[360] Just got Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

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Got it off a comment made by Garfield360UK on the Console Generation's Union, and I have to say its quite a bit of fun. I'm not so far in the game itself but I've been really enjoying the vehicle creation! Spent far more time with that than anything else. Its very satisfying to make new things and keep improving, fine tuning and just going crazy with them!

I think I must've spent an hour or so trying to come up with a vehicle that would let me smoke Trophy Tony (or whatever his name is) in his little race. Speed wasn't an issue - coming up with something that I could control decently was! I finally made a chopper of sorts - small, light, very fast, but had one wheel up front and three in the back for traction and stability. I'm still a clutz while driving, but oh well.

I really wish Rare had stayed independent. This is one of those games that should've been cross-platform. Sadly, its exclusive to the 360 with no PC version in sight... Hey, 360 haters?! Where are all the "lol360PCexclusives" you promised me? I'd much rather have this on the PC where I can do screenshots, use FRAPS, etc! :(

Random things here and there (and Stardock related).

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First off: From Brad Wardell's blog:

I'm going to write more on this later when I'm not so annoyed but I'm REALLY getting tired hearing from game developers who blame piracy for their game's poor sales.

If you make a game for the console demographic, don't expect to make huge PC sales, okay? Oh, and if you make your game require hardware that only a couple million users have, guess what? You're not going to sell a lot of units.

More later.

So... what game or games do you think he's talking about?

Secondly, showing off my desktop.

A wonderful combination of things, including your imagination since Gamespot is not recognizing the @ in my Flickr link :(

Windows 7 provides the basis of everything, obviously. This is easily my favorite Windows to date, not to mention my favorite OS these days. I've used Windows 3.x, 95, 98/98SE, Me, XP and just a few times Vista. I've also used Mac OS8, OS9, OSX 10.0, 10.1, 10.2 and 10.4. Add in a little Redhat and BeOS? A bit more than the average bear.

The wallpaper is something I found from Lifehacker's wallpaper roundup. Its calledDo a Barrel Roll by someone named Orioto. A beautiful piece of work in honor of Starfox.

Now, you may notice that things don't quite look like normal Windows, and you'd be right. First off I've got my superbar up top, Mac **** Secondly, you'll notice the interface doesn't quite look like Windows. That's thanks to a program called Windowblinds... I changed the theme of the UI (using their "Corporate" theme right now). In the second screenshot you'll see how all the windows have been rolled up instead of minimizing? That's another Mac ****c-ism that Apple stopped doing but I freakin' loved. Windowblinds lets me do that too! I'm pretty happy with the program, to say the least :D

Now, what's not obvious is I'm using another program called Fences. On the right side you'll see My Computer, My Documents, a folder called Public and my Recycle Bin. Those will not move; Fences lets me make "fences" to keep things in. On top of that, and not seen, is in the bottom left-hand corner there's actually a fence with icons for Google Chrome, Zune Player and Windows Live Photo Galllery. However, I've got Fences set up to hide/show not only that fence (called "regular apps") but anything on my desktop that's not in a fence when I double-click on the desktop.

Just thought I'd share ^_^

My thoughts on recent news and events.

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First off, the one I've been waiting for...

Sony is considering a premium tier of PSN.

So, basically, PSN as is would be the free version, and the paid subscribers would get stuff on top of that. I'd like to see this as it might bring additional pressure on Microsoft to bring basic online play (at least) to Live Silver. I'm very curious to see where this might lead. There is the ugly possibility they might remove features/performance from the free PSN - I would hate to see that (especially since that would do little to pressure MS into doing anything).

Of course, I'm a big fan of, "If free is good them cheap is better." If Sony offers me free or $5/month sub, I'd like to see what perks the sub has to offer! I've felt they've left money laying on the table by not offering a premium tier of PSN, so its good to see them do this.

Given that PSN requires game companies to host their own servers, I'd like to see them do some form of revenue sharing with publishers with the subscription money OR use the money to host servers themselves for smaller companies and independent games. Also, they can stop charging companies for bandwidth for downloads - I'm pretty sure that more than a few publishers/developers will be quite happy if that happens. I would certainly give subscribers faster speeds in that case - "You're footing the bill for everyone, so while everyone is downloading at the normal speed, your download will be up to twice as fast! Thanks!"

Potentially speaking this could be a win/win for everyone, including 360 owners.

