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Malik (8/7/06)  

First off, you may have noticed that my post on Thursday was replaced with a post from the previous week. My PC is now up and running, but it decided to throw one final wrench in the system by corrupting my web page as I uploaded...erasing both my off and online versions of the postings for last week. They are gone and won't be back...but I'll always remember them in my heart. If you need a re-cap...

My PC died. It was ultimately my master HDD that went bad. That's now fixed.

The Catalyst software for the later Radeon cards will f$#@ over your PC. Don't install them.

Anyway, on to new news...

Congress is going to look into a "Truth in Video Game Rating Act". This is flat out retarded. It would force the ESRB to fully review all content prior to issuing a game rating. Why is this dumb? Well, games have far more content than movies, TV, or other forms of media, and the amount of time needed for the ESRB to review all possible bits of info on a game's disk/cart would be insane. We're not talking about extra days...we're talking months.

This is also pretty lame since the ESRB is doing a hell of a good job in fighting people like Rockstar to ensure that all hidden info is now brought to light. However, if Congress wants to step in, it would turn a pretty damned successful self-inflicted game rating system into a government body. This type of act could change what we know as the ESRB and possibly be the first step into government control of the ratings board.

On a different note, Utawarerumono (one of the best anime series I've seen for a long time) is going to be licensed by ADV (no link...just try to find a torrent and you'll see). I don't mind that, except for how they licensed the series when only 8 or 9 episodes remained to be aired in Japan. This means I'll have a bitch of a time to see how the series ends...unless I like the thought of waiting for about 6-10 months. Damn...

The Dead Rising demo is available on the Live Marketplace. I'm not too impressed. I mean the game is a lot of fun, but I think the demo solidified my long standing belief; Dead Rising will be a great rental, but the button mashing zombie slaying will get

You can say that I'll have hundreds of improvised weapons to use in this game, but in the end, it's the same basic weapons. There are pointless projectiles (soda cans, gems, etc), blunt weapons (sledge hammers, trash cans, cash registers), firearms, and pointlessly weak weapons (handbags). However, at the end of the day, I'll just be slamming the X button to hit as many mindless zombies as possible, with no real variety. I honestly don't see this remaining fresh in my mind long enough for the up-to-10-hour game...hell, 3 hours may be too much. Maybe if multiplayer was an option, there would be something to look forward to doing. In fact, if there was multiplayer, this would go from a decent rental to the best must-buy we've seen since Oblivion.

I needed a new game to keep me entertained until Saint's Row hits the market at the end of the month. I really wanted this game to be something I could do on the run, so it would need to be a DS or GBA game. Well, I settled upon Final Fantasy 4. It had been a few years since I last played, and the game promised better translations and more content on the recently ported GBA version. On that front, so far the game is delivering.

However, on the front of the game being a good port...well, FF4 for the GBA is a horrible port. The visuals are slightly improved, and the music is wonderfully old-school. However, the controls, somehow, have gone to shit. If you want to pause in a battle, you will need to wait until nothing is happening. If you want to input a command, you may have to hit the A button a few more times than necessary. In fact, the only time the controls are fully functioning are when you walk around on the map...and I think that may even be slightly flawed.

Considering how we've seen the GBA handle far more advance of SNES ports, I really don't understand what happened with FF4...unless it was greed and laziness which inspired the people are Square Enix and Nintendo to have allowed this half-assed port. I will still enjoy the game fully, since I really did enjoy FF4...but I don't think I could recommend this game to anyone who isn't a FF4 fan who isn't sick of retro gaming.

Well, I have to get some more files installed on my PC (the most fun of flattening a PC is the reinstallation of EVERYTHING /sarcasm). Best of all, I cannot install iTunes since it uses some very unusual settings for InstallShield (check the Apple forums for InstallShield errors when installing iTunes and you'll soon see of my woes).


EDIT: Last week's posts were found (in a very unlikely place...don't involves me making a noobish error that was, for once, in my favor).  They are now up and running in the archives.  Enjoy!


