Malik (10/11/04)  

If I get extra bitchy, just ignore it. I'm just in a really bad mood after a Seattle Police Department traffic cop went psycho on me and tried to intimidate and shallowly threaten me (with talk of fining me, etc.) this morning. It's hard enough to be a pedestrian in a city like Seattle without a traffic cop telling you to go ahead and cross a street, and then yell at you halfway across to go back...then, when he waves you across again, to be threatened and (attempted) intimidated as he tells you that you're the cause of all of society's woes. If some cop feels like going schizo, I just ask that they don't do it when I'm obeying the law...the best part is as he goes psycho on me, for obeying his directive, somebody jay-walked right behind him and nearly caused an accident...Seattle is a funny place. It's like living in a land where everyone has tunnel vision to the rest of society around them and the majority of people are so controlled by chemicals (not just the controlled ones...ever go without caffeine once you've become addicted? It's not pretty) that you have these extremely focused mood swings that would've only been seen in a B-horror movie (about body snatchers, mind swapping, or replicants from space) if it was more than 25 years ago. It's like we've all become so accustomed, especially in Seattle, to blindly ignoring a majority of the world around us, and living with complete chemical control of our selves (not that I'm saying this is bad in and of itself...I'm a caffeine addict beyond normal comprehension...I can go into a handful of coffee shops, spread out in a 5 or so mile radius, and ask for "the usual" and get just that...) that normality and morality are completely forgotten. 

Ok, enough of that shit. I'm still cranking away at Shadow Hearts: Covenant. I'm already, in a week, more hours into this game than I ever got (in about 3 weeks) on Star Ocean 3. I cannot tell you how glad I am to not have that piece of crap sitting next to my poor PS2 anymore. I've gotten to the second DVD of SH2 this weekend. The variety of the game gets quite interesting once you get past the first disk. Not that I'm saying anything bad about the first disk (because it kicks ass), but there are some nice twists to keep things interesting in the second half...like when you play as the enemy for a short bit, when you have to split up into two parties and realize you only have enough good magic spells to go around in one party (that made things interesting) and that if you haven't been buying new weapons and armor for everyone then you are probably screwed, or when you run through a shooting gallery. 

In fact that shooting gallery was just incredibly fun in it's limited play-style way. You just run through a series of hall ways and if a target appears, you'll be given a button to press to shoot (of the four face buttons), and a limited amount of time to shoot the target. Also, if the target looks like your commanding officer, then you'll either be penalized for shooting, or you wait for the target to fade away. It's nothing too exciting, but it does offer a nice little change of pace. Plus, since you'll be playing as some of your enemies in this section, it's like a nice teaser of how badly these future bosses will destroy you when you finally meet. 

Off of that subject, I finally went out and pre-ordered a DS this weekend. I have a bad habit of not really using, at least to their full potential, any handheld systems that I ever get. So, I'm hoping things change, since I am dropping $150 of this thing. I decided, however, with the ability to share one cart on four player games, that this system would at least turn out cheaper in the long run than the GBA came out as (since I had to buy a cart of every game that I only played multiplayer). Also, with the news of FF3 being ported to the DS (it better come to the US), how could I pass this by. Also, even though it is only a demo, at least the Hunters demo will keep me entertained for the last part of November (until I can afford to get a game...I am spending a shit load on the DS, Halo 2, and a few other geek products that month...). I'm just hoping that I don't regret this...oh well...I collect everything, so at least I'll have this in my collection if worse comes to worse. 

Anyway, to once again go through a random subject change, Gamespot has a new issue of Rumor Control. I thought I'd throw that out since, first of all, I love this column since it usually points out some of the stupidest things going on in the geek world (especially stuff involving rabid fanboys...which is always worth a chuckle). Secondly, it mentions the concept of a game called Survivor that is set to come out at some point (if it ever finds a publisher). This game not only creates a new genre of "reality gaming" (which makes me think that reality TV could not be the worst thing to happen to entertainment since the Achy Breaky Heart) in which you will relive surviving horrible disasters...including the September 11th terrorist attacks...I won't even go into this now...I'll save that for Friday, but I'll just say this; I think I know why there is no publisher for this game. Stupidity runs rampant, once again. 


