We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes
Nothing, and I mean nothing is as exciting as realizing that one of your hard drives is dying. Especially when it's your boot drive. Double-especially when you operate under a somewhat-maverick "backups are for punks" policy.
I believe I've salvaged anything that would be further than a download away. Good thing, too. Lots of half-finished songs and other stuff that I've been working on tend to sit on the ol' C drive.
But now the question becomes... will a surface scan make my CRC errors go away? And can I ever totally trust this drive again? Probably not. Looks like I've got some shopping and reinstalling to do in the morning.
Not too long ago, me, Chris, and Brendan (my roommates) made a sound investment on some discounted Lazer Tag rifles. Needless to say, the investment is paying back big time. Or, at least, it will be until one of us breaks something while running through the house at full speed with all the lights out.
I think the neighbors are eventually going to kill us.
Wii? No thanks. After referring to the product as the Revolution for a really long time, now it's the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo has essentially thrown away all of the name-recognition that the Revolution has built up and replaced with something that sounds... well, awful.
Greg brought up the point that we all felt this way about the name Dreamcast, too. Yeah, we did. And yeah, it eventually sunk in. But Wii and the whole "we" thought-process behind is just super-creepy. It's everything I dislike about branding. The name might sound all-inclusive, but my gut reaction is one of total alienation.
Much like the news story we ran earlier today said it would, the new PSP firmware update is out. Well, at least, it's out in Japan. I don't know if they've posted the firmware update to the US update site or not, but in the past, all the firmware has been universal.
Anyway, they fixed whatever problem that prevented the HotSpot (our podcast) from working. So that's pretty exciting.
It has Flash support, too, but I haven't tried that yet.
In case you didn't see it yet, the posse across the hall that's responsible for mp3.com has added user uploads to the site. That means if you're in a band, you can upload songs, manage your catalog, upload photos, keep a blog, have a message board devoted to your band, and all kinds of cool stuff. It's 100MB of storage for, like, free. That's a pretty good deal.
As a guy that used mp3.com years and years ago, back when it had similar features, I have to say that I'm excited to be able to "come home."
Here's the page for one of the bands I'm partially responsible for...
If you're in a band and you want to get in on this action while it's still in beta, here's where you need to go to sign up:
From talking to some of the people working on this stuff, it sounds like there are some great new features coming up, too, so get in now!
Hmm... hopefully this whole thing didn't sound too much like an ad or something. What can I say, I'm excited that the feature that always made mp3.com special in my mind is back. Is that so wrong? You wanna fight about it?
17Apr 06The practice of writing "*cough* <something that doesn't need to be said in an aside in the first place> *cough*" when attempting to make a point in text is no longer clever and pretty much just makes you look like an ass. Please make a note of it!
CNN's entertainment section has an article up called "How to release a bad movie." It discusses the long-running practice in the film business where films that are likely to get thrashed by movie critics aren't screened in advance. Doing this prevents the reviews from getting out in a timely fashion, potentially allowing the movie makers to cash in on opening weekend before reviews (and bad word of mouth) come into play and prevent people from going out and seeing it.
Personally, I'm not really a fan of movie reviews, because my tastes routinely clash with those of most movie reviewers, but then, I know enough people who work at movie theaters (I used to work behind the scenes at a local chain years and years ago) that I don't really need to pay to see movies, anyway. But that's beside the point.
Anyway, I have the distinct feeling that this practice is starting to carry over to the game industry. There have certainly been cases in the past where publishers simply "haven't received" their review copies in a timely fashion. In other cases, one version (the PS2 version, usually, and it's usually markedly worse than its Xbox or PC counterpart) has been held up for one reason or another. Of course, it's simply possible that this is a coincidence--maybe they really didn't get those games in time to send out for review--but the more it happens, the more suspicious I get.
Anyway, read the article via the link below, and the next time you see that a game has hit shelves and there aren't very many reviews out there, think about what that might mean. I'm not saying it's always the case... but I certainly have a growing concern, and felt I should pass that along.
