Archives for September 2006

Work in progress

Over the weekend, I’ll be working on my To-Do List I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Most recently, I’ve added a Contact Page, with a form to contact me directly, along with my Instant Messenger screen names and my email address. If you’ve got a tip, question, complaint, anything, feel free to drop me a line however you like.

I’m also using this plugin to set up all the different feeds I have to point to my FeedBurner feed. For those of you that read Buttonmashing through an RSS reader, this shouldn’t cause any issues but it will give me a chance to have a better idea of who’s reading the site through my feeds. Let me know if this causes anyone a problem.

Other changes will be occuring (mostly behind the scenes) but hopefully nothing will get garbled or wonky while I do my tweaking.

Update: I noticed after installing the plugin that the feed spit out like 20 of my latest entries (including my del.icio.us links and Flickr pictures). Hopefully that didn’t cause any problems or confusion.

Contact

There are a few different ways you can contact me (and please, feel free to contact me).

The quickest and easiest way is using the following contact form:

I can also be reached via email at buttonmashing@gmail.com

I can also be reached via Yahoo! and AOL Instant Messenger:

Yahoo! IM (preferred): cholo_75

AIM Screename: IaintYerPapa

360 Demo Thursdays (NBA 2K7)

Here’s a new thing I’m gonna try. Each week I’ll try out a new demo from Xbox Live and give my impressions. This week’s demo is NBA 2K7 by 2K Sports. The demo is a 4-minute quarter of Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. No frills, just the game.

It’s been a while since I played a basketball game, but I still love sports games and the basketball season will be ramping up soon, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The game looks good, even if the close ups don’t. Jason Williams, for example, looks like a zombie. For a game as simple as basketball, the controls are pretty confusing. Of course, I didn’t pay attention to what buttons do, so naturally the first time I got the ball, I heaved a half-court shot instead of passing the ball. Once I figured the basic controls, the game is quite enjoyable. The players are easily controlled and actually behave how they real counterparts do (i.e. Antoine Walker doesn’t play D, hangs around the three-point line). I played about five games. I didn’t see any glaring flaws right away. Nothing that would be a game stopper.

I don’t see myself playing a lot of basketball, so I doubt I’ll even rent NBA 2K7, but if you enjoy the basketball game, NBA will definitely fit the bill.

IGN gives it an 8.3
Operation Sports calls it “the greatest basketball game [they’ve] ever played

(On a side note, the batteries just died in my 360 controller. That’s almost a full month of regular playing on alkaline batteries. Not too shabby)

Microsoft’s X06 conference

I am insanely jealous of those that are in Spain to cover the X06 conference in Barcelona. Spain in my favoritest place in the world ever and I would love to return and soak in its gloriousness.

Enough of that, let’s get to the meat of the conference. Dealing with Microsoft’s future plans, there is a lot to digest. You can read the full press release here.

What I’m excited about:

An RTS, based on the Halo Universe, built by Ensemble Studios? Yes, please! Halo will transition perfectly into an RTS — the units are balanced but different, Heroes (Master Chief, The Arbiter) are built in, an entire back story, everything. I’m nervous about an RTS on the 360, but I’m still excited.

Forza 2 cannot get here soon enough. I’m still playing Forza on my 360 any chance I get.

Peter Jackson (and Fran Walsh) working with Bungie Studios is an interesting pairing. I’ll reserve my judgement on that for now.

I’m not sure how I feel about DOOM on XBox Live Arcade. I love Doom. My first online (modem to modem, actually) gaming experience was with Doom. Some of my favorite gaming memories are playing Doom with a friend at night, hearing his chainsaw roaring in the background, stalking me. But that was twelve years ago. I’m not sure how it will translate on Live. Split-screen co-op and deathmatch could be fantastic, however.

Microsoft is definitely delivering on some quality items right now. Good for them.

Unintended headline

Nintendo fans say Wii will rule, despite facts

We will rule. In fact, we already rule! Screw the facts!

There are so many things wrong with this article that I won’t even waste your time with the details. This is what happens when you ask a non-gamer what the next generation will look like and his research involves his “son and his game playing teenaged friends.”

Nothing to see. Move along.

I am free!!

I'm freeI was in need of help. I had subscribed to every RSS feed I found – blogs, news sites, Yahoo Search results. You name it, I subscribed to it. I suffered under an avalanche of new posts/items on a daily basis. I had close to 300 subscribed feeds. It was out of hand. But I couldn’t resist! I read them religiously, afraid that I’d miss something. Most of the time, it wasn’t even enjoyable — I was looking for “material” to blog about. A post here or there that others might have missed would be my next “big post.” But I realized my posting activity (and just about all other activity) was suffering because I was too busy “cleaning out my unreads.” I was so worried I’d miss something that I was simply spinning my wheels. So I decided to whittle down those feeds, to unshackle myself from Bloglines.

I’ve completed my first pass through, removing a lot of feeds (junk and otherwise) and I’ve worked it down to about 130 feeds. Another pass could get me under 100 feeds. It wasn’t easy. Even as I was removing them from my list, I wondered what I’d miss after they were gone. I took out a couple big ones (Digg and Engadget) but I figured if there was something of value there, someone else would pick it up. I just couldn’t keep up with everything that was getting posted. If every feed averaged 3 posts a day, that was close to 1,000 new items a day. It was a lot more than that. That’s simply too much.

After I worked out of that funk, I turned my attention to my collection of unplayed games.

I came to the realization that I simply won’t get to every game I currently have. Games like Viewtiful Joe 2 and Metal Gear: The Twin Snakes sit on my shelf, unplayed, while I spend my third week with Dead Rising. I know that I’m missing out on some great gaming, but I just can’t do it all. With next generation upon us and the excellent DS library growing, I simply can’t get to everything. I still couldn’t bring myself to do something about it. Just like my stack of feeds, I was afraid I’d miss something. With more demands on my free time (real job, kids, golfing) I simply can’t can’t get to it all. I’m not a 40-hour gamer anymore.

So while I used to operate under the delusion that some day I’d get to it all, I realize it’s simply not doable. And worrying about it didn’t do any good. In fact, it probably made procrastinating even easier. So after deciding to cull my “daily reading,” I will also take a hard look at my library. I’m not sure what I’ll do with some of my games that I have yet to play, but I no longer look at them, there on the shelf, and feel guilty. I don’t know if my “Queue” of games will ever exist. I don’t need to feel like I have to play them all. Some I’ll get to, at some time, but others will probably never be played. They’ve got to go.

A weight has been lifted. And I feel free!

Buttonmasher’s Theorem 1

Buttonmasher Theorem 1 States:

The amount of content generated by the video game blogger will be inversely proportional to the amount of good gaming said blogger is engrossed in.

Proof:

1. The Buttonmasher is a video game blogger
2. The content on his blog, buttonmashing.com has decreased recently
3. He is currently playing Dead Rising for a second time through.
4. Dead Rising is considered a lot of “good gaming

Therefore, an increase in good gaming causes a decrease in blogging output.
Q.E.D.

Wii release details

You can’t walk around the gaming blogoverse without falling over the release news for the Nintendo Wii. A few details from the New York Times and few thoughts:

  • A release date of November 19
  • Retail price is going to be 250 dollars
  • Shipping with Wii Sports
  • 25-30 launch titles, including Zelda Twilight Princess
  • Games will still retail at 50$
  • Retro game downloads between 5-10 dollars (30 games initially available)

The 250 dollar price tag is very reasonable but it’s a first for Nintendo. Coming out just before the holiday season is going to making getting your hands on a Wii difficult, no matter how much inventory they ship. Launching with 25 games will be nice, but I hope there are more than 30 games available for download.

Having just bought an Xbox 360, I wonder how Mrs. Buttonmasher will take to yet another video machine going under the TV. She’ll just have to learn what it’s like living with a gamer (and confessed Nintendo fan-boy). And I’ll have to figure out a way to justify a $250 purchase on top of possibly getting a new TV around Christmas time.

And in closing, I’d like to quote a Forbes.com article, reporting on the Nintendo news conference in Japan, with a quote from Satoru Iwata that is wrong on numerous levels:

‘With these new features, I believe that anybody, regardless of age or gender, will be urged to touch our Wii at least once,’ Iwata said.

Right

Xbox 360 First Impressions

So it’s been a little over a week now since a new Xbox 360 has taken up residence in the spot formerly occupied by the original Xbox. So far — it’s been McDonald’s. I’m lovin’ it. A few initial impressions with the system:

The Hardware – I went with the premium package, so I have the harddrive and wireless controller. The hardware design is actually quite nice. I remember scoffing at the new ‘look’ when they first revealed it, but it has definitely grown on me. It’s a slick looking machine. The controller, which as you probably already know, is very similar to the S-controller of the original Xbox, with the black and white buttons being replaced with shoulder buttons. I’m not a huge fan of them, but they beat the old design. I hated the black and white buttons. I have the wireless version of the controller, and it is comparable to Nintendo’s Wavebird (the peak of controller design). I do like the option of having a rumble feature on the controller. Being able to turn the console on and off from the controller is also killer. So far my only gripe has been the heat. It gets really hot in my entertainment center and I have to make sure and leave one of the doors open for increased air circulation.

Graphics and Sound – I have a decent TV, a 27″ Sony WEGA but it’s not HD. It’s a standard definition TV (SDTV) with 4×3 aspect ratio. I currently have the Xbox 360 hooked up to the composite video connection (the Yellow RCA hook-up). I have component video inputs, but I have my DVD player hooked up to those. After testing the Xbox 360 component video to see if there’s a difference, I switched back to the composite hook-up as I didn’t see a huge improvement. I also have an older Pioneer receiver (with Dolby Pro-Logic, it’s old school) and it sounds fine.

Since I’m almost exclusively playing Dead Rising, I can attest to the complaints of the game text on a SDTV — they suck. Outside of the text, though, the game looks great. This is next generation, of course, and Dead Rising has done a good job of ushering me into it. It’s got the little details that matter. More on Dead Rising later.

Backwards Compatibility – I’m not sure where I stand with Backwards Compatibility. It’s definitely a nice feature to have, but I wonder how much I’ll actually use it. If I can get my Halo 2 fix, I should be fine. Halo 2 was the first game I tried to test the backwards compatibility, and it worked without a hitch. After updating the 360 to handle it, I jumped into the single player game and everything looked and felt fine. I jumped on Live and that’s where the problems started. I tried to download all the map packs and it crapped out trying to download the last one. I’m hoping it was just network congestion (or something) but I’ll give it another try later.

I also played Forza Motorsport, which also looks and plays just like it did on the Xbox. Backwards compatibility looks solid.

Xbox Live and Live Arcade – This is definitely where the Xbox 360 shines. The interface (which is soon to be updated) is clean and easily navigated. There are a ton of options — downloading demos, movie trailers, themes, everything. The friends system is still great, being able to chat, text message, and invite friends to games is excellent and simple. The Xbox Live Arcade is another great system. Being able to demo just about anything has become mandatory and the options for what you can get are constantly expanding. Right now I only have Hexic (which I think comes bundled with the system) and the demo version of Smash TV. The interface is slick, the downloads are fast and I can see myself spending a lot of time (and probably money) in the XBLA. I love the scoreboards as well.

Gamercard/Gamerscore – Here is where Microsoft has hit it out of the park. They know gamers are a competitive bunch and almost all of us love statistics. With that in mind, the Gamercard and Gamerscore are right up our alley in this department. Say hello to the worldwide “High Score” screen. Each game has a set number of “Achievements” worth a certain number of points. Each time an achievement is earned, your Gamerscore increases. As you can see from my Gamercard, I’m at 185 points, mostly from Dead Rising achievements:

It’s a perfect way, really, to sell games. I know there are a handful of “Achievement Whores” on the Evil Avatar forums, who will rent games for the sole purpose of getting easy Gamerpoints. I know that I’ll fall into the category at some point, where I’m playing a game I hate because it has some easy achievements

Couple this with the interface of Xbox Live on the web, and you can easily compare your achievements to your friends, brag about how you are a serious Zombie Slayer and let the trash-talking begin.

There are actually quite a few little websites and apps that are springing up around the Xbox 360 and specifically the Gamercard. I’m using My Gamercard.Net and the Xbox Live generated card here on the site. There are others, like Glop, LiveCard.net, you can get a Dashboard Widget for your Mac or Konfabulator for the PC, and of course there’s the handy WordPress Widget for your Gamercard. Customization is the way to go. We’ll be seeing tons of new looking Gamercards all the time.



i aint yer pa's Gamercard

Get your own Gamercard Sig.

There’s another site which will graph your Gamescore:

And of course, as agentgray mentioned in the comments, your Xbox 360 can have a blog. 360 Voice takes data from your Live account and tells the world how bad you are at video games. Here’s mine.

Of course there’s a downside to all this data and interactivity — people can keep tabs on you in a whole different way. I remember listening to a podcast where the guy was supposed to be reviewing a particular game, but was actually playing another all the time. His boss (or maybe the PR guy from the review title’s company) noticed that his recent activity hadn’t included the game he was supposed to be reviewing. Busted! So maybe all this cool Live data is just gonna get us all in trouble. Especially when Halo 3 launches. “No honey, I was at work. Honest!”

Conclusion: The honeymoon period is still in full effect. I have very little to complain about here. Microsoft has really put together a slick console that is firing on all cylinders. The online components, the improved look and sound, the excellent wireless controller, and of course, great games. I am extremely pleased with my new purchase and I look forward to some serious gaming in the near future.

Buckeye Blogging, OSU vs. Texas

I’m not blogging here about the Ohio State football games, as I know have a dedicated OSU Sports blog, so you can check that out here.

All you need to know is that OSU worked Texas over, with impunity.

Final Score:
Ohio State: 24
Texas: 7