Friday, September 26, 2008

Face it, nobody reads your blog

I set up Google Analytics on this page when I started it, and so far I've had 3 people view it. Me, my wife, and one friend. Whoo-hoo. Er something. Now, I know the blog is only a week old, but everyone keeps telling me that blogs are "so last week" or whatever the term may be. So, for the next little bit I'll be making a plan.

Stay tuned. Oh, yeah. I'm talking to myself again.

Stop that, Mike.

Okay. I'll stop.


No problem.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's see how Evil you really are

The Evil League of Evil is now taking applications. For those of you who don't know what that is, go check out the greatest video to ever hit the internet, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lego Batman - Now that's more like it

We picked up Lego Batman yesterday, and I have to say that this is more what a video game should be like. This game knows it's cheesy, and loves it. The priority for Traveler's Tales was obviously to make it fun, not to make it difficult. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good immersive game, but it's nice to just play sometimes.

What has been great for me is the two player mode. You don't end up dragging each other around quite like the older Lego games did, so it's actually quite fun to have a second person join in (in this case, my wife).

Sure, there have been a few times that either me or my wife have yelled at the TV, but it wasn't one of those "Bad game designer, no Twinkie!" things. It was "Harley, quit jumping around so I can smack you!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Force Unleashed - Review

I finished The Force Unleashed for the PS3 last night, and I have to say that a lot of my original impressions still hold true after completing the game.

This is the first time since I turned on invincibility in Lego Star Wars that I really felt like I was playing Darth Vader. It's great to just walk in and start owning the place. It's also nice to see the Apprentice use the run and gun approach instead of trying to manipulate things. That aspect of the game was really fun.

The game was a bit longer than the 6 to 8 hours I've heard, all though not a lot more.

I still love the camera. I love having control of it. My wife, however, hated it. She didn't like having to keep track of that at the same time as the rest of the game. To each his own, I guess. What bugged me though is that the camera control went away as soon as you start a boss fight. During one of the fights there was a pillar in the way, and I couldn't see myself. I was even able to run completely off the screen on more than one occasion.

There were a few other things though that I didn't like, and I've read about them elsewhere also.

Let's go back a bit to the trailer. The Apprentice just reached up and pulled a Star Destroyer out of the sky. Freakin' awesome. That was the moment when we knew we wanted to play this game. Well, fast forward to the present, when you actually get to do this, and it's not so much fun. For some inexplicable reason, you have to turn the Star Destroyer so it's pointed directly at you before you can bring it down. That wouldn't be quite so difficult, except they keep sending waves of Tie Fighters at you, so you can't target the Destroyer without blasting them first. And since the targeting system wasn't really designed for things that are far away, it's pretty much a pain in the neck. By the time you get rid of the Fighters, the Destroyer has moved back to where it was, and you start over.

The targeting system does have its share of bugs. If the guy you're after throws a grenade, you're going to target that grenade instead. The manual said you can lock on to a target, but I could never get it to work. The box around your target is a facing polygon, which makes perfect sense, except I'm pretty sure it faces the character, not the camera. So when the camera goes weird on you during a boss fight, the character may be facing the camera, and you can't see the targeting system anymore.

Overall the game was actually quite good, there were just a few things that really bugged me. Now, I've never been a game tester, so I don't know exactly how it works in those places, but you would think that someone would have them go through the game and answer one simple question about each map: Was it fun?

One thing that I really liked was the story. It's awesome to see games that really do have a plot behind them, along with some great character development. It really is a whole new chapter in the Star Wars saga, one that's quite a bit better than the prequels.

If you do go play the game (which I suggest if only so you can have some real fun with the lightning), head on over to for some hints. They're quite helpful, and they apply to the game in general, not just the Xbox.

Monday, September 22, 2008

QMX has a shiny new store

Any of you who know me saw this coming. Firefly. So here it is. QMX has launched a shiny new store, and if you visit Firefly Ship Works, you can find a coupon for Serenity stuff. Oh, expect to hear more about Firefly Ship Works, since they're making a ridiculously awesome replica of my very favorite ship.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How is Comcast getting away with lying to us?

Wired has a very thorough examination of the recent issues with Comcast, which is certainly worth a read.

I left Comcast about a year ago, even before all this was in the spotlight. It was quite obvious that if I ran a torrent program, my internet connection went to almost nothing. The other thing that bugged me, which no one seems to care about, is their "Burst Speed." They claim that you get higher speeds for the first 20 megs, when in reality I found that after 20 megs I got absolutely nothing. Most youtube videos are larger than 20 megs. Before Comcast introduced their VOIP service, there were no problems, but I think, in my area anyway, that they didn't quite have the infastructure they needed.

So I went with Qwest. I had sworn that I would never use DSL, but there I was. I found that it was better to have things go slow than to not work at all. (About six months after I joined with Qwest, they started offering a 7 megabit connection as opposed to the 1.5 I had been using. I was pretty happy at that point. Now if we could just get those fiber optics...)

