Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Through the Looking-Glass

Google Glass is finally getting mainstream press now that the dev kit has been released (for a whopping $1500) to select applicants. The press, however, is focused almost solely on the fact that people can record anything they happen to be looking at. Congress replied by issuing a letter to Google addressing privacy concerns of the device. Why? Has everyone lost their minds? Places like theaters, bars, casinos, and whatnot are already starting to ban them out of recording concerns and I think that's absurd.

The concerns about the facial recognition technology also baffle me. People are so ridiculously paranoid of the internet. The irony of this age of information is that all information is provided by the users--we are paranoid of ourselves.

What about the good uses? This would be nothing short of amazing in a scholastic environment. You can record anything you do in class whether it be the lecture, complete with the teacher's slides or board-work, even just how to do a single math proof would be infinitely useful, lab procedures, to recall internet references while working without stopping, et cetera. The potential for abuse is there too, of course, but professors tend to ban any sort of communicative technology during quizzes and tests for obvious reasons anyway. Good luck using a TI in a Calculus exam.

E3 is under way starting today, and I will have more to say when it concludes... So far, I am impressed with what I have seen of the PlayStation 4, which is a stark departure from the philosophies contained within the Xbox One. Nintendo is off in its own aspergers corner. Kids, we are upon a new console war, a real one. One can not honestly tell me that ultimately the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 were not actually all the same system. Sure, they all had their quirks, but it was the same thing repackaged. I remember concerns that the Nintendo 64 was a cartridge system, the PlayStation systems were failing, and the Sega Saturn was just were not flying off the shelves. All of the consoles had a different philosophy and through the market, you saw what worked and what did not. There was a choice to your purchase. Let us see that again and spark those strong debates over who is really doing it right.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Video Games vs Sports

Just read a painfully biased article on a Sports News site that admonished video gamers who did not like watching or talking about professional sports, because we waste more time watching digital orcs battle than a typical sports spectator would spend watching real people battle. Let me set the record straight as a gamer: I hate sports spectating because it is boring and requires no active thought processes to watch. At least you exercise problem-solving while gaming. 

I have nothing against playing sports however. We do not watch orcs slay each other and we are not in some fantasy-world that glorifies violence, but rather we do a series of well-timed inputs that require at least a minimal amount of concentration with an interactive computer video. Playing a video game, playing a sport, drawing, writing, and driving a car on a scenic route are all technically useless activities, but we do them. What I don't do is watch people play sport unless I want to learn the rules or get a feel for what is performed while playing; same with video games.

I guess there are doers and there are watchers, but neither should judge the other.

Also, I have finally cemented myself as a perma-geek. Courtesy of an apprentice, Caroline Phillpot, at Addiction here in Gainesville. Sonic is on the other side, but he needs a touch-up.


Ghosts about. I did finally score a 3DS.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You are now aware that Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is over 25 years old.

I am sorry I missed the actual anniversary. Hell, I am sorry for the lack of posts in over half of a year. In the meantime, I got a job and managed to develop some new opinions about my beloved hobbies. I have recently lost that job due to a car wreck, so I have time again.

But yeah, January 14 was the big date, and Gamefaqs did their daily poll to commemorate it by asking whether you had actually played the original game:
I think it is safe to say I have. A whopping 40% of the users who voted had not played it. Shocking! It seems that the Nintendo 3DS is actually beginning to maintain the interest of my peers lately. I was planning to buy one before the car wreck, but that is now on hold. Unfornuately, having not played one is making it hard to review. However, the library is looking interesting now, even it is only franchise AAA rehash. Portable gaming has always been about bringing portability to the last generation (a wise move, reducing internal competition between products), so I can live with it. There were concerns of the second analog stick and the peripherals needed last year, but the design looks promising if a little awkward.

2011 was an eventful year for gaming. The 3DS launched. Deathwing erupted out of the Pacific off the shore of Japan. Video games are now protected free speech in the United States as a Supreme Court precedent (always nice to have and shows we do have allies in the real world). Sonic the Hedgehog turned twenty. The PS Vita launched in Japan. And the game launches were not half bad either. Half bad I say? Well: DC Universe Online, LittleBigPlanet 2, Mass Effect 2, Dead Space 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Pok√©mon: Black/White, Dragon Age II, Ocarina of Time 3D, Bastion, Dead Island, Disgaea 4, Dragon Quest Monster: Joker 2, Dark Souls, Arkham City, Skyward Sword, Skyrim, The Old Republic, and blah blah blah.

