Bio: Yangtian Li is the Voxel Agents' Minister for Pranks. Tian is a very passionate artist has a love of drawing and animation. She came to Australia from her home country of China to study and to pursue her creative ambitions. Tian is a hard core gamer – no one in the office can beat her high score at game dev story. Tian likes all sorts of art and creation including cooking and of course eating. Yum yum. She hates most sports except the ones that have background music. Tian’s short-term goal is to continue to have her work featured in artbooks and exhibitions, and also to avoid getting hit by a car because she doesn’t have health insurance.
This comic illustrates what happend to me when I really wanted to buy an app on my parent’s ipad when I was in China.
While in Australia you only need to type in your visa card details, the way the iTune’s App Store currently works in China can take ages – especially in my case where I don’t have a fixed phone number attached to my bank account, therefore I have to go to the bank to change my phone number while bringing my ID with me. The thing is, these banks in China will normally require your phone number so when you are paying for something that costs more than 200 yuan, they will send you a random password to confirm that you are the owner of the card and you are the one that’s making the transaction.
Here is a translated page of a tutorial on how to charge your apple ID in China – if something requires a tutorial, it already kinda tells you how troublesome it is, right? http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fw2v.wistone.com%2Fpay_help%2Fappstore_rmb_help.html
Also, people in online forums are complaining about that after their bank got charged, it took more than a day for the money to be applied to their account.
So, if you want to buy a 6 yuan app in China, the only way to do it is that you need to pay 50 yuan (equals to 10 small bowls of noodles in China!!) in advance while going through all these banking details ( roughly 10~20 mins), then wait for a day to have the money applied to your account, and only then can you get the 6 yuan app you wanted! At the same time, buying a free app would take only a couple of seconds to type in your password. Which one would you choose? I happened to be the group that just gives up on the paid apps and just get the free ones. I believe most people would do the same thing.
I’ve also tried to gift an app from my Australian account – but guess what, after I spent the money and tried to get the app from the Chinese account, I found that the gift code is only to be used within Australia. XO
You might want to know why Apple has made the payment system so troublesome for the Chinese market – but I guess they were trying their best. In the previous system, people had to pay Apple via American credit cards only (as they charge American dollars), so that there were a lot of American credit card owners who had their cards stolen and illegally used by Chinese consumers who didn’t know that they are using these cards illegally (well, some of them know but not everyone). The thing is, there are a lot of online shops on Taobao.com (China’s biggest trading website) where people can pay these online merchants to get an Apple ID with a American credit card attached to it. Once the illegal use of the Apple ID has been reported, Apple would freeze that account and return the money to the credit card owner in America. However, the result is that lot of transactions that the app developers have worked so hard for are fake. *shattered dev hearts* Therefore Apple has recently changed their payment system in China and allow the Chinese to pay for apps using RMB – however, like you saw, it’s pretty troublesome.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is actually not all that uncommon for Chinese consumers to pay for virtual content. In fact, the free-to-play style MMORPG have earned A LOT in China. People could spend more than 100,000 yuan (roughly AUS$17,000) on a sword in a popular MMORPG and it’s not that unusual. These super rich and hard-core players just want to show off their wealth by owning that sword and walk around in the virtual world. On the other hand, a recent research has found that in China 95% of young females reject buying pirated products – and that’s quite true, because of ‘vanity’. How? Well, let’s use a conversation as an example.
Girl A carries a new bag to work.
Girl B: ‘Ah! you have a new LV bag! It looks great!’
Girl A: ‘I got it from Hongkong, it’s really expensive but I got it with a discount.’
Girl B: ‘OMG!’ looking at the bag inside-out.
A few days later.
Girl B and Girl C are going shopping.
Girl B:’You know Girl A? She bought a fake LV bag and tried to pretend that it was real. Disgusting!’
Eventually everyone knows that Girl A once used a fake LV bag and Girl A never wants to use it again.
