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Friday, August 24, 2007

iPhone? What about my Gphone?

On Techmeme:

*Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here* Google, the nearly $13.5 billion
search engine major, is believed to be a fortnight away from the worldwide
launch of its much-awaited Google Phone (Gphone) and has started talks with
service providers in India ...
Read Full Article, Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here (

Supposedly a worldwide launch is about to be announced, if one is to believe the mumblevine crop. I'm rather on the fence about it and unfortunately the people I know at Google are both incredibly secretive and probably not related to the project, should it exist.

Google's really won me over with most of their apps though - I religiously use GMail,GReader and GDocs these days. Even on my 8525 phone, I mostly use GMail through Pocket IE.

On a completely different note - apparently PDA phones are extremely rare in St. Lucia. One of the zipline staff told me a phone like mine could sell for about two grand on the island.

Wonder how much a new Gphone would cost?

Halo 3's "Forge" Map Editor

On Gaming Today:

Halo 3 just got a million times better with one simple, yet really sweet
addition. Campaign mode just got a whole lot more exiting than ever before
with the addition of the "Forge" map editing system, which was announced at ...
Read Full Article, GC: Halo 3 Map Editor

We've mentioned before that if you remove all the hype from Sony's "Game 3.0" concept - you pretty much just go back to good old days of programs liked DoomEd. This kind of user-generated content is something PC users have grown to enjoy, if not expect, for some time.

What's a shame is that Halo 3 won't share the same kind of possibility that Unreal Tournament III for the PS3 apparently will have - integration between the PS3 and PC platforms. Don't get me wrong - a Halo 3 map editor is a great thing ... but it's a shame the whole "Games For Windows" marketblitz can't get tapped for something useful (like PC users making maps and mods for 360 users).

Red Dragon Inn - Fantasy Boozing Board Game

On BoardGameGeek Recent Additions (review):

Ever wondered what happens to a group of adventurers after they return,
victorious, from delving into the darkest dungeons? According to Slugfest
Games' new title, *The Red Dragon Inn*, they head for the nearest tavern and
spend the night drinking, ...
Read Full Article, Red Dragon Inn, The - Review of The Red Dragon Inn

I swear that could be a new genre. The game's apparently just out and is getting pretty decent reviews. Spewglist has another.

I think in honor of Hurricane Dean, though, next Game Night will be a Catan marathon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BioShock's Potential Controversy

On Joystiq:

We knew it was coming. Any game that features little girls as an enemy was
bound to eventually draw the attention of the mainstream media. That
attention has been brought by the *Boston ...
Read Full Article, BioShock's Little Sister killing gets mainstream attention

I bet this doesn't have much traction in the long run. The article in question carries forth many of the now average stock fearmongering tactics ... basically linking to similar stories with poor science and scare tactics. The opening paragraph refers to the "ultraviolent gaming genre" to let you know of its slant in the beginning.

For the record - if a little girl was in fact some kind of lethal mutant ... I might indeed pull the trigger. I bet the Patriot Ledger might as well.

Indie Game Project Post-Mortem

Via TIGSource:

Hamish McLeod has a nice post-mortem for War Angels up on his blog. An
entertaining and self-reflective article, and certainly anyone who has been
on a project that's spiraled out of control can empathize...
Read Full Article, War Angels Post-Mortem

It's a quick read and a very nice, very honest, and very telling report of what happens to a vision sometimes.

My favorite bit:

Right at the end of the project it actually took me AND a friend a WHOLE MONTH to make HALF A LEVEL with FOUR MINUTES OF GAMEPLAY. Whichever way you looked at this fact, something was not right.
-- Hamish Mcleod

Wheel On Fire

Via Gaming Today:

With all the bad hype about the Xbox 360 and the "red rings of death",
Microsoft is being proactive with a new problem discovered with one of its
gaming accessories. Microsoft announced yesterday that it's voluntarily
offering a ...
Read Full Article, Retrofit Needed for Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel

Also called the "white ring of death" apparently - Microsoft's steering wheel accessory can literally smoke sometimes. Fire is bad, Microsoft. I'm willing to attribute that kid nearly electrocuting himself trying to cool his 360 to Darwinian principles rather than thermodynamic one - but frying your steering wheel is a little more embarrassing for Redmond.

iPod Nano Fake Real ... Real Fake?

Via Engadget:

That really sketchy looking photo of the iPod nano "phatty" from yesterday?
Yeah, you can officially file that under *deceptively sketchy looking* --
Apple's legal team called demanding we take the shot ...
Read Full Article, Apple's lawyers called, the iPod nano "phatty" is apparently the real deal

I don't know what the proper grammar is on something like that. Apparently a new nano is at least in play, if not in the works.

PS3 Starting To Outpace 360?

