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Malik (11/5/07)

At least the Seahawks did finally find a way to play on a real level at the start of a game. That's about the best of what I can say about their game yesterday. However, I can't say too much else.

As usual, and I'm getting sick of this, the Seahawks suffered a total collapse at one point during the game. This time it was during the second half...when the Seahawks started with a nice and healthy lead over the Browns. However, once the third quarter started, it looked like a few things became obvious.

For one, it looked like Hasselbeck forgot to remain in the game as his passes became poor and uninspired and his head was obviously no longer in this important game. It was sad watching as the Seahawks dropped all of their offense against the worst defense in the league. The Browns did not go into the game with anything close to a defense. Compared to the Browns, the Seahawks defense looks, on paper, like the Bears of last year. In reality, however, it looked more like the Seahawks offense and defense were nothing short of pathetic once the second half began.

The other obvious point of the game was what I've been saying for too many weeks now...Alexander needs to be pulled. Maybe he could return once he is healthy (read: no cast on his left hand). For now, Alexander is a liability. He cannot catch a short pass since he cannot maneuver his left hand into anything worthwhile. He also cannot run without the blockers making a lane about a mile wide for him to get through. Until he learns to either play with his hand in a cast (which Tapp seems able to do just fine as he scores sacks and interceptions like a demon) or his hand is fully healed, Alexander is not going to bring anything worthwhile to the game.

Worst of all, the Seahawks need to stop making any fourth down conversion attempts. They cannot make one to save their lives. Fourth and 1? Fourth and inches? Fourth and an inch? Doesn't matter. In the end, the Seahawks will go for it and the ball will always end up in their opponents hands...and sometimes, as we saw yesterday, not from being downed but from poorly handled rush attempts leading to fumbles being recovered by the other team.

What do I think the Seahawks need to do? More than anything, it's time to look at who is on the roster. We have one hell of a rusher waiting on the sidelines. I'm talking about Seneca Wallace. As he showed last year when he was the starting QB (while Hasselbeck was injured), he may not be the best of passers, but he can run and get a first down like it's nothing. Since the Seahawks do have Frye, who is not the worst of passers (just a little slow in the pocket), in the third QB spot, Wallace can afford to be used in rushing plays and there would still be a workable backup if Hasselbeck gets injured and Wallace suffers the same fate.

Until Alexander gets his head (and his wrist) back into the game, it's time for things to be shaken up. Pull Alexander out until either the Seahawks are up by 20+ in the fourth quarter or until his wrist is 100% and out of a cast. If he cannot pull any defense for himself, then he cannot be considered a team player. Put in Morris as the starter, and use Wallace as the backup. If Wallace does good and Morris remains average, then swap the roles out and let Seneca do what he does so damned well; run like the wind.

At least the Seahawks are still in first for the NFC West, since Arizona and San Francisco both lost. However, the Seahawks are only the best in their division of broken dreams. A 0.500 team after nine weeks being in first for their division is a sign of how truly quick the Seahawks will be eliminated when the post season comes along. Whoever gets in to the playoffs from the NFC West will, without a doubt, fail in the first round unless things turn around. Hell...the Seahawks make most of the wild card contenders look like division winners.

I just hope Holmgren finally sees how truly worthless Alexander is in his current condition (both physical and psychological) and tries to at least turn around are miserable running game. In particular, I hope Holmgren finally pulls the plug on Alexander's fading star and puts in some talent before it's too late. As the Seahawks flounder on rushing, it only makes the opposing defense have an easier job (here's a hint: defend against the pass every time and you're set).


Malik (11/6/07)

Rock Band has gone gold. It was only a matter of time, and it's not like this is news, but it's a good reminder that two weeks from today will be a day that will forever live in my heart as the day when rocking out and party games truly entered the same realm. Yes...Guitar Hero is a sort of party game, but I like to think of four player games as being the real life of a good gaming party...and four people making fools of themselves, and loving every minute of it, by wailing away at virtual instruments is about as good as it gets. Especially when a touch of the old alcohol is added into the mix.

I'm still giving GH3 a lot of attention. On one hand, it's actually a pretty solid game, despite having a few issues (like boss battles and some co-op issues on systems without downloadable content abilities). On the other hand, the set list is really fun. Plus, since Velveta and I are having a house warming party this weekend, it will be a nice added fun diversion for our guests (and for myself...).

