Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Just a Happy New Year post. Gaming in 2007 should be quite a ride with all the next-gen systems on the market and working hard to add features to their platforms to give us gamers more bang for our buck. Anyhow, to you and yours I wish you a successful and fun 2007!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Site Update: The Label Cloud

I finally finished labeling about 80% of the archived posts. After doing all that work I noticed the label link list was not to my liking. So, I set up a label cloud instead. A label cloud is a link list where the label with the most posts is listed with the largest text, in this case gaming and the smallest text label wii is the least used label in the cloud. The larger the links size the more posts are listed under that label... nothing special really, I just think it has a better look to it than a page long list of links with numbers out next to it. To see how many posts are listed under a label, hover over it in the label cloud box on the right. I also widened the main column by a decent amount which should make reading the blog a bit easier.

Label Cloud code found here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thoughts on the PS3 and Xbox 360


After all my talk about the Sony PS3, I ended up getting one at Christmas this year. I can't explain why, other than I am a gamer. I have read just about everything I can on the Sony's PS3, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Nintendo's Wii. I know all the specs, the performance issues, the bugs, etc. and all it comes down to good games. I enjoy playing good games, whether those games are on the PSP or the Xbox 360. So, I had always planned on getting a PS3, just not this soon. Just as I plan on getting a Wii as soon as I can find one.

After using the PS3 for the past week I thought I would post my thoughts on the 60 gig PS3 system. Right out of the box I knew it was going to be an experience too. My first gripe is no disk, I had this gripe about the XBox 360 as well. After spending all that money on the initial system, I had no way of playing the thing and since I received it late Christmas Eve, I could not get anything to play on it until the day after Christmas. Anyhow, I digress. Let me tell you about my setup, I am playing the PS3 on a Pioneer 43" HD plasma. The Xbox is hooked up to a 65" Mitsubishi HD rear projection TV. The Mitsubishi does not have HDMI and does not support 1080p so I chose to put the PS3 on the plasma since it had HDMI and I happened to have an HDMI cable on hand (Sony does not supply an HDMI cable). I ended up buying Resistance: Fall of Man and Untold Legends Dark Kingdom. Both games run well and look good.

The SIXAXIS controller is very light, in fact it feels like a toy. I started with the trepidation that I might break it. This wore off relatively fast though as I played with the system. Playing a game without rumble is, well, kind of a distraction. So it did not really change the game experience over all, once I got over the initial shock but it is still useful to have for certain games. I do not have any games that support the motion features of the controller.

The PS3 has a typical boot time and the load times on the games are typical as well. By typical I mean they are on par with all the other game consoles I have played including the Xbox 360, the original Xbox, the PS2, Gamecube, etc. I would have thought that next-gen gaming meant faster boot and load times, I guess not. Neither the Xbox 360 nor the PS3 improved in this area over the last generation, so far anyhow.

The integration of the Playstation Portable (PSP) with the PS3 is interesting. I can buy and download games for my PSP through the PS3 using the PlayStation Store. Once I am ready for the download I just plug my PSP into the PS3 through USB and save the games to the PSP's memory card. There is also a remote play feature where I can control the PS3 with the PSP through a custom wireless connection. I am still checking the PS3/PSP functionality out and I will write more on it later when I have a better understanding of what all it can do. I have read I can use it as a remote to play media on the PS3 though right now I have no media on the PS3, it is all on my computer's hard drive.

The PS3 has no connectivity with my existing network other than to connect to the Internet. I can't see the computers on my network or access media on those computers with the PS3. So, I can't transfer music from my collection without transferring it to a memory card or burning it to CD. I have to say, this seems like work. I have quite a few albums on my hard drive and the time involved with transferring it in this fashion is not worth it to me. The PS3 is doomed to stay strictly a gaming system for now. I will keep using the Xbox 360 to watch media since I can stream music and movies from my MCE machine to the Xbox 360 and see it all on my big screen without having to spend hours copying everything to CD then ripping it to the PS3 or (shudder) re-ripping all the originals to the PS3.

