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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Trailer Park Saturday: High Def God Of War II

Sony recently released a code for God of War II that unlocks high definition. GameTrailers examines both resolutions side by side:

I didn't really get impressed until later parts of the action, when the smaller version of Kratos gets a lot of visible detail.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Myst Writer Penning Splinter Cell 5

"When I define 'story', I'm talking not just about plot, but what I call the two levels of story in the game. There's the high level, which is the plot, and then there's the low level, which is the player's experience of the game and the story - what he tells his friends of what he did.

"The aim, she explained, is to make sure that the story is much better integrated into the game itself - so she is closely collaborating with the Splinter Cell 5 creative director and another of the game's designers, working to make sure the game mechanics and the story convey the correct experience.

She added: "I work with the level designers and say 'Here's the story we're trying to tell; here's the experience we want the player to have.' Then through the script and events team we ask 'What's the best way to convey a story?'"
-- Myst writer developing Splinter Cell 5 story

Zork Follow Up: List Of Zork Bugs

A grand list of Zork I bugs.

Detailed Hand-Drawn Zork Map

Kottke identifies it as a Dungeons and Dragons map, but unless my memory deceives me (and if often does) this hand drawn map depicts the Great Underground Empire.

Fun Fact! It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Update: Tablesaw correctly identifies the game as Zork predecessor Dungeon and thanks to Joystiq I see the map's originator also has downloads for Windows, OS X and Linux.

Family Movie Accidentally Replaced With Horror

The moviegoers were expecting to see "The Last Mimzy," the PG-rated tale of a brother and sister who discover a mysterious box of toys and become endowed with superhuman powers to help preserve humanity's future.

Instead, the crowd saw the opening scene of "The Hills Have Eyes 2," the R-rated sequel to a recent remake of a 1977 horror classic by the genre's renowned director, Wes Craven. The film centers on National Guard troops who stumble on a clan of mutant cannibals and starts with a chained woman giving birth to a mutant.

"There were kids that were crying, there were people trying to cover the kids' eyes, they were caught off guard," said Anthony Rasco, who was in the audience when the scene was unexpectedly shown Thursday in one of the theaters at the Island 16 multiplex.

Another patron said the episode had left his 3-year-old son with lingering, and unsettling, questions.
-- My Way News - Movie Mistake: Families Get Horror Film (via Snopes)

Look, kids have to learn about mutants sometime.

Lost: More Questions and Caveats

When I was browsing the archives yesterday, I realized I hadn't really posited questions and caveats for Lost in a really, really, really long time. An indication of how much of a decline the show really had (for myself). One of Us officially tipped the scales back into the other direction, a move I didn't think we'd see until closer to the finale (if ever).

Although I still think the writers deserve several slaps to the face for some of the plot points leading up to the last couple episodes (like Sawyer idiotically and inexplicably chasing Karl away), combined with the lack of resolution of key concepts with the show .... much of this season still feels like we were just treading water and avoiding answers. The fact that characters on the island don't seemed overly concerned with figuring out their situation, communicating with each other or even finding new ways to get off the island (or even exploring it much) ... just doesn't add up.

Still, Juliet is helping make the show fun to watch ... and think about ... again. Even moreso than the inclusion of Desmond last season (no offenses to Ian Cusick, he was and is completely great on the show). Plus, the number of in-show references to mistakes this season (Sawyer constantly wondering who Pool Boy and Hot Girl were, Kate not being able to explain Sawyer's actions with Karl ... even Sayid pointedly asking the questions which should be asked) - maybe by the time next season rolls around (in Januarary I think) the show will be ready for some real redemption of its own.

Until then, we can try and poke and ponder at the last few epsidoes:

Question: Was the Kate and Sawyer hookup planned?
I derided Kate and Sawyer's caged heat for being pandering to the love triangle crowd, but I'll be the first to admit it might have been something more. Considering how big of a role kids and pregnancy has had with the show - the potential conception might have been more than an accident. Why else drag Kate and Sawyer along? Just to have leverage to keep Jack honest? Just bringing Kate would have made more sense.

