Friday, December 28, 2007

Lay On McDuff

The job search is still on going though it is completely stalled since it is the middle of the holidays and everybody is on vacation. I’ve taken advantage of the situation by not doing much myself except trying my best to be up and in the shower before noon. I do have several projects I’ve been wanting to get started on though, some writing, a few t-shirt ideas to put up on café press, taking that new picture of myself with short hair and reorganizing my audio book collection off my iPod and back onto a computer. I had been buying, downloading, and storing them on my work computer and am still thankful that my new iPod is was big enough to store all the ones that I had not already copied and taken home.

We do have to be out of this apartment by the middle of February though, as the owner sold the place and the new people plan on living here. Hopefully I will have at least some idea of what is going on by then. My mother has dropped more than one hint that we could always move in with her back in Vegas while I look for another job back in the U.S. I do miss the states a little. I somehow was found myself watching an episode of Cops that came on after one of those FBI profiler shows where I was too lazy to change the channel. I was glued to the TV watching the guy in the patrol car drive around Vegas trying to pick out landmarks I knew including one excited shout of “Look! A Wienerschnitzel!” Oh chili cheese dog, how you haunt my dreams.I do want to thank Pandemic Studios; another Brisbane based game company, for throwing a Christmas party for all the ‘retrenched’ Auran people. Somebody over there found out our Christmas party had been canceled as part of the whole company being insolvent thing. They stepped up and managed to put together a party for us at the last minute. I won a $50 Myer gift certificate as one of the door prizes.

As 2007 draws to a close amidst a dark cloud where I am out of work, will cease to have a daily excuse for writing 2007 with a little hanging bit and the cross through the center of the 7 that I learned from David Copperfield back in the early 80’s and we find that Spider-Man’s continuity has been rewritten so that he was never married to Mary Jane. I’m sorry if I’m spoiling the end of the “One More Day” storyline for you but we pretty much expected that’s how this awful arc would come to an end.

To 2008 I say this:
Lay on, McDuff, and damned be him who first cries ‘Hold, Enough!’

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Looking for Work

It’s been a wild four years, but Auran Developments has been declared insolvent and officially let everybody go today. There is talk of re-hiring a core Fury team to move the game forward to its release in China where I expect it will do very well. I don’t know if I am going to be offered a place on that team or not but as of now officially looking for another job.

So if anybody is looking to hire a game designer let me know. I do interface design, specs, world building, writing, quests… content designer sort of stuff. I have a good deal of experience with MMO games and generally enjoy all aspects of multi-player gameplay.

Resume and full list published titles available in the link over on the right, under my picture that I still haven't updated now that I cut my hair.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Korean Predictions for WoW from April 6th 2004

Way back in the deep dark roots that eventually became Fury, we were originally working on a completely different game, a full blown MMORPG for a Korean publisher. One of the problems we had was trying to push them to moving forward, to innovate, and to just be different from the others Korean MMORPGs. You know the old saying, seen one Korean MMO you’ve seen them all. Green fields of monsters with very little depth of gameplay.

I’m not trying to put down Korean game companies. Despite anything bad we can say about their MMO games, they seem to be doing okay for themselves. But the question is, would they know a good thing when they see it? 3 years later WoW is now an unqualified success in Korea with about 2 million of WoW's 9 million world-wide subscribers coming from the Korean market. But how did they think WoW would do back at release?

Well here is an email from a guy at our Korean publisher written Tuesday, 6 April 2004. I found it while cleaning out some old folders in Outlook.
Subject: World of Warcraft feedback from Korea

Here is some feedback from 10 industry insiders(developers and marketing managers).

Overall, Korean developers released their initial tension on WOW.
Many forecast WoW will be end just like other western games in Korea.
It is only good game for hardcore target but not more than that.
They are expecting maximum concurrent users will be 20,000.

The Biggest weakness is keyboard movement, Character look and weak characteristic of items.
Also weak party play elements are mentioned many times.

● Strong Points
+ Well optimized. Geforce 2 friendly, good game play on Pentium 800
+ Overall world design and atmosphere is good.
+ Fun quest and every efficient
+ There are many ways to get XP, feel like enjoying real adventure
+ Efficiently managed packet data
+ NPC is very active, which give alive world feelings.
+ Sound support is great, easy to notice and handle when error occurred
+ Light and fun PVP
+ Maintained strong point and improved weak point from Diablo

● Weak Points
+ Movement, it is not mouse point and click. Have to be adapted
+ Character taste is quite different, which make obstacle to immerse in game world.
+ Item collection is not convenient. One more step to collect them.
+ Unstable balancing. Colouring for level difference is ambiguous.
+ Item system is not stable. There are many items are abandoned in game world.
+ Uneven HP recovery for each races
+ Weak item identity
+ Not strong party play leading.
First thing: he says 20,000 "maximum concurrent users." He doesn't say "subscribers" nor does he say "online users" which is good because giving that English is his second language we wouldn't want to pass too much judgment on what may be a translation issue. But even giving them the benefit of the doubt, at 2 million subscribers you can bet WoW's concurrent online users is still much higher than 20,000 players. And he does clearly say that the game will only do well with hardcore game players and will fail like other Western games that have tried to penetrate the Korean market.

Take what you want from the strong points they are pretty straight forward. Lets jump right to the weak points:

Point and Click movement, the bane of our existence back then. Blizzard did eventually capitulate and put in an optional point and click movement system. It went in during the final stage of the beta and was in the game when these guys were playing. If what I’ve been hearing is true, nobody uses it even now.

Character taste, they hate the ‘cartoon’ characters, fair enough lots of Western players said the same.

The item collection thing, what he is talking about is having to click on the mob’s corpse in order to loot them. In most of the Korean MMORPGs when you kill something all the items drop directly to the ground. I should note here that in most of those games they drop right to the ground where anybody can pick them up, not just the player who defeated the mob. So he is saying they don't like the extra step of having to click on the corpse and then loot.

Coloring again refers to items. He is saying they are saying the game’s itemization is unbalanced and they think the way they color the names of items to show its power/rarity is ambiguous.

The item system being unstable is his comment on the vendor trash items found on mobs. He is saying that useless items liter the game world. I assume at this point that they didn’t get far enough or didn’t understand the trade skills to take those items into account. But there are "grey" items which are just meant to be sold to vendors. It is actually a very good sub-reward system on top of straight coin reward. Coins add nothing to your inventory; you can just keep getting more. Items on the other hand take up inventory space and you can run out of room. It is a way of giving you money, but you have to manage your inventory and go back to town and sell them to a vendor to actually get that gold. I’m trying to remember what Korean MMOs I’ve seen with vendor trash items; they do tend to blend together after awhile but I’m sure the vendor trash thing has never really been just a Western game design element.

Uneven hit point recovery. I think they didn’t follow that one of your character’s stats affected your hit point recovery rate. Actually I have a hard time believing that is what they meant here. Maybe that two different character from different races had different hit point total, which again is still based on your character's stats. I dunno.

Weak item identity I don’t understand.

Not strong party play leading I don’t understand either. If you measure it up against something like Lineage they might be talking about the Prince/Princess class who are the only characters who can create a blood pledge and lead their followers to take over castles in game.

After he wrote that email he linked us to a Korean site that tracks games played in PC cafe's in Korea. I watched it for several months and Lineage, Lineage 2 and WoW were always right up there together with very little difference in numbers of players between them. Note that is Lineage 1 and 2 as two separate entries. I don't think I still have that link but I'd be interested to see how that data comes out today.

Take what you will from all that, I'd ramble on some more but I really do need to get to bed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I don't like Chocolate

I have a dreaded dark secret that I’ve been trying to keep hidden from everyone for years. You already know what it is because it’s the title of this post: I don’t like chocolate. I like white chocolate with my favorite being the White Toblerone bars, Mmmm. I’m okay with chocolate cake, brownies, tootsie rolls, and even peanut M&Ms; straight up chocolate however is right out. The purer the chocolate the more I hate it. I bought Connie a 99% cocoa gourmet Lindt chocolate bar once and she had me try some. It was the second worst thing I have ever had tasted. I was going to say ‘had in my mouth’ but that just conjured up all the wrong associations.

