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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Remember 640k

And then keep reading.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Wei-Hwa's Puzzle Challenge #1 (and solution)

The post code quest widget (sorry, Google doesn't seem to make it easy to see what the widget URL is) for puzzle challenges was updated with "Using the numbers 3, 3, 8, 8 (in any order), make a mathematical expression that equals 24. You can use only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (and parentheses), but in any order you wish."

It's hardcore math geek stuff. Not really my cup of tea. If you're absolutely crazy stuck and you want to give up ... the solution is here. I swear I was this close ....

For those who wind up here just looking for a clue and not the solution, I'll just say that it requires crazy creative division.

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Close Encounters With Alternate Realities

Someone on a Lost Forum thought "Widmore" was spelled "Wildmore" and dug up the name of a company which it seems the company I work for is doing some business with.

One letter away from being part of the Hanso conspiracy.

The Video Game Law Compromise

Joystiq covers this well in illustrating that the new line in the sand between video game advocates and lawmakers would seem to be sex and not violence. Ah, how wonderfully puritanically American. So if you want to fine people for selling sexy games to minors, that's OK to the old ESA.

Granted, it is an easier pill to swallow. For one thing, lawmakers have been trying for a while to label violent games with pornography as "obscene" ... so this is at least in line with their public concerns while drawing similar boundaries to existing laws concerning pornography. The industry could really care less because Adults Only games aren't sold in mainstream channels anyway. The poor sub-minimum wage cashier at Wal-Mart isn't reallly responsible for reading the back of a game for the parent because it will never be a conflict. In terms of a compromise, this is one that does virtually nothing and makes everyone look good.

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Excellent Samus Statue

From PeSa's photostream

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"Dead In Iraq" Online Game Protest

Found this via the lovely Keith Stuart over at the Guardian Games Blog:

This work commenced in March of 2006, to roughly coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the start of the Iraq conflict. I enter the online US Army recruiting game, "America's Army", in order to manually type the name, rank and date of death of each service person who has died to date in Iraq. The work is essentially a fleeting, online memorial to those military personnel who have been killed in this ongoing conflict. My actions are also intended as a cautionary gesture.

I enter the game using as my login name, "dead-in-iraq" and proceed to type the names using the game's text messaging system. As is my usual practice when creating such an intervention, I am a neutral visitor as I do not particate in the proscribed mayhem. Rather, I stand in position and type until I am killed. Upon being re-incarnated I continue to type.

As of 5/25/06 , I have input 505 names. I intend to keep doing so until the end of this war. As of 5/25/06 there have been 2,460 American service persons killed in Iraq. (source -
-- dead-in-iraq

More details on the War and Videogames blog.

Personally, I'm a bit mixed here. I'm not a big fan of the war in Iraq. I had to put up with being called crazy when I doubted the existence of WMD's or a rational justification for the war well before we invaded, not to mention people brushing off my worries about the extensive loss to human life it would cause. This includes people from an old Counter-Strike server I used to help admin, some of whom I simply stopped conversing with because I was tired of hearing neoconservative groupthink speak regurgitated into webforums.

Still, honestly, chat spamming is still chat spamming. Chat spamming about the Iraq War in the Army's advergame might be a better than repeating your name in Counter-Strike, but it's still not my favorite thing in the world. I think these names and numbers are important to be put in public places, but I'm not sure it's the most appropriate place to start.

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Video Game Museum

This site supposedly has screenshots from nearly every game ever made, but the work proxy isn't loading it for me.

Ugh, edited out. See coments.

Dutch Gamer And The "Terrorist" BF2 Video

His short movie is based on a popular video game, "Battlefield 2," which usually shows U.S. troops engaging Chinese or Middle Eastern forces.

Samir borrowed part of the soundtrack from a satirical movie, "Team America: World Police," including the words: "As quickly as they had come, the infidels were gone. It was on that day I put a jihad (holy war) on them."

