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Saturday, July 22, 2006

For Sunday: Irie The Kitten And Metroid Too

Before anyone complains about it not being Sunday, let's remember the Robot Bastard Rule For Sunday Posts. The Girl and I will be travelling around Chicagoland for the next 48 hours ... and just between you and me I'm not sure we'll make it back alive.

So, just for you:

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Wheeling Intelligencer On Stem Cells

I'm not familiar with the Wheeling Intelligencer or it's audience, but this support for Bush's seminal veto action is what I'd call typical for the course:

Feinstein’s newfound concern for the fate of “embryos” is almost touching, considering her otherwise nonchalant attitude toward the destruction of unborn children in abortions. Almost — until one seriously considers the hard fact that embryonic stem-cell research reduces tiny human beings to mere instrumentalities of “research.”
-- Bush Right About Stem Cell Bill Veto

Of course, anyone who supports the a woman's right to choose is simply "nonchalant" about the destruction of children. I understand Dianne regularly feeds on the young of illegal immigrants, just to keep them in line. This is the constant stance of the uber-righteous ... if you aren't with us, you're clearly a sinner who loves death. As The Intelligencer writes later (that's right, this editorial isn't written by a person but by an actual periodical), there is no grey zone.

Problem is ... the "hard fact" is actually just an opinon. To cancer patients, stem-cell research reduces embyros to mere instumentalities of hope. Clearly, The Intellgencer hates cancer patients.

See, a solid irrational finger-pointing can work both ways.

This is not some mere “dilemma” or “problem” that politicians can or ought to solve. There is no real middle ground.

Told ya.

Advocates of stem cell research prefer to dodge the uncomfortable facts in favor of fuzzy, emotive promises of future cures for dreaded diseases. That is because they have a pretty good idea of how the issue would be settled if people objectively considered the notion of whether little human lives should be sacrificed in the name of science. To those familiar with the uglier aspects of 20th century history, the name Mengele unavoidably comes to mind.

Mengele operated on living humans to perform experiments which to this day would confound even the coldest mad scientist to determine any real scientific value.

Embryonic stem cell supporters want experiments performed on frozen embryos already harvested from willing patients that will only be discarded anyway in the hopes of curing things like cancer.

Anyone who has actually looked at the issue objectively and can honestly make any reasonable comparison between the two, feel free to speak up.

President Bush was right to hand down his first-ever veto on this issue. It is worthy of presidential intervention. Congressional GOP leaders, for their part, once again are showing their distant drift from the principles that got them elected. Indeed, in purely political terms, it is difficult to fathom why, with full knowledge that the president will unwrap his veto pen, congressional leaders would so boldly betray pro-life advocates who they desperately need to volunteer in electoral campaigns and to vote come November.

Instead of trying to curb the budget, Bush waited to use his veto to defy the public will of mainstream America and, just as The Intelligencer freely admits here, panders to the religious demographic. It's an abuse of Presidential power to further only one cause - votes for Republicans in November from the same people who are afraid of gay people and are probably right now hoping for The Rapture to occur.

I'll take "fuzzy, emotive promises of future cures for dreaded diseases" over that any day of the week, "Intelligencer".

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Great Bumper Sticker

From ginatrapani's photostream.

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ABC Family To Produce ARG

Hot in pursuit of the internet audience, ABC's sister network, ABC Family, has announced their plans for an alternate reality game based on their upcoming television show, Fallen. Announced today in a press release found on SciFi Wire, the game is set to launch following the 2-hour premire on July 23rd. Spearheading the project is Matt Wolf, designer of games for other media features, including The Bourne Identity.
-- ARGN: ABC Family Announces Upcoming ARG

Via's Wonderland's links. Are ARG's simply the ultimate form of advergaming at this point? Can the genre ever move more towards the mainstream? The last one I played was Jamie Kane, a far cry from my ilovebees obsession ... but not at all an unwelcome one. I'd love to see more accessible designs for the casual player.

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Best. Shoutout. Ever.

With friends like that, who needs magazines? From Female Tech's photostream.

And clearly the answer to the question - is Josh above posting such things? is now clearly no. No, Josh is not above posting such things.

