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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Guild Wars Updates

ArenaNet has issued a massive gameplay update to Guild Wars. I'm seriously impressed with the level of support they give to this game, throwing dirt into the face of naysayers who claim MMO's simply require monthly fees to handle such ongoing support. Course, they may also be riding on a bet that most of us are happy enough to buy their next, probably near full priced, expansion when it hits. Which in response I'd say, it can't come any time too soon.

I'm probably going to log in soon, so I haven't had a chance to try these tweaks out yet. What I like though, is nothing sounds too horribly nerfed or empowered. Every PlanetSide update seemed to cause all new problems with the way people were used to playing - and that kind of upset is one of my issues with the genre. ArenaNet seems to not only be avoiding the pain of monthly fees, but the annoyance of unfinished game design as well.

Update: Thanks to Brinstar, I see GameSpot has some details on the second chapter.

They said this, They said that

The BD versus HD-DVD war of the words continues. Microsoft says HD-DVD manages better storage, Dell says that's a load of MSCrap. Now Microsoft clarifies, saying that HD-DVD will be ready with 30GB now:

HD DVD is proven to deliver 30GB capacity today, with the potential to deliver even greater capacity. The 50GB claim for BD-ROM discs is unproven and will not be available for many years to come, based on discussions with major Japanese and US replicators. Replicators not only do not have test lines running, they cannot even pre-order the equipment to begin evaluating this disc.
-- Blu-ray fires back at HD DVD camp, Microsoft responds

The claim that BD 50GB disc is "many years" away seems to fly a bit into the face of logic. Plus, there's still the fact that Sony plans on shipping the PS3 with a BD drive while Microsoft felt forced to delay HD-DVD capacity with the 360 (but ... I thought it was ready today?).

In other words, there will probably be more mudslinging like this from either camp. Mostly stuff your average consumer couldn't really give two beans about. VHS taught us simply - the first one to achieve a sizeable marketshare is likely to be the one to stay. Course, DVDs have become less and less profitable for movie studios, so you really think a universal standard would be beneficial to the whole industry in order to produce a replacement as soon as possible.

Ah, who am I kidding. They'll just blame their lack of profits on pirates as usual.

Friday, September 30, 2005

More MS Speak

Just caught this tidbit off of Kotaku. MS Exec Robbie Bach is bragging about how half of 360 users will be on Live. The trick? Well, it depends on your definition of online:

But he's confident that offering the free "Silver" version of Xbox Live to 360 will ensure that around 50 per cent of purchasers will take their console online. That doesn't mean they'll be playing online, though - consumers will have to pay for a "Gold" subscription for that privilege.
-- Half of all Xbox 360 owners will use Live - Bach

Hey Bach, I'm not sure if you've done your research ... but the 360 is a gaming console. That means if I can't play online, I'm not really using XBox Live ... now am I? Normally when someone says they are going to give me something silver for free, I'd expect it to be a good thing.

I'm going send Bach a Christmas gift - a big sign saying "Enjoy Your Platinum!" slapped onto an empty box.

Call it MSInformation .... or just misinformation

Recently Microsoft and Intel made a joint announcement that they were backing HD-DVD for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, some of those reasons were made on false statements, as Dell and HP have now illustrated:

"Microsoft and Intel's announcement erroneously indicates that HD-DVD has an advantage in a number of areas," they claimed, pointing to the chip and software giants' statement that HD DVD offers a greater storage capacity than BD.

As The Register noted at the time, Intel and MS' claim that HD DVD's 30GB capacity is better than BD's 25GB is nonsense: the two companies conveniently ignored the fact they were talking about dual-layer HD DVD discs and single-layer BDs.
-- Dell, HP slam Intel, MS' 'erroneous' HD DVD claims

The only legitimate problem I've ever read about Sony's Blu-Ray technology is that ... well, it's Sony's and being Sony it's more closed off than your average format. These are the people who brought us things like the Mini-Disc, and the Mini-Disc II: Electric Boogaloo (AKA UMD). However, this industry squabbling is going to result in a direct cost to the user or even more likely a slow adoption rate for technology already doomed to a slow technology rate (how many games are released today on DVD? Exactly ... ).

