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Friday, March 10, 2006

Otaku Unite!

There is a documentary that just hit Netflix which covers Otaku in the wild ... anyone seen it? Any good?

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My Origami Is A Newton

Awesome post on TUAW comparing Microsoft's UMPC ("Origami") to Apple's (now deprecated) Newton.

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Blizzard "Clarifies" LGBT Policy

Kotaku covers the whole text, so I shan't cut and paste here - but the short version: Whoops. Um. Sorry. Our bad. Gay guilds are OK.

While the whole "this was always our policy" sounds like corpspeak (i.e. ... lying), since Blizzard was fairly unabashed about clarifying their policies in the first place ... this is a concillitory and fair response which provides players with the correct protections while also providing better channels for things like guild recruiting (literally). And it probably conveniently keeps Blizzard out of court, which is nice.

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Last Excessive UT Server

I stumbled on this on Technorati this morning: apparently the only Excessive for UT2004 server remaining on the net right now. In the ramp up to the Make Something Unreal contest, Excessive was a very popular mod, easily one of better gameplay mutators at the time and brought MadNad, who went on to work on Troopers - the first "licensed" Star Wars mod, to the modding scene.

Now, I'm not sure if this can be taken as accurate or not ... it's easy to miss other servers out there sometimes. I can't find any gamespy references to much in the way of UT2004 mods except for something called Team Arena Master and Instagib CTF. The former I'm not too familiar with but looks like a series of clan-related modifications brought to bear and the latter has always been around. Even if rumors of Excessive's death are greatly exaggerated - it's still damn hard to get a good mod game going for UT2004, it seems.

It seems a shame that this where the MSUC has brought the Unreal community. Before the contest there was a lot of talk about getting communication going between professional developers and the modders ... never happened. It was often said that mods would be routinely showcased and servers would be leveraged so that people could find games from winning mods. Didn't occur. I've essentially left the scene because if I'm going to code stuff primarily for a small (or non-existent audience) ... I'd rather own it outright.

Some are still interested, and I'm handing over some of my old code to another modder buddy of mine who is interested in possibly revamping it and getting it to run in the latest UT2004 build. Days like this, though, that I wish Epic would follow Id's path of releasing older versions of the engine into the public domain.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Apple's iGame ... Or Early April Fools?

Station A has scans of what it purports to be an EGM article on an Apple branded game handheld, the iGame ... via TUAW which calls shenanigans. Best theory is that at most, this is an April Fools joke stumbled on a little prematurely. I'm inclined to agree. I've gone on record that I think Apple should, and perhaps will, leverage their digital hub to also include games ... but I have to doubt that they'd waste much time going head to head with Nintendo on their home turf. I think Apple should steal some notes from Nintendo ... not play chicken with them.

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Hoth For The 2014 Olympics

What could make for a better choice?

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Quake 3 on 24 Monitor Display

It's amazing how much more fun games are when you can play them on really large, high-resolution screens. Our lab also has a 24 monitor display wall, and as you can see from the pictures below, I got Quake 3 running on it. The system is driven by 12 linux servers (2 monitors per server) using Distributed Multihead X (DMX) and Chromium. Chromium distributes the OpenGL rendering from the head node to all of the servers. The game runs fairly fast, though some lighting effects had to be turned off and Chromium is having some trouble with the mouse. Even so, playing the game is an awesome experience.
-- Quake 3 on

Via digg

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SLI Notebook - Seriously?

Seriously. The Eurocom Emperor is the world's first SLI powered notebook (at least according to Eurocom), combining two Nvidia Go 7800 GTX's for it's video processing needs. (via

The base price for this monster is $4,000 ... or just under ten times the cost of my current Windows gaming rig. Course, I went the uber cheap route and this is clearly on the other end of the spectrum. Still for that much cash ... do you want a desktop replacement or just a desktop? How much is playing UT2007 on the road worth to you?

Edit: Sorry, it's $3,500 base without toys like Windows and Wifi. I was looking at Canadian dollars. Gizmodo reports that it's street price is more like $5,200.

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Lost: Lack of a GLUT

Drat, another repeat last night.

I have a friend who is really into the show, but is practically skipping this season ... and is going to catch up marathon style when it's over. Part of me wonder if that's not the way to go. I'm way too addicted to try it.

