Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

Team Fortress Notes: Bad Strategy #232 - Look At Me At C!

If you don't play TF2, turn back now, this rant won't really make any sense.

Hey, if you're on GravelPit and you're team has NOT taken both the A and B points, you know what would be a brilliant idea? Go be a sneaky bastard and stand on C while the rest of your team fights it out.

OK, granted sometimes that actually works. But usually it is one lone spy who can just hang back and hopefully his team already has the momentum. But for the two times tonight that three people three - generally one engineer, one spy and either a soldier/demo thought that holding C while the other two-thirds of the team actually played the game for you was a good idea - go play lawn darts and leave me the hell alone. You're idiots, you're point whores and glory hounds and the reason why most pick-up online teams fail.

Violent Game Study By The Numbers

On Sense:

This is absurd:

"Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one
other well known threat to public health. The only effect slightly larger
than the effect of media violence on aggression is that of cigarette smoking
on lung ...
Read Full Article, Violent video games worse than smoking?!?

Long time Cathode buddy Sterno points out that comparing violent media to smoking, alcohol and other health factors doesn't make any numerical sense. It's true, the age of modern computing and hence living room game systems has, if anything, brought less violent crime - not more.

To me, this is the biggest point with the scaremongering. It's hard to believe in an epidemic that doesn't exist. If violent television made kids violent criminals, my brother and I would have been knocking over bank and jumping rivers in his Volvo shortly after Dukes of Hazzard aired. Don't get me started on The Incredible Hulk.

With all the PlayStation 2's in the world today, we'd be seeing some kind of mass apocalypse if they were causing violent crimes.

And it's what really gets me about politicians complaining about the Wii and the wiimote as being "more violent". You don't get to extend your argument without first proving your argument. You can't say the wiimote will cause even more violence when you can't prove games cause any violence to begin with.

Study links violent media to aggression and crime

On Gamespot Recent Updates [News]:

University of Michigan professor ties violent media to aggressive behavior,
says they go together like smoking and lung cancer.
Read Full Article, Study: Violent games 'public health threat'

It's really the second part that is a bit unsettling, linking media to criminal actions. The reason you should put that in highlight mode is that it is the stick certain politicians like to use to make censorship a "public safety" issue and not an "ethics" issue.

The old psych major in me, though, would argue with the methodology in the second part, though. It's an interview process, not a controlled experiment. It was a fifteen year follow-up and doesn't state a) whether these kids were watching more violent media to begin with (and if so, why) and b) what other factors might lead to the criminal behavior.

The whole "kids who watch 300 or Gladiator before playing football are more aggressive" argument feels flawed to me as well. Floor hockey is an aggressive sport. Football is an aggressive sport. Getting people pumped up before an aggressive sport is probably going to lead to more aggression in the aggressive sport. Did this guy not study basic biology? It's called adrenaline and if their dads stood yelling at them before sending them into the game - I'd bet they'd be more aggressive as well.

So maybe we should just ban that, too.

Rein On the Open Modding For UT3

On Joystiq:

Filed under: Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, First Person Shooters,
The always talkative Epic Games VP Mark Rein is exuberant about the open
system for downloading *Unreal Tournament 3* mods for the PlayStation 3.
"It's fantastic! I ...
Read Full Article, Mark Rein excited about UT3 mods on PS3

Saying "open modding" is generally redundant except that in this case - nobody has really tried it for consoles before. Epic taking the high road and letting users be users, letting modders be modders, is about the only way to keep "modding" in any semblence of its original form. Otherwise its just cheap outsourcing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Deus Ex 3 Announced With Resounding Meh

I was going to lead this off with the teaser for DX3, but I went ahead and watched first and can confirm it is not worth the bother. It's a teaser with the lower case t and a big "can I get my three minutes back" at the end.

I was never as harsh on DX2 as pretty much the rest of the world - but that doesn't mean I still wasn't hoping for a different game. Project: Snowblind was a better sequel in some ways in part because they didn't have to follow in DX1's footsteps. Following in DX1's footsteps would have been hard, as DX2 showed, but following in DX2's footsteps would just be a colossal mistake. I hated the way DX2 tried to get by with threading DX1's storyline into a kind of hackneyed "maybe all the endings happened" kind of way and threading that again into another game would just prove disastrous. We don't need to have everything be about the Dentons - the world of DX is big enough to give us something different.

