Monday, January 29, 2007

"Who killed the webmaster"

Despite what's said in the title article, I think they have it wrong. It's not "too much technology for one man to handle," nor the "underwhelming dot com bust" that has killed the webmaster, it is the absorption of webmasters into the traditional corporate structure.

In order to be a webmaster, it's assumed that person not only knows the Web and the website, but they have some control over the latter. When webmasters became gainfully employed by corporations, they never got high tier positions, and in many cases, webmastering was something given to the lowest form of life in the company. Quickly, all control over what was going on with the website was out of their hands, and they were a "webmonkey."

Today it doesn't matter what webmasters know or don't know about how to do websites well (for those few that did), because it's not for them to direct much of anything. Webmasters were never destined to become bosom buddies with the existing management class, and there - you have the death of the webmasters.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ubisoft grows thanks to Wii and XBOX 360

"Fuelled by the launch of Wii and PlayStation 3 (in some territories), next-generation sales accounted for 63% of the third-quarter totals, compared to a figure of 18% in the previous year. This was further split into Wii sales accounting for 21% of total sales; Xbox 360 titles contributed 28% towards sales; whilst titles for the hugely popular Nintendo DS made up 9% of Ubisoft's total. The results saw the French publisher famous for brands such as Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Rayman achieve the position of No.1 independent publisher on Wii and No.2 on the Xbox 360, throughout North America and Europe."


PS - Oh, and the Wii is doing well as far as online connectivity and overall sales are conserned.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Keel, the Sheer and the Rudder

I have been doing far too much reading on pre-cannon era ships...

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 is great at confusing me. A two-masted, square sailed ship, from 100 to 150 tons traveling at 2mph. What?

First of all, strickly square sailed ships can't sail agains the wind, ever, unless they have oars. Secondly, that speed is abyssmal. But, as my Dungeon Master pointed out "While the metric might not make sense, we can rest assured it's balanced with the rest of the movement rates in the system."

What have I learned so far? I've learned that there is a lot of terminology I need to learn to play my next character.

Superheroes without TIghts

Someone put up an excellent slideshow that shows snips of comics that have worked at telling the real story of superheroes, usually without tights. From an ex-villian in a witness protection program trying to live with his ex-villian mind reading wife to an ex-superhero who delves into politics and has to face the harsh reality of compromise over his earlier years of truth, justice, and no mercy.

I found it here on "Slate" which states the premise of the list, among other things.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sony has Lost It

According to Sony executive Jack Tretton, the PS3 includes too many costly pieces to have it's cost reduced (big surprise). What kills me is this:

Concerning the PS3's "New Car Price" scandal, "I think the consumers that get their hands on a PlayStation 3 clearly see the value and not only want to buy one for $599, in some instances they're willing to pay ridiculous prices to buy one on eBay," he concluded.

Uhh, what the hell? If money wasn't an issue I'd have a 52" flat Plasma screen for fun. I don't have $641.93 for a PS3 in Florida. Lots of people don't.

I live in the black section of town and I was talking to some neighborhood boys. I mentioned the Wii and they mentioned they have a PS2 and were hoping to get a PS3. The Wii, at $250, sounded expensive to them. So I told them the PS3 was $600. They looked at me like I had just told them they were HIV positive. There's no way they, or their parents, can afford that. No one on my street can, to my knowledge.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Firstborn

Did I tell you Maria de Guadalupe gut punched me last week? Nearly doubled dad over. I'm not really sure I had it coming...

I was tickling Dulce and Alejandrita and grabbing onto them and keeping them from getting away.

So she comes into the mix to rescue them, and I grab her and we start tussling, but I'm still grabbing her sisters, as I know she won't actually leave them.

Her mother called her, or Jose Francisco fell, I forget which (I think it was the latter) and I wouldn't let her go, she told me to and I was tickling Dulce and didn't hear her, she got loose, I grabbed her upper arm and she swung around and nailed me with her opposite elbow, part accident part reflex.

