Saturday, March 17, 2007

Changing Blogs

this blog was unsuccessful. so im going to be creating a new blog that i will update often, i will put some articles in this blog on the new one located at:
www.xeets.com/techwreck

as i said i will be updating it more often and cover more topics than just gaming.
see you there!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Help the Pirates

With all the news around the MPAA, FCC, and other copyright enforcing organizations becoming quite busy lately, i cant help but wonder if we are going about removing Game pirates the wrong way.

I've talked to many game pirates and asked them why they pirate games, and what would it take to make them stop, and what games they own legitimately if any. many said that they wouldent stop, but my curiosity is more in the mindset of a game pirate. i observed that a game that was almost unanimously purchased was Halflife 2.

it is possible to get a cracked copy of Halflife 2, and many other Halflife games. a few gamers even had a few cracked copies at some of the Lan parties i have gone to. but what made this game the game to buy rather than steal? when you steal a game, you cannot play it online, and Halflife 2 was a game that you play online nearly all the time.

let me cut to the crap now, most of the gamers who i talked to have tons of free time, in such that they would rather spend a few hours to get a free game than get that game instantly by spending some cash. the gamers that owned alot of games, had little free time and would value free time and give it a $$$ value. in such they would buy games as it is simply easier and simpler to do. but even they would pirate games. because the current method of distribution is still quite a hassle.

Steam on the other hand was flourishing at nearly all of the LAN parties, there were multiple purchases, all games which could be gotten easily off any bittorrent website. i use steam myself and have used it for quite some time, and i can see why game pirates, especially those who value their time, use steam to buy games.

1: Its fast, you can buy a game in less than 5 minnutes. and have it downloaded quickly (i have personally gotten games to download on steam at over 1MBps on a cable line, which is faster than my supposed limit of 6Mbps I have with comcast (not sure on how thats possible, but ill move on) either way, you can get the game you bought that same day in a little longer than it would have taken to go to the store. but its still much faster than downloading a game via Bit-Torrent which downloads at an average of 100kbps.

2: No CD's are required, so you dont have to hunt down the no-CD crack so you can buy your legitimately (or illigeally) gotten game without a disc, it also means that there are no discs to lose, it also means that you don't have to expose your computer to websites that hide malicious code embedded in them to give you a virus or spyware. it also means that there is less hastle when you want to play your games as you are not required to pop in a disc just to play a game thats installed to your harddrive.

3: Its automatically patched, you never have to worry that you are playing the game in an outdated version as patches are found, and installed before the game is run. with this easy to patch system, game developers are also able to release patches much quicker and much smaller patches to the public for single bug issues, while knowing that everyone who owns the game will get the patch instantly. patches are also downloaded quite quickly as well since they are hosted on the same servers that the game files are located on.

4: Its Cheap, i can go and buy a $20 game, while its about the value i could find it at a store, the reason i say its cheaper is because you can usually find discounts for buying games in bundles, not to mention saves you some gas from going to the store. it also gives you games that you might not find at a store near you or are not available at a store at all, there are mods for $10 like garry's mod which is a really high quality mod that lets you play around with the physics engine in the source engine. another example is the newly released Painkiller Gold for $20, which gives you the main game and the expansion pack.

5: Its permanent, if you buy that $20 game, you will beable to play it as much as you want, any time you want as long as you keep your account in good standing (ala, no hacking/cheating in games) so if i buy Call of Duty 2 on Steam, in 20 years i will be able to download Call of Duty 2 on my future computer and play it (and have any patches already installed) and over time as they collect more and more games, they will have a presistant collection of games that they can play on a whim.

the gamer with no money in his pocket and plenty of time, will always try to download games simply because he has no other method of getting games. but by simply making playing games the main focus, rather than trying to protect yourself from pirates, you will in the end save money (those copy protection programs aren't cheap) and get more customers who will buy your product simply because its incredibly easy to do.

its not a surefire plan, like i said the poor gamer will still pirate, and there are still those who had allot of money who still pirated games because it was just what they do. but a majority of the pirates would buy a game if it was a good quality, a good price, and freaking easy to do. im not one who believes in jailing or fining the people who download games, realistically they don't have any money anyway and probably don't have anything to cough up. i am completely fine with tracking down and arresting/fining those who are cracking games or uploading them.

