Archives for June 2005

Are you a cheapskate?

If you are, and you’re a console gamer, you need to know about this. You may have to register to access this. In a nutshell, there’s a huge list of games that will be on sale ($9.99 a pop) next week at Circuit City. If I can beat the hoarders to my local CCs, there’s a couple games I’d like to get my hands on (Baten Kaitos, F Zero, Riddick)

Useless Silicon…

Want to know how to make a little square piece of silicon absolutely worthless? Process it to contain 63 million transistors (say, to be a GeForce 4 Ti 4200 core), each pumping electrons to-and-fro, allow this switching to heat up the silicon really hot and then make sure the fan on the heatsink is broken. This should ruin all those submicron oxide layers and other tiny features and make your GPU a piece of worthless silicon. Which is what exactly happened to my trusty ASUS VT9280. It was quite a workhorse, even though it was at the low-end of the GeForce 4 cards. It served me well for almost 3 years, so I can’t complain too much. The little fan pumped as much as it could but lately I had noticed it was sounding a bit louder than normal. Then last night it went ka-put, dying a horrible, sizzling death. It has shaded its last pixel and verticed its last vertex. A moment of silence, if you please.

Thank you.

I guess I should see this as somewhat of a boon. This gives me a chance to upgrade to a better card and not feel guilty (or feel the proverbial heat from the buttonWife, since she uses the PC, too). I decided not to go all out on the new card, but I didn’t skimp either. I’m still an nVidia guy, so I’m sticking with the family with a new EVGA e-GeForce 6600 GT. The card is a bit old but I think it will suffice just fine. I’m not running DOOM3 at insane resolutions, I just want to get back to some Guild Wars. I’m going through withdrawls and I need a fix. Lucky for me, I snagged a good deal on the card and I’m excited about my new hardware. It’s like my birthday or something.

I didn’t get around to installing it tonight but hopefully this time tomorrow I’ll be running around Ascalon, powered by my new trusty 6600 GT.

You ever dance with the devil…

Went and saw Batman Begins tonight and I must agree with the consesus — it’s GOOD. It takes a while to get going but it really hums once the movie finds its pace. I was a little wary of Christian Bale being cast as the next Batman, and at first I thought he looked a little off, but seeing him in the mask, he just looked right. Keaton looked right. Kilmer and Clooney did not (certainly not Clooney).

The casting was great. Gary Oldman is one of my favorite actors and he plays his part so well. Freeman and Caine were great. Neeson was a bit of a stretch, but that is forgivable. People are panning Katie Holmes but I thought there was just enough of her – that is to say not a lot. The guy that plays the Scarecrow was pretty creepy.

I give it a thumbs up. Action was fast and chaotic, not mechanical and choreographed. Nothing felt hokey, it felt real. It was a great movie and a great foundation to who Batman is. Now there is depth to Bruce Wayne’s past, but I’m a little confused. I don’t know the whole Batman mythos but it was my understanding that Jack Napier (aka The Joker) killed Bruce’s parents. Well, that appears to not be the case in Batman Begins. I’m so confused… can anyone clear this up?

Update: Wikipedia sheds some light on the Joe Chill/Jack Napier issue. (Thanks, Amit!)

David vs. Goliath – Round #?

This news of AMD taking Intel to court is getting lots of air-time everywhere. I’m personally an AMD guy, I’ve used them in all my PC builds (Full Disclosure: I also own AMD stock) so I’m excited and nervous about this news. Excited, because I’d love to see AMD continue to grow. It’d be great to see a Dell without an “Intel Inside” sticker on it. I’d love to see the company I have a vested interest in succeed on a larger scale. But this makes me nervous because AMD may alienate the people it wants future business from.

Nevertheless, reading some of this case does make it look like something is amiss with Intel’s “practices”:

AMD’s complaint lists examples of what it characterizes as bribes, threats or intimidation by Intel involving 12 computer makers, nine distributors and 17 retailers.

One example noted that Gateway paid a hefty price for its limited dealings with AMD, with its executives conceding that Intel “had beaten them into guacamole.”

and

In discussions about buying from AMD, “Dell executives have frankly conceded that they must financially account for Intel retribution in negotiating pricing from AMD,” the suit alleges.

This will be interesting to watch because the ramifications are huge.

One thing that should be pointed out is that this AMD/Intel bickering has been going on for a while, here in the US and overseas. Intel may already be trouble in Japan, and possibly the EU, too. The case here in the States isn’t something that just happened out of the blue.

I hope AMD has a solid, legitimate case. Crying “Intel isn’t playing fair!” because they feel they are losing ground is something I hope they’re not doing. Life, especially in a free market, isn’t fair. But, and that’s a big but, if Intel isn’t “playing fair” they should be held responsible, within the bounds of the law.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Everyone has that “Why didn’t I think of that” moment when they see someone have unbelievable success with an obvious invention or turn something sweet and simple into a business model. I actually thought about doing something similar to what Replacement Docs is doing. This site is a boon for anyone who’s rented a game from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and had to mash buttons (something I’m a fan of) just to figure out the jump or the attack button. Well, mash buttons no more!

I still rememeber renting Super Nintendo games at the local video store and they’d include either the real instruction manual or a photo copy of it. That is almost non-existent now. My grocery store has a video store attached and they include the manuals to their game rentals, but this is a rare occurence now. I know so many games now have pretty extensive tutorials at the beginning of the game, so you get the idea of the controls anyway but I still like having the physical manual. Simple things like the art work and the little details enhance the experience far more than you can get from an in-game tutorial or GameFAQs (which is still a great resource, too). Even though Replacement Docs offers PDF files it’s still are great find.