I let go after that *chuckles*

Then, get this... at a public playground some pre-teen black boys were playing football. Well apparently they thought it was cool if they bumped into other kids while they did this around all the swings and slides and climbing sets.

Anyway one of them hits Maria in the right shoulder and she nails him - once again, in the gut - with her right elbow. He twirled a bit and stumbled, gave her this wide-eyed look, and ran off.

Another boy about her age decided to play tag with the girls she was with - apparently so he could shove them while tagging them.

He didn't try it on her but when a little white girl asked him to stop and he didn't, she warned him "You do that again I'm going to shove you." I asked him what his response was and she said "He didn't say anything." I asked what he did after that and she said "He didn't push them."

My Credo for Training my Judgment

From "The Painter, in Oil" written around 1920 by Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst

"Train your judgment. - Let us say, then, that you must train your critical judgment. How you to set about it?

In the first place, don't set up your own liking as a criterion . Make up your mind that when it comes to a choice between personal taste and that of some one who may be supposed to know, between what you think and what has been consented to by all the men who have ever had an opinion worthy of respect, you may rest assured that you (myself -ed) are wrong. It is when you have made up your mind to that, when you have reached the mental attitude, you have taken a long step towards training your judgment; for you have admitted a standard outside of mere opinion.

Another attitude that you should place your mind in is one of catholicity - one of openness to the possibility of their being many ways of being right. Don't allow yourself to take it for granted that any one school or way of painting or looking at things is the only right one, and that all the other ways are wrong. That point of view may do for a man who has studied and thought, and finally arrived at that conclusion which suits his mind and his nature, -- but it will not do for a student. Such an attitude is a sure bar to progress. It results in narrowness of idea, narrowness of perception, and narrowness of appreciation. You should try all things, and hold fast to that which is good, and even while holding fast to it, you should remember that was good and true for you is not necessarily the only good in true for some one else. You must not only hold to your own liberty of choice, but recognize the same right for others. If this is not recognized, what room has originality to work in?"

Neverwinter Nights 2: Nevermind

Neverwinter Nights 2 appears to be a disaster. I'll show my concerns in three parts...

1) The frightening "Top 12 Bugs/Problems in Neverwinter Nights 2" concerning online play and persistent worlds yields such highlights as:

  1. The DM Client crashes the server regularly. This makes it unplayable.
  2. The server itself tends to crash "quite a lot."
  3. There is no Linux server, nor will there ever be in all likely hood. Windows server hosting games is rare and expensive.
  4. The Toolset crashes so regularly I read of several people giving up until it was patched. I gave up "The Movies" for being buggy with large films and have yet to "go back" a year later.
  5. Disconnects while loading new zones: players experience this while changing zones. It's more than frustrating.
  6. Connecting to new servers should be easier than this 5 step process that involves manually installing a 3rd party application and configuring ini files...
  7. Network Use Spike: Random bandwidth killer times out players on the server.
  8. As with NWN1, Hak Paks and server specific files are loaded after you create a character, which means you spend time doing that before the server unceremoniously dumps you.
  9. Scripting commands give limited information about objects, some of which NWN1 had solved. You have to create a creature/destroy a creature to figure out the height of the ground, for example.
  10. The large size of modules combined with the 2 gig RAM limit severely limits the current modules. A module might take up 600mb of memory but still hit this theoretical limit.
  11. Builders updating the module make it next to impossible for players to rejoin, as it's not as simple as downloading the latest module file and finding out what files need updating is not automatic, let alone knowing where to put them. People are trying to make jury-rigged tools to circumvent this.
  12. Graphics engine bogs down nearly any PC for no good reason at all.
2) The game itself sucks. Atari told Obsidian to, essentially, "release it now!" and rather than say "But, it's not done" Obsidian meekly replied "okay." The ending is a single image with text on it saying the dungeon collapsed and everyone was killed, while the game starts with 5 CGI intros of the distributor, developer, Wizards of the Coast, etc. The game is so rail-roaded XP is doled out by scripts, not by in-game calculations. Even so the ending is so woefully unbalanced you have to reload constantly because every encounter rates as "impossible." Why? Because the game wasn't finished, and now it's dying so quickly it never will be.

