Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FarmVille Fudges Up Firefox

If you are one of the millions of people that use FireFox as your web browser, you probably noticed the lengthy update that occurred this weekend. For more of us, it didn't mean a thing. But to some of us geeks, it's an amusing issue.

Here's the initial bug report:

This bug was initially created as a clone.

[W]e discussed increasing the "hang plugin" timout, but ultimaely decided to leave it at 10 seconds, as the value of the OOPP is decreased if it takes painfully long to kill a hung plugin.

However, now that 3.6.4 has shipped, we are seeing an increased number of reports that some users are unable to play Farmville, because Farmville hangs the browser long enough for the timeout to trigger to kill it.

So there were hangups with FarmVille. Now I don't play FarmVille, but there are a lot of users out there that do. Over 82 million active users. That's a lot of FarmVille. Seeing the high popularity of this web game, I can understand why Mozilla was quick to react and send out an update to Firefox to correct the situation. Just goes to show how the power of gaming can make things happen. Even if it's just to update a web browser.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sunday Musing

Apologies for the lateness. Internet troubles.

Still not sold on Kinect.

Mostly because of the price. ($149.99, not including tax for a motion system or $69.99ish for Sony's 2 controllers. Or I could use my Wii system that comes standard with the motion control. Price is still subjective to change because Microsoft still has not announced a final amount yet.) Even still, Microsoft's marketing is fairly lax on the topic. Albert Penello, director of platform marketing for Xbox, recently gave an interview with Gamasutra regarding E3 and the Kinect.

One thing that I enjoy about Gamasutra's interviews is that they are generally direct with their subject. Microsoft's store has the price at $150, how has Microsoft been gauging reactions of the rumored price point? And of course, being like any company, they dodge the question.

We're three minutes into the conversation and we're talking about price. … We didn't want price to be the primary discussion at the show. Our goal was to prove it to people. … We'll talk about price when the experience is what people want it to be.

Ok. That's fine. Except we've known about Project Natal for well over a year. Sony gave us a price on their Move. So why can't you all get with the program and give us a price? I'd be more lenient if this were the first announcement of Kinect. But it's not. Considering the massive amount of time Microsoft spent at their E3 press conference on the Kinect and left the new slim system at the end of the show, which felt like a throwaway moment, I don't see what else Microsoft needs to prove to the public to buy the Kinect. We've seen how it works; how to use it. We know what games are being released. So what's the hold up?

This is an aspect of marketing that I never understand. Microsoft is at the point where they are going to lose customers/sales because they won't provide the information people are craving. I understand holding back to increase anticipation and desire for the product. However, this is an item in the making for well over a year. Sony gave us prices. Nintendo gave us prices. Why can't you? There is no logical marketing reason as to why they are holding back so long, unless they want to lose customers. I also don't understand how Penello is under the assumption that he does not want to use the Kinect for FPS like Halo and Call of Duty. That portion of the article felt like a slap in the face to those who enjoy those games. I don't believe it's an issue of not wanting. Rather, people should be given the option to try. Such as with the Wii, which is one thing I enjoy about the system. With the Wii, you have the choice of using the motion controls, or moving the controller sideways and play the game in a traditional manner, or use the classic controller, or use your GameCube controller. Wii has first person shooters too, so it's not like FPS should be limited to a standard controller environment. Microsoft. Let's release some of the steam that is making your head so big and come back down to Earth.

As an aside, if they are sticking with that $150 price point, they can be sure casual gamers will not be picking up the item this holiday season. I'll go over to Sony, thanks. Not that I want either of the motion products.

P.S.: I've been playing with the new template features Blogger has to offer. It's pretty cool. Granted I need to go back and fix allllll of the quotations in past posts because you can't see them, but this feels much more customizable and more of the blog interface that I wanted. Not that I didn't enjoy the previous template, but it wasn't completely geek. This is more geek.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Geek Today

I am not an Apple person. I am a slave to Microsoft. You can read that however you wish. But today, I have a better understanding on why there are many geeks who worship The Woz (Steve Wozniak for those who fail in the geek universe). And it was after finishing up Kathy Griffin's book "Official Book Club Selection." While I highly doubt anyone in Kathy's Camp would ever stumble upon my little blog, to be safe I'm linking the book. So, you can buy the book here, here, and here.

