Thursday, November 29, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Yes, this is another apology-for-not-posting post. My birthday was earlier this week, so I'm entitled, right? What if I told you I got Mass Effect for my birthday? Would that make this absence more understandable?

I'm working up something about the idea of naturalism in comics, but I don't really have that whipped into shape yet. And I haven't really finished anything from my big pile of recently arrived comics, partly because of the aforementioned game (and also Metroid Prime 3, which I recently finished--and by "finished," I mean "gave up on the final boss battle so I could go ahead and get started on Mass Effect"). And there's Rock Band as well. So no new reviews, either. But potential good news: there's supposedly an ice storm headed this way, so maybe the power will be knocked out and I'll have nothing else to do but read all those nice new comics currently piled up on about a foot away from me. Then, should the power still be out, I can write some reviews and send them all to you via courier. Now I just need to find my signet ring so that I can seal the letters with the Hyacinth family crest (a walrus impaling its tusk in a hearty block of tofu, if memory serves; admittedly, it doesn't look very good embossed in wax, but what are you going to do?).

Okay, here's one comics-related thought: will there be fewer reviews of crappy Marvel/DC books by non-comics shop employees, given all the recent Z-Cult hubbub? Or has the blogosphere figured out that bit torrent is basically for suckers?


Anonymous said...

How is BitTorrent for suckers? A system whereby people can acquire media at no cost is for suckers? Or do you mean that it's for suckers because there are more efficient and anonymous ways to download content (Usenet, DC++, Rapidshare/MediaFire/other link aggregators)?

Or is it for suckers because the quality is bad? Me, I'd rather read comics on my 37" widescreen monitor -- a screen size that sounds outlandish but will be pretty typical within five years. (Remember: fifteen years ago, 14" CRTs were the norm.)

However you look at it, I can't see how it's "for suckers".

In any case, the end of ZCult isn't going to reduce the number of comics downloaders. Not even a little -- hell, I haven't used ZCult in years. What it's going to do is increase the availability of comics torrents on other trackers. The number of downloaders can only go up.

Dick Hyacinth said...

It's for suckers in that it leaves you more vulnerable than other options, it forces you to be a distributor, and it's way slow (especially for zero day stuff). Plus the general direction is toward private trackers--in which case, why even bother with torrents anymore? Their only virtue is in their accessibility to the general public, IMO.

As long as we're on the subject--I'm always kind of surprised at the continued existence of direct downloads (through rapidshare or whatever). That seems like the system that copyright holders would most want to shut down, especially since rapidshare, et. al., are presumably making a killing.

one pseudonymous pirate said...

"the general direction is toward private trackers"

Says who? A quick search on the Pirate Bay reveals every recent DCP pack. I really don't see how the absence of Z-Cult will really keep anyone from their comics torrents.

As long as there's a demand for comic scans, and as long as bit torrent provides a quick and easy way to get those scans, you're going to have trackers serving comic scanners. Marvel and DC can join the MPAA and the RIAA in playing bit torrent whack-a-mole for the next few years, but all I can say is lots of luck, folks. The "Big Two" don't have pockets near deep enough to rival those of the record industry, and after years of lawsuits aimed at mp3 sites, servers and torrent trackers, I can still get nearly any album that isn't totally obscure about a week before it hits the record store.

Mind you, I stopped downloading Marvel's and DC's output ages ago - it's not even worth the time and effort to read that crap for free at this point. But for those who want it, it's out there, and it's going to still be out there, no matter how many cease-and-desist letters get sent out.

Julio Oliveira said...

Also there is DC++, IRC and blogs with Rapidshare / Filefactory /Mediafire, etc... There is no shortage of alternatives...

Also, there is nothing bad about giving back what you get. I understand people not wanting to pay 3.50 USD for a crappy comic, but I certainly understand being grateful to community that gave him the opportunity to read the issue for free and not get derailed on the infinite crisis of whatever and seeding a comic for, like, 10 minutes (also, where in the world getting a comic under two minutes tops is slow?)

Dick Hyacinth said...

I've always felt queasy enough about pirating that community concerns are kind of secondary. I don't do much downloading anymore, but when I did, it was almost exclusively music and it was mostly from usenet. The mp3s I got were, generally speaking, of higher quality, took much less time to download (I always seemed to want to download torrents with only a handful of seeders), and the elimination of the seeding requirement made it a lot easier to sample things which I wasn't sure I wanted (eg, old prog rock and heavy psychedelic bands; you can't find that kind of stuff on bit torrent).

Bit torrent has other problems besides the RIAA/MPAA, right? Like, aren't a lot of service providers trying to limit the flow of data through BT (even legitimate data)? I know that Azureus and other clients were trying to stay one step ahead of such efforts, but then you have to assume that everyone else in the swarm is smart enough to have upgraded to a client that tries to circumvent bandwidth restrictions. And this is probably just paranoia, but I always worry that my client of choice is going to be bought out by some "internet security" firm, and then report data on me. That's why I never updated my client the last time I used it.

This sounds like I'm just a big coward, but that's kind of true. I was never comfortable with downloading on bit torrent or its predecessors like Kazaa. When you factor in the other advantages to usenet, I just basically abandoned bit torrent.

Which is all to say that other forms of file sharing will persist, and Marvel/DC will probably never stop this stuff. I just wasn't sure if most bloggers were aware that there were other options out there--some of the stuff I've read suggests otherwise.

Chris Mautner said...

Never mind all that, what do you think of Mass Effect?

Dick Hyacinth said...

I've only played a few hours--haven't left the Citadel yet--but it seems pretty incredible so far. It's like the best parts of Gears of War, Oblivion, and the Knights of the Old Republic games in one convenient package. Plus it looks incredible, and the music is great (especially the "critical failure" them). It's funny--I don't read any sci-fi, but I'm a sucker for games like this or the Metroid series.

Anonymous said...

Original anonymous guy here:

The publishers are trying to stomp down on direct downloads. The problem (for them) is that it takes hours for each complaint to get processed and the file deleted, but seconds to re-upload the file. And every comic gets mirrored several dozen times.

Like the other anonymous guy says, though: it's getting to the point where it isn't even worth it to download that crap for free.

I started buying comics in my early teens. I managed a comic shop for a bunch of years. I stopped buying the pamphlets a few years ago, in my mid-30s. Now I'm on the verge of not bothering to download scans of the pamphlets.

Funny thing is, what I'm buying is stuff that I can get for free legally or that I've already read: Penny Arcade collections, Absolute Sandman, that kind of thing.

As for Mass Effect: played it for about an hour this afternoon, and it's a lot of fun. I don't like FPS games, but one of the great advantages of ME is that I don't have to shoot anything if I don't want to. Bioware does fine, fine work.