use the internet.  Again, it WILL happen here.  The cops will know exactly who is downloading what, and you will have the cops at your door minutes after downloading that Spice Girls album from a P2P network.  Hackers won’t be able to hide behind server proxies, and the people that upload illegal media will be found instantly.  It’s logically safe that you would sign into every single (EVERY SINGLE) website using one persistent ID provided by your ISP.  The internet is going in that direction.  The military is currently working on setting up online networks to do this, and once they have their super-network online, the rest of us will follow.  There is going to be a storm of new laws regulating online behavior and people will finally be responsible for the things they do online.

We’ll have to build a prison just for 4chan members.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Advertising in the video game world

Finally, a topic I can sink my teeth into.  I love video games.  I mostly enjoy role-playing and stealth games, but I like me some action, too.  My favorite IP’s are the Final Fantasy series from Square/Enix, and the Resident Evil series, which I grew up with (a joyous blend of action, puzzle-solving, and ZOMBIES!).  I remember when the Wu-Tang video game, Shaolin Style, came out for PS1.  It was part advertising and part game, with brand new exclusive tracks from the Wu-Tang clan.  Ahh, the memories.

While it’s no secret that the “Big 2” game developers (Activision and EA Games) have insane amounts of cash, it never hurts to get a little help by letting some advertising in your games.  Advertising in games takes many forms, and it’s getting increasingly more sophisticated.  I remember playing the first Splinter Cell game, and seeing “SoBe” vending machines during the CIA break-in mission.  Or how about playing the average racing game, where you select from a staggering list of licensed cars from real-world manufacturers.  Or playing Tony Hawk Or Skate, and seeing real products in the game from real companies.

Pictured: A Chevy during normal driving conditions

(Image courtesy of digitalbattle.com)

This is all well and good, but the world of in-game advertising has gone FAR beyond simply using licensed products and music.  Any way you slice it, people increasingly want games to reflect the world that we actually live in, so we feel less psychologically removed from the real world when we spend hours upon hours staring at moving colors that resemble real things.  Video games are kind of like a drug trip.  You spend hours seeing and interacting with stuff that isn’t there, and then you feel like you accomplished something while doing absolutely nothing.  Be that as it may, people love games, and advertisers are taking notice.

While it’s true that many games utilize a lot of the same advertising techniques that work in the real world (in-game billboards and stuff like that), some companies are taking in-game advertising in some interesting new directions.  I’m going to tell you about one that my buddies go on and on about in the shockingly popular game, World of Warcraft (which will be referred to as WoW from now on)… ordering food in the game.

(Image courtesy of worldofwarcraft.com)

Yes, that’s right.  Blizzard Entertainment knows that you’re too lazy to get off your ass and GET food, so they’ve partnered with Pandaren Xpress (not to be confused with Panda Express) Chinese food restaurants to allow you to order food from the game, online, WHILE PLAYING.  Seeing as how, in WoW, some quests, called Instances, can take up to TWELVE HOURS to complete, chances are you’ll need to eat at some point.

Oh, and when I say it takes twelve hours, I don’t mean that you’re just passively walking around for that time.  Oh no.  You’re usually with up to twenty other people, fighting hordes of creatures for a WHOLE DAY.

Anyways, all you have to do is type in /panda in the in-game console, and an in-game ordering system pops up, allowing you to quickly select your meal, at which point the nearest Pandaren Xpress restaurant to your IP address will prepare it and then deliver to your home.  Domino’s pizza has a similar deal going on, where you can order pizza from in the game.

As this example shows, companies aren’t simply content with you SEEING their product in a game.  Some companies are actively creating associations between themselves and these virtual worlds.  While Pandaren Xpress has absolutely nothing to do with the goings-on in WoW, players can easily order food from in the game, and become consumers of products BECAUSE of video games.

All I can say is…. wow

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A short post today

We talked about publishing video and audio content this week in class.  I figure that, since most of the important stuff was covered, I’d give you a little bit of a background into how I publish my OWN original content on the web.  As mentioned in previous posts and in-class nonsensical ramblings, I produce music as an extracurricular hobby.  I use a variety of software and hardware, and my studio, while modest and low-budget, is most dope.  Trust me, when my sister throws parties, I tend to wind up doing a live performance.

