Behind the Lines
September 2006

In This Issue

 

A Letter from the Editor

School is here.  For those of our readers who have kids of their own (older than 4 at least) this is not going to be anything new.  For those who want kids someday or have recently had kids (like our Vice President of Operations, Erik Rutins!) this is important:  So listen up!  When I was a kid I longed for the day when I was an adult and didn't have to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to school.  When I was an adult, before kids, I lived that dream.  Last week my daughter had her first day of school (pre-school).  I came to a startling revelation.  By having kids I condemned myself to another 14 years of having to wake up at the crack of dawn.  Worse, for the early years I will be spending plenty of cold and rainy mornings waiting at a bus stop before the sun has even risen.

And so a warning to you all:  Think ahead when planning for children.  How close is your school?  How long is that wait at the bus stop?  What TIME does school start?  14 years of pain... worth it?  Probably, but this sure sucks!

 

Feature: A Bouncing Baby Boy

If you hadn't seen the big news on the front page:  Our VP of Operations Erik Rutins has set himself up to learn the exact same lesson I just did four years from now.  However, I note that it wasn't Erik who did the work, so a big congrats to his wife Patty for not slaying Erik for, as my wife said, "Doing this to me."  The birth was not without its little troubles, but the baby Alexander, Patty, and Erik are all doing fine.  Here's a picture!

Mark my words Mr. Rutins, in four years you'll be waking up for school again... until then you'll be waking up to change diapers and other fun tasks!  I predict that Alex, our web-overlord, and his new wife (almost been a year now) will be the next to bring home a bundle of "waking up early."

 

Article: Anti-Game Bills

Normally I would not put any modern politics into my newsletter.  However, this warrants an exception.  There is currently a bill working its way through US congress that is another prime example of legislation passing laws on industries they do not understand... and messing it all up.

The current bill requires all game content be rated by the ESRB.  Sounds good if you say it quickly and don't give it much thought.  However, it really is a very stupid bill indeed.  Here is a quote from the bill:

"Conduct Prohibited- It shall be unlawful for any person to ship or otherwise distribute in interstate commerce, or to sell or rent, a video game that does not contain a rating label, in a clear and conspicuous location on the outside packaging of the video game, containing an age-based content rating determined by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board"

So what does this mean?  It means every videogame MUST be rated by the ESRB.  It does not stipulate that it must be a retail game.  Later it goes on to say that failure to comply is a $5000 dollar fine per instance.    While most Matrix titles do NOT have an ESRB rating, that is not really as big a concern as you may think.  See, Matrix is one of the few companies that would have the capital to comply with such a ridiculous regulation.  We certainly aren't supporting it, but we could deal with it if push came to shove.

Instead, it's the independent developers who suffer the most.  An independent developer doesn't have the cash to pay 1,000 dollars to get an ESRB rating on their first game.  Some wouldn't even have the cash to get ESRB ratings on the OLD games.  If this bill passes the ESRB is going to have to expand to meet the demand.  It doesn't take an economics PhD to know that increase in demand yields an increase in price.  So we can fairly safely assume that the 1000 dollar cost is just going to increase.

Further, this bill would cover free flash games, online browser based games, and even MODS of games for some instances.  Of course, there is no way to enforce this bill online, but assuming people complied with the law it would literally cripple the US software industry.  As soon as it passes all major online companies are going to put it into court and it will cost tax payers an untold fortune to work out.

So I implore the politically active readers to write your congressman and senator and let them know that a 'yes' vote for this bill will be a 'no' vote for their re-election (even if that is untrue, it doesn't hurt to let them know how you feel!).  Lets keep kids from playing graphically violent games without destroying the livelihood of hundreds of online game developers. 

For more information on this visit my good friend and independent game developer, Jay Barnson, at his blog   http://www.rampantgames.com/blog/2006/09/congressman-matheson-defends-anti.html#links - after all, he's the reason I ended up working with Matrix Games!

 

Feature: Battle of Britain 2

Once again, a "You heard it in the newsletter first" moment.  I get to officially announce that Matrix Games will be bringing Battle of Britain 2 to digital download.  BOB2 is "The Only Grand Strategy World War 2 Air Combat Game" - It is a blend of tactical strategy game and combat flight sim, where you are not only flying the planes and bombing/shooting enemies, but also managing a turn based campaign in the air assault on England.

Don't take my word for how cool it is.  Along with Shockwave Productions we're putting together a multi-video series that will be like our own mini series chronicling an actual game that the creator of Battle of Britain, Scott Gentile, is playing. The first video episode gives us the general overview early in the war, as a young and ambitious German officer plans his key assault to cripple spitfire production near the coast.  His all business demeanor shows us that he is serious about this undertaking, but is this just a ruse of false bravado to cover his inexperience?

Our story begins at Episode 5, a few missions into the war.  Episodes 1-4 were done in text on the forum http://www.shockwaveproductions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5859

Download Episode 5 of "Commanding the Luftwaffe!" and start the adventure!

ftp://ftp.matrixgames.com/pub/BattleOfBritain2/Luftwaffe5.zip

Here's two screenshot to whet your appetite, one tactical and one 3D action! - BUT I IMPLORE YOU TO WATCH THE MOVIE!

 

 

Whispers...

What on Earth are all these people talking about?

Paul Vebber is running the Matrix Fantasy Football game, sign up here:
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1208995 

He just concluded the baseball season, or is about to at any rate.  Catch the final games here:
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1254385

Firing Squad did an interview with John, developer of Starshatter: The Gathering Storm
http://www.firingsquad.com/news/newsarticle.asp?searchid=12330

In case you missed it, a video of Starshatter: The Gathering Storm is now available:
ftp://ftp.matrixgames.com/pub/StarshatterTheGatheringStorm/Starshatter-Promo-Video-3med.wmv

 

Updates

This section provides links to the updates released between the last newsletter and now.  No more having to search for download links; we've got 'em right here!

War In The Pacific Scenario Editor v.6
ftp://ftp.matrixgames.com/pub/WarInThePacific/WarInThePacific-Editor-v6.zip

Panzer Command: Operation Winter Storm v1.12
http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=327

Crown Of Glory v1.2.25

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=306

The Operational Art of War v3.0.0.17

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=317


Keep an eye on the news page and forums at www.matrixgames.com for information on these two upcoming patches!

 

A Parting Shot

Mix one partially insane and dying Spanish monarch, one expansionistic and religious French monarch, one horribly shaky alliance between all other powers in Europe (just about), and what do you get?  You get the war the ended Sept 10th, 1697.  This war is known by many names and mostly ignored in US text books.  Why?  Well, it really didn't accomplish much.  I think hear it most often called War of the English Succession.  As far as I can tell it is officially called the Nine Years War, though also referred to as War of the League of Augsburg, War of the Grand Alliance, and King William's War. 

The long and the short of this conflict was an attempt to grab Alsace-Lorraine for France, but France jumped the gun and once again underestimated how much the rest of Europe didn't want to be pushed around by France.  So after getting beat on and trying to organize, the European powers eventually formed an alliance between the United Provinces of the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary (Holy Roman Empire), Brandenburg, Saxony, Bavaria and Spain.  Interestingly England initially joined on the side of France, but when William of Orange's invasion of England removed King James II from power it also shifted the side of England from siding with France to siding with the new alliance.  So, with just about everyone in Europe against him, France was drawn into a stalemate that ended in the Treaty of Rijswijk on September 10th, 1697.

And so we sign off this month with a day in history most people have either forgotten or never heard of.  Why?  Because it marked the end of a war that changed nothing, though England does remember it for the removal of King James II.

Joe Lieberman
Newsletter Editor