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Friday, February 23, 2007

UK Core 360 Getting Price Cuts

Playful is reporting that retailers are lowering the price on Microsoft's console ... even with Microsoft's bidding:

With no ending in sight to Microsoft's denials of any future Xbox 360 price cut, retailers from the United Kingdom decided to take matters into their own hands and offer their customers what Microsoft wouldn't: cheaper Xbox 360s. Way cheaper! As reported by several websites over the last couple of days, including Gamasutra, some UK retailers have initiated an unexpected, unseasonal, and unofficial series of price cuts for the Xbox 360, as well as for the old PlayStation 2.

In particular, the "Core" package of Microsoft's next-gen console is currently enjoying the most consistent promotions, with price cuts of up to £50 (€75 / $98). So instead of the suggested retail price of £199.99 ($390), the Core Xbox 360 is now being sold for £149.99 ($292) in some places. As a side-effect, this means that Microsoft's console is now actually cheaper than Nintendo's Wii, priced at £179.99 ($351), despite it packing way more computing power.
-- Xbox 360 Now Cheaper Than Wii In UK

Premium packages apparently remain untouched. The article speculates that this might be a push to remove stock before a new 360 model hits. That seems odd, since I assume the black 120GB HDMI
version that is rumored would be more expensive than the premium model - so why push out cheaper stock to make room for it? Or is it really just shelf space that's the problem?

Or have the core units just sold that poorly? For retailers to make this decision without Microsoft's influence means - I think - that they're dumping at a decent loss since I think the margins are pretty tight on this things to begin with.

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Never Trust The Machines

Neuroshima Hex! is boardgame based on the Polish role playing game, Neuroshima. A review of the board game brought it to my attention.

Both sound great. A shame it seems like nobody carries it. The backstory is very cyperpunk wasteland noir ... Mad Max meets The Terminator with what seems like a dash of I Have No Mouth thrown in the middle. Here's what really caught my eye about the RPG:

Neuroshima relies on the division of the gameplay into something the authors called Four Colours, namely steel, chrome, rust and mercury. The choice of a particular colour is made by the gamemaster (the decision can be consulted with the players in order to enhance the game experience) and determines the mood, atmosphere and the type of events/characters present in the story. The name of the colour itself implies the kind of gameplay it will symbolise. These colours are:

Steel - this kind of gameplay is characterised by a slighly optimistic attitude towards the world. The aim is to raise the spirit of the characters by showing them that the war with the machines that is going on may be a difficult one, but it is not unwinable, and that humans, when strong and united, can build the world anew. Example of a story: a unit of soldiers dispatched from the Outpost is sent to build a bunker and establish a relay base far in the north in order to plan a counter-tactic against Moloch's advance south.

Chrome - is characterised by a hedonistic attitude. The characters are supposed to enjoy anything that is left from the world after the war and the story is supposed to allow them to do that. Example: the characters are offered a well-paid job by a local ganger boss who extorts wares from local tradesmen. Their job is to drive around the county and pick up the extorted items and trade it for drugs.

Rust - a depressing, pessimistic mood. The characters will encounter rust, dilapidation and ruin everywhere they go. All the elements and NPCs of a story played in this mood are supposed to put the characters down and destroy their spirit. Example: the characters, badly wounded after a gunfight and robbed of all their possession find refuge in a village which is constantly raided by gangers. The characters' quest is to repel those attacks, but the enemies outnumber them and are well equipped, whereas the characters have nothing to fight with.

Mercury (Quicksilver) - the most depressing side of the game; usually stories played in this mood end with the death of all the characters. The aim of this mood is to show that any kind of action undertaken is futile and that the war is already over, hence all the people are already dead, which is a fact they just need to realise. Example: a group of soldiers stationed in a bunker is awaiting an attack by mutants. They are well-armed and trained, but there is a mistake in the intelligence they were given and they do not know yet that they are seriously outnumbered. The attack commences at dusk and it is already too late to retreat, so the characters decide to seal off the bunker, hopeful that the mutants will not be able to get inside and simply go away. The mutants attack the bunker with chemical weapons instead. The characters do not have enough gas masks to go around. As an effect, those strong enough will kill the weaker ones to get their masks, not knowing that the mutants will blow up the sealed entrance the following morning.
-- Neuroshima [Wikipedia]

That's freaking awesome. The last option is the kind of bleak scenario gamemasters generally dream about but most players would revolt in fear of losing their preciously levelled up heroes. In a way, this goes beyond the idea of "losing as part of the narrative" or even permadeath. Permadeath is just a point in which you have to restart the whole game. "Losing as narrative" is just a way of saying "winning isn't the only way to promote the plot".

