Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slack Bastard

Yes I know I have been a lazy bastard in regards to updating.

Yes, there have been stuff to talk about, but work has been stressful to say the least. So with all that being said, expect something soon and while I am updating, I would like to send a special nod to some kids that are out there trying to do something constructive as opposed to wanting to emulate the Jersey Shore characters. So with that being said, meet the Dropout$

See you guys soon

Friday, July 2, 2010

We used to get it for free

I have always thought that games have been too expensive and because of that, this industry will never get the mainstream acceptance that it craves.  Unfortunately, the industry in it's current state feels like it should be making more money and they are doing things to ensure they get as much as they can without looking at the underlying problems.

To be fair, the goal of any business worth a damn is to make money and I get it. I am never going to argue against Capitalism.  This rant is about the new trend in video game industry that is designed to fight off the used games market that is "killing the industry".  What they mean is Gamestop, but the odds of them coming out and actually naming them is about as good as George W. Bush being re-elected as president.

Before this becomes an anti-Gamestop rant (because I cannot stand the sight of another one), let me be somewhat clear.  I have bought new games from Gamestop in the past.  I will continue to buy new games from Gamestop in the future.  I have bought and sold used games in the past and I will not do so with Gamestop anymore because the way they sell buy and used games is straight bullshit in my opinion

Electronic Arts announced that they would be including inside all new copies of their EA Sports Games (Tiger Woods Golf, Madden, NBA Live, ect) a one-time use online code that will unlock their Online Pass.  They have not said specifically  what the online pass will entail, but it is widely rumored to affect online play in some form.  Want to let your homeboys borrow the game, they will not be able to use the online features UNLESS, they buy their own Online Pass from EA.  Want to sell your game to someone on Craigslist? If the new guy wants to play online, they too can buy their own Online Pass from EA.

Then, THQ announces that their highly anticipated UFC Undisputed 2010 will also include a one-time use code for online features including online play.  And now, Call of Duty Developer Treyarch, as well as Level 5 announces that they are also looking into this.  Well, fuck that noise.

This whole method is not a new occurrence.  Two years ago, Gears of War 2 shipped with a code for a free map pack for online matches.  Mass Effect 2 came with a code to get more free content.  Getting extra stuff with a new game purchase doesn't bother me in the slightest.  My problem with this is that companies are now starting to hold back what used to be built into the games.  It seems like publishers are too busy complaining about the "used game problem" instead of creating a solution.  Because despite what they are saying, it is clear that the majority of console game publishers are being mad salty because Gamestop is making money off of the problem they created.

I read an interview with Bill Gates a few years back and he made a comment about why he liked selling software.  He said that once you code a piece of software, it costs about $2-$3 to package it and you can sell it for whatever you want, for as long as you want.  If you made something good, it will never be obsolete.  Games, in theory, should never go bad.  Go look at Pac-Man.  Slight revisions like Champion Edition aside, the base game still holds up now.  I've rebought Final Fantasy III/VI more times for more systems than I care to count (thanks SquareEnix for keeping an addict on his addiction, even though your new stuff sucks.)

On the other hand, a quote from a message board acquaintance offers up this counterpoint…

“Try finding a brand new copy of any game over 4 years old that isn't in the hands of an eBay reseller. Pre-owned games will die when publishers drop the prices of games and continue to ship them for prolonged periods of time at rock bottom prices, the same as how I can still buy a brand new DVD of Men In Black but it only costs £2 now.”

But isn't this more about the fact that Men In Black on DVD isn't worthless?

By that I mean that Men in Black 3D is coming out in 2011-2012.  The fact that movie is coming out does not mean that Men in Black 2 is shit (the fact that the movie is bad makes it shit) or the original Men in Black is still not a good movie.  If I recall correctly, it is still being printed and selling even if only for $5.

Compare that to Call of Duty Modern Warfare.  Is Activision still printing new copies of that game to sell to retail?  It's still $40 new, so they must be.  Any other game that has a new sequel each year would be dirt cheap by now. 

My point is that publishers take all that money and hard work they put into a title and throw it all away by annualizing it.  Now they are mad because people see that 85% of the games coming out now ain't really worth shit.  It could be because of many factors like quality, lack of features, or new and better being released in less than a year.  But either way people now think that most games are damn sure not worth $60.

