Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo, and Online Games

I just read an article on GamesIndustry.biz in which the Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata basically says that most gamers don’t want online games. He provides what he considers to be proof of this and so on. He may be right, the majority of gamers may not think online is important, but I don’t know. I can’t help but be reminded of what happened as Nintendo steadfastly stuck to the expensive cartridge format as the rest of the games industry moved to the much cheaper CDs. If the relative success of various Playstation 2 titles and Xbox Live are any indication, Nintendo is again in danger of leaving money on the table.

I think the key for Nintendo is Game Design God, Shigeru Miyamoto (you know Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, most of the good stuff…) and whether or not he is ready for online games. In an interview a couple of years back, he did not have much use for online games. He made valid points about the ease of use for the gamer and the added expense. But with two years behind us and a vibrant console based online gaming community on not one but two consoles, has he rethought online games yet? My guess is yes, but he doesn’t have a game design ready yet. And that is what is holding Nintendo back. When Miyamoto-san is ready, so will Nintendo.

And gamers can rest assured that an online game from Shigeru Miyamoto will be something different. So don’t expect anything like Mario meets Halo, meets Final Fantasy XI. This can only be a good thing for gamers everywhere and of course Nintendo, which is in many ways the house that Miyamoto built.

Open Wheel XBox Racing On A Budget

While perusing the Virgin Megastore on Friday, I ran across the recently released IndyCar Series 2005 for XBox by CodeMasters. I’m primarily a NASCAR fan, but I appreciate open wheel too. And the IndyCar Series is arguably the more competitive of the major open wheel series. I mean really, I love the courses and glamour of F1, but the same guy wins every week, which for me takes the fun out of it.

Anyway, what caught my eye was the $19.99 price tag. A price tag like that is usually reserved by either best sellers, or cellar dwellers. So I resisted the urge to buy until I could read some reviews. The reviews are mixed to just okay. The most frequent criticism concerned the quality and variety of the graphics. Despite that, I’ll probably add this one to my collection eventually because I love racing titles, especially those with online support.

Many wonder what’s the excitement of driving fast and turning left for hundreds of laps?  Racing is so much more than that though. The best racing titles recreate the chess game that is auto racing by giving the player control over everything from car setup to team and sponsor management. And when you can take all of that and go up against real live humans online, that’s racing Nirvana!

When Games Become Spam

Well maybe that title is a little harsh, but that’s what came to mind when I saw on GameSpy.com that Atari had shipped 2.5 million copies of Driv3r to retailers. Pressing CDs and DVDs is cheap these days, but that’s still a lot of disks for a game that is so far getting lack luster reviews. Also keep in mind that only the most successful titles actually sell anything near 1 million copies, let alone 2! So why is Atari shipping so many?

The most obvious answer is, they need the money. Atari is counting on Driv3r to take them out of the red as the second quarter comes to an end. A little less obvious is that they sort of got away with this sort of thing when they released Enter the Matrix. They flooded the retail channel riding a wave of movie premiere hype and managed to sell over 500000 copies. Many of those copies were probably sold before the really bad reviews of both the movie and the game got around. Doesn’t matter though, it’s still money in the bank. So Atari is going to have another go at it with Driv3r. But without a movie to hype it up and the bad reviews getting around, Atari may have made one trip too many to the well. At least I hope that spamming the retail channel like this won’t prove to be a winning strategy for lackluster games.

Just Say No To NTFS

In this unintentional continuing series of complaints about Windows, today I vent a little bit about NTFS. I’ve spent most of the last couple of days recovering a system from a hard drive crash. Fortunately I had already made backups of everything important and I actually had confidence that I could get the system back up in the usual manner. Boot the Windows set up CD then open the Recovery console, etc…

As you can guess, this did not transpire. Instead the machine froze on every attemp to get to the Recovery console. And, btw, Disk Doctor from emergency floppies doesn’t do NTFS. Lovely, so when an NTFS formatted disk bites the big one, that’s just it for all practical purposes. At least I haven’t yet found an alternate utility to fix an NTFS disk from the command prompt. Now there are things to like about NTFS, like smaller cluster sizes on large disks and user permissions, but for most users, being able to fix it when it breaks may take precedence. Right now, I’m definitely thinking about some alternatives. But alas, I fear I have no practical alternatives, at least professionally…

Enough venting, back to work!

