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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Doctor Who: Zombies, Aliens and Daleks

I've been faithfully catching the new (well, new here in America ... we're at least a season behind the Brits) Doctor Who on Sci Fi. Doctor Who has always had an amazingly unique slant on science fiction and it's great that it's being picked up again and done some justice.

Some of my early reservations were pretty unfounded. Billie Piper actually makes for a pretty amazing companion. She's an excellent balance to the Doctor's personality and a credit to the show. I was a little afraid that on occasion, the show might be a little too cheesy, but while some of the special effects might not be the most splendid ... it's never done a disservice to the show. The writing is an excellent modern parallel to the original serial format and the writers are doing an excellent job of maintaining themes consistent with the orginal. We just watched "The Empty Child" two parter, and it's great example of Doctor Who's ability to mix pulp sci fi with horror and a bit of comedy.

The nods to aspects of the show which have, over time, become icons of Doctor Who ... like:

"Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'I wish that could be more sonic'"

Brilliant. And the Dalek episode? Well, parts of it I thought were a little overdone, but it was largely a delight. I've only disliked one episode - "Father's Day" - but for the most part ... hurrah to the BBC for finally getting this franchise back on course.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Sony's Semantic Problem

Imagine you have a cat and you wanted to buy another cat ... because they'll be more fun to play with if you have two around. You go into the same exact pet store, now several years later, and ask for a cat. The pet store tells you they can sell you a cat, but it's going to be more than twice as much as your last one. Why? Because this cat is unlike any other cat in any other pet store. Damn thing is practically a tiger.

The question is ... do you actually believe him and pay twice as much for a new cat? Or you do you just get one of those cheap rubber balls that Fluffy always finds damn hilarious? What feature is this new cat going to have to convince you of its tigerishness.

Sony justifies it's $600 price tag by insisting they aren't really selling a game console per se but a home entertainment machine unlike any other. Sure, it's still called a Playstation and it's primary function will likely be games ... but well ... just buy it and find out?

How do they see this possibly working? What really makes it "unlike" any other home entertainment machine? Great graphics? No, that's virtually every launch in console history. Cutting edge media player? Sorry, PS2 was already there. Home media server? Xbox. Xbox 360. Online integration and networking? Again, Xbox. Xbox 360.

What Sony means, really, is Blu-Ray. But it's really just the same trick as the PS2 in a new Sunday dress. Sure, there's plenty of possibilities with the emergence of digital media ... but that's also true of every Xbox, PC and Mac on the market right now. Maybe if the PSP had become the new iPod or maybe if the next gen format wars wouldn't be so contested or maybe if the PS3 really had some hidden feature nobody had done before.

None of this means Sony is doomed. Far from it. Actually, if anything, we're seeing a far more divided console market in the new generation. While I can't imagine any of this is going to cause major shakeups, it's certainly more interesting than three consoles of almost identical price and feature.

But still, I'll stick with the cat I have for now.

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Weird Spam

Life itself is a misery and nobody can tell waht can be of it. Those that can tell what can be of it are those who cannot tell us because they are far from us (dead). if u will want to hear my story.
-- "In His Service"

Dear golly, I can only hope this is a rabbithole for some ubercool ARG.

But it's probably just another Nigerian Scam trailhead instead...

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Why Peter Moore Isn't News

I know it's somewhat hypocritical to cite a quote I'm terribly tired of seeing myself, but I can't quite rant about it without doing so:

Tell me why you would buy a $600 PS3? People are going to buy two (machines.) They're going to buy an Xbox and they're going to buy a Wii ... for the price of one PS3...
-- Microsoft's Peter Moore

#1 - He works for Microsoft. Did we expect him to say he was going to run out and buy one?

#2 - The "good", or decently bundled, version of the 360 costs $500. That's not exactly cheap itself. Why would I buy a $600 PS3? Why would I buy a $500 360? Oh right! I saved $100. That will buy two ... no wait 360 games cost $60 ... one extra game. Gee, thanks Mr. Peter Moore. Clearly, Microsoft's pricing structure is far and removed from Sony's.