Malik (8/8/06)  

At least while Gears of War fails to take advantage of the hardware it's going to be ran on, Splinter Cell 4 will not do the same. In other words, While no release date has been announced for it, I'd like to think Ubisoft is smart enough to release it prior to the game's release (like we've seen with Saint's Row and Dead Rising), since that's the best way to get more hype fuel added to the hype engine that is most 360 games.

In fact, I still have to wonder about the publishers who don't release demos on the 360 Marketplace prior to a game's release. There is no better way to bring in new fans than to give a little something for free. I'm not talking about trailers, which could show plenty of non-game events. I mean we need more demos. A demo is the single best way to entice new potential fans of a franchise, and to ignore this is to ignore what your potential fans want. Let's face it; we gamers decide a game's fate with our money, so is there any real harm (in most cases) to release a demo to entice us to let our bills fly out of wallet and into their accounts? Not unless the game is so sub par that a demo would only cause players to flee the game.

Well, I'm still slightly in computer limbo. My PC is nearly up and running. By nearly, I mean iTunes will still not install itself and I'm almost out of ideas on where to go from here. It's interesting that InstallShield error 1628 (the one my computer seems to enjoy so damned much) is such a common problem for iTunes, yet it is the only program I've seen that has given me an installation error of any sort. You'd think Apple would listen to these complaints and make a new installer.

I've also solved one issue. As a fan of multimonitor support, the Radeon X1600 from ATI was killing me. With how each monitor port (VGA and DVI) are handled as separate video devices in the device manager, and with how the DVI port (my HD-TV) is given priority, I was nearly done with taking any more crap from this thing. Correct that...I was DONE with that shit.

So, last night I took my video card back and traded to an Nvdia card. I can't remember off hand which one, but I've already seen the differences, and it's good. I think I slightly downgraded across the confusion of X1600 versus numbers like 6800 and 7600 and all of those Atari sounding card chip sets. However, since the Nvidia card uses one GPU on all outputs, it has made a giant difference. Plus, I still can max out what Half-Life 2 can do, so it can't be a major step backwards, assuming I did indeed downgrade.

Best of all, the software package included with Nvidia cards is miles ahead of the Catalyst software for ATI cards. I mean this in all possible ways; features, stability, ease of use, stability, time to load, and freakin' stability. Did I mention the Nvidia software is more stable? It is.

I think this is about where my PC upgrade hell least for this year. I know I'll go through the same bullshit all over again in a year or two, but for now the hardware side of things has come to a close. I still want to get iTunes working, and my thanks go to my friend Metro Ninja for his continuing support on this annoying issue.

Hopefully, I'll focus more tomorrow on what really matters; games. However, I felt like sharing some of my misadventures would be good for anyone interested in seeing some of the hardware issues in the current play field. Especially, I cannot say enough how if a person has a love of multimonitor support, or if a person likes to have use of the software utilities for their video card, then you need to go with Nvidia.

I once saw ATI cards as horrible. This was when the RAGE chipset was used, and it wasn't used all the intuitively. It was the most annoying and difficult GPU to use and to properly setup for any games. With time this changed, and the Radeon 9800 changed my mind. However, now that I've moved beyond the 9800 (I still plan to test the 9800 I used to use as little as two weeks ago on my backup may work), I can see that Radeon took a step backwards into the realm of annoyance. I hate to sound like a fanboy, but...



Malik (8/9/06)  

A demo of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is now available. I haven't tried it out yet, but if what we saw about this game from E3 holds true, this could be a good competitor to The Elder Scroll's crown of being the best first person fantasy experience.

True, there are a lot of things that make games like Morrowind and Oblivion as good as they are. It's not just the genre or the's more of a matter of how cohesive the entire experience is. However, the E3 showing of Dark Messiah was nothing short of amazing to behold. Assuming the controls and the overall experience are both handled as well as the visuals, this could be a great game.