Caveat: How did Juliet know about Sawyer killing Duckett? Or Sayid's military career?
We see Ben entering The Flame and ordering up some intelligence on the plane crash. Mikhail already has video on the missing plane. However, how long would it take them to dig up things not even remotely in the public record? Things like a crime Sawyer wasn't convicted for or the specifics of Sayid's military life? How good is Evil Google for getting answers?

Or does this indicate that, like the guy spying on Juliet's sister and the creepy woman in Desmond's flashbacks, that the Others/DHARMA have a very, very active presence off the island?

Caveat: Why wouldn't Ben tell Juliet about Rosseau?
Assuming Rosseau gave birth on the island, Alex would have been successfully born well before Juliet's arrival. Considering the important they place on the project, why keep any secrets? Surely Alex would have been a matter of interest to Juliet anyway, unless they explained her as being born off-island. I might guess here that Alex was born off island, perhaps on Rosseau's boat, as the easiest course of explanation.

Question: Speaking of Rosseau's boat...
Where is it?

Question: Why is Juliet spying?
Much of depends on what will happen in "one week" (my guess is a mass kidnapping) - but what is Juliet's real role in the Lost camp? Sun is an obvious target, but we can't be sure that The Others even know she's pregnant. Is she just the Trojan Horse?

Question: What's the real date?
Ben continues to use video footage to prove what day it is. He used it on Jack to prove his connection with outside world. He used it with Juliet to show her sister still alive. Course, all the footage could have been taped at any time. The film of Juliet's sister was remarkably brief. So in reality, there is no definate guarantee that anything Ben is showing is actually recent footage.

Follow-up: Why is travelling to the island so tramautic?
Or is it? Ethan didn't seem to require tranqs for the trip. Is he just used to it or did they just not want Juliet to know where they were?

Hopefully this season will continue the upswing, or I'll feel silly for even thinking about these things.

Oh and... My crazy guess? Jacob is the island.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More Op/Ed On Columbine and Slamdance

Gamasutra offers another look at Super Columbine RPG and Slamdance's handling of the affair:

Can a serious game about the Columbine tragedy be made if the designer sets out from the start to teach people lessons by having users step into the killers’ shoes and live their lives? Maybe this question really should have been Ledonne’s goal from the beginning. But let’s say that these were not his goals when he created the game. How can we take the concepts from this game and present them in a constructive way that encourages people to experience and learn something, rather than as entertainment and sensationalism? And can we convince those that the game may offend that this is what it should be used for, as opposed to trivializing the tragedy or upsetting those affected by it?

This was the dilemma for [Slamdance's] Peter Baxter and I sympathize with that. I personally have no reason to believe Ledonne's intentions were dishonorable. I believe this was more an error of omission than deliberate commission. But how do you deal with Super Columbine Massacre and people’s perceptions and reactions towards it? Particularly when the line is blurry on its intentions?

Perhaps the answer is for Slamdance, or any competition, to initiate a category for "Serious Games" where thoughtful work in the Serious Game genre can be judged and rewarded on its merit.
-- Gamasutra - Opinion: Serious Games, Serious Responsibility

Perhaps I just have a different view of Slamdance, but I thought the intention of the entire contest was to take games seriously. So I'm not sure why a new category would embolden the contest holders any more than they currently are. And again, I think examining Ledonne's goals and expectations is entirely unfair. Is this how all the works were judged? Do we judge art based not on the result but on what the artist wanted the result to be? Can I get my work reviews done this way? I intended to be highly productive, so please pay me more?

The issue that seems to be missing from a lot of these opinion pieces is the expected goal of the contest, not the submission. Is Slamdance meant to make games a more legitimate form of art or not? Because sadly the fallout of the Columbine decision is that they likely caused the same kind of chilling factor on the sort of development to be submitted to the contest that most would like to avoid.