I'm finally starting to get to the point at which I think I'll be comfortable with fully trying hard again. I've never had a problem with the idea of the additional notes that hard throws your way, but the orange button is enough to strike fear into my medium-four-button loving world. However, now that I've laid Raining Blood to rest with a five star on medium, I think it's time to move on to the real deal...the full five button meal of insanity. I don't think expert will ever be in my mind as needing to be accomplished, but hard is something that daunts me and constantly finds its way into my brain.

I don't have much else to say for today, since I've been stuck in a constant battle between my day job for eight hours a day, and cleaning the house and playing some co-op GH3 with my brother for the other eight hours of waking life. Now that my brother is once again off on another trip out of the region, I've lost all excuses to not be in a real world "productive" not as in being productive on becoming a GH hard player.


Malik (11/7/07)

It's been a crazy and not so fun last day. Between tragedies and cleaning a house that is overdue for such treatment, I am finding little time to do what I really want to do.

The closest to fun that I've been able to have in the last day was setting up my PS2 on my 42" plasma, as opposed to it's usual place on my 52" DLP TV.

The reason for this is when Velveta and I throw our housewarming party this weekend we want to have a good assortment of entertainment. Namely, we want to blast Guitar Hero glory on multiple TVs. This means the 360, with GH2 and GH3, will be on the DLP while the PS2, with GH, GH2, and GH Encore, will be on the plasma. It's not a bad setup, but it's reminding me of something I didn't think about previously for about two years.

When the first GH came along, I saw the issue of TV lag. This was until I changed the name of the PS2 input from "input", "AV", or some crap like that over to being called "game". Once I changed the name to "game", the lag vanished and the game worked brilliantly. In fact, the other day when testing for lag control on GH3 on the 360, I was able to enjoy watching the game report a lag correction of 0ms. I always felt that the game seemed responsive enough, and that proved the point.

When I finished hooking up the PS2 to the plasma, as well as my Samsung surround sound system, I decided to turn on the game and make sure everything was working. The PS2 fired up, I found the right input for the PS2 on the TV (Vizio knows how to cram a lot of inputs on a TV), found the right one on my surround sound receiver to make some audio via a digital optical connection. The game fired up and I decided, if I was going to test things out properly and with my recent skill gaining in GH3, that I should try to play a perfect performance on a song that has always escaped that magical 100% marker.

That's when I realized that my plasma has some major lag issues. I managed to miss the first five notes on The Beast and the Harlot...five very slow and easy to hit notes. I ran lag calibration once, and the game reported that 45ms was needed. I tried to resume the game and still kept flubbing notes like I was a novice.

That's when I realized two things. My plasma has some major lag and it's good to see that games like GH2 have a calibration method. I also realized that the calibration should always be ran multiple times. How many? Until the number stays constant. It took four times before I got the same result twice in a row. The final time was 72ms (damn...that is slow). Each of the first three times I ran calibration, the number slowly crept upwards. It was on the final test that I got 72 a second time. I even ran it again to make sure, and 72 did come up again.

Why am I talking about this? I don't really know. I guess it's a good lesson in proper lag calibration. That is, you should always run it multiple times until the lag correction does not change and remains constant. Also, I mention this since I have almost nothing else to talk about.

Well, I have one other thing that should be mentioned on a different subject...Picross DS. The game came out long ago and I laid it to rest long before Nintendo considered releasing any downloadable puzzle packs. If you enjoyed the game, like I did, but finished without any sign of Nintendo's support, there is good news. Nintendo has now released 10 different puzzle packs of ten puzzles each. There's a nice mix of free and normal mode puzzles with most running 15x15 (and a few at 10x10). Not a bad time killer for someone who has only a few minutes to play a game at a they are free. Best of all, the difficulty range on these new puzzles are quite diverse, so there's a little something for everyone.


Malik (11/8/07)

I've been in a pretty bad mood over the last couple of days. Well, I've actually been in several bad moods for the last two days that basically center around an overall theme of loss and of losing.

So, with that in mind, maybe I missed the point. I watched South Park last night, as I tend to do each Wednesday night. As usual, I expected a less than stellar episode. Afterall, it seems that South Park has been going downhill for the last few years. It's still something that entertains me, but it's usually entertaining in the same way that The Simpsons entertains me as of recent years. It could be worse, but I know from the older episodes that it could definitely be way better.

Seeing commercials for South Park and how it was going to be focused on Guitar Hero, I was especially aware of the potential for me wasting thirty minutes of my life (actually about 24 minutes...DVR is a good thing). It just felt like the episode would go somewhere pointless and would not deliver. I had been wrong about this impression before, since the You Got Served episode made me feel the same way via commercials, but it was one of the funniest episodes I've seen of an animated show.