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Microsoft Hit Estimate With 360

The company had expected to sell between 4.5 and 5.5 million units by the end of its fiscal year. The Home and Entertainment division said that “approximately” 5 million units were sold in the last fiscal year. 1.8 million of those were shipped during the fourth quarter.
-- Microsoft Ships 1.8 Million Xbox 360s in Q4, 5 million for Fiscal Year

I would think, considering the supply and manufacturing problems which has plagued the console, that some Microsoft execs must be very happy right about now. This would give credence to their early launch. Eventually the XBox 360 v1.5 will appear (Xbox 540?) which should resolve the manufacturing issues (but probably create anew the supply issues). In the meanwhile, Sony will be banking on it's long standing desire for convergence in the living room.

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Animal Crossing Movie

It doesn't take a working understanding of Japanese to recognize what this movie is about, provided you've played the game. To some, an Animal Crossing movie might just seem like Pokemon without the violence. To me, though, I'm hoping it may finally lay to rest all those disturbing questions. How did the world get to be populated with huge talking animals? Why do humans seem to be so very rare? Is your mom actually alive or did she perish in the apocalyptic fires which gave rise to such monstrous creatures? Is Tom Nook a pimp?

I can't wait to find out.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Samsung's New Gaming Phone

Samsung Korea has launched the SCH-B450 a S-DMB phone with a 2.2 inch 180 degree swivelling display. The phone concentrates more on gaming than multimedia it has a 1 Million Polygon 3D processor for detailed and realistic graphics. If this was not enough for immersive gaming the phone incorporates vibration solution by 'Vibe Tonz' which makes sure you feel all the twists and turns. It includes 3D motion recognition games which correspond to the phone's movement so if you move the phone to the left the car in the game steers to the left much like the PS3 remote control.
-- Samsung SCH-B450 the gaming phone

Pics at the link. Oh, and btw - those new poplink ads are seriously annoying.

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Your MMO Style Family Vacation

Alice Hill has a bit about MagiQuest ... the family vacation mashed up with EverCrack:

How it works: Instead of giving your kids some dollars for the hotel video arcade, you take them to MagiQuest and the whole family must participate in problem solving, duels, magic spells, and so on. Worse for your wallet is the MagiQuest Marketplace shop where you must first buy and customize your wand - the more features the greater powers and tricks it does. The shop is where you also adorn your kids in capes and hats, and basically get fleeced like you do at Disneyland or any other place that caters to parents trying to entertain their families once a year. Ca-ching.
-- SPECIAL REPORT: MagiQuest’s Family Vacation Inside a Video Game

I can't tell you how many tourist traps The Brother and I got my parents to try. There were was one that I don't think we could try because it was closed, but it essentially a giant version of rooms to make you feel small. Probably a couple hundred dollars worth of plywood and paint, but it sure looked cool at the time.

This? This has magic spells. This we would have begged hard, puppy dog eyes and all. Damn I'm glad I don't have kids sometimes.

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Buffy's New Gig

The Slayer from Sunnydale will return in a new comic, previewed briefly by and should you want to pile on with comments about the cover, go see Alice.

Personally, the Buffy series died for me after Once More With Feeling - which I still contend was the last great episode. The early seasons constantly edge towards and occasionally break into brilliance. A healthy hiatus and some serious writing from Whedon would do the franchise well, no matter what the medium.

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Game Informer's Top 10 Handheld Games

The editors of Game Informer magazine rank the top 10 hand-held games (for Nintendo DS and Sony PSP):

1 "New Super Mario Bros." (DS)
2 "Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror" (PSP)
3 "Tetris DS"
4 "Daxter" (PSP)
5 "Brain Age" (DS)
6 "Metroid Prime: Hunters" (DS)
7 "Tomb Raider: Legend" (PSP)
8 "Mega Man Powered Up" (PSP)
9 "Capcom Classics Remixed" (PSP)
10 "Gradius Collection" (PSP)
-- Game Informer Top 10

PSP actually has one more title than the DS. Common wisdom these days is that Sony can do no right and therefore should have zero games in the lineup. Is the so-called derth of decent PSP titles justified or is Game Informer getting checks signed by Kutaragi? If they are, can they please tell me how to sign up? These blog ads aren't doing anything for my impending mortgage.

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Evil Dead On Broadway

What could be better?

Modelling a Broadway show on a popular movie is cool, but when the movie is Evil Dead it’s just plain bizarre. George Reinblatt, Christopher Bond and Frank Cipolla will be opening Evil Dead: The Musical (can I get a WTF please?), based on Sam Raimi’s 1981 cult horror flick. The show will be directed by Bond and Hinton Battle.
-- Moneycontrol Tech Blog > Deadites on Broadway?

