The best way to use Google Maps. Beer Mapping.

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in awe…

Yes, that’s me with the Stanley Cup.

See more here.

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Creative Fatal1ty Keyboard: Same Shit, Different Name – Gizmodo

I had forgotten about Fatal1ty after his initial press onslaught a while back in November last year. He’s the successful professional gamer that won the Cyberathlete Professional League World Tour (athlete?) last year and was profiled by 60 Minutes, of all people. Anyway, this Gizmodo post showing off (and making fun of) the Fatal1ty keyboard reminded me of his existence.

Now, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m poo-pooing the idea of professional gamers — we should be so lucky to be able to get paid for doing something we love to do — but I have to ask, why would anyone buy Fatal1ty merchandise? Is anyone such a big fan of this gamer that they would buy a Fatal1ty motherboard? Fatal1ty clothing? Really?

I guess I’m just having a hard time imagining a gamer as iconic. We celebrate sports stars because what they are able to do on the field or court is something most of us will never be able to do. I’ll never be able to play in the NBA no matter how much I practice, I’m just too short (and too old for that matter). And even if I did make it to a professional level sport, it’s still pretty unlikely that I’m going to be able to drive a lane like Jordan, drive a ball like Tiger Woods, or throw a ball like Peyton Manning. Those guys are larger than life, and very few people will ever rise to their level.

But with games, I feel we all can achieve a level of greatness if we just spent some time with the games we liked. It doesn’t matter how old we are, how tall we are, or how much in shape we are in, we can all be pretty good at a game. Which kind of makes Fatal1ty’s achievements not all that interesting.

Now, I’m not saying me or anyone else can go right now and whup his ass in a one-on-one deathmatch (especially since I don’t even play PC games). I’m just having a hard time thinking he’s something special when in the back of my mind I’m also thinking I could beat him down in Guitar Hero. That may or may not be true, but it’s in the realm of possibility and as long as a regular guy like me thinks like this, I doubt Fatal1ty or any other professional cyberathlete (snicker) will ever become an icon.

Creative Fatal1ty Keyboard: Same Shit, Different Name – Gizmodo

Posted in culture, games, professional gaming | 3 Comments

Jay is Games Casual Games Competition

Jay is Games, promoter of casual online games everywhere, had a casual games competition and they declared a winner yesterday. It’s a clever little game called Clack. Try to complete the puzzle by moving the rotating balls so they hit each other and cause a chain reaction to reach the goal. The runner-ups are pretty good as well. Thief and Gateway were smart if maybe a little easy. I can’t even figure out how to start on Cyberpunk though. Anyone want to help me out?

Jay is Games: And the winner is…

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Boing Boing: PS3 doesn’t come with expensive wire

Interesting rant that starts off talking about the odd decision to not package the necessary HD cables with a machine that’s going to be touted as a HD system, but then moves on to how Sony pretty much hates it users. My favorite line:

The arms-race against gamers keeps on escalating, and Sony may be winning. They managed to patch the PSP often enough that the hackers largely moved on. Sony won — people stopped paying attention to (and buying) PSPs.

Boing Boing: PS3 doesn’t come with expensive wire

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Goodbye Sploid…

Last week Sploid closed its doors. I’m not upset only because it was an entertaining take on news and managed a great balancing act between tabloid and real news.

I’m also upset because I can no longer enjoy its great design. It’s looks nothing like a typical blog:
lots of images laid out on a grid instead of just a list of articles. Big, SCREAMING headlines. It’s a lesson that there are ways to make a good, useable design while not looking like wordpress template with new colors.

Posted in design, sploid | 2 Comments

Google Life…

Google recently opened up their document editing webapp, Writely, to the general public. It’s in beta (of course) but it looks like they are pretty far along as I’ve already made a nice document with it and didn’t have much trouble. It worked so nicely in fact, that it gave me an idea.

You see, classes are about to start here in Chapel Hill and I wonder if webapps have gotten to the point where I could replace my office software with nothing but these online applications. So starting in a few days I will spend a month using the online tools and see how they effective they are in helping me get my work done — papers, organization, and number-crunching for research. Other work, like web design and development will still be done with my normal text and image editors, but I will attempt to organize that work with the same applications. Speaking of which, here are the apps I’m going to use.

Now you realize why I called this post Google Life.

Of course, there are other issues surrounding all this such as privacy and the sanity of keeping so much data on the web, but I won’t be addressing that. I’m only focusing on functionality. I’m really interested in seeing how this will effect collaboration with other students as my school likes to use a lot of group projects. Hopefully I can convince some of my classmates to use the collaboration features of these applications and I hope that I don’t mess up other people in their work.

Wish me luck!

Posted in Google, Google Life experiment, web applications | 1 Comment

Snakes on crack…

My gawd.

