Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
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Friday, March 17, 2006

CheapBox No More?

One of my favorite bargain basement stores,, made it possible for me to make cheap gaming rig. I was pricing a potential upgrade (quieter CPU fan, Pentium 4 processor ... about $200) at NewEgg and decided to swing back by Outpost to see if they had continued their trend, should I ever want a cheap base in the future.

$480?? ... dang, that's almost as much as the CheapBox is worth with the small upgrades I've been doing to it. Heck, I got it for $199 ... so I could have easily upgraded the processor for that much ... or even getter a better base.

Granted, prices change like the wind. Looks like I got lucky though.

Earn Your Red Star

In the new Chinese Internet Game, "Learning from Comrade Lei Feng" ... you can play to be a good citizen:

In the game, the players play the role of a young pioneer. Pedestrians may say dirty words, trample upon grass, spit or litter on the road or break traffic rules and the players' tasks are to stop these bad habits or deeds while helping old men cross the street.

If players accomplish their tasks, they are rewarded with bonus points, which, if sufficiently high, earn them a red star as an extra prize, said 12-year-old Jiao Jian, "When the four points, fame and loyalty rise to a set standard, we have a chance to see Chairman Mao at magnificent Tian'anmen Square."
-- Mao's Model Soldier Stars in New Internet Game

Wow. That. sounds. like. fun. I'm guessing stabbing hookers for their money is right out.

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Denny's Drives People To Kill

Yeah, I know it's insensitive and mean, but I just wanted to point out that if this headline referenced a GameStop or if anyone involved owned an Xbox ... people would be decrying how horrible it is that media begets violence.

Hey, guess what. Using the Jack Thompson style of logic - so does pancakes. Go figure.

Sometimes, people, insane violence is just insane violence.

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Pimpage: Mini Red Satan

One of our bestest friends from The Hometown left the Great Plains for the Big City and found herself in a comedy troupe, Mini Red Satan. The Girl and I saw it when we took a train ride out east and yes, it's hilarious.

They've got a brief library up at youtube. "All About Air" is one of my favorites from their show, although it's a shame they don't have the Deposed Burger King up there.

So if you have a moment on this fine official drinking day, grab a green beer and download some funny.

Indigo Prophecy

Gamefly has finally managed to deliver a couple of games. Electroplankton I haven't really played with, but I'm likely to just buy it and keep it around as a music toy anyway.

The other was Indigo Prophecy, which sucked up most of the night. It's definately an interesting twist on the adventure game genre. It's nice to see someone take the genre seriously with adult concepts ( even if a few naughty bits had to be censored for us American prudes ).

The big bad would definately be the controls. There's no way to put it gently - the controls suck harder than an industrial Hoover. During the "save the whiny kids" scene I couldn't manage a straight line to save my life. Walking can be bad enough when you have control over the camera ... and at times when you don't it can be a nightmare.

So it's not a surprise that the game is at it's best when you aren't controlling the character directly. During conversations and the "simon says" style mini-games, the controls work quite well to accompany the story. And the story, a combination of urban horror and crime drama ... is pretty good. Characters are well done and the plot is pretty engaging.

Since I'm working on interactive fiction, I can't help but wonder how the interactive parts play out. Is the game worth a replay to see what happens if you properly mack with your ex? Or don't invite her over at all? I get the impression that these represent tiny adjustments to the storyline rather than full tangents and that if there are any alternative endings, they're of the "whoops, you're dead" variety. It's odd that the game is still, in some ways, a grown up version of Dragon's Lair. Follow the glowy parts quickly enough and you advance ... otherwise you're bones.

That might seem harsh, but I'm just looking at an overall framework here. And I don't even think there's nothing terribly wrong with that. I do think that a lot of interactive stories miss out on truly flexible narratives. The pitfall of making all the alternative endings into mousetraps is an easy one (although, come to think of it ... ironically .... since I'm working with a horror short ... all my endings are pretty nasty as well).

Anyway, an interesting game. I'd love to see a version done with next-gen and more photorealistic graphics since I think this is a genre which, with this format, gets a lift with more convincing environments. And for the love of Jeebus, fix the controls.