Course, the PlayStation 3 may change all that. Coming with a BD drive out of the box, there may be a pre-packaged demographic for the format who could care less what Microsoft or Intel lies about.

Fans and their films

I'm quite glad to see that Serenity is hovering at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. The fact that Whedon gets the chance to make this film at all is simply an amazing testament to the fans it's created. Remember, though, Browncoats, that Universal has said they are up for making more movies provided this one generates enough profit. Vote with your wallets and see it twice.

Mirrormask isn't faring as well on the reviews, but if you're lucky enough to be one of the cities in it's limited release, I'd see it anyway. It's not like a Gaiman/Henson mashup was going to garner massive mainstream response - but seeing this movie adds more dollars that studios would be willing to spend on expiremental artsy projects with muppets. How can that be a bad thing?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

God Dropped His Bunny

Story at Ananova. Thanks FiringSquad.

A $100 Laptop for Developing Nations

By far the coolest thing I'll read today. has a feature on a joint MIT and non-profit project to create a $100 laptop suitable for developing nations. I'm a firm believer that the technology gap is real and a serious problem, so I'm happy to see efforts likes this being closer to reality.

Some SuicideGirls Pack It Up

According to Wired, there is some major brouha a brewing with some discontented Suicide Girls (repetitive, I know) deciding to part ways with the fem-friendly, punk-infused, tattoed company:

"The only reasons I'm doing this and I'm sticking my neck out is that people, especially females who are 18 years old and want to be a SuicideGirl, need to understand who they're representing," said 28-year-old ex-model Jennifer Caravella of San Francisco, who said she goes by the name "Sicily." "It's certainly not a group of women who are working together for this."
-- SuicideGirls Gone AWOL

Also see the blog UnPink for more (and also for the best use of the term "Jiggly Fall" ever).

Doom 3 on the CheapBox

I finally found my Doom 3 Disk 1 last night and re-installed it onto the CheapBox. The Girl and I have company for a week, so I didn't really get time to put it through it's paces ... but the bottom line is - it runs OK. I'm probably stuck on low quality mode, but it's hard to tell because I remember that opening scene would slow even my old rig. The CB seemed to get about 20-60 FPS as a steady range, with it usually hitting smoothly above 30, but that was just bouncing around the lobby and not killing imps. I'll post more as I find it.

In other news, Guild Wars still works in high detail, no AA, just fine.

And before anyone cringes, I still like Doom 3 gosh darnit. I do think id made some serious mistakes in the general design - largely inventory control. Personally, instead of the generic instant light everyone else uses, I would have preferred offhand grenades that could be swapped out for flares.

Let's Get Digital

Next Generation has two interviews of note when it comes to the concept of digital delivery. First is a chat with Greg Costikyan about Manifesto Games, where they manage to wrangle a few more details about how the company expects to float. Second is a talk with three different companies about how digital delivery might work for the market in general.

Now, I haven't tried Stardock's TotalGaming.Net just yet, but technically it seems to hit all the right buttons. It's relatively hands off, doesn't shove DRM down anyone's throat and keep things simple. I have used GarageGames to purchase their Torque 2D license and found it an excellent digital setup. Everytime I log in, I have a little list of licenses I've purchased and if I needed to download them again, I can.

Personally, I prefer either setup to Valve's Steam. Steam is way too intrusive of a design for me. I've even used's similar EXEtender application, and that's far less problematic than Steam. Steam is, I think, it's own worst point of failure. Anything goes wrong with it - installation, registration, etc. ... and you've lost everything you have ever transacted with it. That's too much pressure for a single application. The only thing Steam has going for it is Valve's fairly impressive library and the fact that it's the only way to access them.

However, I guess we should hand it to Valve for being the first major developer to attempt it. While indies probably have the most to gain from it, the whole industry is going to need to head this way - consoles and desktops alike. If anything, the five year estimation almost seems somewhat far out, considering all the consoles will be delivered next year with their own idea of a marketplace.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Games Manifesto?