In the end, after watching South Park last night, I feel like I did happen upon the message rather clearly. Afterall, the whole episode seemed to say that playing GH was a waste of time and that to do really great on the game makes one "a f#$"

I'm skipping that word since I still like to obey my original disclaimer in regards to that word and f$ is blatantly offensive and designed with hate in mind and the other...well, people just get uptight about the other one.

It seemed to say what I see on a lot of message boards about GH games. Basically that people should do something more creative and constructive and that GH is a waste of money that could be applied to a real guitar. Having both (two real guitars and four GH guitar controllers), I could not disagree more.

For one thing, a real guitar, at first, can be more of a chore than entertainment. Afterall, learning an instrument is a lot of work. I for one have failed at this type of discipline, as I'm still half assed at the real deal. True, you can have a lot of fun once you've reached some basic levels of skill. In the meantime, GH offers a more immediate sense of satisfaction. Afterall, you can sound like Hendrix, Hetfield, Clapton, Santana, or even...errr...C.C. with very little effort and almost no practice if you start out on the easy level. Try to play something from tier 8 of GH3 on a guitar and you will probably see quite quickly the difference of instant gratification versus slow and arduous learning on the real guitar.

On the other hand, a real guitar gives you just that...a real guitar. Meanwhile, GH gives you a complete band to imitate playing with. You are not just a single instrument, but instead you are one part of a band of sounds that accompanies what you're doing. This takes it beyond just thinking you're playing (and no GH player honestly thinks they can play a real guitar just because they can play a full combo on GH) and being something much bigger. In other words, you get easy entertainment.

That is what GH is ultimately all about. It's not about thinking you're playing a real guitar. It's not about wasting money on something that offers nothing useful in return. It is all about finding a way to have some fun and escape reality for a while. In the real world, you can learn to play the guitar...just like you can join the Army (instead of playing Call of Duty), become a chef (instead of playing Cooking Mama), journey around the country on horse (instead of playing Oblivion), become a thief or murderer (instead of playing GTA), or battle aliens with an assault rifle (instead of not having schizophrenia and instead playing Halo). You can do a lot of things in the real world, but you cannot do everything.

That's where media comes in. Be if reading, watching a movie, listening to music, or playing a video game. With popular (and unpopular) media, you can do everything you want, ignore the ramifications and consequences of your actions, and still put it down and walk away to either escape in another way or finally get back to the reality that's waiting for you.

It gets even better with games like GH, and soon even more so with Rock Band, when you can pick up something quickly (a song can last as little as three to four minutes...even less for stuff like Trogdor) with a friend and get into a good round of entertainment. The only cost is that of money...and to say something like GH is a waste of said money is the same as saying a book, any other game, or a movie is a waste of money. They all cost different amounts, they all offer different levels of lasting appeal (and GH is in the upper scale, for most GH fans, for long term appeal), and they all will allow for some entertainment so we don't have to always be face to face with reality. In fact, GH offers far more bang for the buck than a movie, which could cost more than 10% of the 360 GH3 bundle to see, is over in as little as 1.5 hours, and doesn't allow for the same experience of two friends rocking out while a group potentially watches and gets in on the feeling of being entertained.

I'm not saying total escape of reality is a good thing. In fact, too much is stupid, and can even be fatal. However, sometimes reality is either slow and boring (like when you have nothing that is needed to be accomplished), depressing, or something else that requires you to escape long enough to re-center yourself and have the right mindset to forge on with life. It is these times that escaping, be it in an MMO, a book, a movie, writing, blogging, playing GH, or via whatever else you desire can be a great thing.

Also, as a very amateur guitar player, I am not saying playing a real guitar is bad. It is quite fun and is good to do...if it's your idea of fun. However, more people love music than love the idea of playing music. Playing something can feel like a chore, while playing a game of GH, DDR, Rock Band (later this month), or another musical/rhythm game can be a good simulation for those who like the thought of generating music or riding a feeling of rhythm but hate the idea of playing a real instrument or actually dancing. If playing a guitar is not your thing, GH could still be fun, and if playing GH is not your thing, you may still enjoy playing a real guitar none-the-less. These are not mutually exclusive...and to think otherwise is close-minded and sad (read: pathetic).