When people, especially women, find out about my strong dislike for this revered confectionery they treat me like some kind of alien. They seem to find this whole admission even more offensive being that I was born on Valentines day thought they don't seem to be bothered by the fact that I don't run around in a diaper with a little bow and arrow. My only defense on the chocolate issue is to say that if I were to buy them some chocolate... say as a gift; they can rest assured that I won’t try to steal any. This usually grants me a temporary reprieve until they realize that the times I do happen to buy them some chocolate are few and far between. Its not that I’m not a loving, gift giving kinda guy, it’s just that I would rather get them something I can steal some of.

Now however, I have found any ally who understands my plight.

Friday, November 30, 2007

2007 Aurealis Awards

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I’m a judge on the fantasy short story panel of the 2007 Aurealis Awards.

Nominations were just closed with 159 stories submitted this year in the fantasy short story category. The awards ceremony is January 26th at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts here in Brisbane and is open to the public.

I mentioned this is because I just think it’s so cool to sit in the middle of a pile of manuscripts and I wanted to share. I am just such a big geek for that sort of thing.

Okay the real reason I brought it up was because I wanted to help spread the word of this:
A Christmas Conversation with Fiona McIntosh

Get ready for the holiday season by joining us for a special festive chat with internationally best-selling Australian fantasy author, Fiona McIntosh.

Fiona will share her experiences on becoming a full time writer and the trials and tribulations of being a published professional in what promises to be the perfect preparation for the holiday season.

She will also be signing copies of her books (which make the perfect Christmas present.

Profits from this relaxed and intimate evening will support the Aurealis Awards, Australia’s premier speculative fiction celebration. Tickets are available now from Pulp Fiction Books or at the door on the night.

Where: QWC seminar room, Metro Arts Building, 109 Edward Street, Brisbane
When: Monday 3rd December, 6:00pm for 6:30pm
Cost: $10 (includes finger food)

Brought to you by Fantastic Queensland and Pulp Fiction Books.
I haven't actually read anything by Fiona McIntosh but I like to listen to writers talk about writing. Or maybe I have... her website look familiar but I don't recognize any of the titles.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Picture with Short Hair

I was going to wait till this weekend to take a new picture of myself with short hair. But then I was set up to do Erin Marcon's "Collections" column in Hyper Magazine.Left to right on the monitors is Fury, the original Command & Conquer, and Eye of the Beholder. The 5 characters on the Eye of the Beholder screen are all old Westwood Studios employees - left to right: Myself, Frank Saxon, Aaron Powel, Phil Gorrow, and Paul Mudra. The statue between the monitors is from the comic book Invincible by Robert Kirkman. You can also see Sergio Aragonés Groo statue sitting on top of the Nintendo DS games. The figures on top of the computer are from Homestar Runner.

It was a last minute thing so I had to quickly take a new picture and answer all his questions. I was up till all hours of the morning trying to get a decent picture.

I remember when I was taking photography classes at College of Southern Nevada in Vegas. One of the girls asked me for advice because I was getting A's on all my assignments. I asked to see her proof sheets for our last assignment. She had taken 5 pictures for the assignment. First I showed her one picture that showed what I had done to set up the picture, lights hanging off cloths racks and stuff like that. Then I showed her my poof sheets. I used 7 whole rolls of film just to get one picture that I could work on for few hours in the dark room to get it looking good enough to turn in. Then I asker her out and she turned me down. :-(

I'll still try to take another picture this weekend to make a new profile picture.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back from Melbourne

Here is a picture of the Fury booths at GCAP, eSports and eGames in Melbourne.

I would like to point out that the girls in the last picture were kicking ass. The guy sitting across from them kept standing up and looking over the computers as if to assure himself that yes, he had in fact had his butt handed to him by a 8 year old girl.

While we were setting up all the computers at eGames, I noticed that our friends over at Australian Gamer hadn't arrived and set up yet. So decided to have a little fun. Now when I showed this picture to Yug he game me such a hurt look as if I had just stolen his last beer. I felt so bad. I would also like to point out that in the end, there was in fact cake. It was some kind of fruitcake covered in nuts, so really, no big loss.

The first night we got to Melbourne I talked everybody into going to the Hardrock Cafe for dinner because I wanted to get a pin for my collection. I had been too lazy to walk the few blocks to get the pin when I was in Melbourne last year. From our hotel this year it was all the way on the other side of the CBD. Once we got all the way over there we found out that it had closed 2 weeks ago. Sigh.

So thats about it for my trip to Melbourne. Well except for the part where some guy picked my pocket and I chased him down and tackled him to the ground. That was kind of fun except for the part where he ran off and when security got there they yanked me off in to the back room for some spit in your face yelling type interrogation.

Oh, and I cut my hair off. Pictures to come in the next few days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

eGames & GCAP in Melbourne

eGames 2007I will be heading down to Melbourne Wednesday for the eGames Expo. I feel Auran's official press release for the topic covers all the points nicely:
We're sending some of our unwashed* staff to the eGames Expo in Melbourne, which starts on the 16th of November and runs through to the 18th. If you're in the Melbourne region, get along to the expo and visit the Fury stand to have a chat. We'll have copies of Fury for sale at special show prices as well, so come with some cash to pick up a copy for you or a friend.

* Staff will be patched before the show to remedy this bug.
If you have yet to sign up as member of my rabid legion of followers and you happen to be near Melbourne next weekend; stop by eGames and bring your own pen. I swear newbie legion members steal more pens from me.

GCAPI will actually be switching between our booth at eGames and a booth at Game Connect: Asia Pacific (a.k.a. GCAP), an industry conference event also being held in the Convention Center; but I shouldn’t be that hard to track down.

Ashwin also just let me know that the Electric Playground video of me interviewing Connie and Baxter here in the office for is up on their site. I won't linking to said video because I look like shit. This is what happens when you live somewhere with high humidity, fry your hair by bleaching it blond and not know when you leave the house in the morning that you are going to be doing a video shoot.

I have dyed my hair back brown as you can see from the picture to the right, but half that length is fried. The natural curl is starting to come back but unless I use excess hair product it frizzes out halfway through the day. I am probably going to cut the damaged length off when I get back from Melbourne.

If you really want to see how bad it looks, feel free to go find the Electric Playground site yourself, but just remember. I warned you.

Richard Garriott's Pain in My Ass

As a game designer I tend to take a very critical look at how other game companies do things. ...and then I complain about them. That second part doesn't have anything to do with being a game designer, that's just me. I’m not saying I, the company I work for, or the product we just put out is perfect either, it’s just that it isn’t very professional to complain about those things in public so I’m forced to pick on other people and their products.

It is day 4 in my attempt to play “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”. I have now given up on my attempt to get my normal account name back and am trying to use my other account. At this point I am also trying to act like some average consumer when faced with problems. For example I am now pretending I know nothing about the connection between the game and NCSoft, specifically the fact that I have to use a Master PlayNC account to then add “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”.

The little card with my “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” Serial Code that came in the box simply says to launch the game and follow the instructions. I click the “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” icon on my desktop, it loads the PlayNC launcher and I click on “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” under the Installed list and then press “Play Now.” It goes through a patch check, EULA, logo screens, skips the movie because it already played it once when I first installed and updated and I am eventually faced with a login screen and asked for my account and password.

It has not yet told me that how I should go about making an account. The only options I can select are Options (Video/Audio/Game/Key Bindings), Cinematic, Credits, and Exit.