A little while back I had noted Dean Takahashi's speech on funding game development. Well, now it seems a couple of industry figures have taken up a bit of a serious response to that speech. Greg Costikyan and Johnny Wilson, who will be forming a new company, Manifesto Games:

Game industry veterans Greg Costikyan and Johnny Wilson announced today that they are joining forces to launch Manifesto Games, a new venture to build a strong and viable independent game industry. Its site will offer independently-developed games for sale via direct download--a single place where fans of offbeat and niche games can find "the best of the rest," the games that the retail channel doesn't think worth carrying. Three types of games will be offered: truly independent, original content from creators without publisher funding; the best PC games from smaller PC game publishers, including games in existing genres like wargames, flight sims, and graphic adventures; and niche MMOs.

Right now there's not much more than a placeholder website and chutzpah, but at least someone is, as Greg himself is putting it, putting his money where his mouth is. I'm tempted to offer up some free web services myself, although I'm not quite sure yet how this company will distinct itself from places like GarageGames or

Strange Bedmates

I know it's a bit of old news, but I'm still a little stunned that Palm is making a Windows based PDA. I had a fansite for the Pilot when it was first release, I've owned more than an average amount of Palm related gear over the years and I've always thought that fundamentally it was a great OS for handhelds.

So while I'm just shaking my head, ZDNet explains it better than I could.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Serenity Game Kinda Small

I can just hear Jayne growling, "It's kinda scrawny, don't ya think?"

There is a game licensed for the soon to premiere Joss Whedon space flick, Serenity, but it's not what any of us would have hoped. The movie, based on the much beloved but short-lived TV show Firefly, will only have a mobile game to it's name. According to GameSpot, it's not bad, but still ... that seems like a real opportunity wasted for a fictional universe as unique and fleshed out at Whedon's. Maybe Universal should try playing the genre game.

Chasing the Dragon

How many bloggers do you know would dare use a heroin euphemism to describe a religious movement? Well, it's early and I'm cranky. Those awaiting geekier and gamier bits should wait until tomorrow.

I'm talking about Intelligent Design for a moment. Simply because I keep hearing it on the news and to be honest, it's one of the more annoying things in this particular hemisphere right now. For proponents of this philosophy to deny it's religious in nature is simply disenginous. It's only a few steps away from declaring that "God" doesn't actually reference a Judeo-Christian deity (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The fact is that there's a fervent minority in America who seriously want it to be an official Christian country. There's bible colleges teaching lawyers how to turn biblical law into real law, political action committees to spin their ethics into legislature, etc., etc.

Personally, I'm an agnostic. I try earnestly to be respectful of all beliefs because I believe the divine and supernatural is, by definition, somewhat incomprehensible to us mortals. I understand that faith crosses this divide and am generally, if anything, impressed by people's beliefs. Course, I also think faith is a personal thing and get really annoyed when people try to sneak it into the water supply.

For those who haven't been watching the story unfold, Intelligent Design is essentially Creationism minus any specific God. Whereas Creationism teaches that God and only God has the authority and contract labor to create the stars, the moon, you and me ... Intelligent Design merely says that the stars, the moon, you and me are too complicated not to be the result of an intelligent agent. What that agent may be, ID doesn't suggest.

And that's why Intelligent Design is not a scientific concept.

Carl Sagan once purposed that one limit of accepting a hypothesis is that it must have a testable parameter. His example was having someone come over and say "A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage". OK, so you ask to see it. But the dragon is invisible. OK, so have it breath fire. Well, the fire is invisible too. Maybe we could try to see it infrared? Well, the dragon ... and it's fire ... is heatless. And so on down the road until this person denies any actual method of testing for the dragon, but insists on it's existence.