Next up, Sony is planning an iTunes competitor.

As I wrote in the news thread:

Sony - if you want to beat iTunes you need to beat Windows Media Player in one key feature - it'll work with almost anything. Don't be like Apple and tie the service to specific hardware - license your platform out or make it so you can tap into the existing personal media player market. This is NOT the time for proprietary formats - embrace open standards, make a good quality product, interface and ecosystem, and you will do well for yourselves. Try and lock things up like Apple has and you'll never realize the potential you're capable of.

I'll stand by that. Most folks who didn't buy into iTunes/iPod don't want to be locked into anything. Also, the industry is moving away from DRM'd music; Apple's non-DRM'd music can be converted into MP3, Amazon sells only MP3s, and Zune sells MP3s also. Sony has already shuttered its old, DRM'd, Sony-device only music store. I hope they learned from that. Overall this could be very good, though. Choices are a wonderful thing.

In other news: Lawyers always win.

Yeah. Ooookay. Regardless of who wins, the lawyers will get paid, I'm sure. And if they do win, the folks who filed the suit will get chump change each. Gah. Notice Sony hasn't commented on the bannings? Smart move for them. In all likelihood they'll be doing some of those themselves (and for the exact same reasons) before this generation is over.

And more lawyers ruining our lives:

Oh for crying out loud... if this guy is as bad off as he says he's in, I think he should be seeking psychiatric help @_@

And lastly? I played the Bayonetta demo for the 360.

Normal kills me. Badly. OMG. Welcome back to scrubs-ville.

Easy is not as satisfying. It looks cool but I know, deep down, I'm playing scrub mode.

I like the mechanics, but right now lack the necessary l33t to do Witch Time stuff. The Torture stuff is interesting. I like how the guns are handled (press and hold, used as an ender/stopper for combos).

The game is quite gorgeous! Very pretty. The angels are freaky looking, though. Its like the cast of The Dark Crystal got new jobs as mook-fodder. Bayonette herself is eye-candy, although her standing pose is a bit goofy (and, in some ways, somewhat self-aware? "Hi, I'm supposed to be hot. Librarian hot.").

Right now I don't think the demo is as well done as DMC4's. The engine/mechanics are pretty intriguing, though. So, it likely I'll try this out later on, just not at the $60 price. OverallI think this is a great evolution of the DMC "stylish-brawler" game. It should be good, and I do not feel like its DMC with a sexier wrapper. Bayonetta feels like Bayonetta, just like KOF feels like KOF, SF feels like SF, and GG feels like GG (ie, distinct identity within a genre).

Might have to see if Ninja Gaiden Black on the XB can be found easily or not - I think they have a lower difficulty. I'm not quite so hardcore or masochistic as I used to be. I'd like to try the PS3 NG:S2 as its two-player if you want to - that's really the one thing this genre has been missing to make it the true successor to brawlers of old. Use online play and no worrying about cameras!


Side note: I want to find Otogi for the Xbox now, as well as maybe pick up DMC4 for my 360 since my PC version is being uncooperative (SecuROM is not liking W7 for whatever reason - says I've got imaging software - no patch I know of, darnit).

How to maximize your hardware? Blow TONS of money.

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Grand Turismo 5 has a $60 million dollar budget.

Holy. Smokes.

That's three times more money than was spent on Kill Zone 2. That's six times more money than Gears of War (if Rein is to be believed). That's... insane.

It should be an unbelievably gorgeous game as a result; something to show your system off with.

But jeez... forget hardware concerns... I've said a few times that money will be the limiting factor more than anything this generation, and stuff like this goes a long way in supporting it. Doesn't matter how powerful the console is if you can't afford to take advantage of what it can do @_@

Finally beat Gears of War 2.

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Next up: Halo 3.

I'm pretty pleased with my experience. I think the last fight made sense... maybe not the biggest rush ever, but getting there was interesting enough.

The message after the credits was interesting.

I do like how in the credits some folks were giving shout-outs in other languages. I think I saw Cyrillic(?) and French at least. Maybe a little Southern.

A good buy, all in all. Of course, I got it used with a 50% off coupon from Jack in the Box, so it only cost me about $15-17!

Borrowing Halo 3

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I played the original with a friend of mine on the Xbox and enjoyed it. Nothing like beating the game on co-op.