With the exception of one or two people who are playing GRAW, just about everyone who is online and on my Xbox friends list is currently playing Oblivion. That seems sort of crazy to me. Morrowind never seemed like it had any sort of universal appeal at all. What, exactly, is it that has drawn people to this game?
Hell, I'm playing it, too. After catching moments of Greg's game over the last week, I decided I wanted in. Got started last night, liking it a lot. You know, since the character creation has so much weird depth to it, it's almost a shame that there's no sort of online component to it. Not that it needs online gameplay, but it'd be neat if you could look and see what sorts of characters your friends are creating or something.
I don't know what finally pushed people over the edge to make this happen, but it seems like the Xbox 360 is the first concentration of games that contain alternate options to help out colorblind players. Being colorblind myself, I'm way into that.
Hexic and Astropop both have "symbol" modes that turn on squares, triangles, crosses, and others to help make the blocks more identifiable. Perfect Dark Zero has a few different color schemes to choose from for team modes (though I, personally, don't have a problem with the defaults). And the upcoming Battlefield 2: Modern Combat will also have some form of color swapping or other option placed in the name of lending a hand to the hue-challenged.
My specific brand of colorblindness almost never gets in the way in most games. Blue and purple often look the same, as do green and brown. Light greens and light yellows sometimes look the same. I once lost a bright orange golf club in fairly short grass, which I think is the thing that tipped my parents off in the first place, if not the way I kept getting yelled at by teachers for coloring pictures of people "incorrectly." It made getting very good at Puzzle Fighter a little tougher (though make no mistake, I will wreck you), but outside of puzzle games, I've never noticed a problem. But yeah, it's cool that developers are taking this into consideration. Maybe there are more colorblind players out there than was previously thought or something?
A little more news out of GDC...
...could this possibly be the first console that I don't feel the need to own two of? Unless the Japanese Blu-Ray movie market is wicked awesome or something, it looks like I could get away with only owning one system. But there's one question still left to answer...
Will it play PS2 and PS1 games from all regions?
OK, and will it run those games in a higher resolution? (Two questions, then.)
And... how much will it cost? (Fine, three.)
What's the final controller going to be like? (There can't be more than four, can there?)
As for owning more than one, I somehow ended up owning three PSPs, and it's region-free, too, so I guess I may end up with multiple PS3s at some point, too.
I should get a Japanese 360 and see if I can earn any Tetris Grand Master Ace or Wrestle Kingdom achievement points...
Nintendo keynote tomorrow... think there'll be anything big there?
The press conference in Japan is just now getting underway. It's sort of fun, watching and waiting for the details to show up. Will they hit the newswire first? Will the people at the conference hear it first? Exciting.
Of course, it's not as exciting as actually being there to see it all unfold would probably be, but hey, I'll take what I can get.
[10:28] Sounds like they're starting things out by going over PS2 sales figures and stuff.
[later than that] A bunch of crazy PSP stuff in the works. PS1 emulator, electronic game distribution, GPS, a video camera, EyeToy games... wild.
[11:05] PS3 delay is official and... it's a worldwide release this November for Japan, Asia, Canada, US, and the EU. Production plans are for 1 million units per month.
12Mar 06Anyone gotten themselves into this spot? I can load up my GRAW save, but when I try to play from my saved position (defending what's left of the US embassy), the game locks and won't load the level. Had to start over.
I really don't understand why Sony hasn't just officially moved away from the Spring release timeframe. There are things that happen as you lead up to a console release. You show it off in playable form at an event for the media. You announce a game or two. You throw out a few ads on TV. If the PS3 were coming out soon in any territory, we would have seen at least one or two of these things. But Sony is almost painfully silent at this point. So unless the company is planning one of those radical Sega Saturn-style "oh, it's out now" moments, it seems pretty obvious at this point that Spring's not going to happen.