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WoW Player Banned For Using Keyboard

Logitech released a keyboard which allows stringing keys together into macros.

According to Blizzard, that's botting and you can be banned. This player, who is also a Linux user and suspects that Blizzard might have detected Wine as "third party software", engaged in an email campaign to spare his level 60 from permaban, but apparently to no avail:

Some other threads popped up here and there. Some people don't believe I was upgrading my weapon skills; however, Blizzards logs will show no loot gained. In fact, I was hitting a single mob all the time (read my mails). I have about 300to 400 gold on my mage and my priest - I don't need to AFK gold grind. Money isn't an issue, nor is XP at level 60. Not to mention it was a level 25 mob...

And another thing, to all the people who think I lie and I was running a bot: you go and try to get any bot program running under WINE, on Linux. After this whole thing I actually looked at some of this software, and guess what? They all need MS .NET Framework. That's really never ever going to run on Linux with WINE. Anyway, it's up to you if you believe me or not.

Blizzard put the lid on some of the forum talk. I quote: We do not discuss bans on the forums. If your friend has an issue with a ban, he should reply to the email he would have been sent. I agree with them. I would love to solve this over e-mail; however, AccountReview mails get auto-replied stating that they do not want to communicate with me. My WoWConcerns e-mails have yet to be repied. I still hope they will.

So, if anything, let this be a warning: even if Blizzard states that programmable keyboards are OK, you will get banned if you use them, depending on the situation. Its just a shame that due to the massive real botters, they aren't open to any real world explanations.

GG Blizz :(

GG indeed.

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Goth Girl Designs Game, Learns Valuable Lesson

I'm just going to let this one speak for itself:

EARACHE EXTREME METAL RACING uniquely was conceived and created by 17 year old Gothic metaller Sky Nash and all started as a possible way to not only keep her amused but potentially to dissuade her from following her overworked father into a gaming career.


Frazer Nash describes how his daughter created the game during work experience at developer, DDI: “Sky, then just 15, was given a huge responsibility to design her own (tongue in cheek) game. By the end of the first week, she had created a Gothic-looking game, complete with drafted levels and an awesome soundtrack. 12 months on and with professional development courtesy of Sam King and Mike Rooker (art), Mark Gemmell (production), Karl White and Julian Salter (Programming) at DDI. Aimed to appeal to Goth / Rock music fans the world over, Metro 3D have created EARACHE EXTREME METAL RACING - a monster of a game.”
-- Teenage Goth-Metal Girl Designs Metal Racing Video Game

Yes. Give your child creative control over your game. That usually teaches them the game industry is evil.

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Classical Music Meets MoCap Technology

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on using technology to capture a master player's hands:

"I look good in this costume, no?" he asks, patting a small, black-suited belly.

The form-fitting attire is configured so that computers can digitally record the virtuoso's skills through a process known as motion-capture. Best known for bringing characters to life in video games as well as in such films as "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Polar Express," motion capture will allow researchers to create an animated model of Rabbath's techniques for an instructional DVD titled "Art of the Left Hand."

"Francois is to classical music what Michael Jordan was to basketball," says Hans Sturm, a double-bass professor at Ball State, who counts Rabbath as both mentor and close personal friend. "Nobody else does what he does. And I doubt anyone ever will."
-- Video-game tech hits classical music

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Game Law May Cost Illinois Half A Million

The ESA has filed a petition to recoup their legal fees for smacking down Governor Blagojevich's misguided, frivolous and clearly unconsitutional video game law. The potential cost to taxpayers? $644,545.

In a fair and just society, Blagojevich would be paying that out of his campaign funds since the whole thing was a publicity stunt from the beggining.

Other states should take some notes on this so that when they jump on the witch-hunt bandwagon, they can adjust their numbers to know how many more dollars won't be sent to schools.

Think of the kids, m ass.

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Miami Dade School Board Wags Finger At Bully

The video witch-hunt just hit an new, idiotic, low:

The Miami-Dade School Board unanimously approved a watered-down resolution against Bully, a soon-to-be-released video game that allows players to beat classmates.

'It's violence of the worst kind,'' said board member Frank Bolaños, who sponsored the resolution.