We never got around to playing Halo 2 together, but he had it and like it. Since then I moved from Georgia back to Hawa'i.

I am now borrowing Halo 3 from a friend at work (my boss actually!).

Like the original Halo I'm expecting it to be a good game. I am not expecting a spiritual experience. I am not expecting to be so blown away I can talk about Halo and nothing else. I'm not expecting to be so impressed that I go out and buy the game for myself (indeed, there are other games i want but am putting off getting).

Halo never figured into my reasons to get an Xbox 360. Its just a game, and truth be told one in a genre that I'm not a huge fan of anymore.

So - any advice before I jump in? Won't be tonight - maybe during the week or (more likely) this weekend.

Oh, and at some point I really want to try Horde mode in Gears 2. Any advice there?

[Windows] Public service to those buying new computers.

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Ever wonder what all that crap computer makers install on new computers do? See some real (disturbing) numbers:

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=16678

Solution? Take the crap off. Either do a clean install or remove them yourself. Don't have the time/patience to remove everything?

http://pcdecrapifier.com/

Enjoy. There's NOTHING like a pristine OS. Just remember - don't let people install crap on your machine while you're away ;)

Hopes for 2009, revisited

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Last year I posted a blog on my hopes for 2009. How did it go?

1. I get my 360 before the end of January!

:) And I did it! Love it. Great system.

2. That we'll see the very first Wii price cut or bundle-improvement by Christmas '09.

:) And we have. A mere $50 but that's still an improvement. Ahead of schedule, even.

3. That we'll see the PS3 drop by at least $50 on the low and top end plus get a bundle improvement OR we see a $100 price drop. Hoping for an improved bundle with a $100 price drop seems a bit greedy

:) I got my wish. I'm very pleased with Sony on this matter - not only was there a price drop, there was an elimination of "high end/low end" SKU's and the PS3 has a single, unified model now with the Slim. This is superb news not only for potential PS3 buyers but also anyone interested in Microsoft. The more competitive pressure the better.

4. That we'll see price drops on 360 storage (memory cards and harddrives), a $20-50 price drop on the various SKU's or improved bundles. Seeing the current Pro become the new Core, the current Elite become the new Pro, and the Elite getting a bigger harddrive, WiFi adapter, etc., would be even better. Keep the prices the same in that case.

:| Well, a bit mixed here. $100 drop on the Elite, but they killed the wrong SKU! I wanted the Core/Arcade to go away, not the Pro! Regardless, they've still got a reasonably good lineup, and my (new-found) appreciation for the madness behind the Arcade softens the blow a bit. I personally think both the PS3 and 360 (particularly the Arcade which sold quite well) were factors in the Wii's sales drop and price drop.

Obviously, the hopes for bundling, storage and accessories is a bust.

5. Street Fighter IV will have PC/360 and PC/PS3 online play.

:( Bust. Which is a pity.

6. City of Heroes will get a new, boxed expansion, plus the Mac version adding 50-100% to the playerbase.

:) Don't know about the Mac version improving player numbers, but a boxed expansion has been announced, teased, and should hopefully be out in 2nd Quarter 2010.

7. Guild Wars 2 comes out and kicks major butt. Well, actually, this will be a given...

:| Well, maybe next year. But I like everything I hear about it (no surprise - marketing departments doing their work).

8. Microsoft finally gives Live! Silver online play, but adds even more features to Live! Gold. However, I do not want to see anything more taken from Live! Silver - all perks should be just that - perks.

:( Bust here on Live Silver getting online play. Gold is picking up a lot of nice extras, though.

9. Microsoft finally loosens up and starts embracing User Generated Content the way that Live was originally envisioned but they backed off from.

:( Bust here.

10. NCSoft finally gets a PS3 game out for us to play!

:( Big bust here. Sorry for all you PS3 owners - I was really looking forward to this one.

11. That the console version of The Witcher blows the doors off of Final Fantasy XIII. Because, honestly, the status quo needs to be shaken up.

:( Looks like the Witcher for consoles is being skipped. Damn pity. But I really do want to see a Western-****RPG smack Final Fantasy around.

12. That Japanese RPG companies will try and make something along the lines of The Witcher, Knights of the Old Republic, Oblivion or Fallout 3. Because, honestly, the status quo needs to be shaken up.