#3 - Can I borrow Moore's crystal ball that tells him the Wii will only cost $99? Because that's how cheap it will be before I would decide to get both a 360 and a Wii instead of one PS3. Last rumor was the Wii costing $250. The cheapest I can find the 360 right now is a core for $450. $450 + $250 = $700. Or you know, more than $600.

Hey Microsoft: your console is damned expensive too. People aren't going to buy a 360 and a Wii simply so that they can blow even more money. Wow honey, after spending several hundred on this one toy and all it's peripherals ... I believe I shall spend a couple hundred more to have another one laying around. Yeah, that will go over well. Personally, I'll probably just get a Wii, some games and I dunno ... a nice steak dinner. A steak dinner is a lot better than having to send your console back when it overheats and dies anyway.

So in short ... what the Microsoft uber-evangelist has to say about a competitor is rarely ever all that important. Or sometimes even moderately realistic.

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Spector Gives Indies "Ugly Truth"

A panel of independent developers delivered a sobering reality check to aspiring game creators at the E3 expo in Los Angeles on Wednesday, warning those who harbor dreams of producing a game with a small team and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars from a big deal with Electronic Arts.

“You have a zero percent chance of success,” said Warren Spector, a game industry veteran and the current president of Junction Point Studios, a company that develops games for consoles and PCs. “The barrier to entry in terms of cost, quality required, access to a market… forget it.”
-- Indie Game Devs: ‘Forget It’

It's important to note that Warren is speaking specifically here of jumping the gap from small indie title to massive big hair hollywood style game, not an indictment of indies as a whole. Not really surprising, all in all ... the biggest bridges for indies right now are the marketplaces Microsoft, Nintendo and perhaps Sony are laying out for the next generation to be online delivery systems for cheaper titles. It's not the same as producing Halo 3 perhaps, but it allows small teams to approach similar demographics as the big publishers.

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Washington Post Says Wii "Steals Show"

new Wii video game console, considered the underdog in the console wars because it lacks the high-definition graphics and multimedia features of its rivals, is stealing the show at this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show.

The wait to try out the Wii at E3 pushed past four hours on Thursday afternoon, while the wait for hands-on time with Sony Corp.'s (6758.T) PlayStation 3 was barely 30 minutes. Both consoles will hit the market later this year, though the Wii is expected to cost much less than rival consoles.
-- Nintendo's Wii steals show at expo

I think more than anything this might underscore one of the Wii's key strengths: quicker, cheaper development time. Nintendo is readying an excellent launch library for the Wii ... something which is pretty rare among consoles. If it goes to plan it will feature a mix of party, shooter and sports titles as well as classic franchises like a certain plumber. This is a far cry from the Nintendo 64 launch which basically just had Mario.

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Hands On With Enemy Territory, Jade Empire, Mercenaries 2

ExtremeTech sat down with some upcoming games:

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

To be honest, the game needs a little work. The structure is as follows: Two competing teams fight in multiple-objective maps, and then the maps string together to form a sort of online campaign. There are different classes (medics, engineers, heavy gunner types, and so on). All that stuff works fine. The map is informative and clear, the weapons seem satisfying. The problems the game has right now are twofold. First, the two sides are not visually different enough to tell friend from foe at a glance. Both the humans and Strogg side are outfitted in shades of brown and grey that made me have to put my crosshair over each person and look at the color of their health bar to see if I should shoot. This is less of a problem in a game that is slightly slower-paced like Battlefield 2, but the speed is ratcheted up a few notches here, and you need to clearly tell the teams apart. And within each team, it's hard to quickly visually tell apart the different classes

Jade Empire (PC)
Jade Empire is really what you'd expect from a good Xbox-to-PC port. It runs at higher resolutions, of course, and I was told that they're "looking into" widescreen support. Let's hope they add it. The conversion is being handled by the developers at Grey Matter, while Bioware is doing quality assurance and adding some new content. The new content isn't dramatic—there are no new areas to explore, added characters or quests, that sort of thing. I was told, "our story was complete, and if we added anything, it would feel tacked on." Comparisons were made to Star Wars re-releases. Fair enough. There are a couple of new fighting styles, though. One is based on sumo wrestling; the other is a snake style. Textures are upgraded to a higher resolution, and there are some added and upgraded effects. Still, the system requirements are low: 256MB of RAM, a 1.8GHz processor, and a GeForce 3 are all that's needed.

