Daily Archives: August 29, 2017

CCP Launches Sparc Today

Sparc is a virtual sport, or vSport – a unique physical sport only possible in virtual reality, in which players compete in full-body VR gameplay and connect in an online community.

-What is Sparc, from the Sparc FAQ

CCP launched their latest title today, a VR game called Sparc.

Sparc – Virtual Sports

The press release from CCP says that it is available for the PlayStation 4 with PlayStation VR from the PlayStation Store for $29.99.  There is also a launch trailer.

There is a mention of a version for PC in the FAQ, but no firm date as yet.

The game itself has been compared to Wii Sports, the extremely popular game that was bundled with the Wii in many countries.  Wii Sports was an excellent demonstration of the potential of the Wii motion controllers, a potential that the controllers never really achieved.  Wii Sports was a selling point for the Wii.

That is a pretty high bar for Sparc, which is not bundled with anything and requires potential players to have invested in the PlayStation VR hardware.  Add in the fact that you cannot play locally against another player, having to connect to opponents over the internet, thus any match requires two PlayStation 4s and two PlayStation VR sets.

Still, a simple, fun, and not-too-expensive VR sports game might do well within the VR niche, even if it isn’t the killer app that Wii Sports was for the Wii.

The game has been controversial with a few EVE Online players since it was announced back in February of this year.

There is, of course, the usual outrage at EVE Online funding other games.  For all of the recurring “EVE is dying!” sentiment, it still pays the bills for CCP.  However, any business funds new projects from the profits of current projects.  That is just the way things work.  EVE Online itself was funded, in part, by profits from the board game Hættuspil.  What goes around comes around.  The problem is that, being an MMORPG, EVE Online never feels “done,” so taking money from a game that clearly still needs work (and will forever need work) does not sit well.

And then there is the fact that Sparc, unlike Valkyrie, Gunjack, or the late DUST 514, does not glorify the universe of New Eden.  A VR spaceship game might at least bring some attention to our internet spaceship game.  A cartoony virtual sports game doesn’t even do that.

My own view is a bit mixed.  I’ve worked on projects that basically paid all the bills in the past, and have been irked by resources being siphoned off to build new things.  And as an EVE Online player I always want CCP to pay more attention to the game.  But I also know that in business not expanding is often equated with dying, and the days of growth for EVE Online seem to be in the past.  The game has too much baggage and is far too niche to expect to reach new heights now.

So the best hope for EVE Online going forward is a healthy and prosperous CCP, and we get that by CCP doing well with other products, or so it seems to me.  We shall see.

Anyway, I have neither a PlayStation 4 nor any VR hardware, so Sparc clearly isn’t for me.  But if it does do well I suspect we will hear about it from CCP.

Blogger Fantasy Movie League – The Final Score Summer 2017

Here we are at the end of the thirteenth week and it is time to see how things shook out for our summer fantasy movie league.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of drama or any sort surprises in the results, something capped off by the fact that the past weekend was the slowest box office of the year so far. (This coming weekend could be even slower however, with nothing new opening, though being a holiday weekend might help.)

We came into the final week with these options on the table:

 Hitman's Bodyguard  $203
 Annabelle Creation  $143
 Birth of the Dragon $99
 Dunkirk             $74
 Logan Lucky         $73
 Leap!               $68
 All Saints          $67
 The Nut Job 2       $58
 Emoji Movie         $53
 Spider-Man          $52
 Wonder Woman        $50
 Girls Trip          $40
 The Dark Tower      $33
 Baby Driver         $32
 Kidnap              $30

Those titles are ranked by expected box office, so when the new titles for the week only rank 3rd, 5th, and 6th on the list, it isn’t going to be a hot week.

Hitman’s Bodyguard, which was the top earner for week twelve was fully expected to hang on to the top position for week thirteen even if its take was estimated to drop by half.  That made it the obvious anchor for any serious lineup.  The question was how deep to go with it.  Liore, Ocho, and I went for three screens while the remaining contestants still standing, save Braxwolf, were in for two screens.

With parity on that front, the question of who would win the week was based solely on what people chose to support their anchor pick.  I went all-in on Leap! as it was getting some last minute buzz causing box-office expectations for the title to jump from $3.5 million to $5 million, something that not only made it a contender but also made it a show-in for best price/performance title of the week and the $2 million per screen bonus for picking it.

My Week 13 Picks… yes, it says Ballerina, but the US title is Leap!

Ocho went all-in on Dunkirk while Liore split the difference with three screens Dunkirk and two screens Leap!.  Those picks made sense in the “spend as much of your budget as possible” strategy, since going all-in with Leap! left me with $51 of my grand unspent.

Meanwhile, in a rare moment of symmetry, Void and Pasduil both went for two screens of Hitman’s Bodyguard and six screens of Birth of the Dragon.

