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Friday, March 03, 2006

The Solution To Swag Puzzle

Deadline is up people. Pencils on the desk. Time to give up the solution to the Carnival Poetry Slamdance Swag Puzzle.

The puzzle could be solved in a few, albeit lengthy, steps. Step one was to gather all the poets. This was done by identifying either their name or a phrase from their poetry from within the carnival post. If you were really lazy, you could also look at the HTML source and find the spans marked "clue" to help distinct them. Googling the various phrases like "OVETVSTATIS ueneranda custos!" will get you the poet's name.

With that, you should have a list of eleven poets:

Mary Kate
Jonathan Swift
Maya Angelou
Tom Kidding
Maria Farber
Percy Shelley
Robinson Jeffers
William Lisle Bowles
Robert Frost
ee cummings

With that, the next task was to dig through Cathode Tan (you might have noticed the reference to the archives in the carnie post as well) for the poets and the question, although I later linked directly to the question. Each poet's entry, like Shelley's, includes two notable things. One is a poem.

The other is the crux of the puzzle. And it's indicated by the common theme of the poems, and that is time. Each time the posts were made is the key to decoding the question. Once you have the post time, you get a list like this:

Mary Kate 9:01
Jonathan Swift 5:04
Maya Angelou 8:02
Tom Kidding 2:02
Maria Farber 6:06
Percy Shelley 7:02
Phocas 1:02
Robinson Jeffers 5:06
William Lisle Bowles 4:09
Robert Frost 9:03
ee cummings 3:02

The times relate to the grid of the quesiton. So "9:01" is ninth row, first column. Going through this placement, you get:

al pa me fir ga scr ing rr oll ax st

Which can be shuffled around to:

fir st ga me pa rr al ax scr oll ing

OK. I acknowledge that using the wrong number of r's and l's in "parallax" is a bit evil. But the first game to use parallax scrolling would be, of course, Moon Patrol.

Which would have netted someone some swag. Ah well. I'll probably try another puzzle down the road at some point. Might not be blog based, as I'm still playing with other web based puzzles. We'll see.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Savage 2 Distributed Online Exclusively

The upcoming sequel to Savage: The Battle for Newerth will only be available via download:

By declining to box up thousands of CDs and distribute them in stores, S2 aims to cut the price of the game and hold on to a bigger percentage of proceeds, Marc DeForest, the company's co-founder and lead designer, told Reuters this week.

The increasing proliferation of high-speed Internet connections is helping to drive interest in digital video game publishing, particularly among small game development houses looking for a direct route to fans.

According to research from Parks Associates, 42 percent of U.S. households have broadband Internet access, which is making it easier for users to quickly download video games, photos, music and other content. Broadband penetration in some other countries, such as South Korea, is significantly higher.
-- Computer video game companies try online distribution

The article goes on a bit about other direct download services as well. This might be old news or at least old mumblevine crop, about Savage, but I thought the details were interesting. Funny that at one point, CDs were branded as the great end to piracy because nobody would have the capacity to duplicate and deliver outside of the industry ... and now so many people have enough bandwidth that they're essentially obsolete.

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IGN on Video Game Violence

Thanks goes to The Brother for pointing this out, since browsing for gaming news has been declared taboo here at work. IGN has an excellent article on the impact of violent video games, echoing several things I've written about in the past. Here's one of my favorite points:

Despite the relatively small market share these Mature games have garnered, it hasn't stopped our lawmakers from latching on to them and turning them into a political focal point.
-- The Impact of Violent Videogames

See, the politicos can't get any attention out of this if, as the truth would tell us ... there isn't really a problem. They like to hem and haw about how tragic it is that in 25 to Life you can shoot a police officer ... but they forget to mention that we don't have a generation of cop killers. Batjack likes to talk about his handful of successful sting operations, but neglects to point out that the majority of games are sold to adults.

As such, the game industry is left defending itself not just for a crime it hasn't committed ... but one that hasn't occured.

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Hurley Loves Video Games

Jorge Garcia , who plays Hurley on Lost, is also an avid player of both card games and video games. When The Trades sat down with Garcia, he gave his thoughts on what a Lost game might be like:

“When you think about the logistics of turning Lost into a video game, it would be really tough,” he remarks. “Lost has actually been described in many ways as a video games at times, where you can be searching around on the island for awhile and then finally discover the hatch – the way we did on the show. You’d really have to be able to make it like one of those big sandbox format video games, where you can go off and go to a lot of different areas. I think the best way to do the game, too, would be after you solve it at the end, if they let you restart the game as an Other.
-- Jorge Garcia: By the Numbers

Sounds like a deal. I'd offer up a cabin story format, where one player is an Other and the others are trying to figure out who it might be. I just hope we don't see a Lost MMO in the future.