Just Say NO To IE

More flaws have been found in the Internet Explorer web browser! That’s not really news, now is it? A new twist on this old story is that now there is an adware company that has been exploiting this flaw in order to install a toolbar in IE to facilitate pop up ads, often pornographic. Click here for the CNet story.

This is just ridiculous, if there were any other product with the kind of defect rate the IE has, it would be pulled from the market and its creator sued and/or fined. Still IE continues to walk the streets free and clear!

The CNet story makes bare mention of the existence of other browsers that do not have the flaws of IE. And while it does have links to Microsoft for IE work around instructions, it doesn’t have links to Mozilla, Firefox, or Opera. For my time and money, it’s a lot easier to install a better browser, than wade through yet another work around. When are people going to wake up and stop using IE? When someone finally dies because of IE flaws, will they put Gates on trial?

FirefoxMozillaOpera

Talk Nerdy To Me

Over lunch today I was thinking about a story that aired on the news last night about how some antidepressants were causing suicidal tendencies in some teens. They did an interview at length with a girl who was wearing a black t-shirt that said "Talk Nerdy To Me" across the chest. I was a little surprised that they didn’t blur it as is usually the case these days with logos and provocative statements on clothing.

The thing that left the greatest impression though was the fact that there really wasn’t anything wrong with the girl. She came off as intelligent with all of the sort of nerd girl quirkiness. She had had some problems with drugs, but aside from that, she didn’t seem to have any real need for medication. (She kinda reminded me of the nerd girl from Real Genius, plays drums too!) Indeed, she indicated that the prescribed drugs put her in a worse state than the illegal drugs.

I wonder, have we reached a state when everything and anything is to be medicated, especially people who don’t comform to what mainstream society expects? It sure seems that way. While companies ship thousands of IT jobs overseas and complain about how they can’t find good people here in the U.S., we drug up the quirky people who come up with most of the innovations that have built our technological society. This cannot end well.

Is XBox Dead?

Over the past few months a number of shocking stories have come out of Microsoft that may have some bearing on the future of the XBox. Major games have been cancelled such as Mythica, most recently True Fantasy Online, and the XSN sports line up for 2004. There have also been rumors that the next XBox won’t have a hard drive or may be some PC/Console hybrid. And Microsoft has been releasing tools that will make it possible to use XBox Live in PC games.

There certainly hasn’t been any announcement about the demise of the XBox as yet. But these developments do speak of a move away from single mindedly backing the XBox as the major gaming platform from Microsoft. It almost looks like a retreat into supporting the PC as a gaming platform. If so, it would be true to form for Microsoft to promote that which moves copies of Windows and Office, their two biggest money makers and the source of their power.

PC gaming has been on the decline in terms of sales for a while now. Though there has been a growing popularity of high end gaming PCs, enough that Dell is even offering gamer oriented PCs at a premium of course. Still, I don’t see this profitable niche segment reversing the growth of console gaming. I hope I’m wrong, but it may well be that Microsoft now sees PC games as a way move more copies of Windows and perhaps pull XBox gamers back to the PC.

Firefox Da Bomb

For that last couple of weeks I’ve been using the beta of Mozilla Firefox as my default browser and I must say that I am impressed. Now this isn’t like earth shaking stuff going on, but just the little things.

Its a little quicker on my box to start up and I really like the image scaling along with Mozilla staples like popup blocking and such. And compared to IE, the relative security it leaves me one less thing to worry about. It also seems more compatible with IE leaning sites than Mozilla. In all it just has a few minor rough spots that should be ironed out by the 1.0 release. So if you haven’t already, give it a try, you won’t regret it!