Anyway, the chapter about The Woz was probably the most real that I have seen him. That isn't to say Woz isn't always Woz. Rather, he is an iconic image for computer geeks that separating truth from reality can be a challenge. So reading this book helped me to appreciate the man that is Woz and that he still is the same man back when he starting building computers.

Favorite part? The email describing his morning routine, which turns into his obsession with letters and numbers, followed by the best foods starting with the letter C. And he's totally right. The best foods really do start with the letter C. Cookies. Cake. Coke (I know it's a drink, but it counts). Chocolate. Cheese. Crumpets. Ok I threw in that last one. But it really brought Woz into the real world, for me. So, I have a better understanding of the work that he has done and will do. I declare this day Woz day for my blog for my new found appreciation. Woz be praised!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sonic Expo?

Double posting, but this is worth it.

SonicCon 2010 celebrating all things Sonic in Plano, Texas. In conjunction with the DFW Hedgehog show. Yes this is real. No it's not a joke.

November 5-7. You can meet the voice actor of the current Sonic the Hedgehog. And apparently there is cosplay, and non-sonic gaming. It's being sponsored by a bunch of anime magazines and distribution companies. So...basically an anime convention with a Sonic theme. Whatever floats their boat. The only plus is Alsdead will be playing (one of my fav's for J-Rock). But even I won't go near this place with a 10 foot pole. It's just asking for some creeps to come out.

Back to the Future of Geek

For those living under the geek rock, the latest season of Futurama began airing last night on Comedy Central. And if you really have been living under a rock, the show was revived after the huge ratings boost in reruns on CC and DVD sales. The original voice acting cast is back (thank god because I can't imagine ANYONE else portraying Bender like John DiMaggio-aka Wakka from Final Fantasy X, and no one can replace Katey Sagal as Leela), but with some new writers. Which was blatantly obvious within the first minute of the season opener. "We have gone through a wormhole into a space that is comedy central." Really? Wow. Even I couldn't come up with a joke that bad. On the plus, because Futurama is not under Fox's thumb, they could open up with jokes. Such as the name of the space probe of censorship. As open as Fox is, they would have said a big fat no to that name.

It's nice to see the show back, but it doesn't feel quite right. Mostly because of the writers. You don't have the snappy team that came from the original show. Instead you have Comedy Central writers. Which isn't to say that's bad, but it's not Matt Groening, Futurama funny. It's Comedy Central funny. Popularity is going to keep the season running. But if they want to continue, they really need to find a way to bridge Futurama humor with their own brand. No more Scooby Doo endings and plot twists. I don't know who came up with how to bring them out of the worm hole, but it was so cliché. I want this season to work, so make it work CC.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Singers Can Be Stupid

I'm probably going to go too far with this statement, but here it goes. It is a sure sign of stupidity when you blame a media outlet for pre-existing issues in society.

Some singer by the name of M.I.A.(I think she's trying to be like the singer Mya without making it too obvious), has decided to blame video games for violence in the world, because that's what all of the cool people do. She was born in Shri Lanaka and has been around a lot of internal conflict. But now she believes that today's kids are being heavily influenced by video game violence:

"I don't know which is worse. The fact that I saw it in my life has maybe given me lots of issues, but there's a whole generation of American kids seeing violence on their computer screens and then getting shipped off to Afghanistan.

"They feel like they know the violence when they don't. Not having a proper understanding of violence, especially what it's like on the receiving end of it, just makes you interpret it wrong and makes inflicting violence easier."

 So here's the thing. She grew up in a country that was having daily conflict and, by all accounts, could be considered a third world country. I think it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most citizens of that country to have obtained a video game. So how do you explain the violence you saw in your home, M.I.A.? If you're making the claim that American children are being shipped overseas with video games on the brain acting as their behavior module, they why are there other countries with just as many violent tendencies when they have no access to any violent movies, television, or video games? People who pretend to be smart annoy me. Don't take a stance if you don't have the facts to back up your claims. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John Carpenter Blessings

I mean the guy that directed all of those Snake Plissken movies (Escape from New York, Escape from L.A.) and Halloween, Christine, The Live. We all know he has had a heavy hand in influencing the Snake from the Metal Gear franchise. Well just the other day, Mr. Carpenter extended a peaceful hand to Kojima to say a job well done.