Mercenaries 2
The game is early but it's already quite playable, and it looks fun. The key feature of the first game was that you could blow up or destroy absolutely anything. That is still true, but a key new technology is something Pandemic refers to as "playing with fire." Basically, if it looks flammable, it probably is. To demonstrate this to me, they shot up an oil tanker. Oil poured out of the bullet holes and flowed realistically downhill using the Havok 3.0 physics system. A quick grenade and the oil lit, burned up to the tanker, and made it explode. Hijacking vehicles is a little more elaborate, too—you have to play a short button-pressing mini-game to hijack something really cool like a tank or helicopter.

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Wii Is DVD Quality

Great article on N Seven about how all the crowing about HDTV and the fact that the Wii isn't following suit with it is really much ado about nothing:

One of the largest misconceptions about the Nintendo Wii is that games will look terrible due to the lack of high-definition television support. Other console makers have consistantly based their graphical superiority on the "HD" aspect of the output. However, despite the fact that Wii does not output an HD-quality image, it still displays an impressive picture exactly as good as a widescreen DVD.
-- Graphics on Nintendo Wii: As good as the very best of DVD (digg it)

It's fairly extensive and well worth the full read. Personally, I'm likely to be moving into a condo in the next few months and so any aspirations of getting an HD ready television this year (or possibly next) have probably evaporated. Maybe the rest of the world is shopping for HDMI cables, but I'll still be on S-Video for a while.

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Rockstar Vienna Closes

This morning, as I came into work, I was greeted by security guards. It turned out Take-Two has closed their Rockstar Vienna office, effective immediately, "due to the challenging environment facing the video game business and our Company during this platform transition".

This is the first time in 15 years that I've been laid off, or have had the place where I work shut down. Before now, I have always seen the writing on the wall in time and have gotten out before anything drastic happened. So this is kind of a new experience for me.

This being Europe, I am not going to be living under a bridge tomorrow, but nevertheless this is a big upheaval. As far as I know, Rockstar Vienna was the biggest game development studio in Germany and Austria, with over a hundred employees.

Many of my coworkers - those with families and houses, those with roots in Vienna, those who invested many years of their lives in this company, those who moved here from abroad - are in difficult positions. There are few game development companies in Vienna. In the last year or so, several have let people go, merged or closed down. One hundred people will not easily find new jobs in the games business here.
-- Rockstar Vienna closes its doors

Well, that's a happy friday. I hate the MBA types who think that firing people with no notice is a "clean and efficient" method of management. "Low and cowardly" is how we refer to it around here. Low and cowardly.

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Clearing Up E3

Already, the mumblevine is starting to get things wrong from E3. Let's try to set a few things straight.

The PS3 Controller Is Not The Wii-mote
As Brin has also pointed out, the PS3 controller may have tilt-sensitivity ... but that's not the same thing as the Wii's ability to determine location in 3D space. Very, very different in fact. And it's kinda funny to read all of the hooplah about how "Sony didn't steal the gyro from Nintendo, but from Microsoft/Logitech" when that's really missing the point completely. They're different controllers completely.

Grand Theft Auto IV is not 360 exclusive
Rockstar has already announced the title will be on both the 360 and the PS3. The "exclusive" portion of their contract with Microsoft is only for specific episodic content on the 360. Or maybe they'll pull a Bethesda and you can pay $5 for cool rims. Who knows?

I'm sure there will be more later.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

E3 On Flickr

For those of us in the cheap seats, Flickr has erupted forth with E3 goodness.

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Dear Kotaku

Microsoft. Hates. Sony.

We get it. Actually, we already knew it. Three posts about it during E3 coverage? Not really necessary.


