Prepare For Unforseen Consequences
Last update
2023-09-14 00:01:38

    Studying the hundred years war so I can study the war of the roses so I can read Shakespeare so I can read Macchiavelli so I can study the 30 Years War so I can appreciate Rembrandt so I can understand the rise of colonialism as a means of European hegemony so I can read Victor Hugo so I can read Marx so I can read Edward Said so I can read Dune so I can read Fevre Dream so I can read ASOIAF so I can write au fanfiction on the internet

    So, let me try and put everything together here, because I really do think it needs to be talked about.

    Today, Unity announced that it intends to apply a fee to use its software. Then it got worse.

    For those not in the know, Unity is the most popular free to use video game development tool, offering a basic version for individuals who want to learn how to create games or create independently alongside paid versions for corporations or people who want more features. It's decent enough at this job, has issues but for the price point I can't complain, and is the idea entry point into creating in this medium, it's a very important piece of software.

    But speaking of tools, the CEO is a massive one. When he was the COO of EA, he advocated for using, what out and out sounds like emotional manipulation to coerce players into microtransactions.

    "A consumer gets engaged in a property, they might spend 10, 20, 30, 50 hours on the game and then when they're deep into the game they're well invested in it. We're not gouging, but we're charging and at that point in time the commitment can be pretty high."

    He also called game developers who don't discuss monetization early in the planning stages of development, quote, "fucking idiots".

    So that sets the stage for what might be one of the most bald-faced greediest moves I've seen from a corporation in a minute. Most at least have the sense of self-preservation to hide it.

    A few hours ago, Unity posted this announcement on the official blog.

    Effective January 1, 2024, we will introduce a new Unity Runtime Fee that’s based on game installs. We will also add cloud-based asset storage, Unity DevOps tools, and AI at runtime at no extra cost to Unity subscription plans this November. We are introducing a Unity Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end user. We chose this because each time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed. Also we believe that an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains from player engagement, unlike a revenue share.

    Now there are a few red flags to note in this pitch immediately.

    • Unity is planning on charging a fee on all games which use its engine.
    • This is a flat fee per number of installs.
    • They are using an always online runtime function to determine whether a game is downloaded.

    There is just so many things wrong with this that it's hard to know where to start, not helped by this FAQ which doubled down on a lot of the major issues people had.

    I guess let's start with what people noticed first. Because it's using a system baked into the software itself, Unity would not be differentiating between a "purchase" and a "download". If someone uninstalls and reinstalls a game, that's two downloads. If someone gets a new computer or a new console and downloads a game already purchased from their account, that's two download. If someone pirates the game, the studio will be asked to pay for that download.

    Q: How are you going to collect installs? A: We leverage our own proprietary data model. We believe it gives an accurate determination of the number of times the runtime is distributed for a given project. Q: Is software made in unity going to be calling home to unity whenever it's ran, even for enterprice licenses? A: We use a composite model for counting runtime installs that collects data from numerous sources. The Unity Runtime Fee will use data in compliance with GDPR and CCPA. The data being requested is aggregated and is being used for billing purposes. Q: If a user reinstalls/redownloads a game / changes their hardware, will that count as multiple installs? A: Yes. The creator will need to pay for all future installs. The reason is that Unity doesn’t receive end-player information, just aggregate data. Q: What's going to stop us being charged for pirated copies of our games? A: We do already have fraud detection practices in our Ads technology which is solving a similar problem, so we will leverage that know-how as a starting point. We recognize that users will have concerns about this and we will make available a process for them to submit their concerns to our fraud compliance team.

    This is potentially related to a new system that will require Unity Personal developers to go online at least once every three days.

    Starting in November, Unity Personal users will get a new sign-in and online user experience. Users will need to be signed into the Hub with their Unity ID and connect to the internet to use Unity. If the internet connection is lost, users can continue using Unity for up to 3 days while offline. More details to come, when this change takes effect.

    It's unclear whether this requirement will be attached to any and all Unity games, though it would explain how they're theoretically able to track "the number of installs", and why the methodology for tracking these installs is so shit, as we'll discuss later.

    Unity claims that it will only leverage this fee to games which surpass a certain threshold of downloads and yearly revenue.

    Only games that meet the following thresholds qualify for the Unity Runtime Fee:
    Unity Personal and Unity Plus: Those that have made $200,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 200,000 lifetime game installs.
    Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise: Those that have made $1,000,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 1,000,000 lifetime game installs.

    They don't say how they're going to collect information on a game's revenue, likely this is just to say that they're only interested in squeezing larger products (games like Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail, Fate Grand Order, Among Us, and Fall Guys) and not every 2 dollar puzzle platformer that drops on Steam. But also, these larger products have the easiest time porting off of Unity and the most incentives to, meaning realistically those heaviest impacted are going to be the ones who just barely meet this threshold, most of them indie developers.