Back in the early days of MGS, Carpenter reviled that Kojima wrote to him asking permission for using a likeness of Snake Plissken's character in his games. And we know how well that turned out.

"[Hideo Kojima] has written me and asked me for my blessing on the game and I wrote him back [to say] how about it?" said Carpenter. "He's a very nice man."

Not a bad time to say thanks to Kojima when you're working on FEAR 3. *shrugs* At least the man is being gracious for the resurgence in his stock.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lazy Day

Not really lazy. Rather, busy with the Final Fantasy XI update. I have 5 jobs to get to level 80. >.>

Anyway. Interesting post on Kotaku today. It's one those those insightful moments that I rarely agree with. Nintendo has made me want to play my Wii again, and Kotaku explains why.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Red Eye

RRoD. 4 Evil words to 360 owners. Well now it's the Red Dot of Death, or the Red Eye of Death, or the Red Spot of Death, or the Red Speck of Death. With the next 360 Slim line releasing, a new error message and light system has replaced the old red ring.
In an attempt to increase the lifespan of the 360 and prevent overheating, if the system detects that there is not enough ventilation, it will give the user a warning message before shutting down and entering a hibernation mode where a red light will flash on the power button. Once the light turns off, it's safe to turn the system back on. The idea is to help save the system before it becomes too late and overheat.

While it's good in theory, it is disconcerting that the issue with overheating hasn't been fixed in the first place. A multitude of 360 users know the horrors of the red ring. The most recent study, that appears accurate, shows the failure rate at 27ish%, but this is taking into account the most recent 360 systems that have a much higher heat tolerance then the launch consoles. My brother's system has gone through three red rings (launch console). On the third failure, Microsoft ended up sending him a brand new system instead of attempting to repair the same problem over and over again. I'm sure he isn't the only one this has happened to. But with a new version of the same console out and about, is this new method really going to work? Or just another extent to the same problem that Microsoft doesn't want to really fix. At least you still get a 3 year manufacturer warranty if you get a red ring. (keep those receipts!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pitfalls of Big Games

Now this be an interesting list. The Top 10 Most Underrated Games of E3 compiled by Sal Basile of And I'd have to agree with the list. It hit on a few games that I was interested in hearing more about at E3, but they were pushed aside by all of the sequels (Gears of War comes to mind).

What I find silly is that there are 2 Final Fantasy games on the list; Final Fantasy 14 and Final Fantasy 4 Heroes of Light. Typically there's a lot of press on Final Fantasy games. 14 had a nice banner at the E3 front doors. But Sal is right. They were pretty much left out of the picture for a bulk of the game coverage. Last I checked, SE was a big deal. I mean, they have Kane and Lynch 2, which looks to be pretty damn good (and I don't like those games!) E3? The 3rd Birthday, another SE game, the spinoff of Parasite Eve received 0 attention from the coverage.

But in this article I found some new games that don't sound half bad. Like Shank, a 2D side-scrolling game reminiscent of Devil May Cry written by one of the co-creator's of God of War. It'll be a download game for XBox Live and PSN and looks like a lot of fun. Bodycount is another, which is everything evil with multiplayer gaming. From the creators of Black, Bodycount is about destroying your online competitors in every and any way possible. It looks cleaner then most first person shooters (I'm sick of the brown bloom they use to smudge up the screen) with nonstop, nonsensical run and gun with a storm of bullets. What's not to love?

There were a lot of games out on the floor for E3 this year, since there weren't new console launches. I'm not counting the 3DS because that's a reiteration of a pre-existing product. But people tend to focus on what they consider the big launches (Halo, Gears of War, etc.) and if you're not in that crowd, you tend to be forgotten by the big guns. A lot of the smaller games caught my attention this year, and I hope they will become a bigger presence at future expos.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

LBP2 Invading your Social Network

So if it's not obvious, I'm obsessed with Little Big Planet and every news bit about it. So guess what? More LBP2 news! Media Molecule has announced some additional details for a new online service to allow LBP2 creators to better upload and download levels. The idea is to have a somewhat social networking site that can be access in the game or through your computer. From there, users can look over new levels, new sacboys, new designs, advertise your own levels, and even download these items to your game.