Lost: One Of Us

The season is definately looking to end on a high note if last night's episode is any indication. The writers have managed to add a little padding to the stories that at the very least give us more insight into the Island even if it doesn't always outright offer new information. Another Juliet backstory was just what this season needed, however, and if anything at least confirmed some thoughts people have had about the show.

It was also an interesting structure. We should be able to assume that Juliet's flashbacks were the honest truth. She wouldn't be lying to anyone but herself, or rather an omniscient voice would be lying to us if the flashbacks are merely a narrative device. However everything she actually communicates to other people is naturally suspect. So some of the things we saw that seemed like flashbacks, like Ethan's actions, might just be part of her story.

We also apparently know what Juliet was shown - the x-ray of a woman whose immune system apparently attacked and devoured her. Which should be an implicit kind of ugh. Ben's note of an "implant" is pretty disturbing, especially if it something that they can actually control. Guesses range from some kind of advanced medical device to some kind of creepy bug. Why it is so important that people give birth on this island is possibly another story. Is Jacob even a normal human? Are any of them normal humans anymore?

And where was any mention of Walt in Juliet's (probably false) account of things? I suppose it makes sense if he wasn't really connected to the whole baby thread, but Walt was a child and the one they ended up taking, right?

At any rate, Juliet seems to be this season's Desmond. Last season Desmond was tasked with "taking the ball home" in the last episodes and now Juliet seems to be the figure we'll have to watch.

Oh, and I guess the "Evil Google" theory of the Other's ability to know information was correct. Although honestly I would find telepathy a more reasonable and plausible explanation at this point.

And the big question is ... how did Danielle survive having Alex on the Island? Does this mean Juliet's cure really works ... or isn't required for kids not conceived on Island? It isn't contradicted by Claire if her illness was induced by an implant.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blogs And Hat Tip Links

Blogging is often a mixture of things, especially for myself. Sometimes you're just rambling on about nothing in particular and sometimes you're trying to link to interesting news for others to read. Cathode Tan works pretty oddly, actually, because there's a pretty small audience who actually pays attention to the former but a much larger crowd (especially thanks to this thing called Google) who stumble through looking for information about one thing or another.

Sometimes they intersect. Like when I complain about a section of a game, I find people will get to that post trying to figure out how to handle the same section at times. Because of this I've changed some of my habits, like always trying to include tips or solutions to help those gamers out.

But I digress.

When it comes to the latter - sometimes you don't find that blog-worthy article or snippet, someone else did. You want to blog about the info, but also acknowledge how you found it. I resolve this usually by including a "via" link somewhere in the post, as I did with the gaming simile one.

Radio Free Blogistan notes this by the slightly more common name, "hat tip", and wonders if it shouldn't be more standardized:

There's another kind of link, however, that I think most of us have been overlooking, although its presence in the blog world is nerly ubiquitous, under a numer of different names. What I'm talking back is a link that credits the source of an item. Like many people in the blogosphere, I consider it good netiquette to include a link to the source of an item, particularly when the resource isn't at the time generally available from many sources. Radio, for example, automatically captures that link when you post from its aggregator.

I think this "via link" or "hat tip" should be acknowledged as a well understood, if optional / conditional (only if there is a key source) field in the weblog data model. Not only is it "nice," it would actually make it easier to trace the spread of ideas, a kind of reverse tracking-back.
-- Should there be a standard way to give credit in a weblog entry? @ Radio Free Blogistan

The tradition follows the concept of a meme, or as Nova puts it a GoMeme, although as Richard Chappel describes it as nearly the exact same thing:

There already exists a natural precursor to GoMemes within the blogging culture: the practice of hat-tipping. Suppose you find an interesting article from reading Joe's blog. If you then link to that same article, you might acknowledge Joe as your source, by appending something like "Hat-tip: Joe" or "(via Joe's bloggs)" to your post. [But with real links, of course.]The only significant difference with GoMemes is that they (ideally) include a full path-list of all previous sources. That is, you don't just link to Joe, but also whoever Joe found the link from, and so forth. To achieve this functionality, Spivak's experimental memes required tedious instructions (see this example) to be appended to the meme-post.
-- GoMemes as Extended Hat-tip

I'm sure I've failed to do it sometimes, although when I did use digg as a source I even tried to maintain the links there so that the article could be further "dugg" as it were.

