Friday, November 12, 2010

The Party Pooper - Original Story by Aidan - age 9, typed out exactly as he wrote it (spelling mistakes and all).

Chaper 1 - Intro

Once upon a time there was a boy named Brad Nikles. Brad was 12, just like his brother Ace, and lived in Toronto Ontario.

Chapter 2 - The first victim

One day Brad decided to throw a slumber party, he invited 10 people (5 boys and 5 girls). But little did he know someone was watching him!

On Saturday night, when it was time for the party, the guests arrived. First was Sally, then Bob, then Sarra, Jonny and everyone else. Then it was time for the party to Begin! The first game was hide and go seek (which is perfect Because it's a pretty Big house). "I'll count" said Brad. So everyone hid, But, when Bob hid in one of the spare rooms, and it was his turn to be found, everybody heard a yell coming from upstairs! When they Got upstairs to the room he was hiding in, all they found was his watch!

Chapter 3 - The Diapearing Daisy!

The guest were sooo terrafied when Bob had Diseperred, that they imedetly cancled hide-and-go-seek, and moved onto the next game (which they didn't have so they would have to find something else). "I'll go" said Daisy "I'll go check the Basement, besides you never know what you'll find Down there" and off she went.

"Wait" said Brad following her "I'll be fine" she said "OK" said Brad. He had just started Back up when he heared a wack!~ Then a thump! He turned around fast! But Daisy was gone...'this has to stop soon' he thought (after all he already lost two people), but he was wrong!

Chapter 4 - What's next?

Brad called a group meeting in the liveing room, because things were getting too serious. "What's happening?" said alarmed Jessie. "Oh Daisy" sobbed Ace. "What if they come for me next?" said James. "I hope not" said James's younger sister Jamie. "Looks like we have a Party Pooper!" said Jonny and Sally at the same time. Sarra giggled at the idea.

"We will have to stick togther from know on" replied Brad. But right at that moment, it happened. The remamaining guests saw a figure press a button and foomp! a net shot out of the wall taking James, Jamie and Jessie into a hole in the other side of the wall! The both holes quickley closed!

Chapter 5 - The Party Pooper reveiled - Part 1

"Wait a sec" said Brad "only a previous owner of this house would have known where that was, right Ace?" But Ace was nowere to be seen! Just then the power went out, and then, there was an eeerrrttt! severil yells, and a thump! The when the lights turend Back on, Brad was all alone!

Then, he heard a door opening in the side of the wall, then he turned around and his heart started racing, he swore he saw the handle turn! The last thing he saw Before he Blacked out was a dark figure running toward him!

Chapter 6 - The Party Pooper reveiled - Part 2

Brad woke up in a Dark room, when his eyes ajusted to the light, he gasped!! All the guests were tied up in the room with him, but no sign of Ace. 'Wait a sec' he thought. Then he remembred the Back to the glimps of the party pooper 'that long black-brown hair' he thought. Then a horrable thought struck him 'what if Ace is the party pooper?' he shudderd thinking of the idea.

Then a dark figure apeared, Brad finally got his first clear glimps of the party pooper. He was short and dressed compleatly in Black: Black suit, Black shoes, Black pants, and a Black tie. He had a dark hat that hid most of his face. Then he spoke in an evil voice "I know it is time!!" the he took off his hat...Brad's heart skippted a beat...it was ACE!!!!!!

Chapter 7 - Escape!

"You...you traitor" Brad yelled "My own Brother!! My own Brother!!"Betraid me!!" Ace just gave Brad a wicked laugh, in return. Just then Brad noticed his friends wriggling out of the ropes. 'After all, Ace was never good with ropes' Brad thought. So Brad, started doing the same things his friends were doing.

Brad looked around for a door, and he found one. "Go home" said Brad to his friends. Only Sarra, Daisy and Jonny staid. "Get back here" shouted Ace as they ran up the stairs. Finally they got to the top floor and hid in one of the rooms. It wasn't long before Ace found them. "I've got you now!" shouted Ace as he burst through the doors.

Then he charged towards Brad who was standing against the window. "Jump" Sarra yelled. Brad jumpted out of the way and send Ace smashing through the window. "Argh!" yelled Ace as he fell towards the rose bushes with a lound thump! "Doooohhh!" said Jonny, "ouch!" said Sarra "that's gona hurt in the mornin!" said Brad, then the door bell rung. "I'll get it" said Brad. It was his parents. "Why did Ace just fly out the window?" asked Brad's mom. "Don't worry mom, I'll tell you all about it!"

The end!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I am in the midst of many games right now, some nostalgic (Temple of Elemental Evil), some average (Afro Samurai), some incredibly shitty (Quantum Theory) and one that is completely blowing me away - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

This game is from the talented folks at Ninja Theory who made the ahead of it's time Heavenly Sword. Heavenly Sword was beautiful, had some of the best motion capture and voice acting this side of Uncharted but had framerate and pacing issues that ultimately stalled it and held it back from a blockbuster. It was also really, really short and seemed designed as a rental game.



Enslaved on the other hand shows the maturity of the developer and they bring in many of their strengths from Heavenly sword and few of the weaknesses. It is a true single player game and it features a pair of incredibly real, likeable and human characters in the form of Trip and Monkey. They are both escapees from a slaver ship, but Trip wakes up first and slaps a slave band on Monkey. She doesn't do this because she is evil or a weak female character, she does this because she is a realist.

The setting is 200 years after the end of the world, the cities and former populated areas are being reclaimed by nature and are overgrown wastelands. Mechs wander the land and are controlled by a group and used as slavers. Trip is strong, smart and capable but she is aware that she cannot travel home on her own. She just cannot handle the mechs one on one and cannot be sure she can always hide from them. Monkey however proved he can defeat these creatures and Trip needs him. She hates that she has to trap him into helping her, but she does it to survive.


Monkey does not want to be trapped or be Enslaved again, but there is a side to him that reluctantly at first and then more naturally lends a protective feeling for Trip. As the game progresses you can tell he has feelings for her and want sto actually help her. He is a good person and while he would rather be alone he also craves her company and wants to help her.

How do I know all this? Subtle looks between the characters, their body language, the way they speak to each other and how those nuances change. Teh way she leans into Monkey on his bike or the way he touches her when he is concerned. The gameplay itself has one or two really great hooks, but it is very much like Uncharted (not a bad thing at all), the real star is the feeling of character and life they have managed to inject into this game. There are subtle eye glances in this game that convey as much as a glance from Michael C Hall in Dexter or Kevin Spacey as Keyser Soze do in their roles.