Media Molecule's Alex Evans also noted another feature of a virtual business card. Since there are those wishing to jump into the gaming business, LBP has become a great tool for level design. A new idea called the QR code will allow those with a Playstation Eye to better promote their levels. It's similar to a 2D barcode. The camera scans the code and it'll jump the individual to that level. So let's say you have a business card and print the code onto your card to hand it to a developer at Media Molecule. That developer can then go home/work, scan the code with they're Eye Toy and then get directed to that user's customer level. It's a nifty idea.

Friday, June 18, 2010

APB At A Glance

This past week I have been participating in the open beta for APB (All Points Bulletin for those unaware with cop lingo). From the developer Realtime Worlds (which has been scooped up by EA. How are they NOT a monopoly by now?), it is set to release at the end of the month (6/29/10) for the PC. After 6 hours of game play, with another 4 to burn, here are my thoughts.


It's GTA online. In other words, you know walking into it what you're going to get. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. One aspect of the GTA series that I wish RockStar would beef up is their online play for GTA4. But it hasn't happened, and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. APB takes the entertaining parts of GTA and throws them into this online world for cops and robbers. Except the cops are freelancers and robbers are pretty serious gangs.  

Extensive character/clothing modification. The way the beta key works, you get 10 hours of game play in the non-social areas and unlimited time in the social zone. I have probably spent at least 8 hours in the social area looking through the endless amount of graphics, colors, and tools to make a shirt. This game does a fantastic job of allowing the gamer to create their own look. You can pivot, stretch, turn, shrink, and flip designs however you wish. And it's pretty easy to get into. It's like The Sims on crack.

Quick group access. By this I mean it is easy for you to jump in and out of groups and missions. As you progress in the game, missions get difficult and you are going to need a few people to help you out. If you have friends, great. If you don't, the game can quickly set you up with an open group that best suits your needs/level.

 Easy money. Seriously. Never had a game where loosing still grants me money. It makes upgrading weapons a hell of a lot easier.


Matchmaking is unbalanced. Let's say you are a bad guy and you have just started the game. Your quest is to break into a store and steal something. As your about to proceed, you get the warning that a freelance officer is on your tail. And then bam! Sniper rifle to the face. Now you have 3 officers on you, 2 of them with shot guns, and no one to help you finish the quest. The current matchmaking system is based on who of the opposing team is available to stop you from completing your mission. It's not about levels, or skill, or your weapons. My friends and I learned very quickly that if we did not have each other to help out at the beginning, we would have been stomped.  

The game gets old fast. I'm hoping it's because that early on you have to do repetitive missions (stop the bad guy, break into the store, steal the car!) until you get to the more difficult tasks that they change it up. But you get tired of the fetch quests pretty quickly.

Bad car mechanics. Now that cool thing about this game is free cars from the get go and easy stealing. But the controls are horrible. You have to use your WASD to steer the car. Your mouse is your camera, which with most games might help you with steering a vehicle. Not here. All you get is WASD and good luck to you! It's really clunky and takes a while to get use to. Even worse if you are an enforcer for the good guys. You get penalized if you don't follow the rules of the road, accidentally hit pedestrians (which you will do a lot at the beginning), and run into mailboxes, fire hydrants, lights, etc. If you're a bad guy, who cares! But if you want to play on the good side, you can get horribly screwed if you don't take the time to learn how to drive. 

Overall, it's ok. It does what it's suppose to do, but I don't know if it's worth the full purchase price until I can see more of the challenges after the fetch quests. If you're interested in trying out the game, the beta is still going on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

E3 Day 3. Slow Day

All the good crap happened on Tuesday. So...what's up now? Well celebrities are invading E3 and taking over the Nintendo 3DS. Including, Steven Spieldberg? What are you doing there Steven? You're against video games, remember?