I type some random stuff in the account and password fields and press return. The computer is now locked up and both ALT-Tab and CTRL-ALT-DEL do nothing. I know what the problem is. They blew test number one. They didn’t take software firewalls into account and Zone Alarm’s little dialog is blocked behind their screen and they won’t let me ALT-Tab out to say that it’s okay for “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” to access the Internet. I have to force shut down my machine at this point because it doesn’t appear to be timing out.

Luckily Zone Alarm now remembers incomplete failed software access attempts so I just have to open up its menu and say allow “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”. Before Zone Alarm did this if you never answered the ‘Allow’ or ‘Block’ dialog the program wouldn’t show up in the list. Granted if you aren’t familiar with stupid launcher programs that do crap like this, you still wouldn’t know why your computer is locking up.

Okay so I get back to the password screen and type random stuff and it just tells me to check my spelling etc. It does say that if I need help retrieving account information I should go to for more information. But it has never told me how to go about creating an account in the first place.

I go back to the PlayNC launcher and press the Help link. It loads up Internet Explorer which is NOT my default browser. I use Firefox. For a moment I shake my fist at the computer while pretending I’m a ranting, anti-Microsoft, computer guy. I yell and scream for a few minutes about the “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” sullying my computer with Internet Explorer and probably downloading viruses as we speak. Seriously, if you are going to launch a browser, launch the default browser on the machine.

Lets look at the link on the Serial Code card, RGTR stands for “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” and it yes, every where they print the name of the game they have to spell out the whole thing. Kinda like the old Virgin Game’s “The 11th Hour: The Sequel to the 7th Guest.” Same thing and I swear it made the manual twice as long. It’s so stupid. Marketing feels that putting Richard’s name on the title like that might help sell the game. He’s a famous guy, we all love Ultima. I get that, I get putting it on the box, but the extra step of bonding his name to the title is annoying. It is ridiculous to read when used in a sentence. And they obviously don’t want you typing that whole thing out in the URL so they shortened it to RGTR which now isn’t connected to the either his name or the game anymore! You might have noticed I’ve gone back over this post and replaced everywhere I had Tabula Rasa with “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” just to drive the point home. I do wonder if I could legally put out my own game called “Joseph B. Hewitt IV’s Tabula Rasa”?

Anyway the official game web site… going to look through their forums to see if anybody else has this problem. Community link to Forum & Fansites link… to umm no official forums. They are all fansite forums.

Okay I give up. I didn’t mean to write another really long complaining post. I was just going to post a small thing about them locking up my computer with Zone Alarm and it somehow blew up into this whole thing. I’m going to turn my brain back on and log in with my PlayNC account. I really don’t know how a casual, non-technical, person would ever figure out how to actually log into the game. Going to the PlayNC site, creating an account there, adding the game through that site, THEN logging into the game isn’t a natural process. You would think they would put all that on the Serial Code card but instead they link to the official game site. There do seem to be people online right now playing "Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa" so maybe it’s just me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Don’t PlayNC

NCSoft has got to have THE WORST help system of any on-line game service. Okay, probably not anywhere near THE worst. SoE certainly wasn’t an award winner for SWG at its launch, but NCSoft certainly does love making you jump through hoops and they have had over four years to actually get some tools in place.

I recently bought Tabula Rasa. In order to play it I have to have a Master PlayNC account. I do have a Master PlayNC account that I created almost four years ago in early 2004 when I played City of Heroes. Unfortunately, none of my standard passwords seem to be correct. I also love how they get you with the too many attempts thing right off the bat. You know how most systems allow you to attempt to enter your password a few times before they say something and make you wait awhile before you can try again? Well PlayNC does that after the first try.
Too many failed login attempts, login temporarily disabled. Please try again in a few minutes.
Granted the wait time is only like 2 minutes before you can try again, but what a pain in the ass especially if you just made a typo.

I try to use their lost password feature. It pops up two security questions that I am assuming I picked way back when. It also has one of those annoying ‘type in the letters you see that are distorted, hard to read and partly hidden on this noisy background image’ things that all appear to be coded to just reject your first attempt out of hand. The questions are “What was the color of my first car” and “What was my childhood nickname.” I enter the answers and am told I’m wrong.Mercury Comet
Funny that I have a color picture of said car right here and am still haunted by that cruel nickname. The only recourse I am given is that I have to contact support. No link, just told that is what I have to do.

Under the ‘Help’ link on the side menu I find a ‘Support Center’ link, enter ‘Lost Password’ in the search field and get an entry titled “PlayNC Support - What should I do if I think I have been hacked?”

Okay, lets try, “Forgot Password”… okay that came up with a few, one of which is “I forgot my PlayNC master account password.” It gives me the same spiel about going to the lost password link and if I have updated my account and added the security questions that I need to answer them but if I haven’t updated it then I need to just enter my date of birth. Note to self, in the future don’t update and add the questions I won’t remember the answer to in four years.

At the bottom it has another link. “I can't use the FORGOT PASSWORD feature because I cannot remember some of the required information.” Why this link isn’t included on the actual Lost Password page I don’t know.

That page tells me to use the “Ask a Question” link and paste in the following into the form:
I forgot my PlayNC master account password and I can't reset it using the FORGOT PASSWORD feature.
Here is my account information:
PlayNC master account name: ENTER ACCOUNT NAME HERE
Physical Address: ENTER POSTAL MAILING ADDRESS (not e-mail address) HERE
Serial codes/access keys: ENTER CODES/KEYS HERE
Now the problem with all these is I have moved around a bit and there are 5 possible postal addresses I may have used when I first signed up for the account: My house in Vegas, my mother’s house in Vegas (my main U.S. mailing address), my work address, my original apartment when I first moved to Australia or my current apartment.

The Serial Codes and Unique Account IDs are the game code and account names used on previous PlayNC games. I haven’t a clue. I played several of their games but when I stopped, I canceled the accounts. I don’t have that information. (Actually I do as I am very anal about that sort of thing, but let’s pretend I’m a normal person who doesn’t keep game boxes for more than a few years after they’ve stopped playing them. And that they don’t keep game activation code emails buried in some folder in their inbox. Or at least pretend I’m just too lazy to go out into the box in storage where those old game boxes are which is probably a lot easier.) I wrote that I have no active accounts for those two entries.

I got back an email saying that some of my information in incorrect or inaccurate. To assist them further I need to provide them with additional information. They do apologize for what appears to be additional steps. I am told not to reply to the email but rather to go to a link to update my support reqest. This link takes me to their Knowledge Base support page. At this page I am asked for my email address and a password. I wanted to write back, thanking them for their time but informing them that I was going to return Tabula Rasa to the store.

I can’t however as I have no password for their knowledge base page. I am pretty sure I was never asked to create one. Just now in writing this post I have actually retraced my steps to creating this customer service request. I have looked at the original email they auto-sent me when I entered the customer service request and all over this current one. Both say that if I need to update my request to go to that link but neither give any indication of a password. And this email also says if they don’t hear back from me in 72 hours they will assume the issue has been resolved. Not letting the customers answer back is a nice way to get their customer support resolved issues scores up.

Looking back through the PlayNC email crap I have kept. I do have one regarding why I quite City of Heroes. Petition: “Falling Forever: Walked into a building for a mission and fell through the world. I am still falling. /stuck does nothing.”

I remember that I waited online for quite awhile but never got a response. Tried logging off and back on and was still falling. I got this email three days later, “My apologies, but I am not able to find your hero online at the moment. Unfortunately, we can only assist you on this issue while your hero is logged in. Next time you log in with this hero, please reply back to this email letting us know that you are online, and we will get to you as quickly as we can. You may continue to play, and we will find you in the game when we get to your petition.”

This is why I was working to get macro programs banned from SWG customer service. I may not continue to play as falling forever is not what I consider ‘playing’ and I certainly wasn’t about to spend three more days doing it. If somebody had to actually type an answer to that it would probably have more to do to address my problem than suggest that I log in, write them email, then sit there for hours while waiting for them to come to my aid.