Without further adieu, I will once again post the URL to my content page on Acidplanet, which hosts all of my top-notch tracks (most of the music I produce doesn’t meet my standards for publication).

http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?songs=549210&T=2784

Yes, I produced all those songs.  I know, I’m quite amazing.  Since the odds of ever landing a record contract range from nonexistent to laughably impossible, I post my tracks on there just so people will listen to the damn things.  I never cared about money or fame, I produce music because music doesn’t make fun of you, and it always tells the truth.  I make music because sometimes even my painstakingly assembled vocabulary is incapable of properly articulating my emotions, so I make music that properly conveys those emotions better than words ever could.  Yes, I do have a tendency to get personal in my song descriptions, but that’s my modus operandi.

Now, on to the point of this post.  You’ve seen the content, but you may be wondering how it’s made.  Well, I’ll show you a couple images of software and hardware that makes it all possible:

(I don’t have a digital camera, so my hardware photos are taken from online sources.  Rest assured that I DO, in fact, own this equipment)

First, the venerable Korg Electribe Es-MKii rhythm production sampler- the bread and butter of my sampling ability

Bad-ASS

(Image courtesy of sequencer.de)

Next up, we have my favorite piece of equipment, my Korg PadKontrol.  My chopping abilities would be severely hampered without this amazing tool.  A full MIDI-enabled USB device, it allows full sync with software programs, and since I have it daisy-chained with my Yamaha PS-109 as a MIDI slave, cuing samples, chops, and VST’s is a snap with this bad boy, whether I’m using the velocity-sensitive pads, or the keyboard.

Yes, this thing will rock your face off

(Image courtesy of Thaisecondhand.com)

Next, we have a very old piece of equipment from the ’90’s.  The old-school Yamaha PS-109.  This thing was so obscure, there are barely any good photos of it.  I really only use it for synthesis.  I don’t use any of its built-in sounds, because I already have over 75,000 samples and 100 VST synths.  This thing doesn’t have anything I wouldn’t have otherwise, except for a nice bank of keys from which to cue chops and synth notes. Daisychained with my PadKontrol, destructive chopping is no longer an impediment to composition.

OLDSCHOOL

(Image courtesy of imageshack.com)

Now, onto the REAL tools of the trade, where the magic happens.  Sure, I can make drums on my Electribe and play rhythms on my keyboard, but the software is what REALLY gets things going.  Here are some screen captures of two of my favorite software applications:

First off, Acid Pro 6- This software can be, and often IS, used for podcasting.  The track-based flow of the program allows layering of audio very easily, and chopping, cutting, and pasting is as easy as MS Word.  Just highlight the part you want to alter, and alter it.  Very simple, very intuitive, and it’s the industry gold-standard in audio-editing.  I’ve been using this program since I was thirteen years old.  I could hammer out a professional podcast in less time than it takes me to write this post.

(Image courtesy of… oh wait, it was a screen capture)

Next, we have a program that is often misunderstood.  FL Studio, formerly known as FruityLoops, is an amazing production tool.  Notice that I said PRODUCTION TOOL.  It’s awful for mastering (Acid Pro’s strong point), and isn’t very good for sampling (Audacity and Acid are my go-to programs for that).  FL is perfect for actual production of NEW material, be it synthesizers (Minimogue VST is pictured in the image), chopping (PadKontrol’s dominion), or loop production.  This tool is wonderful, and most of the songs you heard on my Acidplanet profile were made using this program in conjunction with Acid Pro.

(Image courtesy of MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)

So, what do the elements of my totally awesome home music studio have to do with podcasting?  Everything!  Podcasting is pretty easy, as it turns out.  All you really need is a mic, some audio software (some hardware if you want to do interviews and the like), and a purpose.

Here’s the flow of a podcast (I’ll try to keep this brief)

Let’s say I wanted to make a podcast about my cat, Lord Oxford Von Peppinsthein III (yeah… that’s his real name).  Let’s say I’ve spend numerous drunken evenings sampling his coarse meowing and purring, and I want to make an appreciation podcast show; and, for my first episode, I want to spotlight some music that I’ve made inspired my my furry feline compadre.