But I wanted to bring up some of the smaller, off the wall games that are not receiving a lot of attention. When you have GT5, Gears 3, and the like cluttering up the space, you miss out on the few gems that are hiding on the E3 floor.

The first is Kung Fu Rider, developed for the Playstation Move. It's a simple game. You run through the streets of Hong Kong on office chairs, horse bikes, and other random things to reach the end of the stage. They are pricing it around $24.99 for 28 levels of craziness and endless replay value. It's a simple game that uses the Playstation Move quite well.

Next is Naughty Bear.  Basically you're an evil bear and your job is to torture the town you live in. Again, simple concept, but fun gameplay. Anything you want to conceive you can make it happen. No X rated stuff though.

Child of Eden comes from the creators of Lumines and it is beautiful. It will be using Microsoft's Kinect motion system for gameplay. It is a combo of puzzle and platformer allowing you to generate the world around you.

Finally Space Ark, which will be an Xbox Live download. It's a series of puzzle games that is a mixture of Tetris, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Breakout, and Frogger all with cute animals. What's cool about it is that it really takes the puzzle game to a new area by combining multiple forms of puzzle gaming into one game. But they do it seemlessly that you don't realize that you're playing a version of Breakout. This looks like it'll be a fun download for your 360.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Confirmed LBP2 Date?

According to the Sony Move group, November 2010 we will have LBP2 along with a patch for LBP1 to adapt to the Playstation Move. Pretty ambitious. But with the demo at Sony's conference yesterday, the game looked to be nearly done. They threw in a bunch of developers and gave them 24 hours to do whatever they want with the game. And it looked awesome. When LBP2 is released, they are planning on sending out a patch within the week for LBP1 to adapt to the Playstation Move. I can not wait for this game!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Initial Impressions of the Big 3

Microsoft: We want you to pay $149.99 for Kinetec (formerly Project Natal).

Sony: Kevin Butler. Little Big Planet 2. Twisted Metal.

Nintendo: You want old school games? You got them. Zelda. Donkey Kong Country. Kid Icarus. Metroid. Golden Eye. Oh, and you can turn off the 3D feature on the 3DS.

Nintendo, you have given me hope. I will be playing my Wii again. Thank you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Academic Paper for Video Game Aggression Benefits

Reuters has been surfing the web with a piece about violent video games and children. Mostly, that some are stating it is not harmless and has beneficial effects. What a shock! After finding the source article, I was able to delve into it a little more, and it's an interesting read.

The article comes from a special edition of the Review of General Psychology by the American Psychological Association (2010 Volume 14 No 2, pages 68-81-if you're interested), written by Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M International University. If you have the time I'd recommend taking a look.

Ferguson brings up some valid points on how media acts as the scapegoat for society's issues, or the "folk devil" as he terms it. He brings up historical context dating back to Plato that some believed that the alphabet would create deviant youths. Those damn Y's! Why are you only sometimes a vowel?!? Anger and rage ensue!

The part that I enjoyed the most is the description of the Bo-Bo Doll experiments. By far, this is the best explanation of the research to date. It gives a more accurate depiction of how the Bo-Bo Doll experiments were conducted and how they influenced scientific and social research for future aggression/violence endeavors. So much of social media is based around the Bo-Bo Doll, and few people are willing to disprove the experiment because of the standing behind it. Ferguson manages to provide mounds of references to counteract the Bo-Bo Doll research without throwing it completely out the window. There are a few key things in the research that have practical applications, but the way the experiments were held and the odd results are what question the legitimacy of the practice.

What I felt the article does well is introduce reasons on why research on video game violence is limited, from a theoretical perspective. His list of 9 reasons could be applied to video game theory quite easily on why people are not as willing to accept it as a legitimate field of study in academia. Ferguson also does well with introducing how video games benefit children, without going into a social frenzy that some of us gaming geeks would fall into. It is also important that Ferguson spelled out his definition of aggression and violence, two different terms used in two different theoretical contexts, something many people writing about video game violence overlook.

That's not to say this article isn't lacking. While Ferguson promotes game usage, his results are limited to what fields of experts have reported on previously. With 3 and a half page of references, it would have been nice if he put in the effort to conduct his own study. The article just feels haphazard at the end. There are too many loose ends to tie up and it seemed that he ended it because he was running out of space. I appreciate, both as a gamer and a media analysts, his attempt to provide clarity for the societal outcry against violent video games. However, his conclusions are not well defined.

