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1. Notes from the Destiny beta
2. RIP, Robin Williams
3. Awakening from Slumber
4. Chernobyl: Games vs Life
5. E.T. Found
6. Video Games on an NFL Stadium Screen
7. Youtube/Google Gone Evil
8. Open Mouth, Insert Bootdisk
9. Irrational Sinks
10. The Length of Copyright
1. Quickie: Impressions June 2014
2. Quickie: Penny Arcade Episode 3
3. Quickie: The Amazing Spider-Man
4. Quickie: Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
5. Quickie: Prototype 2
6. Quickie: Microsoft Kinect
7. Quickie: X-Men Destiny
8. Spider-Man: Edge of Time
9. Quickie: Transformers Dark of the Moon
10. Quickie: Borderlands GOTY
1. Musings 45: Penny Arcade and The Gripping Hand
2. Movie Review: Pacific Rim
3. Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph
4. Glide Wrapper Repository
5. Movie Review: Winnie The Pooh
6. Musings 44: PC Gaming? Maybe it's on Life Support
7. Video Games Live 2009
8. Movie Review: District 9
9. Musings: Stardock, DRM, and Gamers' Rights
10. Musings: How DRM Hurts PC Gaming
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 Aug 11, 2014 - 07:02 PM - by Michael
Notes from the Destiny beta
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Xbox/Xbox Games So there was the Destiny beta a couple weekends ago... I've been letting it sit and digest a bit.

Honestly, my initial reaction is that the game wants to be too much. It wants to be Halo, it wants to be an MMORPG, it wants to be a Co-Op story, it wants to be an epic story... it wants to be a lot. Even with a packed world, so packed they crashed servers on the Xbox360 side and even with dedicated friends joining me, it actually felt quite... alone in the world. Like all the other people playing weren't really playing with me so much as alongside me. When they helped in a fight or two, it was cool; when they ran along right past the fight, it sometimes was annoying... when I was trying to meet kill requirements for some of the procedurally generated missions, it was annoying.

The "special event" drops every now and again? Also cool, but not very meaningful.

The weaponry and special powers? Honestly, if anything, they feel a little bit uninventive. One class gets a ground slam, one a kamehameha type grenade bomb, one a set of nasty gun blasts... the rest of their abilities didn't seem to change or be any different for beans. Maybe it's different at higher levels, but for low level play, one class is as good as - and functionally interchangeable with no change in playstyle required to substitute for - another.

They've got a month left. We'll see if Bungie can make it count.
 

 Aug 11, 2014 - 06:52 PM - by Michael
RIP, Robin Williams
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Personal Stuff/Random News A sad day... Robin Williams will be missed. Nanu, nanu.
 

 Jun 27, 2014 - 07:48 AM - by Michael
Awakening from Slumber
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Personal Stuff/Random News Sometimes, Real Life grabs you and shakes. Hard.

But here; have some first impressions.

Child of Light

I started up on this one for a couple hours - looks intriguing, though it's a little odd to have a turn-based battle system in a 2D scroller. I keep wanting to slash and chop at enemies onscreen. A familiar with a slowly recharging magic bar isn't too bad, though, and it looks like they'll be doing interesting things with it deeper into the story.

Thief

I wanted to like this game. I wanted to really, really like this game - like I enjoyed Thief 3, with its hub-based world and exploratory missions. In some cases, it delivers. In others it doesn't - there's so much emptiness so far to the game. A few guards here and there, but most of the side missions don't involve any people at all, just ransacking someone's house over and over. I miss the days of the Keepers and the intrigue between the Pagans, the Hammerites, the Keepers, and the city officials - where you could have really interesting things happening between competing interests. Basically speaking, the storyline here's just so difficult to keep interested in for more than short bursts of gameplay when I'm in the mood for sneaking.

Mechwarrior Online

Final thing for the moment: the "MMO" of choice for me for now. Though I hate to say it, MWO has a heck of a long way to go. The Clans have dropped, now, with new reasons to burn money or time playing to level up and re-outfit the 'mechs, but at the end of the day it's still desperately missing true community warfare and the number of online players and groups seems to be slowly diminishing. A troubling meta and inability - dare I say it, sure, INCOMPETENCE on the part of Paul Inouye in the field of game balance - has really hurt this one, too; they can put out more and more 'mechs, but it doesn't matter when the standard weaponry for the "optimal" 5-6 'mechs in play are all the same.
 

 May 15, 2014 - 08:00 AM - by Michael
Chernobyl: Games vs Life
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Personal Stuff/Random News So it turns out, games are actually re-creating some real-life locations quite well:

It wasn’t until I was actually in the Zone myself that I realised to what extent the games manage to capture the sense of the Pripyat landscape itself as a malevolent, even antagonistic, presence. Of course, guided tours in a hot, sunny summer bear little resemblance to Stalker’s world. But, as an invisible presence known only through little blinking, chattering devices, I never really got used to radiation during my two-dozen trips to the Zone. Without any visual cues to radiation ‘hot spots’ my yellow hand-held Geiger counter was a constant companion, even if it was not the most reliable of friends, boasting an accuracy of ±20% and taking half a minute or more to determine significant changes over short distances. Walking through areas I had not previously visited, with unknown radiation levels, I would have to move cautiously.