Via Joystiq:

Pachter ain't the only analyst predicting the July NPD numbers will show the
PS3 has finally outsold the Xbox 360. Turns out Lazard's Colin Sebastian
predicts the same thing, saying the PS3 ...
Read Full Article, More analysts predict PS3 ahead of Xbox in July

Maybe Sony should have done that price drop earlier after all. Now they need to get their library squared up and I might actually consider one once we pull the trigger on a HDTV.

iPods May Run OS X Soon(ish)

Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):

The latest rumor to hit the iPod trail, besides the obviously faked nanos,
is that the iPod is headed for an OS X-based system, and that Apple is
planning to unify all of their ...
Read Full Article, Rumor: OS X on the iPod in September

Soonish in rumorland mumblevine terms, of course. Makes sense - although it seems that the iPod would really just be a an iPhone without the Phone at that point.

Actually, looking at it that way - would it even be that hard to produce?

Games To Scare Your Children With

Via BoardGameGeek Recent Additions (review):

So, your tough little boy sees the cool box with the gnarly skull and all
that and says he wants it. He's like 4 or 5 or something.

The game is full of all sorts of spooky bits. Tiny plastic snakes (straight
as a stick, ala Moses), tiny eye balls, ...
Read Full Article

Mostly, this review just made me giggle.

Soundwave MP3 Player

Via Engadget:

Yeah, we've got a soft spot for all things Transformers, and while Takara
Tomy's Transformers MP3 player isn't the most advanced DAP on the block, the
fun factor is undeniable. Thankfully, the folks over at ...
Read Full Article

Note From Management: Odd Posts May Occur

I'm testing out some Reader/Blogger integration stuff. Your afternoon may vary.

Dean on a 65nm 360

Arguably, the Falcon-based machines will be inherently more stable. Machines that use them will probably have fewer thermal issues. Those machines should be more reliable, logically speaking. But that is conjecture. I haven’t seen one of these Falcon-based machines and no one can say whether they are in fact more reliable.

So if you wait to buy an Xbox 360 that has the Falcon board in it, then logically you’re making a smart move. You’ll be buying a console that will last longer and have less risk of failure. However, that is theoretical. I have no idea whether that will be the case.

But here’s the problem for Microsoft. They have a lot of inventory of the older 90-nanometer machines. Many of these machines don’t have the HDMI ports for sure. It has to sell these machines out before it starts selling the Falcon-based machines. That means that a lot of consumers are going to be buying machines that don’t have the highest quality.
-- Exclusive: What Microsoft’s Falcon project is going to mean for when you should buy an Xbox 360

Dean confirms the Falcon is coming - but can't really say when, especially because of that last paragraph. I bet they take a page from Sony's book and add a new top-tier, or replace the Elite model with the Falcon build, and reduce the price on everything beneath. I almost certainly won't be a 360 owner until this change comes around.

Kids And Death

So - simply because without visual stimuli we might have passed out moments after getting off work, The Girl and I rented The Bridge To Tarabithia last night. We'd been listening to a lot of Harry Potter lately and I thought it might meld.

Jeebus. OK, I'm totally going to spoil the movie here. Someone dies. Not in some weird fantasy sense that gets reversed later or anything. No, dies as in that tragic way that happens to some people. In fact, there is very little fantasy to this movie. It is largely about this kid's crappy life and - just when it gets better - what happens when someone dies. If you've seen trailers for this film ... be warned - you're just seeing a trailer for the sappy 10 minute finale of the movie, not the other 80 minutes of the film.

This isn't really a review though as much as a question - why do movies feel kids need to learn about death? Especially in surprising, tragic and sometimes extremely violent ways. Ever seen Ring Of Bright Water? It's essentially a Disney geographic pic mashed up with a snuff film. Who wants to show a kid over an hour worth of material with a cute otter frolicking about only to have it get bludgeoned to death brutally with a shovel?

As a taboo subject to deal with - death is pretty complicated. Unlike the other taboo elements of life, like sex and violence - we don't have a lot of solid data about death. Plus - it's not exactly common. Sure, the family cat or fish probably won't outlive your kid's childhood ... but do you really need a media meme to deal with that?

And of course, to bring this all the way around, I don't see any hoard of psychologists suggesting that these themes are bad for kids because they endorse murdering people or animals ... despite the fact that the films routinely make the event out to be some kind of positive by the end of the plot.

Just a question is all. And to think I almost got a horror movie but didn't because I didn't want anything too depressing.

Cosplay Right And Wrong

Two links this morning, both via the fabulous insertcredit. First is the insanely well done Castle Crashers Cosplay - not only well done but doesn't take any time to view. The same can't be said for this Street Fighter video, which might make your eyes bleed after the initial "credits".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Are Modders Aiming Too High?