The real end to this story is I have another PlayNC account. I created a second one way back when because of this same problem. I was only jumping through these hoops because A. I wanted to complain about them and B. I would prefer to have the other account name as it is my standard one I always use for MMOs. Seriously, if they want you to maintain a master account and not make a new one for each new game, they need to smooth this process out.

It does annoy the piss out of me that they don’t just do the standard “mail the password to the email address on file” like the rest of the world does. I would only need to contact customer support if I had changed my email address or something. They certainly don’t seem to have a problem spamming my email with crap about how they keep re-activating my various game accounts for their ‘special’ weekends to get me to come back.

I wonder if my CoH character is still falling?

Monday, November 05, 2007

All your XBox 360 faceplates belong to me!

As a follow up to my "I post all my own ideas" post regarding the Australian Gamer forum, it turns out that my reply post to El Taco was nominated for the October Post of the Month. So get on over there and stuff the ballots voting for me so I can win another XBox360 faceplate. Never mind the fact that I don't own a XBox360. Its those region coding issues I've gone on about numerous times before. Anyway, the "I do all my own stunts" t-shirt is pretty cool, I'd wear that.

Speaking of the Next Gen Console systems (shouldn't we call them 'This Gen' by now) I did try to rent a PS3 from Blockbuster Thursday night. They rent them for $50 bucks a night. $50 bucks!!! And they only have one, which was already rented and not due back till Monday. With that kinda of return on investment why do they only have one?! And Mr. PS3-Renter... if you are going to spend $200 bucks, assuming it was Thursday that you rented it, just go and buy one!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What has he gots in his pocketses?

I was dumping all this stuff out of my pocket the other night and was marveling so much at the pile I created that I thought I would share.

Swiss Army Wallet
I prefer what I think is called a business card wallet. It is just a simple one fold wallet with a driver's license window on the top half and two pockets on the bottom. Wallets with too many separate pockets are just too thick even when you don't have anything in them.

Black & Crimson Nintendo DS
This color isn't available in Australia so I like to show it off and impress all the women. I bought it in Seattle when I was back in the states for PAX. I have the wireless browswer cart plugged in there but I has of yet been able it to connect to my wireless router. The game in there is the new Zelda. I normally have Picross too but I think its in my camera bag.

Before I moved to Australia I had an old Palm Pilot. It was in need of replacing and I realized I wouldn't have an Australian adapter for it when I moved so I just planned on getting a new one. To tide me over I bought this notebook and still use it four years later. To be honest though I was really only using the Palm Pilot as a calendar and to play old Infocom text adventures.

Earphones lanyard
I remember when I saw this in the store for $60 dollars (Australian) and wondered what idiot would pay that much for cheap ear-bud style head phones. But it turns out to work really well. I don't have to worry about digging my iPod out of my pocket to access it and no more accidentally tangling up in the headphone cord or catching it on something and unplugging them. The iPod plugs right into the lanyard which the headphone wires go up into. That black band tying it up is a hair band for those annoying hair emergencies.

Card Wallet
Its kinda hard to see in the picture, but its in-between the notebook and the money wallet. When you buy some card tricks that require special cards they come in a little plastic wallet like this. I started carrying this around a few months ago when I was teaching a friend how to do this trick called Color Monte so he could show the magician his mother had recently started dating. The special cards aren't 'trick cards' as such just a pre-prepared surprise card for the finale. The trick itself is all slight of hand.

Oakly Sunglasses
Usually, I wind up buying a new pair of sunglasses every year either because I have lost, broke or simply scratched up my previous pair. I've had this pair for 3 years now. I scratched up previous pair pretty bad and had them in the car glove box as a back up pair till somebody broke into my car and stole them. They didn't seem that impressed by the music CDs in the car which must mean they have really bad taste or that I do.

Money Wallet
I used to have a money clip but I don't know what became of it. It was actually a Swiss Army money clip that matched the wallet and a little notebook that I also lost. Connie got me this wallet which you may have seen advertised on late night TV. It has those crossed bands of elastic so you can open it either way. You just open it, toss in a fold of money and then close and open it from the other side and the bills are now under the elastic.

iPod Nano
Its a small one compared to the larger memory sizes you can get today, but it just the thing for my unabridged audio books. It is actually a rebuilt one they replaced my previous one with when it froze up. I started having problems with this one last week but luckily they were able to fix it up without having to replace it again. Have you ever noticed that people who work at an Apple store are all way to hip? The girl there was pretty impressed with my "I don't work here." t-shirt.

I was a very early cellphone adopter. A friend of mine worked at Radio Shack in the late 80's and he let me use his employee discount to buy a car-mounted cell phone. I didn't really call that many people with it, but would hold it up as if I was talking to somebody and sing along to the radio. A few years later somebody broke into my car and stole the handset for it not realizing that the actual phone was this giant brick mounted under the seat. I replaced it with an early Motorola handhold and basically started using it as my everyday phone. For a number of years I didn't have a land line until I got a TiVo and needed a line to plug it into for program updates.

So whats on the keyring besides keys? LED flashlight, 4gig memory stick, and a little hook thing that I sometimes attach my ring to so I don't loose it when I take it off. I bought this little dangly robot thing thing down in Southbank when we had a BBQ there last weekend, but I just know it won't hold up for very long so I think I'll try attaching it to the rear-view mirror of the car instead.

Otherwise known as spare change. No one dollar bills in Australia so on top of the normal array of change you also have the 'gold' one and two dollar coins. I have a large jar I fill up with everything but the gold coins and then cash in at the bank. I've always wondered what they do in strip clubs if they don't have one dollar bills. I can't really believe the types of guys who hang out in strip clubs would stuff five dollar bills down a girl's g-string but I also can't see them using one dollar coins either. I keep saying I'll go investigate but haven't as of yet.

Swiss Army Knife
Its the really geeky version that not only has the scissors but also has a little pair of pliers. I really need to replace it but I haven't found a similar one or one I like.

The only thing missing is that I used to also have a pocket watch. But ever since I lost the really cool chain my brother got me for Christmas many years ago I haven't consistently carried one. I consistently keep buying new ones, getting new chains, but the other chain was just the right size, was actually two chains so it didn't run the risk of breaking, and had a really good clip to attach to my pocket.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I hate being trendy

There has been something bugging me for awhile now but I’ve been too lazy to actually research it. I now find myself faced with the choice of going off and doing said research or risk humiliation when my dearly held opinions turn out to be based on unfounded information and conjecture.

. . .

If you had any doubt that I would take the later of those two choices, there is a whole slew of links along the right of the page that will take you other sites and I invite you to pick one because I want nobody reading my stuff who has even the slightest notion that even the smallest iota of a well thought out point would appear in any of the rapidly firing words that I am typing in what can only be described as a mish mash of run on sentence after run on sentence pouring forth with no end in sight especially in this one which appears to being doing so well that I have decided it is a sort of challenge to see just how long I could go. Yeah as soon as I thought about what I was doing it ended itself, lucky escape for us all.

Starbucks LogoBefore I go on about this thing that is bugging me I want to say right up front that I think the whole notion of hating big evil corporations simply because they are big evil corporations is way too trendy. There was somebody going off on Starbucks today for what in the end, after you removed all the adjectives, seemed to come down to just that reason. I prefer to hate them because in Australia when you ask for a Venti Vanilla Coffee Frappuccino you get a cup that in America would be called a Grande. For those of you who don’t speak Starbuck-ese, a Venti is a large and a Grande is a medium.

Starbucks Scuba TankLike all Americans I prefer my beverages in as large a size as possible. I would go so far as to say if they come up with some giant refrigerated (a Frappuccino is cold drink along the lines of an iced coffee slurpee) tank that I could strap onto my back and drink through hose, I’d be all over that.