Now i realize that my thinking on this issue may be off and many of you have different oppinions, so I am curious about your thoughts on the issue, please post your comments.

(the author of this article has spent too much money in steam games.. and is fine with it)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Open Source Engine

I have been playing some classics lately, to be specific, Doom, Doom II, Hexen, Heretic, and Duke Nukem 3D.

they run smoothly, and play like a brand new game. i play them on my wide-screen monitor and the games will play it without stretching. I can play them online co-op, i can organize a LAN party and enjoy them with my friends, i can re-enjoy these games without having to install DOS or Windows 95 to do so.

ID software released the Doom engine binaries as Open Source software. this has lead to Doom Engine upgrades such as Doomsday which is a collection of the latest updates to those said Open Source DOOM engines and lets you play them on Windows XP without a hitch, and offering new features like wide-screen support, and net-play. There are even add-on packages that will give the game new, higher resolution textures to make it seem like a new game (Ok not DOOM3 graphics, but maybe something from late 2003 graphics)

I love this, all of a sudden these games are fun to play again as i re-live the first time i played these games. while at times the new graphical options can be irritating, turning them off and playing it as it was is just as fun, if not more.

the interesting thing, and maybe the best part about it is this: You are required to own the original games to play them with the new engine, the game data is still propritory and is only available by purchasing the game. the reason this is good and not a bad thing (aww, no free game? there like $5 go buy it seesh) is due to that since you are still required to own the game, makes this appealing to companies with older games that dont want to release them as free-ware.

So why don't other Genre Defining games release their engines as open source? the best example i can think of is Baldur's Gate's 'Infinity Engine' which powered MANY games (Baldur's gate I&II, Icewind Dale I&II, Fallout Tactics, Planescape, i believe i might be missing a few) If Bioware released the Infinity Engine as Open source those of us who bought the game would beable to update the engine to support new features and support new hardware and OS's without any money spent on Bioware's part (it might even give them a little income from purchases of the collectors series which is available for purchase and has BG I&II, and IWD I&II)

I do not see any way for this to hurt Bioware's sales or IP. while new games like Unreal Tournament license its engine as part of revenue, the Infinity Engine is quite old and is VERY unlikely to have a prospector looking to make a new game with the engine. it would in no way impact the launch of Dragon Age (their new game) and infact might even get more interest in Dragon Age as gamers start replaying Baldurs Gate remembering why they fell in love with the series to begin with.

To re-examine, i am NOT in the industry, and there may be some other reason why they would refuse to release the Engine as Open Source that is not apparent to me. maybe they are planning on doing a Baldur's Gate I&II remake. i am not certain, i am only speeking from fandom and my love for the series.

The timing of releasing the engine as Open Source would be perfect as well. Windows Vista is just around the corner, and is BOUND to not support the game. Linux is ever gaining in popularity and could very soon be the operating system of choice above windows. and in this day and age how much advertising a company has determines how well the game sells not by the quality of the work.

