Thursday, August 25, 2005

This Blog Has Moved

The big news is that this blog location is now defunct. Please direct all subsequent blog reads to http://tara.teich.net/blog. All the current content can be found there. Along with a discussion of the whys of the move. Feel free to comment over there. See you in my new location.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Changes are coming

I've been caught up in some backend stuff, so haven't been posting. There's going to be a few major changes to the blog coming soon. Hopefully later today. Keep your eyes peeled.

Monday, August 22, 2005

I am back

I am back. I will be blogging. Though I had a lovely time away, I have nothing to report of great interest. Though I could share one World of Warcraft anecdote before I sign off for the night. Oh, what the hell, nobody tires of WoW, do they? *grin*

Last week, I logged on at some extra busy time and noticed something very strange. It seems a nudist group had set up camp in the city I was in. All around me were unclad Night Elves. "Is this some sort of strange convention? A protest maybe," I thought to myself. Then I started noticing that, in fact, it was me, not them. It was some sort of strange connection issue. It seems that I was getting some of the info about the other players in the world (like that they were there) but not what they were wearing. This amusing (but annoying) bug continued to plague me on and off. I thought it was something everyone was suffering through silently, but discussions with some friends revealed that they had seen no such thing. It seems I was extra lucky.

Finally, I'd had enough. I mentioned my woes to my company's resident WoW expert (every company has one of those, right?). He knew exactly what I was talking about and directed me to the official workaround to the problem (which oddly makes no mention of the nakedness issue, but I guess this is a family game, and we don't want anyone to accuse Blizzard of secretly putting this in on purpose to give people some sort of extra kick. For those weirdos - er... interesting folk who get off on digital nakedness). Anyway, I followed the directions in the post and my problems are fixed. No more strange conventions of unclad Night Elves. And if anyone is planning on organizing such a grouping, let me know, so I don't think I've gone mad! I can think of worse bugs, but a more amusing bug I haven't experienced.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

No posts for a few days

I'll be out of town for the weekend, so no posts for the next few days. And no, this is not just an excuse to tuck in and play World of Warcraft endlessly with no contact with the outside world! Who would even suggest such a thing. I will be traveling on a jetplane, I swear. More thoughts on gaming when I return.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Xbox 360 Package Details

Microsoft has done it, they've announced the details of the different launch packages of the Xbox 360. I feel like I should be more excited than I am. Maybe it's because they say things like, "We're still tracking 24 to 40 Xbox 360 games for release before the end of the calendar year" (via Gamespot). Um. They have no idea what the launch titles are going to be. I want names, I want lists, I want definite games that will be coming out! None of this vague, "Um, we're gonna have games when we launch, we promise!" Yeah. Whatever.

But of some interest are the two packages, (again, from Gamespot)
Xbox 360 Core System - $299
•Xbox 360 console
•Wired controller
•Detachable faceplate
•Xbox Live Silver membership
•Standard AV cables

Xbox 360 - $399
•Xbox 360 console
•20GB detachable hard drive
•Wireless controller
•Wireless Xbox Live headset
•High-definition AV cables
•Ethernet cable
•Xbox 360 Media Remote Control (limited time)
•Detachable faceplate
•Xbox Live Silver membership

I think I'm gonna have to go for the more expensive package (if any cool games ever come out for it!) since you gotta have the hard drive, and the HD cables are a must.

PC gamer I may be, but I can't help but have hope for the next generation of consoles.

Monday, August 15, 2005

PC - Console Wars

I've always considered myself a PC gamer. Sure, I have all the current consoles. But I am a Windows using, PC loving hardcore computer fan. Except for the fact that World of Warcraft is the first PC game I've played that hasn't been "research" for work in at least a year. (Yes, I play games as research, ok! My life is hard). I read the magazine that have been heralding the death of the PC game and scoff, "Oh please, consoles can't do what PCs can do!" But then there is that one unavoidable fact. I can play console games from my couch.

Search the web, and you'll find lots of PC gamer in similar straits. We like our computers, but how can they compare with a 55" HDTV and comfortable reclining position sprawled out on the couch? Simple - they can't.

World of Warcraft has got me back into playing on the PC, and what do I get for my PC loyalty (or maybe Blizzard loyalty)? Neck pain. Shoulder cramps. A lot of discomfort. The game is so good, I just don't care. But if that game were a little less awesome, I know I'd be back on my couch, chosing something maybe less fun, but certainly more comfortable.

What does this say for the industry? I can only hope not everyone is as lazy as I am. Or that most PC gamers have better desk chairs. Maybe if I had a lovely $800+ Aeron chair I wouldn't mind it so much. But that's more than the cost of most computers nowadays! Seems a bit excessive.

No. I think we have few options as PC developers. Continue to make the games that cannot be made on a console. No one has successfully put a real-time strategy game onto a console. They're huge games, complex games, and they can't be handled by a simple controller.

But there's the other benefit of developing for PC, which is that you don't need to get approval by the hardware manufacturer to make your game, unlike for consoles. If I wanted to make a game for the Nintendo Gamecube, I'd need to pitch my game idea to Nintendo. If they don't like the idea, and think it isn't right for their console, forget it. Same for all the consoles. And once you've gotten the approval and got your game made, they say when it's ready to go to duplication. There's no patching a faulty console title, they can't let crashes out the door. (Of course, a lot of people would say that's a good thing, and we should be tougher on PC developers. Hahaha. I say give them my job for a day. But we can talk about that at a later date).

If I have a fun idea for a computer game, I just need to get the money to fund it. (Which isn't so easy, as I mentioned in a previous post, to make a top-tier, AAA title nowadays costs tens of millions. And that's not necessarily including marketing costs, which can equal the game budget.) But pessimism aside, if you just want to get your idea out there, you can do it. No one will stop you. Create it, pull your friends together, make that game you've dreamed about. Post it on the web, get people talking about it. That's something the console doesn't even want to offer.

So who wins? For now, the consumer. Or, the consumer with lots of money to keep their options open and have every possible gaming platform at their fingertips. Remember though, the console makers lose money on every console they sell, so come on, stick it to 'em, buy those consoles! Ok, kidding aside, all I can suggest is to continue looking at the upcoming titles. For me, it's the "must-have" game that drives a purchase. If XBox 360 comes out with a kick-ass RPG, I'll buy it. If it launches with only a bunch of racing and sports titles, I'll wait and see. Here's hoping the RPG titles don't get pushed back into forever.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sleep is overrated

I had every intention of getting to sleep early tonight. I played only a few hours of World of Warcraft today, and logged of by 10 pm. Then I just had to fold some laundry and I'd go to sleep. But ah, the wonders of HDTV. I turned on the TV, and there's Spiderman 2 in HD. And I just can't stop watching. It looks fantastic! And the story isn't too shabby either. I know how it ends and everything, but I'm stuck, I have to see it through to the end!

No tech news for the weekend. I'm getting busy with a deadline at work and then a short trip next week, so the posts may be less frequent this week. But I'll be back. I promise.