3) I've heard that folks are pleading with players to not Uninstall Neverwinter Nights (1), because that actually works and there are Persistent Worlds still out there for it. That's nuts.

Supreme Commander Beta Review

Executive Summary:
Supreme Commander is, along with Company of Heroes and Rise of Nations, one of the best Real-Time Strategy games I have had the pleasure of playing. However, it's taxing to a $3,600 gaming rig.

Review Proper:
I found a MOD that allows me to play skirmish mode online, choosing how many and what kind of AI to go against, which is of immense value. I've played many games, one with a human ally, and here are my findings:

  1. Pharra's E6700 Core Two Duo (2.66GHz) cannot handle four players with a 750 unit cap, which is a notch above the default 500 unit cap. 750*4=3,000.
  2. There are up to 8 players in a game. 500*8=4,000. Pharra, a $3,600 computer, won't be able to max out the number of possible players in the game.
  3. Three players at 500 unit cap appears to work fine - I'm not sure what four at 500uc would do. So while 3,000 killed, 1,500 was fine, and hopefully 2,000 will be too. I'll have to test this.
The AI is refreshing because most games feature: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Cheats; Supreme Commander, on the other hand, offers flavors. When playing RTS games you're really interested in changing what kind of game you're playing against the AI - are you attacking or digging in for a defense? Usually you can only control this by hand-selecting what kind of maps you play or making your own maps. Supreme Commander allows you to choose AI's that rush, build up a great economy and then rape you, or turtle in a difficult defense (and also still attacks, but not as much as the other two). This makes Supreme Commander highly enjoyable.

In my playtesting, I usually played against a Turtle AI with one ally, a Balanced AI. The Turtle is more than capable of countering everything the balanced throws at it until the Balanced AI reaches tech level 3, and then it can get hurt. However, Balanced AI never won by itself, it always needed me to help tear town Turtle AI's incredible defenses. Never in an RTS have I seen an AI turtle so well, with force fields galore, and so many AA guns even spy planes can't survive. We're talking SPAM amounts of AA guns, it's just incredible. I sent my ultimate Spiderbot monstrosity supported by waves of airpower and it was annihilated before it could tear down the shield generators, or even get in range of them. Nothing survives. Turtle AI lives up to the name.

Where Turtle AI falls short is defending it's perimeter. It usually picks two or three main bases and bulks those up like Sumo contenders, and leaves its outlying areas unguarded. It will respond via airpower when attacked, but if you just SPAM air superiority fighters, you'll counter it's counter-attack and win.

Where all the AI I've played with so far falls short is Navy. On a map where Turtle AI and me and my Balanced AI ally were separated by water, neither attacked each other except by air, and I saw no major troop landings from air transports. On ground maps, Turtle AI killed me once by overwhelming me with lame Tech 1 and Tech 2 units after it had built it's impenetrable defense - I'd wasted my resources trying to get to Tech 3 and didn't have enough forces to stop him.

In short, Supreme Commander looks brilliant, but I'm saddened that the game is so taxing. After the poorly coded Oblivion and Gothic 3, it is the only game that slows Pharra down. If the release is just as bad, than it will be the first well-coded game to do so. (If you don't believe Oblivion and Gothic 3 are coded poorly, then look at their bug fix logs and research Oblivion's development for the XBOX 360 prior to PC release, and how much money was spent optimizing for the XBOX 360, not the PC).

Multiplayer Review:
This is for those who love getting their game on against humans. Supreme Commander is all about pacing and balance. Resources cannot be depleted, the only thing that limits your growth is how fast you are gathering versus spending them. With the games revolutionary cueing system, the likes of which I have never seen done so well before, this game flows like water.