Ninja Theory built a studio and motion capture environment when creating Heavenly Sword and formed a partnership with the chameleon Andy Sirkis. Sirkis oversees the motion capture and acting sequences and places the part of Monkey as well. His talents combined with the truly spectacular writing and art direction make this 'game' more like an incredibly fun and engaging interactive movie.

Enslaved is not a perfect game, it has framerate dips, drawin inherent to the Unreal Engine and uneven textures at times, but with an experience and story like it has all those aspects are irelevant. One of the best games of the generation and a sure classic. Play it as soon as you can.

Friday, October 08, 2010

***Warning, boring introspective post ahead***

Life is complicated as they say. I have a pretty complex life right now, kids, an ex-wife, a girlfriend and all of these parts have complications that rear their heads at odd times.

Right now I am in a pretty grey mood. I am my own worst enemy and right now all I can seem to do is think of the worst of the worst thoughts and I keep spinning myself in circles.

I actually have a very good life right now. My ex-wife and I while not friends are not enemies and we are amicable with the kids and most aspects of the division of our old life. My kids are great, I spend a good amount of time with them (shared custody) and greatly enjoy the times I have with them. They are both unique and amazing in their own ways and they are as important to me as anything has ever been.

My girlfriend is also amazing. In her I have found someone I sync with on levels I haven't felt quite the same way before. I adore her, quirks and all. She is one of the smartest, most charming and big hearted people I know. I am lucky to have met her, with her I am happy and that is something I had almost given up on.

But like life we are complicated and sometimes those aspects cause me to spin and enter a dark mood and doubt myself and a funk settles. When that happens I take everything the wrong way and I lose myself in the spiraling of thoughts.

I know it is not right and I should appreciate what I do have, but doubts and my own inability to shut of my stupid inner monologue plague me at times. They tend not to last, but when they do it is a rough ride for me.

On the bright side I do have a cat in a dryer with laser eyes...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Final Fantasy X was one of my least favorite of the series, mostly due to my severe dislike of the protagonist Tidus and his infamous water sword. The game does have a special place in my heart because of two characters however. The first is Lulu, she was one of the most attractive characters in any Final Fantasy game and fought with a Moogle puppet. Her look alone, especially her, ahem, assets, distinct fighting style and personality made her a key character in the series. Many cosplayers have tried to emulate her look, but frankly it is hard to match in many ways:


The second is Auron who is probably my favorite FF character of all time after Vivi. Auron is an older ex-warrior monk who defines the term hard edged. He fights with one hand, only using the other when performing a critical strike. he always has a jug of volatile liquor with him and gives firm reasonable advice. His look is equally difficult, but this cosplayer nailed it:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of the most amazing news pieces lately is that a planet called Gliese 581g has been discovered that is Earth like and is almost 100% likely to support water on the surface. This means that if the astronomers are correct the planet can sustain life.


This is an amazing find and the fact that it is relatively close (in the grand scheme of the Universe) at 20 light years away is equally astounding. This is just the beginning of our location of Earth like (or exoplanets as they are called) planets. Nasa has recently launched the Keppler Satellite which is specifically designed to locate planets similar to Earth in mass, potential atmosphere and distance from their star that is not too cold or hot for water to form (called the Goldilocks zone).

By tagging these planets as potential exoplanets further study can begin (similar to studies of Gliese 581g) to see if in fact there is atmosphere, water and potentially proof of life.

Why is this important? Well we cannot travel to these places, yet, but we can send signals, we can hypothesize on what kind of life is on these planets and we can grow ourselves further intellectually about the vastness of space and the universe.

I believe we cannot be alone, the universe is too vast, too varied and the odds that we are the sole 'intelligent' lifeforms amongst billions of stars and trillions of planets is a naive and small minded concept. Discoveries like these are sometimes decried as unimportant by some when compared to the issues that plague our world and people. I think instead we should look at all the advancements made when we discovered not so long ago that we are not the center of the universe, that the sun did not orbit the Earth and that the Earth was round instead of flat.

More knowledge of our universe, our neighboring worlds and what if any life we find on far way planets could end up enriching our world and people in ways no one could ever imagine.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One of my favorite genres of all time is Space Sim games a la Freespace, DarkStar One and especially Wing Commander.

I have many great memories of the Wing Commander series. The first 2 games were pure Space sims letting you gain ranks as you killed hoards of Kilrathi and have upgraded ships. Wing Commander 3 and 4 introduced FMV video to advance the story featuring Mark Hammil as the titular Christopher Blair with Tom Wilson as Maniac and Malcolm McDowell as Admiral Tolwyn.

Decent story and acting, compelling events (Angel being killed, Tolwyn's suicide) made these experiences instead of games. The gameplay was a nicer looking version of the Wing Commander series and was pure magic. They continued with Wing Commander Prophecy which was average and not really at the level of the previous games. There was also offshoots of the series called Privateer and Armada. Armada was a simple strategy game that I played a lot of but Privateer was a true innovation. Giving you the ability to choose your path and trade as well as fly missions much like the classic series you had a great deal of choice with the quality Wing Commander engine.



There was a sequel to the game called Privateer 2: The Darkening which took the FMV route and featured an up and coming Clive Owen as the title character. IT was a decent game with a slightly muddled story and barely advanced gameplay. Since then there have been new games like Freelancer, Freespace, Darkstar One and others but the genre has been relatively stagnant and never at it's heights again since the WC 3-4 era.

Apparently there are some other passionate people like me out there and there has been an open source 3d Space Sim engine created called Vega Strike that is making the rounds. This engine will work on Modern PC's and an enterprising group has ported Privateer to this engine and called it Wing Commander Privateer Gemini Gold. This one is out now and I have hopes for another project that is a recreation of Wing Commander 3 using the Freespace 2 engine called Wing Commander Saga.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just look through my posts and you will see how much I love my PS3, I am a Sony fanboy, I love the machine, love the games and love the controller, but hate the UI/Infrastructure most days.

The Sony Infrastructure feels much like a hodge podge, things like Trophies were added later and feel like it. When you want to load them or compare someone else they take forever to display. Achievements on the other hand on the X360 take very little time to pop up.

The big issue, though, is how badly downloads are handled on the PS3, from firmware updates to games, to streaming:

Firmware updates - Unless you are a PlayStation Plus member you have to initiate the download manually and oftentimes you don't know there is one until you try to play a game, then it forces you to do the update whether you want it or not. last night I received a Dead Space 2 Beta invite, in order to get it I need to sign into PSN, once I do it forces a firmware update, this one is for 3D Blu-ray support, which I cannot use, nor want! Oy, the update is huge (of course), the download is slow (despite my 10Mb connection) and takes a good 30 minutes.