God, I've been saying it for years - but it is so good to hear someone else say it. And from Valve no less - the very company that is probably most responsible for that particular bar's spatial location. Everyone equates mods to Counter-Strike these days and expects that a mod's main achievement should be a commercial product.

As I've posted on before - the problem with that is that is creates artificial market pressure for a community that should be removed from such things. They shouldn't have to worry about what is popular or in demand ... nor should they be worrying about how the professional industry will receive their work. Mods should be free to play and push and see what's possible ... not necessarily what is marketable.

You Are Now Departing Tamriel

Oblivion was definately escapist gaming for me - a secondary world to jump into with all the ramping stress of switching jobs, getting married and making travel and party plans in general.

What's odd about the game, in retrospect, is how it can go from being extremely engrossing to detached. When you first get into the game, you can be almost overwhelmed by the feeling of open choices - but by the time you've completed most of the main storyline, Tamriel begins to have a wide landscape of sameness all around.

In fact, the real irony of this game is that you might enjoy it the most if you don't try and do everything. Just occasionally venture off into side stories and missions and focus on the main story ... and by the time you finish the game will still have that shiny newness. I went the decidedly other route and mastered the Fighter's, Mage's and Assassin's guilds before even worrying about that whole dead king thing. Also became Arena champion along the way.

So it's not to say I didn't enjoy the game - clearly I played the hell out of it. And some portions are simply brilliant. When I accidentally got afflicted with vampirism, I had to decide what to do with it. I decided to take the quest for a cure, but remained a vamp for a good portion of the game before the abilities didn't seem to really help all that much. A handful of the missions, like the one where you hallucinate your way into a raid on a village, border on genius.

My few real complaints with the game mirror ones I had with Morrowind. For one thing, I ended up cheating. I didn't really like the idea, but some of the game mechanics just feel out of sorts. For instance, I could have spent hours and hours making enough potions to gain enough gold to keep my magical items thriving (not to mention creating them in the first place) - but that hardly seemed like fun. I'm not saying that having a price for item charges is a bad thing ... but many of the better items in the game run out of charges incredibly fast and can be quite costly to recharge. What's the reward in having earned that powerful weapon when you have to be careful when to use it out of fear of discharging it?

Naturally this can be worked around (Azura's Star plus a Soul Capture for instance) - but the same goes for using any item in the game (until you master Armorer of course).

Also, I think it's a shame that one of the more interesting aspects of the game - creating custom magic items - is really sidelined for the Mages. Like Fable, I found myself obtaining multiple skills in various schools instead of being focused on one - but it seems like this mechanic should have an outlet outside the Mage's Guild itself.

All that aside though, Oblivion offers a vast world of opportunity. Definately glad I had the PC version so that I could work around aspects I didn't like though. A vibrant mod community exists for the game, and I can see why. I might take an interest in trying to build a few mods myself - if I can find enough free time to poke at it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So ... where was I?

This week feels a little like waking up on the other side of the rabbit hole, speaking strictly in Wonderland terms. A new job that I commute into the city via bus instead of hauling out to the suburbs with a couple hundred other cars. Married ... with a devious ring which seems intent on slipping off if I dare try and wash my hands. Two weeks of nearly complete travelling and old habits already seem to get all kinds of mixed up. I almost forgot Google Reader existed until I decided to simply mark all my feeds as read this morning so that I wouldn't even try to browse through them.

And then this morning I kept looking for my car keys. That I didn't need.

And while everyone wants to focus on the hurricane, it was such a tiny portion of what was really an amazing two weeks.

So now I'm just regrouping. My time is a little scattered and I need to take stock in what projects I was playing with before life got so terribly in the way. I've also found myself with a whole new line of tech to play with - Flex - which combines what I like about general web development while removing most of my complaints about Flash. Plus I'll be working with some Apollo/AIR while here, so I don't know what I might use there for some personal projects.

I'll probably post an opinion on Oblivion when I get a chance today, as I managed to finish the main storyline a few weeks ago.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Is how a friend of ours described our situation as Hurricane Dean bore down on St. Lucia while we were having our Pitons and beach drinks. We're so seriously fine, however, it's almost embarrassing. For one thing, it was only a cat 2 when it hit us - making for a fairly decent storm but little that could threaten a modern building like the resort. Still, everything without a decent concrete foundation got trashed. I might have some more pics to show later.

But in short - we're back, we're fine and we're married. I just started my new job this morning and we're still feeling the after effects of being hauled around airports for a couple days. Atlanta International was worse than Hurricane Dean, actually. My usual opinion is that airports are designed for airplanes, not people. I'm not sure Hartsfield Jackson is designed for either.

Although nothing beats being assigned a coach seat when we check in through the first class terminal - which happened to us out of Lucia. What kind of drug abuse is required for that kind of on the job performance?

Anyway, regular broadcasts should re-commence sometime this week.