Folks, I had no expectations when I went to see Snakes on a Plane this evening. People were worried that it would not live up to the hype but I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t even CARE if it did or didn’t. I went to see Snakes on a Plane because it was something special. A film that got to where it was purely on blog hype and mostly unmanufactured hype at that. The world saw the hilarity of such a simply title and just ran with it. This might not be ever reproduced, anything that comes after is just going to sound cheesy and too blatant.

So no, I didn’t care if it was terrible because I would at least be seeing something unique. But the movie did me one better. It was actually a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It’s pure B-movie. It’s silly. You’re going to laugh at things that aren’t meant to be funny. You’ll start guessing who’s going to die and who won’t. It has a few jumps and a few surprises. It’s even a bit more grotesque than I expected. All in all, a pretty good ride.

I imagine it’ll be even better when you can get it on DVD and invite your wise-ass friends over to give it a MST3K treatment. I had a few of those in the audience tonight and while they were trying way to hard at first, they calmed down and timed their riffs nicely towards the end.

Seriously, I’m glad this movie was made. It’s proof that a movie studio doesn’t always have to spend millions upon millions of dollars to make a film we will watch in a theater. Sometimes all you need is to make a movie that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Nice job.

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my first print design…

You might not know this but I’m a web designer by trade. Though I was trained in (and have a degree in) multimedia design, I basically stayed away from anything print. Too much to know about colors and scales and dpi and etc. But I couldn’t hide forever and today I received my first design in the mail — the ibiblio business card.

And the font is too small.

Oh well, lesson learned.

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pay for play…

Mentioned in this 1up article on Gamefest 2006 is Microsoft’s wish for microtransactions in XBox Live. One bit intrigues me:

Another thing Microsoft intends to add to the Marketplace is the ability for vendors placed in videogames to allow gamers to buy from the Marketplace. Say, there is a vendor in an RPG selling a rare sword and that sword is available on the Marketplace, players will be able to put the sword in a checkout cart and then return to the Marketplace later to complete the download. For now, the in-game Marketplace will bring the Marketplace experience into the gameplay, but the transactions, for now, will still need to be completed on the Marketplace and not in-game.

Okay, does that disturb anyone else but me? Apparently not, but I remember worrying sometime ago when they originally announced this intent, that this may lead to basically ruining the online game experience. To quote myself:

Imagine you sign up to World of Warcraft and you play and play. For weeks you build up your experience, earn your gold, build up stats (I’ve never played the game so excuse me for my ignorance when describing it). For your hard work, you’ve gained a kick ass sword, unbeatable armor, you can take just about anybody. You alienated friends and family for weeks but dammit, it was worth it.

Then some punk kid with their mommy’s credit card buys all your stuff in thirty seconds.

Fun, huh?

But whatever. I won’t start a hissy fit if people want to be able to just buy their gold to buy stuff in the game other people earned. You just won’t see me playing massive multiplayer online games anytime soon. And I’m guessing you’ll find that many potential players will agree with me.

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It’s a rare moment when Microsoft can get me excited about anything they do, but I have to admit that this XNA Game Studio Express looks pretty damn cool. A free platform to build PC games and, for a fee, XBox games. It actually makes me want to get a new Mac Pro and a copy of Parallels (What? You thought I was going to buy a Dell? Yeah, right), and learn C#.

I do have a problem that my games would probably only be playable on a Windows machine and no other game consoles other than XBox, but I’m sure some clever soul on the Internet will figure out some way to convert code. But even if no one does (or if Microsoft prevents it somehow) XNA will still be a step in the right direction for independent games.

And that’s why I’m so excited by this. It’s a great chance for an amateur to make games on the same level as a real game studio. I mean, I doubt I’ll ever make the next Halo by myself. But given some free time and dedication I can at least make the next Geometry Wars and share that game with potentially tons of people. It also gives students a chance to work on a platform they might use in the real world. And I imagine that if people are willing to share all types of open-source code for applications and scripts they will also be willing to contribute codes for XNA produced games.

This really has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

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metallica… are they new?

A friend sent me this comic earlier today. Funny stuff.

It occurred to me after reading it, that I do in fact have an inordinate amount of my musical knowledge from video games. While on vacation last week, I realized that the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein pinball machine in the game room (it was an awesome house) played “Frankenstein” from the Edgar Winter Group and proudly told my whole family. Thanks Guitar Hero! I know of Motorhead from one of the Tony Hawk games. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard Jurassic 5 was on another Tony Hawk game. And so on and so forth. I’ve heard of more new bands and introduced to more classics in video games than if I just listened to traditional radio and MTV. (Freezepop on the other hand I heard first on Achewood.)

Between games, the Internet, Adult Swim and Quentin Tarantino movies, do we even need radio and MTV anymore?