I've pondered, lately, my own Grand Lost Unification Theory, or GLUT. And I don't really have one. Honestly ... I don't think there is one, and I think that's part of the trick of the show. Looking for one thing, like a intelligent magnetic clouds, to explain all the phenomena isn't going to cover it all.

Rather, I'm guessing that as we get more DHARMA information, combinations of their various studies will explain thing. Cloud monster might be magnetism + remote viewing. The coincidences might remote viewing + metereology + spy network. I'm clearly loosely defining weather prediction as potentionally proginstication here.

The shared phenomena are still the ones I find most confusing. Kate's horse and Wet Walt in particular. Charlie's and Michael's behavior could just be an illness. I suppose they could all be illness ... perhaps zoology (as in virus) + remote viewing could actually create an epidemic capable of shared hallucinations. Whatever it is, Ethan's group is scared of it.

And when I say things like "could", I mean it in a very 50's sci-fi kind of way. The sort of logical leaps which allows for giant ants ... because we know nuclear radiation can provide mutations, even though that's highly unlikely. My guess is that this "low sf" is where the writers are heading. If they get too heady and hit "high sf" like Matrix or eXistenz on us, there will likely be a revolt.

My other guesses right now include: DHARMA is not limited to the island. Hanso's goal is not to create a utopian island, but a utopian world. I still think there is an "Emerald City" on the island somewhere. Not necessarily a rich and pretty place, but a large and more modern headquarters for DHARMA. What we've seen so far are just outpost stations.

After last week's episode, I considered revising the "two Others" guess. If Alex is working for Ethan and Zeke, then perhaps Ethan and Zeke are working together. But if Alex really is both the person who helped Claire escape and the one who handed Kate to Zeke ... then perhaps she's part of an underground working to subvert Ethan's group.

Who knows? Next week is a repeat as well, I guess, so we've got plenty of time to ponder.

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Senate Approves CDC Video Game Study

Terrorism? Incompetent Homeland Security? Ballooning national debt? Overextended military forces?

These are not the things foremost on Senators Lieberman, Clinton, Santorum, Brownback and Durbin. No, no, no. Video games are enough of a threat to warrant a sweeping CDC study:

Even though the legislation--called the Children and Media Research Advancement Act--does not include restrictions, it appears to be intended as a way to justify them. That's because a string of court decisions have been striking down antigaming laws because of a lack of hard evidence that minors are harmed by violence in video games.
This "is a big step toward helping parents get the information they need about the effect of media on their children," Lieberman said after the vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Lieberman's two Republican co-sponsors of the bill are senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sam Brownback of Kansas.
-- Senate panel OKs video game study

To be fair, it's actually a witch-hunt on virtually any kind of electronic media ... not just video games. Oh, did I say ... witch-hunt? Right, well ... what do you call a scientific study to further provide the groundwork for the exaggerations we've seen in the media and politics? Basically, since there continues to be no real link between these media and problems of the state ... real problems which would worry taxpayers like crime not problems like unruly kids ... they're just going to keep spending money until they find some more nothing.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Making of Shadow Of The Colossus

Thanks to Pixel Kill for finding this detailed, technical look on how the visual effects, like HDR and bloom, were achieved for Shadow Of The Colossus ... despite the PlayStation 2's relatively meager hardware:

Occasionally, when you would move from a bright place to a dark place (and vice versa), it seems that the effect gradually moves to it's proper brightness. How did we do this kind of dynamic tone mapping?

When you move from inside the sanctuary to the the outside, because you have left the scene box in the sanctuary, the effect there stops being applied. This is done as a binary (on/off) decision, but if the scene were to change suddenly, it would look visibly unnatural. So, when the player leaves the box, there is a short interval where it gradually changes into the effect of the next scene box.

I perform the fake tone-mapping effect by changing smoothly from "Inside the sanctuary, outside scene is drawn bright" ==> "Outside the sanctuary, outside scene is drawn normally".
-- The Making Of "Shadow Of The Colossus"

That reminds me. I still have to beat the final giant.

...dang, I just read the bit where the fur is similar to volumetric rendering (think fog effects). That's cool as hell.

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Origami: Just A Tablet PC after all

Gizmodo confirms it. Hey, I told you so. I guess Microsoft expected people to be really excited over a device that folds simply by a) calling it something clever and Orietnal and b) releasing an informational website with no information and a series of dates. Hrm. Folding. The Girl's cell phone already does that. iPod killer? Not likely, I don't see anyone getting out of bed early to nab one of these things.