So now that we got that out of the way and it is clear I’m an evil capitalistic bastard lets get on with picking on Microsoft. As so many people do pick on Microsoft, I felt it was important to let you know I wasn’t doing it to be trendy.

We would like to put the Microsoft “Games for Windows” logo on the Fury box.Games for Windows logoWhy?

I don’t honestly know. I can’t think of a single person who would look at a PC game and see the Windows XP/Vista listing on the system requirements but still not buy the game because it didn’t have the “Games for Windows” logo on it. Microsoft has such a solid reputation especially with this whole “DirectX 10 only graphic feature” thing they are getting game companies to promote that turn out work not only just fine under DirectX 9, but in most cases run better under DirectX 9.

Just assume we want said logo for no other reason than that is what I’m telling you.

In order to qualify for the distinction of being a game worthy of such high branding we have to follow a set of standards. Its one of these which is bugging the hell out of me and really the point of this whole post which it is nice of me to finally get around to don’t you think?. Microsoft appears to think it’s a good idea to mandate that any files you save out from your game, for example screenshots and log files, have to be saved in a certain directory.

The first part of the reason is sound, if the user doesn’t have Admin permissions to the machine you can’t save them to the game’s own directory within the Programs folder.

I get that.

But the next part is where they lose me. I’ll preface this torrent with the fact that I’m basing it all on Windows XP and haven’t a clue what Windows Vista may or may not do differently.

Microsoft says that you must save them under the following path
C:\Documents and Settings\Joseph\Local Settings\Application Data\MyGames\Fury\...

The “Joseph” directory being what ever your user name happens to be. Besides being over half a dozen directories deep before you get to the Fury directory, two of those directories along the way are hidden! Local Settings and Application Data are hidden directories by default! I’m looking at the Joseph directory under Documents and Settings and I only see Desktop, Favorites, My Documents and Start Menu. I don’t see a Local Settings directory. I don’t see anyway to unhide directories. How does Microsoft expect Timmy’s Dad to figure out how to get at his screenshots?
"Sorry little Timmy. I know you took that cool screenshot of you pwn’n newbs and you want to parse your combat log, but I can’t seem to find where it saved them. The manual says there should be a Local Settings directory here but I don’t see it."
I would prefer something like a My Games directory under the My Documents folder. Though I never did understand why things like My Music, My Pictures, etc. where all under the My Documents folder and not in the same directory as the My Documents folder. But what do I know?

FrappuccinoLittle Timmy by now has gone back to World of Warcraft, whose makers don’t seem to care about the “Games for Windows” logo and save their screenshots where ever the hell they feel like it. They also probably sit around drinking Starbucks Frappuccinos all day in Venti sized Venti cups. Bastards, all of them!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Patch Rules

Patching Rules
1. Never patch on a Friday.
A. The next two days are the weekend and there is no one in the office to fix all the things the patch broke in the game.

B. Lots of people don't have school/work on the weekend which means there are going to be even more customers upset with your company when they can't play because your patch broke the game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hellgate London Ads

Last year I decided to not buy Battlefield 2142 because of the Adware type stuff EA were putting in the game. It has been recently announced that Hellgate London has the same Adware. If you had it on a list of possible Christmas presents, please remove it. Thanks.

I am okay with the in game advertising to an extent. Business is business and capitalism makes the world go around. I also understand that they are keeping their data gathering autonomous, not trying to find my identity. But that information they are gathering is valuable as is my time viewing their ads. If they want me to allow such practices they are going to need to do two more things:

1. Pay me for it. I am not going to pay full retail for a game, possibly a subscription AND allow them to just have that information and subject me to advertising. They are making money off that information and those ads so some of that needs to be passed on to me. They can't have their cake and eat it too... well not my cake anyway. Hmmm how about, they can't sell their cake to me and eat it too.

2. Change their EULA agreement in such a way that states they do not have the right to change the agreement at a later time. Currently their EULA reads in such a way that gives them a lot of wiggle room to change it and the data they collect at any time in the future. That just won't do. The cake's ingredients should not change after the transaction is made. I'm okay with vanilla or lemon cake, but I don't want them switching it to chocolate at some later time.

Here is hoping they don't do this to Crysis. Can't really think of a cake analogy for this last bit... How about if I said the wish I made when I blew out the candles on my cake was that they don't do this to Crysis! I should have quit while I was ahead.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Post All My Own Ideas

I noticed Kotaku has split up to have an Australian Version. My link over on the left used to just be but it would translate to for me when I used it. I’ve edited it to be which is the direct link to the U.S. version.

What’s the deal though? Why? It would appear at a cursory glance that the U.S. version of the site appears to be exactly the same except with more stories. The U.S. version appears to have all the Australian specific articles as well. It’s just the Australian version that has less stuff. What is up with that?!

Okay, that isn’t really why I gathered you all here this evening. Back in April I did a 10 question interview with Australian Gamer. I also managed to get myself into a bit of controversy when my fictional story in a ‘relationship’ thread was nominated for the April Post of the Month. I found myself going up against another post that was really nothing but a number of parody pictures of that guy from the move ‘300’ yelling “This is Sparta!!!” I found out that he didn’t actually make any of those pictures, he just collected them from across the internet and posted them. I said something about that in the thread.

Here is my original blog post about it. Go and read that PotM thread and ask yourself who is being an ass. You might even be tempted to say nobody. But I certainly don’t see any of my posts as being overly rude.

Okay jumping forward to the present day. The October Post of the Month thread. About halfway down you’ll see this post from El Taco:
Because it's a shirt+faceplate, I'm expect Joseph4th to come in here, make one post, get angry at me for winning then never posting again.

What an ass.
Why did he do it? Why did he say my name and summon me so? He's young and doesn't know any better. Now the first version of my response was a bit over the top and probably a wee bit too cruel. I toned it down quite a bit during the editing stage. I also was originally planning on changing the faceplate in the picture as well as the t-shirt. I was going to turn it into a Del Taco faceplate but since they don't have Del Taco in Australia it would have been a lot of Photoshop work with little humor value in return.

Anyway here is the link to the October PotM thread so you can read it all for yourself. Share and enjoy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The White Stuff

Somebody awhile ago hooked me up with a song called “Code Monkey” by Jonathan Coulton. By hooked up I mean they had it, I listened to it, and that was about it.

Today I was watching the latest Zero Punctuation episode which reviews The Orange Box from Valve – you know the one with Half-life Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. If you haven’t seen this or other Zero Punctuation reviews I highly suggest you stop reading my prattling and go on and watch something truly funny.

Anyway, at the end of the latest review Yahtzee Croshaw, the English nut job on the loose somewhere in Australia who is the creator of Zero Punctuation, mentions there is a song at the end of Portal by Jonathan Coulton. I hadn’t made the connection of the Code Money song with Jonathan until I looked him up on iTunes. Yahtzee (really now, are we expected to believe that’s the name his mother gave him?) describes Jonathan’s music as upbeat folk rock about robots. In addition to the music, Jonathan also has his own podcast called “Thing a Week”. I am guessing the name was a way to force him to put a new one out each week, good idea.

Now that I’ve gotten all that written down I suppose I should mention that besides the Code Monkey song I haven’t listened to anything else Jonathan has done. None of his songs, none of his podcasts, I haven’t even read his blog.

I just wrote this to remind myself to check them all out later. I was going to just put these links into an email and send it to myself. But I plan on doing another post about Fury’s launch with various press reviews and such once it’s finished rolling out in all the stores. I didn’t want to have two Fury focused posts in a row, disregarding the tangent in the last one about Pancakes and the Sausage versus Bacon jihad. I thought this post would make for a nice bit of filler between the two. It’s the white stuff in the middle of an Oreo if you will. I'm not sure what it is, but it sure makes the cookie taste good. Joseph likes Oreos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fury Unleashed & Pancakes!