These updates are bloated, happen way to often and are not distributed intelligently at all. Take a hint from Kojima Sony, add a torrent option for them so all the users who already have the update can distribute and share the load. make them happen automatically overnight, make them optional unless they are security fixes as well.

Game Downloads - There is a ton of content on the PSN now, the issue is how you get it. On the Xbox you choose the download, it comes down faster then lightning and as soon as it is downloaded you can play. On the PS3 you need to download (which is slow (of course) and then install the game separately. Completely stupid and a huge waste of time.
Something is wrong with wireless on PS3 - Streaming on the PS3 via the new Netflix is super easy to start but it stutters over wireless. My Laptop however streams in HD perfectly over wireless with never any issues. I am not sure if it is the PS3 adapter, the software or how it transfers the data, but so far I am disapointed with Netflix on the PS3, good thing I have HDMI out on my laptop.

Sony has made a great business and network out of copying the successes of Xbox Live and keeping some of their weaknesses away. They need to now go the extra mile and fix these last few things and then we will all finally have nothing to complain about...oh and add cross game chat of course.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saw this great Tweet this week:

O+P+T+I+M+U+S = 15+16+20+9+13+21+19 = 113 is a Prime number; Optimus = Prime. Your mind = Blown Again

Since I hated Rodimus Prime from the original Transformers movie I wanted to make sure math was still my friend to disprove his existence.

R+O+D+I+M+U+S = 17+14+3+8+12+20+18 = 92 Which is NOT a prime number! Hot Rod should have never been made a Prime and this mathematically proves it was never meant to be!

Yes I am a nerd!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I was incredibly excited for Dragon Age: Origins and I did have a lot of fun with the game, but it was completely ruined by playing Mass Effect 2 in the middle of it. Mass Effect 2 was so much more polished, complete and slick that Dragon Age ended up looking clunky and clumsy once I returned to it.

It is a shame because the core game has potential and the world itself is truly amazing. I am hopeful that the more focused experience the sequel is offering will bring it to the level I was hoping to see. Regardless I played a shit ton of the game and am at the very end with no interest in playing the DLC (maybe Awakenings, but not at the current price) so this is the end of the game for me. The problem is the final boss.


All through the game you can approach battles in a strategic sense and generally you can find tactics that work against the groups you are facing. Whether it me a melee rush or a pre-planned spell blitz, if you thought ahead you could succeed. The Archdemon is a huge and very mean Dragon that can only be killed with sustained pounding. I have tried the fight many times (and saves can only be done before going to the keep which is VERY annoying) and it always ends the same. My party dies one by one and then after much attrition of health my main character dies.

This departure from the ability to plan and strategize really annoys me and feels like lazy design choices and is very disappointing. I will finish it, but expected much more from the game...plus as I mentioned it is a really, REALLY ugly game.

Monday, September 13, 2010

So I am a sucker for new technology and out of morbid curiosity I am interested in the Playstation Move motion controller.

The concept is simple now that Wii is a mature console and a fixture in pop culture. You have a main motion controller and an 'optional' navigation controller. These two things interact with your PS3 via the PlayStation Eye camera and Bluetooth for the Nav controller. They say you can use the left side of your DualShock 3 instead of the Nav, but I am unsure how comfortable that would be, hence the quotes around optional.


At it's heart Playstation Move is an HD version of the WiiMote and that is not a bad thing. In well done motion games it truly is a fun concept, but the poor quality and last gen graphics of most Wii games have made me never want a Wii. The added sensitivity and potential for Move support added to legacy games (Socom, Resident Evil 5, Heavy Rain) make this a much more attractive sell for me. let's not forget soem decent new games (like Sports Championship) that use the system.

Now to the issues I have with the hardware. Price, plain and simple. They are pricing the Move Wand at $49.99 and the Nav controller at $29.99. The camera is $39.99 and is necessary as well, games will be $49.99. There is a Move bundle at $99.99 which has the camera, wand and Sports Championship game. The problem is I have the camera already (hello Eye of Judgement bundle) so the Move is priced badly for me. If I want to enter the market I need to get the Wand, Nav controller and at least one game - $49.99 + $29.99 + $49.99 = 129.97 which is way to much money. And if I want to play with at least one friend I am looking at another $79.98.

Sorry Sony, this is priced ridiculously for a family friendly concept platform. The Wand + Nav should be bundled at 50 bucks and there should be a pack in game. This will get adoption and more units in peoples hands which is what you want. Hopefully pricing and alternate bundles develop in the consumers favor and then I will take the dive. At least there is a new and awesome Kevin Butler campaign in conjunction with the launch. Vikings FTW!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Great Googely Moogely, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is out and apparently all kinds of awesome. I am a huge fan of the series, especially the mainstream PS2 games, even though I have still not completed the game to get the proper ending. I have been trying for a LONG TIME.

The Portable games have always been a divergence from the series. Chain of Memories had a battle system based on cards, so no real action sequences you directly controlled. It was fun. I finished it, but it was an anecdote and not the game proper. 358/2 Days was so mind numbingly repetitive and bland that I could not care much about it. The tutorial reached FFXIII levels and lasted way too long before giving you your full abilities.

Birth by Sleep aims to change these perceptions. Featuring three new characters unburdened by Sora, Roxas and Co's backstory they can simply be Keyblade masters and interact in the world while affecting the overall story. It sounds great and looks even better:



The gameplay is no longer a gimped version of Kingdom Hearts, it is a full fledged action RPG with improvements apparently. When Square Enix gives games this treatment we have real gems like Crisis Core, Dissidia and now Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Cannot wait to pick this up and dive back into this unique blend of Disney infused Squeenix RPG goodness.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I find it funny that huge franchises like Halo and Gears of war branch out to beverages, comics, novels and potentially movies but truly interesting games in the universe are foregone in favor of playing it safe. Halo Wars was interesting, but really nothing new was brought to the genre and the game itself was fairly vanilla. Here is what I want:

Gears of War tactical strategy game - Turn/real time hybrid with Delta infiltrating the enemy using tactics instead of third person action. You could deploy in a pre-planning phase and the action for the turn is real time (no turn versus turn, you tune the reactions and readiness of your gears). There could be dozens of mission types, environments and upgrades for the Gears. hell Carmine could even be in this one.

Halo action RPG - Think Mass Effect with the huge allure of the Halo Universe. Start with a new Spartan and progress through a conflict that results in him achieving glory. hell this could even be Master Chiefs origin story...

