We've got SimYard, now we only need SimHotDog and SimBeer.

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SimYard game in progress

[note: This is a reprint of an entry I wrote last night on my new blog at www.lonestranger.net. I think this game would be of interest to many people here.]

For the past week I have been addicted to a new online game. It's an baseball management simulator called SimYard. Like other baseball sims, you pick a team name, logo and colors, and pit your team against others.

SimYard has an interesting twist to it. Your team is made up of semi-pro players who you find while interacting with the fans around The Park. You pick a field at the park and wait for someone to accept your challenge, or you find a field with another team waiting and accept theirs. There is no set game schedule or requirement to play specific teams. It's more like pick-up baseball.

Currently, your team has a roster limit of 40 players comprised of the usual positions. Each player has a set of internal stats that make up what kind of player they are, ranging from 1 to 20 (I assume it's 20. The highest I've seen is a value of 17 on one of my pitchers). The stats fall into one of three disiplines: batting, pitching and fielding/baserunning. Batting, for instance, is made up of the Hit, Bat Speed and Power stats. They go up against pitchers who use the Finesse, Pitch Speed and Endurance stats.

Each individual matchup in the game is determined by the server using these stats, pitch by pitch. You can see the current number of balls and strikes on the status display and the results of the matchup show up on a representation of the field. You have as much control over the batter or pitcher as a real manager does in the dugout. Sure, you can call substitutions, but like in the real game, you don't have time to think it over too much before play continues on. Each pitch takes about one second, and a full game can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. The automatic manager does a pretty decent job replacing pitchers when they get tired and ineffective batters in the later innings, so don't feel overwhelmed with figuring out who to pull and when. The pitcher's endurance stat determines how long they can go in the game and how much rest time they need in between starts. Typically, it's anywhere from 10 to 20 hours, which would equate to about four to six days in real life.

The games go much like any game you watch on TV. You root for your players like you would your favorite team, yelling at the screen when hitters can't seem to do more than create a breeze and your pitchers appear to be throwing underhanded. Of course, you do the same when your four-slot knocks a grand slam or your pitcher goes a complete game.

The baseball season is 24 days long, plus two days of spring training at the start of the month and two days of a post-season tournament at the end of the month. Even though there are no official leagues in The Park, standings and stats are kept. A simple games behind calculation determines where your team is in relation to the others. Since everyone plays a different number of games in the schedule-less format, you can play half as many games as one team and still be next to them in the standings. The date of the seasons is set in the late 1890's, which some consider the beginning of modern baseball. Everything from then to now is a blank slate... ready for you to make history. Each new month bring a new season, new standings and new opportunity.

The top teams will play in the post-season, however not much about that has been revealed to the public yet. I do know that you'll set your starting rotation and closers to pair up against your opponents, and the computer will schedule the tournament with as many as 64 teams.

All of that is free. Starting next month, there will be a way to take your team to the next level, by purchasing a stadium license and joining a league with it's own schedule, standings and playoffs. Not only will you be playing against better teams, you'll also have to keep the fanbase you built at The Park happy with good seats, concessions and souveniers. They'll show their happiness by attending games and spending money at the park so you can turn around and offer your players contracts and keep them on your team.

The game is currently in beta, so you may notice some changes as the month goes on, as SimYard developer Erick Robertson tweaks things and adds features. Erick sure did his homework when he came up with the engine behind the whole thing, so be sure to let him know you enjoy the game if you see him in the game's chat or forums.

So come on out and check out SimYard. Anyone who is interested in baseball, especially those who take part in fantasy baseball should find enjoyment in taking a team of players and trying to beat the pants off of everyone at The Park. You can find me in there as, who else? LoneStranger.

Metal Slime -> Rescue Ranger

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Metal Slime

While happy to be moving up the ranks from level twenty to twenty-one, I am sad to see Metal Slime go. Of course, Metal Slime is from one of my favorite video game franchises, Dragon Warrior. I'm nearing the end of Dragon Warrior IV for the NES. I first beat it many years ago in about twelve days. I had mono, so I just laid on the couch and spent my timesleeping and playing video games.

This time around I'm playing in on an emulator on my phone. I have it wherever I am, so it's not such a big boring deal to grind anymore to gain levels. I just pull it up when I am a passenger in the car or waiting for a meeting to start at work, or sitting in the bathroom. ;) I usually refer to GameFaqs.com to make sure I am on the right track because I don't want to have to take notes while I play.

