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Malik (7/17/06)  

About a year ago, I saw a commercial on TV that completely blew me away. It was the type that I was obsessed with finding online. I needed to share with my friends. However, despite my efforts, and despite how almost anything can be found on YouTube or Video Google, this commercial eluded me. I even was able to capture it on DVR by recording part of Electronic Playground (a show that pains me to have listed on my DVR recordings). However, by the time I had acquired it, my video capture card was shot. I had no outlet to share this experience. An experience that is along the same quality as seeing the Darkon trailer.

Luckily for me, one of Velveeta's friends was even more creative and persistent than me, and was able to find it. So, here's something I've wanted to do for the last nearly 12 months...present a link to the commercial for Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies! Enjoy it, watch it, and love it!

Another bit of silliness...Gamespot has an interview with some of the Nokia crew about the state of mobile gaming. In itself, this is not too's not like Nokia is going to come along with a killer gaming platform (they've failed one and a half times already)...but that's where the comedy is. I just think that anytime a company that fails so badly as Nokia did with the pwN-Gage, it is pure comedy to interview their people and call them "gurus" when they couldn't even make a decent game playing device.

I didn't get much real geeking in this weekend. I was on the last level of Tomb Raider Legend when the weekend started, and I am still at the same exact save after the weekend has ended. I just didn't have much time at home this weekend to enjoy console gaming.

I did get in a little time with Tetris DS (which I got in a brilliant trade, on my behalf, for the abysmal Titan Quest) and have come to a couple of important realizations.

First off, it takes too damned long to set up a multiplayer WiFi game. On average, I've been sitting about 3-5 minutes anytime I want to start a four player WiFi game from scratch. This just doesn't seem right. It should not be this tedious to set up a game which could be over in as little as a minute.

More than that, I can't understand the people I've been playing with. If you all continue after the game ends, you will jump immediately into a new game with the same players. On the other hand, if you choose to quit, you will then force all four players (including yourself) to wait for another new game. If you have to wait up to 5 minutes to start a game, then don't f$#@ing quit after one little round. If you only intended to play a single round and then quit, then you're wasting too much time, and if you don't want to play against the same people again because you lost...well, don't be a little bitch!

Tetris DS really needs a special WiFi mode for people who have stable connections and aim to play at least five rounds at a time. I don't care if I'd get schooled for five rounds in a row. I just want to play, and when the game ends, I want to play again. I would rather sit at a screen telling me I lost and watch the other players continue to play than to sit at the game setup screen waiting for more players to join my game.

I just have a hard time believing that Tetris DS can be this slow to set up a game on when Mario Kart DS was so quick and invigorating. Hell...Mario Kart was the first DS online game and it worked great, so how did Tertis DS, which came out so many months later, end up being less refined? It makes no sense. At least with Tetris, if you quit a game, your rank will be lowered as you get marked with a loss for that game...but even that is not a real deterrent. I personally think that Tetris DS should kick people off of the Nintendo servers for a day or something like that if they repeatedly quit in the middle of games...and they should be lowered in game matching priority if they keep playing one round and quitting after a single game.

However, I say all of that only as someone who f$#@ing wants to play a few games and not spend a bulk of my time waiting for the game servers to find me a matched set of players.


Malik (7/18/06)  

Why do I sometimes feel like there's some sort of "party" going on and I was just not invited? I don't mean an actual gathering of people, but rather a psychological gathering of people that make things such as room decorating important in games.

As far as I can see things, the idea of decorating a room in a on/offline RPG that should've stayed entirely offline matters about as much as the ability to place symbols and medals on my Halo character. In other words, it seems like one of the least important details of Phantasy Star Universe.

Sega already too the franchise and tried to rape the corpse of a once wonderful series when they made PSO. PSO may have been fun for a short time, but it was nowhere near as epic and amazing as PS4. Hell, it wasn't even the same genre. I won't even touch what PSO Episode 3 (the card battling game) did to the franchise.

So, when the newest information comes around on PSU, I really feel like either I'm missing something important, or that Sega is, when the most talked about feature is how you can decorate your own online den. Is this really that important? Shouldn't it be more important what types of dungeons you will travel through, or what types of foes you will be slaying? Is there really nothing more important to bring to the forefront? Am I really supposed to remain loyal to the Phantasy Star name anymore after watching Sega have it's way with it's once revered corpse? And yes, I am hinting that I think the original PS name has died...and is not coming back to us.

I just wish that the current trend in RPGs would come to an end. In specific, I would like to see some company, besides DIS and Konami realize that classic styled RPGs can still be appreciated. If Sega was to make a classic styled (no online, turn based, and fun) PS game, I would buy it without any hesitation. Yet, we are forced to suffer through online RPGs (not the same thing or for the same audience), real time RPGs, action RPGs, and unique "RPGs" (Animal Crossing). Maybe this is why games like Final Fantasy VII, Suikoden II, and a few others go for so much on eBay.