StarCraft action RPG - Hell we almost had Ghost, instead as described above start with a newly created Ghost that progresses through her adventure meeting companions gaining allies and eventually stopping a galaxy spanning conflict. The richness of units and characters gives this a huge base to draw from when creating the environments and scenarios.

There are many options out there and I would love to see more developers get out of the comfort zone for franchises and spread their wings a bit.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I am going to take a cat lady moment and talk about the latest member of my family, an amazing and absolutely crazy bundle of fur called Indy.

I started thinking about a cat almost as soon as I moved on my own. I love cats and couldn't have one in the past so once the opportunity was there I seriously thought about it. I had trolled a number of the humane society sites but one day the girl sent me a link to a really cute female tabby located at a Pet Smart via the humane society. I went the next day to check her out but she was already adopted but her brother was still there. They mentioned he was actually a lot more affectionate and the moment I touched him he purred up a storm and curled into my hand.


The kids fell for him as quickly as I did and on June 12th of this year Indy became part of the family. I bought him and all the supplies and took him home and he immediately settled in, no issues feeding, no issues with his litter box. He is insanely friendly and almost from the start he cuddles with you and purrs louder then my Xbox 360. The girl fell for him as soon as she saw him and despite minor allergies spends many a night petting and cuddling the bundle of fur.

I mentioned he is crazy right? Well we discovered that on top of his insane cuteness and affectionate nature he has no limits on what he feels he can do. Climb on the table, your shoulder while you eat, repeatedly sniff at your food despite moving him off the couch. Hell he even has the gall to drink my beer!


He is also a very aggressive player and has many a cat fit running pell mell across the place, he has even vaulted across the girls book and my laptop using them as steps when zipping around. He frequently erupts into scratching and nipping fits, funnily enough not with the kids, but with the girl and I and sometimes he takes it too far. He recently lost two teeth and we think it is associated with that, but boy can he leave marks.

He also can fetch and loves to play that game. There are a couple of stuffed animals he loves, a little cat and rabbit we got him being the favorites. If you through it he will tackle the animal, fight it for a while then pick it up in his teeth and drop it on your lap. He loves this game and also loves to chase crumpled papers for long periods at a time.


At night when he sleeps in the bedroom he will play around for 5-10 minutes then settle next to me (always next to me) and curl up to sleep making body contact. He will generally wake up when the sun rises and want to play, but for the night even if I shift he relocates next to me and this amazing furry weight is next to me all night. When I am at leisure on the laptop or playing games by myself he will always curl in my lap (if he can) and purr away or fall asleep with me.

I lucked out with this cat, he has a great and quirky personality (he suspends himself on my screen and has climbed a fake rubber tree a number of times) but he is very affectionate. He has some loyalty and playful features of a dog, but all the independence and self reliance of a cat. He is amazing and a great companion around the house, the boys adore him and so do the girl and I.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Blogging is something I mean to do more of every day, but the hours and days go by at times in an alternating blur and molasses like crawl. Today I want to start with a recap post and maybe do another more geeky post later. First I am listening to a Mix of Prince B-Sides and Alternates and it is awesome.

So what has been going on you ask? Well nothing as exhilarating as Trapeze, but life has been busy. I had to work from home most of last week as my kids did not have any daycare available and we had to scramble to make sure they were cared for. This week we are in a similar boat, Mini B doesn't start school till Friday as the first week is staggered but the school neglected to remind parents. I worked from home today and have short days Wed/Thurs so I can pick him up. The older one is fine as his new gifted school is in full swing.

I was able to make it to the eldests school before he entered class for the first time and I could tell he was grateful to see me. He is a pretty stubborn and self sufficient kid but he has his insecurities and he knows he has trouble with people at times. He made some early friends and really likes the class. I had a heart swelling moment as he was brimming with excitement over his first day. I am fiercely protective of that little guy and I was really nervous with him in this new class, new school and new kids. He did me proud and I love him like crazy.

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Things with the lovely girl are going well. She is able to join me in Halifax for a friends wedding even though she has to take unpaid days and will join us on the Monday instead of the Sunday I am heading out. The geeks and I need to settle and arrange the night before festivities which ultimately mean getting the bride and groom drunk so we are there a day in advanced. I am really happy she can make it as we had a great time in Halifax and she is a great travel companion and all around amazing person.

In her neck of the woods the girl has been going through a couple of things with family and friends and she has been putting herself deep emotionally into these other people. I don't want to mention details as it is not my place to say them but she has a huge heart and is an amazing friend and daughter and I am proud of her and how wonderful a person she is. Nuff said on that, she is good people and I am lucky to know her.

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And as a tie in to both parts of this post is the fact that the girl and I have been dating for a while and while I don't think she or the boys are ready to meet I have been thinking of talking to my oldest at least about the concept of her. This is something I don't take lightly at all and will discuss with all affected parties before I do anything. Really all I want to do is talk about the idea that I am or might be seeing someone so he can ask questions or make comments. I owe that to him and don't want to surprise him or have them meet to early.

This has to happen eventually and I want to introduce the idea in a fairly slow way, how to do this and what the reaction will be I have no idea, but I know it has to happen eventually. Life goes on and his Mom and I know that we are better apart so the kids will see this one day from both of us. How to do it the best way is a mystery and something I will work through.

That is it for now, have to smile that the song playing now is Gett Off (Clockin the Jizz Mix), Prince used to be such a dirty little man. Now off to play some Gears of War 2 unless I get inspired to make another post.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Like everyone I go through cycles. Highs and lows, peaks and valleys. Right now I am in a low cycle, I am doubting myself, my friends, my confidence and at my new job my abilities. It happens from time to time, it will pass (hopefully), but to try to take my mind off, well, my mind, I have decided to try sketching again.

I used to be quite good, I was never amazing at original material, but sketching things I see and altering or preserving the look was a strength. My first stab was really, really horrible. I almost gave up for the night, but decided to try something different and tackled an image of the protagonist from Persona 4. I have the art book and have admired the style for a long time.

Here it is:



It is not complete, I will finish it tonight or tomorrow, but I am pretty happy with it thus far. Proud of this after not seriously holding a pencil in at least 12 years...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So I will continue the story of my trip to Halifax next, but I recently did something so amazing that I need to talk about it. Some friends and I went and experienced a bit of the high flying circus life and did some Flying Trapeze lessons.