This is "you're quite possibly going to die and the world is going go on without you" - as I assume these events would be maintained within a larger campaign. However, there's also hope and victory - but at some point there might be doom. Not doom as in wrapped around experience penalties or respawns - just good real honest to gosh hopelessness.

It brings the whole immersion of death to a whole new level. Permadeath is usually padded by always trying to give the player a fighting chance. Death is because the player got too eager, too anxious or too stupid. This is different. This is - oh, sorry, that mission description was all wrong. You're stuck and there's nobody to help you. The game just lied to you. You didn't screw up - other than trusting the machine.

There's lots of situations where I could see this being completely infeasible. Single player FPS games, for instance, which rely more on autosaves than any other genre. It would require something non-linear where the player could stay in the storyline but still have to start from scratch. Still, quite enticing.

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[2007-02-23 14:53:45]
[2007-02-23 14:54:34] i can't believe i'm asking this
[2007-02-23 14:54:38] < me > but what is poo?
[2007-02-23 14:54:53] it is apparently, like a moo, but, python based
[2007-02-23 14:55:14] < me > is a moo like a mud
[2007-02-23 14:55:16] < me > but oo
[2007-02-23 14:55:18] < anonyomous@aim> if you chop off the pooref portion, it explains it a bit more
[2007-02-23 14:55:23] < anonyomous@aim> yeah, like a mud but oo
[2007-02-23 14:55:26] < me > this is the silliest conversation I've had all week
[2007-02-23 14:55:38] < anonyomous@aim> POO is a Python program which operates similar to a MOO. A MOO is an object-oriented, live-coding MUD. A MUD is a multi-user dimension
[2007-02-23 14:55:47] < anonyomous@aim> woo! do i win a prize!
[2007-02-23 14:56:01] < anonyomous@aim> it's a mud, written in poo
[2007-02-23 14:56:07] < me > I guess in the age of Wii - I can't complain about a game made with poo

Check out more POO if you so feel like it. And that, ladies and gentleman, is probably my first and last Wii joke.

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Beatboxing Mario

I can't watch this at work, but if kottke says it's gold the video is probably gold.

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Yet Another Cell Platform

But Sony may not be entirely opposed to the idea, either. It still plays a major role in Khronos Group, the alliance which develops the OpenKODE series of libraries (which include OpenGL and OpenGL ES). To that end, in 2005, Sony folded into Khronos' activities its Collada project, which involves the creation of open-source tools enabling game developers to transport their assets (their graphics, scenery, and environments) between platforms, such as from PS2 to PS3 or PlayStation Portable. RapidMind's development tools are developed around C++ and Open GL, which makes them quite complementary to Collada.

Perhaps you already see the path opening up here. Conceivably, a Yellow Dog Linux-based Cell computer -- whether it's a PS3 or something else -- could be marketed to enthusiasts, maybe as a new brand. And if enough developers were interested in supporting this new platform, then the tools may become available to them for rapidly porting their PS3 games. Almost instantly, the new device would have a software base.
-- IBM Shops Cell to Indie Game Developers

It's a fascinating idea - if not a little weird. Why a different brand? If the PS3 can boot into Linux ... and you can dev in Linux ... why a different hardware spec? The PS3 may be an expensive console - but it's a pretty cheap multimedia computer. I'm not sure why Sony has been so hesistant to embrace the idea that if you have a PS3 ... you might not need that Winbox. An open source game development platform would help attract indies.