The online offering from Sony is very limited. There is no way to chat with friends unless they are doing the same thing on the PS3 that I am, meaning they have to be playing the same game since each game has a separate friends list which does not integrate with the PS3's friends list. The browser functions OK, though in HD it is relatively small with no way to enable zooming that I can find and it is not full screen if the TV is wide screen (I think all HD TVs are wide screen). I know the Xbox 360 does not have a browser but the third party browser I can use on the Xbox 360 through Windows MCE can zoom pages and does full wide screen. I am hoping Sony will roll out more functionality for it's online services as time goes by as Microsoft has done for the Xbox 360. Currently there are a couple of retail demos, PSP games, arcade games, and movie trailers available on the PS Network for download. The arcade games are clones of more popular games, nothing original. For example, one of them is called Cash Guns Chaos which is a complete ripoff of Smash TV. Downloading games is somewhat a chore as well. Once you start a download you can't do anything else until it is done. The Xbox 360 has a system to allow you to stack your downloads and do other things while you are downloading your list of things. The PlayStation Network timed out on me after every download. While the downloads did arrive and install fine, the PlayStation Network would time out after the download meaning I would have to exit out of the store and reconnect if I was not finished using the store.

The Blue-Ray player is something I have no use for at this time. I am not going to support either Blue-Ray movies or HD-DVD movies until one format comes out on top. I could justify moving my entire movie collection to DVD. I can't justify buying all them again in a format that could disappear within a year. So, until there is a clear winner I will buy my HD content from DirecTV, Xbox Live, and/or online.

Overall, I think the PS3 has a long way to go to be the system Sony says it is going to be. I would suggest waiting to buy a PS3 for another six months to a year but if everyone waits, Sony might not get those updates done or roll out new online services as fast if sales are dismal. With some work the PS3 could end up being the gamers choice but many things have to happen before it does and from what I see, Microsoft is not waiting around to find out if Sony can catch up. Microsoft is off and running with new offerings like the XNA Game Studio Express tools which allows games to be created by users and be played on the Xbox 360 and HD content such as movies and TV programs available for download. No matter which console comes out on top, I think the winners in this round of consoles will be the consumers.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Site Update

Blogger moved out of beta so I have been working on re-organizing the site a bit. The column on the right has received a few changes and I have labeled about 65% of my posts and I will continue, as I have time, to label the archives. Posts will be sparse until some time in January. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Microsoft Launches XNA Creators Club For Xbox 360


From Microsoft PressPass -
"Microsoft Releases XNA Game Studio Express and Launches XNA Creators Club, Enabling the World to Play Their Creations on Xbox 360

Global game development competition, “Dream-Build-Play,” offers an opportunity for winner’s game to be published on Xbox Live Arcade.

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 11, 2006 — Your World. Your Game. With today’s release of Microsoft® XNA™ Game Studio Express and the launch of the XNA Creators Club, this phrase has never been more true. Based on the easy-to-use Visual C#® 2005 Express Edition and Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, XNA Game Studio Express opens up the world of game development to the masses and is now available for free to anyone with a Windows® XP-based PC at http://www.msdn.com/XNA. With the release of XNA Game Studio Express, Microsoft Corp. unveiled the XNA Creators Club, opening up video game development to untapped creative minds, enabling anyone to affordably build and play amazing game ideas on Xbox 360 systems for the first time ever.

The XNA Creators Club is available on Xbox Live® Marketplace for $49 (U.S.) for a four-month subscription, or $99 (U.S.) for an annual subscription. Both subscriptions provide aspiring game developers with access to thousands of game assets from Microsoft and key supporters such as Turbo Squid Inc., as well as white papers, specialized starter kits, samples and technical product support to help turn Your World, Your Game into a reality.

“The XNA Creators Club is really the first of its kind — an opportunity to join a community of other developers who are empowered to bring their game ideas to life on a next-generation console system,” said Chris Satchell, general manager of the Game Developer Group at Microsoft. “When it comes to encouraging development on XNA Game Studio Express and through the XNA Creators Club, the limits are truly endless. What users will see today is just the beginning of the plans we have to revolutionize game development one creative game idea at a time.”

In addition, to celebrate the worldwide launch of XNA Game Studio Express, the “Dream-Build-Play” contest will be open to XNA Game Studio Express customers on Windows as well as those on Xbox 360 through the XNA Creators Club membership. The contest offers the opportunity for the community to showcase its innovation and talent to the world, culminating in the incredible chance for the winner’s game to be published on Xbox Live Arcade, the premier source for downloadable independent, retro and original games. The “Dream-Build-Play” contest will be launched in January. Additional contest details will be available at http://www.dreambuildplay.com.