There is a company in Montreal called Trapezium that will teach you to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Well they make it look easy, but it was very hard. The stage was set with a safety net, a platform 25 feet up and a small ladder. Equipped with safety gear I was the first to go up and try this out.


The weirdest part was gripping the bar, you had to dangle over the edge as a spotter holds you by the belt. You grip the bar and drop once the say "Ready, Hep'. We started basic with a swing, then hook the legs, then swing with no hands, grip and unhook legs, then drop. It was incredibly exhilarating and fun, but they always added a step.


After this they introduced a backflip to dismount. Basically you did the same steps as before but instead of dropping in a sit you flip. After you drop your legs back down you kick three times and on the last kick forward you let go and flip to your landing.

video

Feeling good we were now ready to be caught and rely on another person instead of our bar. Timing in this one is critical as he has to meet you. You do all the same steps, be as you are hanging by your legs you arch back and when he grabs your arms you grip and release your legs. It was the coolest thing ever and I flubbed my first attempt but the next couple went great.

The last trick was to be caught, then as you swing back pus down on your arms, the catcher then uses the reverse gravity to through you up, you twist and grab the bar. In theory at least. I tried it twice, the first time is this epic fail (tho my transition to him was great), the second I was slow and couldn't hook my legs properly and aborted.

video

Trapeze was one of the most exhilarating, fulfilling and amazing experiences of my life. It is the day after and I am still smiling and amazed I did it, even though I am covered in bruises. It was exhausting and punishing but I would do it again tonight if I could.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Listening to the new Arcade Fire album The Suburbs on NPR radio. It is really good, I became a recent fan of the band at Bluesfest this year and can't get enough of their music. I love when recognized bands willingly allow the streaming of their new work to get people excited and listening to the music:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Chronicle of an East Coast Vacation - Part 1 - Lunenburg

The girl and I just returned from an amazing vacation to the East Coast of our beautiful country. Specifically Lunenburg and Halifax, both amazing places and very different from each other.

The trip was planned some time ago with the general plan being to stay at a house in Lunenburg with her family and then move on to Halifax for a few days then head home.

We flew to the Halifax International Airport Wednesday night (28th) and rented our car from the cheapest option I could find, Avis. To our surprise we were given a Prius and began the somewhat long drive (in the dark). The car was pretty cool and it was nice that my lovely companion was driving, I could then be free to navigate badly (she is an amazing navigator, I am average at best). After a few mis-turns we made it to the house (a large red one, aptly named the Red House) after 12:30 AM Halifax time.


The next day we decided to try and get a lot of fun out of the day and started with a great brunch and then headed into Lunenburg to see the sights. We decided to try out the fisheries museum wondering if it would be any good. In fact it was really fun, they had a number of vessels you could wander into and a lot of information about the coast and Lunenburg. It was pretty cool to see crew quarters in an old trawler, see the captains cabin and what it was like in these vessels. There was some really interesting talks about the Lobster trade, how the area was fished out and even how whaling was a big part of the area many years ago. The museum was a great time and highly recommended when visiting the town.

Later that day we explored part of the surrounding area and went to a place called Blue Rocks, described as Peggy's Cove without the commercialism. It was a really nice area, very rugged coastline, and a ton of crabs around. We even found a crab graveyard of sorts and recovered a pristine, yet hollowed out, crab head. It was a very serene area and a nice quick stop.


Later that night we had a bit of a long trip to a town called Hubbards for a Lobster dinner at a somewhat famous place called the Shore Club. This was to be my first time trying lobster (and mussels) and I was excited and unsure. I was told I would love it and I have to say I did. The restaurant itself was pretty cool, very no frills but a great deal and amazing food. With every lobster meal you have unlimited salad/pasta and mussel bar which I availed myself of quite a bit. I tore apart the lobster with help and I have to say I really liked it. The claws were my favorite, the tail removal was, err, interesting but the experience was really fun.

We decided to see the 'night life' of Lunenburg that night and found our way to the one bar open late, the Knot pub. A really nice little place with it's own custom beer that was smooth and tasty. After that we wandered to the only late night eatery and I got some amazing ice cream (it was that good). We then retired back for some much needed sleep.

The next day we slept in a bit and then headed into town for a bit to explore some more and decided to go ahead with a Whale watching tour we had been looking up. This was a 2 and 1/2 hour trip that was a lot of fun. It wasn't wall to wall whales, but we did track and follow a couple of Minke Whales. At one point the whale did go under the boat, I missed a picture of it, but seeing it up close (say 10 feet away) was very, very cool. The girl and I had an amazing time on the boat, it was so amazing to be on the North Atlantic and just enjoy the day and surroundings.


We burnt under the sun that trip, but it was worth it. Aside from seeing whales, porpoises and seals we were also treated to a scenic trip around the coast of Nova Scotia, we passed through a chanel with crumbling lighthouses, past major ports and we saw a natural phenomenon called the ovens. A series of 17 caves hollowed out of the cliff by the force of the ocean, people can (and did while we were passing) dive from the the walkways and swim into the caves. Very amazing to see up close.\

having not yet been to an ocean beach the next stop was at a really nice beach in the area called Hirtles. All of us headed there and quickly set up camp, dropped to our swimsuits and wandered into the water. I then wandered out fairly quickly. It was damn cold, the kind of cold that feels like bricks slapping against your legs. Unlike me artificial (girlfriend) stayed in the water and managed to move to her waist. I wandered back in and took it (somewhat) like a man. I got my goggles on and made it chest deep, the waves were a couple of feet high so jumping and swaying with the water was necessary. I finally dived into a wave and enjoyed that a few times. Wandering in I dried and warmed myself and then went in for one last soak, all he while artificial was still frolicking. She was beet red when she was done, but exhilarated by the feeling. She was so beautiful at that moment and many others on the trip.


The rest of the ocean side trip was taken up with wandering the beach, tidal pools and rock formations. A beautiful place and the beach to hit if you are in the area.

Later that night we had a great dinner at the Red House consisting of steak that I cooked (yikes), scallops, salad and potatoes. Oh and two and a half bottles of wine. We ended up staying around the table chatting with my girlfriends dad till quite late. He has some great stories and it was a nice night of tales and drinking. Not quite tired my lovely girl and I wandered around the area and eventually settled in the backyard with beers while we used an iPhone app to track constellations. We were eaten alive by mosquitoes, but it was well worth it, a great night to end the first leg of our trip.

The next morning we packed up, said farewell to her parents and brother and started off on our solo part of the trip, see below for a slide-show of the pictures of the Lunenburg area. I'll post the second half of the trip soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Absolutely amazing new Tron Legacy trailer. Drool worthy, young Jeff Bridges is both creepy and a marvel of modern digital imagery:

Monday, July 19, 2010

So I just completed my first Bluesfest experience. I have to say it was an amazing and tiring experience.