    Aggro Crab Games, one of the first to properly break this story, points out that systems like the Xbox Game Pass, which is already pretty predatory towards smaller developers, will quickly inflate their "lifetime game installs" meaning even skimming the threshold of that 200k revenue, will be asked to pay a fee per install, not a percentage on said revenue.


    Today, Unity (the engine we use to make our games) announced that they'll soon be taking a fee from developers for every copy of the game installed over a certain threshold - regardless of how that copy was obtained.

    Guess who has a somewhat highly anticipated game coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2024? That's right, it's us and a lot of other developers.

    That means Another Crab's Treasure will be free to install for the 25 million Game Pass subscribers. If a fraction of those users download our game, Unity could take a fee that puts an enormous dent in our income and threatens the sustainability of our business.

    And that's before we even think about sales on other platforms, or pirated installs of our game, or even multiple installs by the same user!!!

    This decision puts us and countless other studios in a position where we might not be able to justify using Unity for our future titles. If these changes aren't rolled back, we'll be heavily considering abandoning our wealth of Unity expertise we've accumulated over the years and starting from scratch in a new engine. Which is really something we'd rather not do.

    On behalf of the dev community, we're calling on Unity to reverse the latest in a string of shortsighted decisions that seem to prioritize shareholders over their product's actual users.

    I fucking hate it here.

    -Aggro Crab - END DESCRIPTION]

    That fee, by the way, is a flat fee. Not a percentage, not a royalty. This means that any games made in Unity expecting any kind of success are heavily incentivized to cost as much as possible.

    [IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A table listing the various fees by number of Installs over the Install Threshold vs. version of Unity used, ranging from $0.01 to $0.20 per install. END DESCRIPTION]

    Basic elementary school math tells us that if a game comes out for $1.99, they will be paying, at maximum, 10% of their revenue to Unity, whereas jacking the price up to $59.99 lowers that percentage to something closer to 0.3%. Obviously any company, especially any company in financial desperation, which a sudden anchor on all your revenue is going to create, is going to choose the latter.

    Furthermore, and following the trend of "fuck anyone who doesn't ask for money", Unity helpfully defines what an install is on their main site.

    While I'm looking at this page as it exists now, it currently says

    The installation and initialization of a game or app on an end user’s device as well as distribution via streaming is considered an “install.” Games or apps with substantially similar content may be counted as one project, with installs then aggregated to calculate the Unity Runtime Fee.

    However, I saw a screenshot saying something different, and utilizing the Wayback Machine we can see that this phrasing was changed at some point in the few hours since this announcement went up. Instead, it reads:

    The installation and initialization of a game or app on an end user’s device as well as distribution via streaming or web browser is considered an “install.” Games or apps with substantially similar content may be counted as one project, with installs then aggregated to calculate the Unity Runtime Fee.

    Screenshot for posterity:

    That would mean web browser games made in Unity would count towards this install threshold. You could legitimately drive the count up simply by continuously refreshing the page. The FAQ, again, doubles down.

    Q: Does this affect WebGL and streamed games? A: Games on all platforms are eligible for the fee but will only incur costs if both the install and revenue thresholds are crossed. Installs - which involves initialization of the runtime on a client device - are counted on all platforms the same way (WebGL and streaming included).

    And, what I personally consider to be the most suspect claim in this entire debacle, they claim that "lifetime installs" includes installs prior to this change going into effect.

    Will this fee apply to games using Unity Runtime that are already on the market on January 1, 2024? Yes, the fee applies to eligible games currently in market that continue to distribute the runtime. We look at a game's lifetime installs to determine eligibility for the runtime fee. Then we bill the runtime fee based on all new installs that occur after January 1, 2024.

    Again, again, doubled down in the FAQ.

    Q: Are these fees going to apply to games which have been out for years already? If you met the threshold 2 years ago, you'll start owing for any installs monthly from January, no? (in theory). It says they'll use previous installs to determine threshold eligibility & then you'll start owing them for the new ones. A: Yes, assuming the game is eligible and distributing the Unity Runtime then runtime fees will apply. We look at a game's lifetime installs to determine eligibility for the runtime fee. Then we bill the runtime fee based on all new installs that occur after January 1, 2024.

    That would involve billing companies for using their software before telling them of the existence of a bill. Holding their actions to a contract that they performed before the contract existed!

    Okay. I think that's everything. So far.

    There is one thing that I want to mention before ending this post, unfortunately it's a little conspiratorial, but it's so hard to believe that anyone genuinely thought this was a good idea that it's stuck in my brain as a significant possibility.

    A few days ago it was reported that Unity's CEO sold 2,000 shares of his own company.

