Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Overdue updates

Friday, October 16th, 2009

OK, so much for my updating at least once a week idea. Work has been a little busier lately and Michelle hasn’t been feeling 100% all the while Kira seems to be developing a temper as a couple more teeth start ripping through her gums.

I’m glad I don’t remember that process.  They say that is one of the worst pains ever but truthfully how would you know?  Babies can’t tell you how it feels or how it compares to childbirth, root canals or drawn and quartering.  You can’t hook them up to a meter and see the pain on a graph.  I guess it’s like most things… a guess.

Michelle and I took a little time last weekend away from the baby and went to have lunch at Red Lobster and then off to see Zombieland.  If you haven’t seen Zombieland yet then you are truly missing out.  It’s funny, goofy, scary (stupid clown), self-deprecating, a bit gory and full of action.  There’s even a touching moment so there’s something for everyone.  Meaning emotionally touching… not inappropriately touching…  you know what I mean.

I’ve got a bunch of vacation days that need to be taken before the end of the year so I am figuring out how to plan that out.  Everytime I think I have it all sorted something new comes up.  It happened again today.  Urgh.

Oh, I have a Playstation 3 now!  Yay!  Although I really don’t have any games for it.  I got it used on eBay and it did come with Street Fighter 4 (which I really don’t like surprisingly) and Singstar (which is kinda fun but quite limited compared to other music games).  So I don’t count those.  I’m hoping to get the Game of the Year edition of Little Big Planet for Christmas because that just looks fun to me.  Maybe I should download the demo and try it out first but it seems interesting.  Plus God of War 3 will be out eventually although since the main guy involved in the first two is no longer part of the franchise I’m not holding my breath.

I got the old 60GB PS3 which is why I got it on eBay instead of going to the store.  I picked that one specifically because it is the only model that has the hardware emulation for both PS1 andPS2 games built-in.  So of course the first thing I did was play We Love Katamari.  Because I just can’t get enough of rolling stuff into balls.  Don’t ask because I don’t know.

Video games, Venezuela and the Vatican

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Now there’s strange headline for you.  Venezuela… land of tropical beauty, drug lords, corrupt governements, rebellions, murder, more guns than Mexico City and one of the more violent places to try and take a liesurely stroll down the street on any given day.  And how did this paradise become such a haven for crime and death?  The answer is obvious: Video Games.

Yes, the long-running president of Venezuela – Hugo Chavez – is pushing through legislation to fully ban violent video games in his beloved country.  This makes sense of course.  I mean it has to be the fault of violent video games that put poor Venezuela into it’s current situation.  Just because drug cartels have been murdering each other and civilians since long before Pong was created is no reason to look at this rationally.

In addition, this new legislation would ban toy weapons.  Which is a smart economic move when you think about it.  I mean, why let your people buy cheap toy guns from China when you are building the largest machine gun factory* in all of South America in your country? Keep that money in country and sell those kids real weapons instead.  Besides, that will keep them safer on their way home from school than that old toy would have anyway.  ( * This is an older link but this still seems to be on-going.  I just can’t find any articles online.)

In related news, the Vatican is also calling for an end to all violent video games.  According to the Pope, the Crusades were not the result of theocratic greed and corruption but by early video games.  It seems that demos of Grand Theft Carriage caused quite a stir with peasants and drove the knights to slaughter.  A lesser known but more revolting game called Messenger featured a messenger who had one too many bad days at the Messenger Office and started shooting all his co-workers with a cleverly hidden crossbow.  It is said that this game was an allegory to the Muslims and how mean they were for not giving back land to the church that was never the church’s in the first place.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Telepathic requests for comment to the Pope were not returned by the time I posted this entry.

Sony PS3 Slim available early September

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

UPDATE: The Sony press conference at the 2009 Gamescom in Germany just confirmed both the PS3 Slim and the price cuts.  The new pricing of $299 for current models and the soon to be available slim goes into effect tomorrow.

There have been rumors floating around like crazy for the past few months about a new and slimmer Sony PS3 video game console.  And Sony has been denying it just like the rumors of price cuts.  Even when pictures were leaked of the packaging from a new PS3 Slim, they denied it.  Now, online retailers are putting up the pre-order pages for the new Sony PS3 Slim available on August 24th globally September 11th (per the Sony press conference going on right now).  Will Sony continue to deny this?  Yeah, I doubt it.

There’s some big industry conference going on and Sony is supposed to be presenting today.  I assume that the newly released $100 price cut and the new Slim unit are on their agenda but FYE and K-Mart have beaten them to the punch.  Seems to happen a lot these days.

Here’s the description for the PS3 Slim pre-order from K-Mart:

PS3, SLIM High-Definition Blu-ray player for the best movie experience. Free PLAYSTATION Network membership. 120GB HDD for downloading games, music, videos, and photos. Includes DUAL SHOCK 3 controller. HDMI output for 1080p resolution.