There were a few bands like Metric, Matt Good, Weezer and Great Big Sea that I was greatly anticipating but thanks to my lovely girlfriend I experienced a number of great bands I had never given a chance to before. I will start with the ones I anticipated and move on to the new bands I plan to absorb as soon as possible.

Metric
What can I say, I have such a fanboy crush on Emily Haines and she did not disappoint in their set. She was full of manic energy, the band was spot on and the show was absolutely amazing! Emily if you read this I will drop anything if you call...just saying!


Matthew Good
Matthew Good will always hold a special place in my memory as we watched the show with a friend from Montreal and had a great night of drinking and fun afterwards. The show was amazing and a precursor to one of the best nights I have had. Oh and Matt put on a great show as well.

Great Big Sea
This was the biggest party show of the festival, the place was busier then any other day we were there and we danced non-stop together till the very end despite being on very little sleep from the previous nights fun. They are a great band that still has the magic I remember from my college days.

Weezer
One of the best shows I have ever seen. The music, antics, vocals and vibe were amazing, a truly great end to a great festival. The only shame was they ended with 14 minutes to spare before sound bylaws kick in, that is 2-3 more songs we could have had! Best moment was when Rivers came out in a blond wig and mashed up Poker Face into their set.

Bands I experienced for the first time!

Arcade Fire
They were in the middle of the festival, but I need to mention them first. The entire time we watched them the feeling in the air was magical. Both of us just stared at each other at times, absorbed the music and just had an amazing night. The Arcade Fire is a large band with 2 violins, 2 drummers, 2 keyboards, multiple guitars and singers. How they make it work and work so well is a wonder. One of the top concert moments of my life.


Moneen
A Punk band on a smaller stage, but wow did they get my body moving. Hard music with surprisingly strong vocals combined for a great experience.

Bluestone
The girl has friends in the band and they were the first act we saw this year. A good band with lots of energy and a good sound. The female vocalist has a great voice live.

The Flaming Lips
I had heard of this band but never really experienced them. The show was absolutely phenomenal with the band putting on a wacky show complete with lead singer in a bubble crowd surfing. Go go dancers, dozens of balls to kick around and at least 50 confetti guns. The music was great and the band genuinely seemed to enjoy themselves.

City and Color
We went to a rainy Bluesfest event on York street to see Dallas Green in his band City and Color, he also sings (very differently) in Alexis on Fire that we saw as well. Dallas has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard, I can't believe I have never experienced his work before. I am desperately tracking down his albums and may be forced to resort to iTunes, I liked it that much!


Other Bands
There wasn't a bad experience, but the rest were OK and not amazing. The B-52s were a little rough but fun. The Moody Blues were technically fine, but fairly boring. Aexisonfire was good, but a little too guttural for my tastes. Very odd seeing Dallas Green play punk style after his acoustic set the night before.

Bluesfest was a great experience, made all the better by having my girlfriend as my festival companion. It is truly something to experience great music, atmosphere and plenty of beers from the Mill St. brewery with a person who gets and appreciates music. Can't wait for next year already!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Amanda Palmer rose to fame with her band The Dresden Dolls and has recently been touring with Jason Webley in the sideshow circus themed act called Evelyn Evelyn. All you need to know about that show is that Jason Webley and her play conjoined twins made to perform by an evil sideshow owner. She is a manically amazing performer, very twisted and talented and has one of the best twitter feeds on the Internet.

click to view larger imageNot content to release standard material Palmers next release is a very strange, yet amazing one. You see, Amanda Palmer loves Radiohead and she loves to play her Ukulele, so of course her next release is Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele. Having heard the album I can assure you her Ukulele is indeed magical and she is as talented as ever.

The opening track is "Fake Plastic Trees" and starts with some light strokes on the magical ukulele and when Palmers voice starts to join in it is a joy to hear. Obviously a track with just voice and ukulele will tend to sound subdued, this one certainly does, but it is haunting and soulful at the same time. "High and Dry" is the next track and while Palmers voice and ukulele is the star we also have some backing piano music to add to the tone of the track. Again the song becomes uniquely Amanda Palmer with the classic (and very singable) Radiohead tune sounding fresh and wonderful in this version.

"No Surprises" is the next song and once again it is a very subdued track, the presentation is minimal, but very personal and echoes of her passion for the music carry through in a very satisfying way. The next track is "Creep", but this one is subtitled with “Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin”, it is a much more freeform cover then the others on the EP and it shows. It is not my favorite on the album, but it is still very good, you can tell that she was stretching her voice and trying a few of her own ticks and sounds and again makes the song her own.

click to view larger imageNext is "Exit Music (For a Film)"; this song makes a liar of the EP title as there is no Ukulele apparent, instead it is all piano and Palmer. It is an excellent track that again shows Palmers passion for music and her soul being poured into the song. It is not her own music, but she sings it like it is and the result is magic. I do find that the levels on this song seem a bit off and her voice is a tad drowned by the piano but the result is still amazing and must be listened to.

A live version of "Creep" is next (odd to have two versions of a song on an EP, but it is a truly great song); it is truly a live track with audience hoots and participation. The version is obviously raw and the levels aren’t perfect but it is still a better version then the other one on the EP. You can tell she was on her stride at this point and was having a great time playing and loves the song as much as we do. When you hear the song you can literally hear Palmer pouring her entire voice into the song and it makes me fall a little in love with her if I can be honest.

The final track is "Idioteque" and it is also the first release from the EP and it is a great choice as the hook to attract people to the album. Fast and frantic ukulele music starts the tone, piano slowly adds to the sound and then Palmers voice just cements the song into a delightful and incredibly enjoyable track. This is the most ‘produced’ track on the release (backing vocals, more instruments, echos) yet it still feels as personal as the other songs and is a great end to an amazing EP.

Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele is not your normal everyday release. It is very niche, very personal and very, very good. I mention it many times, but the songs sound so personal, so much like Amanda Palmer is singing songs she truly loves and sharing the results with us. I have listened to the tracks many times, in fact while writing this review I have looped them on repeat three times and I can say without doubt that this is a release every Amanda Palmer fan must have. In fact any music lover should give Idioteque a listen and then proceed to buy the album once it is available.