Big Help!

Today’s Big Help award goes to my dad! In my rush to get my new portal theme out the door, I made a mistake that resulted in unreadable news stories. The fix was quick, avoiding potential embarassment. Well not too much embarassement, but at least minor irritation.

Way to go Dad!8)

Lens Flare and Fireworks MX

There’s no soccer today so I’m hoping to get more work done on the portal theme makeover. I finished up the main work on my Amazon shop module and now I want to get visual! Last night I must have spent 4 or 5 hours in the code on the module before I realized it! I guess I was having too much fun.

Anyway, I got inspired and decide to go in a different direction for the new theme than I had originally thought. I’ve got an image in my head involving lens flare. Unfortunately, Fireworks MX (my graphics weapon of choice) doesn’t have this built in. But I did find a tutorial on Lens Flares in Fireworks MX that looks pretty good.

Click here to see the Lens Flare Tutorial.

Weekend In Vana’diel

Friday has come at last which means another weekend that hopefully includes some time playing Final Fantasy XI.

I’d love to spend more time on the game, but there are just too many other things I want to do in my rl for that. Still, the game has been a lot of fun in the 27 hours or so I’ve played since the PS2 version came out. So perhaps I’m proof that a more casual player can have fun with an MMORPG like FF XI, or just proof that I’m nutz! 🙂

Here are some in game shots I took of my character.


Game Art for Teens

During my lunchtime outing I found an interesting book at Borders. It’s called Game Art for Teens and it is what looks like a pretty good intro to producing game art using tools like Maya and Corel Paint or Photoshop.

I may pick this up eventually, just waiting for the usual 10-20% sale or coupon to come my way. So even if you aren’t a teen anymore, this looks like a good book to cut your teeth on.

If you want to take a look click this link.

The Prime Directive

Since the Iraq mess got started I’ve been wondering if maybe Gene Roddenberry hit it right on the head with Star Trek’s Prime Directive. The Prime Directive basically states that the Federation will not interfere in the development of other civilizations. So Kirk and company can’t go down to some primative planet and give them fusion reactors for example, or topple a government they don’t like. Now any fan knows that there have been numerous violations or bendings of this, but it is still a starting point.

Anyway, the Iraq mess is more proof that we never really know what is going to happen or how people will react, good intentions or not. Perhaps it would have been better to let the Iraqis eventually remove Saddam, if that was their choice. Who is to say that more people would have suffered or not? The invasion took this choice away from them and may have delayed the true creation of a freer Iraq.

We do need to have relationships with other nations. And we should make our opinions known to them. But maybe it’s time to stop interfering in their internal affairs and leave them free to develop the civilization they want to have. American style democracy is not what everyone wants. I think, because we are all humans, we want to have a say in how we are governed. But the shape that takes is necessarily different for each culture. And some cultures are closer to their ideal than others. American guns, ships, and tanks can only mess this up when used as they were in Iraq. I hope that we’ve learned a good lesson.

All Together Now

I got an email from my brother this morning which contained humorous musings on what Patton would do if he were president wrt the Iraq situation. Basically, it was the usual crazy isolationist sort of stuff about withholding aid from countries that didn’t help us, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Usually I read this stuff and let it go, but I just had to tell him that I thought this is just a myth. The money the United States sends to other countries ultimately goes into the pockets of U.S. corporations, especially banks I’m sure. This is the real reason we will likely never see any retaliatory withholding of foreign aid. This whole Iraq mess we’re in has made it very plain just how much influence corporations have on national policy. On the one hand Cheney and his oil pals are looking to profit on Iraqi oil and reconstruction of the country. While on the other hand the big media giants, like Disney, clamp down on dissent at home. That whole flag draped coffin business and the Michael Moore Fahrenheit 9/11 movie censoring business supports this idea.

When will Americans finally realize that we can’t just act like we can go it alone? Look around, how much of what we wear and use everyday was made in part or in whole somewhere else? We need the world just as much as they need us.

blueshifted rantings