To put it simply - why isn't Sony aggressively pushing the PlayStation 3 to hobbyist developers of all stripes? Wii channels are clearly an effort on Nintendo's part to try and make the Wii a more universal tool. If I can get weather, news and email off my game console - why do I need to leave my couch? Sony's browser probably goes a long way for this - but Sony's been oddly quiet about their browser (which I've heard nothing but great things about).

Here again - we have simple moves that Sony is ignoring. Release a cheap but decent wireless keyboard and mouse combo for the PS3. Hype Yellow Dog to indies and hobbyist. Remind people they can use Google apps on their high def TV.

How is this hard?

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TV Watch: The Oscars

Every year the Chicago Posse gets together and watches the Oscars. We've made a game of it - get the whole ballot sheets, see who can guess the best, that kind of thing.

Thing is - it seems like every year it turns into more and more of a guessing game. Largely because every year - it seems everyone has seen less and less of the movies involved. This year we almost saw Babel, The Departed and Pan's Labryinth. almost. But not quite. The vast majority of our movie watching - even in a group - has moved to DVD. Since Oscar flicks are routinely later in the year and then rushed to DVD ... that means unless you catch "the buzz" early on and try see a movie before it's even nominated ... you'll probably be introduced to it during the awards show.

This would work for me if I actually trusted the Oscars as a viable measure of worth. Instead, it's just a fascinating machine of Hollywood politics, marketing and social engineering. Isn't that why they ended up cancelling E3?

It's still fun. The Oscars have a lot in common with a reality show - it's a chance to watch a lot of people embarass themselves willingly. Hollywood is probably way to encapsulated to realize that a lot of people find the self-glorification dated and humourous at this point. It's just strange that every year it seems like I see less and less of the movies involved.

And yes - before everyone chimes in - I completely plan on seeing Pan's Labryinth.


Why Is Sony Ripping Out Their Emotion?

I don't see the logic here: take out the Emotion Engine from the PAL PS3. Why? It's not a cost saving measure being handed down to customers. If anything, the Euro PlayStation 3 is still mor expensive (unless a subsequent price drop has yet to be announced ... in which case this is another massive PR blunder). Microsoft got, I think properly, derided for using software emulation that would be far less than 100%. Sony's already had problems with the PS2 compatibility even with their hardware shoved in the case ... so why intentionally make it worse?

The common argument is that nobody really cares about backwards compatibility. Again, I think this is a disconnect between the net surfing gamer and the rest of the world. The PlayStation 2 is still one of the best selling consoles on the planet. We were just recently commenting that one of Sony's most valuable and easily leveraged strengths is their vast library of games (not to mention media). If PlayStation 2 development remains strong through 2007 - people who buy a PS2 this year might just want a PS3 in a much shorter period than previous owners - especially if the a price cut hits the flagship console and high def sets come down in price.

Maybe the problems the Emotion Engine had in the current revision is the thing. With software emulation, Sony can more easily update firmware to increase compatiblity over time (just as Microsoft has). It's a half-measure now for a theoretically more complete measure later. But will it really be a more complete solution? The 360 has yet to maintain 100% backwards compatiblity.

Fun fact: I still have my PS1 because it's the only hardware I own that will still run X-Com. Sometimes that one title is all it takes.

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So ... how defective is the 360?

Even before most blogs echoed it, I read about the 360 enthusiast who went through seven defective machines and really thought about posing this question yesterday. I resisted because while it's an interesting case - it's certainly not exemplary. The guy bought most of his units early (Zero Hour in fact0 and at the same time ... so if there was a defective run and someone was going to get hit hard by it - this was it. And the story does prop up the general consensus that while some 360's are defective, Microsoft can be pretty stand up about it.

But how defective are they now? I still read plenty of anecdotal reports from the blogosphere of 360's going belly up or overheating after a few hours of use. This seems far more persistent and critical than dead pixels or flying UMD's. It's one thing to have a black dot - it's another thing to have a black screen.

So how common are 360 problems? It's nearly impossible to determine a percentage unless Microsoft wanted to compile some numbers on returns - which clearly it won't. The BBC program Watchdog recently bashed the console for post-warranty reliability. Microsoft has made revisions to the console ... but we don't have any way of determining if the previously unknown percentage has lowered.