I use a sneaky piece of javascript to help form most of my quotes and their corresponding links. I think I might need to look at some kind of ultra-temporary bookmark functionality to help keep track of the "meme path" as it were, although it's less frequent.

Just a metapost about blogging in general. As an aside, I would think that if one were a professional blog actually paid to collect and distribute such information - I'd think hat tip and via links as a hard and fast rule would be of the benefit of everyone.

Your Relationship As Gaming Simile

Matthew Kumar offers up ways to describe relationships using your favorite games:

After reading Boyd’s description of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend as a game of Doom II played on Nightmare mode, are you struggling for that perfect simile to describe your relationship with that certain someone? Well look no further! Our scientific team have come up with 52 perfect descriptions, from lovely to awful, to fit any situation that suits. And so:

Our relationship is like…
1. Killer 7. I don’t understand what you’re saying, and I don’t even know who I am any more.
2. Resident Evil 4. I’m protecting you from all the world’s evils, and you won’t even let me look at your pants.
3. Super Mario Kart. I’m sabotaging the progress of others to reach the rainbow road.
-- Mathew Kumar’s Workblog » Blog Archive » 52 Gaming Similes To Describe Your Relationship (via insertcredit)

There's many more where that came from...

He Really Is "That Announcer Guy"

The guy in the Geico ads narrating a woman's insurance story in the tone of "that guy who announces movie trailers" ... really is one of the highest paid workers for announcing movie trailers, with about 5,000 trailers under his belt:

"He's been, for 40 years, the best in this business -- in the shadows," says longtime friend and fellow voice-over artist Paul Pape. "This is a great little benefit for him at this point in his life."

At age 66, LaFontaine still averages seven to 10 voice-over sessions a day, with the potential for up to 40 varying reads. He does all of this from a home studio his wife nicknamed "the Hole," where an incessantly chirping fax machine delivers scripts hour after hour.

One recent afternoon, LaFontaine cranked out three takes for the upcoming The Simpsons Movie, and four promo reads for the Fox comedy The Winner -- followed by promos for Trading Spouses, Nanny 911, 24 and more.

In the heydays of the 1980s and '90s, when LaFontaine might do 200 reads a day, he got his own limousine and hired a driver to shuttle him between studios.

"The voice that launched a thousand movies . . . thousands of movies, actually," began a video tribute at the Hollywood Reporter's Key Art Awards, where LaFontaine was presented a lifetime-achievement award in 2005.
-- Geico ad exposes face of 'announcer guy'

Art And Mini-Games

‘Free Beer and Counter-Game Strategies’ (2007), mounted at Jack Hanley in San Francisco, was harder to grasp or negotiate: a bizarre, messy games room. The exhibition consisted of seven simple two-player games, ‘machines’ whose processes culminated in a single, screwball-symbolic act: the frantic smashing of a potato. Each gamer was asked to assume an archetypal position in order to begin play. For The Poetry Machine (2007) a player – ‘the poet’ – rolled a potato – his or her ‘poem’ – down a tube. As it emerged from the other end, the ‘critic’ smashed it with a mallet, before pushing the squashed tuber into a basket at the other end. Other games presented different relations to the same end: The Anti-Piracy Machine (2007) ‘model(led) the noble struggle against counterfeit goods of all kinds’, culminating in the ‘police’ squashing ‘bootleg’ potatoes. Another game produced protected digital material (another potato) while ‘hackers’ at the other end hammered away.