As I am, now being a father of four, mostly neutered and don't care to OwnZor other males in videogames as much, I can't speak further. I will say that the possibility remains that this game will net an intense multiplayer following. Longevity is based on MODdability, and Chris Taylor (Dungeon Siege) loves to make his games moddable.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Microsoft Lies, PS3 is dying

Part 1: Microsoft Lies
We've all read/heard that the XBOX 360 has over 10 million units sold right? Wrong. That's how many they've made and sold to resellers, not how many are actually owned by playing gamers. That number is 4.5 million, not 10, not 10.1.

"NPD Group figures put Xbox 360's US installed base at 4.5 million, with Wii at 1.1 million and PlayStation 3 finding its feet with around 690,000 US owners by the end of 2006."

Part 2: The PS3 is Dying
If you're informed, you also know that there are PS3's languishing on store shelves, unbought.

"The closest thing to a proper study into the question of Sony's stock levels is a check of the channel carried out by American Technology Research pundit PJ McNealy, who found that 28 out of 52 stores polled had units of the PS3 in stock, while none had Wii units. SCEA claims that this has more to do with good management of the supply chain for PS3 than actual demand; online speculation, of course, points to underwhelming demand for Sony's expensive console."

Broken Blu-Ray and New Car Prices? You think that could make people not want a PS3? How about Not Enough Software, something all new consoles suffer from, stacked on top of that?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

HALO suit made real by inventor

Incredible work, and the guy's suits really are bullet-proof. Google the inventor's name if you want more.

SNES yellowing? Here's why....

Fascinating. Be sure to check out what's happening to the plastic.

"Thank you for contacting us. That’s an interesting question! For the Super NES, this is a normal condition and no cause for alarm. Cleaning or handling the system will have minimal impact to change or revive the original color.

The Super NES, as well as our other systems, are made with a plastic containing flame-retardant chemicals to meet safety guidelines. Over time, the plastic will age and discolor both because of these chemicals as well as from the normal heat generated from the product or exposure to light. Because of the light color of the plastic of the SNES and NES, this discoloration is more easily seen than with other darker plastics such as on the N64 and the Nintendo GameCube.

Thanks for your email!
Nintendo of America Inc.
Casey Ludwig

Nintendo’s home page:
Power Line (Automated Product Info): (425) 885-7529"

PS3 Warranty: The Proof is in the Pudding

Or actually, the warranty statement:

So it's true. Sony really can/does void your PS3 warranty for using non-Sony brand composite cables.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sony wants out of game market

If you still think the PS3 is cool, aside from crippled Blu-Ray and New Car prices, Sony has decided that if you use any non-Sony equipment with your PS3, the warranty is voided.

Because Sony wants YOU... to buy other people's products.
Apparently they're just tired of being in the videogame market.

Sony: "Hey, wait, if we just treat our customers like complete crap, then the only ones we'll have left will expect it, and won't be surprised when we just leave one day."
Consumer Blog: "Sony stopped all warranties on the PS3, PS2 and PSP. Like that was any different than before."
Blog comment: "But who will we call for abuse now?"

- Thanks to my friend Dove for this delightful commentary.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Armed Assault (Operation Flashpoint 2) DEMO is out!

This news is late, but you can download the DEMO now.

The original, Operation Flashpoint, was my 2nd favorite game of all time.

#1 would be Neverwinter Nights playing Persistent Worlds I DMed.

#2 would be Operation Flashpoint playing on 10sq kilometer islands, getting in any vehicle, land, sea or air based, and having no "special toughness" ... bullets KILLED. And the AI couldn't tell who you were. You were just another soldier. Plus the Editor that was a snap to use made for GREAT fun. Neverwinter Nights had the whole editor thing going too.

So here's to hoping that this game lives up to the original.

Edit: Sucker's out in Europe. Here's a great review.

Supreme Commander has my Supreme Interest

Finally, a Single-Player / Skirmish Mode hands-on review/preview is up.

I'm a beta tester, and I must say that the online system Gas Powered Games has come up with sucks hairy donkey balls, complete with scrotum bumps and folds. It's just aweful. I have played exactly one game all the way through, being thwarted by connection issues (either trying TO connect, or trying to STAY connected) 70% of the time, and other players 25% of the time.

