Keep up with what the Cowboy Errant team have to say! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

What If – Antibiotics Edition

Hi there and welcome to our first #WhatIfWednesday, a series of blog posts where we ask historical or science based what if questions, with some of the ramifications as potential story ideas. Think of it as our own special way of giving back or just floating conversation starters to fellow creatives. Given how we just talked about spreading things around, it’s time for the topic of antibiotics. More specifically what if they were invented earlier?

This is not as far fetched as you might think, while we might be familiar with Alexander Flemming’s attributed discovery of penicillin in the late 20’s and owing to a lack of resources and the discovery not being well followed up on resulted in penicillin not being widely produced until the 40’s, a gap of around 15 years. This lag is also why Fleming shared the 1945 Nobel Prize with Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who started clinical trials for much wider production in 1941. All of those trials were performed with technology available earlier, and perhaps penicillin may have developed several years earlier extending the ‘era’ of antibiotics and saving many lives.

However, going into the idea of antibiotics era as a whole it is possible that penicillin may have been discovered significantly earlier just before 1900. In the 1890’s a french physician Ernst Duchesne started work with the same mold species responsible for penicillin, and may have produced a small quantity without any wider recognition of the research by the french academy of sciences. It would have taken a while to develop, but if Duchesne’s work landed on the desks of the right people it may have led to penicillin being available in time for the first world war could have led to significant reduction in casualties.

Likewise, for pre-penicillin antibiotics they did exist such as Rene Dubos’s making and selling of Tyrocidine and earliest of all a German chemist made Pyocyanase the first antibiotic back in the 1880s! Unfortunately Pyocyanase is little known and was toxic to humans almost as much as to the bacteria it would fight against. Of course again if the ideas and resources were allocated here, it is interesting to speculate what might of resulted. Perhaps the wonder drugs of the 30s the so called sulfa drugs (Sulfonamide) may have been developed earlier, or the research may have indicated new medicinal discoveries to aid against the flu, potentially mitigating the spanish influenza outbreak towards the end of World War One.

So from here, well it’s up to you to imagine the consequences of earlier Antibiotics. Would the lessened casualties in World War One mean the tzar never fell or had the resources to win the Russian Civil War? Would the Spanish Influenza outbreak be less severe owing to the research conducted? How about other effects? Let us know, and if you like these new blog posts do like and share!

Source for further reading Warning – Academic content!

Marketing Mishaps at E3

Well, that was exciting. I mean E3, but also if you didn’t notice Nobility the Series has an actual release date! I know amazing isn’t it? You can watch the title card here

That said speaking of E3, it’s going on all this week so hopefully it’ll be good – next well I’ll dive more into it. However, the Microsoft conference at the beginning was a bit of a let down and an example of a bit of a missed launch – which may hold lessons for other launches or other creatives hoping to showcase a new product. Namely, mixed messages tend to be bad, in that target audiences do not necessarily mix.

Mistakes May Have Been Made

To begin, half the point of the Microsoft conference was to point out the new console Xbox One X with its 4K graphics as a major selling point. Generally, one of the key points about consoles is the games library and what is available for play. Perhaps as a means to avoid pointing out a number of the launch titles were already released or available on other platforms Microsoft started its presentation with the latest installment of Forza racing followed by showing a brand new Porche at E3.

The first move of course makes sense, showcase the games. That was well done, and later on in the presentation a number of other titles were brought up which again was well done. However, the interruption of the event to feature a car combined with in effect an infomercial for said car was jarring to put it mildly. The reason has to do with a confusion of target audiences, gamers the X Box One X targeted ranged from adults with offerings like Metro: Exodus, to younger gamers with Sea of Thieves, leaving a number as ineligible to be excited for the Porche.

The gaffe goes significantly further however, in promoting the new car as if it’s a tie in or crossover with the new racing game and thus has significant interest in the audience, but without a good frame. If Microsoft framed the car reveal to talk about its electronics or its specifications with further tie in, it may not have been so jarring and off putting. A car’s a major purpose and the reveal with a video game just isn’t a right fit.

So far this has been the most interesting aspect of the E3 footage coming out so far, what are your thoughts? Could the event have been made less awkward by some other means? Was the Porche reveal a gigantic mistake? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Mass Effect: Galactic Problems

Hi there and welcome to June, where some things might be a little different. You’ll see on future blogs – replete with more content! So with that out of the way, how about this Media Monday! Namely creating parallels to the above we’ll be talking about Mass Effect: Andromeda! Or rather part of why we think it had some problems catching on besides the animation problems.

Mass Effect: Andromeda takes place as the name says, in the Andromeda galaxy centuries after the main series. By itself, seems a pretty neat idea enabling the player to explore a brand new galaxy meet new aliens and fight new threats. Personally, exploration games always excite me. However, while the concept itself is neat – even reminiscent of Star Trek in the emphasis, it falls far short of its goals. While many were technical related to animations, ai troubles for teammates, less than stellar characters and voice acting, there might be a more fundamental reason for its failure – aside from bugs that can be patched.

Problems like this.

Ultimately for games, making a new entry in a series you have some difficulties keeping up to the namesake or ensuring it’s similar enough to take amongst the audience. Mass Effect Andromeda fails this, first in its launch, but secondly in the risks and gameplay taken or in this case not quite enough where it counts. Every new iteration has to make itself distinct – but if it makes itself too distinct such as with Civilization 6, and its loss of the demographics screen which allowed civs to compete in things like life expectancy, well the game may not be viewed as part of the series.

This is where Mass Effect: Andromeda had a bit of a failing in that its launch was poorly handled. First there was the review embargo and the pre-order system which was radically different from previous Mass Effect games. There was also the bugs of course and the need for several hotfixes, with an ongoing patching schedule required – it’s not necessarily individual bugs though the eyes are…something else before the patch. The problem is such a patch schedule was required in the first place. Sure, Mass Effect 3 ultimately required a new DLC to deal with that ending, but it was nothing on the scale of Mass Effect: Andromeda, proving to be a letdown based on past expectations.

Now in terms of risk, we come to something kinda obvious. IF you’re in a new galaxy, shouldn’t there be some real differences? The Reapers were a pretty interesting and different sort of sci-fi villain…and what does Mass Effect: Andromeda have? A dark energy cloud? Rock-Aliens that for some reason are very humanoid in shape? It just doesn’t seem very alien and different – you could tell most of that story in say a pocket of the milky way galaxy previously unreached by mass effect relays as opposed to out in Andromeda! Even a nearby dwarf galaxy would do.

Even take the new all vehicle the Nomad. Its arguably the coolest part of the game, and very nifty to go out and about – but it feels like much more could be done to realize its potential and make planet exploring more fun. To ensure you can do more than fight the same space pirates, the same aliens all mysteriously humanoidish and hunt for the occasional mining spike with drones or setting up forward outposts. It just feels you could do more, make it more expansive and useful, maybe even install a battle cannon or something on the roof for run and gun battles with other explorer tanks or run around with anti-gravity on.
In a nutshell the problem is Mass Effect: Andromeda just was not bold enough to be distinct in a good way, and poor handling combined with a poor launch that has seen a large patching plan ensures it just won’t live up to its legacy as a Mass Effect game. Will it possibly get better? Maybe, an expansion may help if it launches buglessly and they deal with the rest of the bugs via the patching plan. But, for now the latest entry has harmed the prestige the series was held in, and we can only hope EA and Bioware learn and improve from here.