Malik (10/12/04)  

I just finished reading an article at MSNBC.com on how smutty the console gaming market is getting. It is pretty interesting that there are so many M rated games that deal with sexual themes coming out in one short period...well, it would be if that was the entire story. For one thing, considering that, as the article says, more of the geeks out there are above 18 than there are minors, and how the average geek is now 29 years old, this style of gaming is not a surprise. In the past, when the average gamer was under 18, the games had to be sole directed to the younger gamers. However, with the average gamer being a minor no longer, then the industry is trying to experiment with what it hopes will be a quick sale to the 18-35 year old male demographic...as the movie industry and television networks have seen, sex sells to this demographic. However, at the same time, in games, we usually want something a little more solid than what we could catch on cable, in a movie, or on the Internet. So, the real question is if these games will even sell enough to turn a real profit...I'm guessing that they are not going to live up to the expectations of the developers. 

Also, MSNBC.com forgot to include a very important point when they said that all three games they mentioned (the Guy Game, Playboy game, and Leisure Suit Larry) are coming out at once. What they forgot to say is that not only is there a larger volume of games coming out in this short three month period (as many have bitched about, including myself, time after time in the last 2 months), but that there have been console titles with nudity plenty of times in the past. However, these games are usually quite low on the radar (if not under the radar all together), and they will only surface on a system that has an older audience. For example, there were 6 games involving sex/nudity on the 3DO, and a few more on the CD-I. Both of these systems carried such a large price that the majority of their gamers were usually old enough to afford a $500-$700 console. On top of that, these systems were far more lax on the licensing of games since they were so unnoticed by the gaming world that any title that could help push sales of the console, at all, would be a good things to 3DO and Phillips. However, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all require that games for their consoles become licensed and approved prior to being published...and these companies have enough sales from the average gamer (and not just the techno-geeks that were attracted to the CD-I and 3DO) to know that scaring away anyone with soft core porn would be a bad move. 

Anyway, I hate it when a supposed news organization decides to tackle geek subjects. They never put in a full effort or do any real research. For example, there was no mention of the CD-I, 3DO, the massive flood of new games this season...none of it. A little research is a good thing when you don't understand what you're talking about (unless you're uber-geek and already know all of this stuff...I am uber-geek, and proud of it). I guess it's just a sign of how gaming is becoming mainstream enough to get the attention of news organizations, but cult enough to get no respect...it's like when an underground band you really like starts to make it big, so they make a bunch of preppy/sold-out music, but they still don't get any airtime on the radio...the worst of both worlds. 

I'm thinking that I'll be done with Shadow Hearts: Covenant within a week, and then I can start a good review of the game. I am having a bad habit of starting a review, deciding I need some more research, and then playing the game...and playing some more...and blowing off the review writing. This game is one of the most addictive RPGs one will find (well, this and Fable...but Fable seems to piss off as many people as it pleases, while SH:C will only piss you off if you're expecting this to be another FFX, like most reviewers are calling it). Luckily, if I can finish by a week from now, as I'm guessing, it'll give me a little time to catch up on some other games before GTA:SA hits the stores (2 weeks from today). Unfortunately, it won't be enough time to try Paper Mario, which has just been shipped...so, that'll be another game (along with Phantom Brave, Pikmin 2, NFS: Underground 2, and a dozen other games) that will have to sit until this insanely saturated geek season is over. The only other titles I will plan, for sure, to get from this season, since I do like to take the time to appreciate everything in a game before I toss it aside and buy a new title, will be Halo 2, Half-Life 2 (that is, if hell freezes over), and Katamari Damacy 2 (having import connections is a good thing). 

Anyway, my mind is not really with it today...so, I'm going to poof. 