I would pay mucho dinero to see a cadre of singing deadites. Oh yes I would.

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More Spore For You

Next Gen, a la Business Week, gets a little more hands on with SimMicrobiology ... AKA Spore:

Next Generation had a unique chance to get some hands-on Spore action, so we can offer some insight. A note of caution is required, however. Thanks to careful planning that ensured that the game’s most innovative aspects, such as the procedural animation engine and the super-friendly editors, have been in design and prototyping for years, all the building blocks of the game are now functional. Even so, it is clearly going to take Maxis at least a year to stitch all the elements into a coherent whole. But it is already fun to play.
-- Spore Lives Up to the Hype

There's scant new details, though, just a few new bits about reproduction, space travel and terraforming. The hype on this game is reach astronomical levels. Wright's clearly a solid leader for such projects ... but I certainly hope they remember how brutal gamer culture can be on titles which don't walk the walk.

Still, having now wasted hours in front of Sims 2 ... I'm certainly hoping that it does.

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The Nintendo Cone?

Forget the Wiimote ... what's that orange thing the guy on the left is holding in this Nintendo PR shot? A dunce cap? Safety cone? Japanese beer bong?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Resident Evil 4 Merchant Skit

Great video of the Resident Evil merchant let loose on the world.

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Me On That Portal Thing

Recent AIM with a friend and fellow gamer (names changed to protect from spam):

him: have you seen the crazy valve portal video?
me: can't see videos here
me: what's it like?
him: it's a fps gun, that shoots portals
him: shoot 1 wall, creates start portal, shoot 2nd wall, creates 2nd, 2 are linked
me: oh, shoot one portal one thing ... shot another... then you can step through
him: yep
him: you can step through, you can make objects fall through, etc.
me: so it's a translocator
me: from Unreal
me: but with a door
me: I swear there was a mutator for that a year or so ago :)
him: except it works with anything
me: but you have to shoot a wall?
him: ie: I shoot a portal under a baddy, or an object, it comes out the other one
him: wall, floor, ceiling
me: yeah I think the mutator worked similar. You couldn't shoot a hole in the floor, but you could toss one in front someone and zap them across the map
me: sucked hardcore for CTF
me: funny as hell though
him: ah, i think this is unique in that it basically allows you to create a new door that opens from anywhere to anywhere, including seeing the other side of the portal through where you shot
him: and that any object is succeptible to falling through
me: yeah, UE2 didn't allow you to view other sections of the map remotely
him: i'd imagine it would make ctf a lot diff
me: I think it would generally be banned. Four guys with that kind of gun could wall off the flag pretty quickly
him: it's most intersting, and in the demo, appears to also function like the grav gun
me: You can move the doors around?
him: no, you can grab objects with it
him: they could have been swapping weapons or using something else for the grabby stuff, but, that's not the important part
me: damn Valve ... everything's the damn grav gun
him: lol
me: "oooo I can move stuff" .... what ever happened to the Cerebral Bore?
me: OK, that was Turok
me: but still...

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No Morality In Stem Cell Veto

Going to go politico for a bit. Lighthearted readers looking for funny pictures and snarky analysis related to electronics, please standy by.

President Bush is poised to veto a bill which would effectively overturn his own executive decision to limit funds for stem cell research. He does this despite being far removed of the mainstream on the decision. He says he does it out of moral imperative.

Let's get one thing clear: his veto will not save a single embryo. Not a one. Thousands of embryos will be discarded in fertility clinics around America regardless of his actions. Bush may claim his actions aren't political, but it doesn't take much to realize that's all his decision actually amounts to being. A political show of force for the political fringe which has tipped elections in his favor.

Not many people, even in real life, know this - but I'm a spiritual agnostic. This will seem to many a contradiction of terms. That's why not many people know this about me. It's not that I'm shy about it - it's that I'm generally too lazy to explain it. The most succinct description I can give is that I feel that fundamentally speaking the supernatural is beyond normal understanding. I would even suggest that it's in the definition of supernatural. If I can claim complete understanding of something - it's probably natural. Spiritually this is something of a double edged sword. I disavow being enough of an authority to believe completely ... but I also don't accept anyone else's authority.