I'll hold out hope that DX3 will actually build on DX1 more rather than slimming it down for the console world as DX2 did ... but I won't hold my breath. Games in general are making this sacrifice and I doubt Eidos Montreal will risk the console market too greatly.

Wii Shortage To Continue For Holidays

"I've never seen anything like this," says Michael Pachter, a videogame industry analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, about the overwhelming demand for Wiis. "Nintendo could not have expected this level of popularity."

So, why doesn't Nintendo just make more and cash in?

It's not that the company isn't trying. It's bumped up production from about 1 million to 1.8 million a month, says Nintendo Senior Vice President George Harrison, with roughly a third of them earmarked for North America. Last week was Nintendo's best since the Wii's launch, with 350,000 sold in the United States alone. In comparison, Microsoft sold about that many Xbox 360s last month. It's a remarkable triumph for a console focused on the kind of simple games skeptics originally wrote off as "thumb candy for dummies."

Since its launch a year ago, Nintendo's diminutive console has been perpetually sold out in North American stores. By the time you see Wiis advertised in the Sunday paper, they're already gone. Yet the company insists it's not creating artificial shortages, instead saying that demand -- from gamers young and old, and from eBay sellers looking to earn quick profits -- keeps increasing.

"Although we've made efforts over the year to increase the monthly production rate, we haven't been able to catch up with demand," admits Harrison.
-- Why You Can't Get Your Hands on a Wii

My tip is to wiibay a used one. It's what I did, it cut down the surcharge of going to an ebay scalper, I got some accessories tossed in to ease the pain and it's been working fine since I got it.

TV Watch: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

No, it didn't premiere and you missed it or anything, only through the magic of the Internets did I somehow stumble on an preair copy of the upcoming television series which aims to fill in the Terminator storyline after the events of Terminator 2 and apparently before the events of Terminator 3.

I would say this show is of interest to three groups of people:

Firstly, anyone who wants to see Summer Glau, formerly River on Firefly, act like a kickass robot (spoiler there, but no more than the previews, so). Personally, I don't understand how this isn't every living person on the planet, but each to their own and all that jazz. If you want to see Summer Glau act like a kickass robot, certainly check this one when it premieres.

Secondly, Terminator fans who just want to see more of the franchise. It seems to handle the subject material and hold tight to the existing canon, so you're in luck there. The production value is a little bit of a mixed bag and leans to the first movie than the sequels in terms of special effects wizardy - but it is definately Terminator.

Finally, sci fi geeks looking for something next month when the writer's strike has robbed them of pretty much everything except apparently Battlestar.

I'm certainly in the first and third category, so I'll be checking it out. The Girl hadn't watched the Terminator movies (I know, I know) and said it was hard to follow and kind of shallow. So non-killer robot geeks should probably stay away.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NaNo Win

Around midnight last night I clocked in the 50,000 mark of my NaNoWriMo entry, Wonderful. The end result is a mess of a rough of a rough draft - a series of inconsistent plot points, two dimensional characters and lousy dialog. Also, I think I'm quickly losing my ability to spell.

Still, NaNo is a brilliant excuse to write and a kind of self-imposed challenge with the spice of peer pressure to egg you on. It's not that anyone will actually think less of you if you don't win, 99.9999% of people won't even notice - but you get to feel as if they would and press on anyway. It's not even about the winning, it's just about the jumping in and getting something on paper.

So anyway, I'm back. I don't know what I'll use to consume my time now - but I'll probably get back to the Flex based text adventure I was working on before.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Orange Box PS3: Preview Versus Review

I'm not sure if this fits in with the rest of the really bad PlayStation 3 reporting that the blogosphere has only recently been able to shake, but it must be close.