Malik (10/13/04)  

It's amazing how there can be so many events and so many newsworthy things occurring at once some weeks, and then a week like this one seems so laid back and boring in comparison. I usually like to spend a good couple hours a day reading geek news, and since the end of last week, I've seen nothing of interest, at all. Unless you count the constant influx of news about this game going gold and this game being shipped...which is to be expected in this saturated game market. However, there doesn't seem to be anything really interesting going on, and I, for one, can't care less about another game going gold...with how many games we have coming to us in the next month or so, it just doesn't seem to matter anymore about something going gold. They are all going gold sooner or later, and most of these games are so set in their release dates, that we honestly don't need to fear any shortage of new games...hell, it would be more important of news to hear of a game not going gold about now; at least that would entail that one good game would be delayed to a time that is not so over-crowded with new products. 

Anyway, I'm just feeling the tedium setting in. New game after new game is only exciting for the first 5 minutes...after that, there's no important news, the games all blur together, and the excitement is worn down to the dull throbbing feeling of knowing that most of these games are doomed to failure due to the stupid planning of practically every game publisher simultaneously stabbing their brains with a giant Q-tip. 

I'm getting close to ending Shadow Heart: Covenant...I think. The game has that classic feel of an RPG that will end in about 2 or three dungeons. In other words, I've pinned down who the main bad guy is, the lines have been drawn, and I'm heading into what feels like the last dungeon...so, I have only a couple of other dungeons after this. I mean the first rule of an RPG is that the "final boss" is not the final boss, and the last dungeon you expect to finish is actually the next to last (or the third to last). So, with this in mind, I except that I'm on the next to last dungeon or the one before that. Luckily, since I'm having a good deal of fun with this game, I can say that there's still more on top of that since, if SH was any sign of things to come, SH2 should have a good few hours of bonus dungeons and hidden extras. Anyway, I plan to be done with this game in the next few days, and by then I should have started my review. 

Speaking of reviews; I'm planning to take some extra time today and stop my laziness. I'm going to get my vid capture solution up and running (or I plan to get quite pissed off when I can't find the drivers online). This, sadly, means I must brave the jungle of doom...that is, the giant mess of cables that only comes from having over 15 electronic devices hooked up to one giant matrix (that's everything from the big three consoles, to a surround sound, to a VCR, to DVD, to SNES, to TV, to PC, to cable box, to cable modem...plus a few other cables that are not hooked up to the appropriate consoles, but are still wired into the mess). So, I'm not completely sure of how much SH:C I'm getting done tonight, since I may be overwhelmed by my trek through the jungle of doom, but I'm hoping, at the very least, to have the video capture device wired in. If all things work out, I should have the drivers up, and I should be well on my way to making some vids or screen shots of SH:C for the review. I just hope I can emerge from the jungle of doom after I have entered.


Malik (10/14/04)  

Nothing like the feeling I had yesterday...after spending a good half hour thinking of how to tackle the Jungle of Doom, I came up with some good ideas, and set the ball in motion. Then, I decided, I should probably hook the video capture device up to the PC before getting too deep into this mess. So, I first take care of finding a power outlet (which is hard to do in a home that contains about 45 devices that are always plugged in). I found one, so I next hooked up the device to the PC. That was easy enough. Then I was told to find the drivers, since Windows had no idea what this strange USB device was. That is how I spent the next agonizing 4 hours. I thought it should be simple since every major hardware developer has copies of their drivers on the Internet...well, Pinnacle (the developer in question) doesn't. In fact, the only thing you can find on their web site is how to buy something from them, a really poorly worded, clumsy, and vague search for a frequently asked question and get a really half-assed answer thing, and a forum full of the most pissed off people I've ever seen. In fact, I'd like you all to take a look at what truly pissed off customers look like. I've never seen so many people bitching about poor service on the Internet before...it's kinda funny, except for how I could be on there too. So, the moral of my story is two-fold; firstly, I won't have video capture up until I can either find some drivers (which is hard since the guy I got this device from lost the drivers and there are none on the Internet) or get my old video capture card working (which doesn't have drivers, and the company that made it went under awhile ago); Secondly, good customer support is a good thing, and Pinnacle sucks ass. So, if anyone out there knows where to find the Pinnacle Bungee DVD drivers, feel free to tell me.