Notice something strange about that?  The newest console has a 120GB hard drive where the current high end model has a 160GB drive.  OK so my XBox 360 has a 120GB drive so no big deal right?  Well that depends.  Unlike the XBox 360, the PS3 often requires games to be “installed” to the console’s hard drive to play the game.  I’ve heard that this is neither a tiny install or a short amount of time to do this either.

Also consider that games and media are increasingly paid for online and downloaded directly to the system.  I imagine you could easily fill up a drive that size if you wanted to do so.  I understand that the PS3 hard drives are easily user upgradeable but I have no information or experience with that so I can’t say.  Who knows if the new Slim will be as easily taken apart as the old beast of a PS3 was either.

What I’m really wanting to hear about from that aforementioned conference is that there is another rumor that Sony may be reintroducing PS2 backwards compatibility to the new Slim models.  One of Sony’s big hype points when the PS3 was first coming out was their inclusion of the Emotion Engine that allowed perfect backwards compatibility of Playstation and PS2 games on the PS3.  They released one model with that function – the coveted 60GB model.  Sony then switched to software emulation on a few 80GB models which worked for many games but not all.  Then they dropped the compatibility completely.

I am always on the lookout for a used PS3 60GB console for this very reason.  I have a ton of PS2 games that I would still like to play but I only have so much space and the TV can only accept so many connections.  Combining those functions is ideal – almost necessary – for me.  So if the Slim ends up containing the Emotion Engine or even functional software emulation, I may be sold.  Especially with the new $100 discount.

When Child Porn Laws Go Bad

Friday, May 29th, 2009

You are a criminal.  You may not have known that but if you are fairly media savvy then most likely you are a criminal based on this conviction of a comic book collector.

Here’s the quick summary: a man who is a prolific collector of Japanese manga (comics) was found guilty of child pornography because of artwork in a series of manga that he was importing depicting depraved sex acts with children.  According to the article, this is a man who collected ALL types of manga and not just this style which puts him in the realm of what should have been considered an art collector.  He faces up to 15 years in jail.

So here’s the problem – this is a victimless crime.  There is no one who has been hurt… no one who has been wronged…  no one to be compensated.  These are drawings of fictional characters.  And the law has been left purposely vague (although less vague than the first iteration) so that it can cover things it was never meant to cover.  So now a comic collector is being put in jail and resources that could have been used to catch and prosecute real child pornographers has been wasted.

Welcome to the new world that allows for an idea to be illegal.  The most common anology to this is that if we play a video game that has us kill a virtual person are we then considered a murderer?  Sounds far-fetched doesn’t it? Now think about every school shooting over the past few years and how many times video games were blamed as influencers of the mentally flawed people who commited these crimes.

So where does the line get drawn?  Do we need to burn every copy of Lolita?  Should fans of Dakota Fanning get thrown in jail for watching Hounddog?  I guess we can’t make any more gang movies… ya know, unless no one dies of unnatural causes in them.  Slumdog Millionaire should have been X-rated based on this kind of thinking (oh wait, everyone loved it and it won awards).

What’s your opinion? (please read the article or be familiar with the case before venting)

The Valve saga is over

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

You may have read my previous post ranting about Valve and Steam and their support staff.  Well, I’m not taking back what I said about the support staff because I was treated poorly.  However, the issue has been resolved in an acceptable manner.

After asking twice to talk to a manager, I got an e-mail signed by a different person that repeated the exact same policy without even bothering to look into my case.  No introduction, no indication that were indeed a manager or anyone other than the same person as before but signing a different name.  I got pissed.

I drafted a nice reply to them stating that I was sending the details of my case to the founder of the company and all the senior management listed on the corporate website that had e-mail available to the public.  I also told them that I was going to be contacting every gaming forum and news and review site and writing letters to the editors of every mainstream game magazine I knew of.  I let them know that they had one week to fix this before I started because I really didn’t want to go through all that work.  After sending the reply I sent the same to three execs at Valve and gave them my contact information.

My mobile phone was ringing within five minutes.

Doug Valente from Valve called me himself and we chatted for about 15 minutes.  He tried to explain the problem and why they have the policies that they do.  He pointed out some vague wording on my game box that is supposed to say that it is restricted but really only says that the game can only be sold in Hong Kong or Macau.  No restrictions.  He relented.  I read him off a few more things from the box and the discs to prove that I indeed had a legal copy of the software.

He told me that the issue would be resolved and I would have a new CD Key by the time I got home that night.  Sure enough, when I logged onto Steam, there were a bunch of new messages waiting for me.

Doug Valente was very nice to talk with and I really appreciated him taking the time to listen to me unlike his support staff.  He admitted that the Steam support guys are a bit jaded when it comes to people trying to pull the wool over their eyes and sometimes can lose sight of the big picture.  I hope that he addresses that with them.

Thanks Doug!

So I’m satisfied – although I dread ever needing to work with Valve or Steam’s support again.  At least I have Doug’s e-mail address and direct phone number if I ever need it.