You can pretty much safely assume that this year's pre-E3 press conference from Sony is going to be focused on hard (well, harder than we've seen up to this point, anyway) facts about the PlayStation 3. Barring those facts being someone getting up there and saying "Holiday 2007," I also assume we'll see playable PS3 games at or around E3.
The release date question is the tricky one. If Sony doesn't get the PS3 out in North America in time for the holidays, that's going to cause a real problem for all the developers currently working on PS3 games with the understanding that they'll start making money on them sometime in 2006. That fact alone should be enough for Sony to get the PS3 on shelves this year, even if it's a rushed launch without enough stock to fill demand. Factor in what the other guys are doing--Xbox 360 games are finally starting to ship and maybe, just maybe, we'll see consoles on shelves sometime soon--and you've got an increasingly dangerous situation for Sony.
The analysts can say "possible slide to 2007" all they want, but I'm going to say that's all crazy talk. My guess is still November in the US, though I wish this stuff would just get announced, already. All of the hush-hush secret spy business surrounding all the consoles is just making a tough console transition year even worse.
The mood is tense; I have been on some serious, serious reports, but nothing quite like this...
College Hoops 2K6 is out next week and the achievement points for this one look just as stupideasy as NBA 2K6 was... see for yourself here.
I tried to get an interview with him, but they said no, you can't do that he's a live bear, he will literally rip your face off.
From the press release...
Depeche Mode’s lead singer, David Gahan, said, "Depeche Mode has always been open to new ways of sharing our music, but re-recording a Simlish-language version of 'Suffer Well' just sounded completely bizarre. Of course, that's why couldn't resist doing it."
Of course! Hey kids, it's user-participation time! Which one of you can come up with the snidest way to say that Depeche Mode did it for the money?
Today's the day. I just broke the 10,000 point barrier on the Xbox 360. I guess I could have gotten it much sooner, but I've been procrastinating. Getting new stuff like Fight Night to play makes the points earning easier, even if all of the points in Fight Night are totally gross because of all the creepy product placement. Though in the end, it was Full Auto's easy series points that pushed me over the threshold.
The current maximum limit is somewhere around 24k, which is completely crazy. If anyone's going to get there, it's probably going to be ST TheKing, who is probably the worldwide points leader. Dude's crazy.
But you don't have to be crazy to get points fast. The first batch is actually pretty easy to get, if you've got the right games.
OK, so you want to play Geometry Wars, but hey, you don't have an Xbox 360. You're screwed. Out of luck. Or are you?
This guy Mark has coded an interesting clone of Geometry Wars--called GridWars--in BlitzBasic, which is some crazy middleware-like programming language or something. Anyway, the underlying technology isn't what makes this interesting. The game itself is pretty good. It's also probably completely and totally illegal, since the look and feel of it is hella (that's a scientific term) similar to the Bizarre Creations original.
What makes GridWars interesting is that Mark has taken several liberties with the gameplay. Liberties that, if separated from the graphical style of Geometry Wars, would probably make it a different enough game to stand on its own. After all, it's not like Geometry Wars invented the whole "dual joystick" genre. But, of course, if it didn't look like Geometry Wars, no one would be talking about it, and we'd never know it existed.
It reminds me of the old bootleg arcade machines, like the hacked up version of Donkey Kong called Crazy Kong. Basically the same game, but it was made to run on a billion different existing hardware setups, letting arcade operators run it on, say, a Galaxian board. Again, totally illegal, but these bootlegs were always interesting, even if the quality of the experience didn't match the original. That's the case with GridWars. It's a really neat piece of software, but make no mistake, it's no replacement for Geometry Wars.
But GridWars makes for a very cool side story when placed next to the original game. New enemies, different behaviors, new power-ups... it's exciting! Almost in the same way that all the hacked-up Street Fighter II machines with air moves and altered speeds were exciting. It was a new twist on an old favorite, and on top of that, it has the bonus of being, you know, totally illicit.