Zeh PEP!

In this case, I already have the music made (the production company I manage my music under is called “Peppinshtein Productions” for god’s sake).  What I would do first is write a script about the things I would talk about.  I would talk about my cat’s insatiable appetite, but unyielding standards for the food he eats (we cook him chicken), his ability to cause untold amounts of destruction, and some theories about his origin (truth be told, he just showed up at our house one day and decided he lived there.  Seriously).

So, I have my script, my sound effects, and my music.  What I would do now is load all the currently existing songs and tracks into Acid Pro and paste them in their proper places, and then I would pick up my trusty dynamic microphone and record the speech segment, using the PadKontrol to cue samples of Pep purring and meowing where appropriate, kind of like a douchy talk show host.

The end result would be a screen full of track information, kind of like this.

Now what?  I have all my tracks where they go, I’ve run a dynamic/compressor filter on my voice, faded the music tracks in and out using volume envelopes, and put vocoders on my cat’s meow to make him sound like T-Pain.  How do I get it online?

Well, you need to render that piece of audio into one file, for starters.  For podcasts, quality is key, and in computer talk, quality is “bitrate.”  The bitrate of a song is essentially how much space per second the file occupies.  A lower size is better for space-saving reasons, but the quality will be noticeably bad, typically shrinking the overall equalization range by up to 4,000hz, effectively making the range anywhere from 4,020hz – 16,000hz  as the working range of the file.  Seeing as how the human frequency range of hearing is 20hz to 20,000hz, this severely shrinks the effective frequency range of your track.  On the other hand, rendering at a higher bitrate, say 320kbp/s (which is ENORMOUS), will take up insane amounts of space on your hard drive, but the audio will retain crystal-clear equalization and sound more organic.  It’s all about how you want it to sound.  I typically split the difference and render at 156kbp/s and call it a day.

Next, you need to post it somewhere.  Acidplanet.com has a podcasting service, so I’ll post there.  You’d go to “add new song/podcast” and select the file from your computer.  You’d then wait for the file to load, and then put in the information, like title, series, episode, and other information.  Then, you’d just have to sit in front of the computer and desperately click refresh every ten seconds in the vain hope that someone comments on your podcast about your cat.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hey everybody, use Wikia!

I was doing my whole “lounging around with foreign supermodels” thing again last night, except this time I was drinking seven-and-sevens instead of puffing on my fine tobacco.  I decided to take in some leisure reading, because my day was so exhausting, what with fighting terrorists and headbutting robots all day.  Once again, I delved deep, deep, DEEP into the masterpiece of our age, The Social Media Bible and was surprised that, during the reading, I came across a spotlight of one of my favorite online resources:  Wikia.

For those of you who have never used Wikia, I think it would be in your best interest to start doing it right now, or perhaps build a time machine and go back in time so you could have started using it earlier.  Wikia is the shiznit, as the kids say these days (they say that these days, right?).  Imagine something very similar to Wikipedia (the same guy who created Wikipedia created Wikia), but think of a completely different format.  Instead of just one page that gives a good amount of relevant information, imagine a freaking encyclopedia of user-generated knowledge pertaining to a subject in its entirety, with entries detailing individual pieces, Wikipedia-style.  Allow me to demonstrate.

(Image courtesy of oblivion.wikia.com)

The picture that totally just rocked your face off comes from the Wikia page for Oblivion, the groundbreaking RPG from Bethesda Softworks that came out a few years ago.  It’s the fourth installment in the absolutely beautiful Elder Scrolls series of stat-based role playing (basically runs on D&D rules.  You’re not still wondering why I’m single, are you?).  Because this game can take (literally) over a thousand hours of your life from you (its predecessor, Morrowind, could do even more damage), it’s pretty safe to say that there is a LOT of stuff to do in this game.  With hundreds of quests, thousands of people to meet and have full voice conversations with, and seemingly millions of items to collect, it’s a daunting task to get acclimated in the world of Tamriel without a proper guide.  You don’t want to accidentally try to make a healing potion with flax seed or inadvertently insult a big and scary Nord, do you?