It's not that I think everyone else is wrong. I just certainly don't think they're completely right. Again, it's easy to confuse this with athiesm ... simply because there is a healthy does of cynicism involved. I can only assure you that in my heart of hearts I hold the opposite. I am highly respectful of deeply spiritual people and quite often somewhat envious of their faith. For me, devout faith would be a kind of resignation. However, I don't deny that someone else out there might still be more of an authority than I am ... so for all I know I'm missing out on one giant religious party.

That rambling explanation is meant to explain one thing: death freaks me out. I know that's not a terribly unique position. Death is pretty scary stuff. Many people, though, have the comfort of faith. Dogs go to heaven. Sinners will get what they deserve. Nirvana is pretty nice this time of year. That kind of thing.

I have none.

So when I say that I think this is one of the most immoral actions Bush can take - I don't want anyone to be confused that I'm some ultra-rational liberal who has never given thought to the loss of life. I don't even like killing bugs, people, and not because I'm afraid of them ... but because I think it's cruel. No, I say that because to stop research which has any potential to solve problems like cancer and Parkinson's is nothing short of barbarism. To do so simply to bank political credit is outright sinful.

Bush and his kind often like to speak of the "slippery slope", especially when logic and facts stand before them. They talk about harvesting embryos and women farming off their young. Despite the fact that nobody is realistically considering this ... it's their defense. It's similar to the gay marriage defense of "we don't want people to think they can go marry a dog". Well, thanks. Way to defend the nonexistent line.

Years from now ... that defense may be responsible for killing a cancer patient. Bush accuses the proponents of this bill of exchanging human life for science. Clearly, he has no problems with exchanging human life for his own political agenda. Science versus faith? I live in that grey zone.

Science versus Bush's agenda? Not even a contest.

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Tetris Building

From EPIDEMIA_'s photostream.

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Vista's Potential Security Problems

Researchers at Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec examined the new networking technology in recent test releases of Vista, Microsoft's next major operating system release, according to the report. They found several security bugs and determined that Vista's networking technology will be less stable, at least in the short run, than Windows XP's, the report said.
-- Symantec sees an Achilles' heel in Vista

Will Microsoft ever be able to shake the security bug? It honestly doesn't seem likely, even if one wants to give them an A for effort. Vista is probably as close to rewriting their OS as they can get, and it doesn't look like it will make the cut. Apple completely shed it's old code for newer, more robust and tested code.

I don't know if we'll ever see a Windows slide similar to the slow decay of Internet Explorer's dominance. Microsoft has, I believe, grown more user unfriendly over the years. PC gaming is prime for a decline (partially thanks to Microsoft itself). Cheaper convergence devices are on the rise. Still, consumers have almost equated Windows to computing like Kleenex to tissue. I'm probably firmly in the OS X camp for the foreseeable future - but I don't have many delusions about getting a lot of company there.

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Clive Barker To Return To Games

Now after a long sabbatical, Barker’s back with Clive Barker’s Jericho, a game that’s all set to scare the crap out of gamers when it releases in 2007 for the PC and next gen consoles. The game will follow the exploits of a team of a special-forces team as they strive to uncover the mystery behind a place called Jericho, the humble abode of evil itself.
-- Moneycontrol Tech Blog > Clive Barker Working on a New Game

I loved Undying, although I sadly never got around to finishing it. It's easily one of those titles that should have been examined harder and cloned for later entertainment. Fear is really hard in games. Heck, fear is hard period. It's not a rational reaction - so you reallly have to trick the audience into being scared. Most games do this by having something jump out of a box or the shadows ... but Barker employed a lot of ambience in his game to make it spooky, so it's great to see him around for this generation of games.

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iPod To Game?

Whether Apple will use that 3D acceleration - assuming Nvidia has won the contract - remains to be seen. The claim made by an anonymous MacRumours source that upcoming iPods will play old Nintendo games makes for a striking parallel, though the 'classic' tag suggests these are SNES-era titles, for which 3D acceleration wouldn't be needed.
-- Future iPods to morph into games consoles?