When I'm ready to release my new form of IF, I'm just going to post a series of random numbers and wait for people to get in a tizzy trying to figure it out.


OK, I won't.

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WoW Text Adventure

Not being a player of the game, I don't know if this is funny or not.

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24: Incompetence Kills

I caught up on my 24 last night, didn't even realize that it was a two hour Monday. At one point I considered 24 to be a pretty smart and even somewhat edgy show, but now it's really like my television pulp novel. It's not that the writing is bad, it's just hard to take the show seriously. Because if I did, I'd be really scared. Apparently our entire national security is held up by one competent person.

Take President Logan, or as I like to call him ... Bush. After cutting a deal with Russian separatists to assassinate the Russian president (and indirectly, his own wife) ... he plans to follow up his day of failures (which includes the entire terrorist plot being spawned within his own administration) by declaring martial law. Illegally.

Meanwhile, Kim "Deathtrap" Bauer comes back on the stage. Seriously, this girl is such a jinx that I doubt Chase left her because he loves his job ... he was probably afraid for his life. Naturally, her karmic injustices bring a Russian terrorist in through the front door. Sure, he had the keycard of a CTU higher up (has it ever been explained just what Lynn's job was?). Course, the CTU higher up was in holding and had been completely relieved of his duty. Did CTU security bother to take Lynn's access card when that happened? Nah. Lock down his access codes? Why bother. Didn't anyone find it odd that Lynn somehow got back into CTU without his key card? Peoples, we got better security at my office ... and I work for a national chain of houseware stores.

24 is like the anti-Lost. Don't look too closely at the clues, or else you might realize there isn't an island.

Thankfully, Jack "torture only works if you're me" Bauer is on the scene. Only not even Jack's magic blend of torture mojo was working last night, so CTU might actually need to get non-coerced intelligence this time around. And really, where is the fun in that?

Oh, and for you scoring at home. That whole "we can declare martial law and worry about Congress later" ... well, it's one of the reasons I do still like the show. It's fun and occasionally gets the smart political jab. Because under the Bush administration's "understanding" of the law, they'd be justified in doing the same.

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Cybernetic Sharks and other Toys

When is a shark not a shark? When it's a defense project:

So far they've only made it to the poor dogfish, "steered" in captivity via electrodes keyed to "phantom odors." As it happens though, DARPA-sponsored plans are a good deal lustier than that: Next stop, the blue shark, which reaches a length of 13 feet. Project engineer Walter Gomes of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island claims a team will soon be putting neural implants "into blue sharks and releas[ing] them into the ocean off the coast of Florida." To transmit signals to the sharks, the team will need nothing less than a network of signaling towers in the area. This has "anti-ballistic shark system" written all over it.
-- Shark and Awe

What does that have to do with gaming, television, movies or the such? Not much. But it's a painful reminder of just how cool the Pentagon's playroom is over what we citizens get to play with. And you know some lucky geek gets to play with it all. The article goes on to remind us about present and future toys of war:

  • Weaponized dolphins
  • Weather control expirements
  • BigDog, the military M.U.L.E.
  • Bush's 2020 moonbase
  • Hypervelocity rods (AKA rods from god)
  • the "Common Aero Vehicle" ... a drone capable of shuttling a 1,000 pound payload

    Now that's what I call full spectrum dominance. A shame most of our schools can't afford enough textbooks to train kids to use them.

  • Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Colbert Report Taps Dungeons & Dragons

    Thanks to for pointing out this brilliant video of Stephen Colbert majorly geeking out about Dungeons and Dragons on his show, The Colbert Report. This isn't the first time Colbert has gone public with his geekery either.

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    Game Business To Double By 2011, Thank You Online Games

    I'm lumping online and mobile together in the already elongated headline, but I think you probably get the gist. A study by ABI Research proclaims that the game biz will be just over $65 billion strong by 2011, thanks in part to the rise of online, mobile and cell phone gaming (via Wireless Design Asia).

    I really think that with the Nintendo DS, we're really seeing how this stuff could come alive. I know that cell phone games are considered the great "invisible" market, but cell phones as convergent devices really seem to be reaching an evolutionary end. Sure, we'll see increases in graphics and hopefully more community and multiplayer designs ... but the point is that the DS is already there and with a form factor far more versatile than virtually any other mobile device.