Going back to the DVD analogy, you don't see movie publishers shitting a brick over mom and pop stores selling used DVDs.  Because they have made it so mass market chains shouldn't have to.  Don't believe me, go to Wal Mart and take a look at their $5 DVD bin.  Not only is it full of somewhat recent movies, but there is always something in there that an average consumer would either buy right now, or they already have on their shelf.  If someone saw a new copy of Mean Girls in the $5 at Walmart and liked it, they may buy it.  Odds of someone buying a new copy of Madden 07 for 360, not a fucking chance.  Look at the average consumer's collection of DVDs/Blu-Rays and compare them to the average consumer's collection of games.  Notice the huge difference in amount.  Again, this could be due to many different factors, but one of those factors is that games as a whole are worth shit to the mainstream consumer.

And whose fault is that?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why do I play so many games? Because Hulu is full of shit

Nothing personal Hulu, but somebody needs to have their ass chewed out.  And you’re the most visible.  Please understand, I want you to get your act together…

So while watching Tekzilla today before work, the hosts mentioned their Freebie Download pick of the week, Hulu Desktop.  This program is supposed to "give you the lean back viewing experience" that I am supposed to be wanting.  If that is the case, then why is it short of hooking up my PC directly to my TV, is it so hard to watch Hulu on my personal "lean back viewing experience?"

This rant is coming from a simple desire to watch all of my streaming media on my gameroom TV.  My PS3 has a built in web-browser so this would be a great use of it.  I try to watch it and it doesn't work.  I'm just thinking that I am an idiot.  Not so much I found out.  Turns out that Hulu has blocked the PS3 web browser specifically.  As time goes on, I learn that Hulu has blocked other software that lets you use it outside of the way they think it should be used (ie hunched over your computer like a mongoloid Quasimodo.) 

This would be a great thing for Hulu to get on board with.  My wife, for example HATES Hulu with a passion for a multitude of reasons.  One of those reasons is that she also hates sitting over her Macbook watching videos. 

In the interest of full disclosure, she has been spoiled by Netflix, and so have I.  At E3 2008, Microsoft announced that Netflix Instant Streaming  was going to be a part of their Xbox 360 Console and that was the catalyst that got her onboard with us having a Netflix account again.  Because of the simple act of watching streamed videos over the internet on our HDTV, she has gotten into shows such as The Dead Zone, King of the Hill, 30 Rock, and Lost.  She now loves Lost so much that we are having a viewing party for the series finale.  I hope Hurley lives.  We have also bought the Roku HD Media Streaming set-top box so we can watch Netflix on that in the bedroom.

So one would think that the act of getting Hulu on a big screen would be as simple as pie.  Again, not so much.  For whatever stupid reason, Hulu has decided that if you don't sit your monkey ass down in front of a computer screen, then you can't use their service.  First of all, I am well aware of the HTPC (Home Theatre PC) movement and I personally like it, but others don't want more crap under their TV.  So using Hulu with something like TiVo or an Xbox 360 would be Ideal for those people.  Secondly, the whole "sit your monkey ass down in front of a computer screen" movement for me is the worse possible idea they could do.

When watching TV or movies, I like my big ass TV, surround sound setup, and (don't hit me) my comfy ass couch.  When I sit down in front of a computer, the last thing I want to do is watch anything.  I am either working on something, in the middle of a game, or something else that I can't do while watching last night's Glee.  I don't have that much free time and I have WAY too many options for things to do with that free time.  Video games, hanging out with friends, YouTube, spending time with the wife, reading, and so on.  So with all of those options, if I cannot get what I want when I want it, I will go do something else.  I want to watch TV shows when I want to on my expensive TV.  Because Hulu won't let me do that as it stands for reasons, unbeknownst to me, I guess I won't be using them. 

That's too bad actually.  Especially considering the rumors of Hulu becoming a pay service.  Now they want me to give them money and still want to limit me with what I can do?  Yeeaaahhhh.  That won't be happening.  I'm not adverse to paying money for access to content.  I mentioned about our household love for Netflix and Major League Baseball's MLB.TV subscription is possibly the most badass thing I have seen in a while and I don't even like baseball. 

I dunno, I just feel a little bad for TV networks and shows nowadays.  It just seems like they watched the music industry damn near obliterated after the Weapon of Mass Destruction known as Napster hit em in the late 90s and yet they learned nothing from it. People will pay for the content if you let them consume it when and where they want.  Convenience trumps piracy every single time, ask Apple how iTunes is working out for them.  I just wish that the people that made some of my favorite TV shows knew this.  But then again, I can watch The Guild, and Dr Horrible for free online.  And on my PS3.  Maybe we should just let these old farts die.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dance Dance Revolution: A Personal Retrospective

My first encounter with DDR came in 1998 when I was still managing the local video arcade in my hometown of Charleston, WV. That year, I went to my first ever anime convention in Charlotte, NC. That convention was one of the happiest times of my life for many different reasons such as anime, good friends, and girls (being a card carrying nerd and yet still able to successfully mack on decent looking chicks was a HUGE ego boost.) While at this convention, I happened upon a PSX version of Dance Dance Revolution 2nd mix (I think) being showcased in the dealer's room. I got on it and played one song that afternoon because there was a rather long line, but whenever I passed by that booth, it was a foregone conclusion that I would be playing.

