AT&T U-verse Questions – HELP!

My fiancée and I are moving stuff into our new place, debating which TV to buy, waiting for the bed to be delivered, trying to find decent furniture, and then we realized one important thing: We should probably get internet. Before I jump to the point of this post I want to give a little preface.

When choosing this place we did so based on a huge list of criteria ranging from our budget to its location, etc., etc. Everything is truly amazing except for the fact that the only internet provider we can get is AT&T U-verse. What a total drag. I hate being victim to a monopoly, but supposedly the developers gave TWC time to come in but they were late so they closed up the ground and said no more running lines.

Our apartment complex was built just under a year ago. AT&T U-verse ran fiber lines directly to each unit during construction. U-verse has a dedicated rep for our complex that supposedly gives pretty good deals to rival what AT&T will sell you on their website. So I got the guy’s number and gave him a call.

I got on the phone and cut right to the chase: I want the best internet you got and I want a little bit of TV too. So he put together a package that comes in at $76/month +California taxes (that price includes their hidden fees and modem leasing, yada yada) and a guarantee that our prices do not go up each year due to the special deal we got through our complex. Yep, that’s cheaper than their online prices (I’d be paying 86 for the same package and slowest internet). I choked when he told me how fast the connection was: 18mbps. Excuse me, say what? I currently have 100mbps from TWC. The rep told me “Yeah but this is Fiber running straight to your unit. It’s better.” I asked, “Why?” He said, “because it has more bandwidth and on TWC you have lots of people sharing the same line and that slows you down.” I replied, “Speedtests showed me getting 100mbps-125mbps at all times. I didn’t feel slow. I downloaded any time of day at 10 megabytes to 13 megabytes a second.” He replied again about it being consistent and great.

Having no choice, we’re going to have our setup occur on March 30th. My question to you all is whether or not this guy is giving me a load of crap. I see 18mbps and I think I’m about to go back to the stone age. I want to watch my Netflix in super HD and not have any buffering issues, and I want to do it while playing online games with great ping. Am I going to be okay? Speak comfort to me, friends!

In Search of the Perfect TV

I’m getting married in 8 days! We’ve spent the last week moving stuff into our new place and one of the last remaining issues to solve is quite an important one: The TV! Right now we do not have a TV — at all. We love to watch movies and play video games, so a TV is kinda required. I need your help and expertise!

Here are the details of my hunt so far.

  • Budget: $650 (I MIGHT squeeze that to $700 but that’s really pushing it.)
  • TV has to fit on this tv stand/entertainment stand (20.2 inches x 15.75 inches x 47.25 inches)
  • We sit roughly 6-7 feet away straight on
  • I have Amazon Prime, live 2 minutes from Best Buy/Walmart/Target, etc.
  • I don’t need Smart features

I clearly can’t afford the best TV out there, but I think I can get something nice. I could just buy the biggest TV I can find in my range with the best reviews on Amazon, but I want my money to go the furthest it can (so I need your help!). Doing research, I see the popular opinion points to Samsung as the top dog for quality if you can get a TV with a panel actually made by Samsung. How big of a difference is Samsung compared to something like LG or Vizio? How much of a difference is 50″ compared to 48″ in terms of a true experience at 6 feet away? Am I really okay just going for the biggest TV I can get in my budget regardless of manufacturer and features?

Here’s my current top find in terms of quality: Samsung UN48H6350 48-Inch. The feedback I’m getting on this one is that it’s not big enough, has Smart features I don’t need, etc., and that I could get bigger TV for the price. All true. The LG Electronics 55LB5900 55-Inch is awesome but the feet length are beyond the size of my TV stand. My biggest issue is finding a bigger tv (in my budget) that will fit my space.

Your opinions on brands to go with or avoid, what size you recommend for my space, and overall suggestions on how I can stretch my budget are appreciated.

MMOs: Smaller was Better

Yesterday’s entry got me thinking once again about how big an MMO really needs to be in order to be a success. I’ve never been one to think that because a game is “profitable” then it must be a success. If your MMO lived for 6 months and you paid your debtors and made a  few bucks you’re still a failure in my book. MMOs, from the business side that I view them, are all about long-term monthly revenue.  This bring me to my point for today: MMOs do not belong in the hands of large developers. MMOs (Typically. Ignore Blizzard.) aren’t good business for publicly traded companies with big overhead costs, shareholders, etc. MMOs are good business for small to midsize teams — single, autonomous companies.