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Lost: Contradictions

I'm a bit sleepy today and just now ingesting the morning coffee, so if this doesn't make entire sense ... bear with me.

Last night's episode was pretty good. I liked Rosseau in this one. She's now at the top of my list of people I'd be happy to be trapped on the island with. Provided you can convince her you're not "infected", I'd say your chances of survival would be greatly increased.

There is, though, something twisty turny about the infection angle on the island. Ethan's group was injecting Claire with a "vaccine". Yet, Rosseau is fearful of anyone who is "infected". The "quarantine" exists outside the island, not inside. So how is it that Ethan's group, apparently "safe" inside ... are the ones we should be worried about?

Plus, who sent Claire to the island? Was it a simple mistake and she was really supposed to go to LA? I'm doubtful, with all the connections and coincidences ... everything seems orchestrated to get these people to this island. A fact supported by the probability that Ethan's group "landed" the plane there ... and then proceeeded to cull out the children and "good" people. The theatrical glue, the timing, the little passenger plane mobile ... everything points to the plane being a delivery ... not an accident.

Theatrical glue also makes me think that Zeke's group pulled a fast one on Jack. But if Alex with Zeke is Alex with Ethan ... maybe they are all the same group?

So what is the real illness here? Was Desmond injecting himself with a vaccine? Why, if he wasn't in the quarantine? Because he came from outside? Does Ethan's group define "good" as "curable" or "immune"? It seems like if we traced the events from Ethan's point of view, starting with the crash ... it might make more sense. But it's way too early for me to try that right now...

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PC World Skeptical on Origami.

Some say it's an iPod killer ... others that it's just another revision of Microsoft's lackluster Tablet PC concept. PC World, it seems, isn't all that concerned:

"Don't get too excited about the speculation surrounding Microsoft's possible update Thursday of a new handheld device called Origami. After the company began its viral marketing campaign earlier this week, I talked to some analysts familiar with the project. The general consensus appears to be that, although the device appears to be real, it might not live up to all the hype.


"One analyst, who confirmed that rampant Web buzz claiming Origami is a large, handheld, Windows-like device is accurate--said that ultimately he believes that Origami will be a niche product, appealing mostly to women rather than a large audience. "He said that it is unlikely Microsoft will reveal the full details of the product on Thursday: "Origami is a product, but the timing is what it is. It's not an iPod killer. (The frenzy is) the nature of stealth marketing, and people's imaginations get inflamed."
-- Skepticism About Microsoft Handheld

I'm not going to hold my breath today. No more than usual at least.

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Tulse Luper Journey

A suspicously excited email was tossed under my door this morning, inviting me to check out Tulse Luper Journey.  Tulse Luper is an unlikely fellow who has placed his entire life inside 92 suitcases and needs your help sorting it out.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Guide to Guild Wars PvP

Clamatius might send a smiting monk after me for linking to this while it's still a work in progress, but I've got res signets to boot.  He's written up a Guild Wars PvP Beginner's Guide for those of us still stuck on the PvE side of things. It's got tips on strategies, communication and class builds. I'm much grateful for this since at least one of my friends does PvP a lot more than PvE these days (since he's beaten the game like 20 times).  

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Even More Phone Weirdness

Because I really need facial recognition combined with motion tracking when I'm on the move.

Bomberman Bakufuu Sentai Bombermen

Insert Credit found the latest bomberman abomination:

This is Bomberman Bakufuu Sentai Bombermen, which is a really dumb title. This game is being released by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan on the PlayStation Portable, uh, on March 9th, 2006. It is, essentially, Bomberman. It has apparently flown under everyone's radar, probably just because they hear the name and think, yeah, it's another attempt to cash in on people's money by putting a pseudo-popular puzzle game on PSP. Which, well, it is. However, what's most interesting is the character design. For me, at least, first seeing these characters was a bigger "What the hell?" than first seeing Bomberman: Act Zero. They're big, brawny, muscular, multi-colored "superhero"-like Bombing Men and Bombing Women. They recall some kind of "Power Rangers" aesthetic. Have a look at the screenshots at that Game Watch article and wonder. I'd thought originally that this game was some kind of knock-off, though no. Hudson is definitely behind it. Curious.