After talking with the dealer that brought it, I learned that it was an Arcade game originally. That begun a 2 year quest of nagging my District Manager weekly to get one for my store. For 2 years, they told us no because our store did not make enough money to warrant the expense (and yet, they wouldn't want to give us a revenue generating machine.) I bought the OG US Playstation version which was ass because of 1) song selection was crap 2) US stores were not selling dance mats regularly and 3) should by some act of God you found one, it was usually a huge pile of shit. So after I left the store, about a year later that store got a DDR 3rdMix Korean Version. At the time I think this was the only DDR machine in the state, but others came soon after.

So now we are up to 2001 and the DDR 3rdMix Korean was a regular fix at my arcade. I became a fixture with all the other hardcore DDR players and played it almost daily for about 3 months before The Foot Incident happened....

I had lost my other job, car, Drivers license and almost freedom over some stupid bullshit, so DDR was very helpful in getting me through that rough patch of my life. I had gotten another job at the local Chuck E. Cheese (so much for getting out of the rough patch huh.) The arcade was on the way to work so I would stop in, play a few games, then off to work. Well one day while trying to complete Paranoia on medium, I landed wrong on my left foot and I thought I just twisted it so I sat it out for about 10 minutes before walking the 2 miles to work like I had done everyday prior. As the night went on, my foot started to hurt more and more and more. I started to think that maybe I had broken it.

My manager had noticed my pain later that night and thought that I may had hurt my foot at work. He took me to Doctor's Care where they gave me the news; Broken in 2 places. I got placed in an air boot for 8 weeks. Now, I realize that It was unfair of me to lie to get workman's comp from my job to pay for my bills, but at that time I was a different person and honestly, I did not give a fuck. So during that time I stayed home and played Devil May Cry and FFX. But what I wanted to do was play DDR.

When the cast came off and I was able to, I jumped back into life and DDR with a vengeance. During this period I had moved out of my parent's house and in with my grandmother (more drama than I care to get into). The arcade also upgraded their machine to DDRMax 2 (aka DDR 7thMix aka BEST DDR EVER.) I started playing again slowly, but eventually, I moved back up to where I was prior to the Incident. One afternoon, I was playing and the guy I was playing with thought that we should move up to a song on heavy difficulty. I fugured what the hell, I'll just pick one of my favorite songs they can't be to hard. Wrong answer. I was able to complete SuperStar on heavy and I can say I felt like king of the damn world. This was also around the time I started to play in more tournaments for the game as well.

I started to play heavier and heavier songs all the way through, but at this point I also started to gain a side benefit. I was playing one day and an old friend spotted me. She told me that she could not remember me looking this skinny. I had never thought abvout it until I went home that night and weighed myself and the difference between what was on my ID card and my actual weight was 55 lbs. I had danced off a whole TV set. That must have been what Oprah felt like cause I felt pretty good.

Another benefit to playing DDR was I felt WAY more confident talking to members of the opposite sex. To be fair, the machine was at the entrance to the mall in a video arcade and you always had to be on the lookout for jailbait. But still my game went from damn near extinct to somewhat useable. This was also the time period where I started dating the woman who would eventually become my wife so that is another great memory I can attribute to DDR. She would come to the mall sometimes and watch me play. I started fronting with spins and jumps to try and impress her. I even got her into playing it with me and Ari liked it so much she was even sad when news broke that Captain Jack did (R.I.P.)

I also kept up with the home releases during this time. I bought Konamix for the Playstation and DDRMax and DDRMax2 for my PS2. I even had my PS2 modded so I could play the Japanese release of DDRExtreme. This was around the time that the US versions really started to suck because they started to take songs out so they could add more crap that the peons could understand. I don't want any Black Eyed Peas (who I actually like) or Jennifer Lopez (which I can't stand) infesting my DDR. They can go to straight to Hell with that noise.

My Favorite Dance Dance Revolution songs are

Paranoia: Rebirth
Dream a Dream
Put your Faith in Me
Blow my Whistle
.... and Others I can't remember

My Favorite Mixes/Games are

DDR Max2
DDR 5thMix
Dance Dance Revolution Konamix (US Playstaion release/mashup of 4th and 5th mix. Still Awesome)
DDR Extreme