I have to say that I find this unlikely and possibly undesirable. Unlikely because Jobs is not generally in the business of adding risky new directions to his breadwinners. Undesirable because it fragments the iPod's functionality. I'm all for Apple getting their game on, but I think their focus should be on the Mini and iMac lines and not the iPod.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dark Castle Cell Phone Game

Originally developed for the Macintosh in 1986 by Silicon Beach Software, Dark Castle was one of the early Mac platform’s biggest gaming hits. The platform action game put you in the role of a young hero named Prince Duncan who must make his way through a haunted castle to confront the evil Black Knight. Duncan squared off against bats, birds, walking suits of armor, and monsters galore, armed with little more than a sack of rocks.

The original Mac game featured bit-mapped black and white graphics that may seem primitive by today’s standards, but at the time were very cutting-edge. Another thing that made Dark Castle stand out from the pack was its use of sampled audio files for the sound effects. Dark Castle was ultimately ported to several other platforms, and spawned sequels as well. Delta Tao claims the current incarnation as its own, although the game has been in development for years on end.
-- Dark Castle game resurrected for cell phones

My carrier doesn't seem to offer it ... drat. That and the Doom RPG not being available for my phone helps explain why I think the mobile game market is widly overblown.

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Satellite Of Love

If you've got a few grand just lying around and a significant other you're willing to blow it on ... consider blasting some of your love into orbit:

The MySat-1 satellites will take up a low-earth orbit (LEO) between 600km and 800km above the Earth. That means their position in the sky will constantly change relative to the ground. Although they won't be visible to the naked eye, a beacon on each satellite will allow Astro Research to track them and let customers know where they are and at what time they'll pass overhead each day.
-- Send your love into space on a personal satellite

What in the world would one shoot into space ... never to be seen again?

Human Space Invaders

I would imagine this is pretty funny, a bunch of student playing out space invaders (via gengaming).

Pong as well, according to NewLaunches.

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I'm Not Waiting For Lester Bangs

I didn't get into the whole "OMG who is Lester Bangs?!?" freakout of the gamesphere from a few weeks ago, since I truly feel it's a very apple to oranges comparison of media and was so bored with it I'm already tired of talking about it.

Then last night I'm watching G4's Attack Of The Show, because I had mistakenly thought I had taped the episode where an old friend would appear. Guess what story they're running with...

That the Sony PlayStation 3 may have a feature to disable games from being replayed on other machines, hereby dismantling the PS3 rental and resale market. Their illustrious panel included Seanbaby, some chick from the L.A. Times and a guy - I honestly didn't bother to remember his name. They're basically all taking turns nodding with male host's insightful analysis of the situation.

To recap: this is a completely unfounded Internet rumor. It started with one of the many patent crawls people perform to dredge up "news". The patent was for copy protection on recordable mediums (which the PS3 does not have). Someone theorized Sony must be using this for the PS3 (because Sony, being one of the world's largest producers of consumer goods couldn't possibly use such a patent anywhere else). Few people bothered actually reading the patent, it hit the mumblevine and many forgot it was even attached to a patent and just reported it as fact.

It never made much sense. Sony has officially denied it. Nobody seems to care. None of the producers or staff of this show did any research on it. It took me about half an hour or so to read through the patent and find the points about recordable mediums. Apparently when you have a show which highlights people wearing televisions on their heads, it leaves little room for fact checking.

Lester Bangs? Yeah, right. I'm still waiting for mainstream game journalism to wake up to the same concept many of us want politicians and lawyers to recognize: many gamers out there aren't cola-addicted tweens who read Tiger Beat magazine. We're adults who read the news and occasionally even vote. I'm not a journalist. Let's get that clear before some smartass thinks that pointing out some error in this post will in any way highlight my "hypocrisy". I'm not a journalist. I make no promises on this blog about veracity. Or even good grammar.

All I can say is that I do generally think about what I put out there. Which is more than G4 can say.

So world - the next time I'm introducing myself as a gamer ... do not ask me if I watch Attack Of The Show.

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Microsoft Registers

Feeding more into the mumblevine that the Xpod-boy-thing is actually named Zune and will be roped into the Windows Live fervor:

However, ZuneNation has been investigating and we have verified that is real and it is coming soon. Looking through old WhoIs records, we found that Microsoft's and were both originally registered by this same guy, Jack Spurr.
-- - Zune and Confirmed!

Ironically, Zune is also the name of a Amiga OS GUI toolkit.