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Apple's Missing Piece

The releases of yesterday haven't exactly wowed people on Apple. The Intel Mac Mini in particular is a little bittersweet. However, in talking to a fellow Apple geek today ... I realized that it's easy to harp on something when you are only seeing half the picture. My main complaint is that Apple didn't release a super cheap Mini ... nor did they greatly enhance it's TV loving.

But I had forgotten the mumblevine crop which completes the picture. AirTunes Express ... with video. If I could set iTunes up to play my music and video library over to the television. Well, that would be styling. No need to hook the mini up directly to the television if it can be streamed there.

Sadly, though, while I think that's a really neat potential strategy ... it might fubar any idea of letting the Mini be a living room gaming console.

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You Get Paid For What?

The workplace has done some proxy jiggering and lockdown of various websites, mostly in the name of network performance. For the most, I don't really care as long as I can still get e-mail and do a little surfbloggery during the occasional recompile. However, a few of the gaming news sites are blocked ... like gamespot.

So I was kevitching with a coworker about it, and apparently the cause is a few employees playing World of Warcraft and some other Massively Multiplayers during work. Now, that takes chutzpah. I feel guilty for the occasional blog rant or wikipedia wandering ... but leveling up before the lunch hour?

On a side note, I just got to overhear someone trying to explain what a non sequitar is to one of our foriegn employees. Pure gold, right there.

Oh, Right. The Puzzle.

I was originally going to end it today, but I'm short on time. So everyone has until Friday to solve puzzle, win swag. I'm pretty surprised nobody has gotten it yet, although I've spied a few that got dangerously close.

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Homebrew Web Browser for the DS

Ah, the homebrew crowd. Who else could bring the first web browser on the DS, running on DSLinux no less?

You know, if Nintendo is selling the Revolution SDK for cheap, I really don't see why they don't make a hobbyist SDK for the DS.

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More Phone Weirdness

No sooner do I ask "what will cell phones try next" when the Internet giveth an answer:

We might see some really weird developments. In China, Lenovo now sells a cellphone that can puff out a scent. It's like a ring tone, except more of a smell tone. Your girlfriend calls, you get a whiff of perfume. If Starbucks gets hold of this and combines it with GPS, you might round a corner and get a whiff of mocha latte and a map to the nearest outlet.

And then there's Samsung hiring the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to create "living" cellphones. "A three-dimensional avatar will lurk inside the cellphone and adjust itself to characteristics of the cellphone carriers," The Korea Times reports. "Its personality can get better or worse depending on how people treat it."
-- Top popped on what cellphone technology can do for us

Yeah, that's what I want ... a tamagotchi cell phone. That way it can be bitch me out even before I get bad news over the phone. But hey, maybe it can yell at telemarketers for me...

A Blogger Phone ... Because Why?

Sony Ericsson has released a phone which is linked to Google and Blogger (and if you are behind on your quota of funny pics of execs posing witha phone to their ear, there you go). This reminds me distinctly of the iTunes phone in that it's very difficult to see what people are thinking here. Gee, send pics and text to a blog? From a phone? How 2003. Like playing music, this is nothing my current phone doesn't already do.

Could phone convergence be coming to an end? We've shoved a PDA in there, added a camera and let browse the web and play games, music and movies. GPS? I dunno. It seems like beefier services, like concierge and roadside assistance, might be in order ... but I'm pretty certain Cingular already offers me that as well. Time for Ghost In The Shell style telepathy I guess.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

London Stockbrokers Get Free Wifi

High rollers in London's high traffic business area could get som wifi in their future, including a deal with Nintendo to provide it free via the Nintendo DS.  Sweet apocalypse, I can see the entire financial district collapse as every broker worries more about selling peaches to Tom Nook than stocks to Dow Jones.

Guild Wars Character Slots

Clamatius has the info that owning both the original Guild Wars and the upcoming Factions will yield a total of six character slots.

ArenaNet, you're still my most favorite MMO developer evah.

Intel Mini Sports Integrated Graphics

Thanks to Joystiq for pointing out that the Intel Mini dropped it's graphics card.  Bad show, Apple.  You raise the price and integrate the hardware.  My hopes for a Mini based gaming culture have never been lower.

New Mac Offerings

Apple had another big brouhau today and announced two new children, the Intel Mac Mini and the iPod Hi-Fi. The Hi-Fi is clearly for the cult of iPod types, of which I'm not really a devotee. The mini was something I was hoping to see.

However, I'm a little disappointed in it. Sure, it's great to have a Mini that is 4x faster (theoretically) than what is on my desk. Yet, it's $100 more. Granted, I dunno how many people bought the Mini for it's base price in the first place - so it's still within a pretty affordable range. Still, it didn't add on any new multimedia features for that price, except for Front Row and some other software selections. Still can't hook it up to a sweet 30" Cinema. Still no built in PVR features.