It makes me wonder how many other good bands I would hear if we were a little more liberal with copyrights and file sharing. If content creators on YouTube could easily use the music from their favorite bands in their videos, how many new good bands would be discovered?

Just a thought.

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I’m here at RedHat attending the illustrious unconference, BarCamp! It’s basically a conference where the attendees decide what will be presented or taught. Very informal but it somehow works. Throughout the day I may be updating this post with anything interesting I might learn….

Yes, I realize that this isn’t game related at all, but it’s something to blog about and this is the only blog I own.

- Best session so far (and we’re not halfway through the presentations): juggling.

- My first session: Google Web Toolkit… as I’m not a java programmer, most of it went over my head, but the crowd consensus felt that it was mostly an unknown or a toy. I thought it was fairly interesting.

- Second session: Sex and the Death of Advertising.

- Third session: Maim the Music Industry.

- Forth session: Intro to Ruby on Rails.

- Fifth session: Ajaxifying w/ Dojo.

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greetings from the beach…

Hello everyone.  I’m relaxing in beautiful N. Mrytle Beach, stuck on a Windows machine with a Firefox browser that doesn’t work.  And considering that my machine is currently on it’s way back to Apple for some repairs, I have to do everything through IE6.

I’m not very happy about this.

Anyway, just a quick question to anyone who might be paying attention and has a gmail account: is it working for you?  Everytime I go to the site it says it’s unavailable.  Anyone else having this problem?

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video game critcism…

There’s an interesting column in Esquire about the lack of video game critics in the industry. Note there is a big difference between a game reviewer and a game critic here. A reviewer simply tells how well the game looks, plays, etc. A critic aspires to tell you what a game means or, in the case of games, what it could mean.

I would love to be able to write something along the lines laid out in the article, but I fear my writing aren’t isn’t quite elite enough.

Posted in games | 3 Comments

sports chic…

Turns out that I will be writing a bit for the Sports Chic too.  Sports related posts will probably start moving over there instead of the intermittent placement here.  But will adding me take away the “chic” from the Sports Chic?  Only time will tell.

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playing this weekend…

Um. Same thing I played last weekend. Get off my back! I’m slow!

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Because you wanted it…

There’s a new sport blog out there that’s tearing up the streets! It will completely revolutionize the way you think about sports. That other way you thought of: crap! Get ready, because this blog might be too extreme for even the hardest sports fan.

This blog it’s got passion, a girl writing, and um… it’s pink. It’s the Sports Chic!

(can i come back into the house now honey?)

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Canes win the Cup!

Not quite exciting for me as UNC winning the NCAA basketball championship, but still pretty awesome. Ray Whitney agrees with me. So what does this mean? Is the Triangle (or at least Raleigh) a hockey town now? I hope so. This area gets shafted so much with all the big-time events going to Charlotte (they even took away the CIAA championships from us), so it’s nice to see that Raleigh got the first pro-sport championship for the state of North Carolina. I admit that I haven’t been the greatest fan overall. I’ve kept tabs on the team since their last Stanley Cup run a few years ago, but I’ve had a hard time paying attention since a few other sport seasons happen around the same time as them. But next season, I’ll definitely put the Canes on the same list as the Tarheels and the Panthers. I hope the Triangle will join me.

I just hope my liver can handle it.

What do you think of that Ray?

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playing this weekend…

Got a DS Lite, got some games from Netflix Gamefly,  and I’m set for the weekend. A quick list of what I’m playing.

  • Brain Age – Picked this up for free thanks to a coupon (pdf file, coupon is still good through the 18th) from Best Buy. I’m enjoying it so far even though I’m a little annoyed by the touchpad thinking my 8′s are zeros.
  • New Super Mario Bros. – I think it’s kind of funny to see so much excitement over a 2D game. Proves that graphics aren’t everything. My only complaint so far is that a lot of the secrets are actually too easy to find.
  • Hitman: Blood Money – Despite all the controversy over the advertising, the critics still seem to like the game. Personally, I’ve always liked the Hitman series, if for nothing else, the game emphasizing and encouraging the player to finish the mission as professionally as possible. Instead of just killing everything that moves, you’re better off here killing only who you’ve been told to kill and getting out without a firefight. It makes the game more of a puzzle game than a fighter, leaving the path completely up to the player to figure out. Unfortunately for me, this often means I have absolutely no idea what to do. Frustrating.
  • Gunstar Super Heroes – The sequel to the Genesis game Gunstar Heroes may have slipped under a few radars. Right now it doesn’t quite stack up the original, but I’m only about half way through it. Sucks that they took out the combination weapon system though…

Edit: I love it when I make absolutely no sense… that should be games from Gamefly. I wish Netflix rented games… I’d switch in a heartbeat.

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