On a side note, I finished Tomb Raider Legend last night. I have to say I'm really happy with my time I spent with that game. I doubt I'll go back and play it again, but it was worth the time I spent. If the next game (and the ending makes it obvious that there will be more) is anywhere near that quality, I may even consider buying it, rather than just borrowing it from a friend (thanks again, Meat Shield). At least while so many games are suffering, it's good to see that Lara Croft can finally do something right.

A second note...I may or may not get something posted tomorrow. I've got one of those corporate style job interviews lined up, and it may dominate a little too much, only time will tell.


Malik (7/19/06)  

I am glad that Toys-R-Us messed up with the Saint's Row demo. On one hand, it means we will see this demo at other stores far sooner than we might have otherwise seen. On the other hand, it's getting some interesting opinions out there about how the game will actually play.

I have to admit, I was one of the people who originally saw this game as "another GTA rip-off". In other words, it would be another horrible case of The Getaway or Driv3r. However, the opinions coming out are making this game sound really damned impressive. When you throw in the longer draw distances available with the 360 along with the more random and meaningless of destruction that this game gives (you can derail a freakin' train, outside of a mission, and the wreck will remain!), this is sounding like one of the first must have 360 titles.

I still need to experience the demo firsthand...which will happen once the local Gamestop has the demos in for pre-order bonus. However, what I've been hearing is nothing short of sweet. Since the demo offers so much in the way of entertainment (three missions, but there is a free play neighborhood of somewhat impressive size), I feel I need to hold and caress this thing first hand...especially since I'm such a GTA fanatic (read: not a fanboy, but a fan).

The only part of SR that has me even slightly concerned is that there is no auto-aim in this game. This means that drive-bys will be a little more challenging than they probably need to be, and it means that the controls and camera better be damned good while on foot. However, no major complaints seem to have surfaced about this issue, it's probably pretty good.

Also, on the note of 360 demos, Table Tennis should be available, in demo form, on the Marketplace. I doubt I'll get this one...the game has been out for several months and it hasn't attracted my attention yet. However, for those who are on the line about this game, this should be good news.

On a final note, before I head out for my job interview (which should be freakin' awesome), Neverwinter Nights 2 is now expecting an October release. Considering that most people I know, including myself, didn't think this game was coming out until 2007, this is not so hard of news to swallow. It even means we'll have a good game during what may turn out to be a really slow month for RPGs (October).

Anyway, is it any surprise that a D&D based game is being delayed? I don't think so. It's been a long time since one of these has not suffered some sort of delay. Baldur's Gate 2, D&D Online, etc...they always seem to be either delayed, or they get rushed to completion long before they are fully ready ( may not be D&D, but it's almost the same thing...engine, rules, etc). I know I'd rather have a fully complete game than a rushed one, so this delay is probably for the better.


Malik (7/20/06)  

Sony, who is usually on the bad end of the patenting side of technology (with the numerous lawsuits they seem to face each year over patent/copyright infringements), has decided to actually patent something instead of being sued over something down the road. The thing I find amusing is that, in the end, what they are patenting seems like a new way to do the same thing Nintendo has been doing with the Wiimote.

Basically, Sony has a patent that is for a single camera to view a rod-like controller and to map it to virtual information to serve as a controller. In other words, instead of using the more reliable Wiimote spatial sensor technology, it will use a far more faulty single camera approach...which means if the camera gets blocked, if you hold the controller incorrectly, or any other common occurrence happens, then the interface would probably go to crap.

I don't know why Sony is going with this type of patent, since it will effectively never be used, or it will fail in comparison to Nintendo's methods. However, it is now at Sony's disposal...for better or worse.

On that note...Nintendo is looking at a possible lack of games for the Wii's launch. In a nutshell, too many publishers expected nothing from Nintendo in the next generation, so not that many publishers were prepared when the Wii showing at E3 was as good as it was.

I'm sorry, but these third party publishers/developers had their heads up their asses. It was seen far earlier, especially at the TGS (last year). As soon as Nintendo revealed the Wiimote for the first time, it became obvious that there would be a strong following. Some people were obvious doubters (like myself), but far more were nothing short of excited about where this technology could push games.

If Ubisoft is the only company besides Nintendo that is looking to have a good level of Wii launch sales, then it's not from some sort of foresight by Ubi. It's also not because of the amazing turn around of Nintendo. No. It's because the other companies were too busy with their heads up their asses to realize what was happening around them. While hindsight is 20/20, it should be expected for foresight to be more in the legally blind range. If publishers were not getting ready for the Wii when it made it's first move that generated high levels of anticipation, then it's their own faults.