Anyway, Dead Rising is finally out and the reviews have started to appear. It looks like Dead Rising is definitely better than I'd expect from the demo...or so I'd like to say. However, with how much mention I've seen on this game about escort missions, I have a strong feeling I'll be passing this game least until it's a bargain priced title.

I have seen only one thing that has remained constant in video games from when I first started to play game up through now; the classic escort mission. These first started to show their ugly faces in old school flight sims. The worst example of them being over-used was X-Wing (PC). This game believed in forcing an escort mission once every two or three missions. Usually this would mean that you'd have one or two great battles that you'd barely survive prior to just being annihilated in escort hell.

If I knew Dead Rising skipped this, and if there wasn't a time system in the game, I'd easily pick it up tonight. However, with these archaic and annoying systems both in place, I've got no choice but to either wait for a price drop or to wait for a friend to buy it, finish it, and let me have at it. Either way, I won't be touching this game for a, the demo didn't exactly inspire me with the very repetitive actions (find a trash can, smash zombies...find another trash can, smash more zombies...wash, rinse, repeat).

Well, I'm keeping this short today. I have a lot on my mind and I am only going to ramble if I keep writing. I should be back with some real stuff tomorrow...assuming I get through my deep thinking (hint: it deals with being turned down for 3 jobs in 24 hours...f@#$!!!!).


Malik (8/10/06)  

Rockstar is finally planning a solid release time frame for Bully. It's looking like the game that has sparked protest rallies, despite almost nothing being known about it, will be coming out in October. On top of that, the game is also losing it's XBox support (read: probably, for now, a PS2 exclusive).

I just find the story behind the surroundings of the game far more interesting, so far, than the actual game. When you see a game in which almost no one has seen any real details (besides the same image of a kid outside a gate at a school and the crest/coat-of-arms of the school) that has been so heavily protested, you just have to laugh. As far as we know, the game may end up being and endearing tool for bullied children to see better how to handle themselves in appropriate ways (it's a long shot...but didn't Rockstar make a certain Table Tennis game, also?).

In fact, until this game is fully detailed or released, the protesters really need to back off. While it's very likely that violence will be the flavor of the action in this game, it's also possible that all of this will be incredibly cartoonish or just so unreal that there's nothing to complain about (unless you find Bugs Bunny to be a terrorist threat to "our American way of life"). It's just a classical reminder that too many people are so ready to fight in favor of censorship that they don't even care about the facts. If you think Bully will be a bad influence, then obey the probable M rating, and wait to see how it really is before you complain. After all, complaining about something when you have no information about it will only discredit yourselves.

Speaking of this type of thing, I recently saw articles on the negative influence of wrestling and sexually themed music on teenagers. I really just want to say why I am a scientist (we all need day jobs) and why I hate this type of shit. Plus, any time I can shoot down an argument from potential censors and from bad science, I get a good laugh.

So, in these studies, they found that teens who watched wrestling on TV were far more likely to become violent on a date. The other study says that teens who listen to sexually explicit material in music are more likely to engage in sexual activities within two years of starting these listening habits. The one thing this study did not look at was the personality of the teens tested/studied.

What if these two things are not directly related? For example, what if a certain personality type causes both a fascination in a certain type of media and a influence to do certain behaviors. For example, what if being a violent person causes both for a teen to act out in aggressive ways and to enjoy more aggressive programming on TV? The same could be said about the sexual music study. This would mean that instead of saying that violent programming turned a teen into a violent person, it could mean that a violent person is just more attracted to more exciting of entertainment.

For example, I like being informed on things, so I both act out as a scientist and I watch the news. Did watching the news make me act out as a scientist? No. Did being a scientist make me watch the news? No. Neither one directly influences the other. It's simply that my personality affects me in many ways which can appear tied together when they are simply controlled or influenced by a completely different thing.

Anyway, I brought all of this up since it's almost an attempt to bend science in a way to influence better what should or should not be censored. Apparently wrestling and music with any sexual themes are things that should be least this flawed logic says so. As being a geek goes far beyond just playing games and battling a PC 24-7 to keep it running, and it includes music and TV (not to mention movies, comics, anime, cars, blah, blah), this needed to be vented on this post.