I'm not sure where the title Rescue Ranger comes from, though my first thought would be the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers game, also for NES. It's another game I played in my youth. I don't remember much about it except that it was decently fun.

Having fun with Lego Star Wars - The Complete Saga

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I picked up Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga for PS3 on Friday night. My wife and I have been playing it, and we are having a blast. She'll play games with me occasionally, but until this past weekend, the only games I have been able to get her to play a lot of is Crash Team Racing and older Mario platformers. LSW seemed to be a good game for us since Star Wars is something she's familiar with because I am a big fan, and who doesn't like Legos? It doesn't seem to be too hard of a game, but has some good rewarding challenges.

It's been a few months, and I have to say I am a fan of the new rating system. I was going to get WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2008, but thankfully I waited for Alex's review before buying that junk. Yea, it looks great on the PS3, but I know I would just be disappointed. With LSW, however, I was able to see that the only negative medal was because of recycled content. Since I never played the original two games, none of this is recycled to me. I might rate the game higher than the 7.5 Ryan gave it if everything continues to be as fun and exciting as this past weekend.

I think the coop games are great because we are playing with the same goals in mind, and anything I do isn't going to harm her, short of popping her in the back with a blaster or grabbing hearts she needs to refill her life. If the game gets too difficult for her, I'm right there to either do what needs to be done with my character, or, when all else fails, use the other controller and do it for her. Either way, she doesn't get too frustrated and get less enjoyment from the game.

Playing this with her reminds me of the weeks that my friends and I would play Jedi Power Battles in between work and ****s. We'd go to **** grab lunch, come over to my place and play for a few hours before one of us had to leave for work or another **** It wasn't a great game, but because we could play at the same time, it was a lot of fun.

Normally I don't enjoy being forced to go back to a previous area to complete another goal, but the way LSW is laid out, it doesn't seem to get dull. It's fun going back to the old locations with new characters and abilities and discovering things that you either didn't see the first time around, or could see but couldn't figure out how to get to. I've been writing down notes to keep track of what kind of things we see in Story mode that we can't do just then, but will be able to in Free Play with different characters. I could use a FAQ, but I think it's more fun to do it on our own.

We are about 12% done as of last night, through all of Story in Episode I and half of Episode II. We spend a lot of time running through Episode I's levels with the new characters trying to complete the goals. I think we have only one mini-kit completed, but a few are only a piece or two away.

The only thing that confuses me is that the manual says there are codes you can get to unlock characters. It also says that the codes won't be found in the game. So where do you get them? Sure, I could (and have) Google search it and punch those codes in, but where is the fun in that? My first thought was that there would be a code on the LucasArts' or Lego websites, however there was no mention at all of this. Was this something left over from when the games were released separately the first time? Are the code promotions over? I haven't been able to make my way to a Lego store just yet to check on codes, but I might have to see if I can buy some spare parts to build one of those ten white mini-kit gadgets hidden all over each levels.

I'm interested in the next Lego games, Indiana Jones and Batman, but not being a huge IJ or Batman nut, I might not take to them quite like I'm taking to LSW. We'll see how this goes, and I'll let you know when my wife and I finish it. My goal is to have the game beat sometime before January.

New Banners

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I put up a new blog header and banner image. It's from a picture I took a couple weeks ago when the Oakland A's hosted the Detroit Tigers. For the record, the A's won in ten, after their closer blew the save in the ninth. The blue circles are the years that the Philidelphia Athletics won their world championships. The yellow flags are forthe two most recent world championships they won in Oakland. The other two flags are on the opposite side of the park. I really wanted to get the large viewscreen into the image (it's above where the circles are) but the image wasn't wide enough. Next time I go, I'll try to get a wider picture with my other lens.

I took the original picture and overlayed a template for the banner and blog header areas using Photoshop. Once I got it where I wanted it, I cut each of the images out and resized them down to the required dimensions. The two images match up from the original, but I'm not so sure it looks believable to the eye. There needs to be some object that spans both images to make it seem like they are windows through to thelarger scene. I might have to keep looking for a better picture to use as a banner, but for now, it will do.The other thing I have to decide iswhether or not I want to be reminded of the horrible season the A's have had. It might be time to move on and root for the Niners to make a playoff run!

