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Adam_B Blog

Clean Slate

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Hi GameSpot,

It's been awhile. You look good. I saw you with whatshisface.. what's that? Oh, just friends, huh? So... um, we had some rocky times back there, didn't we?

What's that? Oh, I've been seeing other sites, but mostly pretty casually. A stop by to get Yahtzee's opinion of something, or maybe I could read a quick overview at 1up on something. That Dan Hsu is cool, but we're just not that compatible.

You know, you and I had some good times. I remember stopping by a computer lab on the UCLA campus around lunchtime sometimes just to see what kind of crazy chatter was happening in Deep Fighter... er... Goose's Garage when we first contemplated heading into Iraq. Those were good times. The time we spent together, I mean, not the Iraq war.

I didn't know what I was gonna do after college -- I knew I needed a job, but my Political Science degree turned out to be not all that practical -- go figure. I had even thought about going back to my original home state of Wisconsin. But then Greg Kasavin saw a PM I made about an intern position, and since we had been casually acquainted due to Developer for a Day (I!) and thanks to my previous stalkership of the GameSpot booth during E3, I had a very small part of a foot in the door.

I ended up with an internship in San Francisco at GameSpot, a place that was awesome. The people were awesome. And it turned out, that led to a career in development. Just turns out I had a knack for it, who knew? GameSpot gave me that opportunity, and I look back on those days fondly. I also look fondly at stuff like the DDR Arcade machine on the third floor, which I sadly do not have access to anymore.

It's been a turbulent time, GameSpot. Some bad stuff went down, and everyone's unhappy with that. But I happened to check the site today and saw fiddlecub... er.. Kevin van Ord is taking over the reigns of Developer for a Day, that contest whose first iteration I ran while I was still in college, and the TOTAL prize for that? $100.. I guess I found it touching that after everything, people like Kevin are showing they truly care. It made me realize that there's plenty of good still in you, and maybe, just maybe we can someday work things out.

We've all gotten a little older and wiser, and what's happened in the past is done. For the good of the country, GameSpot should drop out of the race... err.. wait, that's politics, not gaming. Anyway, remember what got you where you are, and with persistence, you can get back there. There are still thousands of talented people who'd love a job there. And I have no doubt that Ricardo can take care of things since the man has literally been able to break the laws of the Universe by being in eight different places at once, or so it seems.

Bring back GameSpotting Live! There are plenty of talented people in the organization who are behind the scenes. Remember Vinnie? Anyway, have a good one.

I'll be watching you!

Sincerely,

former Superfan, Intern, Data Produer, Associate Software Engineer, Software Engineer, Lead Software Engineer,

-Adam

Best Superbowl Ever

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I don't have much more to say than that...

Oh, hell, sure I do. "Almost perfect" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? ;)

In how many games did Tom Brady lead a come-from-behind drive to win the game? Well, he almost did it this time, till he got outshone by Peyton's little brother...

Billy Billachek showed what a great sportsman he was when he left the field before the game was even over. Go cheat some more, Bill.

So so sweet.

My gaming setup

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Hi again, GameSpotters!

I ended up taking a couple pictures of my home theater setup the other day, so I figured I might as well post them here. I went with a video projector, which means it's a great big image, and also means that the room needs to be dark enough to watch it.

In order to take the first couple photos, I had to turn on some lighting, which is why you can't see the image quite so well. The third photo is without the ambient lighting, giving you a better indication how it looks.

I took these for my personal blog, where I outline some of the pros and cons of adding a projector to your home theater setup. I also outlined some of the challenges you may have to solve when implementing your own setup. Check out my blog post about it.

Uncensored

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So I followed the trend and finally got my own blog. It'll let me be a little more straightforward and honest, and no threat of random blog deletion. ;)

The very unoriginal URL is: http://adambuchen.com -- I'm making a personal commitment to myself to update it at least once a day, so bookmark it, or add it to your RSS feeds. :)

We now return to your regularly scheduled blog post...

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Well, it's been some time since all that nastiness happened, and I'd like to think I made some point, in some small way. I canceled my paid account and I know I wasn't the only one. I'm Basic.. er.. Free, now, and that suits me just fine for the forseeable future.

