Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Big Thread Of Stuff (And Stuff)

I went riding today on a 2.6 mile loop, in some of the prettiest terrain I've ever ridden through (rushing streams, trees--like Oblivion). Then I missed a turn and turned a 2.6 mile loop into a 3.9 mile loop, which my legs, in particular, were not happy about. At all. I'm fully expecting to turn into a Crampopotamus at some point later in the day.

I've actually given semi-serious thought to going to the North American Unicycling Championships with Eli 8.6 this summer, because I think he would have an excellent chance to finish very high in his age group in a distance race (and if it was over two miles, I think he'd have a very good chance of winning). The catch, though, is that it's in Berkeley, which is halfway across the country for us, and if we went, that would be our summer vacation. So I'm trying to find something within driving distance. Unlikely, but I'm trying.

Here's a teaser for next week: beginning on Monday, I'll be covering Solium Infernum. It's a four-part, four-day strategy guide for beginners, and I hope it will get more of you interested in the game, because it's terrific. The guide will tell you everything you need to know to be comfortable playing the game, although the devil is in the details, and hell, yes, that was a pun (and that as well).

I've been thinking about the Ubisoft pirate-proof DRM, as well as the OnLive pirate-proof service, and I'm struck by how nothing seems cheaper. That was always the big selling point by publishers to get us to care about piracy, that it was costing honest consumers money. But Silent Hunter 5 is $49.99 (and spectacularly buggy, from what I've been told), and Assassin's Creed 2 is $59.99! And OnLive makes you pay $15 a month just for the privilege of having the opportunity to rent or buy games. It's a gaming service with a cover charge.

So far, it appears that the money consumers have saved with piracy-proof DRM or services is $0.00. This tally will be updated as needed.

I was looking through my e-mail today and started laughing when I saw this note from Francis Cermak about the Sony "Move" motion controller:
Sony is talking about how innovative they are with the “Move,” but for 3 years they’ve been saying how the Wii is not a competitor to their “HD” machine. Then they go and release something that looks exactly like a Wiimote and Nunchuck, but with a ping pong ball on it!

That says it better than I ever could. Sony has been incredibly arrogant and totally dismissive of the Wiimote and the games available for the Wii, then they make a near-exact copy of the Wiimote and a compilation of sports games that's a 100% ripoff of Wii Sports.

Plus, opinion is quite divided on whether this is even better than the Wiimote (Chris Kohler has an article over at Game|Life with the epic title Sony’s Motion Controller Underwhelms With Janky Games). Chris did note the unique aspect of the Move:
One unique thing that Move does that Wii can’t is augmented reality. The camera can show the player on the TV screen and overlay images onto the controller, making it look as if you’re holding a whip, a sword, even a hair trimmer. The game Move Party showed off these features, but it seemed more like a slick visual gimmick than an exciting new type of game.

Nice. When I want to see myself onscreen as a barber, I'm definitely buying a Move.

Steve Davis also had an interesting question via e-mail, wondering whether there might be an Uncanny Valley of control--is there a point where motion control tracking could be so precise that it would actually be a detriment to enjoying a game? His question came after reading this article, which talked about the awkwardness of the boxing game ("Motion Fighter") due to the Move doing true 1:1 motion detection.

I think it's an interesting question, and depending on what kind of motions are needed in the game, I can definitely see a situation where a game is actually less fun with exact motion tracking. Not all games use natural movements, so trying to do some sort of unique motion precisely could be very difficult and quite frustrating.

I don't have any objection to the Move (only to Sony's spectacular arrogance), and if a game comes out that uses it well, I'd certainly be interested in buying it, but I don't see any big hit for Sony here, and I don't see it driving console sales unless there's a price cut (which I don't expect this year). I don't expect Natal to drive 360 sales, either.

What Sony and Microsoft don't seem to understand is that no one has been waiting for their motion controllers. Well, almost no one, because everyone else has bought Wiis, particularly the "casual" market that Sony and Microsoft both discredit and desperately want at the same time. So for the vast majority of the market, this will be a "Oh, so they have it too, now" moment, not "Finally! Real motion control!'

Oh, and one entirely unrelated note: if you're thinking about buying FFXIII, I highly recommend renting it first, because I'm about three hours in and I am mind-numbingly bored. This is coming from someone who was a big fan of both FFVII and FFX (for different reasons), so I'm not historically a critic of the series. It's staggeringly beautiful, but it's also utterly inane, at least so far.

Nice house. Nobody's home.

Last note. Lance sent in an excellent logo for the Dubious Quality News Network, and even though I don't expect to have another real-life scoop in my lifetime, the logo is quite spiffy:

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