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Brian Upton
Works at Sony Computer Entertainment
Attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lived in Los Angeles
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Brian Upton

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Rensselaer had a working prototype of the HyperLoop running back in the 1960s. (Skip down to the section marked "A Dream Train".) The idea never went anywhere. 
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Brian Upton

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How Pacific Rim should have begun: The jaegers are created to deal with the growing kaiju threat. Then, five years of no attacks! Victory!

People grow complacent. The jaegers are defunded. Scientists warn the rift is still dangerous but no one believes them.

Suddenly, the kaiju are back! It turns out the previous kaiju were just scouts. Pentecost scrapes together a ragtag gang of remaining jaegers/pilots.

No stupid wall. Less exposition. More screen time for kaiju punching. Win win win.
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I've been wanting to start a blog on how I would rewrite each movie I've seen. :)

I haven't seen Pacific Rim, but simply by your description, I have a feeling I would agree with you.

Of course, it would be a ripoff on the modern BSG. (Galactica)
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Brian Upton

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A bit of Victoriana I never knew existed.  Girl tools!
 
"consider the chatelaine, a device popularized in the 18th century that attached to the waist of a woman’s dress, bearing tiny useful accessories, from notebooks to knives." Now I totally want a chatelaine :) http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-killer-mobile-device-for-victorian-women/
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The problem with the Xbox One is that it’s visionary.
 
It has two big features that I’m sure looked amazingly innovative on internal PowerPoint presentations, but that in reality are major disadvantages.  The first is Kinect, and the second is digital distribution.
 
Kinect is an amazing piece of hardware.  It does things no other input system can do.  Unfortunately, gesture-based input is fundamentally flawed.  When you abandon a physical controller, you give up the immediate tactile feedback that you get from holding a physical device in your hand.  When you press a button on a physical controller, you know that you’ve done something because of the nerve signals travelling back up your arm.  But when you “press a button” with a gesture-based system, the feedback has to be visual or auditory.  Even if the hardware itself has virtually zero latency, your brain doesn’t.  It takes longer for these abstract cues to be processed than the low-level tactile feedback you get from your fingertips.  What this means is that gesture-based systems always feel laggy and sloppy.  It’s not a problem you can fix with better engineering.  It’s a by-product of how your brain works.
 
Kinect is a design fiction.  It looks like a huge leap forward.  But when you try to translate that transformative vision into a user experience, you discover that it’s irreparably broken.  Aside from a few limited niches like dance games, gesture-based control actually makes interacting with the Xbox more cumbersome and less immersive.  But Microsoft couldn’t bring themselves to walk away from the fantasy.  Instead of abandoning the Kinect as a failed experiment, they doubled down, making it an integral part of the system.  Which is kind of weird, because when you look at the games they’re showcasing, none of them make significant use of the Kinect.  It’s a central part of the system only because top-level execs at Microsoft have a Minority Report vision of the future and are trying to force that science fiction fantasy into reality.
 
The second visionary feature is a little more subtle, but just as damaging.  The future of all media is digital distribution.  Eventually we’ll all download everything instead of buying physical media.  And once everything is digital downloads, you have to have some sort of DRM to prevent rampant piracy.  However, that future isn’t here yet.  People still buy games on disk and will continue to do so until broadband connectivity is as ubiquitous as running water.
 
Microsoft’s mistake was treating disk distribution as a just another method for transferring bits to the user’s hard drive.  The Xbox One is built around the idea that you don’t play games off a disk, you install games from a disk.  Once you make the disk a delivery mechanism instead of an ongoing data store, you have to have some form of DRM.  Because if you don’t need the disk to play, there’s nothing stopping you from making as many copies as you want.  And if you have DRM then you need a persistent internet connection to manage it.  The requirements follow logically from treating disks simply as a delivery mechanism.
 
The beauty of both of these visionary decisions (from Sony’s perspective) is that they’re difficult to undo.  Once you make the decision that the Kinect is required, dev teams will build their games around that assumption.  In fact, they were probably pressured by Microsoft into using the Kinect as much as possible.  So you can’t just drop the Kinect without breaking a lot of games.  This makes it much harder for Microsoft to match Sony’s lower price – they’ve locked themselves into shipping every box with an expensive peripheral.
 
The digital distribution decision is similarly hard to undo.  Microsoft can’t just say “Okay, no DRM!  Share away!” because their install-from-disk model would lead to lots of lost sales.  But changing how the operating system works at this date is a risky proposition.  They’ve got one unified framework for handling game files.  They treat all games as the same sort of entity – a digital file on the internal hard drive.  Removing DRM would mean going in and creating an entirely new parallel way to handle loading disk-based games.  That’s not a change you want to be making when you’re five months from launch.
 
My bet is that Microsoft won’t change a thing.  The negatives of the Xbox One aren’t accidents.  They’re the inevitable consequences of Redmond’s corporate vision of a highly-connected world of ubiquitous immersive tech.  Abandoning them would require a degree of self-awareness that I don’t think it’s possible for a corporation that size to possess.  Instead, I expect Microsoft to hunker down and power forward, gallantly marching toward the shining city of tomorrow they see shimmering in the distance beyond the desert sands ….
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The Biggest City Model I've Ever Seen

This thing is sooooo crazy-big!  You can get a sense of the scale from that waist-high red rope.  See the red rope in the far distance too?  Huge!  And, another awesome thing about this place is that as the city lights up, they play pirated music from Jurassic Park - so China! :)
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Brian Upton

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He manages to load the front page of Wikipedia!
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Half-deboned dove.
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Have him in circles
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Brian Upton

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The HyperLoop described in a 1965 FORTUNE magazine article about railroads.  It's the wave of the future!
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Cool Stirling engine kit from an online store in Germany.  They have other nifty stuff too.
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Brian Upton

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I just saw Mark of the Rani for the first time and it was surprisingly good considering it's a Six story.  Now I want the Rani to come back in the new series.  The console room of her tardis was decorated with jars containing live T. Rex embryos!   She had landmines that turned people into trees!
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i have to see these mines the turn people into trees
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Apparently Microsoft thinks the future of gaming is a DVR with a Windows 8 interface.
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Cards Against Humanity is sponsoring a contest to give an amateur designer a table at Gen Con.
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I just entered.  I strongly suggest anybody enter if they can.  If anyone needs to get a working prototype, I'd be glad to help.
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Brian Upton

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Playtest #4.  This was the first three-player game and the first blindtest.  For the most part my testers figured out the rules just fine without me intervening, but I've got a page full of minor clarifications I need to make.

Major gameplay changes that will come out of this revision:
1.  Cutting play length by about 25%.
2.  Removing combat bonus from allies.
3.  Eliminating reputation.

Each cut makes it stronger and tighter.
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Have him in circles
721 people
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Work
Occupation
Game Designer
Employment
  • Sony Computer Entertainment
    Senior Game Designer, 2002 - present
  • Red Storm Entertainment
    Director of Design, 1996 - 2002
  • Virtus Corporation
    Software Engineer, 1994 - 1996
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Los Angeles - Tulsa - Houston - Chapel Hill
Links
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Introduction
I'm like a script doctor for games.
Education
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Computer Science, 1993 - 1994
  • Rice University
    Electrical Engineering, 1982 - 1988
  • Nathan Hale High School
    1979 - 1982
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Birthday
February 12
Other names
The Hamster King