I guess my point is two fold. For one, last night had a very lame episode of South Park. It felt like, at least to me, that it was preaching a very close-minded message without any real message behind it. My other point is just because you think something is a waste of time or money does not make it so. It mearly is you expressing an opinion (which is not the same as a fact). Also, maybe you should try out something before you call it bad. You never know how much you may enjoy something if you open up your mind to it. I know I saw a lot of love for GH from people who felt strongly about it being pointless before they ever played it...until they played it while waiting for the rest of my guests to arrive for a showing of the Metal (Metal: A Headbanger's Journey...awesome movie...) documentary.


Malik (11/9/07)

Random thinking for a random day...

First off, if you are on a losing team that has never held any chance of being anything beyond last place, the one thing that should not matter is your name. Maybe you could change some players, the coach, the GM, the entire system of coaches, players, management, and even the general atmosphere. However, your team name and colors don't matter...even if it's something as major (sarcasm should be detected) and important as dropping the "devil" from the Devil Rays.

Did Cuban rename the Mavericks? No. When he took on a horrible team without any chance in hell, he simply made important changes in all areas. He made players happy with more personalized locker rooms. He made fans happy with amazing changes in player attitude and the arena environment. He even made the world happy (or is that confused?) when he decided that any penalty he suffered from his temper would be double the assigned cash value, with half going to charity. Now that is how you "rename" a losing team into a winning one.

On a different thought, I have never liked Michael Eisner. He always was someone who gave off a sense of smug know-it-all-ism. He gave me the impression that if he was my boss, I'd rather quit and have no income than to suffer the indignities of working for him while looking for a job and still keeping any sense of making an honest living.

So, when he says that the Writers Guild of America (of the Hollywood Writers Strike fame) are causing a "stupid strike", I have to wonder what the hell he is smoking...wait...he's not smoking anything? It must just be his out of touch sense with reality taking place.

I support what the writers are doing. Is it because I like having no Daily Show or Colbert Report? Is it because I like the thought of The Office not filming and soon seeing Heroes possibly being put in re-run hell? No. Is it because DVDs are being sold, to a nice profit for studios, while the writers get nothing for it? Yes.

For Eisner to say that the writers are striking at the wrong time because digital distribution is not proven yet, I have to wonder if he ignored the part of it that says the writers are striking over profits on BOTH digital distribution and DVD sales. DVDs of TV episodes are major right now. You cannot watch an hour of network TV (or low tier cable) without a reminder that a half dozen shows just released season on DVD and it's on sale. This is a major money making item for studios, and for the writers to be cut out of it is an insult to them working at making a show worthy of being put on DVD. Bad shows, which usually have bad writing, go off to die. Good shows, with good writing, find their way into your home on DVD at $20+ per season. The writers deserve a cut of this money just as much as anyone else involved in the whole product.

To shift directions again, I decided to break down and buy the Foo Fighters downloadable content for GH3. I skipped all of the GH2 content due to two problems. For one, no pack had three good songs I'd want. A pack would maybe have one I'd want, one that I'd play but didn't care much for, and one that I would never touch. The other problem was that any that included good songs included bad cover bands performing them. I would not drop more than $2 per song for a lame cover and when I would not be getting just items I wanted.

The Foo Fighters pack solved this for me. For one thing, I like the Foo Fighters, and all of the songs are ones I enjoy. Secondly, it is the Foo Fighters and not some lame Neversoft or Harmonix hired cover band getting paid for this.

With that in mind, I have to say a couple things. First off, the song selection, as I said, is great. You have fast songs (All My Life and parts of The Pretender) and slower songs (This is a Call and the other half of The Pretender). You have some great note charts that offer some good challenge. Most of all, these songs (especially This is a Call and All My Life) are hard as hell. I needed a new challenge on the medium level since I five starred all of the major songs (the tiered songs from career mode), and these gave me a fight. Yes...The Pretender is actually not too hard, but the other two seriously kicked my sorry ass. That equals to good fun in my book...a good set of songs and a good set of challenges with logical note progression and note charts.

Also, I have yet to see it in something official, but I heard that the boss battle songs are coming to a free download pack sometime in the next few weeks. This may just be a rumor, but I think it may be Neversoft opening their eyes and realizing that not allowing some rocking out on The Devil Went Down to Georgia is a crime. However, since there are so many "rumors" of this floating around, I'm think (and hoping) that the free DLC boss battle pack materializes...and soon. If it doesn't happen for another week and a half, then Rock Band will claim my attention span and GH3 is then shit out of luck.


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