And then there was Braxwolf who was all-in on The Nut Job 2 as another comedic entry.  If only he had gone all-in on Leap! he might have done pretty well.

On Saturday, with the Friday night estimates came in, my bet on Leap! seemed to be paying off, and when the Saturday night updates came in the next day, my selections looked like they would be the perfect pick of the week.  Finally we got the official number and the week shook out like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $70,227,500
  2. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $56,031,000
  3. Ocho’s Octoplex – $49,900,000
  4. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $46,767,994
  5. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $37,850,682
  6. Void’s Awesomeplex – $35,106,600
  7. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $35,106,600
  8. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $17,671,008

So I won the week!  Go me!  And I got the perfect pick, an honor I shared with 1,550 other individuals.  It was the most popular pick of the week as well.

Perfect Pick for Week 13

That still didn’t change the final standings.  While I was able to close the gap between Liore and myself over the last two weeks, I remained over $30 million behind at the final counting.  Liore, who has been in first place since week one, maintained her dominance and won the overall season:

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $1,280,117,213
  2. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $1,249,236,020
  3. Ocho’s Octoplex – $1,124,432,158
  4. Void’s Awesomeplex – $1,094,582,400
  5. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $1,079,963,459
  6. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $1,055,255,483
  7. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $995,627,210
  8. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $956,452,366
  9. Murf’s Matinee Mania – $833,121,646 (dropped out Week 11)
  10. Bel’s House of Horrors – $803,362,573 (dropped out Week 11)
  11. Clockwork’s Cinesplosion – $274,973,532 (dropped out Week 4)

Congrats to Liore for winning.  I understand she also won in her other, more competitive league, edging out the second place contestant by a very slim margin.

Ocho held on to third place… and… well… everybody mostly held onto the positions they likely occupied for most of the season.  Syl climbed up over those who dropped out, but otherwise the ladder remained fairly well fixed in place.

Liore won of course because she won most of the individual weeks.  The standings for weeks won were:

  • Liore – 7 weeks
  • Wilhelm – 5 weeks
  • Braxwolf – 1 week

Winning weeks… which means getting the top score… means winning the season and Liore managed that.

Technically I “won” seven weeks as well, since I tied with Liore on two occasions, but the weeks I did not win Liore managed a much larger leading gap than I could muster on the weeks I won.  So I was a solid second place, but could never get within striking range of first.

Just to beat this to death, I made a chart showing the week by week results of Liore, Ocho, and myself.  I made a chart with everybody, but it had too many lines to be clear, so I just went with the top three.  All of the weekly data is posted here if you want to make you’re own chart.

Week by Week result chart

Liore opened up a big lead on the first week, for which she got some grief.  That wasn’t wholly undeserved.  When you suggest a game to some friends and beat the tar out of them in the first round, they might rightfully suspect something is amiss.  I think if we had had a couple of warm-up weeks, the race might have been closer in the end.

Maybe.

I was $25 million behind on the first week, but fell as far as $87 million behind after my horrible showing in week ten.  I only closed the gap because Liore forgot to pick in week twelve.  So Liore forgetting offsets her first week domination.  In the end, she was the most skilled at picking and deserved to win.

Overall, out of all of the people who played this season, about 17K individuals, I came in 988th place.

The overall winner of the season was “20th Century Plopstar: Never Stop Never Flopping” who rang up a total score of $1,407,976,016.  So there we are.

I’m still a bit dubious on the bonus for getting the perfect pick of the week.  That does seem to extend the lead for somebody who already won.  Likewise, while I see how the bonus for best price/performance title each week leads to considering a titles you might otherwise ignore, it also feels like it distorts the process a bit.  Then again, in a contest like this, being able to min/max to get to the winning pick is going to happen regardless of the bonuses, so I am not sure removing either would really change things.

I suppose that the award for the person who ran their cineplex most like a real theater throughout the season goes to Contains Moderate Peril.  He only went the min/max route for the week of the Spider-Man debut.

Meanwhile, the film of the season has to be Wonder Woman, which launched on the first week of the season and was still available as a $50 pick on the final week, upstaging even the long lasting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Here at the end of the season I would say that I enjoyed the experience.  I certainly paid more attention than usual to what movies were coming out.  Unfortunately, we did not actually go and see that many movies during the summer.  That was more a matter of circumstances at home… my wife has been really busy on weekends so going to see a movie hasn’t really been an option as often as one would like… so I believe we only saw Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, Baby Driver, and Hitman’s Bodyguard which were, in that order, excellent, excellent, excellent, and exactly what was expected so very funny if not all that surprising.

So now what?

A new Fantasy Movie League season starts this week.  I will probably make weekly picks and watch how things go.  I’ll stay in Liore’s league.  However, I am unlikely to blog about it every week the way I have done.

Come next summer though, I would be up for another run, either in Liore’s league or in a new one that I or somebody else rolls up.

Anyway, thanks to Liore for inviting us along for this summer run!