:( Haven't paid enough attention as of late. I don't think its happening, though. Everyone's content with their own thing, pretty much.

Joys of personal taste (and realizing they change).

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Forza 3 is out.

Its reviewing well, certainly. It looks to be another great game in a series of great games. I'm quite happy with that.

I have no intentions of getting it.

When I was younger I hated beets, loved crab and loved shrimp. A few years ago I couldn't handle crab anymore. No idea why - I just didn't like it. Now? Like crab again, not much for shrimp, and can eat (even enjoy) beets.

Tastes change over time.

A few years ago I was playing Grand Turismo and loving it. I adored Metropolis Street Racer. Sega GT was a well-loved title. Now? My copy of Forza 2 is unplayed - I can't get into it. Project Gotham Racing? Ditto. Burnout Paradise? I can't figure out why I can't bring myself to play it when I played the original Need for Speed for hours on end for weeks, if not months, on the 3DO.

But Ridge Racer 6? Oh yes, I think I could get that. No, seriously. I downloaded the demo and had fun. Maybe its harkening back to my arcade roots; Outrun, Cruisin' USA, Daytona, Ridge Racer, etc. Maybe I'm less concerned with realism and just want to race. Maybe I simply don't have (or feel like I have) the time to dedicate to a real simmy racer anymore. I just want to hop on, play my few laps, and move on. I don't know.

But, regardless of my not asking, not giving permission, not working on it, my tastes have changed on me.

How have your tastes changed over the years?

More thoughts on my Zune.

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As requested...

First off? I love this thing. I'm also loving the music service. Right now I'm downloading a 32-song playlist created by Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb (jazz and such).

* While obvious, streaming music and playing online games don't always get along. Of course, I misdiagnosed lag for framerate when having an issue (one of my COH characters has a rather performance heavy powerset that can cause big drops in my FPS everytime certain powers are used).

* Turning off the car turns off the car kit, pausing the Zune. Leave it alone and the Zune shuts off. Turn the car back on and it turns on automatically.

* The leather case was made for being in your pocket. Only. There's no clasp for attaching to your belt or other things, and has to be removed in order to use the car kit. Very single-task-ish. One could do better, but its still nice and protects the screen.

* Shuffle options through the menus are consistent except for the album itself. So, if you're browsing by any of the catagories (by song (all, alphabetical), genre, album, etc), there's a shuffle all option up top. If you're in a single album there's "play all" but no "shuffle." You have to start playing a song, click the squircle, then tell it to shuffle on the menu that comes up. The menu contains, rating, show song list, shuffle on/off, repeat on/off, send and go to artist. I'd like it if there was a "shuffle" under "play all" as well, but cé la vie.

* It boots faster than my Sansa ever did. Instant on, just like the iPod. Which is good.

* No equalizer that I've seen. Not a big deal for me, but that's a deal breaker for some folks.

* Back to the car kit, it has a set output volume so there's no blowing your ears out accidentally later on. Its also auto-on, unlike my Belkin. Advantage of being a "made for" accessory versus a universal one.

* Zune Pass is wonderful. I love it. My music library is currently 10.4g! I've downloaded albums I've been curious about, albums from old favorites I've missed, playlists, etc. Its fantastic. I can hardly wait to see what the Zune/Live integration is like :)


One of the sales reps at my office (and a long time Mac user/owner), was actually impressed by the Zune when I showed it off to her. I don't think I told her it was a Microsoft product (might've slipped my mind). Told her straight out it was much better than my old Nano, but all the really cool stuff my little Zune can do an iPhone should be able to do to (she's a longtime Crackberry owner looking to get an iPhone), and the new Nanos can do some of also. I'd show it off better but she's a bit sick, and honestly there's not huge point to doing so - no Mac client for the Zune software (which is a damn pity).

I tell you what - this really makes me wish I could fool around with some of the other high-end players like the iPod Touch, Cowans, Archos, etc. The stuff I really like about my Zune should be pretty common at that price point. Its really nice to see so many quality options out there for hardware, even if 90%+ of people will only deal with iThings (if only software was the same - groan). Nice time for consumers, at anyrate. I half wish I could mail a nice letter to Diamond (they're bankrupt now?) for taking on the RIAA/media companies years ago when they tried to kill of MP3 players back in their infancy. If they hadn't, I'm not sure we'd be enjoying all these toys we have now :(