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Movie Rentals on iTunes

With three weeks until Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, Think Secret has learned exclusively that CEO Steve Jobs will use his keynote address to announce the debut of movie rentals through the iTunes Music Store. While the announcement will undoubtedly be billed as a further extension of iTunes' dominance in digital media downloads, it represents a coup for the movie industry, which will have succeeded in standing its ground against Apple's pressures to offer consumers the option of owning movie downloads.
-- Think Secret - WWDC surprise: Apple to announce iTunes movie rentals

The Girl and I have seriously considered a more digital download orientated living room. When we move, we're not entirely sure what we'll do about cable, Tivo, etc. Between iTunes and Netflix, we've got a pretty wide array of things to watch .... and moves like this might even collapse something like that.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Google Battleship

I've started working on a bit of summer laboratory experiment to see how Google Earth could become a platform for realtime mobile gaming. (Follow the link on the Flickr photo page to the URL you can load in your Google Earth client to see the game board in its current state.)

With Google Earth open enough to place objects dynamically using the tag, a bit of SketchUp modeling and borrowing an enormous battleship model that construction dude uploaded to the SketchUp/Google 3D Warehouse, I started plugging away at a simple game mechanic based on the old Milton Bradley Battleship game.
-- Battleship:GoogleEarth (a 1st Life/2nd Life mashup) (via techmeme)

The guy is blogging his efforts at the above link. Kind of project I wish I had time for.

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EA Talks UCAP and Tiger Woods

The San Francisco Chronicle talks with D.J. Powers of EA and some of their next gen tech:

"The details of creating art assets for the next-generation platforms are much greater," said Powers. "With the Xbox and PS2 we had it down. But with the next- gen titles, we're having to relearn new hardware systems. It's a burden and there's more learning on the art side."

The new systems, while generating myriad challenges, are also creating plenty of new opportunities to outdo past games. For example, the advanced hardware has enabled Tiger Woods' facial features to come alive through a new technological leap EA has mastered called UCAP, short for universal capture. A mixture of more traditional motion-capture photography and video imaging, the program charts points on Woods' face and blends it together with actual video from three different camera angles, providing the most accurate portrait of a player ever, Powers said.

The UCAP technology is making its premiere on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 but it will soon make its way to other titles.
-- Gamemakers keep pushing the envelope

EA's ability to maximize this kind of tech is big money for it's huge library of titles, if they can utlitize it all correctly. Tiger Woods and Sims might seem like completely different games ... but obviously GameFace and dressing your Sim is extremely similar. If EA can package that so that developers can use the same code repeatedly, it would make for a powerful toolset for it's games.

And obviously no article like this can go without a reference to the Uncanny Valley. So here it is:

Uncanny Valley.

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The Wisdom Of Senator Stevens

The senator’s gaffes — “an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday; I just got it yesterday” — are not just oratorical blunders akin to Dan Quayle’s spelling of “potatoe.” As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he has significant sway over telecommunications policies.

That may explain why his comments circulated so quickly through the Internet (or “tubes”), especially among those in favor of a net neutrality provision. Adam Green, blogging on the DailyKos, sarcastically called Mr. Stevens “one cool dude” and said he had “genuine information superhighway cred.”
-- Senator’s Slip of the Tongue Keeps on Truckin’ Over the Web

It's all funny until election day, Senator Stevens.

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Monsters and Critics Looking For Game Editor

If you like to both write and get your game on, this might be for you:

Monsters and Critics motto is Watch It, Read It, Play It. However, currently our gaming section is mothballed. This resulted from a number of reasons, not least our need to prioritize areas where we already had staff in position.

We are now ready to move ahead with a comprehensive gaming section, indeed we envisage this might end up the largest section on the site. As such we require an editor to manage the section and give it some direction.
-- Current Vacancies on Monsters and Critics

I would totally love to apply for something like this to garner some side work. Sadly I live a chaotic life and deadlines outside of my normal work week can be hard to promise.

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Wiimote To Use AA Batteries

According to Joystiq, the Wiimote will use two AA batteries which should last about 30-60 hours. This is a bit of a disappointment. We leave the vibration off of our Logitech wireless PS2 controller because the battery life is so much better. With it, it's about 50-70 (guestimate) and feels pretty short.

I'll have to wait for some hands-on reviews to appear to see how it works out, but I really hate throwing batteries at devices in this day and age. Give me something that recharges and a dock anyday of the week. I would have thought that after the GBASP, this would be a lesson Nintendo would agree with. Course, this is Nintendo ... so they'll probably introduce a more elegant design the following year...