My efforts and ideas about the Infinity Engine being released as open source may be in vain, maybe Bioware wishes to leave it alone entirely. Lets just hope we will all soon be playing our favorite classics again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New 360 & Me

so its been announced that a new 360 model will be released this summer.. it will include an HDMI port, the 65nm chip set for increased stability, and reduced heat and noise. it will also come with a larger hard drive as well (size unknown as of now) all for the same $400 price point, which should lead to a price reduction of the current models to get them out the door.

this can be considered a good and bad thing. its a good thing as in that these upgrades will increase its compatibility with more devices, and also increase the video quality signal allowing for every game to display in beautiful 1080p.

the downside? it could be argued that any of us who bought the console before this update got Gyped, that it should have been there from the begining and that microsoft is trying to cash in on a patch to the console.

i disagree with that idea, while it is true that HDMI could have been integrated with the first 360, but to include all of these upgrades on the first design of the console could have increased the price of the console to $500 or more. that would have put it out of the price range of many people and gamers. it would not have sold nearly as well, and we would have the same idea of expressing the feeling of "having standards enforced upon us"

if you have a Non-HD TV, or a HD-TV without any HDMI ports, and you live in a large room, then this upgrade is pointless. if you got this new revision you wouldn't ever use any of the added features (with exception to maybe the larger hard drive, depending on if you download alot of demos or not)

when you bought the console, you knew what it came with. if these added features really bug you that much. then get it, its not the best use of money no, hell i would recommend buying a PS3 of all things before a second Xbox 360.. these added features are not critical, they only add extra functionality that let it compete properly with the PS3.

So rather than fight, just accept it, lay back, and play some Lost Planet and Gears of War in peace.

Friday, December 15, 2006

PS3 in stock?

Yesterday at 3:00pm at my circuit city where i work got a shipment of 5 PS3's.

supprised. we took down our "the PS3 is temporarily out of stock" sign and started telling customers who were shopping for playstation products that we did have them in stock.

at 11:00pm when we closed. we had 4 left.

employees are prohibited from purchasing PS3's at all, and even then we asked employees if they could, would they buy one of the PS3's we had in stock. all but one employee said "no"

there was one customer who was planning on getting a PS3, he was excited and had a bundle of games to purchase... unfortunately those games were just pre-order boxes and the only game he held that was actually a game was Resistance fall of Man.

when we pointed this out.. he had to think.. yes THINK about whether he wanted to continue with the purchase. he did anyway, and bought a pre-order for Oblivion.

does this make sense to anyone at all?

Today, i covered another employee from 8:00am to 5:00pm, we started with 4 PS3's in stock. thinking that since it was Friday, and there are many more customers than on a Thursday, we would be sold out fairly quickly of the few we did have.

we opened at 8:00am and I worked until 5:00pm
when i left, we had 2 PS3's in stock. An astounding 2 PS3's were sold in the 9 hours i worked.
so over the course of 26 hours, we sold 3 PS3's of our 5. thats a total of 17 hours that the store was opened.

now if you view my previous blogs, I'm not a fan of the PS3.. but even I find this very odd.
so to any of you looking for a PS3.. just call your local store (circuit city or not, it doesn't matter) and ask, they may just have one.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Why the PS3 will not succeed.

There is much speculation around why the PS3 will or wont succeed. and I guess I'm going to join in on the bandwagon on how it wont succeed.

a few reasons:
1: Loss of fan-boy Love.
I am a forum poster, I post in gaming forums EVERYWHERE, and I've experienced first handed as forums started out as strong Playstation dominated gamers ruled them. into where the Playstation gamer influence dropped significantly, to such a level where the few Playstation gamers that stayed strong, would start to throw accusations that nothing had changed and that the forums were ALWAYS full of Nintendo/Microsoft fan-boys. not just that, but how individuals that I know personally who I would never dream of owning anything but a Playstation, are outspoken on their dislike of the PS3 and how they are going to get a Wii60.

2: Weak launch to strong opposition
call it what you want, but Sony launched into a war where the opponent has set up camp, has nearly 200 games out, costs about 40% on average less then them, has plenty of units manufactured and sold, and has stolen many of its exclusive must-own titles. and it doesn't appear to get any better anytime soon as developers can earn allot more money by making a game for the Xbox or the Wii than they can cater to a larger audience, and also reduce production costs and time required to make the game.