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Decent Next Gen Console Overview

The Detroit Free Press has a next-gen console overview which is free of fanboism and relatively accurate.

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Da Vinci Code Quest In Review

Yesterday was the last day for Google's Da Vinci Code Quest. Essentially it was one flash puzzle a day and each puzzle was one of five types. There was a suduko style symbol puzzle, pairing objects only one space apart to get them down to one object, a jigsaw puzzle geoquiz, fitting square objects into minute space (presented like hanging canvas paintings), multiple choice (presented like chess) and an observation test based on google hosted videos (promos for the movie).

Of the players, the first 10,000 to finish will become finalists. Now, 10,000 might seem like a lot but it really, really, really is not. Not when you are talking about web traffic the size of google. It's like a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the audience for this thing. I finished the last puzzle, a relatively simple observation test, about ten minutes after it appeared on the net ... and I don't think I got in. You probably had to do it in more like 3 since anyone who paid attention to the book probably knew two of three questions without even referring to the video. I almost did ... and I haven't even read the book.

Actually, several of the puzzles seemed way too easy for a company which likes to challenge people with coding contests and the such. The last suduko puzzle was very difficult and so was the last canvas challenge. Both of those took more like an afternoon, but every other one took about 10-15 minutes at the most. The last puzzle was actually one of the easiest which really kinda killed the build up to the final day (but I'm guessing they wanted to end with a promo trailer).

It was kinda fun, all in all. My only big complaint is that Sony doesn't send you a confirmation that your registration went through ... or my registration didn't go through ... gee now I'll never know. Even if I had made the finals, though, I'm not sure winning the grand prize ... a bunch of items totalling over $128k ... would be. I'm trying to imagine the taxes on all the stuff.

UPDATE: The confirmation is out, but you won't get it via email. If players go to the widget on the google page that they used to access the puzzles, it will say if you're a finalist (or thank you for playing). I didn't make it. From what I can scan, the finalists answered the three questions and filled out the form in about two minutes.

Seriously, they should have made it a lot harder. All of that thinking pretty much resulted in a quick footrace at the end. The final puzzle is also time based. Finalist have to solve five more puzzles (same types, I assume) as quickly as possible between May 19th and May 21st.

The final confirmation image looks like this, for the curious.

Update Update: There was eventually an email ... although it came fairly late compared to the widget ... and twice ... and I don't think ever copped up to if you made the finals or not...

Update to the update: Apparently I'm a finalist after all. I'm a bit confused by that, since the widget made it sound like "thanks for playing" and, well, I already deleted it from my homepage.

So some of you might still be getting an email in your inbox.

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Lost: No, Seriously ?

Jebus, where to start about last night's episode?

I guess the centerpiece is the revelation of the Pearl Station. Dr. Candle returns, but with a different name and the use of both limbs. The fact that he hasn't lost an arm makes me think that this tape might be earlier than the Swan video, before stuff started to go to hell. The fact that he is using a different name makes me think that the whole thing is completely dodgy and nobody is brought to the island with a full understanding of what is going on.

Clearly the mindgame aspect of the island just went up a couple of notches. Remember - even Pearl Station had a camera in it, so it's likely their behavior was just as monitored as the rest. There's some chatter on forums that different numbers were showing up on the logs, suggesting that perhaps each hatch has a different set of numbers assigned to it (and maybe why the numbers were printed on the Swan hatch). The numbers could, in theory, be a way the Others track potential recruits via remote viewing. Instead of look all around the globe, they find instances of certain number patterns and see who keeps showing up.

Claire's psychic shows up here as an admitted fake. Course, perhaps he had more to do with his daughter's resurrection than he cares to admit ... considering the odd healing abilities of the island. I'm betting he works for DHARMA off the island, helping ferry in potentials. It is, after all, his refusal of the "miracle" that gets Ecko on the plane. His daughter "seeing" his brother just links her to the island that much more.

