Always Get Better

Archive for the ‘games’ Category

Living With First-Person Shooter Disease

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Some ailments have no cure…

Microsoft to Xbox Owners: Don’t Mod Your Consoles

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The BBC just discovered that Microsoft has been banning the Xbox Live accounts for users it discovers attempting to play using modified Xbox consoles. According to Microsoft, modified consoles are an enormous problem because they are often used to play pirated games, costing the video game industry more than $1B annually. Mod enthusiasts counter that they have every right to make alterations to hardware they have purchased legitimately.

What do you think – are Microsoft’s actions necessary to protect fair play within the XBox Live community?

Minesweeper: The Movie

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

If Only Ignoring Pirates Made Them Go Away

Friday, May 1st, 2009
Creative Commons License photo credit: saxman1597

I’m sure they’re not unique in their philosophy, but StarDock games is a terrific example of a company which has taken the high road in the battle against software piracy. In principal, the company believes that if someone would steal/pirate their software, that person would not have likely bought it anyway if piracy wasn’t an option. To that end, the company stands against putting DRM measures – which they feel only serve to detract from the experience of legitimate customers – into its products.

The bet seems to have worked. Their newest title, Demigod, was last week’s #3 top selling PC game. [\] I haven’t tried Demigod, but I have a (legally purchased) copy of their Galactic Civilizations 2 title. It is refreshing to play a game whose developers have obviously focused on the software rather than on its protection.

As a software developer, I understand why companies would want to take steps to prevent piracy. It is a lot of work to develop software (and a lot MORE work to develop _good_ software). $60 for a title that cost thousands of dollars to produce doesn’t sound like a bad deal to me.

As a software end-user, I hate EULAs, dongles and CD verification. After spending my hard-earned money on a game or application I don’t want to be made to feel like a thief; just let me use the thing. Let me install my game to my hard drive and put the CD somewhere safe.

Hey Sony: It’s The Developers, Stupid

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Sony is interesting in a “I can’t turn my head… I must watch this grotesque traffic accident” kind of way. At one time the de facto standard for the Playstation 2 and other high quality electronics, it is now burdened with the Playstation 3 and its laughable sales performance. To be fair, the Playstation 3 is an engineering beauty and an elegantly powerful machine.

For the first time in 16 months, the Playstation 3 surpassed sales of Nintendo’s Wii console in Japan. While Sony is spinning the news as a sign that their console has finally become more popular than the Wii, the fact of the matter is gamers bought the PS3 in order to play popular new game titles available only on that platform.

Ironically it was Sega’s Yakuza 3 that drove the latest surge, hearkening back to the early console war days and highlighting the exact same issue: like the PS3, consumers didn’t really care that the Sega systems were more technically advanced than the Nintendo offerings. As it turned out, players bought one or the other because they wanted to play Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog.

The key takeaway? The platform is worthless unless there is great software to use with it.

Sony is in a bizarre spot: they have an excellent platform upon which developers can and want to develop mind-blowing content. Perhaps their platform is the most advanced and capable – so much so that learning to harness its full potential will take years. Rather than proactively encouraging development, however, Sony is coasting on the success it had with its PlayStation 2 offering and treating developers coldly rather than as partners. Rather than fight Sony for the “privilege” of developing for the PlayStation 3, many companies are simply focusing their efforts on other systems such as the Wii where larger install bases mean bigger returns on investment.

We’re very interested in the PlayStation 3 and sincerely hope that Sony doesn’t screw this one up with their arrogance. A sampling of their hallucinations include:

The PS3’s Blu-Ray Player Justifies the Machine’s Cost

Too bad the component costs Sony $100 per unit. Sony may be looking ahead to mega-games that require the storage capacity offered by Blu-Ray, but in the meantime they are marketing the PS3 as a top-of-the-line Blu-Ray player.

Problem: They don’t include a remote control, and they don’t have an Infrared receiver. If you want to watch movies you have to use your game controllers or an optional bluetooth remote control – forget about compatibility with your existing home entertainment system.

Sony is the Official Leader in Gaming

Sony believes that the Wii is in a different market and the XBox lifespan/failure rate is going to mean wider adoption in the future. Regardless of sales (it trails the XBox and Wii), Sony believes the PS3 makes it the “official” leader in gaming. We stress once again – hardware is worthless without software.

The Sony Doesn’t Compete with the Wii

According to Sony, the Wii is not a next-generation console because they don’t target hard-core gamers. Therefore by reducing prices on the PS2 (which Sony considers to be the actual competitor to the Wii), they will be diluting Nintendo’s ability to deprive them of PS3 sales. Because it makes sense to move the PS2 and leave the PS3 sitting on the shelf.

Losing Weight with Wii Fit

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Let’s start with the conclusion – I lost weight with Wii Fit.  We bought the system in September and my progress has gone like this:

September: First month
October: Down 7 pounds
November: Down 7 more pounds

So to date I have lost about 14 pounds in two months.  Not bad, considering I didn’t really do much else.  That puts me now at my lowest weight in about five years, and all of my clothes are baggier.

Ah, but there is a catch.  In addition to using Wii Fit, I made (and stuck to) a meal plan which included no soft drinks or fast food.  I did not increase my activity levels though.  I basically just improved my eating and used the Wii balance board to monitor daily changes in my weight.

For anyone considering buying the Wii Fit, I would advocate the idea that it should be thought of as a tool and not as a gym.  The software does a great job in getting people off the couch and having fun, but it certainly doesn’t come close to the benefit one would get from actually going outside and walking around.

The real power of Wii Fit is in its ability to track changes in weight over time.  Seeing tangible results on the graph and experiencing spikes in weight due to late-night snacking gave me immediate feedback on my progress.  I found that made all the difference in finally getting me onto a healthy diet.  My next task is to increase my physical activity – maybe I will actually tone up a little.