It got me thinking about the whole "open-source gameplay" or whatever that J Allard mentioned in a recent interview. Forget the misapplication of the buzzword "open-source" for a second, and imagine if Geometry Wars came with an easy-to-use modding toolset that let you modify everything from enemy behavior to scoring. Maybe even introduce new enemies, since the vector graphics are simple enough to manipulate with an Xbox 360 controller. Then imagine if you could easily share those creations with other players, giving you a huge number of Geometry Wars variants to mess with. Of course, most of them would be crap, because that's just the way things work. So you'd need a voting system to govern what's good and what's garbage. But that variety, and the sense of discovery as you dug through countless iterations of the shooter, would probably be really cool. If all the people talking about modding as the future of games and "personalizing the experience" and all that are truly serious, then this is the sort of thing that those people should be looking at.
Of course, it'll probably just end in Microsoft lawyers dropping the hammer and trying to shut it down. That's usually how these things go.
The band I'm in with one of my roommates, Midnight Brown, has just released its third album, Dope/Revenge. It's available for free via download from our official site. You may have heard some of these songs already, as the instrumental versions of some of them have been circulating as beds and backgrounds for GameSpot's video content for a bit now. Some of these songs first appeared in instrumental form on the GameSpot E3 2005 DVD.
Anyway, it's here if you're interested:
I'd try to describe what it sounds like, but I've been really bad at doing that when asked, so... let's just say that we use a computer, a bass guitar, and a microphone to make it. And one song has an homage to the classic "Whoomp There it Is" by Tag Team.
If you've read today's top story, you know what the deal is with Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. It's really interesting, you know, on paper Getting Up sounds like a mess. It's easy to rattle off points that didn't seem to be working in its favor.
- Marc Ecko claimed to have heavy involvement in Getting Up. Sort of like how 50 Cent claimed to be in on Bulletproof. Remember how that turned out? What's this fashion designer/magazine publisher supposed to know about making games? All he knows about is making money, right?
- Getting Up kept getting delayed. In a perfect world, game delays are done to make games better. But often, it seems like publishers are just delaying the inevitable, and games that linger in development too long sometimes come out feeling outdated, because the engine behind it is now a step or two behind.
- Atari hasn't exactly been on a winning streak lately. I know that often doesn't have any bearing on a game's quality. That's why we don't really consider stuff like that in the context of a review. But to the outside world, do you trust the company that brought you Driver 3 and Enter the Matrix? Granted, those aren't exactly recent history, but they still somehow seem fresh in my mind.
- "Urban" themed games aren't exactly sure bets these days. Cashing in on the hip-hop thing got so bad last year that we had to create an award for it. Stuff like 187 Ride or Die and True Crime NYC was just downright offensive in its badness. Good games with a hip-hop sensibility to them are the exception, not the rule.
- The Collective isn't quite the proven developer that they often seem like. Buffy hit big, but that was in 2002. Saying that Getting Up features "Slayer technology" isn't exactly something that inspires confidence on its own.
I could probably dig and come up with a few more, and I've seen a lot of people writing the game off as garbage for one or more of the reasons I've already listed. But really, all that matters is that Getting Up, in spite of whatever preconceived notions you may have about it due to some or all of these factors, pulls it all off. Is it perfect? Nah. But as I say in the review, it's got great action, a terrific story, and an incredible soundtrack. I'm not sure where the bulk of the credit belongs (Ecko, Atari, or The Collective), but it seems like all of their efforts came together in just the right ways and complemented each other quite nicely. And, yes, I love it when a plan comes together.
But now I'm on to Full Auto. As "the guy that's in charge of all the reviews" here, I apologize that we don't have a review for that yet, especially because I know a lot of people are interested in hearing about it, since it's the first retail Xbox 360 game in what seems like forever. We'll have it reviewed just as soon as I can get in some actual multiplayer testing against real people. Single-player seems rather one-dimensional, in case you were wondering.