I made extra sure to hit up The Old Republic (forever known as Tor) for Christmas. Admittedly, the release felt rushed and hackneyed, but my experience with MMO's is very limited. My repetoire includes: Maple Story and WoW. Suffice it to say, it was an unfair opinion of an MMO launch. However, I very much enjoyed diving right into the Sith lore; Force Lightning was a tool of disposal by level 3. Sure, I picked the Horde of Tor, so to speak, but it was really enticing. I fully intend to see all of the individual class stories. Tor is seperate from WoW in one capacity only: it is purely optimized for a single-player experience. Yes, there is PvP. Yes, there are instances and raids (groups of four and 20). However, it is very much Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3 Online. I think they just did not  want to call it that. That said, after recently downloading a copy of Dragon Age: Origins, Tor is much prettier graphically, the improvement is noted. The problem is, DA:O is old and you feel too inclined to want to compare them. Why? Because they are simply not the best graphics. I reached level 24 before the subscription ran up. I already feel I got what I paid for out of it and still want to play more when I have disposable cash. That is the crippling difference between Tor and WoW. Being away from WoW was not acceptable, I sold plasma to afford it when I was into it. Will Tor have longevity? Time will only tell.

I was greeted to this jewel after installing the game. No complaints here. However, it is difficult to shake the feeling of LotR while listening to DA:O's background music. It camps an otherwise brutal game. I can live with it or listen to something else.

Friday, June 10, 2011

so Wii herd U liek Vitas

So, E3 is upon us once more. I remember when they were gonna quit doing those, but I guess it is the best way to hype the everliving crap out of the gaming giants. Either way, the information released during E3 is invaluable for giving us a glimpse of that next huge purchase that you know you will inevitably make. Also, if you are like me, you are poor and forced to pick. I never even touched a PS3 until the Slim came out, and I feel it is the strongest console this gen. I just wish I had more friends who owned one.

Having already declared that I will not buy a 3DS until they address the battery, I am left high and dry for a while. It is not a big deal, the launch for 3DS is certainly pretty weak. I have yet to see one in public and the launch titles are sour at best. You know what I see everwhere now? Those shiny DSi's. Maybe, I should blow my cheque on one.

So far, the big announcements have been the Nintendo Wii U and the PlayStation Vita, which are essentially the Wii2 and the PSP2 (otherwise known as the NGP). So, what does the next gen offer us? The PSV features two analogue sticks (demanded for PSP for years now), two cameras (huh?), a touch screen (Nintendo beat you to the punch), nigh-PS3 graphics (typical for a handheld to use last gen graphics), and 3G with AT&T (subsequently boo'd during the press release). Oh, I would not hold my breath for 3G gaming, it is so you can Facebook on your handheld too! The Wii U is... Well, it is the Wii... With an iPa- err, I mean WiiPad. I am not hugely impressed, but I need to throw in for the next gen of portable gaming, so I will get a Vita. The question is whether I will get the 3G version. They have not said anything about the battery life (deal-breaker) or payment for the 3G service (tie-breaker). I am just happy that they actually named it something, I am sick of the numbers being tacked onto everything. Nintendo has resorted to baby-talk now. Can Japanese people even pronounce that stuff?

Also, since Sony and Microsoft have made no comments about their next gen yet, I see no reason to look at the Wii U, which also boasts HD (last gen feature, yippee). Let us see how E3 unfolds.

Friday, May 6, 2011

It only does nothing!

Funny how Sony cannot keep it together in lieu of some minor hacking. Though PSN is definitely a great target: if you happen to buy DLC and stuff like that, there's a good bet that your credit card info is in their system. Of course,  you can have them not save it (as I have done), but it's not a default option. How many credit cards were stolen? Gaming is a shaky ground for Sony, as they are often the target of criticism and hacking. Never forget, however, that Sony is fairly aggressive in their business tactics. Granted, Sony has to be shrewd, it does other products too and has for a long time.
 The attack on PSN is not the first thing to go wrong with the PlayStation 3. I have had my Slim long enough to witness other issues with PSN. However, I am not a huge online gaming fan, so I sacrificed PSN for CFW. Sony is not the only company to have problem, though. The Nintendo Wii's launch was a scary one too. The first patch that went live for the Wii bricked a ton of them. I, having sat in line for 23 hours for one, narrowly missed the death patch because I was driving 150 miles home for vacation that day.