Folding@Home Stats at EOC

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There is a pretty cool website of interest to anyone doing the Folding@Home thing on their PS3 or any computer. Hosted by EXTREMEOverclocking.com, it takes a snapshot of the Folding@Home stats every few hours and runs some calculations. The results of those calculations show the gain of points and the change of rank over time. It also shows the average points earned in the past 24 hours, as well as how many points earned in the past week. If the user is a part of a group, then there are some fun stats you can check out. My favorite is the Conquests/Threats chart. This shows you the next five people in the group that the user will overtake if both that user and the targets maintain the same average gain. The other half of this is the next five people that will overtake that user, also if they maintain the same gain.

Here's a look at my stats: http://folding.extremeoverclocking.com/user_summary.php?s=&u=219469

Currently, there is no one above me that I can overtake. This isn't a surprise, as I'm second in the list to the juggernaut that is PS3. Those are all users that didn't put in their own name when they started folding. The only threat that I have is D1rty_Dawg, who currently pulls in about 200 more points than me per day. Nothing to worry about right now, as he's not projected to overtake me within the next ten months.

Here's my stats sig image, along with the Gamespot @ Home stats.

LoneStranger Folding@Home stats
Gamespot @ Home team stats

You can get one by clicking on the Stats Sig Images link on the left-hand side of the site.

In the end, it doesn't really matter where you are, as long as you get the warm feeling inside that you might possibly be making a difference in the fight against cancer.

New Scoring System gets an 8.8 ..er 8.5 with medals

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I thinkGamespot's new scoring systemmakes a lot of sense. It takes the same 1-10 scale, removes the .1 increments and replaces it with half-point increments and medals/demerits. Keeping the same scale range means that the previous scoring method can still be at least initially compared to the new method, as long as you add in the proper number of grains of salt.

The new scoring will give a general rating and the medals and demerits will tell readers specific things about the game that set it above--or below--games of a similar score, especially games in the same genre. I think it will help everyone decide what game to get based on what is important to them. Perhaps the game has great graphics but the storyline and gameplay suck. The score will reflect the poor overall package, while a medal will give the game it's props in the graphics department. If you're looking for something to show off that new 50" LCD TV, perhaps you don't really care about the gameplay.

Another advantage of the systemwill probably be seen withthe retro games that are re-released. You can try to compare a Gauntlet II (6.1/PS3) to any new game, but it's just notgoing to hold up in the categories that technologicallyget better, like graphics and sound. The medals can therefore be used to show us that the game is loyal to the original, though perhaps lacks elements that are required in games today.

I don't think this is 'dumbing it down' as some think.Rather, itgives the reviewer more options to choose from to properly inform us as individuals with different tastes whether or not we should buy the game. In addition, since the number and type of medals are not set in stone it gives the system a chance to evolve as the games and game industry evolve.

Star Wars Novels Avatars

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Since GameSpot went to 80x80 pixel avatars, they made a request for users to create their own. I sat down for a couple hours on Saturday morning and created sixty-four from the covers of Star Wars novels. If you like them or use them, please let me know. If you have a request for a specific character or thing from a Star Wars cover, let me know I'll see what I can do.


Good Guys


Anakin Skywalker x2, Chewbacca, Han Solo


Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia x2


Luke Skywalker x2, Mace Windu, Obi-wan Kenobi


Wedge Antilles, Barriss Offee x2, Jacen Solo


Tahiri Veila, Jaina Solo, Lobot, Mara Jade


Mara Jade x2, Shaak Ti, Tenel Ka


Bad Guys


Darth Vader, Count Dooku x2, Admiral Daala


Darth Bane, Joruus C'baoth, Grand Admiral Thrawn,Warmaster Tsavong Lah


Vua Rapuung, Supreme Overlord Shimrra, Executor Nom Anor, Boba Fett


Boba Fett, Dengar


Duos


Han & Leia, Han & Chewie, Luke & Mara x2


Troopers


Clonetroopers, Republic Commandos x3


Republic Commandos, Stormtroopers x3


Stormtroopers


Ships


Millennium Falcon, X-wing x2, Tie Fighter


Shuttle, Dogfight


Symbols


Old Republic, Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, New Republic


New Jedi Order, Legacy, 25th Anniversary

* Thanks to bbbourb for the update on the names.

NeanderGames1X

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I managed to get a picture of the recently excavated NeaderGames1X.  I believe it to be a direct ancestor to our very own MrGames1X.

NeanderGames1X

I am sure glad that the 1X line was evolved into something cuter with less teeth!