This kind of psychology would also work on these girl’s phones, even though it’s not that much similar. At the same time, some of the girls might not even know what jailbreak means but they just get it as the other people recommended them to do so. If these girls think that jailbreaking their iPhone equals to using a fake LV bag, then at least among girls, the chance of people jailbreaking their phone will be reduced. It is quite sad for me that it seems playing on people’s vanity is the best way to make profit from Chinese, but I can’t do anything about it – the simple reason is just that there are way too many rich people in China, while there are also a lot of poor people.
The Voxel Afternoon Tea! Sound’s awesome, doesn’t it?
As creative individuals we are always producing new ideas, but how can we continually produce without also absorbing ideas?
So, we came up with this idea of holding an ‘afternoon tea’ session every Friday lunchtime. During tea each Agent shares something that they have recently discovered or found interesting and we all discuss.
We thought you might be interested to check what each person shared!
Name: Agent Matt
Material shared: Not Tetris 2
Play it on: http://www.stabyourself.net/nottetris2
Reason for sharing: I think it’s an interesting subversion of a classic game. The ‘broken-ness’ of it just works, and it is self documenting.
Reason for sharing: Along with Limbo, Amnesia was the best game I played last year.
Matt: Watching videos of people’s reactions is always interesting. It’s incredible just how psychologically hooked people can get, even though they can just walk away at any time.
Simon: Amnesia looks like an horrifying ride and I want to take it
Tom: I need to play this game, but after watching that video I also need to play it on skype with Simon.
Tian: I was worried at first when you told me it’s going to be scary, because I tend to scream if I see something scary. But I didn’t and it was kinda confusing… and funny. However I still would not play the game, just because it’s a scary game and I’ve experienced enough scary things.
Ramsey: Looked fantastic, I’ll get on it as soon as I grow a pair to play horror games lol. It seems the developers really understood how to manipulate the emotions and fear of the player and tweak it to ALMOST the point of snapping.
Name: Agent Tom
Material shared: We are the Strange (trailer).
Reason for sharing: Striking visuals and an amazing story. I love how it combines so many different types of visual elements and twists them into an unholy creation of amazing awesome.
Henrik: Don’t know if I’d enjoy the movie but will see it because of it uniqueness. If we did not have creations like these our culture would be very dull.
Matt: Crazy video, I imagine it would have been very difficult to juxtapose all of the various techniques.
Simon: I don’t know whether I like his commitment or his craziness more.
Tian: Interesting find, I would love to know how he can afford to make such a long movie by himself. 18 months of production time doesn’t sound like a long enough period for making a good quality movie to me. Also I would love to know how he promoted and sold it, I think it’s really hard to market this kind of film.
Ramsey: Really cool animation man, I can’t wait to pull out the popcorn and anti-seizure pills and let it siege my senses.
Henrik: Fantastic short by people with skills and understanding that goes beyond animation goodness. I think the isolation cell metaphor worked for the most part. The additional details noticed through a second screening were few but impressive.
Agent Ramsey shared a top secret idea, so will remain in the vault
Where do you find your best sources of creative inspiration? Please post in the comments any interesting things you’ve found on the internet as we’re really interested to see what inspires you.
Today, I just want to introduce a little tool I made last week, which we found quite effective – the art guide.
The art guide was born to solve one problem – communicating between the team and the artist. The Voxel team is small and we like to consider everyone’s input in the art style. We have found it is really important for the artist to take everyone’s opinion into account on deciding the art direction for a game. However, not everyone can be a natural-born art director. As the other team members’ backgrounds are either code based or design based, there has been difficulty. Other members wanted to see many different art styles to compare, but weren’t providing a clear direction and this makes it hard for an artist to create an art concept.
So, there needed to be a way that can help the others to understand what information an artist needs to create an art style. Thus, the art guide is born!
So, here is another piece of concept art that I’ve been working on… Other agents find this scene a bit too dark – but maybe they are just too bright for it! What do you think?