My other issue is his point on Citation Bias and Publication Bias. In essence, Ferguson states that numerous studies contradict themselves, and in many cases, a critic will contradict his or herself by ignoring other studies and their own results. This is true. However, Ferguson is using these same publications to support his claims making for a bigger contradiction of facts. It's hard to delineate between fact and fiction. While Ferguson does cite a multitude of sources with some that are not contradicting their personal hypothesis, the stance remains that it is difficult to take the article seriously when the writer uses conflicting information from conflicting critics.

Again, the piece written by Ferguson is worth the read and a good step for video game studies, as a whole. Though it has its flaws (and what article, paper, book doesn't?), it can be a beneficial look on why new critiques on video game violence and aggression in children needs to be implemented.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

E3 Coming to a Convention Center Near You!

Ok kiddos. E3 is in 2 days. And apparently Sony is being ballsy with their advertising. I'm pretty sure they're referring to the Playstation Move and their weird plastic ball controllers. It's not that Earth Shattering guys. Nintendo already did it. Unless they're speaking about 3D. Which I hope not. I'm not ready for 3D and most of us don't have the ability to afford the technology. Just leave it be.

I have some higher hopes this year from the previous. Mostly because no one is going to be shoving new hardware down our throats. Well, aside from Nintendo. But they have been having new iterations of the DS every year so it's becoming a staple. Here is what I am expecting (rather hope to expect) out of E3:

The big focus is going to be on the peripherals, with Sony and Microsoft going into more detail on the motion technology to their systems. Not to mention the new gear from Rock Band 3. Getting the gamer to stand up from their couch seems to be a big deal these days. I don't know if Sony and MC are aware, but Nintendo has already done that. The other plus is that there "should" be more games announced then usual.

Now that Sony is in a better position with system sales, they can start dropping more software in the U.S. That can make this next year a pretty big deal to the gaming industry. It could use more new games. Right now we have Halo Reach coming out in the fall. Maybe Rock Band 3 in the winter. That's about it for this year. I would like to see Sony step up their catalogue and give us more games. I don't care about Playstation Home or Move, because you're not going to get people to play FPS with the move. If you can deliver us more games, we're going to buy them. Oh, and get Media Module to confirm Little Big Planet 2 for this year. I will be indebted to you forever.

Microsoft has a pretty solid core of gamers. What they have been lacking this year is exclusive titles. I can hear the choir of fan boys ringing in my ears. "But we have Gears of War and Halo." Yeah. And that's all that the Xbox is known for. Most of the top releases this past year were for multiple platforms. Microsoft really needs to make a point and provide exclusive games. This past year was a turning point with Sony catching up on system sales. If they want to take back the lead, they need to gives us exclusive games. Again, it's one of those things where we don't care about Project Natal. It's cool, but no one is going to play Gears with Natal. Give me a reason to go back to my 360.

Nintendo...well. They want to show off their 3D system. I'm not enthused about 3D because my eyes can't tune in for long. And the hazard of having glasses makes it really difficult to be comfortable while enjoying something in 3D. It's a nuisance. Give a solid release date for Metroid the Other M and I'll be content.

If someone had the ability to win, since it's not a contest, I'm banking on Sony this year for conferences. They have the most to gain with their current position in the market.

Random, but is anyone else amused by the ghetto parking sign for Activision? Either someone at E3 is trying to point out how low on the totem pole Activision is, or it's a fake lot where you're going to get mugged if you leave your car.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Keytar coming at ya!

Apologies if this post is less then enthused. Still sick. Still feel like crap. Still without a car. Just had to deal with 2+ hours of the fire alarm sitting right about my half-cube going on and off. Now I have a blistering headache and a constant ring in my ears. Why can't I have one good week?

Enough about that.

A handful of press got a sneak-preview of Rock Band 3 just before E3. It's the game that Jude Lennon (John Lennon's son, and if you don't know who he is FOR SHAME!) has been working with the developers for new peripherals so that people could really learn how to play the guitar.