I can't say this has stopped me from getting one ... my lack of a high def set has stopped me from getting one more than anything else. If I look to get one in the next year or so and I'm still hearing these stories ... then it might.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nintendo Interviews With Wii Developers

Fascinating talks between Iwata (President of Nintendo) and Wii devs:

It must have been about a year after we started developing Wii. After speaking with Nintendo's development partners, I became keenly aware of the fact that there is no end to the desire of those who just want more. Give them one, they ask for two. Give them two, and next time they will ask for five instead of three. Then they want ten, thirty, a hundred, their desire growing exponentially. Giving in to this will lead us nowhere in the end. I started to feel unsure about following that path about a year into development.
-- - In-Depth Regional Wii Coverage

Via kottke. Great stuff ... and how neat is it that the President conducts the interview? Heck, even if it's some media dictacted spin illusion - I don't think the guy who signs my checks could stand to ask me about my work for more than three minutes.

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TV Watch: Lost - Stranger in a Strange Land

OK, now I just think the producers aren't getting it. Despite the fact that last week's Flashes Before Your Eyes shed 2 million viewers and Not In Portland apparently shed another 2 million the week before. And yes, I'm aware that these episodes are already shot and everything - but it sounded from the podcasts that viewer angst was being factored into post-break episodes. The first three episodes, it sounded like, would shine light on lots of things. About DHARMA, the Others, the Island, etc.

Instead, we've had a lot of things dangled before us and the slipped away. Jack has access to the Others - but whenever Tom wants to chat about the Purple Sky Event or anything, actually, something shuts him up. Kate and Sawyer get Karl safe and sound ... and Karl seems rather willing to talk all about Otherville and their daily lives ... and Sawyer tells him to get lost. Jack meets a whole group of people abducted by the Others ... and yells at them to go away.

Yells at them to go away. Honestly, the only good Cindy's appearance had was to give them something to put into the teasers. I understand that next week Ben will offer Jack a copy of "The Idiot's Guide To The Others And Why You're On This Island" ... but he'll burn it in an act of defiance.

Look, I like the flashbacks ... I really do. It's just that I think Lost is missing a Sunday Edition. You know how in serial comics very little happens for six days and then bam ... on Sunday the mystery gets solved. It feels like the show needs to - every now and the - cut the flashbacks and put enough emphasis on the island itself to get some questions answered. Jack's story about a killer tattoo was decent enough - but so barely connected to the larger picture that it just makes things like Cindy cameo that much more annoying. I know more about Jack's kite making abilities than I do about Cindy's fate on the island.

And I just don't care about Jack's kite making abilities. Heck, I'm not even sure the end of Jack's flashback made any sense. Why did Coke Boy know about his new tattoo? Lost seems to constantly confuse mysterious with simply not explaining anything. One is complex ... the other is nonsense. Considering we started this fable with the concept that it could be explained through science and now have smoke beasts and time travelling prophets ... I'm guessing we've got the latter.

Get this from Wikipedia:

The supposed three big mysteries solved in "Stranger in a Strange Land" was actually a stunt by the people in charge of the episode promos, according to the producers of the show in the official Lost podcast. They confirmed that the only mystery to be answered in this episode was the origin of Jack's tattoos
-- Stranger in a Strange Land (Lost)

How annoying is that? I'm not even sure how the origin of Jack's tattoos ranks in terms of Lost mysteries ... if it even does rank. It certainly ranks lower than Juliet's mark. Which again, Jack didn't even ask what the significance was.


Update: In a recent EW interview (spoilers), Lindelof describes the fact that Juliet wasn't born on the island "maybe a surprise" to some of the audience.

Really? I think this is the disconnect. The producers/writers have come to feel that virtually any tidbit is a satisifactory morsel of information. Juliet wasn't born on the island. Ethan wasn't born on the island. Jack's tattoos have a significant meaning to him. To me, these don't even feel like much more than background noise. Maybe the scrutiny that every Lost show gets (like trying to decipher every symbol or number in any frame) is actually getting counter-productive. The viewers' attention to minutiae is leading to ... a sea of minutaie.