Also, it looks like Halo 2 has been pirated. I'm not surprised in the least. When a major game like Halo 2, which has been delayed and pushed back far too many times, is actually ready, people are going to try to get the first copy possible...including from piracy. It's like how the source code of Half-Life 2 was lifted last year. As long as a game is in great demand, people are going to do everything in their power to get it.

Besides that, I don't have much to talk about today. I didn't get any real geeking in last night since Pinnacle stole all of my free time, and there is still no real news in the gaming world (unless you call "Halo 2 being pirated" news...). I'm hoping to have a full Malik's Bitchings up and running, but I may have to settle for a tiny version...it's really hard to bitch about things when the only news out there is, "Game A Has Gone Gold!" or "Game B Has Shipped!". Blah...it's like the geek world is taking a dump on me this week.


Malik (10/15/04)  

At least there's some good news; despite the Halo 2 final copy being pirated, and supposedly it's widely available on the Internet, the November 9th release is being held. So, unlike the BS of the Half-Life 2 source theft that caused (if you believe this shit...we all should know that they were simply looking for an excuse to delay it and the source theft was the perfect scapegoat) HL2 to be delayed, Bungee and Microsoft are keeping true to their earlier promise of November 9th. 

Now for some bad news; for anyone who wanted to see some screenshots of the games I've been reviewing on the Geek-Asylum, it isn't going to happen...or I should say, it wont happen anytime soon. I spent the last two nights in driver hell and barely escaped with my sanity. I gave up on my external USB video capture device, since the drivers and any software to run the device are the most highly sought drivers on the Internet. In other words, they simply don't exist outside of the original install disk. I've asked the person I got this device for some help, and he said he might be able to find the drivers, but it's doubtful if they will be found. So, I decided to go with an old TV Tuner card for a screenshot solution. Luckily the drivers are easy to find...almost. The TV card is a generic piece of crap that uses a rather common chip-set. Sadly, there is one unique chip on the card, that is unique to this generic brand. So, while I got 90% of the drivers installed from the net, I doubt I can find this last one. So, unless I can find the original install disk, which I doubt since I haven't seen it for over a year, this is another device to add to my pile of useless crap. 

The worst part of all of this, even worse than not having screenshots on the site (yet), is that I've lost two nights of geek time already...and knowing my persistence, I'll probably not give up this weekend...despite how futile this searching for drivers has become. The saddest part, is that I was hoping to go the extra mile on this situation and put more than just screenshots on the site. I was going to bring it up to pace a little more with actual video...it's good to dream, but rather crappy when your dreams go to shit. 

At least I do have a little more good news, mixed with some bad news. I have a new issue of Malik's Bitchings up and running...but it is a rather short column this week. As I've been saying for the last few days; there is no news out there, beyond games being shipped or going gold, and thus I have very little to bitch about. At least news about Survivor, the game that lets you relive September 11th, was discussed some, so that gave me some fuel...and my useless driver hunt gave me a little more...it's just sad that I don't have too much to talk about, despite my pissed off mood. 

Also, I'm basically done with Shadow Hearts 2. I'm at the final dungeon right now, although I am doing a little of the side-quest action before I wrap things up (and these are some long side quests...I did one last night that took me about 2 or so hours, which is long considering how much I was trying to rush through this dungeon). I have maybe another 5 or so side quests to fulfill, and then the final dungeon. So, with how close I am to finishing, I'm left with two things to say...first of all would be that I've started the review and hopefully it will be up by early next week (without pictures...damned Pinnacle). Also, I'm stuck wondering what I should play until GTA:SA comes out. The worst part of this constant supply of new games is when there's a tiny gap of 7-10 days (not enough time to play a new game, but definitely too much time to sit by idly).

Anyway, I've got some SH2 to play...although I'll probably just, in a sadistic mood, torture myself with further driver hunting.