These games were intended to represent the absurdity of the power relations that surround and superintend the production of culture – in each case an act as pointless as squashing vegetables. As the potatoes ripened, the room began to swarm with flies – an appropriate enough metaphor for a set of rotten situations. The danger of these circumstances is that the objects produced merely represent their ‘infringement’ manneristically, rather than enacting it. The chairs’ status as art objects complicates this matter considerably. Are they not a commentary on the conditions of copyright, rather than a clear violation of it? I don’t mean to battle over semantics, except that that is what the identity of these things depends on so completely: the strange fact that what’s shown in art galleries becomes art (and its makers become artists) by the force of its context. The strange, difficult force of Duchampian nominalism poses problems for political work like this – especially insofar as ‘modelling’ requires a symbolic rather than a pragmatic language. ‘Instead of the illusion of things’, wrote Clement Greenberg in 1948, ‘we are offered the illusion of modalities: namely, that matter is incorporeal, weightless and exists only optically, like a mirage.’
-- Superflex Review [frieze]

If art can play games ... can't games play with art?

A PlayStation Phone?

Rumours that Sony Ericsson might be planning a gaming phone first surfaced last September after a press conference in Sweden. The firm's senior VP of product and application planning, Rikko Sakaguchi, let slip that Sony Ericsson was "working on something" on the gaming front, but "the surprise must be kept for the future".

All went quiet for a few months, but then last week the rumours flared up again, after a post on Spanish blog Clipset. The gist: Sony Ericsson is planning to revamp the user interface on some of its phones to mirror the XMB menu bar system used on both PSP and PlayStation 3. And that this may be a sign of an imminent PlayStation-branded phone.

(Running the Clipset post through Babelfish tells us that it "is almost safe that the next moving bodies of average and high range of Sony-Ericsson will change their system of menus by one tracing to the one of the PSP (so and as has made already the PS3), with a horizontal line... with the basic options and emergent icons in vertical for the submenus". Clear as mud, we hope you'll agree).
-- If Sony Ericsson made a PlayStation Phone... [PocketGamer]

I dunno - does Sony need another hardware line to worry about? Granted, Sony Ericsson makes some fine phones and I don't really think it would even be a huge challenge to them. The XMB menu system make some sense in terms of mobile design even without the inclusion of games ... and who makes a phone without a few games these days?

But what would they do with it? Unless it ran PSP or PS games that were downloadable it seems like a wasted concept.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Notes From Management

I don't know if everyone realizes that the video previews in the left column will actually load here, on page, which keeps people from getting pulled off site just to be curious about the thumbnail. It's actually a pretty slick way Google has it set up and I find myself poking at them occasionally at home. I'm trying to figure out how best to word that in like five words to put into the column. Videos load above stories?

I'm also reading a lot Blogger's Code Of Conduct and all the fray that swirled before and after it being published. So I figured it was a just time to clear up Cathode Tan's policy on comments:

Due to the amount of spam posts Blogger attracts, people are required to log in before commenting here. That's not my desire, I'd prefer to allow people to post anonymously if they so wanted. I'm not concerned with your identity as much as why and what you're posting. Which brings us to the real point:

Cathode Tan is my blog. I write here. I reserve the right to ignore or delete your comments for any reason. That sounds flatly draconian on purpose because its been my experience its better to just come right out and be flatly draconian than dance around the finer points.

So here are the finer points:

Anyone can say anything they want as long as it is pertinent to the post at hand and isn't some attempt to sell readers of this site some product. Those two things go together. If you're shilling some product - go away. If you want to link to something that isn't relevant to the post - go away. If you decide to get mean and nasty about some poster (include myself or anyone else who posts here) instead of being mean and nast about the post at hand - go away. Violating this basic and simple concept will result in deletion.

You can be as mean and nasty about what I write until the cows come home. And I don't own any cows. If I'm wrong or being illogical or have fifteen typos in a row - say what you will about it. If you think I'm being a fanboy, call me a fanboy - but base it on something I wrote. You can disagree and kick and scream about what's being written. Going offtopic and personal isn't going to be tolerated though. I actually prefer a lively argument over silence from time to time.