<a href="http://music.amandapalmer.net/album/idioteque">Idioteque by Amanda Palmer</a>

The EP is available on Amanda Palmers own website as she is now a musical free agent and it is a donation based release. The minimum price will be 40 cents per track (9 cents goes to Radiohead and the remainder to cover paypal fees) if you choose to donate more the money goes directly to Amanda Palmer. That means the entire seven track EP (once released on July 20th) can be yours for $2.80, or more if you are not a tightwad, I strongly recommended more. I plan on buying the album despite having review copies of the tracks, it is that good and I want more from Amanda Fucking Palmer.

This was originally published on BlogCritics

Monday, June 14, 2010

So Microsoft 'officially' unveiled their new motion controller - Kinect. I think I preferred Natal, but what I have seen/read about the device leaves me completely uninterested. There are a few issues with the device that Sony is also going to face with Move.

  • It is a standalone peripheral for a huge established base of Xbox 360 consoles. Publishers will not spend millions of dollars developing Kinect only games when the base is zero. They may add tacked on controls (a la WiiMote) for big titles, but core games will not be Kinect specific.
  • It looks like you have to stand the whole time, annoying, plus you have to mimic gripping things for extended periods. Go ahead pretend to hold a steering wheel for 20 minutes and see how it feels
  • The marketing is already atrocious, fake families pretending to play, games that are simplified to the point of annoyance. The best looking game is an on rails star wars that has you flailing like the Star wars Kid.
  • Too little, too late, nothing about this looks like a must have concept, there needs to be a killer app that everyone must play, and that is nowhere to be seen.
  • Where is Milo? Hyped as the true face of natal, Milo is missing but that my a good thing. The concept was creepy and boring.
  • The video chat and Minority Report controls are a gimick and will be used very rarely. Hmm will I fire up Kinect and flail my arms to get to the My Games blade or push up on my controller?
Plus the unit looks like a Sony accessory, not Microsoft, guess the rumours of the new Xbox360 design (sleek and shiny black) may be true. No sale here Microsoft.

Here is a video for a band I have never heard of (Broken Bells) but it stars Christina Hendricks, who I will watch in just about anything. Song is averagey catchy, video is actually cool with a William K Dietz vibe. There is a decided lack of Christina Hendricks cleavage which is disappointing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I would watch this! One of the better Funny or Die videos in a long time...love the constant mentions of how young he looks still...good stuff.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I was faced with a challenge in my new place as far as my audio setup is concerned. At my house I had a wall behind my couch and ran cables under the floor and out vents to the speakers mounted on the wall. My new place has no wall between the living room and dining room (and they are both spacious rooms). I really had no desire to run speaker wire on the floor or ceiling, but I was sorely missing my rear channels.

Some research led me to two items that will make my living room complete (aurally at least).

The first is a wireless rear speaker solution by Rocketfish:


This is a really cool unit that has a sender unit for the audio (that plugs into your receiver) and a receiver unit that plugs into the receiver. You still have to plug in power to the receiver unit, but that is behind the couch and not a big issue.

The real bonus is that the receiver unit is actually an amplifier, so you are not sending the audio across a wireless spectrum to wireless speakers themselves...you are sending the signal to an amp which then shoots the audio signal out the speakers. Very elegant solution and not very expensive at all, plus I get to keep using my Polk Audio speakers and not low quality wireless ones.

This raised another issue of mounting the speakers. I had a wall before and now needed to raise the speakers to a proper listening level. Some research brought me to these beauties:



A great silver speaker stand pair (matches my speakers) that is adjustable and looks nice as well. They should both arrive next week and proper 5.1 surround will be mine again!!

Luckily I found my calibration mic (my receiver auto calibrates) so once the setup is ready I will calibrate and my receiver will have a feel on how to modulate and send the signals to suit the room.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Seriously, how fucking stupid are marketing people? Well that is probably a silly question. I am already sick of ads of people playing games where it is obvious that:

A) They have never played a game before in their life
B) The system isn't on or there reactions are inappropriate to the type of game.

This image from a promo shot of the new EA NHL Slapshot game featuring Wayne Gretzky (glee) goes a huge step further:



They deliberately put the back of the TV and Wii to the viewer and didn't run any cables from the TV or even connect the Wii to the television. Plus there isn't even a WiiMotion sensor. Really idiotic marketing people? You are that lazy and stupid? Hey Wayne and kids enjoy the game with no action or even a signal to the TV.

FAIL

Friday, May 28, 2010

So I mentioned that I bought DJ Hero, it arrived in days and Canada Post left the big ass box (3 feet high) in front of my apartment door....Yikes!

Luckily the building is full of old people so it was safe and I unpacked it. I got the renegade edition which comes with a case that turns into a stand, a 2 disc Jay-Z/Eminem mix and the turntable has metal faders and is reportedly better constructed.



A few thoughts about the package in general:

  • The case is amazing, custom cut foam inserts and it clasps closed on both sides very securely. Plus it has a handle and the legs can fit inside the case for great portability
  • The turntable is amazing, the fader feels really solid and click nicely when in the middle. The tuner for effects is smooth and spins well and the euphoria button lights up when active which is a great touch.
  • The platter itself spins really easily and the buttons are a good distance from each other and grooved for your fingers. Button presses are easy as are green spins, blues are a little trickier as they are on the inside row and the platter feels heavy when you scratch blue sections. I am adjusting and trying different grip techniques to compensate.
  • The 2 disc mix is really quite amazing and a bit surprising. The liner notes are censored, the game is censored but the music is most definitely not, I lost track trying to count the f and n-bombs being dropped. It is appreciated as the music needs to be raw when not re-mixed DJ Hero style...these are pure Eminem and Ja-z tracks, any bleeps or fades when swearing occurs would be noticeable and jarring.
A few thoughts on the game:

  • People are right about the game being minimal as far as modes go but no one could fault the music at all. The mixes are truly great so far, my favorite being the Queen/Daft Punk mixes I have heard.
  • Gameplay is really cool and at times requires fast hands and eyes, when you hit the cues and nail the crossfades it is very satisfying, when you miss and music stops you know you have messed up. The nice thing about the great mixes is I don't mind replaying songs to get the 5 stars.
  • There are really jarring ads in the game, in a Block Party setting there was a crazy bright green TD ad on the wall and I kept looking at it, I don't mind ingame ads if they are there and subtle, but make it fit the subject matter. How about clothes? Music? Movies?
  • I really do feel like a DJ standing above my stand mixing music, the effects knob and ability to insert freestlye effects is really cool as is the scratching and crossfades.
Verdict? Love this game, I love the culture of DJing, I like the music and the scenarios and I really enjoy playing this.