“Xbox Live Arcade has opened up a wealth of new publishing opportunities for established and independent developers alike, so it made perfect sense to also extend this privilege to hobbyists and amateur programmers,” said Greg Canessa, group manager of Xbox Live Arcade at Microsoft. “We have a tremendous opportunity to shine the spotlight on up-and-coming talent through the ‘Dream-Build-Play’ contest, and we can’t wait to share their creativity with our gaming community around the world.”

To coincide with the release of XNA Game Studio Express, XNA supporter GarageGames has launched an open beta for its Torque X platform, including Torque Game Builder. Based on the XNA Framework, the easy-to-use Torque X tools bring drag-and-drop game development to Windows and Xbox 360. Final availability of the Torque X platform is scheduled for early 2007."

I have plans on getting a club membership in January. I will blog more on how this all works and what is available from the club as I play with it.

Interested in XNA? Check out 15 Great XNA Tutorial Sites.

**EDIT(1-10-2007)
If you are looking for an easy way to keep up with the XNA Community head on over to http://xnaportal.com/.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Wii Bit O' Holiday Humor.

I Really Wanna Wii, Please

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sony releasing PS4 in 2010?


Paul Miller over at Engadget.com has posted about Sony confirming rumors of the PS4 to be built in 2010, three years after the release of the PS3.
Quote: "In response to some fairly bogus claims by an "analyst" last week, Sony has come out of the woodwork to state that yes, it is indeed planning to build a PlayStation 4, but not until at least 2010."
I do not know about you but I am not willing to spend $600 on just a console (no games, controllers, upgrades, etc) that will be replaced within four years. Did I not see a quote from this article on Cnet's News.com?
Quote: Sony Computer Entertainment of America President Kaz Hirai - "We look at our products having a 10-year life cycle, which we've proven with the PlayStation. Therefore, the PlayStation 3 is going to be a console that's going to be with you again for 10 years. We're not going to ask the consumers to suddenly buy another PlayStation console in five years time, and basically have their investment go by the wayside. So for all those reasons, I think at $599 we're offering a very good value to the consumers."
Seems to me Sony is trying to beat everyone else to the punch for the next next-gen system, err well the generation after this next gen... Bah! (Can we now call them current generation games since all the consoles have been released please??) Sorry, got off topic there for a sec. Sony should reconsider this and plan there next console no less than 6-7 years from now, I figure $100 a year is a decent price to pay for a console. Of course, given that logic, I expect Microsoft's Next XBox sometime within the next three years...kidding.
So what gives Sony, are you trying to screw us gamers by trying to beat the competition to the punch? The article does not say the date is written in stone or anything and Sony could very well wait almost ten years before releasing the PS4 but I will not take the chance this year even if I can find one available. After all, we all know how I feel about Sony gaming products. Anyhow, head over to Engadget and read the full article.

I'm Bringing Xbox Back

Laura Foy over at Microsoft's Channel 10 has posted this parody video of Justin Timberlake's "Sexy Back"


We all know the "console wars" are very serious to the fanboys so it is nice to take a break and laugh at something making fun of the whole situation, though I think they are making more fun of the PS3 and the Wii than the 360. So, if you like it, head over and let her know! While your there, check out the high-res version, much better quality ;)

Via: Michael Klucher's XNA Blog

Sunday, December 03, 2006

IRS to Tax Online Game Virtual Assets??


Daniel Terdiman over at Cnet News.com reports the IRS will likely start taxing in game assets, Quote:

"NEW YORK--If you are a hard-core player of virtual worlds like World of Warcraft, Second Life, EverQuest or There, IRS form 1099 may someday soon take on a new meaning for you."

"That's because game publishers may well in the not too distant future have to send the forms--which individuals receive when earning nonemployee income from companies or institutions--to virtual world players engaging in transactions for valuable items like Ultima Online castles, EverQuest weapons or Second Life currency, even when those players don't convert the assets into cash."

I would think, unless you make real world money from the said assets, they should not be taxed. If I go out and defeat a bunch of NPCs(Non Player Characters) or players to get their equipment and it comes up worth $50,000 in game money that is worth maybe $500 real world dollars, I should not be taxed on that money unless I convert it to real world dollars. Then again, I am no analyst, tax accountant, nor law maker. Anyhow, go check out the full article, then take the time to write your Congressman and let them know you in no way support taxing virtual assets unless you transfer it to real world money. Tell them you do not want a tax on potential income, taxes should only be applied to actual real world income.

Source: Cnet News.com - IRS taxation of online game virtual assets inevitable