Still, I don't think that excuses the blatant pulling away of the rug via questionable writing. Tom's abrupt interruption. Sawyer's lousy logic in telling Karl to go get himself killed.

So far this season - we've gotten two major factoids: the smoke monster is connected to the "apparitions" and time travel is probably a factor. Some of the other clues - like Mittelos and aged wombs - are interesting, but get drowned out by the rest of the noise.

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Space Turkeys Redux

Derek very kindly rescanned and uploaded his grab of the Space Turkeys ad complete with Spinnaker's copy on the bottom (original on flickr). Derek's got a great set of scans if you didn't catch them the first time around.

This ad must have had some impact ... because I'm pretty sure I at one time had Trains, Adventure Creator and Most Amazing Thing. Was Adventure Creator the text adventure editor? Because I know I wrote my first IF on whatever that thing was.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sony Can't Seem To Win

Previously on the gaming blogsphere, Sony was flogged for not shipping enough units for the US launch of the PlayStation 3. To summarize some of the quotes - Sony had killed themselves ... twice ... at least ... and given up the console war before it even started.

Now that the UK launch for the PlayStation 3 won't be repeating this problem, Sony has a new problem ... they can't sell out fast enough to please expectations:

This week saw Sony dish out its official allocations to retailers, and some, including and Amazon UK, are guaranteeing all their preorder customers a console on the launch day.

However, unlike the Wii or previous UK console launches including the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3 is still available to buy almost a week after being offered.
-- Preorders still available for UK PS3

Apparently what the gaming media wants for preorders is for a company to estimate precisely and then understock by a couple thousand just for a good old fasioned panic. Kid. Pole. Remember that? I don't know how to explain this - but people being able to preorder and not have to shoot each other ... that's a good thing.

After inferring through the whole article that the PlayStation 3 is suffering from lack of demand, they finish with:'s head games buyer, Gian Luzio, commented that demand for the PS3 on its site has been phenomenal. He said, "The Sony PS3 has preordered six times more than the Xbox 360 in this period before launch, and 15 times more than the Wii. So it's the most preordered console yet."

Course, that tidbit doesn't merit any mention in the headline or teaser.

Seriously, it's time to stop the madness. I'm not sure when the feeding frenzy that trying to spin anything Sony related in a bad light began ... but it got old about a year ago. The comments on that Gamespot seem to agree. It's like all the people who overgeneralized that "nobody" would buy it now have to adjust the facts to prove they were right.

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January NPD Numbers

Nintendo Wii sold 436,000 units in January according to NPD, with Xbox 360 selling 294,000 units and PlayStation 3 hitting 244,000.
-- Next Generation - Interactive Entertainment Today, Video Game and Industry News - January: Wii Triumphs; 360 Up; PS3rd

Some discussion on the PS3 being third. I can't tell if I would expect the 360 to be more right now or the PS3 less. The 360 now has an established library, lower price point and better supply chains. Beating the PlayStation 3 - which still has stock issues, a lackluster library and a centerpiece of technology still unproven (Blu-Ray) by only 20% doesn't see like much to crow about.

Clearly, Sony has a lot of work to do. The question is - how much work does Microsoft need to get done? Perhaps that overhauled 360 that keeps coming up in rumors will be what MS needs for the summer.

The Wii is just being a powerhouse right now. If anything is really beating out expectations, it's the Wii and right now I'd say the only company who can claim a truly successful launch is Nintendo. Unlike the other two - they are blowing away their estimates while not being able to keep stock on shelves. As opposed to saying - "we must be selling well, otherwise you could buy it!" - Nintendo has the numbers to hack the facts.

2007 should be interesting.