He also added a soundbite from President George W. Bush, days after the September 11 attacks in 2001, in which he described the war on terrorism as a "crusade." The phrase gravely offended many Muslims who took it to mean Bush was calling for a war against Islam.

At the May 4 congressional presentation, lawmakers were told that the video had been posted on militant Web sites designed to encourage youngsters to take up arms against the United States.
-- Dutch gamer finds unwelcome fame with gaming movie

This was a widely reported AP wire story about how video game mods were making their way into militant propaganda, except the whole thing took a turn for the embarrassing when it turned out that the oft quoted phrases in the story were originally written by the same guys responsible for South Park. Apparently the government is still insisting that video is being used on terrorist websites.

Because you know, those crazy kids love to get worked up over images on an American video game with English spoken over it. My understanding is that this is the same format Muqtada al-Sadr is considering ... over you know ... rants in their native language which have gotten so passe.

These guys are getting paid seven million to monitor websites and give reports like this. Clearly (cough cough) money well spent.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lost: Footnotes

Just some rumblings from the peanut gallery. Lots of chatter out there about the finale, including these interesting theories and questions:

The island is located in/within the south pole.
This is obviously due to the final scenes with the cold weather scientists who monitored the new incident (for lack of a better description) and sometimes supported by a polar bear or two. It's being followed up with theories about the island being in a glass sphere, outer space, and my sock drawer.

The latter seems unlikely simply because it possibly violates the producer's statement that everything is scientifically plausible (which a cloaked biodome seems a bit much). The first seems unlikely because were they in the south pole, I think they'd have really long days. Part of me likes the idea of it all being on an asteroid though ... very Phillip Jose Farmer.

One of the scientists is Jack's "Bad Twin"
It's just a couple actors who happen to look alike.

The statue indicates that the Others are aliens or Homer Simpson
I'm guessing the statue is either a red herring or indication of something pre-existing the Others/Dharma. Too soo to tell.

Why those Four?
Lost And Gone Forever pondered the same:

Jack, Kate, and Hurley all had "visions" - but Sawyer didn't (and what about Locke, Eko, etc.?)
Jack, Kate, and Sawyer might be genetically "chosen" based on their physiques - but not Hurley (and what about Sayid, Jin, etc.?)
Jack, Kate, and Sawyer all had "Daddy Issues" - but Hurley didn't (and what about Sun, Jin, etc.?)
Jack, Kate, and Sawyer might be seen as "leaders" - but not Hurley (and what about Sayid, Locke, etc.?)
Jack, Kate, and Sawyer all met "Zeke" - but Hurley didn't (and Locke did)
Jack, Kate, and Hurley all went to the "Black Rock" - but Sawyer didn't (and Locke did)

My only guess ... they've all had encounters with "spirit" animals or people. Jack's dad. Kate's horse. Hurley's Dave (and a bird?). Sawyer's boar (and later ... tree frog). We should also remember Hurley was released, so maybe he wasn't part of the equation. Perhaps these people have more control over the island than they realize.

If Vincent The Dog mysteriously disappears in Season 3, I'll be convinced he wasn't the real Vincent to begin with.

Vaccine this, vaccine that
So if Kelvin wasn't worried about the disease ... and the vaccine is just a placebo to keep the scare on ... why kidnap Claire and inject her fetus with it before trying to steal the baby?

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Lost: Fraught With Peril

About the only thing I didn't like about the season finale of Lost was just how everyone's plan was clearly fraught with peril. Hike across the jungle with a known traitor (and really, it was pretty obvious Mike was up to no good). Sail into the enemy camp when you don't really know how to sail. Blow up a blast door with two sticks of dynamite. Smash up the only computer which controls some mysterious device.

People ... you're trapped on a mysterious island with an invisible monster, crazy natives and polar bears. Sometimes the best plan is to chill out, have some DHARMA wine and stop running around trying to blow stuff up.

Pretty much all of my guesses proved to be for naught. Desmond is clearly a Lostie. Perhaps there is a disease, but it's nothing Kelvin (who we can assume probably knew more about the island than most of our button-pushers) was too concerned about getting. Henry Gale Imposter did, at least, push the button.