Fury BoxI was going to put up a counter on here for Fury's release but its all still kind of nebulous. What it comes down to is that Fury will be out sometime between 12:00 Noon PDT October 16th and Friday depending on if you bought it online versus when various stores stock their shelves.

Now 12:00 Noon PDT is 5:00 AM October 17th here in Australia. Some of us are meeting at Pancake Manor for breakfast at 4:00 AM because... well... pancakes man! PANCAKES!

Pancake Manor is actually a converted church. It was originally St Luke's, a Romanesque Church built in 1904 and designed by J.S. Murdoch. It was lovingly refurbished in 1979 into the Pancake Manor (I think the sign out front actually says Pancake Cafe).

I have to wonder what somebody who went to that church over 100 years ago would think if was sitting there, saying the Lord's Prayer or some such, and suddenly had a vision of the future. Can you imagine him telling people that he had been given a vision by the Lord and the Lord's message was, "Would you like sausage or bacon with that?" Oh you can just imagine the war and strife that would follow from that!

Actually it would probably be more of exactly what we already have today. The general divide between the sausage or bacon factions. Then more trouble with the sub-factions arguing about crispy bacon versus chewy, some big war with the sausage patty versus link split. All that trouble with everybody forgetting about the main point of it all which is the PANCAKES!

So anyway, Fury is finally hitting the shelves. When you aren't stuffing your face full of pancakes I highly recommend picking up a copy. I fully expect to see the Sausage versus Bacon clans represented in full force in the game.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Going to Sydney

SupanovaI'll be in Syndey this weekend for Supanova. I haven't really had the time to look into who is going to be there until now. Comic wise we have Stan Lee by video conference... Marv Wolfman, unfortunately I don't have anything of his here in Australia for him to sign. Whilce Portacio, don't think I have anything of his here either. Something seems to be up with ComicBase because it isn't showing me all of the issues for people I'm working for. Going to have to go over and post on their tech forum.

Bruce Spence is going to be there, he was as the last Brisbane Supanova. I really wish I had something cool from Road Warrior (Max Max 2) for him to sign.

There is a Fury billboard up in Sydney that I want to try and get to see.Fury Billboard in SydneyIt is on William St. near the corner of Boomerang. Click on the pic for a much larger version.

Speaking of Fury, I've also been doing a few questions a week over at Game Arena. Here are the links to part 1 and part 2. Part 3 should be going up anytime now. We also announced some major changes to some of the game systems last week which you can read about here.

I would love to go back and edit this to spice it up, add that JBHIV humor, but Snipers aren't going to set their own selves on fire! Don't call Homeland Security, thats just my way of saying I'm going to play Team Fortress 2.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Way back when I first started this blog I was annoyed at the way it put a one pixel border around all my pictures, especially my picture over there on the right. I had drawn in the drop shadow on the white background and the border ruined the effect. I was way too lazy to search though Blogger's template HTML code that was way more advanced than the HTML code I had been familiar with years before. So instead I just put some simple HTML code into one of the 'about me' sections of my profile that loaded the picture and the links that used to be under it.

Not so way back, but still awhile ago, a friend pointed out that I don't have my blog's name nor my own name written as text very often and therefore I'm not easy to find on search engines. I could fix that but updating so fields in my profile but I found out that Blogger no longer allows you to to put HTML in any of those fields. So if I changed anything on my profile it wouldn't save. In order to get the new picture up I had to rename the new .jpg file, over writing the previous 'Blond 2006' picture.

So to make a long story even longer I fixed it all yesterday. I nuked the HTML in my profile, updated several fields; notice all the posts are signed "Joseph B. Hewitt IV" instead of "Joseph the Fourth" now. I still didn't use their layout because it makes the picture really small. I re-hacked my picture and links back in. I do like the way it says my name now instead of 'About Me' like it used to. It was quite the pain figuring it all out though, comment out a line... see what changed... change a line... see if it worked... There were times I was screaming and shouting at the computer so much Connie thought I was playing Team Fortress 2 again.

I did find a bug though. I was dismayed at the profile's lack of choices for profession categories. For a Game Designer I expected to there to be something like 'Software Development' or at least an 'Entertainment' category but there isn't anything close. I chose 'Not Specified' but it doesn't save and always resets back to 'Accounting' which is the first option on the list. Horrified at being listed as an Accountant (sorry Becky) I switched it to the very generic 'Technology' category.

Scott at My Extra Life is doing the judging on his Jack Thompson Photoshop contest this weekend and posted all the entries. I was a little disappointed at all the dodgy ones. I was hoping to see a few really grand entries but most of them seem to have been given little thought and were pasted together using MS:Paint. I guess I am more used to seeing the quality Photoshop Phriday stuff on Something Awful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jack Thompson's First

As you may have heard, the online comic strip My Extra Life is doing a Jack Thompson themed Photoshop Contest. Jack has even already sent them a Cease and Desist. Not a legal Cease and Desist mind you, more like doggy threat. But as pretty much everybody and his favorite video game character knows, he has no legal leg to stand on. So just like his (actually filed) Cease and Desist, 5 PM Friday deadline filed against Rockstar Games regarding what he claims is a reference to him in the game, it too is being ignored.

The whole thing reminded me of the Hustler Magazine, Campari ad parody that implied that the Reverend Jerry Falwell had sex with his mother. This is the ad that sparked the lawsuit: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988) which went all the way to the Supreme Court and inspired the movie “The People vs. Larry Flint”. So I decided to throw together a Photoshop entry for My Extra Life’s contest basically recreating that same ad parody with Jack and video games as the focus. If you follow that last link to the lawsuit, you can see a scan of the original parody ad this is based on.

Now you might think that wasn’t really any real ‘Photoshopping’ done. But I want to point out that that the joystick and Atari game were not originally in the photo with the Campari. I also had to match the lighting; note the silver-ish highlight reflection on the bottle to match the Atari game? Okay still not anything all that difficult and probably not a ‘contest winning’ entry but I am thinking it should at least get an honorable mention for the historical reference. I still hate all that dead space on the right caused by having the joystick there, but that is the best picture of the Atari Joystick I could find that I could match to the Campari photo.

Oh and btw Adobe, the publisher of Photoshop, discourages use of the term "photoshop" as a verb because that undermines the company's trademark.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Robert Jordan

I just read on Slash Dot last night right before leaving work that Robert Jordan passed away. I personally gave up on his Wheel of Time series a few years ago which is a big thing for me. Usually when I start a book or series I will finish it even if I absolutely loath it. But I got just tired of where the series was going (or wasn’t going I think was more the point) and gave up. I used to use the Wheel of Time books as a good example of how popular writers still need good editors to keep them in line. I still read (listen to unabridged) a lot of Stephen King’s stuff and I just can’t help but wonder sometimes how much better the books would be if he had an editor that said, “I don’t care if you are Stephen King, cut out this fluff and pick up the pace!” like I’m sure his editors were able to do in the early days before he was the success he is now.

Anyway, back to Slash Dot. I was reading through the comments on the post and there are some very harsh parting words for Mr. Jordan.
In the spirit of the man, friends and family of the deceased have requested that his eulogy be tedious and poorly written.

God finally finished Book 11, said "Are you fucking kidding me?", and whipped out the Smite Stick.

So this means I'll get to wake up my girlfriend like this tomorrow:
"Well, I've got good news and bad news. The good news: Remember how you were worried the 'Wheel of Time' series would never end? Well, you don't need to worry about that problem anymore ...."
After that it sort of deteriorates into arguments regarding those types of posts.

I did notice this passing shot at George R.R. Martin.
I hope George R.R. Martin is paying close attention.