Time Trotters 2007 Speculation

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If you haven't been aware, there was a new user introduced to GameSpot surfers on January 5th by TriviaRobot. His name is MrGames1X, where the 1X is pronounced X-teen.  Along with this new user, there are hints being dropped regarding something coming in 2007...  It appears to be a cartoon Time Trotters.  Let's look at the clues and how they may fit together.

MrGames1X is a yellow box with a handle and a silly face.  TriviaRobot says he doesn't talk much, and that seems to be true.  All we have heard from MrGames1X is some beeps and boops and honks.

FACT: MrGames1X only beeps and boops and honks.
FACT: MrGames1X has derived the number X-Teen, which is a number in the "heart of every video game's programming."
SPECULATION: MrGames1X is a supercomputer. 
SPECULATION: MrGames1X is to Jeff, Ryan and Rich as Ziggy is to Sam Beckett. Quantum Leap is another show featuring time travel and 'fixing' the past.


Now, let's backtrack about ten days, on Christmas Eve.  TriviaRobot gave us a smidgen of video stolen from the GameSpot mainframe.  This video is 16 seconds long, mostly just black screen with music. A voice that sounds like Rich says "Pretty nice, huh?" and then shows 1.5 seconds of cartoon Jeff and cartoon Ryan in awe of something they see off screen.  End.

FACT: video is 16 seconds long.
FACT: Background music is Midnight Brown's Fully 99, which has to do with prepping something for launch.
FACT: Cartoon Jeff and Cartoon Ryan are looking at something impressive or surprising.
SPECULATION: Rich introduces MrGames1X to them. 


MrGames1X has a profile icon in a particular drawing style.  Jeff has had a cartoon profile icon drawn in the same style for a few months.  If you look closely, you can see in the lower left corner of the image, what appears to be a corner of MrGames1X.  There is also yellow and red jagged lines that are common in anime videos when two combatants are rushing toward each other. 

FACT: MrGames1X is in Jeff's profile image.
FACT: Traditional anime-style-opponents-rushing-toward-each-other jagged explosion lines.
FACT: MrGames1X is only about two feet by two feet in size.
SPECULATION: They are entering a battle.
SPECULATION: They are time-traveling.


Jeff's banner as of the time of this entry is a line drawing of what looks to be a command center of some sort.  Four pieces of equipment with terminals are connected to a central circular device.  It appears to be a pad with tubes going into it.  You could stand on it.... for time teleportation perhaps?

FACT: Lots of computers. 
SPECULATION: Four terminals, one terminal for each Jeff, Ryan, Rich and....?
SPECULATION: This is the command center where the gang starts their time-travelling adventures. 


The most recent clue is a video posted by MrGames1X titled Boop Abe Lincoln Beep!  It is two minutes, one second long.  There is some music in the background that I cannot place.  It is hip-hoppy.  There is a picture that slowly fades in while the music is playing.  You can see a car prominantly with Jeff, Ryan and a blond fellow strongly assumed to be Rich.  Jeff is changing a tire with an air wrench, Ryan is wiping down the front, and Rich is standing next to the driverside window.  Hanging out of the passenger side is Abe Lincoln, pointing in the forward direction.

FACT: Abe Lincoln is cool.
FACT: Video is two minutes and one second long.
FACT: The car is at a racetrack, evidenced by the stands and fence. 
FACT: The car is colored in Petty Blue and pink, Richard Petty's colors when he raced the number 43 on the NASCAR circuit.
FACT: The car looks like a current model, not the older style that Richard Petty drove.
FACT: The 200th and last race Richard Petty won was the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in on July 4th, 1984.  It was attended by another president, Ronald Reagan.
FACT: The drawing has pit road to the right of the car, and the stands to the left.  This is backwards to the actual direction the races are run, counter-clockwise.
SPECULATION: The music is the theme to the new show.
SPECULATION: The first episode of the show will be the week of the Daytona 500.
SPECULATION: The gang uses Bobby Labonte (driving the Petty-owned 43) to help save the day.
SPECULATION: The gang goes back in time to 1984 and while trying to save a classic video game, helps Richard Petty win the Firecracker 400 at Daytona.

If Jeff wanted to rub it in......

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8point8
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since 12/29/06.

Jeff did a review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.  Not everyone was happy with it.... but Jeff doesn't care.  It got what it deserved, a 'Great' score!  I guess that's just not good enough for those Nintendo die-hards.

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