From the looks of things, they may have succeeded.

Rock Band 3 will be sporting a 6 string, 17 fret guitar, cymbals, a midi adaptor, and a keytar. Yep. A keytar. You know those keyboards made into guitars in the 80's? You can play one on Rock Band now. >.>

The keytar would only be useful for a handful of songs, and Rock Band creator's were mindful of that. The keytar will double for a guitar or drums during songs that don't use a piano/keyboard.

The guitar is the one peripheral that is blowing me away. It's intended to allow both beginners and those who actually play a guitar to be able to jump into the game. The guitar is best described as feeling like a real guitar with the frets feeling like spongy buttons. It will be interesting to see how it'll meld in with normal Rock Band mode.

For software updates, Rock Band is giving each band member their own menu to customize without cluttering up the rest of the group. It also appears that they are going to allow greater access to jump in and out of bands with ease as well as change instruments between songs (I don't always want to play bass). There is also a change on Career Mode, which will take out less of the grind of completing songs and give it a more party feel.

I hope there will be some live demos at E3. This might be one of the first music games that I'd be willing to drop money on the full bundle

Friday, June 11, 2010

Insight on why I should probably never have children

Ok. Time for a thoughtful piece.

Years ago, back when I was in a Video Game Theory class, I stumbled upon an article about a father introducing Grand Theft Auto to his son. I wish I had a link to it, but Google is failing me for the time being. If I find it, I will link it. Basically the premise is how parents can monitor what their child is playing and uses GTA as an example. He provides context to his son on how the game is not the real world, but that he should obey the rules of the road (such as no driving on the sidewalks and running over pedestrians). His son was instructed to obey the rules of the real world and apply them to GTA. So, no stealing cars, no harming other people, no running into other cars, no running red lights, the works. Whenever his son accidentally hit another car, he would stop what he was doing and wait for the police to arrive and accept his punishment.

Granted, there is no filter to turn off the blood and the language, but if you were to allow your child to play GTA, that's how you handle it. You sit down and play the game with them. You explain why this is a game and does not equate to reality. Now, I don't advocate that a child be allowed to play GTA. It has an M rating for a reason. But the method of which this parent works with his child in playing a game is one that should be used. Monitor what you child is watching and playing. Help them to grow into thoughtful citizens. Don't place your child in front of the tv and let them parent for you. You need to be involved in your child's activities.

My outburts (if that's what you want to call it) come from this article. The comments are an interesting read ranging from "you're a horrible parent" to "right on!" What people need to take away from the article is the need for parents to be parents. So many are letting everyone and everything else teach their child. By involving yourself in your child's activities, you can mold them into better humans. That isn't to say berate them into "do this" "don't do this." Explain to your child why certain activities in a game do not correlate to reality. Explanation is key. So few parents explain to their kids the difference between right and wrong. They simple say "don't!" and leave it at that. Basically, parents need to be parents. Throwing the blame at video games when there has been no research that squares the blame solely on gaming for violence in children (though many failed attempts have been made) does not solve the problem. Parents, be parents. Teach and explain to your children.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Cool

Apologies for the low postings. The sick bug struck me hard. If you haven't seen this by now, a video has been posted about an elderly woman calling Google's help desk regarding the mini PacMan game. I would have a link to the video, but you have to be the author's friend to see it.

So, I'm not linking the video. Instead, I'm linking to the article and you can choose to be his/her friend or not. What a brilliant way to try and make more friends. At the same time, what a stupid way to try and make more friends. YouTube isn't about having a million friends. It's about viewers. You miss out on half of your audience because they will not go through the hassle of trying to be your friend to see one video...and then turn around and unfriend you. >.> If you're worried about friend, go hide on Facebook. If you want to be on YouTube, make your videos public. It's that simple.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I Went to A-Kon...

...and all I got was a cold

Seriously. And this one is knocking me down pretty hard. Sitting up for a couple of minutes and I get really dizzy and lightheaded.

It basically means today is going to be a short post day.

E3 is coming up next week. Needless to say, everyone is talking about it. Biggest show of the year for gamers, so there's no reason not to be.