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Tokyo Gamer Murders For Arcade Money

Gamer-haters have yet another reason to be pissed off at how video games are destroying society. 21-year old Hiroshi Shimura is a Tokyo college student, and he just admitted to killing a 61-year old man and his poor 86-year old mother to get money to support his arcade game addiction. "I spent the money at video game arcades. I murdered them so I could steal some money," Shimura told investigators.
-- Gamer Murders Grandma [Tokyomango]

Yikes. It's hard to fathom something like that happening over here stateside where arcades are the dwindling minority of game theatre whereas in China and Japan - arcades and game cafes are far more dominant. Still ... yikes.

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iTunes Catches Piano Plagiarism

Joyce Hatto died in June 2006, having become a cause célèbre with fans of classical piano in the last years of her life. A series of recordings showed her masterful command of a wide range of composers including Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Dukas and more.

Last week, a critic at the Gramophone magazine got surprise when he put a Hatto recording of Lizt's 12 Transcendental Studies into his computer. The iTunes player identified the disc as being recorded by another pianist, Lászlo Simon. He dug out the Simon album and found it sounded exactly the same as the Hatto one.

iTunes had stumbled on a hoax. To identify albums it calculates a 'discid' from the duration of the tracks and then connects to the Compact Disc Database online. The Gramophone critic tried another disc - Hatto playing Rachmaninov - and again iTunes identified it as belonging to someone else. Again, the named recording - by Yefim Bronfman - sounded no different.
-- iTunes fingers musical fraud

Case is still "ongoing" as it were. Apparently the husband - who produced the "recordings" can't offer an explanation for the similarities. Interesting to see technology stick it's sleuthy nose where apparently it belongs.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Game Play: Okami's Spider Queen

Let's accept Okami as a work of art for a moment and move on. I'm talking about the game mechanics here. I definately give Clover credit for trying something new and having a glyph/gesture based command layer on top of pretty much the whole game ... that's pretty cool.

And usually - it works pretty well. Sometimes there's confusion on just what to do and often the precision of what you're doing seems based on as much, if not more, on the camera angle of what you're trying to scribble on with your Divine Pen. Other times, like the Kohana Shuffle, the gestures need to be annoyingly precise. Sometimes flipping to the "fat brush" just to insure that you always hit your mark is more necessity than option.

Then we have the Spider Queen. Wow does the Spider Queen ever embody everything I've ever hated about boss fights. It took me about ten seconds to figure out that I needed to draw vines to the hook on her body to defeat her. Then it proceeded to take me something like an hour to get it done.

Note to designers: if it takes me ten times longer to accomplish your puzzle than figure it out - I stopped having fun pretty early in the level.

Why so long? Because everything about the way the level is staged works against you. Okami might be right in between the flower and the hook ... but you won't be able to see either one because the camera works around the rim of the circular level. The the flower may be under your camera and the hook on the other side of the queen herself. When that isn't fighting against you - the gesture mechanics are. Once you have one vine, it's way too easy to cut that vine while trying to make the other one. Simply hit the spider (which occupies 80% of the screen no matter what angle you try) the wrong way and the game assumes you meant to power slash your previous work.

Why? Why on this level would I ever want to slash the one thing that will help me? Ever? So why even make it an option? Why should it be possible to repeatedly do something that the game should know well I'm not trying to do? The very setup which is supposed to add a new layer of fun into the game is working against the player. Over and over and over again.

If either the camera angles or gesture interaction had been fixed - probably a completely different story. But to repeat the same task over and over and over again fighting not the Spider Queen ... she was actually something of a pushover ... but simply aspects of design. Ugh.

I hope either future bosses improve on this or Dark Cloud 2 gets here quickly.

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Wii Indie Program On Hold?

Nintendo has been saying that they will have programs to get independent developers on-board with Wii, presumably via the Wii Ware section of the Wii Shop Channel.

It seems that these developers are experiencing the same pain gamers wanting to acquire Wii in the first place are still running into, though: Wii development kits are reportedly very difficult to get a hold of. One such indie, Water Cooler Games ("videogames with an agenda"), says they've heard this is because "Wii publishers are taking all of the available inventory, and more".
-- [Wii] Report: indies unable to obtain Wii devkits

Course, this is probably just simply supply and demand. The Wii is outselling even the big N's expectations at the moment and possibly a few bigger studios are jumping on the bandwagon. Considering we don't even have network play for the Wii, Nintendo is clearly going to take some time to flush out the big picture.