I really appreciate sites that take the time to support the gaming community like these. They deserve our support in return.

What I’m playing

Guild WarsGuild Wars – Guild Wars has been taking up the majority of my gaming time right now. I’m working on my main character, a Necromancer/Mesmer. I’m concentrating on Blood Magic and Curses, with Domination Magic for my Mesmer skills. I don’t think he’ll be the best build for PvP (whenever I take that on) but he’s pretty effective PvE. Been running around most of the time with my buddy who’s got a Warrior/Monk setup that seems to work really well. I’m enjoying GW immensely and look to continue the good gaming in Ascalon.

ForzaForza Motorsport – After a stint with Burnout 3 and Midnight Club 3 I decided to give Forza a try. It’s been culture shock going from the fast Burnout 3 and the arcade-y feeling MC3 to Forza. Basically, I suck at simulation racing games. I’m trying to get the feel of the game. It looks and sounds great but I’m just not used to the car actually obeying the laws of physics in my racing games.

Shot-Online – I’ve been hearing about this Golf MMORPG (Golf?!) out of Korea a bunch lately (I read about it first at Wonderland months ago) so I decided to download it and give it a try. It’s laughably translated but looks decent and it’s Golf RPG, what more do I need to say? I haven’t played a full round yet but I’m been playing with the practice options and I’m liking it so far.

Up Next:
Fate – I’ve been hearing so many good things about Fate that I decided to give it a try. It’s sitting on my hard drive right now but I’ll be getting around to it soon.

Carnival of Gamers #3

The Carnival of Gamers #3 is up!

Update: Okay, I’ve been really lazy updating around here. I’ve been stricken with some wicked Poison Ivy (I thought I was immune!) but that’s neither here nor there. I’ve got a bunch of irons in the fire so I’ll be doing some catching up this weekend. Hopefully you’ve checked out all the delicious Fair food at Carnival #3 (man, I love Fair Food). Since Corvus decided do hold a little contest for the best entry, I voted for AggroMe’s entry. The first time I saw the commercial in question on G4 I couldn’t start laughing. I’m glad the “Not intended for residents of Texas or Massachusetts” disclaimer hasn’t gone unoticed. There’s so many good quotes from this one, but I love this:

When one of the dudes says, “I can’t believe we got jobs doing this!” I’m not sure if he is referring to the game design job or the fact that someone hired these two as actual actors.

Of course, I found some great new bloggers to read and I’m really glad so many people are taking a liking to the Carnival. This is good stuff.

Also, on a semi-carnival-related post, render sends word about an upcoming blog event called the Blogathon where bloggers do what they do best, blog. Only they blog for 24 hours, all for a good cause. I think we’re going to do a group effort and I’m not sure what charity we’ll be hooking up with, but you can follow the progress over at Render.

Finally, I’ve updated the Carnival HQ page with some new host information. Remember to always check there first for any Carnival questions you have.

I should be able to get some good blogging in this weekend, if I can ever take a break from scratching this dang poison ivy. It’s insidious!

Don’t forget about the Carnival

You still have a few hours left to get your submission in to Corvus for the Carnival! Summer is in the air, the Midway is rocking and the Carnies all look like slime-balls! All that’s missing is your blog!

Guild Wars – The Single Player Experience

Guild WarsOne of the original ideas I had for buttonmashing.com was a review site. As I settled on the idea of a gaming blog, the review idea sorta got shelved. Well, I did review NCAA 2005 a while a go, but that’s been the only review so far. With that in mind, I’d like to review some games. I’ve added a new category and everything. So, I present my review of the single player aspects of Guild Wars.

The review is after the jump.
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The Xbox 360 is gonna be CHEAP

You may not know this, but a lot of gamers are cheap. So I boldly predict, in a way only a blogger can, that the Xbox 360 is going to be CHEAP.

That’s the only way to explain these wild claims coming out of Microsoft these days. Ten million units in 12-16 months? A billion worldwide gamers? This is either the mutterings of a clinically insane person (or people) or they have something up there sleeves. Those are lofty numbers. I can think of two ways Microsoft might accomplish these insanely lofty goals.

One – Microsoft is going to start giving the Xbox360 away. Does that sound crazy? They already started doing just that in Japan. While this certainly isn’t the most plausible, I wouldn’t complain. Microsoft has piles of cash, right? They sleep on pillows stuffed with hundred dollar bills, don’t they? They would make up for the loses with the volume of game sales, right?

Two – The Xbox 360 is going to be insanely cheap. They’ve built up a tremendous amount of buzz, they’re planning on a big line-up of launch games, and there’s the promise of an insanely cool Halo 3. So in order to hit the ten million mark in a year (it took four years to hit 20 million Xbox’s), the Xbox 360 has to be CHEAP. How cheap? My guesstimate is that it’s gonna debut at around 200 dollars and then drop to around 150 dollars when the PS3 drops. It could happen!

Both cases sound like financial suicide, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this happens. Microsoft is committed to lose as much money as it takes to become #1. They’ve done goofier things. I myself don’t plan on picking up an Xbox 360 until it drops below the 300 dollar price tag, so I hope my prediction comes true.