Speaking of bad console issues, let us not leave out the 360. My exroommate's Xbox 360 RROD'd on Halo 3's launch date. Say what you want, but Microsoft is a good sport. They refurnished his console for free. He just had to wait some weeks to play a game he had been hyping for months. Harsh times.
This is definitely a weird Generation of gaming. All the consoles are practically dumbed down but highly specialized computers. This makes them especially vulnerable to piracy now. Also, they are all more sensitive and prone to break. I mean, I can still get my NES to play cartridges. Who will be able to turn on an Xbox 360 in 15 years? The lines between console and PC gaming are blurring. Where will the distinction end?

Lemmings just cannot be Lemmings without its smashing soundtrack. Originally comprised of simple chiptunes of classical music, Lemmings eventually came into its own musically. You cannot help save those bastards with this stuff in the background.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trade Embargo

So, last week I was invited to a 4e Dungeons and Dragons game. I showed up a little late. What do I behold? My bretheren setting up Settlers of Catan. So far, I have only played Catan with my family, and I hate it. Everytime, my family all throws in against me like I am some strategical genius. Granted, I am nasty at strategy video games, but a game of chance is hardly something to get worked up over. This session was nice, because everyone did not throw in against me. I still got screwed early and I had bad placement, but those are at least bad luck and noob mistakes.

For those who do not know, Settlers of Catan is a resource hogging game, where the dice roll determines which land plots get resources (of which there are five). If you have a Settlement or a City on the dice roll, you get that resource. Then, you use those resources to buy Roads, Settlements, or Development cards (various effects). Everything is scored and ten points wins. Ten points does not seem like much, but these games can drag on.

Apparently, the word of the day was "trade embargo," which demonstrated a threat to cut off resources (which can be traded) from each other. I feel like my moment of glory was right after Red hit Blue with a seven and two Knights, I hit Blue with a seven and two Knights. He was at nine points, and then I got largest army and he was down to seven and I was up to seven. Then I had to leave, so I let a friend finish for me. I do not know the results of the  game. It was still fun, though.

I was playing 150cc on the Star Cup and man is that stuff hard. I still scored a Silver Cup, but I remember curbstomping the Mirror cups. I need to play more. I did score a good little run in first while this music was going and with the rainbow road, it was pretty.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

Just got a new car and road-tripped to Alabama for a friend. That was weird. They really like that Lynyrd Skynyrd song up there. I heard it five times a day. I did not get much gaming in though. These were not your gamer types, that is for sure. I did see one N64, crammed in a kid's closet. It had a neglected copy of Super Mario 64 in it.

Apparently, since the last time I played StarCraft 2, season 2 started. I had to re-rank. Not that it mattered much, I was waiting for the new season to play ranked matches. What I did not consider, however, is that the other players all have practice from season 1. The beginning of season 2 is definitely a very different environment and mood than that of season 1. People know how to play now and the assholes of gaming made their way in. Perhaps, I should have played some more in season 1, especially knowing I was going to be rusty when season 2 kicked up. Does this mean season 2 is a toss up? Who cares? I do not need to win.

It is fun to say I made it to Platinum in the 4v4 team league though. Too bad random teams are too unreliable to think I could pull off Diamond. My brother needs to get his butt un-grounded so we can 2v2 premade these suckers. He is even rustier than I am. We will have to make sure to acknowledge that we will suck. It is just how it is. Perhaps, we will have coordinated better by the next expansion, which is not set for release this year.

My guilty pleasure: achievements. It is easy to get sucked into the harrowing achievements, but it sure kills time. I stated back when achievements were starting on the 360 that I was displease when them. Truth is, I still am.  Most games feel insulting when they tack on superfluous junk to do. However, StarCraft 2 is well suited for achievements, I think. Most of them are expectedly gimmicky, but it is nice to slowly work toward the ones that ask you to win 1000 times--as each race option, including Random. At least, unlike World of Warcraft, where the achievement score is worthless and people end up just showing off their Feats of Strength (which signify simply that they were there when it happened), SC2 emphasizes the score a bit more. I feel like I am building up that score. There is no reason; I have the time.

Themed theme, much? I just find this tune fun to have on in the background once in a while. Anyone else hear SCV's mining Minerals when this starts?