It has also become an expo of disappointments. Every year we get big talk from the big 3 (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) and they fail to deliver on their promises. Sometimes, they get it right. A lot of times, they don't. I'll direct everyone to Kotaku on their review of how each of the competitors did.

You know what would be nice? An honest showing. I get that a lot of kids today like flashy items, but what's the point in the flash if you're not going to deliver? I would much rather have a simple show with just the facts instead of the 3 hours behemoth presentations that provide little results.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cosplaying Overload

I'm still out at the convention, but wanted to post up a link to pictures from A-Kon 21 from my camera. Snake in a Box always wins.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Another quiet weekend

So, yet again I will be gone for a few days as I attend A-Kon 21. Instead, I bring you Team Co-Co and the Conan O'Brian Dance Off! with Stephen Colbert and John Stewart. Enjoy!

Zombie Café?

Capcom has filed for a US trademark for the name Zombie Café. Why? We're not really sure.

There's a card game available called Zombie Café, which it probably not what Capcom had in mind. Sounds like they are considering a future game or restaurant endeavor. Because Capcom loves its zombies.

It had me wondering, what kind of food would they serve at the Zombie Café? Raw meat is a given. Maybe hamburgers shaped like brains and hearts. Nothing vegetarian or vegan. Zombies only want meat. What about a steak in the shape of a chainsaw? I didn't say they were good idea. Just suggestions.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Picard Beats Kirk to Knighthood

Today, Patrick Stewart was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his career. We got a trekkie that's been knighted. Kirk can't beat that. XD

Most people are probably unaware that Stewart has done a lot of theatrical work in England as well as in the U.S. He's been hailed overseas as a great Shakespearean actor, who uses his traditional training in unconventional means. One thing I have to say about the man, he's not afraid to throw himself full force into any project, no matter how silly it may be. I speak of course of X-men and American Dad. This is what I could find at last minute from silly YouTube to mark a moment in Stewart's career. Thank you Patrick Stewart for being you!

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Water

A Murlock is disappearing from our reality. You know. Those fish creatures with bipedal movements that allow them to adapt to sea and beach environments in World of Warcraft. The Pink Handfish in Australia has been heading towards extinction.

It's a silly looking fish and conjures up amusing images of Night Elfs and Orcs running around the beaches of Azaroth bludgeoning Murlocks to their doom.

Though the real ones are in danger. They are believed to be some of the earliest marine lifeform in the Australian region. Their existence for such an extended period of time has been a great resource for scientists to study the past. It's sad...still a funny looking fish.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Prince of Persia Movie Review

Of all of the video game movies, this is probably one of the best that I have seen so far. It also takes the most creative liberty from the original property. The only things that I found were remotely close to the game was the lead character's name, and that there's a dagger that uses sand to turn back time for a minute. Everything else was wide open for Jerry Bruckheimer to run with.

Positives: Because it's Jerry Bruckheimer, you know what you're going to get. Interesting/visually appealing locations. Well choreographed action. Decent acting. A story that is easy to follow, but has some element of uniqueness. It's a video game movie that doesn't suck. Mostly because the writers took an extreme liberty with the story. Because Prince of Persia doesn't have an established cannon, it's easier to fudge on the movie screen. As I said earlier, you have the main character's name and the dagger...that's about all that was pulled from the video game. And maybe, that's a good thing. Ostrich Racing. The silliest and most awesome idea ever.

Negatives: Because it's Jerry Bruckheimer, it's cliche. It's predictable. But it's a movie targeted towards families. You get what you pay for. St. Elsewhere ending. You know how that kid with autism dreamed up the hospital of St. Elsewhere that he saw in a snow globe? Prince of Persia basically does the same thing. It's lame and people should be forbidden from ever using it. Title cards and narrator. Those always doom a movie. Jerry should know better, but I think he likes to piss off the establishment sometimes. Ignore the first 5 minutes of the beginning and the last 2 and you'll be fine. Nothing like the video game. If you were expecting it to be like one of the games, it's not. It's still a good movie, but don't go in with that preconceived notion.

Overall, it's a decent film. It'll keep you and your friend/family entertained. Might be worthy of a sequel. It's good for a random night out. But don't expect it to break the barrier for video game movies.