Archive for Mobile

Can’t spell “pirate” without “-irate”: on DRM and punishing the customer

Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus: "Stop, thief!"

I am livid. Which superficially might sound very stupid, except that this kerfuffle combines ethics, DRM, social networking, and my integrity, all in an interesting and infuriating tangle.

I was at breakfast with one of my very closest friends—a retired English and Latin teacher—and her son. Her son and I had just started arguing over the pronunciation of the word “diaspora” when, half-joking, I pulled my phone out of my handbag and played a recording of the word aloud at the table.

Then I stared down at my phone. I frowned. My friend wanted to know what the matter was.

“Um,” I said, blushing furiously. “Um. This is weird. My cell phone is accusing me of stealing the Oxford Dictionary of English.” I blinked. “That was a really expensive piece of software.”

Some of you might already know about the Enfour dust-up. Here’s a quick recap anyway: at the beginning of this month, the developers at Enfour announced they were putting anti-piracy measures into their software. (Enfour develops and publishes iOS versions of the Oxford Dictionary of English and the American Heritage Dictionary, among others.)

How did Enfour intend to combat piracy? By auto-posting tweets to their users’ Twitter accounts! But the clever plan backfired when the tweet—a confession of “software piracy”—began appearing on legitimate users’ Twitter accounts, too.

Enfour has since launched a “crucial maintenance release” to iTunes, and the issue has seemingly been resolved.

Of course, that makes little difference to the Enfour customer who, ahem, discovers that a “critical update” is waiting for her in the app store queue only after she has confessed, to 3,454 of her readers (not to boast or anything), that she stole some software. (Until hours ago, Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman had confessed to the same crime via Twitter as well.)

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Retry this sector: Eliss v1.1


Until a few days ago, the iPhone game Eliss was knuckle-crackingly, hair-tearingly, eye-drippingly tough. Multicolored orbs swarmed the screen too quickly, perhaps, and new game elements popped onto the touchscreen with hardly an introduction.

But Eliss’s creator, Steph Thirion, very actively sought out players’ opinions during this March’s GDC; even after, he went so far as to assemble a whole new crack team of beta testers. Seldom have I met a developer so sweetly wracked with concern after his game has launched—and, moreover, even after his game has already received generally favorable reviews.

Two days ago, Thirion released Eliss v1.1, an update that both eases the difficulty curve and lengthens the game. He’s also clarified the tutorial—although, for my own part, I really preferred the murkiness—and, on top of everything, he’s reduced the app’s price to a comparatively paltry US$2.99. That price point is honestly small potatoes, considering Eliss is every bit as full an experience as Every Extend Extra or Gunpey.

I think it’s really important to note all these changes. Destructoid posted its review of the old version of Eliss today, which is really too bad: a lot of major complaints have been addressed, if not resolved. In any case, if the difficulty curve frightened players off before, Eliss certainly warrants another look.


Eliss would be great if I were any good at it

I’m really, really bad at Eliss, the multi-touch plate-spinning game for iPhone. I think my failure falls somewhere in my personal Venn intersection of shortsightedness, panic, and a total lack of coordination.

You’re nodding and thinking to yourself, “Stop worrying! No one can be that bad at Eliss.” You’re wrong. I am starting to realize there is something genuinely wrong with me.

There are 20 levels. I passed the first stage after a day of trying. I can’t pass the third stage.

I can see what needs to happen, and I want to make that happen, but I’m graceless and stupid, my brain motoring at half-speed. I’ve shown Eliss to others, demonstrating its artfulness and my stupidity. Friends invariably pluck my iPhone from my hands, to show me how it’s done, and then they don’t want to give me my phone back.

“Stop beating my phone game,” I snapped at Scott Sharkey, grabbing at my phone. I put my iPhone somewhere private he couldn’t get to it, like in my purse or in a drawer, I can’t remember. Scott smiled at me quizzically.

This is so frustrating because Eliss is obviously the raddest game for the iPhone yet. And I can’t play it! It’s right in front of me, and I can’t do it! I’d wanted to talk about it once I’d played it except I can’t. I can’t do it. And everyone else can!

Anyway, you’ll love it. It’s a $3.99 download.

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