And that's not odd for this generation. Microsoft adds media downloads. Sony will follow suit later on. The nature of these machines is that they aren't just toasters ... they're upgradeable toasters.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Should We Be Scared Now?

The next known close encounter with an asteroid will occur, somewhat ominously, on Friday the 13th of April 2029. Then, Near-Earth Object 99942--also known as Apophis (Greek for "The Demon of Darkness")--is expected to miss the planet by a mere 30,000 kilometers. The real sweating begins soon after, when astronomers must determine whether Earth's gravity has steered Apophis onto a course for impact seven years later. Current calculations place the chance of that happening at about one in 30,000.

At 250 meters wide, Apophis is five times larger than the object that hit Earth 50,000 years ago and blew out the 1200-meter-wide Meteor Crater in Arizona. It's also six times larger than the Tunguska object, which grazed Earth's atmosphere before exploding over Siberia in 1908, flattening 2100 square kilometers of forest.
-- Meeting the Asteroid Threat

The Demon of Darkness will arrive on Friday the 13th and has better odds of hitting the planet than nearly every lotto our there.


Media Spin Connects Violence To Games ... Not Research

The Wired reporteth:

Ferguson found that the connection between violence and gaming had more to do with publication bias than it did with any actual correlation. In other words, journals were more likely to publish studies that supported the hypothesis that playing violent games made a subject more prone to violent behavior. Nothing like scientific stacking the deck, eh?
-- Expert Debunks Connection Between Violence and Gaming

Remember how Batjack likes to ramble on and on about his science being solid and final? And we keep saying it's not?

It's not.

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AOL Smacks Down Vista, High-Def and the PS 3

AOL has a simple list of five gadgets you shouldn't buy right now.

1. Any high definition player
2. The PlayStation 3
3. Draft N Wireless Routers
4. Windows Vista
5. 10 megapixel cameras

Geez - talk about a buzzkill. They could have just written one sentence: Don't be an early adopter. Not to mention that technically, 1 and 2 are redundant. And if I were to ward anyone off of any game machine right now - the PSP seems a lot riskier than the PlayStation 3 since I still get the feeling Sony will overhaul it.

Vista is just an odd addition. The writer admits it's not a gadget per se. Then they recommend just buying a computer with Vista ... which is a gadget. So it kinda boils down to "don't upgrade to Vista unless you know what you're doing." Or, you know, duh.

Obviously Apple hasn't read this list - since they are basing two major consumer products on the N draft this year.

What about high definition televisions? Why say nobody should buy high def players, but they should run out and buy any old HDTV they want? Out of any gadget on the planet right now, a high def set is probably the scariest purchase I can think about making.

Via Kotaku, who unfairly gets slammed in their own comments for bashing PS3's since Fahey basically defends it against the list in the post.

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I Lost My Heart On Mount Gundor

I've still been playing a lot of Dark Cloud 2. The narrative is pretty odd, but catchy. It's like I had to throw something in the mouth of a baby sea dragon to keep it from eating me while brainwashed so that I could run to its home village with a translator and get medicine for its infected wound kind of catchy. It doesn't feel non sequitor when you play it - but when The Girl asks why I'm say, running around a huge flower shooting butterflies - the point comes out in force.

Still, the quirky story is part of the draw. It keeps you on its toes. Unfortunately, that story is currently on hold for me. I'm at the Fire Squall - a major event about three-fourths through the game - and the next cinematic won't load. I can't play around it - this is the only real thing to do. I perform the right task, the screen goes black and the music plays and ... the screen just stays black.

The disc is a rental and pretty beat up, so I"m guessing there's just an unfortunate scratch in just the wrong place. I've sent it back to get a new one, so hopefully my adventure is merely on hold instead of completely screwed. My college roommate once spent a week playing straight throug Ultima VIII, including the wildly insidious pixel-precise jumping puzzles, only to have the end game refuse to load for him. We still talk about it - because it's good to try and talk through the pain. I just don't want that to happen to me.

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