The original language urged local retailers not to sell the game and parents not to buy it, but amendments weakened the impact. The approved version, which passed shortly after 2 p.m. today, urged retailers not to sell Bully to minors and directed the district to inform parents ``on the potential harmful effects to children of playing interactive video games containing violence.''
-- Video game targeted by Miami-Dade School Board

Emphasis mine ... I just wanted to illustrate the kind of moron that brings this kind of thing to bear. Seriously, anyone who proclaims schoolyard bullying as the worst kind of violence in a public statement hasn't been watching the news nor have they seen an episode of Oz.

Anyone suprised this comes from the same county that couldn't run a federal election? I'm not. Can't wait to see the next bit of magic from Miami-Dade.

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Mutant Living Pinatas

People like to have fun guessing just what the heck crazy thing occured on Earth to allow the events of Animal Crossing to occur. When I started playing Wild World, I just followed the apocalypse theory and assumed most everyone I ever knew was dead and all the woodland creatures had mutated. I even walked around with a gas mask for protection.

Then I got a letter from should-be-dead-from-an-atomic-cloud mom and I didn't know what to think. So I accepted the communist lifestyle and got decked out in a little Mao outfit.

Now, Microsoft will be entering the game with Viva Pinata, which is apparently a game involving living talking pinatas that are born from stork delivered eggs. Designed, quite smartly, to hone on the Sims/Animal Crossing demographic ... it still makes me wonder what these people are smoking when they design this stuff. If a Pinata dies, do they consider it a regrettable candy related accident? Maybe they're going for an abused animal shelter angle.

At any rate, it's nice to see a next gen game that doesn't involved Nintendo or bragging about hidef screens.

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Microsoft Declares "Greatest Launch Ever"

Kotaku got official word on Microsoft's response to the PS3 delay, wherein they declare that they ... and I'm quoting here ... "blasted out of the gate with the greatest launch in the history of video games."

Right, greatest launch that was plagued with defects and supply problems while not meeting estimates and burying most consumers in idiotic, overpriced bundles. So, in other words, second greatest to the PSP ... which had all the same except for selling better. Better launches include the original PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and even the original Xbox. Maybe they are talking about the original Xbox?

Whatever. Still annoying. But as Mark Twain said, don't let facts get in the way of your opinion.

I am, however, inclined to agree with others that the current PlayStation 3 plans seem unrealistic. I'm guessing that before November, Europe gets taken off the table and even then we'll see shortages leading up to Christmas.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Moore On V For Vendetta

Alan Moore is, simply, something of a genius when it comes to writing comics. He's managed to add depth and complexity to a medium where most wouldn't bother trying look. I can't imagine the guy's mental anguish when League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was screened. Now, V for Vendettta is hitting the screen. The Beat gets the man on the phone (so to speak):

The Beat: Your name is on [the] League of Extraordinary Gentlemen [film], right?

Moore: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was the reason why I decided to take my name off all subsequent films.

The Beat: Well…[General laughter] I think anyone might have done that! But go on…

Moore: Yeah, a lot of things which had to do with League made me decide I really wanted nothing to do with the American film industry in any shape or form. Which is why I asked DC if I could possibly have my name taken off the films and the money redistributed. This went fine with the Constantine film. This was because my name was never going to go on the Constantine film in the first place. Because that had gone so well, I distributed the money amongst the other artists my name hadn’t been on the film and I was completely happy. I assumed when DC then sent me paperwork so I could sign my money over to David Lloyd on the V for Vendetta film this was going to go fine.

It didn't. I had an American producer actually lying about my involvement in the film, which made me look like a liar. When I said I'm not taking any money from these films and I'm not interested in them, he makes a statement that's completely dishonest and was saying the complete opposite. So I felt I had to at that point exercise my right to completely sever myself from DC Comics if, assuming that they weren't able to just get a simple retraction, nothing humiliating, just a simple retraction apology and clarification that would have said we regret that due to a misunderstanding blah blah blah. That would have been all.
-- A FOR ALAN, Pt. 1: The Alan Moore interview (via BoingBoing)

Offhand Intel Mac Mini Review

A co-worker mentioned that he picked up a shiny new Intel Mac Mini last night and returned with plenty favorable to say about it. I don't know if it's true for the PPC version, but it seems all my worries about the Mini playing nice with a TV have been unfounded. He's hooking his up to a normal old CRT television with some composite cables (and the adaptor) and says it's behaves and looks great. Likewise, Front Row earned high marks as did the the DVD playback.

Sweet. Well, heck. Now I really want to hook one up and see what kind of games can be made to work on the TV. Wonder if The Girl would notice if the Mini spawned a child?

"No honey, Macs are asexual. That means they can reproduce all on their own. Honest."

Hrm. Maybe not.

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Playsh - Coding Text Adventure Style

Called playsh, the new tool is a collaborative programming environment based on the multi-user domains, or MUDs, so popular online in the early 1990s.

Trying to do things in playsh is most similar to games like Zork from the 1970s. To go north, you type north. To examine an object, you type look. There are no graphics, just descriptions.

But instead of ducking grues and collecting zorkmids, you're interacting with whatever program code you're working on, as well as the data and hardware devices that it uses. "It treats the web and APIs as just more objects and places, and is a platform for writing and sharing your own code to manipulate those objects and places," says developer Matt Webb, who unveiled the tool at last week's O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego.
-- Coding Tool Is a Text Adventure

Cool. Massive geek overload, but very cool.

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Don't Get All Into A PS3 Linux Frenzy

OK, so the PS3 announcement mentioned that the HDD would include Linux. So, I know what some of you are thinking:

- You'll be able to run GIMP off your PS3
- You'll be able to hack your PS3 Tivo style
- You'll be able to run a web server off your PS3
- Multiplayer PS3 Doom!


So on and so forth. And who knows ... you might be right. It would be nice. Just remind yourself that "running Linux" just means "utilizes parts of an open source OS to do what it needs". Until someone actually gets one in their hands and can deliver some real info about it - I would assume that it just means the HDD has some preloaded software which uses Linux to handle the interface. It's Sony and my money is that the PS3 won't be any more hackable than the PSP.

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Stay Alive - Video Game Horror Movie - Interview

A horror movie that stars Frank "Cody Banks" Muniz? The creators try to explain themselves:

It’s like, if we can set the stage and plant something into the subconscious mind of the audience, their own sick imaginations might create something far more frightening than anything we may have introduced on screen. That means every person in the audience can have their own uniquely horrific interpretation of that special violent moment. In the end, we truly believe we’ve pushed the PG-13 rating to its limits. To compare Stay Alive to a movie like When a Stranger Calls would be like comparing South Park to Charlie Brown.
-- INT:Brent/Peterman

Right. It all makes sense now.

Frank Muniz? Really? Thank god for Silent Hill.

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Dell Denies Alienware Rumor

I had no idea that the Alienware rumor originated from Voodoo PC SEO Paul Sood. Dell tells the blogosphere that means we should all take it with a grain of sand while Alienware repeats their "we shall not speaketh of rumors speculated" speech. Dell also insists their machines are cool and fast.

Which, Dell, isn't the kind of thing you should have to insist...

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CNN Money On PS3 Delay

Sony finally admitted to what everyone already knew ... don't go waiting for the PlayStation 3 over the summer, it's now not due out till November. Although we go get a "near" simultaneous release fo Japan, North America and Europe. Which is nice.

CNN Money lays down the quotes:

"(The delay) is negative news, but it was expected," said Mitsubishi UFJ Securities analyst Hirotoshi Murakami.

"The launch date is before the Christmas shopping season, so it is avoiding the worst scenario," he said, adding that some analysts had speculated the PS3 would not hit the market until next year.

Toshiaki Nishimura, senior analyst at Yasuda Asset Management, said he believed the delay was likely to have a short-term impact on earnings.

"Because game sales are a big source of earnings for Sony...and because the release is being pushed back by half a year, this is likely to drag earnings in the first half of next year below the market consensus," Nishimura said.

The market expects Sony to post an operating profit of ¥167.04 billion in the business year from April, according to a consensus estimate of 19 analysts compiled by Reuters Estimates.

KBC analyst Hiroshi Kamide said the delay of the PS3 also bodes ill for Japanese software developers, many of whom rely on PlayStation's popularity to drive revenues.