Apparently the "protocol" was to keep the EM generator thingy from going all Vesuvius. By the by, as a note for just how unrealistic the show actually is ... nobody could withstand being awake once every hour and a half or so for too awful long. REM sleep generally takes longer to set in and with REM people start going pretty crazy crazy. But I don't think we should hold a show with an all-knowing smoke monster too close to reality.

Anyway ... so the EMG (electro-magnetic generator, it's the only generic term I can think of without inviting a debate into the difference between magnetic fields and EMP's, etc) is capable of bringing down a plane. Many are making a case that since Desmond's system failure was an accident then the plane crash and everything surrounding it is clearly just coincidence and not part of some grand plan.

I'm not buying it. I think this just shows that somehow the Dharma Initiative is capable of some impressive precognition and is sitll capable of it. It's not congrous that a plane accidentally falls from the sky and a group of people know exactly where it will crash and who is on the plane (and possibly who is "good"). And while some are poking fun that someone like Charles Widmore would orchestrate all of this just to get rid of his daughter's suitor ... I think they're forgetting that it might have simply been a convenience that went with the plan.

And I still think that plan is all about defeating the Valenzetti Equation.

I'm not sure if the Giant Hurley Parrot was a dig from the producers or more evidence that some of the animals aren't quite what they appear (Hurley Parrot, Kate's black horse, Sawyer's boar). It's a pretty recurring theme. My only guess is that the EMG is connected with the "life force" hinted previously and is going to be part of the weirdness involving the whispers, hallucinations and talking animals.

Next season certainly looks interesting. Oh, and I'm starting to dig the extraneous material the producers are feeding, like Hugh McIntyre's appearance on Kimmel Live. Gives the show a better sense of depth and more for us to chew on while we wait for new episodes.

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Is "Mercenaries 2" Propaganda?

Man. Video games get blamed for brainwashing children, creating bad movies and kicking your dog. Now, they're responsible for political propaganda?

A U.S. company's video game simulating an invasion of Venezuela is supposed to hit the shelves next year, but it's already raising the ire of lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez supporters in Venezuela's National Assembly suspect the makers of "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" are doing Washington's bidding by drumming up support among Americans for an eventual move to overthrow Chavez.

"I think the U.S. government knows how to prepare campaigns of psychological terror so they can make things happen later," Congressman Ismael Garcia said, citing the video game developed by Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios.
-- Venezuela Fears Mercenaries 2 is Propaganda (digg it)


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Game Park XGP Mini Vids

Digital World Tokyo points to some videos of the Game Park XGP MIni, which apparently made a thud at E3 (because it didn't work).

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gazerk: The Gamer Search Engine

Ziff-Davis has launched a search engine to "to provide users a multi-dimensional view of search results, placing web content into categories specifically relevant to gamers: game reviews, cheats and screenshots" called Gazerk which seems to work more or less as advertised. It's a pretty intelligent ploy for old ZD and will probably be a new way I can find sites blocked by the corporate firewall.

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Break Into Games Competition

At E3, the world listened to Microsoft's founder Bill Gates single out GarageGames' Marble Blast Ultra as his six-year-old son's favorite game. On June 5th, 2006, GarageGames will again stand out from the crowd as they launch the B.I.G. (Break Into Games) Competition -- the nation's most exhaustive search to showcase America's greatest independent videogame developers. Culminating with a light-hearted American Idol style finale, the entrants and winners will vie for prizes including professional gaming hardware and coveted publishing deals with GarageGames and its partners.

All B.I.G. entrants will be given the opportunity to build their game prototypes with a free trial version of the impressive, new Torque Game Builder (TGB) from GarageGames, which will empower them to build amazing games from scratch and compete for top prizes and recognition. Said GarageGames President Mark Frohnmayer, "We've seen compelling games prototypes created with TGB in one to two weeks."
-- American Idol for Indie Video Game Developers?