But there is still the ... why? What's up with the Cult of Hanso? Let's say the button does nothing. So they track people all around the world and arrange to dump them all on the same beach to ... push a meaningless button? How very nihilistic. All we know for sure is that the hatchies are made to "believe they are doing something very important". Locke and Ecko are examples here ... Locke feels duped and wants to give up. Ecko is convinced the island is wildly important and wants to keep going. Service in the name of service, or something.

Next week, Michael's lies will likely catch up to him and we see more about how the Others actually operate. Also, a big bright light apparently shocks everyone. My wild guess? They witness another crash (shiny thing = plane going down). And it probably looks pretty revealing from the beach side of things.

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Wired Visits Modern Arcade

"I think I'm gonna throw up," I blurt. I'm standing in the middle of the Halfpipe, three adjacent 20-foot screens bursting with a dizzying 160-degree panorama of the first-person shooter Halo 2. As the soldier on the display crisscrosses the rugged terrain of an alien world, my legs begin to wobble and I have to sit down. "Sometimes when we do demos, I look at the person next to me and see their head down as they try not to vomit," laughs Torrey McPheters, my guide and the director of gaming technology for Holodek, an arcade in Hampton, New Hampshire.
-- Welcome to the Videodrome

Arcades have suffered, let's face it. For some time now, my visits to Dave & Busters have been for nothing more than playing pool. A lot of games these days are pure coin suckers which are really not all that much fun to play. Light gun, fighting and racing games which just cost way to much to excel at when a PlayStation 2 sits at home for free.

When I was young though ... arcades were the cutting edge. They had the games nobody could have at home. They had stuff like Dragon's Lair or cockpits or whatnot. These days, they seem so blah. They're going to need things like the Halfpipe, internet connectivity, better coop, etc., just to stay alive.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Metal Gear Solid, Halo 3 E3 Vids

Metal Gear Solid 4 and Halo 3 teaser vids (again, youtube). Not much to see really, other than "hey guess what, they're making another Metal Gear Solid and Halo". Raiden looked way creepier than one would expect though.

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EA's Playstation 3 Video

Also on youtube. It's actually kinda interesting since it shows of some of the procedural animation EA will be using in their sports titles.

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Wii E3 Promo Vid

On YouTube.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Another PS3 thought...

If Sony wanted a low end version for easier adoption, why not drop the HD completely, keep the Wifi and Card Reader, make it HDMI via an adaptor and then drop the price to something more like $299 or $349?

As it is, the "low end" is still damn expensive and so won't attract anyone looking to save some cash. Who is out buying electronics at $500 a widget and thinking about saving cash? My guess is that as soon as the production lowers the cost for the PS3 a little, that "low end" version will go the way of the dodo.

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Times On The Wii Controller

I only got to play the new Metroid on the Wii for about 10 minutes, but I have to say that it was the first time I have ever felt like a console shooter was giving me something close to that mouse-and-keyboard experience. Twisting and turning the entire right-hand controller scrolled the view left and right, up and down, like a traditional mouselook. The A and B buttons on the right-hand controller fired and jumped, respectively. Meanwhile, the analog stick on the left controller moved me forward and back and allowed me to strafe left and right without changing my bearing, just like keyboard WSAD controls. The entire effect was completely intuitive for a PC gamer like me and felt like a real step beyond dual analog-stick controls.
-- Hands-On Time With Wii From Nintendo

I haven't seen anything but raves from E3 about the "Wii-mote". The games sound pretty interesting. It's inexpensive enough to get on my shopping list this year.

It's so entirely possible Nintendo outsmarted Microsoft and Sony with this generation.

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X-Men Scribe On Game And Movie

Zak Penn has written for X-Men United and the upcoming X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as the upcoming video game tie-in. Superhero Hype caught up with him and sat him down:

SHH!: Do you think that the next generation of consoles such as Xbox 360 and PS3 will be able to offer enough quality that maybe it can bring the same level of emotions?