Yes, this game is exactly as epic as it looks. Pick a direction and start walking.

(Image courtesy of xbox.kombo.com)

KABOOM!

Enter Oblivion’s Wikia page.  This is essentially your embassy in the world of Tamriel (the setting for Oblivion).  Information for newcomers is widely available.  There are pages for the basics like controls and the flow of the game.  You can get tips on how to create an effective character class and how to properly level your skills.  For more advanced players, there are walkthroughs of… EVERY. SINGLE. QUEST. IN. THE .GAME…  At last count, that number was approaching like 500.  You want to know some history?  Why go to the imperial library in the capital city and (literally.  No, I’m serious) read history books.  You can go on Wikia, and just go to the “Lore” page, and learn about the battles of Mehrunes Dagon, or learn about the Aleyid ruins that dot the landscape.  Research weapons or potions… the list goes on and on, and the Wikia page makes navigating to, finding, editing, and reading all this information almost criminally easy.  It gets REALLY specific too.  Look at this page on the Oblivion Wikia detailing the location and pharmacology of just one of hundreds of plants (and entries) in Oblivion.

More information on an imaginary flower than you'd ever want to know about a real one

(Image courtesy of Oblivion.wikia.com)

But here’s the beauty of Wikia.  Take a game like Oblivion, which has hundreds of characters in the game, many of which play important roles in various quests or sell specific items, or even have secret quests to give you.  Take that ludicrous amount of information… and make a portal online with full backgrounds on every character in the game, every conversation you could possibly have, lists of items that every merchant sells, a REAL FREAKING GOOGLE MAP OF CYRODIL that shows where every quest, dungeon, and secret can be found.  All of these things are under simple tabs that allow you to easily access the information.  Let’s say you just ran across an Imperial named Caius Cosades.  Just go on the Wikia page, type in his name, and up pops a whole profile of that character, and every possible way you could interact with him.

Well, I suppose this is one way...

(Image courtesy of guide2games.org)

Of course, there are other uses for Wikia as well.  I’m a big fan of the TV show Lost. There is a rather large (and very well done) Wikia portal for the show, that has in-depth synopses of every episode, up-to-date histories of each character (and I mean REALLY up-to-date and in-depth), and in-depth analysis of events, people, places, and anything else that has happened on the show.  The smoke monster, Benjamin Linus, the Island itself… they all have entries, allowing you to get the rundown on anything pertaining to Lost that you could ever want to know.  There are areas for discussion, as well, where people can post theories, predictions, fan art, and so on and so forth.

You thought I was kidding?

(Image courtesy of images2.fanpop.com)

And this is all a community of people adding information to create the most complete picture of anything.  There are Wikias for sports teams, television shows, musicians, countries… WHATEVER.  The great thing about this format versus Wikipedia is that Wikipedia is a one-page-at-a-time deal, while Wikia is a smattering of pages that all pertain to one over-arching topic, like Lost or Oblivion.  If you’re a fan of something , there’s likely a Wikia page for it.  Movies, people, places, games, companies… if you really want to get the run-down on something and learn a sickening amount of in-depth information, Wikia is probably the place to go.

April 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The stages of disbelief

It’s April first, and we all know what that means: you can’t trust ANYTHING on the internet that’s been posted today.  Allow me to show you exactly what I’m talking about.
A few weeks ago, Topeka, Kansas changed its name to Google, and was going to keep it that way for about a month.  Beyond being one of the stupidest things in history, it set the stage for one of the dumbest practical jokes in internet history.  And this display of infernal stupidity was perpetrated by our favorite company, Google.  If you went to Google.com on April 1st, chances are you were met with this bit of idiocy.

Facepalm

(Image courtesy of mediabistro.com)

I was admittedly confused at first.  My confusion quickly turned to outrage.  A blog post on Google’s newsblog informed readers that, to honor Topeka, Kansas’ temporary name change, Google was changing its name to Topeka.  Permanently.  They even had a photoshopped image of their mountain view logo placard that said “Topeka” instead of Google.  I was pissed.  I was utterly dumbfounded.  My initial reaction was, “Well, that’s it for Google, then.”

And then it hit me.  It was April 1st.  Those bastards.

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment