Rooting Around

February 11, 2009

In about eight hours I’ll be getting my tooth drilled for a root canal. Not looking forward to that. Hopefully all goes well, but I’m really tired of having dentists beat the crap out of my mouth.

Not much gaming related to talk about, and I’m not thinking too much about that stuff anyway given the dental work. I also have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow night. I think I’m going short again. It’s time for a change.

If you have an iPhone, check out SlotZ Racer. It’s a great little slot car game that just recently got a nice little update to it. It amazes me that iPhone developers can sell games for $4.99 and then pass along free updates like that. What’s wrong with the rest of the industry that we’re paying $59.99 for half a game and then getting another $50 in downloads available later?

Everyone better watch out, because if these iPhone things ever get cheap enough… hoo boy.

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Personally Training Myself: Cooking

January 31, 2009

About a month ago, I read Kyle Orland’s superb Games for Lunch column entry for Nintendo’s Personal Trainer: Cooking. He seemed pretty satisfied wtih the overall experience so when I was thinking of ideas for my birthday (Jan. 19), I figured it was an easy choice to add it to my list. I end up with far more games than I can play to completion throughout a year, so I’m always looking for things that are either a.) different enough that I don’t mind if it sits there for a bit before I get to it or b.) game related books or other junk.

Tonight was the first test of Cooking, with a US recipe for Fried Chicken. The software allows you to pick your recipes by pretty much any way you can think to categorize food, but probably the most fun way to choose is to pick a country and go from there. To make it easy on myself, I chose the US since I’d probably have most of the ingredients on hand already and would have a good idea how it should taste.

I made a huge mess, but ended up with some pretty great tasting fried chicken! The relatively simple recipe called for Cayenne Pepper as one of its spices, and that added some nice heat underneath the batter. My first go at the batter was a disaster and I think either the recipe was a little off or I simply put too much flour in there. It was nowhere near “smooth” and I had to chuck it. Some really cool features of the software are video clips for various cooking techniques and hands off control for moving through the steps. Unfortunately as Kyle noted in his column,  the DS “hears” you making all sorts of noise in the kitchen so you have to turn off the voice recognition or the cooking steps will be over before you start!

Now that I’m finished everything (shopping, prep, cooking, eating, cleanup), I think I’ll be happy to try it all again sometime soon. There’s an abundance of good looking recipes to choose from and having those videos really came in handy to see how to chop parsley properly and cut the chicken for cooking. I took the DS shopping today and the built-in shopping list for my recipe was very handy. Plus I could check to see if I had all the cooking utensils I’d need right there in the recipe.

The whole experience was a little more satisfying as a learning tool than using a book, and even though my DS needed to be cleaned up afterward, it was all worth the effort. If you’re looking for something a little different that’s videogame related but not just another game to throw on the pile, check it out.

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Frustration and Pain

January 30, 2009

The title of this post can refer to two things… game-related, it’s all about Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II and more specifically Games for Windows Live.  Personally, it’s about the gaping hole I have in one of my teeth; large enough to park a bus inside it.

Fortunately, the pain hasn’t arrived with the tooth yet. One of my fillings fell out last night and I’ve had all kinds of frustration with this particular molar and fillings just not sticking. At some point it’s likely to require a root canal, but I won’t find out until Thursday if that’s the case this time as that’s the first I could get in. Soft foods and lots of mouthwashing for me until then.

As for Warhammer and Games for Windows Live: it’s Universe At War all over again. Just as in that RTS, I simply cannot get GFWLive to work on my machine with Dawn of War II. I have tried everything. I’ve opened every port they require for GFWLive and gone as far as I’m willing to go. It’s just plain nuts that it won’t work!

What’s even more frustrating is that it’s an entirely unnecessary layer between myself and playing the game. For years and years PC gaming has gotten along just fine without additional services that want massive amounts of open ports on your router, sign-on names and achievements. The games were fun to play all on their own, and finding other players was as easy as clicking on “Multiplayer” and seeing a list of servers. GFWLive throws a whole other layer in the way of me playing and because it’s not transparent, it makes me fume.

I can separate the problems of GFWLive (Microsoft) from those of Relic (the game’s developer) or THQ (the game’s publisher), but how many others who encounter the same problems as me are going to do the same? What completely boggles my mind is why a developer and publisher would want their cart tied to this particular horse. It just seems like a complete waste of time, resources, and consumer good will.

Nothing good has come out of the Games for Windows initiative that Microsoft started and seems happy to mostly ignore in development, technical support and marketing. Just like nothing good has come of this damn tooth and its fillings that keep falling out. It’s probably time for both of them to go away for good.

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On a completely unrelated note, Jackyl is coming to Allentown, and I’ll be there even if I have to go myself!


Rocking – Sort of…

January 22, 2009

Got free tickets to 3 Doors Down, Hinder and Hoobastank tonight. I’ve seen 3DD and Hoobastank before at different shows. Both put on a decent concert. Never saw Hinder, but I suspect they’ll be watchable at the least.

Not something I would’ve gone to see otherwise, but a fine night out thanks to free tix.

EDIT! – OK, so I was wrong about Hoobastank. I swear I got an e-mail claiming they were also on the bill as a late addition. Hmmmm…

The show was pretty good regardless. 3 Doors Down really have their thing nailed down and Hinder were kind of schlocky and perfectly suited to arena rock. SafetySuit were kind of… there.


Just a little bit older

January 19, 2009

I’m 37 years old today. I was thinking that makes me a pretty old dude, especially by gaming standards. Then I saw the ESPN ticker noting that Kurt Warner is 37 and like 277 days and he’s playing in the Super Bowl, so it’s really just a number, isn’t it?

It felt pretty good until it got to the end of the blurb and it noted he’s the third oldest Super Bowl quarterback in history…

Ah well. I can’t exactly get younger, can I?


Senior Moment

September 20, 2008

So apparently when I post here, people actually read and comment on the entries. Who knew?!

Thanks for dropping by here even though I’m about as regular as the very intermittent rain we’ve had for the last couple months here in PA. It’s dry out there. Thankfully it’s come after the growing season. Not that this is the Farmer’s Almanac or anything of the sort, but I thought it was noticeably wet this summer and crop growing was better than I recall it being for a few years now.

WTF am I on about? I honestly don’t know…

To add to the crazy, my wife’s having Senior Sunday here at the house tomorrow. No, I won’t have a bunch of old couples hanging out. It’s actually the seniors from her varsity girls field hockey team coming over for dinner (she’s the coach). This house is typically ruled by the testosterone of four boys ages 8 to 36 but tomorrow, we will be outnumbered by estrogen producers in our own home for the first time evar! I’m rarely at a loss for words, but this is one of those times. I have no idea what to expect from this event. More to follow…

Game related stuff? Oh yeah, that’s usually what people come for, isn’t it? How about for a change of pace there, I point you to articles and interviews worth reading?

First up is the superb Peter Moore interview at The Guardian. That’s just part one. Look for parts two through five on the site. He confirms a lot of things I was often saying Microsoft was up to during the last eight years. I like Moore because he’s a former SEGA guy and clearly has a common sense approach to his job. He’s also got personality, something this industry could use a lot more of at the top levels.

Second is The Making of NARC with lots of commentary from Eugene Jarvis, the game’s creator. First HD game? Check. Ultra violence? Check. Digitized characters because, “You needed armies of animators. And Japanese animators were just destroying us. I was wondering what other techniques we could use.” Absolutely. It’s well worth your time.

The other stuff I think you should read is found in print mags, so take your pennies and go get the latest issues of EDGE and games™ at Barnes & Noble. You can thank me for pointing you to a superb retro article on First-Person RPGs in games™ and the Funspot feature in EDGE. There’s a pile more but unfortunately I left the mags at work. Bummer.

Surprisingly, the Funspot article is also available online. Top notch! Also, if you like SEGA as much as I do, you will absolutely love reading about the making of Segagaga! That one is worth it even if you don’t much care for SEGA, because it shows how one guy with a lot of initiative and a great idea can make a really cool game. SGGG is like nothing you’ve ever played. Check out this bit…

Often it’s as if Sega is using your character’s voice as a vehicle to vent its frustrations with the very industry it helped define. One particular exchange illuminates and haunts in equal measure. “Games are nothing more than mere products!” exclaims a member of Sega’s management team. “You examine popular market trends, churn out nearly identical titles, and then you rake in the dough! Imitate our competitor’s top-sellers: that’s the golden rule! Throw away your emotions and become a mindless machine. This is how you make successful games.”

“But I want to make totally innovative games that nobody has ever seen before,” your character pleads.

“Innovation? How foolish! Who will take responsibility if the game flops?”

“But if we do it your way, we’ll never attract new customers. Surely it’s worth giving a shot?”

“You know nothing about the business, boy! I’ll teach you the harsh reality of the corporate world!”

And where such commentary might so easily have sounded whiny and bitter coming from this company at this point in its history, the game’s execution is so off-the-wall crazy, light-hearted and inventive that it serves only to make its creator all the more sympathetic and its lessons all the more striking.

I know it’s cliché to say, but they really don’t make them like that anymore. Now that you guys have some good reading to partake of–the kind of stuff I get ridiculed for using as reference at Qt3 BTW–I’m going to go watch Rocky. Yeah, that’s right. That Rocky. I haven’t seen it in years and it’s been gnawing at me to see it again ever since I saw it was released on Blu-ray. I’ve already watched Speed Racer like three times since I got it on Thursday, also. That film is the most underappreciated soon to be cult classic of all time as far as I’m concerned. It’s just brilliant.


Back from Indy

May 28, 2008

It was a long day, but I finally got home from Indy around 3:30AM on Tuesday morning. My flight required a stop over at Midway in Chicago and with the initial flight from Indy to Chicago only taking off at 7:45PM on Monday, I knew it would be late when I got back.

That’s one of the downsides of going out there for the race. You really need to have both Sunday and Monday open because rain could push you back to Monday. I usually schedule the flight out on Monday around seven to be sure I can see the entire 500 on Monday if it comes to that. Last year it almost did run into Monday with all the rain, but this year the weather was great. We took advantage of the nice day Monday to visit the Grissom Air Museum near Peru, Indiana.

I took a lot of photos at both the Speedway and on our other excursions. The first batch can be found at the link below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/27124584@N06/sets/72157605311357361/

Anyway, the second flight went from Chicago to BWI (Baltimore) so I still had about a two hour drive home once we landed. My oldest son got to sleep but ol’ dad had to do the driving to get him home. Fortunately he got enough rest to make it through the school day on Tuesday and play well in his baseball game at night.

The entire trip was fantastic, and though we had rain on Friday, we still got to see four races in four days and about fifteen minutes of IndyCar practice on Friday. Stone Temple Pilots put on a great, if a little simple, show while the rain came down and when you add great rock ‘n’ roll to awesome racing action, you get a fantastic weekend.

I’m already excited about going back in 2009, the 100th anniversary of the Speedway.