ID actually takes a step backwards from the dragon example. It just says there is something in the garage, but they won't even tell you what. You don't know if you're looking for dragons, elves, aliens, thunder gods or whatnot. They say, "there is a rock in my garage and something really smart made it". Instead of applying new facts to explain it's potential untestability, the ID proponents merely say "we don't know, because we don't really know what it is".

Accepting that as scientific thought is nothing less than taking steps back towards the Dark Ages. Imagine being able to hand in a Chemistry exam explaining that in fact, it's phlogiston all along that creates the fire. Your chem teacher would rightly ask for your evidence to prove you right, but by ID's train of thought - you simply say, "No, you prove me wrong". Your chem teacher would probably explain about energy tranfer, exothermic reactions, etc., and your response would be "but phlogiston makes that happen. Because clearly all that is too complicated to happen on it's own."

I for one hope my country hasn't gotten to the point to let that into the classroom.

Monday, September 26, 2005

There Be Dolphins In Those Waters

I only wish I was making this up:

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
-- Flipper the firing dolphin

That would be a great way to go though. Imagine having "Assassinated By Killer CIA Dolphin" on your tombstone.

China Must Be A Magic Place

Recently, my Zaurus went missing. I think some idle hands may have done away with it. I had just gotten used to using it as a music player at work, so I was a little bummed. However, The Girl and I just got these fancy new cell phones and mine, a Nokia 6230 labels itself as able to play MP3 files.

There are two basic impediments to using your phone as an MP3 player. One is storage, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology, one can get a 1GB MMC without having to take out a loan anymore. The other issue is a little more problematic. That being that as an MP3 player, the 6230 has no headphone jack.

Nokia does make a "fashion" headset for this purpose. Of course, it's almost impossible to find. Also, if you're like me you might be a little picky about how it feels then it might be bothersome that this is like, the only headphones in the world that you can use.

Unless, apparently, you live in China. Because I found off of eBay a Nokia branded adaptor which does nothing provide the missing jack. A trip to Target to find a pair of Koss most similar to the ones that ran off with the Zaurus, and I'm now listening to songs off my phone as I type this. Now, from everything I can see on the net ... this adaptor should even exist. So I can only assume that in China, people have magic. And they can use that magic to get things from alternate dimensions or possibly even the future.

The adaptor even has a little button on it. When I click it, it advances to the next song. It's almost creepy.

Naturally it's not the most robust thing in the world in terms of features, but the sound quality is quite good, better than the Zaurus for sure. In fact, my only complaint is that it may a little loud at even it's lowest setting. I haven't figured out playlists yet, but I usually just hit random anyway. Basically I have the iPod Shuffle from hell, empowered with Chinese magic.

You're Not Fooling Anyone

OK, blogger and gmail seem to off their their freakout kick at least long enough for me to run through the comment spam and get delete them.

For future spammers, a few notes:

#1 - It's a bit suspicious when I get eight emails from five different people in the same second.

#2 - It's also a bit suspicious when they all claim to have blogs under some unknown entertainment news site.

#3 - When one of them thanks me because the fact that the PlayStation 3 may be kitten powered because it's hard to find solid coverage ... I tend to not buy into it so much.

#4 - Likewise, when someone compliments the quality of my comic book coverage under the headline "Superman's A Dick", I don't think you've read very carefully.

I really don't get these people. Does any of this crap actually work for them? I still get two or three jerks trying to register their online poker sites as Unreal mods, even though it won't result in a single link for them. I bet if these jackasses spent half the time trying to create legit content that they do spamming, they might actually be able to move out of their mom's basement.

I don't mind people making note of their blogs, if it's relevant and they actually have a real blog of course. But watching bottomfeeders chew away at the Internet is always annoying.

More Monday

Jesus, keeps flaking out and apparently some new entertainment news site just comment spammed the hell out of me.

Definately a day I should have stayed in bed. If comments disappear later today, now you know why.

Monday Monday

I just had a four paragraph blabberfest about Guild Wars, beer, and X-Men Legends II ... and blogger ate it. So here's the short version. Too much beer. Too little sleep. CheapBox much faster now that anti-virus tamed. Games good.