    PDAs, the PSP and the poor redheaded child N-Gage are all on the periphery of this as well. It's just that with the DS, it really seems to click. As metropolitan wifi networks start to grow as well, having a decently priced handheld capable of accessing the Net and other players will likely become the norm as opposed to the exception. Since these devices will have a lower cost of entry and be simpler to use than gaming rigs or even consoles, they'll just become a larger piece of the pie.

    In short ... we've seen the convergence of cell phones and PDA's. I'm guessing next leg is probably a PDA and a Gameboy.

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    Wired's Anatomy Of A She-Nerd

    I really don't know how to react to this. I saw it first in my print version of Wired and found it a little ... odd? They do a rundown of how to spot a female otaku should you ever need to find one in the wilds of a Tokyo subway:

    In Tokyo, girls who want to get their geek on head for Otome (Maiden) Road in trendy Ikebukuro. Retail stores on the 200-meter commercial strip cater to the emerging subculture of onna otaku (she-nerds) by stocking femme-friendly comics, gadgets, and action figures instead of makeup and clothes. Increasingly, the sought-after goods - from cosplay outfits to anime DVDs - are being co-opted by wannabes in the States. Here are some tips for spotting a real onna otaku in the wild.
    -- Anatomy of a Nerd

    The pictures that go with the article would also indicate that onna otaku can also be quite hot.

    Stargate Developer Licenses BigWorld

    Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment has apparently licensed BigWorld's MMO framework for use with their upcoming title (thanks to the Deeper Design blog since I can't read the PR release). This reduces my stress level on the title a little bit, since they aren't trying to write a complex framework from scratch ... although it's not like BigWorld has a lot of examples out in the wild. In fact, I don't think they have any examples out in the wild...

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    Are Consoles Just Getting More Expensive?

    Ars Technica talks about how the DS Lite warranted high prices in Japan, with "used" units being sold at high markup. They quip, "Can you imagine a retailer doubling the price of a used system that's in such high demand? North American retailers do jerk you around something fierce by using bundles, but the only people really making a killing on the resale end of hard to find systems are the Ebayers."

    Which I think hits it on the head quite squarely. The retailers will do as much as they can with the bundles and whatnot to jack up the price, the rest of the spoils goes to Ebayers. Question is ... if all these people are willing to pay such high sticker prices ... should we expect the hardware to follow?

    Probably not.

    The 360's outrageous eBay sales were likely an effect of the poor supply itself. Would that price hold out till March? Well, OK, probably ... because the supply still sucks in March. When the PSP came out in America, it was hard to find and usually bundled up to about $400 or $500 ... but now it's down to it's standard $250 core bundle. Oddly, it's eBay that is still out of whack ... hard to find units for under $300 there and crazy ass multi thousand dollar bundles abound.

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    Monday, March 06, 2006

    Bejeweled Versus The Tomboys

    For all the camaraderie fostered by the Women in Games International conference held recently in San Francisco, it was apparent a furious divide exists over how to get women to play video games.

    In one corner are proponents of casual games -- the simple but addictive titles like Bejeweled and Tetris that promise brain-twisting challenges with minimal time investment.

    In the other camp are women who want to roughhouse with the boys on their home turf, playing action games and team-based shooters. The Frag Dolls, a clan of female gamers who compete in tournaments worldwide, represents the tomboys.

    Who will win over the girl gamers?
    -- Women Gamers Duke It Out

    Why can't we all just get along?

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    Star Wars: Empire At War

    I downloaded the demo for the latest Star Wars RTS this weekend. I'm not really a big RTS guy, I think because I don't find the actual strategy terribly engaging. I'm more of an X-Com or Laser Squad type than the Zerg type.

    I did like some of the overall design with the galaxy map and the outline of the rebels versus the Empire. I actually really liked the space combat. I used small recon squads to ferret out just how much I would need to defeat the Imperial forces and actually nailed it perfectly. I destroyed the space station with only a few X-Wing to spare.

    Then came the ground combat, though, and I just kinda lost interest. I didn't know why I was giving orders to Jawas, the fog of war seemed especially peculiar and someone jammed Unreal's Domination mode into it, I think. Or they should have. Either way, it soured me completely on the title.