"There's nothing in the first half of the year, and the install base in the second half will be so small it will have no material impact for earnings at all," he said. "This is going to be a horrendous year."

Kutaragi blamed the delay on the belated finalization of the copy protection technology standard for the Blu-ray Disc drive, a next-generation DVD player that will be included in the PS3.
-- Sony's PS3 game console delayed

Doesn't sound too disastrous, unless it slips to 2007 and misses this holiday season. It's hard to say how much of a lead the 360 will get ... especially since I still haven't seen one anywhere but a Best Buy kiosk.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Unreal Flash

I can't try this out right now for like, so many reasons, but Wired's Table of Malcontents describes Unreal Flash as 3-D shooter without the "3-D" and "first person" parts. Excellent. Wait, huh?

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Thanks To Jack Thompson

Matt Sakey over at IGDA as a few kind words for Jack, and all the nice things he's done for games. Seriously brilliant and honest stuff there. And thanks to Brinstar for linking to it.

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Jack's Back

Jack Thompson's entry has been restored to the Wikipedia with more or less the same information before BatJack attacked, with the edit that some of the more colorful sections (like Jack's whacked out violent "satirical" fantasy video game) have been moved to seperate pages. Jack's failure to bring video games to trial is in pretty clear black and white, however.

So, as predicted, Jack's emtpy legal threats have met with their usual conclusion.

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Netflix Goes HD-DVD

DVD rental powerhouse Netflix will now allow you to select HD-DVD as a format option, which is excellent since there are essentially no HD-DVD movies out yet and nobody has a player to support them.

Gold Farmer Documentary

Apparently a UCSD (University of California At SunnyDale? No?) student is putting together a documentary on the phenomena of virtual gold farming, and you can peruse the preview via youtube (via the truck and barter blog which found it on terra nova).

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Torque Book Deal

Garage Games has inked a deal to get some books about Torque onto bookseller shelves. About time. I wonder how much source code will be included, since they're notorious about keeping portions of licensed code visible only to licensees (as a Torque 2D owner, there are still large portions of their site I can't enter).

Still, Torque is good people and the more documentation the better.

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$7,000 Quad SLI Voodoo PC

Featuring four NVIDIA GeForce graphics processing units (GPUs), a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 FX-60 processor, and Voodoo’s F5 Liquid Cooling System with Silent Phase radial fans. Features four GPUs from the newly announced NVIDIA GeForce® 7900 Series with an ASUS nForce 4 SLI motherboard – making the OMEN Quad SLI one of the fastest gaming PCs on the market. With the four NVIDIA GPUs working together to form one image, users will experience extreme high definition resolutions up to 2560x1600 along with the smoothest frame rates possible when playing today’s newest games. In addition, support for a new 32x antialiasing mode along with 16x anisotropic filtering enables dazzling visuals and superior image quality for a truly extraordinary gaming experience.
-- VoodooPC Introduces the OMEN Quad SLI Desktop PC

Seven grand? I would have to be a one rich mofo to spend seven large on a gaming rig when:

A) That would pay off my car, with change to spare
B) My cheap ($300-$500) rig plays Call of Duty 2 just fine, thank you
C) You could get like, a really cool Xbox 360 bundle.

Do people really spend this much on a single computer primarily designed for games? I used to think $3,000 was over the top.

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Chef Will Not Make Sweet Love To South Park Anymore

Isaac Hayes has left the stage which is the quiet little town of South Park.

Apparently Hayes is a Scientologist and didn't take kindly to the show illustrating just how much insanity that religion contains.

Can Electronics Arts ... Change?

According to Business Week, they'll have to:

But now EA is stumbling, and a big part of its time-tested strategy is about to change. The company hopes that its next mega-franchise will revolve not around a football star, a boy wizard, or a dashing British spy, but...a microbe. The game is called Spore. Developed by Will Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, it lets players design an invertebrate in its primordial stages and then guide its evolution until the creature's offspring develop into a thriving civilization with cities, religion, and spaceships. EA's ambitious goal is to create more such innovative, internally developed games while lessening the company's dependence on professional sports and Hollywood movie franchises.
-- Electronic Arts: A Radical New Game Plan

I still remember the Electronic Arts days of the M.U.L.E., Adventure Construction Set and of course ... Dr. J and Larry Bird Go One on One. If giants like EA are forced to create more innovative games ... what will it do to the market? The indies? All the snarky jokes?