I don't even mind profanity, although I do try and avoid myself.

On a side note, if you're just honestly trying to promote a gaming orientated site or have something to say which isn't related to a specific, direct your attention to the cathodemail address under "Hate Mail". I will warn people that the blogroll is pretty well cultivated at this point and if you send me a link, I'll probably try reading your blog for a while and see if it is anything that I would poke at a daily or weekly basic - since that's the criteria I've generally used.

Game Play: More on Fable

I think it would be safe to say I'm addicted to Fable at the moment. If I didn't have to justify my existence to, you know, the man and all, I'd be home playing it right now. The game is seriously reminding me of such greats as Deus Ex or even Zelda - and I know that will probably be seen as a kind of hyperbole to those who have already played it and moved on (especially the Xbox version).

The game just lets you own so much of the experience, however, that I can't help the comparison. I get that it isn't as open-ended as any of the Elder Scrolls games - this is not a "single player MMO" as it were - although portions of the design remind of Phantasy Star Online if there were nothing but NPC's to fight (set areas with random encounters). Still, the control you're allowed over the character's life in general is remarkable as is the attention to detail to making quests a more than linear experience.

That said, however, there are things I wish they would look to changing in that regard for the next version. Allowing the option to fail missions, for instance. Why can't the hero become evil through his own shortcomings? Plus, the options aren't always clear. I had considered letting Twinblades live, but didn't realize the only way to accomplish that was by walking away from him (I kept trying to talk to him and he kept asking me to kill him ... so ....)

I'm still pretty early in the game - so my early impressions might evolve as I play more. I was thinking about getting KOTOR II after this, but I'm afraid it will pale in comparison.

The Fate Of The 20GB PlayStation 3

SonyStyle drops the 20GB sku which triggers a new round of people wondering if Sony at large will drop the line completely. The unit is impossible to find in stores and actually sells for more than the 60GB on eBay - which should be some econ student's thesis paper somehow.

There is a substantial question as to why Sony would keep the 20GB around. It has done nothing to help the perception of the PS3's price point. Retailers are clearly not overly interested in keeping the unit on shelves. Consumers have some advantage with the product since the PlayStation 3 is friendlier to adding third party components than say, the 360 Core model, but the $100 price gap barely justifies this modularity.

Dropping the 20GB might make the manufacturing simpler and hence theoretically cheaper, but I would doubt we'd really see any benefit there. It generally takes major shifts like component prices or chip updates to see any significant drop in price and since Sony is already bleeding significantly red on the product - they're going to be slow to reduce the price.

However, removing the 20GB option would be a logical time to also announce a price cut to smooth the transition. Drop the entire line to one SKU and reduce the $599 tag to $549. I'd guess, though, that we wouldn't see this until there is another reason for the price drop to justify the new cost.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Beyond The Red Line: Battlestar Game

Beyond The Red Line is a total conversion using the Freespace 2 engine that allows you to fly Viper missions from the Battlestar Pegasus. Looks like they have Windows, Linux and Mac demos - and I would get them while they're hot since I don't see any notice about legality posted on the site so who knows how long this will be available.

Would iTunes Ever Sell Porn?

But that was then; this is now. And right now, with iTV shipping, porn could make Apple some serious money.

Why hasn’t it happened, you ask? Well, it most definitely isn’t because Apple is taking the “moral high ground” on the issue. Rest assured, if they thought they could legally get away with selling orphans to Cambodia for use as bait in tiger fighting matches, they would. Assuming, of course, that the negative publicity didn’t outweigh their 40% profit margins. I don’t want this statement to be taken as an indictment against Apple though. After all, they’re just a company like any other, which means they are in the business of making money. So, it isn’t a question of whether Apple morally opposes selling porn when the reality is that they will sell porn whenever they feel they can safely do so. And by “safely” I mean “won’t get killed by the moral backlash” generated by hordes of outraged Americans.

