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Malik (9/26/11)

It was a great weekend for sports from my perspective. UW beat Cal. This is one of those times where it's more than just the outcome that mattered. I have a nice little grudge against teams that are just pathetic when it comes to their on field antics. This puts Cal in a special place where I want them to lose even if they are not playing UW. After how Cal had some more than obvious fake injuries against the Oregon Ducks (another favorite team for me) last year to slow down Oregon's boom-boom-boom fast offense, I don't want to see anything solid come from Cal. Injury faking is about the saddest way a team can lose all integrity, and Cal played that card last season. Until they prove otherwise, I will always root against the integrity missing team.

On top of that, Boise State and Oregon won, which rounds out the three teams I'm always happy to watch and root for. Yes, I'm not just a band-wagon fan. I've liked the Ducks for a long time (I have a family connection to the Eugene area and have spent more time in Duck territory than anywhere except for Huskies territory (which is where I've lived my whole life). As for Boise State...they have always been a fun team to watch, and I've gone over the years from watching an exciting team to cheering for the exciting team. Win or lose, Boise State keeps me excited, so it makes it more fun when it's been more about "win" than "lose" for the last few years. Also, I love any team that has the potential to mess with the BCS standings, and it will be funny as hell if the BCS eventually has no choice but to let Boise State into the championship game.

Also, the Sounders FC, in MLS play, beat Vancouver to take the Cascadia Cup (the mini-tournament against Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland) in this first year of seeing the Cascadia rivalry reinvigorated with MLS play for all three teams. On top of that, the Sounders are now definitely going to the playoffs. Now if they can beat Chicago in about a week for the US Open Cup, it would make this season just about perfect.

The one team that is local and won that didn't make me happy is the Seahawks. I cannot believe the bandwagon fans in Seattle. When the Seahawks won their first game of the season, you'd think they won the Super Bowl from the local reaction. Well, all the Seahawks did was make it a little harder to get the number one pick in the 2012 draft, which they will need if they want a true franchise QB. I assure you, T-Jack is not the future, and neither is Whitehurst. Both of them are 2nd string players (actually, I see T-Jack as a third stringer on any team that is not the Seahawks or the Jaguars).

The worst part is that Seattle didn't beat a better team, even though Arizona is the better team. No. Arizona beat themselves. When they were no-huddle in the first half, they dominated the Seattle defense. For some reason, they changed it up in the second half to a standard huddle driven offense and couldn't get their game running again. If they would have just kept the no-huddle offense going, the game would have been 100% different with Arizona picking up another few scores. It also didn't help that when Seattle would kick a field goal, the weather was smooth, but Arizona went for a couple right when the weather was at its worst.

I think, after seeing three really sad looking games, that I can sum up the Seahawks offensive issues with one missing word; confidence. Seattle, even since Pete Carroll took over last year, has lacked the confidence to make the big plays. You cannot just count on a running game and a 2 yard screen pass attempt to win games. You just cannot do that since it means the opposing defense only has one thing to focus on; short yard attempts. Just move everyone up to the line and you'll stop both the 2 yard pass and the rushing game in one simple defensive alignment. Unless Carroll is going to let a QB air it out on a long attempt (of course, I don't even know if that's possible with T-Jack and his lack of refinement with his passing game), you are just out of luck unless the opposing defense is just that bad.

The only thing I saw with yesterdays game that made me happy was to see Marshawn Lynch turn on the running game a few times. Lynch had 19 carries and looked good against a defense that was ready for the short yardage plays.

I'm really hoping to see Seattle with a good draft pick in 2012. I think the pieces of a good team are falling into place. The O-line is looking a bit better as the rookies learn how to play as a single unit. The defense just looks better than last season (and making Aaron Curry a 2nd string line backer was long overdue). The running game has potential if the opposing defense can be thrown off with a few long bomb attempts. Even the special teams play looks pretty solid. All that is missing is a solid QB and offensive play calling that is not 100% obvious (2 yard pass or run). A franchise QB in the draft would really help to solidify this young team. Of course, if Seattle wants Andrew Luck, they will need to see a few victories come from the Colts, the Vikings, the Chiefs, the Dolphins, and the Rams. Unfortunately, I only see the Rams as contenders in doing better than they currently look.

On one final random NFL thought; right now Green Bay has the best record, which is completely expected. However, the only other two 3-0 teams (Washington doesn't count until after tonight is done) are the Lions and the Bills. The Bills even laid the Pats to rest with a surprise come back. What a crazy year.


Malik (9/30/11)

Yesterday I was set to post something, but time escaped me. Long story short, I decided to get Bastion on Wednesday. A friend of mine was saying that it was an awesome game, and the videos I've seen looked sweet...put those facts together, and I have my next game to play until Skyrim comes along.