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Jack Thompson Threatens Wikipedia

Not just Wikipedia, it seems ... but anyone who edited his page. Apparently Jack didn't like what was said about him at Wikipedia so he started to change it. Nobody can seem to find a transcript of his changes, but Cathode Tan scientists used prediction models to determine it probably said "I am the hand of God to smack down stooopid gamers!!!!" ... fifty times in a row. The Wikipedians didn't like that, so they started editing it back ... and Jack threatened to sue them all unless things went his way.

It's amazing, how everything BatJack turns into the logical equivalent of debating with a three year old. Currently the Wikipedians have taken the page down to sort everything out. Cathode Tan Labs predict it will go thusly: 1) Wikipedia does an extensive fact check 2) Wikipedia replaces Jack's page with one more or less like it was before and 3) Jack remembers he never actually wins a case that goes to trial ... takes ball home.

The wiki discussion on the whole thing is a hoot, though with gems like:

Why is someone deleting my update re: GTA lawsuit?"It is widely believed that the most refereshing activity on the planet is kicking Jack Thompson in the balls." Amusing... but no. Removed. --GarageBay9 09:13 July 26


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Some Guild Wars Factions Previewage

Guild Wars players should head over to Clamatius' place for updates on Faction skills for Prophecies characters and coverage of the pre-release party. Rock on.

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Miami Herald Fears Bully

25 to Life is like, already, so old news. I mean, why limit scaring the general public about games which have been released? Kotaku found that the Miami Herald has gone back to the well to drum up some fears about Rockstar's Bully ... easily the most hated game nobody has ever played:

A board committee unanimously approved his resolution Thursday, and the full board is expected to vote Wednesday. If it's approved, Miami-Dade's would be the first major school system in the country to take sides against Bully, according to Jack Thompson, a Coral Gables attorney.

''The goal is to make it such a negative thing that the retailers won't carry it,'' Thompson said. ``This thing hasn't really reached critical mass as a [public relations] problem yet; that's what I'm trying to do.''

Bullying and video-game violence have been hot issues in public education, and the new game captures the passions of both. Numerous South Florida incidents have personalized questions of teenage violence. A then-14-year-old Michael Hernandez is charged with the 2004 killing of classmate Jaime Gough in the bathroom of Southwood Middle School, and three Broward County teenagers have been charged with murder and attempted murder for attacks on homeless men this year.

''As I've championed and the board has unanimously supported measures improving student safety, it becomes more and more apparent that some external factors impact it,'' Bolaños said.


But a reporter who saw parts of the game previewed last spring said it was hardly a ''Columbine simulator,'' as Thompson put it, referring to the 1999 killing of 12 students and a teacher by two classmates at a Colorado school.

''There are no police chasing you, there's no AK-47s -- this is a game they said they're trying to create as lighthearted and fun,'' said Andy McNamara, Game Informer's editor in chief. ``Anybody who went to high school and was a nerd is familiar with these things.''
-- Secretive new video game might inspire school bullies

Ah, never let facts get in the way of your opinion. Might spoil all the fun. And I love how they call the game "secretive". Like nobody has heard of it, or seen screenshots or anything. Please ... Half-Life 2 was secretive. Bully is unfinished. There's a big difference. And of course Thompson is there, acting like Bully being released into stores will cause the next Columbine. Again, I don't exaggerate when it comes to BatJack. There is no point, the man is walking hyperbole.

Course, the fact that no evidence can show video games have caused any waves of violence or crime or graffiti or heck, probably not even skipping school. Parents - your kids are far more in danger from obesity than video games. Hands down. Maybe these "journalists" and "school board administrators" and "lawyers" don't need to worry about reality and facts ... but you do ... you got a more important job to perform.