I'd like to make something very clear -- the reason I continue to hang around here, on the forums, writing blogs, whatever else, is because I love GameSpot. I've been a fan for years and years, well before my three or four year tenure. Why was I so vocal? Because I was very angry. It's not anger toward GameSpot -- but instead at someone who put GameSpot, and the great people I knew who still worked there, at risk. I wanted to telegraph a message to that person that this wasn't gonna be the kind of issue that just blows over. But more than that, I wanted to defend the people I knew, the people that were so dedicated and passionate, and who put integrity above all else. I hope I was able to do at least that, if not anything else.

I have no ill-will or vendetta against GameSpot whatsoever. Yes, it's true that a blog post of mine was deleted in the middle of all that craziness, but I can't really blame that person in his situation. It was up long enough to make an impression, and for that I am grateful.

So, what now? I'm curious what a Jeff-less GameSpot will be like. Don't get me wrong, everyone who's on staff now is great, and I know Alex will do a great job. But Jeff had the ability to be an entertaining live presence. I still think that there's some really awesome stuff to be conjured up. (Dear Alex, Whatever happened to Burning Questions? By the way, do you play Rock Band? Or are you sticking with the real, non-achievement-point-awarding set that's not even compatible with.. well.. ANY video game system?? Sincerely, KarlBFan11)

At any rate, I hope that this is the opportunity for the editorial staff to shine. And I don't mean a lame new series that's designed for an advertiser ("Welcome to Zane's Diamond in the Rough, where we feature games you may not know about. But don't get too addicted or you'll have to grovel to that special someone for neglecting her! Fortunately for you, if that happens, we can help you find the perfect gift, the gift that says 'I just got you a diamond, so let me play Halo 3 in peace for 5 freaking minutes!'")

Yikes, that sounds like it could almost be real. So GS, I look forward to seeing you guys continue to adapt and grow and innovate. I'll even pitch another segment for you: Every week, we watch some poor, randomly selected soul face everything the DDR machine has to offer. You could call it "Dance or Die Revolution." Okay, well, the name needs work. Or perhaps Alex can give his next review while totally doing some awesomely irrelevant drum solo.

I think this blog might start to return to normal ol' Adam B. Kind of already looking forward to writing my next entry. Someone gave me and a friend the best Christmas gift ever. We got tickets to go see Van Halen - David Lee Roth style! It was this past Friday, and it was freaking awesome. I hope some of my photos turned out.

Jeff Anecdote #1

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I'd like to relate a story about my second day as a GameSpot employee, when I was a timid and awkward intern suddenly cast into an organization I had immense respect, and even awe, for.

Jeff took me to lunch. We got burritos from a place near the CNET building. I'm a little embarassed to admit how nervous I was - here's this guy who in real life turned out to be just as funny and charismatic in person as he had been on all the videos I'd seen him in. Our conversation ended up revolving around games, of course. I'm not sure what led to this, but I ended up gushing for a bit about Eternal Darkness, which is still one of my favorite games. I didn't think much of it, other than being happy I hadn't made a big idiot of myself. Lunch was over, and I was back to work.

Skip ahead about four years. I was no longer an intern, but instead was Lead Developer of the site. I was at a get-together at the local bar with my GameSpot colleagues. It was essentially my going-away sendoff as I was moving on to a new opportunity. Jeff shakes my hand, and tells me that maybe sometime in the future, I can stop by and gush about Eternal Darkness to him again.

Dear New England Patriots Fans,

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Your team is very good.

But it is not the best football team ever, as some of you want to believe. It is a one-dimensional, one-trick pony. When a team like the Eagles (playing with a backup quarterback, mind you) can come so close to defeating the Patriots, it becomes very apparent that your team is not as invincible as you'd like to believe.

That is all.

Apologies to gaming store clerks...

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I used to be an avid retailer of games stores like EB and more recently, the bigger chain, GameStop. As time progressed on, I started to go less and less to stores like GameStop, until one day, I stopped going altogether. You know why? GameStop is bad for the videogames industry.

I'll let you take that in for a second and reiterate it once more. GameStop (and its ilk) willfully and selfishly harms the industry you and I all love. I'm sure you may have heard this argument before, at least in regards to the selling of used games, but that is only one part of it which I will address a little later on.