It seems Apple doesn't want the Mini to come to much in conflict with the Media PC's out there, despite the obvious cross-over with the digital life angle. The Mini almost feels like a hobbyist machine at this stage, something for computer geeks with either an extra monitor hanging around or people with a hankering to shove a CPU into an old guitar case or something. It's so close to being that "cheap computer to hook up to your TV, which is quiet and unobtrusive" ... but so far away.

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Gimme A Key

The recent talk of Origami, the Nintendo DS Lite ... that apparently failed PSP keyboard ... gets me thinking. The DS Lite is nice, and might yet make it's way into the gaming family over at the Steamer Bar (pet name for my apartment), but I'd rather see a DS model that was more deluxe than lite.

I want a keyboard. Yup. I've been spoiled by the Sharp Zaurus and now I want a keyboard. Make it slide out and have thumb sized keys. It's like this Nintendo - virtual keyboards suck. Yes, they suck. Sure ... we can use them in a pinch, but we don't want to because they suck. I'd be able to chat faster in Animal Crossing and trash talk in Metroid (when it comes out).

And let's not even mention how much easier Opera would be with a keyboard. Actually, let's. It would be much, much easier.

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MS Origami = Tablet PC 2.0

This ZDNet column does a fine job of clarifying the potential of the Microsoft Origami in that it's most likely not a PSP or Nintendo DS market device, but rather an extension of the previous niche for Tablet PC's:

Those are still Microsoft's goals when it comes to its much talked-about Origami project. However, the first Origami devices, which are set to arrive before the end of April, will likely not reach those lofty ideals. Instead, the machines are likely to start somewhere near that $800 mark and have battery life that hovers around four hours, according to a source familiar with the first-generation products.

Not that there is anything wrong with that sort of thing, you understand. I have this cousin who can be like that and everyone still loves him just fine.

Seriously, it's not a bad concept ... in addition to Microsoft's own tablet, Nokia's web tablets are starting to break out these kinds of devices and there's always been rumors of Apple making a bizarre iPod/Newton/Mac love child. But just because it can play Halo doesn't mean Nintendo has anything to worry about.

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On a side note...

Anyone else think that every state in the union should be taxing the living frak out of Wal-Mart?

The Girl brought home a documentary on the chain store giant and guess what ... even if you don't shop there ... you spend money on Wal-Mart every day of your life. Fun, huh? Yes ... they save costs by not spending any more money on their employees than humanly possible. So every state government spends millions on welfare for Wal-Mart's employees because they don't want to pay a living wage. So before anyone complains about social welfare spending ... they should think about the corporate welfare.

NIMF Alerts On Running Scared Game

As Joystiq points out, old man Dr. Walsh has issued an alert about the Running Scared advergame, which is an online flash game involving climaxes and laundry soap. Unlike the ESRB bashing NIMF sometimes takes part in ... this feels like it's just them doing their job. Parents should know that advertisers are doing this kind of thing on the net so that they can try to take the correct measures to protect their kids.

In related news, Wired has a whole article on video game sex toys which hasn't even gotten a furrowed brow from most people yet.

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In-Game Advertising? You Haven't Seen Nothin' Yet.

Check out these charts on the growth of online advertising, particularly ingame advertising. I'm not the best statistician in the world, but I can see that what is a little itty bitty bar in 2003 becomes a huge ass bar by 2009. Eeeep.

First day I see a billboard in my Animal Crossing town ... I flee.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Dissecting Nabaztag

Nabaztag is a bizarre wifi bunny that can react to various changes in your internet enviornment.  The lovely people over at MAKE point out all you need to know or see during the dissection process to get to the innards of this odd netbeast.

Doggy Of The Colossus

How to transform a puppy into an ancient guardian.

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Revolution SDK for $2000

Apparently the Nintendo SDK for the Revolution will weigh in at $2,000 ... a far cry cheaper than the PlayStation 2 SDK or even the PSP SDK, both of which rang in at over $15,000. I wonder how much the DS SDK is going for these days ... and how hard it is to get Torque to run on it....

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Microsoft's Origami Running Halo

Over the weekend, the rumors that Microsoft might be working on a handheld got a major boost, as in screenshots. While Microsoft hasn't made any official confirmation on the pictures, there is now a new photo of the device playing Halo, presumably Halo PC to be specific.

There's the weird Origami Project website to boot, which seems to follow Microsoft's newfound love for viral marketing.

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