So I'm largely looking forward to the AI, once again. That part seems to be good, but I can't beta test it as beta testers must fight each other - no skirmish mode for us.

I hope Supreme Commander overcomes its flaws, none of which are gameplay, but everything to do with playing online.

PS3, XBOX 360, Wii - not a weak console showing?

Why It's a Weak Console Generation:
My good friend, Kevin in Virginia, told me that this was the weakest console launch in history. His premise was that the XBOX 360 and PS3 really offered very little that was new to gamers, just increased graphics. PSX brought us 3d games - that was new. The NES brought us something new. But even though he can see this, he thinks the Wii offers us nothing new.

But he doesn't like the Wii.

Why It's Not a Weak Console Generation:
I'd point out that new consoles are selling as history dictactes. While he has a point as to the lack of innovation of Sony and Microsoft's products (PS3 Blu-Ray, another format like UMD? At least I like the specifications but what does increased storage at slower read times really offer games?) his arguement falls flat on its face when concerning the Wii. The fucker has gained awards from pundits who usually don't play games.

But Kevin doesn't like the Wii. That's okay, my cousin, Paul, isn't rushing out to buy one, either. They're both single males who enjoy multiplayer games.

How We Can Tell Sony is Losing:
This article/blog has enough historical statistics that give us a roadmap as to what Sony will have to do to overcome the XBOX 360. The SNES overtook the Genesis' two year lead, but it took a lot of doing. If Sony can't keep up with these monthly sales figures, the PS3 is in trouble.

I'll quote liberally...

Why the PS3 is Not a Sure Thing:
"Make no mistake, even coming off a record number of sales with the PS2, Sony has a very hard road ahead of it. No company in the history of gaming has won three generations in a row. Usual paths to downfall include pride and arrogance. Nintendo at one point had over 90% market share, only to drop to just 60% the following generation and lose the lead to Sony the next at roughly 30%. The gaming industry is one of the toughest to compete in. What may seem obvious years later could have been a great idea at the time."

"There are never clear answers as to what hardware will eventually win, but one thing is universal: if you fail to sell your game console you will lose. More importantly, if you fail to sell it in the first twelve months after the launch holiday, you will lose. This is even more compounded if you are not out before your primary competition."

What Sony Has To Do to Win:
"In order to pull this off, Sony will have to sell more systems than their competitors during the next twelve months. To determine how many they will have to sell, we will look at a bit of history and make a few educated guesses."

"So, at the end of the day, Sony will likely have to sell 14+ million systems during 2007. Figuring that 5 million are likely to sell with ease during the holiday rush in 2007 (October, November and December) and one million will sell with ease at the European launch of the PS3 in March, that leaves Sony with 8 million to sell in the remaining nine months. That is approximately 900,000 units per month. Europe is historically slower to pick up new consoles at their launch price, instead preferring to wait for price reductions - thus we will estimate a bit lower for sales each month for 2007 for Europe.

The likely monthly sales differential between the territories that will allow Sony to succeed is

300,000 Japan
300,000 US
200,000 Europe"

"How soon will we be able to tell? Realistically, not until early 2008. But, we should start getting an idea shortly. If Japanese weekly sales show less than 50,000 systems sold per week consistently through the first 3 months of 2007, Sony is in trouble. If the US shows less than 200,000 systems sold per month for the first three months of 2007, Sony is in trouble. Europe is all but impossible to track externally, so we unfortunately will be unable to determine results based on Europe at this time."

Why the PS3 Price Point Could/Will Kill It:
"...Unfortunately history does not currently take into account Sony’s price point on the PS3. Will consumers be able to afford or choose to afford the high price, or will they opt instead for the Xbox360 and/or Wii. On this point history does provide a limited amount of guidance.

Back in April of 2004 Microsoft dropped the price of the Original Xbox by $50 to $150. This put them at a $30 price advantage to Sony’s $180 for the PS2. In the US, Microsoft capitalised on this by having their first month ever to beat Sony in monthly sales in the US. The following month Microsoft all but equaled Sony’s sales in the US. It wasn’t until the month after that when Sony reduced the PS2 price to $150 that they briefly took back the lead. For the rest of that year they were neck and neck on sales. All of this while it is clear that Sony was leading overall in quantity and quality of game releases on its platform and had not yet hit the saturation point.