3: Gimmicky Everything
Blu-ray, I have no need of it and neither do vasts amounts of gamers, infact most games that will be made for the console wont need blu-ray either, hell designers have fit the whole Unreal 3 engine into a 50mb constraint including a full game. and when you realize that digital distribution is in the future for gaming. its hard to imagine downloading a 25gb game when 9gb games offer the same quality, graphics, size and play. Blu-ray is best for watching movies, not games. so if you really want a HD movie player and a game console. then Sony catered right to you. otherwise you are paying extra for something that is unneeded.

4: Same old same old.
there is little difference from the PS3 and the PS2 besides graphics. the online part is better... but only slightly, its quite underwhelming when compared to Xbox Live. The user interface is also different, but mimics the PSP where it worked (kinda) on a full console it feels static, and confusing. forcing you to go through drop down menu after menu to find what you need rather than using the whole screen to show you everything you could do. sure it looks nice, but it gets boring quickly. and yes, it does have motion sensitive controllers, that is different from the PS2.. but the games that are using it use it are using it in a half-assed way so that its rarely critical to the game (though the flying games seem to be the only games that have done it right, kudos to them!)

5: Few exclusives.
The PS2 lived on exclusive games and content. there were many games that it got that the xbox or Gamecube never saw. but many developers are saying that with the increased cost of game development, making a platform exclusive game is risky business. this translates into the big 3rd party games will most certainly be made available for all the consoles. and some 2nd party companies will become 3rd party companies making games for everyone. also with the increased difficulty to make PS3 games over 360 games, its more unlikely that an exclusive for the 360 will be ported to the PS3 as that time could be better spent making a new game for both consoles.

6: Rushed
despite the numerous delays, and the launch games that have had an extra year of development. the bugs are still many and extreme, the many launch problems with broken/buggy PS3's and extremely small shipments all point to a launch that was too early. in fact at least while the 360 came out it was the most powerful gaming machine on the market for awhile, until the very powerful Core 2 duo game out for PC's with the GeForce 8800. But the PS3 isn't even that fast compared to the even newer Core 2 Quad and a GeForce 7900. so if they had waited even longer the hardware would have been even more outdated.

7: No advantage over 360
Not hardware, software, graphically, game-play, features, there is not one thing that i can see that the PS3 can do that the 360 cant. this is quite surprising as the PS3 has had a MUCH longer development time than the 360, and launched a year later. still this white box manages to STILL pack a punch a year later to this mammoth of a console.

I know I've said allot. but I stand behind it. its going to raise some anger and I will certainly draw some fan-boys flame. but overall I do not see the PS3 being that big of a heavy hitter as the PS2 was. hopefully they can get it right for the PS4.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Wii Definition Notes

My official nintendo branded wii component cables came in the mail the other day. and I believe they are worthy of note. I plug them in, and change the settings to 480p and look for the differences.

despite what everyone says, the most noticeable difference in the games I believe is actually the much improved color and contrast. the brights are brighter, and the shadows are darker. while yes, the textures are much more highly detailed I can say that 480p while better than 480i, isn't THAT much of a step up. the clarity and precision of everything is much higher and better looking, but at 480p its also allot easier to notice the flaws as well. like a lack of Anti-aliasing effects on Wii games.

its known that a good way to make low resolution games look amazing, is to use Anti-aliasing. the Gamecube and Xbox could do this, the PS2 couldn't, thats what caused all the jaggies. and unfortunately Legend of Zelda doesn't use this technology (but Wii sports does)

with the component cable is much easier to notice this. but I emphasize on the bad points of this cable even though the good points are much more note worthy. overall the cable is worth it. and after a few more months I'm sure Anti-aliasing will become a requirement and standard practice for all Wii games so they can look good with component cables.

on a side note, I no longer work in retail, I put in my 2 week notice at Circuit City today. so while no longer work in retail, it holds no barriers against my knowledge of products. there is no such thing as "insider information" when it comes to retail.