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Showing posts from 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…
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 Mo…
***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 s…
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:
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…
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 3and 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 …
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 cann…
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!

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…
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 gam…
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 …
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...

S…
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 th…
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…
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...
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…
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:

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 an…
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 S…
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.

Not 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 v…
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 feelsThe 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 a…
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.

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…
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
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 portabilityThe 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 a…
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!):

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 …
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!

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

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
What do Laurence Fishburne, Adrien Brody (who people say I look like), Topher Grace, Danny Trejo and Robert Rodriquez have in common? They are all involved with the upcoming Predators movie...and you know what it looks really good! Getting an Aliens vibe from it that I am digging:

Great Googely Moogely, I had heard about a new Kids in the Hall series ages ago and I just saw that it premieres tonight at 9PM!

Death Comes to Town on CBC tonight! Looks promising as it is an 8 part comic mystery, hope it is good so we get more of this in the future.
Wow, this is surreal! No this is not a scene from The Day After Tomorrow, this is an actual satellite image of Britain in the midst of a cold snap, ice age, whatever you want to call it. Just Wow!