I went with the PC (Steam) version, since it would leave my TV free for Velveta to watch Netflix on the 360 while I played my game. Everybody wins...right? Wrong. Once again, I'm playing a game built on the XNA architecture (the system used to make games that can easily go from XBox Live Arcade to PC) on my PC. This means that my controller will not work. Why? Because I'm using a Logitech PS3 controller on my PC. It runs off a USB wireless dongle and thus it works beautifully on the PC without much hassle. Or it would if not for damned XNA games that only recognize 360 controllers as PC controllers. Actually, according to the assistant manager at the one Gamestop I do enjoy going to (one has some really fun to chat with opposed to the usual drones who just work there to make money, this store has people who love to talk games), the third party wired 360 controllers are not even recognized. Only official Microsoft made 360 controllers will work on XNA PC titles. Is this true? I don't know for sure, but I'd trust a Gamestop person who actually failed to make a sale due to telling me this tid-bit.

So, Gamestop no longer sells wired Microsoft made 360 controllers. They also don't sell the Microsoft wireless USB hook-up device to run a wireless 360 controller on a PC. Since I've always gone wireless on the 360, this left me in a bind. So, out of desperation, I looked online.

Supposedly there are a few emulators to make a XNA game thing your non-360 controller is a real 360 Microsoft made controller. I say supposedly since I sure couldn't find them. I found one that will work for official Sony PS3 controllers, but it doesn't like my Logitech one. I also found an emulator that was supposed to be great, but the website for it was down and I couldn't get it until the site returned (if it's even still operational). Once again, desperation was on me. The Gamestop dude said I could find a pre-owned 360 wired controller at a few Gamestop locations near my home (the dude works at one close to my work, but far from home, and they don't have any wired pre-owned controllers anyway). However, buying pre-owned on analogue controllers has burned me before. It's easy for an analogue stick to be abused, and I'd rather have more trust in hand by buying new. This left either Best Buy (recommended by the Gamestop dude; "I didn't think they were even made anymore, but I guess Microsoft just likes to sell them to Best Buy and wants to piss off Gamestop customers."), going online (Amazon), or playing Bastion with the keyboard and mouse.

Well, online purchase was out of the question. I wanted to play Bastion, and time wouldn't wait for something to ship to me and arrive sometime after the weekend.

Keyboard and mouse was an option when I downloaded Bastion. Once I played some on Wednesday, I saw otherwise. It is hard as hell to play that game without a controller. I had too many deaths just because of how cumbersome the controls were, and by how you walk constantly in a diagonal (W = fall off cliff, while W+D = survive) direction.

I lowered my standards and hit Best Buy. Yes, they do indeed have fresh Microsoft made 360 wired controllers. They have a ton of the damned things. They also charge $10 more than I found them on Amazon...damned need for instant gratification pushed me into the purchase. I wanted to play, and $10 would have to be sacrificed.

Well, after getting the controller plugged in, I was quickly playing Bastion as it was meant to be played; with a controller. It's a damned bit easier and more enjoyable when you can control a game how it was designed to be played. I am now fully loving Bastion.

What I don't love is this bullshit about XNA derived games requiring a Microsoft made 360 controller. The only difference between a 360 controller and a PS3 controller is...nothing. Both have four shoulder buttons, two analogue sticks, four standard face buttons, a D-pad, start and select, and a home/guide button. Same exact controller for all real purposes. Both have rumble (if you so chose). Both have analogue on the correct buttons. If anything, the PS3 controller is a bit more technical and advanced by having sixaxis, which would make it more likely to be accepted then denied versus the required controller. So, in a nutshell; what the hell? The only part that could make this worse is if finding a wired 360 Microsoft made controller was a difficult is since they don't ship them to Gamestop anymore.

So, the final score on this? Gamestop near my work gets an A for having some damned good employees who care more about doing the right thing than forcing a sale. Bastion gets an A for being a great fun game. Bastion without a controller gets a D for being frustrating. Microsoft and the XNA system when used on the PC both get a big in "go f#@$ yourself!"

Now that I have a 360 controller on my PC, I can stop complaining about this. However, it doesn't mean I can forgive and forget. I will do neither. If my wired 360 controller breaks, it will only lead to some damned pissed off words. At least I can now enjoy some other Steam downloaded games that gave me this same problem before. I forget which ones they were off hand, but I'm constantly downloading new Steam titles and playing old ones thanks to crazy Steam sales. I'm sure the day will soon come when I'll come across another game I had to abandon in the past due to XNA games rarely being fun with keyboard and mouse.

On a final subject change, I have a prediction. I would say the Seahawks will lose, but that's not a prediction. It's stating the obvious. I predict Mike Williams will be open and T-Jack will fail to see him...despite Mike Williams having the very suitable nickname of BMW (Big Mike Williams). I also predict that no pass will go more than 5 yards up field in the air from T-Jack. I also see 90% of Seahawks first downs being a running play. I also predict more false starts on Seattle than Atlanta, despite the game being in Seattle where the 12th Man has been a source in the past of opposition false starts and not Seahawk false starts. In other words, I see Seattle trying to stay alive in the Suck For Luck sweepstakes...but the Colts, Dolphins, Rams, and especially the Chiefs are more likely to win that special version of the game.


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