Monday Moves v2.9: Civil Unrest, Halo Developers Stressed
Sam: I beat Raj this week in Fantasy Football. That is what you get when you pick Tom Brady as your QB… better luck next time! I hope you are all ready for the excitement that tomorrow brings. No matter what happens, there will be plenty of interesting repercussions and you can trust Raj and I for our perceptive analysis.
Raj: I’m guessing productivity is going to be down across the country tomorrow on Election Day. There’ll certainly be a lot of material to write about in the next edition. And you can’t ever blame a guy for picking Tom Brady, okay?
Halo’s development team could take a page out of Master Chief’s book
Sam: Halo Infinite is having some serious issues… still.
Back in August Microsoft announced that Halo Infinite would be delayed due to COVID 19, though insiders suspected it was also due to a lackluster reception during a demo at the Xbox Game Studios event. 343 Studios pushed back the release date to “2021” and offered no further timeline details. This was a massive blow for Microsoft and the release of the Xbox Series X since the new Halo was planned as the flagship release title. 343’s creative director Tim Longo and executive producer Mary Olson left as a result.
It appears that things have only slid downhill further since then. Chris Lee, the head director for Halo Infinite, also left the project. Not good. That there is serious disorganization at Microsoft’s 343 Studios is clear, and something miraculous needs to happen in the next 6 months or Halo Infinite will either be a complete disaster or never get released. Longtime fans of Halo have criticized the direction the game series has gone for a while now (you should talk to my college roommate about this), and the setbacks and chaos only help further their case that 343 studios is not going to bring an appealing game to the table. Fans were excited to hear that longtime Halo writer and creative mind Joe Staten was heading up the single-player campaign, but at this point I am worried that will not be enough to save the game from the bureaucratic mess it is clearly stuck in.
The Xbox Series X is still going to be available later this month, but not having Halo as a major release title is going to hurt sales. Because of the delay in the game, the pandemic, and the fact that many Americans are still struggling to pay rent, I think that the Xbox Series X will have an underwhelming release. As I wrote about in v1.4, I also think that many gamers are okay with hanging out to their older consoles since the graphics are perfectly acceptable for most games. Sales of the Series X will be strong over time, but it will take a few years. Gone are the days of blockbuster console release parties with long lines; you were fun.
Raj: Retailers in major cities across the country aren’t taking any chances with civil unrest after the election.
Washington DC leading up to election night usually has a buzz in the air. This time around, the air is heavy and still. Shops and businesses have boarded up storefronts to prepare for any civil unrest after the results of the presidential election. Here is a video of the nation’s capital, which looks deserted:
Similar scenes are being reported in New York and Los Angeles as well.
It is understandable for business owners to be paranoid after many businesses have been looted and destroyed nationwide over the course of the year. Gun sales for individuals have also skyrocketed to record highs this year. Last week Walmart announced that it would pull firearms and ammunition, but it has since retracted this statement and returned these items to its store floors.
America has a history of peaceful elections. The fact that businesses have to board up is already a horrible look for the country. There’s been a perverse trend in the media of nakedly calling for a civil war, or generating outrage over nonexistent violent plots just to score political brownie points over the opposing side. Let’s pray we don’t stoop any further.
Raj: People have been locked down this year. But virtual influencers are free to roam as they please. And we’ll happily watch them.
Robots are stealing human jobs again. At a time when much of the world is stuck indoors, people are looking for any sort of escape from the monotony of their four walls. Back in v1.3, I wrote about “lifestyle streaming” in which viewers watch streamers talk about hobbies, eat, or even sleep on camera to feel some form of interactive human connection. Usually to evade boredom, people go to their favorite social media personality’s page on Instagram or another app to see what cool stuff they’re doing in order to escape boredom for a little while. But social media influencers are humans too, and since they are locked down as well they haven’t been able to meet the demand for digital content. In fact nearly every traditional form of entertainment has been lagging.
Enter virtual influencers. One of the most popular virtual influencers is Seraphine, a fun pink-haired girl who is completely made up by Riot Games. Her Instagram page has over 400 thousand followers. Another one is Lil Miquela, who has almost 3 million followers on Instagram. Bloomberg reports that Lil Miquela may net almost $12 million this year through promotions for brands such as Calvin Klein and Prada. Virtual influencers are a force to be reckoned with.
Advances in artificial reality and graphics editing allow these digital creations to look extremely lifelike and make it possible to place them in any manner of lifelike scenes such as strolling down a beach or hanging out at a concert. And brands should be excited to take advantage of these advancements. Christopher Travers, the founder of Virtual Humans, says of virtual influencers:
“They are cheaper to work with than humans in the long term, are 100% controllable, can appear in many places at once, and, most importantly, they never age or die.”