That, I think, is the real issue here. Because if Apple was serious about providing this type of content, then they would get this content to iTunes one way or another. Licensing deals, DRM, and contract issues are just minor problems to be solved. After all, if they can sign Disney they can sign anybody.
-- When Will iTunes Sell Porn? [Apple Matters]

It's an interesting point - although consider the tight ties between Apple and Disney (with a Pixar in the middle) you're about as likely to see money shot clips on iTunes as you will Microsoft selling OS X. Apple is already making bushels of money with iTunes and they don't need to risk it by offering family unfriendly material. Netflix made a similar decision early in it's growth - removing sexually explicit movies to better insure a "quality" movie night for their core audience of nuclear families.

So maybe the real question is ... if not Apple then who?

Anther Slant On PC Versus Console

Yet bad habits are slipping in. Regular firmware updates add functionality, sure, but some will find the prompts confusing. Also game patches are an unwelcome consequence of consoles going online and providing developers with a second, third or fourth chance to get their game code right. You could argue that if a developer finds a new way to get their multiplayer code running quicker then it's a good idea to send it out as a post-release extra, but it's a slippery slope - toward the point where you expect a game to have a new patch everytime you load it up.

Maybe that's what the founder of Trion World Network meant when he said about the days of the console being numbered - it wasn't a jingoistic, pro-PC rant, it was an acknowledgement that consoles are turning into PCs, bad habits and all. Or vice versa, of course.

Just what are we supposed to put beneath our TVs these days?
-- Consoles: "days are numbered," says PC developer I've not heard of. But does he have a point? [Guardian Gamesblog]

This is starting to sound a lot like an ongoing debate I used to have with a friend: PDA's versus cell phones. Who wants to do any serious computing on a keypad, I would say. Who wants to lug around modems for connectivity, he would say. Where's the software, I would say. Get me a drink, he would say. And on and on and on.

The funny thing was that we had both assumed the same thing - eventually the convergence of PDA's and cell phones would make the pointless debate completely moot. It essentially has worked out this way - cell phones and PDA's are a blended marketplace now (and I'm humorously trying to upgrade my cell phone to one with a proper keyboard). This is a natural evolution of products which share similar functions in similar spaces. If people are going to carry around a gadgets - slowly those gadgets will merge. Now MP3 players are joining the fun.

So when Media PC's became an honest to gosh distinction in terms of OS and hardware, as opposed to the vanilla "multimedia computer" (which, for the youngin's, used to mean it came with a proper sound card) and as computers and televisions begin to share form factors and functionality, this convergence - which has been long discussed by both console and PC makers - is finally coming.

When high def television becomes the standard - it will either be nearly complete or explode into action. Once the majority of living rooms has a television that can support the kind of resolution required for proper browsing of the web or using desktop application (and not simply big icon, big font rotary directories for browsing media) ... the need for having a spare computer in the study for checking email will become neglible.

When I went to a Netscape conference so, so many years ago, someone showed a smoke-and-mirrors demo of using a web browser integrated with television. Watch a sports game, pause the game, look up a player online for stats, check your email and some other scores, and then continue watching the game. At the time it was farfetched and nearly laughable.

Now, it's just a corner away.

So which device will power this kind of couch potatoe empowerment? Well, I'd say it will be similar to the argument I had before. The answer will be both. Eventually it will be hard to distinct between a PlayStation and Media PC because they'll be remarkably similar in design with simply different OS and configuration. Viewed in this way, the 360 Elite and PS3 are actually remarkably similar products - slightly before their time but geared to prime a market which will be eager to control their high definition content via a computer.

Proper PVR capabilities are next. Once the transition between playing games, getting information, and watching television is seamless - it will be a lot harder to tell the difference between a PC and a console.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Oh Happy Easter

The Girl and I have just returned from a few days on the homestead which ended with getting stuck in traffic for an hour or so - so I've been pretty incommunicado since Thursday and too tired to catch up now. Regular operations to return tomorrow.

Disturbing holiday pic via matallica's photostream.