If a $30 price difference can even the playing field between the definitive leader and a distant second place, what will a $100 price difference do? What will happen if Microsoft drops the price of the Xbox360 by an additional $50 and Sony is unable to match them?"

$50? What about a $300 versus $500 price tag, or a $250 one as the Wii enjoys (while making a profit, not taking a loss)?

"Can Sony sell 800,000 systems a month right now?
Can Sony win with a $100+ price difference with its nearest competitor?
Will history repeat itself?"

My answer is simple and quick: No, Sony can't, no they won't, and the PS3 is already doomed. Doomed to die like the Saturn or limp on like the GameCube, I'm not sure, but it's doomed. That's my prediction.

The PS3 already has units just sitting in Worst Buys and Cities of Circuits, Targets and Wally Worlds. Read the 'net - look at the pictures. People can't just walk up to a $600 behemouth and say "Hey, I'll buy that!" anymore than a $600 el-cheapo computer.

The only real battle is exactly as Bill Gates called it -- between the XBOX 360 and the Wii.

Think this generation is disinteresting? Probably for multiplayer afficianados with computers like Kevin and my cousin, Paul. What do motion-sensative, pointer controls do for them that they absolutely must have? Well since the Wii has no MMORPGs and no online games yet -- NOTHING!

But that doesn't alter reality.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Microsoft only badmouths companies in trouble

It suddenly made sense - Microsoft congradulates Nintendo while sticking a dagger in Sony's side. Why? Public perception. If the public already sees a company is doing poorly (Sony) than sticking it to them seems more like "calling it like it is" and offering a better alternative.

But to stick at someone who is doing well (Nintendo) and being innovative would just seem trite.

Bill Gates: Still Stupid about the Future

Bill Gates is famous for saying we won't need more than 64k of RAM.

Then he said motion-sensative controllers are stupid (as of May of 2006), and now identifies Nintendo, not Sony, as their strongest competitor.

Duh, do you think people like motion-sensative controllers more than you wanted to believe?

My views on Islam

I read this article. Before continuing you should too, or this post will seem racist and you will lack context.


I think that most of Islam (in my ignorance of particulars of the subject I cannot say "all") can be summed up by this, something Thomas Jefferson wrote of a meeting with an ambassador of the Barbary States (concerning their attacking and enslavement or ransoming of American sailors):

"The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

Islam is, and remains, a hostile religion bent on death to the infidel, which stands in direct contrast to the foundations of our nation -- which is why they really hate us. We embody religious freedom, and they embody the opposite of it.

I've read of a U.S. Justice who, when sentencing an Islamic extremist who used a bomb and tried to say he was a holy soldier, said he couldn't fathom the hate -- and surmised that it was our freedom that they despised the most.

(Concerning the U.S. in history) To me, the will that compels a man to give his life for a country that extols that the men he dies defending have the right to live contrary to everything he believes (while not harming others) -- is far greater a sacrifice than giving your life for people you know are just like you.

Monday, January 08, 2007

PS3: Unsellable?

Owning a PS3 has become a badge of shame.
It has sucker written all over it.
- Ordeith

It's (un)official - the PS3's incredible price and lack of games that the 360 doesn't have are starting to kill it. Also, see how the Wii fared by comparison.

The problem is bipartite:

  1. The PS3 costs too much.
  2. The PS3 offers less new stuff compared to the XBOX 360 as the Wii does, which means less incentive to buy the PS3.
It's really that simple. Unbelievable as it may seem, this is an early indicator that the almighty PS3 is losing the console war, as we've seen before with the Dreamcast (great system) and the Saturn. The PSP has also become 2nd dog.

What remains to be seen is how the PS3, and Sony, can fair with the PS3 never gaining top or 2nd spot, ever.