Despite that being the most inane press release title of the century, I can attest that the Torque Game Builder (formely known as Torque 2D) is pretty decent stuff. Well worth a trial. The Break Into Games competition sounds pretty neat, but sadly I can't find any more info on it on GarageGames' site.

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Seattle Times Disses On Da Vinci Game

By now, odds are that you've read "The Da Vinci Code," seen the Tom Hanks movie, picketed about one or the other somewhere, or sued author Dan Brown. And you might not immediately think that the story — about an American professor and a French cryptographer racing to decipher clues that will shake the Catholic Church — lends itself easily to a video game.

It doesn't.

This mix of abstruse puzzle-solving, stealth and awkward fighting is like a video-game celise. (That's the spikey thing that Silas the killer albino monk, and other especially zealous members of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei sect, wrap around their thighs for penance.)
-- "Da Vinci" is labored fighting, thick codes: Pray for patience

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Listen To The Cat

In a early morning coffee haze, this seems really funny:

From LCLS's photostream.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

HDMI Not A Problem?

Joystiq is trying to explain why HDMI isn't quite the deal most people are making it out to be. It seems the real necessity to have HDMI to produce 1080p content is the DRM for playback which would insist on an encrypted feed. Wow, Sony's crazy DRM concepts are shooting a bullet into their crazy format concepts which is dragging down their crazy pricing concepts.

Go figure.

The illustrious Boing Boing has more on this:

Of course, no customer wants this. It's crazy to think that there are manufacturers out there who are devoting engineering resources to purposely degrading the quality of their products. Especially since there's very little HDMI equipment in the field today -- chances are the high-def screen you have in your house today is plugged into a PC, and isn't HDMI-ready at all. No reason not to use these cheap, plentiful screens with high-def players, except for the cartel's insistence that you shouldn't.

The agreement to stay away from the image constraint token for four or six years is a way to get around this. If the DRM is kept switched off for the first 4-6 years, there's an opportunity to lure people into accepting it -- to buy into devices, media, players, screens, storage and other components with HDMI crippleware within, but inactive.
-- HDMI, the Manchurian DRM - a Broadcast Flag dormant until 2010

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Wired On Dual Card Graphics

Even with today's systems, there are caveats. Don't expect dual graphics cards to offer much improvement in older titles such as Quake 3, Unreal Tournament or Half-Life 2, or in other games that rely more on CPU computation and less on graphics processing. The frame rates might even decrease when playing some older games using SLI or CrossFire dual-graphics cards compared to using a single card, especially if the monitor resolution is set to a low value.

Despite those shortcomings, component makers are betting on increased demand for multiple-graphics-cards systems. High-end motherboards with four or more graphics-card slots will see wide-scale deployment next year, ATI's Raja said. Indeed, Nvidia already sells quad-SLI-enabled graphics cards, but adoption remains limited to the ultra-high-end gamer set due to high cost, availability of motherboards and driver issues.
-- Doom 3 Like You've Never Seen

I get more gloomy about PC gaming's future as I think about it. And trust me ... I don't want to be that guy. I've been an advocate of PC gaming since the 386. However, with the 360 and the PS3 emerging it seems that PC's real strength is the ability to chock so much hardware into a box that nobody's console will able to compete. Cell processor? Meet dual 7800s on my 64bit beast! ..... which cost me three grand. People are out there, right now, complaining about spending $600 for a machine which will undoubtably perform much better than your average $1,000 computer ... and still do all the media playing you need. Provided you aren't planning on writing a paper, there's no reason either the 360 or PS3 couldn't be made to perform most of a PC's common task. Games, web, email and IM. Heck, pretty soon my DS will be capable of that.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Chris Bateman's Play With Fire

Chris, known to some around these parts from his Only A Game blog, has announced that his game previously known as Fireball will be henceforth known as Play With Fire and also mentions that it's possibly to get the hook up with Manifesto Games. For more on the game's mechanics, check out a first look at it.

