Thursday, March 27, 2008

Synergistic Metabolism! Mr.Vada is teh_Pwnage.

Presenting Mr.Vada. The most impressive vada-based sales effort of all time. You can check out teh_re4l thing at the delicious Mr.Vada Web Site. And don't miss the pictures of strange looking sandwiches and vada-pavs that look like they may suddenly wake up and go about their business of conquering the earth, or whatever.

"This information is for educational purposes only"! Good thing they warned us. We were about to use it to build a bomb! And make millions in the capital markets!

P.S. - Sorry - comments were disabled for some strange reason. Fixed now. My bad. Comment away.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sad Thing ABout FXlabs' Agni

There's been much ado over FXLabs' recent release, Agni.

You can get all the intel by following the links from the Angry Pixel, right here. There's another interesting article up on Good Gamer, Bad Gamer. Of course, the now-famous Mumbai Mirror review. And here's Sumit Mehra looking at it with a developer's keen eye.

Now, I think Agni is a terrific development for Indian gaming in so many ways. I really do.

We all know how hard it is to get a game, any game, out to market. So well done, FXlabs, for taking the lead, and having the courage and perseverance to bring Agni through to completion. Kudos for taking a bunch of developers through a valuable learning curve, so that they will go on to make better games in the future. Huzzah for putting in place processes and all that jazz so that an Indian development house can handle every aspect of game development, from concept to retail.

But then, you just HAD to go and blow it.

If, upon the release of Agni, the folks from FxLabs could have stepped up to the micropohone, and said something along the following lines :

“Fxlabs is proud to be a part of this landmark event for Indian game development. We understand that there's a long way to go, but we're proud of the fact that we've delivered a complete game to market, and established the way forward for Indian game developers. We are delighted to have played the role of the pioneer, which we realize has its pitfalls. But this is all part of a learning curve, and we promise to get better with every release. Look forward to better games from us in the future.”

But no. Almost everyone involved made a bunch of statements so far-fetched, so ridiculous, that it boggles the mind. Some samplings :

Sashi Reddy, founder and chairman of FXLabs: “Agni is the result of our efforts to offer Indian gamers with international quality content with local flavor at Indian prices. We have followed international ‘AAA’ production standard that rivals the best PC games in quality.”

Arun Mehra,chief marketing officer at Zapak : “When we saw the Agni game by FXLabs, we were very excited as this is probably one of the first Indian games that will stand up to international standards.”

CVS Suri,chief operating officer of Sify Technologies : “The first world-class game developed in India, Agni has Indian characters with compelling content and local flavor that can capture the imagination of the gaming community.”

Rivals the best PC games in quality? World Class? Eh?

Do these guys even play the current generation PC games? I guess not.

Way to go, guys. Instead of rightfully claiming due credit for what is a significant achievement, you go and look foolish by making statements that, besides being hopelessly inacurate, actually do you the disservice of highlighting your weaknesses. Comparing Agni to 'the best PC games' such as Bioshock, COD4, and Oblivion cannot serve any purpose other than to make the game look far worse than it actually is.

I honestly believe that efforts like Agni are crucial milestones that need to be passed for the game development industry in India to mature. But the people involved surely must understand that it's not about the quality – it's about the learnings, the experience, and the incalculable value of having a release under your belt. It's about pledging to keep on getting better, and following through on that promise. If that honesty is apparent, then I believe that the gaming community will surely back you up, and support even crap games until you eventually get there.

But to insist that Agni is world class is either foolish, or pretentious. I so hope that it's the former.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Sagar Sanjog Chronicles : Ep.1 - Raju and the Rat. (And no, I didn't forget about the cockroach)

Pramod is a good guy. A half-decent cook. Generally efficient housekeeper. Importantly, his demeanour is mostly pleasant and cheery.

The problem with Pramod is that he's on vacation. Gone to Gaon.

And hence, Raju. The cooker of cabbages. The shirker of sweeping and swabbing. The ignorer of things-that-he's-flaming-paid-to-do.

And when you're five guys living in a nice flat, and you have a choice between :

i) Pramod
ii) Raju

you'd have to go with i) every single time. ii) is not quite a viable option, unless you enjoy eating cabbage. No, I mean, you really enjoy eating cabbage. No, I mean, you wish to eat nothing other than cabbage every single day of your life.