Penn: I think video games are going to try, and it would be cool if they succeed, but I'm not sure that there isn't something intrinsically bound up in story telling, in traditional story telling, that is not reachable in something that also has to be playable. Here's the thing, in a video game, no matter what they say, the main character is you. You start to become the character. Inherently, it's a different experience when you watch a movie. You don't become Wolverine if you are watching "X-Men: The Last Stand," and I think that the separation does something. As video games provide some sort of visceral first person experience, where you the player are the main character, you will always have a difficult time getting the same emotion out of it, as you would in a movie.
-- Zak Penn on the New X-Men Game & Movie

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Wired On The "Crippled" Version Of The PS3

If you go in for the $499 PS3, you don't get the much-vaunted Memory Stick/SD Card/CompactFlash inputs. Hell, you don't even get IEEE 802.11 wireless.

And worst of all: you don't get HDMI output. Know what that means? You can't watch Blu-Ray movies. Sure, you can watch them in standard definition. But not HD. Isn't that, like, the whole point?

This just made Microsoft's $299 Core Pack look like a genius idea. At least it's possible to upgrade an Xbox Core. I don't know what kind of arcane magick will have to be executed to give a crippled PS3 actual functionality.
-- Okay, PS3 Has Serious Issues

They are all odd exclusions. The card reader? That's what ... $30 retail? It might not be the worst thing to pass up on, if it was expensive. Removing it just makes Sony look cheap. Wireless? This simply makes Sony look dated. Not placing wifi on any box they can hints that they might not be maximizing their online offering as much as they'd like us to think they are. Maybe they can be replaced with handy add-ons ... but it just seems daft.

The HDMI? Removing that seems to have three results: 1) Those of us who don't own an HDTV and aren't going to get one just for the PS3 will wonder why we even need Blu-Ray in the first place. 2) Those of us who own an HDTV with HDMI won't even consider it. 3) Those of us who might get an HDTV down the way will regret not having the option later.

I'm assuming there's an excellent business reason for this, but it seems like one model with a 40GB drive and all the features for $550 would have been a better solution than dividing up the brand.

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Bite Me Blogspot

Blogger has been going down like a nancy all day. Someone replace the damn hamster.

Seriously, I thought this place was like owned by Google or something? Gets kinda pathetic sometimes. I'd blame the silly work proxy, but it's just this domain freaking out.

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Playstation 3 Wikipedia Hack

Har har. Found via Dark Zero. Corrected already.

This controller war, it has begun. People will be kavitching about it until June, for sure. If I recall correctly, Microsoft already discussed prototypes along the same lines, so this isn't all that shocking.

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Ode to E3

Clearly, this would be a bad E3 to miss. Thankfully us lookee-loos can just ogle and RSS feeds. They're throwing out some real zingers.

Playstation 3 for $499/$599
Sony said it would be expensive and they kept their word. The $499 model with a 20GB hard drive is going to have to contend with Microsoft's $399 with precisely the same size drive. Sony is going to have to prove their case that the console is worth the extra cash. This and the fact that it will undoubtably be in low supply and forced into even more expensive bundles at launch (just like the 360 and PSP was) means fewer early adopters for Sony this year.

Update: I guess the low end PS3 has no wifi ... and no memory card slots? That's potentially beyond idiotic. Update update: Not sure if it's no card slots or fewer ... but either way it's dumb.

PS3 Goes The Way Of Wii
So the new PS3 controller will look quite like the PS2 controller but be able to have gyroscopic control somewhat like the Wii controller. I haven't had time to look at the videos, but I'm guessing the experience won't be quite like the Wii. For one thing, Nintendo very intentionally designed their new controller to be simpler and less scary - a distinction that shouldn't be overlooked.

It's kinda fascinating though. Where Nintendo innovates, others follow. Rumble, analog, shoulder buttons, gyroscopes, whatever. It would not be a surprise if Microsoft releases a "gyro enabled" controller later this year. People have, quite inaccurately, been predicting the death of Nintendo for years now. They better hope they stay wrong, otherwise the console world will clearly become a duller place.

Microsoft confirms USB HD-DVD for the 360
No real surprise, obviously. This is more of a boon for Toshiba and the HD-DVD franchise than anyone else, as they hope that 360 buyers will opt into the format even if they look to bypass yet another expensive toy. Sony is possibly betting that their Blu-Ray support will help justify the extra cost of a PS3.