 

 Apr 26, 2014 - 03:20 PM - by Michael
E.T. Found
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Personal Stuff/Random News All those old E.T. cartridges that were supposedly buried in a landfill because more were made than could possibly be sold?

Yep. They've been found.

Amazing.
 

 Apr 10, 2014 - 09:56 AM - by Michael
Video Games on an NFL Stadium Screen
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Personal Stuff/Random News There's no other way to say it other than... just go watch this.

It's epic.
 

 Mar 25, 2014 - 09:21 AM - by Michael
Youtube/Google Gone Evil
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Personal Stuff/Random News Google owns Youtube... and it appears Youtube has decided that the law be damned, they're not going to honor DMCA counter-notices any more.
Last week I was contacted by a YouTube user named John (YouTube username: WernerVonWallenrod), who mainly posts reviews of old vinyl records. He uploaded a roughly 7 minute video reviewing an old Eric B. & Rakim record from the 1980s, 90% of which consists of him standing in his kitchen talking about the record. The video includes a couple clips of him playing short (<1 minute) segments of the record while filming the record player. Because the video uses only short, low-quality segments of a few songs on the record for purposes of critical commentary and review, the video almost certainly qualifies as a textbook example of fair use. Nevertheless, UMG had the video taken down with a DMCA notice. Believing his video to be fair use, John sent a properly filed DMCA counter-notice in response. A few days later, he received this email from YouTube (emphasis added):
Hi there, Thank you for your counter-notification. The complainant has reaffirmed the information in its DMCA notification. YouTube has a contractual obligation to this specific copyright owner that prevents us from reinstating videos in such circumstances. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor this counter-notification. You may learn more about this here: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=3045545 We unfortunately are unable to assist further in this matter. You may wish to contact the complainant directly at youtube@umusic.com. Regards, Linda
The YouTube Team This message is extremely disturbing for multiple reasons. It appears that YouTube is saying it essentially has a contract with UMG to ignore DMCA counter-notices sent against its copyright claims, so that even if the copyright takedown has no legal basis, YouTube must nevertheless refuse to restore the video if UMG “reaffirms” the information in its DMCA notice.
Essentially - yes, they're saying "the law be damned, we contracted with these people to ignore the law and ignore your properly filed legal counterclaim." Google's officially gone evil.
 

 Mar 05, 2014 - 10:06 AM - by Michael
Open Mouth, Insert Bootdisk
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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft Let's just say MS's attempt to recruit friends and neighbors to get people to migrate from WinXP didn't go as planned...

In early February, faced with a slight uptick in users on the decrepit operating system the month before, Microsoft hit on an idea: Why not recruit tech-savvy friends and family to tell old holdouts to get off XP?

The response to this earnest effort was a torrent of abuse from Windows 8 users who aren't exactly thrilled with the operating system. Microsoft has come under serious fire for some significant missteps in this process, including a total lack of actual upgrade options. What Microsoft calls an upgrade involves completely wiping the PC and reinstalling a fresh OS copy on it -- or ideally, buying a new device.


Ouch. Not undeserved, but... ouch.
 

 Feb 18, 2014 - 01:03 PM - by Michael
Irrational Sinks
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Personal Stuff/Random News The people who made the Bioshock series are Shutting down.

Ouch.

"While I'm deeply proud of what we've accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we've done before," Levine wrote. "To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."
It's sad to see them go - the game industry needs ambitious people willing to take the risks to make better, deeper games. The "smaller studio" mechanic worries me.
 

 Feb 04, 2014 - 10:40 AM - by Michael
The Length of Copyright
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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft Another editorial on the length of copyright in the games/computers industry - why have a 95 year term when the medium lasts less than a decade?

Rock, Paper, Shotgun looks it over.

And in more detail... The Followup.

So before we move on to the nuances of the argument, let’s get one thing out of the way: Expressing a desire for a game to enter the public domain, let’s say twenty years after publication, does not in any sense whatsoever suggest a desire for developers to not get paid. I resent having to type this. It’s a bit like finding yourself having to say that you’re not in favour of gruesomely starving children to death because you expressed a thought that they probably shouldn’t get to exclusively eat at McDonald’s. What I am in fact saying is: “developers should get paid for the work they do, and then keep getting paid for the same bit of work, over and over and over for the next twenty years, even though they stopped doing any work related to it many years ago.” It’s not entirely apparent how the two sentiments are being confused.

Well, it is, actually – I’m being facetious. The two are being deliberately conflated by a contingent who find the possibility of cultural artifacts ever returning to the culture that spawned them to be so repellent that they must eliminate anything that treads even close to challenging what they see as their perpetual rights to profit from ancient work. (And let’s be clear here – creators are arguing for perpetual copyright here, far outreaching even the current grasp of the law.)
 


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