I love his "Song of Ice and Fire" (The Dwarf, in the toilet, with the crossbow, heh.) There was some talk when his last book came out in 2 parts that he was starting to show signs of " Jordan 's Syndrome" Maybe this will help him focus. (and get the damn thing written).
I don't want to sound cruel or insensative, but if Mr. Martin passes on before finishing his series, I'm going to follow him down to hell and I'm bringing a typewriter! Now I really hope Mr. Martin goes on to live for many many years to come because 1. I kinda hope that for everybody, I'm not a death wishing on others kinda guy, 2. Because I do really enjoy his writing and am really looking forward to Dances with Dragons, and 3. I'll really feel like crap for having said what I just did about hell and the typewriter!

Oh and one last thing I wanted to say. The Wheel of Time series was one of the first really big fantasy series to be released unabridged on audio and for that I will always place it on a pedestal, even though I stopped listening to them. The readers, Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, were excellent and I absolutely loved the accents they did for the characters from different regions in the world especially the Seanchan.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Oh my GOD! Is that what I sound like?!

Yesterday I was the guest on the latest episode of PALGN’s Podcast. It is a good example to show how much of my legendary wit is due to extensive editing and rewrites.

PALGN – PAL (as in Europe and Australia PAL TV signal as opposed NTSC TV signals used in the United States… which doesn’t really matter as much anymore as most newer TVs can accept both signals) Gaming Network – is one of Australia’s most popular gaming publications created in 2002 as an answer to the US-centric nature of online games journalism. This is their 3rd officially scheduled podcasts, as opposed first ones they released without ‘officially’ schedule them. I’m not sure what that story is, iTunes is showing me six episodes total. I downloaded one of the earlier ones before going on the show but only listened to about half of it. Been doing a lot of writing lately and I can’t listen podcasts or audio books while writing. I’m just going to imagine something went down akin to the buddy cop movie scene where the captain calls them into his office and yells at them for being wild and out of control, telling them that the Mayor and/or the Commissioner is on his back and that they have to get these podcasts officially scheduled or he’ll have their badge!

Anywhere here is the spiel:
You know that feeling you get when you take a left down the strip in Vegas, pass the Bellagio, and somehow find yourself in Queensland desperately searching for a decent fajita, paying the bills by working on what was originally pitched as a Korean MMORPG but is now an MMO with a multi-million dollar prize pool backing it? Yeah, I hate it when that happens ...

Featuring special guest star Joseph Hewitt, Senior Designer from Auran, we also unleash the Fury and discuss his experiences working with Sony, EA, Westwood, and Sierra as well as on a variety of gaming classics including Command and Conquer and Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception. As if that wasn't enough, he also helped support Star Wars Galaxies at launch, complete with inside info on how life was in the trenches - the man's got game. Literally, actually - most in their original boxes! (Read More)
Right click to download the podcast
Subscribe via RSS | Subscribe via iTunes

What is the secret of comedy?TIMING!!! Hmm, that works much better verbally. What makes stuff work better in print is rereading you stuff, massive editing, removing the fluff, moving bits around, giving it time to settle and then coming back to it and editing it again, rinse repeat. It is definitely the edits and rewrites that gives me my pacing and timing. Live on the air I fell apart, I just didn't have that magic.

Okay, so it wasn’t THAT bad and I did have a lot of fun. It was a blast actually and I may appear on their show again in the near future. There were more than a few things that we were talking about where I was thinking that I had debated and researched those issues before but just couldn’t access the information. Just now I went back through my old blog posts and found two of them. So while you are listening to the region coding section here is my post Console Modding versus Region Coding from August 1, 2006. Then when we get to talking about TV shows and view on demand stuff here is my post Av4st Y3 Scurvy Dogz! from September 12, 2005 on the subject. As you can see; I’m much more deadly and to the point in print. Hopefully with practice I can get my verbal game up to par. If anything, not having to worry about all the spelling mistakes should give me a leg up.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Fourth

I was playing Fury on our live beta servers the other day and found out that one of the guys in my pick-up group posted about it on his blog. So I decided to use it as an opportunity to vent about GTA IV.

It may not be immediately obvious how the two are connected. Here is a link to his blog:

What I want for the Gravity name/FURY discussion
Gravity Gaming. Home of Team Gravity - Saturday, 08 September 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Zero Punctuation

Zero Punctuation LogoA link went around the office the day that I thought I would share. Zero Punctuation puts out these little flash movie game reviews that are pretty funny. He was picked up by Escapist Magazine which now publishes a new one every Wednesday. He has put up three of them for the Escapist so far and I think three before that. My favorite is still the first Escapist one which reviews ‘Heavenly Sword.’ I highly recommend giving it a look-see.

There is another thing that I feel I should mention though. While going to the sites linked above to get the URLs to make the links. I experienced an odd computer pause and keep getting little ones as I tab back and forth through the sites. I think… and I am just guessing here… that it may be caused by the large flash “Fury Challenge Beta Event” adds that came up on the Escapist site. They are new add that I haven’t seen before and show some scenes from the cool “School of Life” Fury video.

People have asked me about the death move in that video. He stabs her through the throat, why then break her leg? The answer is the same reason he then jumps up onto her shoulders and flip her over into the wall... because thats the point of the death blows in Fury. They are finishing moves, equivalent to spiking the ball in the end zone. They are a clear statement to the other player that not only did you kick their ass, but you took the time to sign your name on their right cheek with your sword while you did it. Slash! Stab! ...yours with love, Joseph... BAM!

Friday, August 31, 2007

It’s Getting Close

Check out this picture from the news section of Penny Arcade today (Aug. 1 2007) with the Fury booth right there in the upper right!
I think that might be me over on the right side of the booth. See the Fury 'F' logo on the booth endcap? I think I'm the guy right above that wearing the black shirt with the white blur on it (the Fury 'F' logo again) talking to a guy in a blue shirt.

There is a good write up of PAX 2007 as a whole at Slashdot with a big section on Fury.
I'll be honest: Fury came at me from nowhere. I'd read about it before coming to the show, knew that it was approaching an Open Beta, and that it was a free-to-play PvP title. That was just about all I knew when I sat down to play and chat with Fury's lead designer Adam Carpenter.

When you're trying to quantify Fury's gameplay type, it's better to think less about online RPGs and more about first-person shooters. Fury has essentially taken the swords and sorcery milieu and dropped that whole cloth into an FPS schema. In each match, players spawn in, rush out, and slam into each other in extremely fast altercations. Everything is fast; from character creation to combat can be just a few minutes. MORE
There is also some good coverage of Fury at the 2007 Cyberathlete Professional League Summer Event last week over at eSportsTV.

We are getting set up right now to have the servers up and running for tonight when the first paying customers of the game will be able to log in. The game is still beta but these will be the players who have pre-ordered the game. I also just found out that the 'Customer Service' button on the main screen links to a site that isn't connected to our CS Tool yet, so if you have any problems use the Customer Service link on the website, not the button in game. The good news is that the problem is already fixed in the latest build.

Remember there are just two weeks left till Fury Challenge. So get in now and get some practice in!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A tale of PAX 2007

PAX was awesome! We had lots of people checking out Fury. A seat never stayed empty for more than a few minutes. We were passing out Fury beta disks like… like umm… like we had brought enough for everybody at the show! At one point Tony and I headed over to the LAN room to hand them out and on the way over we passed the booth where Wil Wheaton was signing autographs and I handed him one as I went by. He looked up at me a little baffled, glanced at it, and then confusedly said “thanks?” So just remember when you are battling it out in “Fury Challenge” that could be ‘Uncle Willie’ kicking your butt.

Uncle WillieI have heard that Wil’s keynote speech was great, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet (actually I’m listening to it while writing this). I didn’t really do anything at PAX except work the booth. I walked around once before the floor opened and once again a little later. I bought some t-shirts and the first Bone episode: “Out from Boneville”. No, it’s not porn. It’s an adventure game based on an independent comic book series by Jeff Smith.

The trip on the other hand was a nightmare. Our flight out of Sydney was canceled because our pilot broke his toe playing tennis. So much for arriving a day early; I knew we should have flown Qantas! Then our computers didn’t arrive until about 2 hours before the show opened. We had to set up the computers, install Fury and create noob friendly Incarnations on all the characters. At one point I’m trying to hook up a monitor and I see a bright red blotch on the white table.