Here are a few easily observed trends in today’s MMO market.

  • As MMOs have grown more popular, the games themselves have become relatively worse.
  • The bigger the MMO developer,  the worse the MMO.
  • 250k subscribers means the game will shut down soon.

The trend I’ll focus on is the last one. When did something like 250,000 subscribers become a bad thing? When did 100,000? The answer goes back to my point earlier — when the companies became too large and their interests too great. 100k subscribers can be $1.5 million in monthly recurring revenue. 250k subs is $3.75 million. I work for a relatively small company right now with < 50 employees making much, much less than that each month. As the marketing director I oversee everything from product development to customer acquisition, and my budget is so frustratingly small that I have to squeeze blood from a stone every single month. Give me a budget based on $3.75 million a month and I can work miracles the likes of which you’ve never seen.

Our current predicament really boils down to MMOs becoming too big for their own good. Despite being very, very lucrative and successful, MMOs aren’t a product or an industry capable of sustaining large publishers of the McMMO model. MMOs belong in the hands of smaller companies where a little goes a long way, and the “little” suddenly becomes a lot. Will we ever beat back the hungry money grabbers in suits? Probably not for a while, but when MMOs sink so low that they suddenly become less appealing, we’ll see a reboot. That’s just simple economics.

Out with the Old, In with the New?

Posts here tend to reflect back on older games, our love for them, our memories, what worked and didn’t, the evolution of MMO design, etc. As a result, we often see a theme in the comments section:

“X game would never work if released today. If X game were released today it would fail. People don’t want X game.”

Those saying these things are correct, but not for the reasons they think. It’s like anything old vs. anything new. People want and gravitate toward the newer thing. The market changes as people’s tastes change. What we want and think is heavily influenced by the here and now of our culture. But don’t lose sight of why something worked in the past.

An old PDA if released today would fail. Why? Because people want the iPad. Does that make what the old PDA did bad, or undesirable? No. People still want a touch device, an organizer, something that can make phone calls, store contacts, take notes, play games, etc. People still want the same things, but they want them ‘sexier’. The limits of what we desire today have expanded. There’s no reason why new games can’t do what those games did while taking into consideration the proper expanded desires of today’s market.

I think Apple has done a nice job proving this point.

iphone evolution

‘The original iPhone would never work if released today. If the original iPhone were released today it would fail. People don’t want the original iPhone.’ That doesn’t mean we disregard everything from the original iPhone. We take what worked and we adapt it for what the market demands. The market demands bigger? Give them bigger! The market demands faster, more color options, higher resolutions? Give it to them! But the core concept and design of the iPhone — from the user experience down to the very core of what the iPhone does — remains consistent and can not change or else the iPhone ceases to be the iPhone, and would fail.

So when I see people saying that a game like EverQuest, DAoC, or SWG wouldn’t work today, I’d like to see proof that someone has really tried. Release a sexier version of DAoC, EverQuest, or even SWG (maybe The Repopulation?) and let’s see if it simply wouldn’t work. My honest belief is that it would work, just like it already did, and it work a heck of a lot better than the games releasing today with models that are supposedly ‘what the market demands.’

Lobbies, and Resets, and Point Farming! Oh My!

This whole Crowfall ‘campaign’ thing is giving me a headache…

I see people talking about temporary worlds, reset timers, people having no reason to keep playing until after the reset if they are guaranteed to lose, how much someone wins if they join a campaign late, jumping ship to a winning campaign, victory conditions, and on and on.

Holy crap guys are you hearing yourselves?

All this talk of temporariness, campaigns, and trying to maximize how to earn the most “points“… It’s sounding like Battlegrounds — this is like Alterac Valley on steroids. It’s sounding like Warhammer Online’s RvR all over again. Do I need to start waving my arms screaming “BAD IDEA” yet?

Crowfall is sounding extremely arcade-like in its design. It’s also showing signs of being needlessly complicated to be different. Those aren’t good things. Those are warnings signs for a potential 3 monther. I’m in agreement with those saying Crowfall is not an MMO. For all of the bellyaching we all do for something better, I’m somewhat shocked by the hype and excitement over yet another world of instancing, lobbies, point farming, and campaigns.

There are way, way too many warnings signs right now. I’ll maintain my same position on Crowfall: It’s worth keeping an eye on… but yeesh I’m doing it from a distance.