Anyway, in the end, there are two types of people in the world...those who sit on their asses all day watching TV and such, and those who go out and do things (ok, there are a few people who do multi-class on this). If you're at home watching wrestling all day, then you're less likely to be violent (since you're sitting on your ass and not being an active member of society). TV for the win.


Malik (8/11/06)  

G4, the self proclaimed channel for gamers, held an interesting concept yesterday; Jack Thompson would debate against Adam Sessler (X-Play host) and Mark Friedler (the GameDaily CEO) on the current state of violence in gaming. In particular, the debate would focus on how Bully is set for a release in the next couple of months.

This was an awesome concept. First off, I cannot tell you how often I had wanted to see Thompson debate against some people in the gaming world. This would show us if he was more of a person who could handle a debate or if he was just going to yell and scream to get his point the way, it's the yelling and screaming approach he used in the second half of the debate and ignoring others was the flavor of the first half. Secondly, no matter what many may think of Adam Sessler, he is really interesting when he is in a more serious of forum than X-Play (although I'll admit that I usually enjoy X-Play). Friedler was more of an after thought since he is far less vocal and in the actual debate he barely opened his mouth except to be drowned out by Thompson.

However, while the concept was cool, the execution was horrible. I would like to know who would have decided that a debate like this, that could easily fill an hour of Attack of the Show, would only be about 4 minutes long. This amount of time only gave us a single chance to hear from each person before chaos struck. Then there was not enough time for order to be restored before the debate was considered out of time.

Considering how G4 has turned so far against gaming with things like Star Trek, Street Fury, Fastlane, Brainiac (I do enjoy this one), Arrested Development (another one that will be watched by me...but really should be on another network), and all of the other random non-gaming programs, along with how shows that should be around are now gone ("Call for Help" anyone?), this is the type of programming they need. In fact, why not try to arrange an hour long debate between Thompson, Sessler (he worked really well in the 4 minute debate), and maybe Doug Lowenstein (ESA President) if he's up for it? That would be a great show. In fact, try to extend these debates into a regular occurrence. Maybe Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman could be in future episodes. Councilman Yee would also be a great debater, as he even showed up at the GDC this year and did such a thing.

The politicians and censorship fans would love a chance to show they are better, and G4 has some rather under-used game related hosts and a wide assortment of contacts with game industry members who could make some awesome TV. This would be the perfect fix for G4's dying lineup of G4-themed shows.

Since I don't want to show why any random geek (like myself) could help save G4 from it's doomed future, let's change gears...

Since E3 is downsizing for the next year, it looks like the other conferences may use this opportunity to become the next big thing. GenCon and The Austin Game Conference are both looking to expand, and I have a strong feeling they are doing this in response to the shrinking of E3. Especially noted is Gen Con, which will start focusing more tightly on video games, and they will even be moving in the LA Convention Center starting in 2007.

The lesson in this...if you're afraid of a void being made by something leaving what you consider normal life, then don't worry. When a void is found, usually in a capitalistic society the void will be filled by the next biggest fish. I would expect the gaming world (or the American side of it) to be back to having at least one really big show by November of 2007 (Gen Con).

Best of all, as a Gen Con announcement stated, they aim to make this show more accessible to consumers. In other words, they realize something important that is being overlooked by the downsizing E3; while journalists and game industry people may have a strong need for order and sanity at conventions, they also need fans. After all, what is more likely to sway you about a future release; some articles about how cool the game is, or being able to actually hold the game in your hand and feel the future? Hype is a powerful entity, and the hype generated by fans is the best of the best for any industry.

While I think E3 being downsized will fill a needed void (a show for the industry), it was at the wrong cost. When a show for the fans is removed (and let's face it; that is why the show was downsized...too many fans), something will have to take it's place. If the ESA was smart, they would've seen this a little clearer. If you want an industry only show, then make a second E3 (a smaller and more formal one). If you remove the original, you will only find others filling the void and thus making a few bucks at your expense.


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