Witness the horror:

To add insult to injury, and then to pour a salt and lemon juice cocktail into said injury, the PS3 version of Orange Box has received the developmental shaft, according to a recent preview on 1UP. While the PC and 360 versions of the game were largely managed by Valve, the PS3 version was apparently the responsibility of a team at EA. This has led to a number of framerate hiccups and other technical issues which "at best merely hinder game play and at worst make the experience downright unplayable."
-- PS3 version of Orange Box might be 'downright unplayable'

Now witness the stop-freaking-out:

Before you freak, know that in my time playing The Orange Box on PS3, I only encountered a few truly troubling framerate issues. For the bulk of my playtime, the pieces of The Orange Box run fine. Sure, there's more hitching than on 360, but I was still drawn in to the dense world Valve created. The technical issues aren't going to be enough to deter anyone who wants to enjoy Orange Box on PS3. Unless you require your games to never dip below 30fps, you should not strike The Orange Box off your PS3 holiday wish list.
-- The Orange Box PS3 Hands-On

The bottom being an actual review of the published version by IGN, the above being a quote being widely circulated around blogs based on a preview version. Thing is, people, framerate issues with preview editions are as commonplace as air is to wind. It happens all the time - but usually without all the drama. Sometimes those issues don't get resolved, sure, but now that full reviews are out ... the preview is really rather obsolete news, right?

How much TV is left with the WGA Strike?

The Futon Critic gives you the run down on what is remaining with the current television schedule in terms of how many episodes were ordered versus delivered before the strike went into effect.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Will the Wiipuns ever end? Is it too wiierd? Who cares.

One of the biggest concerns with the Wii is the library. I'm not sure how big of a concern it needs to be when I just got done with a two-day Thanksgiving Wiifest which largely consisted of either Wii Bowling or Wii Tennis - both which are included with the console itself.

And besides, November is turning out to be a killer month for the Wii. If you're new to the system, you have the standbys in the form of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime: 3, both of which I got a chance to preview at The Brother's over the turkey holiday and found them to be exactly what you might hope them to be - insanely well updated versions of games already classics on Nintendo's hardware. And if that wasn't enough of a no-brainer for you, Super Mario Galaxy becoming one of the highest rated games of all time sure should be.

If that's not enough Mario action for you, I keep being told that Mario Strikers Charged is the best game nobody is talking about for the system to date, which is odd since it apparently snuck in as one of the earliest examples of playing on NiWiFi with the Wii.

The brother also had Battalion Wars 2 via Gamefly, but we didn't get a chance to try it out with all the trash-talking turkey-dancing Wii Sports action that was going on. Still, makes my list.

Three suprise contenders include Zack and Wiki, which is apparently the other best game nobody is playing on the system, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 which from the previews sounds like it might either surpass or round out Metroid for gameplay with online and arcade style modes, and finally Ghost Squad, if you happen to like over the top rails shooters which have unlock codes to replace knives with bananas.

And you know you do.

The Myth Of Cyber Monday

Being somewhat attached to the Internet professionally, the term "Cyber Monday" continues to gain some speed every year. For the record, Cyber Monday is marketing stunt pulled off by, a prominent online retailer association. As Snopes points out, Cyber Monday is rarely a big day for online sales - the month of December alone pretty much eliminates any chance of that as procrastinators wait until the week before Christmas to get their last minute items shipped to them. Actually, I think Black Friday still regularly outsells Cyber Monday.

Still, I probably do about 90% of my holiday shopping online and honestly this year might be more like 100%.

Movie Watch: Beowulf

The decision to see Beowulf at IMAX is something of a catch-22. Traditionally computer animated movies don't go over so well, but the promise of 3D means that if you don't catch it at the theater, you may never see it "as intended" as movie geeks like to say.

Bottom line: go see it as intended. The 3D technology here is better by far than anything that precedes it. It's crisper, clearer, easier to watch and suffers far less from the abusive gratuitous scenes of yore like shoving long objects in your face (although the occasional spear does get shoved in your face). For the most part, the 3D here accomplishes what 3D should be trying to accomplish all along - it makes the movie a deeper, more immersive experience.

Storywise - Beowulf is much better than some will expect. Gaiman and Avary truly deliver here if you really take the task at a whole. Beowulf, the poem, is possibly one of the best known and least read pieces of literature. They follow the basic plot (which, if you want to get down to it - is about what you'll get anyway from the poem) and offer a bit of depth as well. Occasionally the movie dips into outright campiness - Beowulf's naked fighting style and Grendel's mom having high heels come to mind. But it wears even that fairly well. Sure enough, the plot is really something to hang the action scenes on - but some moments, like Beowulf raging on the beach - kick things up a notch.

In short, if you can see at an IMAX, it's probably worth the pennies. Otherwise, a decent rental.