The one sad part of this is that Nintendo will have a weak launch library for the Wii. Well, that's only true if you don't count the online emulated titles that will be found on the Nintendo Wii servers...and if you don't count Metroid, Zelda, Wii Sports (may seem like a simple game, but I think it'll be a lot of fun), Smash in the not too distant future, and of course...the big boy himself; Mario!

On a final next-gen type of note, the PS3 has entered production. Sony will expect delivery of 200,000 PS3s by the end of the month, and more will follow. However, I still wonder a few things about the launch; will there really be enough for them to improve on the 360 launch, as so many Sony fanboys expect? Will they be able to pull off the worldwide launch with good numbers in all regions and less of a backlog, when Microsoft did so poorly (I honestly think Microsoft did pretty good...but...anyway...)? However, more than that, will anyone still want the $600 a year from now? More than that, do they honestly think they can hold to the 4 million PS3 goal from Asustek?

The other thing I'd like to know is what the final distribution of PS3s will look like. I don't (just) mean the distribution around various regions. I mean, in particular, what percent of the manufactured PS3s will be the $500 model and how many will be the $600 model? This is what really interests me since I think it would give a better idea of what Sony is actually trying to accomplish with the two models. If the $500 one makes up only a tiny fraction of the total, then it would confirm what I think they are use the $500 one only to say they sold a system for under $500 (since it's technically $499.99).

Well, I'm out of here for the day. If anyone wants to know, the job interview went really good yesterday. Best of all, it's a job that has 4-10's (four days of work a week with ten hour shifts) so it's a three day weekend every weekend! I just hope I did enough to impress the interviewers...oh...I hope...


Malik (7/21/06)  

Damn!  It is hot.  I don't do too well in the heat, so let's keep things brief you I'll get things rolling about now.  To me, I'm sitting with a completed post waiting for my host to stop dicking around with my FTP access (sorry, if my host is reading this any...but this is not the first time this year that my FTP has not worked).

If the rumors are true, Guitar Hero 2 could be on it's way to the 360. I'd give that type of news the f$#@ing horns any day of the week. On one hand, it means that the install base for the game will be able to grow to a larger audience (those without PS2s...these people do exist). On the other hand, and this is what matters the most to me, is the fact that the 360 offers far better sound options than the PS2.

Namely, I like to run my 360 on an optical cable for audio. When the optical is in effect, the 360 sounds clearly clearer than the PS2 (also ran on an optical). There is simply no comparison between the sound quality of the 360 and that of the PS2. It's like comparing a live concert to a cassette tape recording of the same concert...with the 360 being the real deal.

Also, considering how the 360 is easy to add to, via the downloadable content from Live, this could be nothing short of awesome. Imagine if Red Octane/Activision started to record some new tracks for the game, and then released them on the Live Marketplace...yeah...keep imagining...isn't that a nice mental image? I think so. It would mean the game would be constantly fresh and there would always be more...f#@% yeah!

I just wonder if the PS3 may experience Guitar Hero 2. Since the 360 is going to most likely get it, it means that the 360 version would be the superior version to own. However, if the PS3 gets it as well, it would be a toss up. So, is Sony going to be left in the cold, with the lesser of the versions, or will they be fully covered? Makes you think...or at least it makes me think.

Also, Sony is now in the process of educating movie studios on how to better utilize the UMD for movie releases. They have taken the extra effort to help movie studio executives understand more about the target PSP owning demographic.

Let me help them out. Movie studio execs, if you want to sell a movie on UMD, the first thing to do is to stop and walk away right now. I'm not joking. Most retailers refuse to sell UMD movies since they just don't sell. Most PSP owners refuse to buy UMD movies for many reasons; they are usually more expensive than DVD movies, they lack the features of a DVD, and they are only usable on a single media player (the PSP) unlike DVDs which are very user friendly.

Most of execs...if you really want to sell movies on UMD, then stop the bullshit. You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about Hitch, Stealth, Gone in 60 Seconds, Dukes of Hazzard, Underworld Evolution, The Benchwarmers, and any of the same recycled crap that no one would be dumb enough to buy on DVD for a lower price and with more features. Either release movies you'd be willing to buy yourself, or just dump the media format. Also, if you really want to sell a UMD (although this will anger DVD buyers), try adding some special content that is entirely exclusive to the UMD (or at least only found on more expensive DVD versions). While you're at it, don't forget to drop the price...a lot. In fact, you'd need to drop the price so much that I'd have a better suggestion...just drop the format.


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