“Hey that looks like BLOOD! Hey it IS blood! There is blood all over! Hey somebody is bleeding! Who is bleeding?!”

The answer of course was me. I was bleeding. I must have smashed my cuticle while stuffing wires into the hole to where the computer was underneath. It was just a little cut but it must have been bleeding for awhile; because it was all over my hand and the table. So when we say we put our blood and tears into this game, we are telling at least half the truth. And if you don’t believe me I’ll cry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I am back from PAX. The show was great but I am exhausted. I'll do a full run down on the whole thing later, I'm just too tired to do anything big at the moment.

I did, however want to link to this interview on Grrl Gamer with the amazing Connie Hewitt.

Also I found this flash game called HEWITT.
One year in the making Hewitt is complete & is the most epic adventure game we have created since 'Griswold the Goblin'. Help Hewitt find a girl for the dance in this awesome adventure RPG
What did I ever do to deserve this?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Current Entertainment

I finally finished season 3 of Deadwood. I had heard that the final episode was quite the let down; but I was hoping that with such lowered expectations it would still be okay. But it was SUCH a let down I didn’t even realize it was the finale! There was still another DVD and I thought there were more episodes. I mean its building up to this big confrontation… building and building… and then nothing, it’s over! The final DVD is just extras. I thought I had missed a DVD and went back through the box.

It reminds me of the thing I didn’t like about the movie Gladiator. The whole movie they are building up my expectation of seeing the armies of the Roman Empire marching on Rome but then it never happens. If they do ever make the 2 movie length episodes to finish out Deadwood they better be EXPLOSIVE! …of course by then the momentum they built will have been spent.

I just started in on the third season of Entourage thanks to my friend James from work. I didn’t think I’d like it but I really do. I like the way they keep it upbeat. I like the way the writing moves it along. I keep expecting something really bad to happen to Vince’s career and there to be this dark turn to the series but it doesn’t happen. Sure things go wrong and there is the natural up and down flow, but it always manages to land on a positive note without feeling fake or like its undeserved. There are also lots of hot women flaunting their body in every episode.

Spook CountryI also just got the audio version of the latest William Gibson novel, Spook Country, from Audible, but I’m saving it for the plane trip to PAX. No direct flight this time – Brisbane to Sydney to San Francisco to Seattle. Same thing for the way back. I don’t know how I ever survived these trans-Atlantic flights without my Bose noise reduction headphones and unabridged audio books. But I’ve been meaning to try and track down a real email address for Audible to tell them their website layout sucks. Seriously if any Audible marketing people are scanning the web for mentions of their site, YOU WEB SITE LAYOUT SUCKS! Seriously give up the vertical columns and give the titles some room to breathe. I’m tired of having to click on each title to read about it. Do you know why if you click on the book to the right you go to Amazon instead of Audible? Because when I am browsing for what title to purchase, I have Amazon open in another window to read up on the book and see its reviews.

Oh and since I went on about Audible, let me go on about the Bose headphones. They RULE! ...except my wife got a better pair. When she went back to the states for E3/EIEIO I begged her to take my headphones for the trip but she was scared she would lose or break them or something. But halfway through her trip she went out and bought her own pair and they are newer tech and sound a little bit better. They also have a rechargeable battery while I’ve had to take stock in triple A’s. I’d steal hers but she got the ‘on-ear’ model and I prefer the ‘around-ear’ ones. It is probably a good thing she didn’t take my pair with her though, because she did lose her iPod on the plane. So if there is anybody from Bose people scanning the web for mention of their products, send me a new pair and I’ll pimp them from now till George R.R. Marin finally finishes the Song of Ice and Fire series… yeah THAT long!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fury Challenge - $1,000,000 Pre-Release Tournament

Fury is holding a $1,000,000 tournament as their open beta event. The tournament will run the last three weekends in September. Hop in, try the game before release, and hopefully win some prizes. read more | digg story

This is me testing's 'Blog It' feature btw. The Fury Challenge tournament was announced at the Fury Party in Sydney last Monday. There is a similar one in Brisbane tomorrow (Thursday) that I'll be going to. They are parties to show off the game (and our FHM cover model and 33rd most beautiful woman in the world, Fury Model, Siobhan Parekh (link maybe not safe for work.)) to retailers and some lucky fans who won tickets.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hair Today

Joseph 2007I got an updated picture up. The problem I'm having is that I'm a funny looking freak!... but that is besides the point. What I meant to say was back when I first put this blog up, I set up the picture in Photoshop to have a drop shadow on a white background. I'm big on the clean white background with drop shadows, notice that I drew the Thottbot logo the same way. When I uploaded my picture to blogger it displayed on the blog with a black line around it. I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the line in the template right away, so took it out and then linked it into one of the text fields of my profile using HTML.

Unfortunately, Blogger no longer lets you have HTML in your profile text fields. It still works, you just can't save it anymore without it giving you an error message that the IMG tag is not allowed. Even if I open my profile now and try to save it without any changes, it gives me that error. I host that picture on my own site though so I just saved over the 2006_blond picture with the new one and viola new picture.

I have since found the HTML that caused the black line and figured out how to remove it. It will just take some work to undo all the custom hacks I've done to the template especially since I'm not really all that good with HTML and got it all working with lots of trial and error.

"Hmmm wonder what this line of HTML does? type type type... reformatting my AHHHH!!! Put it back! Put it back!"

I have thought about going to one of the new blogger templates since they make it much easier to add stuff, but again that will take lots of work. I'd have to save out all my links and figure out how to get the resizing code to work again. Notice how if you restore down (that's what that's called? The middle Window's button in the very top, upper-left of the screen between the 'minimize' and the 'close X' buttons. The mouse over tool tip says 'restore down'. I could have sworn there was another word for that.) and then shrink the width of the window the main text area of my site stops before it starts overlapping the blue, left-hand border. If you go to other standard Blogger blogs and do the same thing, their main text area will keep sliding over till it hits the left edge of the window.

Anyway, there is the new updated picture. As you can see I am no longer blond. You can also see that the dye used to match the bleached areas back to my natural brown is fading and that I am due for another session at Orb Hair, my hair salon. What was the end result of being blond? Did I have more fun? Hard to say, maybe if I wasn't in constant state of 'crunch time' at work and got out more I have better data.

Friday, August 10, 2007

PAX '07

Penny Arcade Expo 2007So I'm going to the Penny Arcade Expo later this month. Its the 24th through the 26th in Seattle. If you are going to the show be sure to stop by and say hi and play a few rounds of Fury.

By the way I don't have the blond hair anymore, boy what a bad idea that was. It just killed my hair. I was wearing it back in a pony tail on occasion and so much of my hair broke off it. Anyway, its back to brown and hopefully on the way back to being healthy. I really should update that picture over there.

Oh and we announced the subscription model:
The game will be available from both retail and online at standard retail pricing from October. It is free to play with regular free content updates, plus an option to subscribe for additional benefits. Importantly, all players, regardless of subscription status, have access to the most powerful items and abilities in the game. Subscription offers additional benefits, choice and flexibility.
You can read the full press release on our forums.

We got pretty well slammed over on Kotaku over it because they seemed to be under the impression that we said it was going to be completely free "end of story." When asked by the press we have always said that we were still working on the subscription model. Though there is an interview of Tony sometime around March where he let slip that it was going to be Free to Play with an optional subscription, but I couldn't find it with a quick Google. But seriously it is free, you can play the whole game without any missing features or abilities that affects your play/power in the Warzones in any way FOR FREE! There are just extras for subscribers who are willing to shell out a little money to pay for those servers, bandwidth and my paycheck. Its being talked about all over the forums so if you feel like discussing it the previous link above to our forums is a good place to start.