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Mario Themes On Two Guitars

Thanks to Tim W for sending in these links. I could only sneak a peek past the old corporate proxy, but what I saw looked sweet ... playing various video game themes with two guitars:

Super Mario Theme

Mario Underground Theme

Final Fantasy Chocobo Theme

Thanks again, Tim.

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Japan To Outlaw Some Video Game Resales

Apparently under the guise of public safety, Japan will be making it illegal to sell certain electronic devices made before April 2001:

Japan's otaku—the moniker given to its legions of nerdy pop-culture obsessives—are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore: the government is trying to outlaw some of their favorite vintage video games. On April 1, Japan's Product Safety of Electrical Appliances and Materials Law (PSE), designed to prevent electrical fires, will prohibit the resale of 259 types of electrical goods made before April 2001—including some of the most coveted video-game machines. "It's stupid," fumes retro gamer Hiroshi Yamano, while shopping at the Super Potato secondhand-game shop in Akihabara, Tokyo's nerd mecca. "Who do they think they are protecting?"
-- Retro Tech, Unplugged

It mentions that Nintendo decks and the Playstations aren't among the outlawed, but I still can't imagine a free country where one isn't allowed to barter their Intellivision in an open market.

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Outsourcing Video Game Development

In four years time, almost half of video game development will be outsourced, so sayeth a study:

Specifically, Screen Digest says that game development expenditures are mostly being shifted to outsourced services providers in Eastern Europe and South Asia. Their report Outsourcing in Next Generation Games Development estimates that the market for games outsourcing will reach $1.1 billion by the end of this year and will grow to $2.5 billion by 2010, which would mean outsourcing would actually represent around 40 percent of total games development expenditure. Although outsourcing is already common today (an estimated 60 percent of studios outsource), Screen Digest expects that figure to reach 90 percent by 2008.

Not surprisingly, Screen Digest points out that this trend has been fueled by the transition to next-gen consoles, the cost of making games for which "threaten to undermine industry profitability." Because of the demand for high-definition visuals and increased art requirements, production costs for making next-gen titles could rise by as much as 50 percent, states the report.
-- Outsourcing: The Quiet Revolution

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I can be difficult to stop

Workplace has, as mentioned previously, locked down about 99% of the mainstream gaming sites and several blogs. Apparently enough people were playing World of Warcraft on the company network to warrant this ... a fact I find a little hard to believe since I don't think anyone has been fired for doing such a thing. And if people were playing these things and not getting fired ... well, hell, I want in on that action.

And yet, it hasn't really stopped me much from reading about gaming news. They can't stop certain RSS aggregators and making random technorati hunts catches up on the rest. Thanks to the "deep" web, I don't need to actually go to Kotaku or IGN to catch up on what they're saying. Fortunately Cathode Tan hasn't grown to a size to be on the radar ... that would kinda suck.

However, I do think it's outright dumb to go through all this trouble to block gaming news, but keep sites like Sports Illustrated out in the open. My brief stint on the server side of things many moons ago taught me that ESPN and SI are enormous bandwidth killers because they're a) hugely popular and b) have high image usage. But I guess we can't trample all over the company betting pool, or something.

There's no real point to this. I'm just venting.

Random Facts About Jack Thompson

For your amusement ( via Breaking Windows). Some are funnier than others. Some, like "Jack Thompson refers to himself in third person because he is a schizophrenic", are simply funny because they're true.

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Samsung Gaming Phone

Phones having the capability to handle 3D graphics aren't terribly new, but Samsung is kicking it up a notch with proper gaming controls:

Via New Launches. Hard to say without holding one, but it seems Samsung did a better design on their first try than Nokia did with their second.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For Writing Interactive Lit

Yeah, that's the kind of quality material on a pre-coffee Sunday morning.

But I'm sitting at the computer and we'll probably hit the gym soon and the The Girl will start using some mental power to get me to help clean something. So right now I've probably got a few free hours which really should be devoted to cleaning up the new form interactive fiction. The actual fiction is like 95% done. I have one page that probably needs a rewrite. Two, I think, two of the endings need to be "wired" to be properly interactive and then there are two or three thing. The hamster effect is starting to dig in, however, as it always does when I can start to see the light at the end of a something.

It's going to take a lot of editing and debugging. I might end up doing some kind of beta program.

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