But I digress. This was supposed to be about the rat.

It's a bold one, this rat. Earlier this afternoon, he sauntered into the kitchen, just as Shashi and I were having lunch. Having reached the centre of the kitchen, approximately equidistant from the fridge and the dustbin, he paused, and looked straight at me. I'm not kidding. Straight in the eye. For a full five seconds. Only when I showed aggressive intent by rising from my chair did the damn animal retreat. Not in any great hurry, mind you. He just sort of de-sauntered back under the sink, from where he had emerged a few moments earlier. I can imagine him rolling his eyes disdainfully , saying "Oh all right. Have it your way, then. I'll just come out when you're off to wherever you go to do your miserable job, and then who'll stop me, eh?" The evil bastard. I'm going to call him Jagmohan. And I'm going to work out of home. Now who's so clever. eh?

But I digress. This was supposed to be about Raju. And no, I haven't forgotten the cockroach.

After a few more appearances from Jagmohan, we decided that enough was enough. Can't have evil rats having the run of the place. Bad for the appetite, and all that.

We marched to the kitchen to take affirmative action, only to find Jagmohan strolling about the kitchen floor as if he was cooking dinner, and Raju lounging about the same location as if he wasn't. To make things worse, Raju was carefully stepping over the rat (so as not to disturb the vermin) and going about his duties without so much as a what-ho? As if the filthy rodent was some sort of favoured pet dog. A chihuahua perhaps, or a pekingese, but that's not important.

Hasty orders were screamed, and who do we send out to acquire a rat trap at a local merchant's? Raju. We must be shining geniuses. And we deserved what we eventually got - the empty-handed return of Raju, with the fantastic excuse that there were no rat traps available in the good neighbourhood of Versova. All fucking thirty square miles of it. Of course, his investigations revealed that rat traps were available in Andheri. Of course, he didn't bother to actually GO there or anything. What for? To him, the rat was no different from a fucking pekingese.

So night falls. Raju leaves. The rat stays.

Rahul throws out the mayonnaise.

I can't help thinking - maybe we would have got better results if we asked the rat to get rid of Raju. And while he was at it, to cook a decent dinner. I'm sure even Jagmohan could whip up something more interesting than cabbage.

Oh - and I didn't forget the cockroach. That story is coming up.

teh_f1r5t p05t

So, why this blog?

In a word - pWnage.

In a sentence - to promote the causes of frank and forthright opinion, hard-hitting views on the household help, fiction that is stranger than fiction, and the introduction of 733t5p34k to audiences that have hitherto shunned it.

In a nutshell - this is a space where I can write as I want to. Without fear or favour. Without form or function. Without grammar or composition. Without sense or sensibility.

I'm going to enjoy it. I hope you do, too.

And if you don't know what 733t5p34k is, here's help.

If you don't know what pWnage is, google it.

Thanks for reading. Please continue to participate.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Triumph of the Game Seller.

by Anand Ramachandran


I've been spending the past month or so holed up in a flat in Mumbai with five other guys. Two comics artists, two filmmakers, and Aditya Khanna. Now, they're all playing games!

Evenings used to consist of a lot of TV watching. The usual. Annoying news with gratuitous graphics. Bollywood beauties shaking a leg. Whatever.

Until, a few weeks ago, I stocked up the flat with a pile of XBOX 360 and PS3 games. The rest is history. Now, every evening sees a respectable two hours or so of FIFA 08, Burnout, and , god bless us all, DOA 3! Everyone loves breast physics! And games!

My point is actually this - it's not that difficult to get people playing games. None of my flatmates are regular gamers, and some of them haven't played a videogame since childhood, making them pretty much n00bs by any standards. Yet, after just a little taste, they're enjoying it and looking forward to it.

Why? A few reasons :
  • The experience was delivered to them. In a comfortable, relaxed situation.
  • The subject matter of the games they were introduced to was familiar. Football. Racing. Martial Arts. I didn't have as much success with games like Mass Effect, Gears of War, or even Portal - they lost interest quickly.
  • The games they play are high quality games. No lame-ass titles. Only top-drawer stuff.

A lesson here for retailers? Hmmmm . . . . . .