The first strike is that the larger gaming stores are actively fighting the natural maturing and growth of the industry. Case in point: release dates. When it comes to CDs and DVDs, it is almost certain that they will be widely availble for purchase on the morning of their street date, which traditionally is a Tuesday. "Release date" is sadly a vague term in the gaming industry these days. As it stands, it could mean anything, including the day that it's first shipped to retailers or other such constructs. It should simply mean the day on which a game will be available for purchase. But Adam, you tell me, it's up to publishers to adhere to some organizational scheme, and then the retailers would happily oblige. At least, that's what you'd think.

You may have never heard of the GAMA convention in Las Vegas. It is small, and completely unlike any gaming convention you've probably seen. It actually does first and foremost focus on business. Several years back there was a panel in which game publishers tried to discuss remedies and standardizing to ensure a consistent game release process. It was the gaming stores who fought tooth and nail against that proposal. Why? Well, if a game arrives in abundance at Best Buy consistently the same day as it arrives in anemic quantities at GameStop, where do you think the customers would go?

This leads me into my next point: the dreaded pre-order. I'm not sure how many of you have stopped and thought about just how ridiculous this practice is. You are... depositing money toward a game that you may not even know the release date for. And yet, people happily fork over a little amount (or in some cases, the whole amount) of money so GameStop can perhaps gain a little interest by doing nothing except promising to hold a copy of the game when it's released. And from personal experience, I can say that sometimes, stores can't even guarantee they'll have your preorder when you get there. Back when I was still a patron of such establishments, I once placed a deposit on Doom 3. On release date, I confidently walked to the register, receipt in my hand, only to be told that the clerk had accidentally put me down for a pre-order of the Xbox version. Their solution? They just gave me what I now realize in retrospect was someone else's preorder copy. Nice.

Really, preorders anger me. It's a little bit a combination of some of my bad experiences, the knowledge that a store is happily taking people's money without knowing when or if their product will ever arrive, and the smugness of clerks who would tell me "Only copies we have are preorders. Maybe you should preorder next time!" Maybe, sir, your company should better anticipate customer demand next time! Again, just think about New Release Tuesday. You go into your Best Buy or Circuit City or Tower, and it's easy to spot the shiny new media in the New Release section. None of that "We only got one copy of 300, and that was for a guy who preordered it" nonsense. Now I hope you can see why game retailers are terrified at the notion of standardized and organized release dates. Then they would have to COMPETE, and "You should have preordered" just won't cut it if there's a Best Buy with 30 copies across the street. I will concede that publishers need to get better with taking back unsold returns to be on the same level as music and movies, but I think it's done a good job heading in that direction, albeit in baby steps.

There is a lesson that should be self-apparent here: "You can't sell what you don't have." It seems like game stores missed that particular lesson. Sometimes you can go to a games store and get lucky, finding a copy of the game you wanted and leaving without much hassle. But it seems to me that's becoming an increasingly rare occurrence. In an ironic twist of fate, it's actually harder to find most games in games stores than in bigger electronics stores. But hey, they might have a used version of the game for several dollars less!

I'd like to point out that I think used games do have a place; it's great to play some older stuff that I never had when I was younger. I remember with great fondness Funcoland's vast selection of used games offered and I loved it. But that does not describe GameStop's vision of "used." Instead, just buy back games that are still selling, pay a pittance, and sell for a few dollars less than retail. Customer saves a few bucks, and instead of that greedy games publisher, now all the profit goes to the Games Retailer! The $8-10 retailer take on new games apparently isn't enough. And the best part about used is that you can just keep reselling them. The same copy of a game could make GameStop earn profits of one hundred dollars or more. With such a profitable option available, no wonder they don't particularly care about having a wide variety. They'd instead prefer to take a more parisitic approach.

And as if all that weren't enough, I present the final insulting act: it is common procedure to sell the floor-opened and clerk-borrowed games as "new." Do you see this casual negligence towards merchandise that will be sold in other industries? I worked at a Circuit City when I was in college, and they sure didn't let me borrow any of their merchandise for my off-days. The clerks of game stores shoud be expected to be upheld to the same standards as other professional employees. That they're not is just once again, suggestive that the store and its culture are severely hindering the industry. I'm tired of gaming stores. I've been tired of them for awhile. I thought it'd be painful to switch to Amazon and wait for shipping. But you'd be surprised how easiy one can get accustomed to that, as opposed to the alternative.