More later. Still won't be in poem format.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Business Meetings In Virtual Space

Chatsubo is a an island on Second Life for business meetings and part of that online world being developed specifically for corporate interests. This doesn't really seem too future tech to me, when I first started getting into web development I designed, but never got developed, an MUD style interface which would essentially be a virtual office place. I remember reading about people considering Quake mods to do essentially the same thing. Wasn't really feasible at the time, because nobody wants to get that removed from their normal groupware, but in this day and age of AJAX, simple IM, Skype and teleconferencing ... why not? I've had impromptu work meetings over IM in the past. It's not suitable for every kind of transaction, sure, but as long as nobody gets all in a fuss and goes fragging their boss ... why not?

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Real Life Gaming

The Girl and I have been condo shopping for a few weeks now.

For those who haven't experienced this yet ... let me tell you - it's relatively nightmarish. At least in this day and age where you are about as likely to hear the word "housing bubble" as much as "Baghdad" on the news. Last night, a friend of ours compared it to trying to get a website built in 1999. Suddenly everyone's an expert and nobody is a professional.

It's a total game. You have to piece together clues just to figure out what you might want. None of the realty sites want to give you a clear and honest picture of what's going. The Girl and I regularly use up to three different websites just to determine is a place is viable to get viewing. And that's not like one for a map and another one for tax info or anything ... three sites just to get information about the property itself. Simply because no one site decided all the info was worth putting up there.

The banks will try to skin you alive. They'll try convince you that actually you could spend another fifty grand or so ... if you just would look at this balloon loan. The realtors seem to have made a business by doing as little work as possible. One of our Saturday viewings the realtor showed up late, half-awake, and couldn't even properly answer all of our questions. For ten minutes of his time, this guy could have a lead which might make him thousands. But apparently that's too much effort.

And he's not alone. We've had countless questions go unanswered or phone calls unreturned. After we told Lending Tree that we weren't using their offered realtor because they never called us back ... we got an automated form e-mail telling us they'd be happy to talk to us. So happy, they still can't pick up the phone.

It's frustrating just like the thief or wizard from Zork is frustrating. Silly little villain; but still you carry on.

We've got one place we rather like and are quite possibly going to move forward on, provided I don't lose all my life in a boss battle with the loan agent I'm about to call.

All of this real life gaming has left precious little time for normal gaming. Thomas and I finally had our STOB match. While he graciously called the game close ... I would say he rather trounced me at 7-1. I got an early frag with the magmaul but I couldn't keep control of the rather precious health powerup in the middle, and it eventually got brutal. Still, it was a ton of fun and I need to get more time in the week for Metriod battles. The Girl and I were in the middle of Lawrence of Arabia (right around the part where he is riding in the desert I think) ... otherwise I would have tried my luck again.

So anyway, if I'm not around so much this week ... I'm probably doing battle with escrow.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Terrorist Mods "Hoax"?

This is interesting. I'm not sure "hoax" is the right word or just major mainstream media Nelson "ha ha":

The video the retarded writer is referring to is not made by terrorists. It was made by a member of the Planetbattlefield forums. The voice of in the video is not a terrorist - it is Trey Parker from the movie Team America World Police. The article also claims it is a mod created by terrorist. It is not a mod. It is the Special Forces Expansion pack that anyone can buy.

I didn't really have much to say on that AP story about "terrorist mods". Largely because I wasn't sure what the fuss was about. There tons of hate crime and religiously fanatic games and mods out there ... just like there's hate metal or whatnot. If there's a substantial audience, someone will make it. The fact that it gives knuckleheads like Yee and Thompson something else to talk about ... well ... at least it's something real to talk about, unlike misleading stastics and non-existent crime.

So the idea of it being a "hoax" didn't really cross my mind. The line "I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters" is indeed from Team America, so I'm willing to buy it. By hoax I mean some reporter so badly wanted it to be true that they didn't bother to think or check on it. So reporting about video games may have hit a new low. A new truly idiotic low.

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