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    GameFly is pushing it

    First there was the pain and annoyance of getting Rez actually delivered and now the next two games in my q, Electroplankton and Devil May Cry are completely MIA.

    Am I just spoiled by Netflix, which has now gotten shipments to us in under a week, and waiting 10 business days normal? On Thursday, it will be 14 shipping days ... or twice what their FAQ reports as their delivery window.

    Anyone out there use a different service with different results?

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    Mumblevine: Dell To Buy Alienware

    Speculation, thy name is fun:

    In recent news it seems that Dell the PC and notebook giant, may buy out another large computer retailer Alienware. The reason for such a drastic action maybe because of Dell’s lately decaying image. Michael Dell's plan to buy Alien ware is supposed to raise the cool factor of their computers and put Dell in a much better position. Even though the XPS line is doing pretty well, with a helping touch from Alienware’s designers it may look even better than it does now.


    "Alienware can not and will not comment on any speculative stories such as the one that appeared on Rahul Sood’s blog yesterday. While we do believe that the story is ultimately a strong positive reinforcement of the Alienware brand and the company’s success, we will not comment on speculation or potential future events. As always, Alienware is committed to offering consumers and businesses with the best high-performance, innovative PC products on the market and we remain manically focused on that goal."
    -- Dell buying Alienware?

    I can't really muster the energy to make a prediction here as the possibility of buying from either company has decreased sharply over the years. Dell has definately shown an interest in higher end gaming rigs and Alienware knows that stuff quite well, so it wouldn't be the worst merger in the world.

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    Gizmondo Ferrari Theories

    The LA Times has even more details on the Gizmondo's exec crashing his fancy car (via kotaku) ... which includes ammunition for a Glock, a mysterious transit authority, a missing man named Dietrich and two shadowy "persons of interest" who may or may not have been working with Homeland Security.

    That leaves three possibilities:

    1) Gizmondo exec Stefan Eriksson is James Bond. Or the other way around.

    2) Stefan Eriksson is insane and rich enough to spend his weekends pulling dangerous, elaborate pranks on law enforcement. Think Smokey the Bandit meets Howard Hughes.

    3) Stefan Eriksson is a drunk, irresponsible rich bastard and there are some really, really gullible cops in California.

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    Wow. Oscars. WTF.

    I normally rag on the Oscars being a highly predictable orgy of Hollywood self-love. A kind of final auto-erotic schlockfest where celebrities can remind themselves how great they are by honoring a lot of movies that not even they watched. In years past, predicting winners hasn't been terribly heard ... just cross check between nominees that are darling favorites or maybe closely tied to the Hollywood machine (with the obvious exceptions of a few categories).

    Last night though, was completely off the wall. Some highlights:

  • Jon Stewart opening the proceedings by poking fun at Hollywood's ties to Democrats ... and not winning stuff. Funny. Hilarious. Just not the usual Oscar oogly woodgly nonsense. And there weren't even annoying actors to break up the jibing, like what happened with Chris Rock. By the time Stewart made fun of the dedication clips ... he was my personal hero (again).

  • Best song contained the word pimp ... in the title.

  • Unrecognizable: Naomi Watts and Michelle Williams. Watts was covered in some kind of android plastic skin. Williams apparently stopped eating two weeks ago, which is a shame because she was a lot cuter before.

  • Dolly Parton is still alive?

  • Good Night and Good Luck: 0. Three 6 Mafia: 1.

  • The chick from Legally Blonde as well as the chick from The Mummy are now Oscar winning actresses.

  • Penguins.

  • Finally, I don't think Crash won Best Picture. I was watching, and old Jack was clearly drunk, stoned, both or perhaps just really strung out. I mean, he forgot that the producers were involved in the process, almost left before giving out the award and almost fell at least once. I think he was just making up something so he could get off the stage and was one whiskey shy of awarding the Oscar to himself.

    But I like unpredictable. Stewart was very good for the Oscars and once again ... it seems like the show is managing to take itself less and less seriously. Next year, I vote they replace the President of the Academy speech ... easily the most worthless waste of time in an already drawn out affair ... with Stupid Human Tricks.

    Update: Stewart is getting pretty panned, like in this Forbes review. Hey, I laughed several times. I don't blame Jon if his jokes weren't as funny to the ultraelite of Hollywood. They can have fun on their own time.