    On September 6, 2023, John Riccitiello, President and CEO of Unity Software Inc (NYSE:U), sold 2,000 shares of the company. This move is part of a larger trend for the insider, who over the past year has sold a total of 50,610 shares and purchased none.

    I would not be surprised if this decision gets reversed tomorrow, that it was literally only made for the CEO to short his own goddamn company, because I would sooner believe that this whole thing is some idiotic attempt at committing fraud than a real monetization strategy, even knowing how unfathomably greedy these people can be.

    So, with all that said, what do we do now?

    Well, in all likelihood you won't need to do anything. As I said, some of the biggest names in the industry would be directly affected by this change, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they're not just going to take it lying down. After all, the only way to stop a greedy CEO is with a greedier CEO, right?

    (I fucking hate it here.)

    And that's not mentioning the indie devs who are already talking about abandoning the engine.

    [Links display tweets from the lead developer of Among Us saying it'd be less costly to hire people to move the game off of Unity and Cult of the Lamb's official twitter saying the game won't be available after January 1st in response to the news.]

    That being said, I'm still shaken by all this. The fact that Unity is openly willing to go back and punish its developers for ever having used the engine in the past makes me question my relationship to it.

    The news has given rise to the visibility of free, open source alternative Godot, which, if you're interested, is likely a better option than Unity at this point. Mostly, though, I just hope we can get out of this whole, fucking, environment where creatives are treated as an endless mill of free profits that's going to be continuously ratcheted up and up to drive unsustainable infinite corporate growth that our entire economy is based on for some fuckin reason.

    Anyways, that's that, I find having these big posts that break everything down to be helpful.

    Tweet by user @heyMAKWA that says

    [Original Tweet source here.]


    Okay, yeah. This is a very, very, very bad idea. I understand that there is a certain flavor of techbro who has ABSOLUTELY zero problem with this because "AI is the future, bro", and we're supposed to be reading their articles on how to use AI for side hustles and all that.

    I get that ID apps have played into people's tendency to want quick and easy answers to everything (I'm not totally opposed to apps, but please read about how an app does not a Master Naturalist make.) But nature identification is serious stuff, ESPECIALLY when you are trying to identify whether something is safe to eat, handle, etc. You have to be absolutely, completely, 100000% sure of your ID, and then you ALSO have to absolutely verify that it is safely handled and consumed by humans.

    As a foraging instructor, I cannot emphasize this enough. My classes, which are intended for a general audience, are very heavy on identification skills for this very reason. I have had (a small subsection of) students complain that I wasn't just spending 2-3 hours listing off bunches of edible plants and fungi, and honestly? They can complain all they want. I am doing MY due diligence to make very sure that the people who take my classes are prepared to go out and start identifying species and then figure out their edibility or lack thereof.

    Because it isn't enough to be able to say "Oh, that's a dandelion, and I think this might be an oyster mushroom." It's also not enough to say "Well, such-and-such app says this is Queen Anne's lace and not poison hemlock." You HAVE to have incredibly keen observational skills. You HAVE to be patient enough to take thorough observations and run them through multiple forms of verification (field guides, websites, apps, other foragers/naturalists) to make sure you have a rock-solid identification. And then you ALSO have to be willing to read through multiple sources (NOT just Wikipedia) to determine whether that species is safely consumed by humans, and if so if it needs to be prepared in a particular way or if there are inedible/toxic parts that need to be removed.

    AND--this phenomenon of AI-generated crapola emphasizes the fact that in addition to all of the above, you HAVE to have critical thinking skills when it comes to assessing your sources. Just because something is printed on a page doesn't mean it's true. You need to look at the quality of the information being presented. You need to look at the author's sources. You need to compare what this person is saying to other books and resources out there, and make sure there's a consensus.

    You also need to look at the author themselves and make absolutely sure they are a real person. Find their website. Find their bio. Find their social media. Find any other manners in which they interact with the world, ESPECIALLY outside of the internet. Contact them. Ask questions. Don't be a jerk about it, because we're just people, but do at least make sure that a book you're interested in buying is by a real person. I guarantee you those of us who are serious about teaching this stuff and who are internet-savvy are going to make it very easy to find who we are (within reason), what we're doing, and why.

    Because the OP in that Tweet is absolutely right--people are going to get seriously ill or dead if they try using AI-generated field guides. We have such a wealth of information, both on paper/pixels and in the brains of active, experienced foragers, that we can easily learn from the mistakes of people in the past who got poisoned, and avoid their fate. But it does mean that you MUST have the will and ability to be impeccably thorough in your research--and when in doubt, throw it out.