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Guardian on "Live Anywhere"

As Jez comments on Joystiq, the kind of pervasiveness promised by Microsoft through this service could create revolutionary access and consumption of massively multiplayer online games. I propose that it will also enhance the potential social aspects of offline/single-player products as well. Xbox360's Live is already a kind of meta-game in which members of the community "play" with reputation and trade. They may not be explicit aims of the service, but these factors have proved to be a large part of the fun. We've already seen this emergent meta-playfulness in many online games.
-- Pervasive gaming brought to you from Microsoft

I remain skeptical that, like many of Microsoft's initiatives when they first launch, it will be able to live up to the hype it produces. Microsoft will often try and brand (and rebrand) technology surrounding their core interests with ideas but often not fulfilling the potential (until perhaps much later on).

Still, Sony should be peering over their shoulder here. It's a lot better to have something like Live Anywhere to talk about than nothing at all.

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Lost: The Video Game

Not just freeze frames or ARG style campaigns ... next is a title out by Ubisoft Montreal:

While the details have yet to be ironed out, Bruce Gersh, senior vice president of business development with ABC Entertainment, says ABC hopes to broaden the show's appeal with an interactive experience unlike any other.

"As we are developing this game, we'll be keeping in mind the core viewer, but also the core player," he said. "We're gonna have a lot of fun with it."

Gersh points out that while the show's characters will likely be involved in some way, the creation of the game may lead to new characters that could have the chance to jump out of the game and into the show
-- Get 'Lost' in New Video Game

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Da Vinci Movie Breaks Expectations

The reviews may have panned it, the games surrounding it might flop ... but the movie did better than analysts predicted.

Real Life Katamari

Slideshow also available. Via Boing Boing

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Massive Mugen 2D Fighter Tournament

Mugen is a fighting game engine which "allows for anyone to create characters, stages, and other game objects through interpreted text files and graphics and sound compilations". Someone has taken this to compile a massive tourney of over 700 classic fighting characters (digg it). While it might not resolve all of those "Scorpion versus Spiral" debates echoing through hallowed halls, it should be hilarious.

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Sony's Short Term Strategy

Apparently several of Sony's launch titles might not make it for, you know, launch. In response to this, Sony's David Reeves says "we have built up a certain brand equity over time since the launch of PlayStation in 1995 and PS2 in 2000 that the first five million are going to buy it, whatever it is, even it didn't have games".

The more I read about the PlayStation 3's launch ... the more I think that Sony's short term strategy is that they don't have a short term strategy. Competitive pricing? Nope. Great launch library? Apparently not. And that's likely both games and Blu-Ray. Unique features unavailable elsewhere? Doesn't look like it.

Sony's strategy seems to be - sell it at high prices for the early adopters and in 6-8 months hope to be able to drop prices somewhat when there is a better selection available. In other words, let the high tech collectors pay for some of the costs up front. Honestly, it's not completely unlike Microsoft's 360 launch, except we're throwing in new factors like high def storage formats.

I think it's a bit of a shame, but I don't share in the Sony doomsday theorists. It's easy to lose sight of Sony's weight in the consumer electronics market. A good example could even be the PSP. It's not that unique of a product, it's not cheap and it has some questionable technical choices (UMD) combined with some very solid ones (that pretty, pretty screen). Anyone else would have probably had both knee caps taken out by Nintendo long ago. While Sony might not have been able to knock the DS off the handheld throne, it certainly doesn't seem like it's going anywhere.

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STOB: Thomas Wins

Thomas earned another victory in Corvus' Spring Tournament Of Bloggers. It was a bit closer this time. TBone got a quick stealth kill and a frozen headshot for an early lead and while I managed to whittle it away a bit, it ended 4-2 and I think the most I could have gotten out of the deal would be to narrow the gap by another point. One of the harder things about 1v1 Hunters is that if someone really doesn't want to get fragged, they have a lot of choices to evade.

I think I'm up against Corvus or Seth now.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

For Sunday: A Monkey And A Hat

From la vacacione de Sterno.