Stop to consider the ramifications on the young generations that lack hard skills and grow up without much opportunity for upward mobility, whose members aspire to go viral or become a well-known influencer. Adding robot competition to this existing tragedy seems like a cruel joke.
Raj: Things are moving about in outer space.
Space is like the Wild West. There are no laws out there apart from physics. Stuff like this beckons to the wildest and most imaginative people among us. Elon Musk strikes me as the public figure to best embody these qualities. Given the libertarian tendencies of the visionary CEO, SpaceX’s recent statement that it will not recognize international law on Mars is hardly surprising. Musk’s stated goal is to create a self-sufficient city on Mars in order to hedge against civilization-levelling catastrophe here on Earth. No bureaucrat from the United Nations or any national government has any experience with this sort of thing, yet already we’re hearing shrieks about private enterprise run amok which will somehow oppress people and subvert democracy, as if any humans or institutions exist on Mars."SpaceX will make its own laws on Mars" & not recognize international laws. Proof that the kind of excess wealth that leads to power & influence leads also to unrestrainable, blinding hubris & arrogance, & thence to evil. This must be stopped now.
It would certainly be a remarkable sign of aggression from the United Nations to claim authority over other planets. It’s also utterly unimaginative to believe that the civilizational model on Earth is ideal and should be replicated across the universe.
SpaceX’s announcement came from the terms of service to its StarLink project, the satellite Internet service which Sam wrote about in v1.9. People have started to beta test the service, and the results are astounding. One Reddit user reported streaming YouTube videos at 1440p and 4k with no buffering. Through remarkable foresight, ingenuity, and innovation, SpaceX is also well on its way to becoming a leading telecom company.Results from a StarLink beta tester in Washington state 🤯 "Streaming 1440p and 4K with zero buffering on YouTube." reddit.com/r/Starlink/com…
Not wanting to be completely left in the dust by the private sector, the Space Force has announced the completion of a major step forward in the development of a new generation of military communication satellites. The government’s main partner in this venture is SpaceX’s primary competitor: Boeing. Other partners include the Canadian and Australian governments. It will be interesting to see how international laws and alliances as well as private enterprises shape space exploration going forward.
Sam: Last week I talked about the world’s shortest recorded time. This week we have the world’s smallest boat!
Using an electron microscope and a high resolution 3D printer a group of researchers from the Dutch Leiden University were able to print a boat that is 30 micrometers long. To put that in perspective, human hair is on average between 20 and 180 micrometers in diameter (10,000 micrometers equals a centimeter). The boat they constructed is commonly referred to as a “benchy” boat and is a standard object for testing and calibrating 3D printers. They produced the boat along with other shapes in order to study how various micro objects are able to move, including synthetic objects and bacteria. The goal is to be able to build objects that can effectively deliver drugs to specific parts of the body. Overall a pretty cool project which not only speaks to how impressive 3D printing is, but what the future of medicine will look like.
Sam: Shopify proves they know how to listen to feedback and stay ahead of the game by adding new features.
I like Shopify a lot. I think they are a great company who has made a huge difference for countless small businesses. In v2.2 I praised them for stepping up to the plate during the pandemic and successfully onboarding thousands of small businesses who needed to pivot ASAP. Today they announced another huge move that was based directly on user feedback. Shopify has integrated subscription and post-purchase upsell apps directly into the Shopify Checkout. Previously, if you wanted to sell a subscription or upsell a customer after they had checked out, you needed to use a third party app that typically did not work very well. Shopify recognized there was a demand for these options, and has fully integrated these apps into the Shopify system. The result will be a much smoother experience for customers shopping online, and easier back-office synchronization for merchants managing payments, orders, and inventory. In their press release Shopify mentions that the subscriptions market is projected to be a $478 billion industry by 2020, up from $15 billion in 2019. This is a great example of a company incorporating feedback and working hard to provide solutions that help their users stay on top of a quickly changing retail world. Bravo Shopify!
Who’s Making Moves?
Sam: The PS5 is very large as explained by these Vice writers.
Sam: Tie-Dye is making a comeback. Raj… you should give it a try.
Sam: Diesel motorcycles used to be a thing. Not anymore though.
Sam: The stock market has been all over the place before the election. The market was down last week over coronavirus and election concerns. It was up today as an adjustment. Will we elect a new president tomorrow or will the results take weeks (or months)? Either way the market is going to be exciting to watch. Strap in!
That’s all for this week. Keep on moving.
Title contenders for v2.9:
Halo Infinite Blunders, Robo Influencer Wonders
Xbox Mess, Electoral Stress
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Until next Monday,
Raj & Sam