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Treyarch's Bond Title

It has been revealed that Treyarch has been handed another high-profile franchise under Activision - reports Gamespot. A job listing on the Activision Web site is currently accepting applications for the position of "Gameplay Designer, Bond." "Treyarch is looking for a Gameplay Designer for our upcoming Bond title," reads the listing.
-- Activision`s Treyarch studio to create James Bond licenced videogames

I've often liked, but not loved, Treyarch's work. I love the Bond franchise, but it seems doomed to live in the shadow of GoldenEye forever.

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Mario Pinball

From jonchan's photostream.

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Evil Printer

In order to keep up with the flood of paperwork that's required to juggle for home ownership, The Girl and I picked up a printer on the way home last night. I used to have an aging HP deskjet, but the parallel cable just gets to clumsy to tote around. I was going to get a portable printer with bluetooth, so that I could easily put the printer anywhere I needed ... but we really needed the ability to fax.

So we got an OfficeJet 43 ... 15? I don't know, Hewlett Packard seems to release seventeen models for every line ... but only two at a time or something. When I got it home and opened it up, the quick installation card had in large bold letters "To Insure The Printer Is Detected Properly, Do Not Plug In USB Cable Until Step 17."

Which was easy, because HP had neglected to include a USB cable in the box.

A round trip to Best Buy later, the fax-printer was at least connected. Before it would do anything, it would complain about how it needed it's cartridges or how it didn't have paper or how it wanted to align some paper .... no wait, that didn't align ... please feed paper again ... nope, sorry ... try again ... hmmmm .... nope .... try.

I swear behind this stupid LCD screen is Marvin from Hitchhiker's Guide, only without the enormous brain.

When it was finally appeased, I tried to print out the PDF's from our lender. No go. The Mac Mini can see the printer and identify it, but refuses to talk to it. It seems that out of the 327 drivers installed from Hewlett Packard on the OS, none are suitable for this printer. This shouldn't surprise me ... it happened with my old HP printer and my old HP computer. It seems HP only releases drivers for printers nobody buys.

So I go through the lengthy install process. I don't even know what's on there. I wanted the ability to print and fax, but I think I have like eight new programs on the Mac now. They're all horrific. One is supposed to be an easy shortcut to doing things like "Scanning to PDF" or "Sending A Fax" ... but click on any of them simply launches one of the eight new programs into the background and does nothing else. "Sending A PDF" must do something, because the actual HP scan management doesn't include a PDF option anywhere ... even though it clearly supports it because if you run the "shortcut" first, it will magically save to PDF (provided you don't change anything else).

I tried to fax a PDF straight from the computer, only to realize that the front plastic hopper isn't for any paper ... but clearly to defend the printer from my wailing fists.

Seriously hate this thing.

Texas Indie Game Conference

As an independent game developer you already know how hard it is to survive in an increasingly competitive market. The Texas Independent Game Conference program features leading independent game developers covering the challenges and issues you are facing: * Where is the industry heading – what are the drivers and what can you do to win? * Where are the best opportunities, what is the timing and the likely rewards? * What’s happening in the mobile game market, is the party over? * How can I get funds for my ideas and my company? * What’s the future for casual games? * What are the trends in on-line distribution? * How can I keep protect my games and my IP? * How do I get a good Publisher/Distribution deal? …and lots more.
-- Texas Independent Game Conference

Warren Spector and Greg Costikyan to keynote.

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Tips For Breaking Into Game QA

Zachary Slater is a game quality assurance engineer. This would be that breed of cat that mythically just plays games all day ... complains about them ... and gets paid for it. In reality, being a QA person can be a brutal career. I know, I've caned more than a few myself.

Know some games you like, beyond just "Metal Gear Solid is awesome!". Talk about how you think that perhaps Hideo Kojima should have gone a little bit easier on the story arc and made it less confusing. Or about how Halo 2 has obvious Level of Detail errors during the cutscenes. People you talk to at your prospective employer will want to hear about your real interest in games, if they don't hear it, they will think you're just there because you think the job is easy (regardless of you saying exactly the opposite). You must sound interested and well-prepared.
-- So, You've Decided to Interview For Game QA (digg it)

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Get Your Guy To Game

Tired of your man not having any interest in television related activities? This guide may help. (digg it)

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