Friday, May 21, 2010

If I had an iPad (and nothing really makes me want one...yet) I would buy this back Decal in a fraction of a heartbeat:

I love these, Propaganda posters made using idiotic statements made by videogame executives. My favorite is this one by Peter Moore when pressed on the failure rate of Xbox360's:


More at Kotaku, I remember all of these statements and they are pure gold. There are many more that could have been used like this one from Sony Chief Jack Tretton (he actually said this!):

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meant to do this earlier, but here is my Iron Man 2 Micro Review:

Loved:

-A closer look at Tony and his life, he is an interesting character and it was nice to see that further explored.
-The briefcase suit, perhaps one of the coolest scenes in a superhero movie ever.
-The tech used, it was fantastical and yet seemed feasible for a genius like Tony.
-Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr. nails this character, he is Tony and he is Iron Man, it is a perfect casting and acting role
-The suits, by and large they are amazing and represented the genre perfectly. Tony's looked sleek and unique, Hammer's looked like cheap knockoffs
-Whiplash, I have to say I really liked these villain, not nearly enough motivation behind his actions or enough buildup to his staggering intellect but he was well handled by Mickey Rourke.
-Nick Fury, I know it was cheeseball, but Sam Jackson did his homework, for the most part, he had the Ultimate universes of Fury's confidence, but not his dangerous edge. I hope he gets to show that in later projects.
-The action sequences, mostly great, the Rhodey/Stark fight was weak, but the rest were great.
-Hammer, Rockwell is a great actor and he nailed the character...I have to wonder if it was his idea to give Hammer a blatantly fake tan...



Hated:

-The pacing...Gad, there were some sequences that severely dragged, while it was nice to see more character it could have been handled more deftly with better writing and or motivations.
-Whiplash showing his face at the end...really? Why anyone thought the villain would drop his helmet in the final battle? To see Rourkes face? Not necessary and blatantly stupid. Plus while I like the character overall his sheer perfection and skill was odd without any preamble...where was he the rest of his life?
-The drunken in armour scene. That was as painful as the dancing scene in Fantastic Four 2...should never have been in this film.
-The habit of having the helmet half-open, it looks bad, is unnecessary and never makes sense as other scenes have the helmet off.
-Rhodes, I hate putting him here, but for the most part the character is badly handled, not by Cheadle, but by the writing and scenarios. He was better represented in the first film and made slightly ridiculous in this one.
-Black Widow, Scarlet tried to hard, the fight scenes were a little contrived and her civvie clothes were poorly chosen. She looked amazing, no doubt, but did not work in the role.
-Costume choices, the men all look great and comfortable, the women all have dresses 2 sizes small. Scarlet had no chest in many scenes, who was the costume designer? The producer?
-Dragged too long, while the final battle was great, the constant back and forth chases took too long to payoff.



Overall I like it, I have seen it twice and will own it on Blu-ray but it is a flawed movie that could have been much better. It is hard to live up to the outstanding first film, but it could have been more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I like electronica, techno, trance and house music a great deal. I have reviewed artists in this genre, I listen to the music to relax and workout and I am a huge fan of the genre. DJ Hero was a game I have been incredibly interested in for quite some time, but I had refrained from getting. Looks like the renegade edition is now just a 100 dollars on Amazon (down from 200).

This is a really cool edition of the game with an enhanced turntable, a case that converts to a stand for the turntable and some remix soundtracks from Jay-z and Eminem. Recently I traded in some Aeroplan points for an Amazon.ca card, looks like I know what I will e getting once the card arrives...I mean the renegade turntable has gold knobs for Pete's sake!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It has been a long time since updating and there have been a lot of changes in my life. I don’t generally delve into my personal life on this blog and I won’t delve deep but some things bear mentioning.

After 12 years at Magma/Primus I have finally left and joined a new company, Telus. This was a huge move for me as I was comfortable, happy and competent in my role as a Sales Engineer at Primus. I joined Telus for a few reasons, challenge, growth and training being the main ones. I have started at Telus and think I will enjoy it, I have a huge amount to learn and have hit the ground running to try and become a key member of the team. I also had to take a dorky picture for my fancy smart card ID.


The other major change is that I have my own place for the first time in my life. I will be bringing my boys over from time to time and my girlfriend is over occasionally as well, but I have a home that is mine to control completely and that is a cool feeling. I have the majority of the living space setup (couch arriving in a couple of weeks) and cosmetic/finishing touches will roll out over the next couple of months. My DSL isn’t working (ANGER) but thankfully there is a strong unsecured wireless signal nearby that keeps me from showing Internet withdrawal symptoms.

On the gaming and hobby side there are ups and downs. My Xbox 360 RROD some time ago and I am having it repaired soon, but man does that make me angry. There is no reason that my 360 should have failed so quickly again. I received a new unit after my last RROD less than two years ago, I have friends that are on their 4th or 5th X360 since launch. That is truly shameful and I really hope Microsoft fixes this for any future hardware deployments.



On my trusty launch PS3 (that has never failed…knock on wood) I am digging into the incredibly hard, sometimes frustrating, but completely addicting Demon’s Souls. I think I have a handle on the game now and will hammer through a couple of levels and get a solid character in place to progress through the game with. It is definitely a complex game and I needed to get a feel on how to move through, level and engage in smart combat. The initial dozen or so deaths, in particular the one by the Dragon near the end of 1-1 as I had 3200 souls were anger inducing, but I feel I am stronger for it and will persevere.

Movies and media wise I am reading through a review novel called Never Look Away. It isn’t a bad book, moves quite slowly though and while it is labeled as a thriller it does not have a lot of tension or hooks that make you flip page after page. I am also listening to Sia’s new album (We Are Born) over and over and getting ready to write up a piece on that album (early spoiler, it is great!). I am working through Fringe with my girlfriend and Castle each week as it comes out.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Wow, all other words aside from that fail me...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

One of the highlights of PAX East for me was the chance to attend a Panel called Naughty Dog LIVE – Game Design with the Dogs. The panellists were Richard Lemarchand, co-lead game designer, Arne Meyer, community strategist, Justin Richmond lead multiplayer designer, and Jacob Minkoff, game designer. They all worked on the incredibly successful and well received Uncharted 2: Among thieves and the talk was sure to be entertaining.

The audio interview is available below to stream or download and I really encourage anyone who is a fan of the Uncharted Series, naughty Dog, heck anyone who likes games to give it a listen. These are entertaining and genuine guys who care about their games and it shows in how they discuss it in the conversation we had.


PAX East 2010: Naughty Dog Interview