    My inbox is always open. I'm easier caught via email than here, but I will answer. You can always ask me stuff about foraging, about nature identification, etc. And if there's a foraging instructor/author/etc. with a website, chances are they're also going to be more than willing to answer questions. I am happy to direct you to online groups on Facebook and elsewhere where you have a whole slew of people to compare notes with. I want people's foraging to be SAFE and FUN. And AI-generated books aren't the way to make that happen.


    Reblogging to save a life.


    So, Boris Johnson wrote an essay in which he talked about the Sistine Chapel and then said :“There is nothing like it in Muslim art of that or any age, not just because it is beyond the technical accomplishment of Islamic art, but because it is so theologically offensive to Islam.




    NOT TO MENTION the fact that the prohibition against direct images in Islam was actually the reason for the development of the incredible advances in higher mathematics of the Islamic Golden Age because they were required to create these structures. The Islamic World basically took the ban on images as a “hold my beer” thing and created an entire artistic culture based on mathematics and architecture where art and science fed into and glorified each other, 700 years before the Italian Renaissance.


    In conclusion


    i will say that islamic art drove me nuts as a kid because i did not have the math knowledge or capability to create such geometric patterns. it may have been the art of my people but by gOD it was difficult and unnecessarily difficult. however my pride in islamic art is neverending. it was frowned upon to be vain in the house, so artists would deck out the places of worship - but places of worship couldn’t be too garishly decorated, or it might detract from worship! the compromise? calm blues and greens, intricate details hidden into the complex patterns. carefully mapped out and planned patterns that were beyond complex and straight into deliberately confusing and practically impossible to replicate. not only that, but verses from the Quran were hidden along the walls, asking god for blessings and care.

    muslim art is stunning and i’ll fight the bitch that says otherwise.


    Also something underappreciated about the Islamic art is that not only is it geometrically incredible, but the geometry and structure of it has a purpose. In the niches and ceilings, the cascading ornamentation is used for acoustic purposes. In many of the mosques, they are so well laid out and designed that a single person standing on a specific spot can speak/sing/pray and be heard in every single part of the building.


    When I was a kid edgy alternative teens/tweens used to draw scary gory demented vent art and it was literally fine cause it was just kids trying to act ~sick and twisted~ in like a quirky way to cope with the world like literally just reading JTHM and going “that’s so cool I wanna draw like that” but nowadays a kid can’t draw like a Nightmare Before Christmas-esque creepy face without a bunch of true crime girlies going “oh my god they’re literally the next Jeffrey Dahmer their parents need to put them under observation or something before they start murdering animals or something”


    “Obsession with dark and violent things is a warning sign of being a future killer”

    Have you literally ever met an emo kid? They’ll draw demons and ghouls bleeding out of every orifice and threatening each other with big knives and then cry when they find a dead bunny in their yard


    So play like a noob? got it


    You’re joking, but it actually is a popular theory in chess that a complete noob potentially can beat a master by confusing them - as the noob doesn’t know what they’re doing the master is unable to recognize which of valid strategies they’re pursuing and cannot deploy proper counterstrategy.


    Chessmasters when their opponent doesn’t make one of the five approved optimal opening moves:


    #used to do shit like this when we fenced#for real tho a newbie is way more of an issue than a master because WHAT are you doing???

    I’m currently a fencing coach for a high school club and my least disciplined fencer routinely beats kids who have been fencing for 5-6 years because he’s just so unpredictable and messy that his opponents have no idea what to do.


    I know what a master is doing, I just may not be faster than them. I know I’m faster than a newbie but hey what the fuck is happening?


    I have, on rare occasions, won pokemon battles like this. I have no idea what the meta is, and just slap things together that sound cool. It’s fun when you win by taking someone completely off guard because “Who would run that?!” Idk man, the noob that just kicked your ass. I’m not smart enough for all these mind games that go into serious competitive pokemon, but I do know big laser go pew.


    The Newbie Flail™ is the most terrifying attack imaginable.


    “The best swordsman on the planet doesn’t fear the second-best swordsman. He fears the new swordsman, because he has no idea what the lunatic will do.”


    One of the main reasons fencing against a total beginner can be difficult is that they have no self-preservation. They either don’t know or don’t care to defend themselves the way someone with more experience does, and have no issue leaving themselves vulnerable to make attacks, which breaks down the usual tempo of a fight and puts you on the defensive (because you value your safety), and you don’t want to be on the defensive.

    brooo it was so fucked up at the club last night bro the dj was playing straight bangers like “babbling brook ft. deep woods” and “mourning dove remix” and everyone on the dance floor stood still completely at peace with and within themselves, all still trees in the envelope of the world. at some point in the night i sat and contemplated the beauty of all things it was sick as hell man


    This painful clench of your heart is brought to you today by Lewis...not unexpectedly.


    “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’”

    —C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves


    Heart clench 😬😭