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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Good Question - How Would You Fix Heroes?

Topless Robot points out that Heroes has gotten to the state where commercials for the show point out it's been sagging - and I have to admit that I haven't watched the show since Sylar put on a suit and started acting like a bad Men in Black impersonation.

So I don't even know if I could answer my own question, but I know one thing - at this point it would be painful. Just a few personal notes:

- Some of the ensemble has to go. Take an existing character and revamping them just to fit the plot better is plain stupid and gets rather insulting to the viewers after a while. Kill some people, bring in fresh blood.

- Along with that ... remaining characters need to become internally consistent. Hiro should use his powers in one episode similar to how he does in an another, and not conveniently forgetting he can control time simply because he has a inconvenient power.

- On the inconvenient note, it should be added that in general ubercharacters are pretty dull (and generally inconvenient to your plot). The entire "power sucking" concept got out of hand quickly in the show and only got worse. Characters who can't be killed and can kill everything are just problematic.

- Plotwise, the show has always been hackneyed for me. It has decent themes, but relies way to much on nascent subplots that never really go anywhere and character development which seems like it can turn on a dime. I haven't watched lately so I don't know where the whole "creating superpowers conspiracy" core plot went, but the show needs to find themes which can work season to season, and not feel like it is picking up the pieces each time.

So basically: Kill some people off. Add some new ones. Be consistent. Get a trailer which convinces me you have a story worth saving.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

App Store Now Genius, iPhone gets 3.1

With over 75,000 apps in the App Store, it can be difficult to find new applications. Apple’s extended its Genius media-recommendation algorithm to iPhone applications. It looks at the apps you already own and makes recommendations based on that information.
-- Apple announces iPhone 3.1

Obviously, sign me up. At the same time, I wonder how much this will do to alleviate smaller apps with less hype getting noticed.

New Dante's Inferno Wallpaper: Greed & Greed Sale

Some fresh circle of hell rendering below. We're putting all this media on the new Cathode Tan Facebook page, so you're in FB feel free to keep an eye out there. (Oh yeah, Twitter may be next...)

EA also sends word that today, and today only (9/9/9) you can get $6.66 off your pre-order of Dante's Inferno at GameStop.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Is 3D the next HD?

I think in some ways, Microsoft's Xbox 360 heralded the modern HD era of entertainment, being the first consumer device which both insisted upon itself on being part of the high def generation, but also one that was massively adopted by consumers.

Course, much of HD adoption wasn't the rosy path either Microsoft, Sony, or the other players, wanted it to be - which to bring it back to gaming aided a certain company rhyming with Mintendo by being cheap and easy to use on existing standard def sets. However, by May 2009, nearly half of homeowners have a high def set, a 12% increase from the previous year. The dust has settled on the format war, players are getting quickly cheaper and there are more and more viewing options are becoming available.

So, just as the smoke begins to clear - the industry is trying to carve the next, um, next-generation. HD is old. 3D is new:

We saw 3-D footage shot at the Beijing Olympics, including that larger-than-life opening ceremony in the Bird's Nest stadium and a soccer game that was more vivid and lifelike than anything I've ever seen on a screen. It felt as if we were standing at the edge of the pitch. I'm not a big sports fan, but the first thing I thought was that the "killer app" for this technology will be sports. Monday Night Football will never be the same again. ESPN, which embraced HD and boomed because of it, is going to have a field day.
-- TV’s Next Dimension [Newsweek]

In part, we have James Cameron to blame. He has been spearheading a movement in cinema for a while now, trying to prove that 3D has evolved past the gimmick stage and deserves to become the forefront of movie making technology. It doesn't hurt, of course, that the movie industry has been getting kicked in the shins with piracy and low ticket sales - both things that moviemakers hope 3D can help address. See, you can't simply sneak a camcorder into a theater, burn it and sell it if that theater is playing a 3D version. Add in the additional draw (and potentially the jacked up price) and you have a very happy theater owner.

The game industry has been making similar noises, although probably with a slightly different set of motives. With Moore's Law no longer being the prime mover for selling new games, or to put it another way - you can't be sure of a bestseller by trying to outperform yesterday's graphics anymore - game producers would love to have a technical solution to spike some sales. Long term gamers will realize, of course, that they have been here before, and honestly we'll need to see some better demonstrations to decide if goofy looking glasses are worth playing the game.

All of this, of course, translates into apparently an entirely new set of hardware:

We'll have to wait and see on that one. To get into the 3-D game, you'll need a new TV, obviously, as well as a new Blu-ray player that can play 3-D discs, and a new HDMI cable that can handle the extra data associated with 3-D content. The first stuff you'll see will be on discs, but Panasonic expects 3-D content will be delivered on cable and satellite, and even, eventually, on broadcast TV. It took eight or nine years for HD sets to reach widespread adoption, and 3-D will likely follow a similar curve.
-- TV’s Next Dimension [Newsweek]

Ahem. Firstly - a new HDMI cable? Wasn't HDMI supposed to be something of the end all, be all, for media cables?

But that's being nitpicky. I think the holes in the 3D theory are a bit more expansive than just the cables.

First - I find it doubtful that piracy will be so quickly subdued. It's been a circular technological war since the onset, and will continue to do so. Second, it seems unlikely that 3D is going to be a massive hit outside certain genres. I could be wrong, of course - perhaps seeing a lame romantic comedy with an additional dimension will make it slightly less lame - but I certainly don't see dishing any extra dollars to see it that.

Finally, HD was a far harder sell than the industry assumed it would be - partially due to high prices and partially due to a needless format war. There's nothing to say that a 3D generation wouldn't face similar, or worse, issues - especially considering we don't have any ready to market sets to examine at this point. Especially since I would challenge that "nearly half" equates to "widespread adoption", and adding in consumer fatigue from the fact that half them would have sets less than ten years old (my last TV I got from my first corporate job out after college, not that I'll admit here how long that was) - I think anything less than a decade is pretty optimistic.

Also, how hard of a sell will it be to convince consumers they need new hardware to make use of a feature which has been around since the 50's?

In general, I think the industry may be getting a little ahead of itself here.