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  • Family Guy Video Game Announced

    Seth MacFarlane will be teaming up with Take Two to make a video game. Apparently it will be developed by High Voltage, who also made a little title called Call of Duty 2. Other than that, details are noticeably scarce.

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    Totoro Playgrounds

    Friend at work sent me these, I guess two are from a place in Japan and another is in Michigan:

    Days I wish I was still a kid.

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Midway, John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat Team for Stranglehold

    This sounds quite cool:

    Stranglehold, will bring John Woo's famous use of hyperkinetic, choreographed action and freeze framed sequences to the video game arena and will also feature the likeness and voice talent of international action film star, Chow Yun-Fat, (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hard Boiled, Bulletproof Monk) in his video game debut. Having worked together for several feature films, the dynamic duo, Yun-Fat and Woo, are teaming up once again, but this time bringing their expertise to the world of interactive entertainment.

    "The video game industry continues to push the envelope, bridging the worlds of games and movies to produce revolutionary entertainment for consumers," said Steve Allison, Midway chief marketing officer. "To have John Woo creatively involved in Stranglehold and Chow Yun-Fat reprising his role as Inspector Tequila is truly a dream come true for fans of Hong Kong action movies. This game is the first pure example of the convergence of entertainment. Stranglehold is an example of what is possible in the next generation of video games as a viable approach to building a new IP as a gaming franchise that speaks to a fan base through its star and director, in the same way a film does."
    -- Stranglehold Details and Playstation 3 Screenshots

    Done by the same Chicago lads responsible for Psi-Ops, which was a good title. I still haven't entirely forgiven Woo for Mission Impossible II ... but Chow made even Bulletproof Monk watchable. And apparently this title is so fast moving ... you have to use hyperkinetic twice to describe it ...

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    So close, Nintendo

    The Girl and I have been pretty obsessed with Animal Crossing: Wild World. It's almost like a single player MMO in it's vicious grind design. And yet, it's so damn happy and cute that you simply can't have any ill will towards it.

    Still, the Wifi design reminds me of Mario Kart. It's very good, but still feels incomplete. You still have to rely on websites like Wild World Friends or Animal Crossing Community to get decent hookups or create a really active marketplace, just like DS Meet is almost a requirement for Mario Kart. If I want to send a letter to The Brother about Animal Crossing, I've got to do it in GMail. I can't just send him a letter like I do every other character in the game. I also noticed that this weekend's flea market was apparently a locals only affair.

    Not that I don't appreciate the technical problems which could be involved. Adding NWF mail would require some kind of NWF mail server ... a totally different beast than a simple client/server setup and a possible new hole for exploits. Also, more cost to Nintendo. It's just frustrating to see Wifi finally coming together for a handheld ... and yet still feeling like it come up a little short.

    Metriod Hunters will have chat at least, even if it is only pre/post game chat. I was already missing that in Mario Kart. Small steps, I guess.

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    Business Of Buying Virtual Gold

    Dennis McCauley of the Philly Inquirer talks about spending $60 for 500 gold in Azeroth:

    Getting my gold was a snap. The smallest quantity for sale by IGE was 500 pieces for $60, about twice what I wanted to spend. I decided to go for it, however, as I simply could not abide the prospect of skinning even one more level-10 boar. Within 20 minutes, the gold appeared in my WoW character's mailbox.

    I should explain that 500 pieces of gold buys quite a lot of WoW bling. Instantly, I felt as though I had hit the Powerball jackpot. As fast as my gnome character's stubby little legs would carry me, I dashed over to the in-game auction house in Ironforge, one of WoW's large cities. There I used my newfound wealth to buy the best gear I could find. Nicely equipped, I started focusing on completing quests and "leveling up." I abandoned those tedious mining and skinning tasks. Like any self-respecting lottery winner, I had essentially quit my job and grabbed for life's gusto.
    -- Time-savers or spoilsports?

    I personally, especially as a Guild Wars fan, find the money people are willing to spend on MMO's astounding. Another $60 ... that's another high quality game. A completely different game, rather than new gear. Not to mention the monthly fee. The means a perfectly rational person is willing to put down $50 for the install, another $10 or so month for the ability to connect and the occasional $60 to avoid level grinding.

    While the purists might rant and rave about how ignoble it is to "cheat" the system this way, I don't see how this isn't going to simply become the system. Sony and Blizzard will be looking at these companies making profit off their players for only so long before they decide to just internalize the action.

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