I have seen a lot of arguments about how Comcast is the only option you have for internet. You supposedly have no choice. Well, yes you do. You just might have to give up more than you want. It's a free market society. You're not forced to buy anything from anybody.

Here's the problem. We're supposed to know what it is we're buying. I don't care what an ISP does, as long as I know about it when I sign up. Comcast blatently lied to us, telling us that we would have unlimited access. They even denied throttling it when they were called on it. And yet, for some reason, we're just letting them get away with it. That seems wrong to me.

There is only one thing that will speak to Comcast and tell them that we don't approve. Money. If enough people leave their service, they may just feel it in their pocket books, and get the hint.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. - Albert Einstein

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Emoticon

Aargh! Sorry, had to.

Anyway, today is the birthday of the emoticon. For some reason, it seems to be a controversial subject.

There's of course the debates on which emoticons are acceptable. That's a pointless argument, since all of our chat programs replace them with graphics anyway.

There's even quite a few arguments against emoticons, too many to list here, so give it a quick search. The gist of it is that we should be able to express ourselves without them, especially if you consider yourself a writer of any kind.

Well, I may not be a professional writer, but I've done my share, and I think emoticons are one of the greatest ideas to reach the internet (aside from Talk Like A Pirate Day, of course). See, here's the problem. Sarcasm just doesn't come across in text. A lot of emotions don't, actually. Sure, I understand that some people over use it, but it actually is quite necessary. No one is going to put it in writing that they're using sarcasm. They're just going to put, "Yeah, sure. :-)" And it works. It's short and to the point.

Of course you can't use it if you're writing about someone, because in that case it's considered acceptable to describe someone's feelings. But that's not the case when you're the one talking.

Besides, you can't kill the emoticon. It's too big. I say live on anyway. :-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spore and the DRM Fiasco

I'm sure anyone reading this has heard about the horrible reviews that people have left for Spore, and everyone seems to have already put their thoughts in, but there were a few things that I wanted to mention.

First is that this is nothing new. DRM has been a pain in the neck from the beginning. Steam does similar things. My copy of Portal is now tied to my Steam account, which makes it a bit difficult for me to give the game to someone else. I also know a few people who have switched from Windows to Linux just because of Microsoft's ridiculous DRM. And yet somehow it became cool to complain about Spore's DRM. I wish people had started complaining earlier.

The other thing I noticed is how long it took EA to respond. It seems to me that if your customers are mad at you, you should try do something about it. The message they're sending is that their priority is to keep people from playing the game. I doubt that's the mesage they wanted to send, but that's what people heard. In any case, this is not going to be an easy thing for them to fix.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

But I thought Video Games were the Root of All Evil

Today the internet seems to be all over this report about how video games are actually good for kids. There are two things I find interesting about this.

The first is that it says it's the "first national survey of its kind." How have we been arguing about this for so long and never done an actual study? We've been playing video games for decades now, and we've been listening to people tell us they're awful the whole time. Somehow we're just now getting around to doing something about it.

The second thing I find interesting about the report is the list of things that are supposedly good about games. Some of them seem a bit far fetched, like "civic learning opportunities." You know what's good about games? They're fun. Period. People, especially kids, need to play. They need to escape from reality for a while. That's not to say that learning games don't have their place, but we don't need to justify why we play games.

It is good to see a bit more acceptance of games. We're going through the same growing pains that most other entertainment forms went through. It'll pass, if only because the gamers get older and start running things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Force Unleashed - First Thoughts

I've played through the first few levels of the Force Unleashed, and I have to say that all these reviews that are knocking it so hard really don't make sense to me.

How many people have complained that the demo wasn't like the game? Well, it is. Sure, a few of your force powers aren't quite as strong, but that's because it's the beginning of the game. They'll get stronger.

Another complaint is the camera, and that boggles my mind, because I love the camera. I hate cameras that go wherever they feel like, and this one gives me control of it. Thank you. Finally.

As for the length of the game, we'll see how that plays out.

I think the real problem that this game has is the hype. We were all expecting something ground breaking, and all had our own ideas of what it would be, but then the actual game came out and it wasn't what we were expecting. Personally, I look forward to finishing the game. This is a game that has a good story, excellent characters, amazing effects, and fun game play.

Oh, and throwing Storm Troopers around doesn't get boring. I'll do a full review when I finish the game.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm a Website Admin?

I've been trying to get involved in the local Salt Lake City chapter of the IGDA for a while now, including volunteering a while back to maintain the calendar. When I asked if there was anything else I could help with, they mentioned that they needed someone to help with their web site. I am not a programmer. I don't really do code. Yeah, I know HTML isn't exactly difficult, but it's not really my thing, so I've never done much of it. And yet I volunteered anyway. So far all I've done is imbed that calendar and update some links, but hopefully I can make it something worth bragging about. I'm the type that decides what I want to do, then figures out a way to do it. Should prove interesting.

Finally getting on the blogging bandwagon

I've been considering making a blog for a while, but never actually got around to it. Well, Blogger makes it pretty easy, so here it is. I'll be covering everything entertainment and pop culture, mostly games and movies.