Monday, February 05, 2007

 

Black site: Area 51



We released the first details on my new game, Black Site: Area 51. It's a great project and I have high hopes for the final product. Here are some preview articles and videos:

http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/759/759055p1.html
http://www.gamespot.com/ps3/action/blacksite/news.html?sid=6164847&mode=recent

 

Rex Grossman is Terrible


And he ruined the Super Bowl . It's now a stone-cold lock that the Pats would have won number 4 if they could have just gotten past Indy. I've trusted all of Bill Belichick's personel decisions even thorugh letting Vinitieri go. But, if we can all agree that Deion Branch would have caught one of those 2 horrific Gaffney drops at the end of the AFC Championship game, and if we can all agree that the Pats would have wiped the floor with Sexy Rexy and the hapless Bears, then we all agree that the Pats gave up a Super Bowl title in order to not have to pay Deion. Let's hope there are some good WR's available by the time we roll around to Seattle's first round pick...

Monday, November 20, 2006

 

PS3? Not for me.

OK, so, not that anybody's reading this and not that anyone who would read it would be buying a PS3. But. I have had people ask me, as both an enthusiatsic consumer of games and as an enthusiastic developer of games, whether they should buy a PS3. Here's the short answer: No. Not yet, anyway. Here's why:

1) This thing is hard to make games for. Without getting too deep into the details, suffice it say, Sony has designed an incredibly revolutionary and powerful computing system. Sound like a statement that conflicts with my previous statement? It's not. You see, in doing so, Sony has made it an incredibly steep learning curve for developers to make games for their system. Not only is the architecture really going to take some figuring, but they have pushed so hard getting this thing out the door that very few developers have had dev kits for long.

2) Sony doesn't make it any easier. Besides the dev kit shortage I mentioned above, the other problem is that Sony is notorious for not helping developers with middleware and software solutions. They got away with it before, but Microsoft is getting very good at this part of being a hardware manufacturer.

3) What launch titles? First, there are very few launch titles and even fewer worth owning. Aside from the very good-looking Resistance: Fall of Man, the system is rife with ports of Xbox 360 games. And here's where the real problem lies: these games aren't as good as their 360 counterparts. It's way harder to port an Xbox 360 game to PS3 than it was to put a PS2 game on an Xbox. You're seeing this now with ports like Call of Duty 3 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance - reviewers are saying textures and effects look less polished and frame-rates suffer.

4) It's not going to get better any time soon. Sony will only have about 200,000 units in North America by Christmas. If I'm publishing a PS3 game, what do I do: wait a while and polish the thing up while Sony gets more units out to consumers who might buy my game? Or do I rush the game out so it can be poorly reviewed and ignored by the already small user base? Oh, wait a minute I am publishing a PS3 game... Watch for a LOT of delays of upcoming games.

So that's why not to buy a PS3, even in a vacuum. What makes it even more obvious is that there is such a great competetive system on the market. Why you should buy a 360:

1) A great current line-up of games. 360 had the best launch line-up of any system I can remember: Call of Duty 2, Need For Speed Most Wanted, Project Gotham, NBA 2K6, Condemned, plus some Arcade gems and some good ports of current gen games. It faltered a bit for a few months after that, but then came Fight Night, Oblivion, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Then Saints Row, Lego Star Wars, Dead Rising, a great 2nd iteration of Madden and the nail in the coffin: Gears of War.

2) Exclusivity. Sony used to kill because of this - they had Resident Evil (the reason I bought a Playstation 1), Gran Turismo, Metal Gear and Grand Theft Auto. Now PGR is as good as Turismo, Resident evil and GTA are multi-platform and Metal Gear keeps getting weirder and weirder, Splinter Cell takes over as the military stealth game to play. You'll only ever play Gears of war on a 360. And then there's this game called Halo? Never played it, but I hear it's good...

3) Xbox Live. Live is on it's 3rd iteration and it is very robust. Downloading trailers, demos, game content and arcade games is a snap. Match-making is pretty standardized and games have been getting less and less laggy and frustrating, peaking with Halo 2 and then peaking again with Gears. I know Sony's system looks similar, and I don't have hard evidence to back this one up, but this sort of thing takes iteration and Sony's jumping in for the first time.

4) 1080p? Whatever. If you've been paying attention, you know that Sony is talking a big game about 1080p. I don't want to get technical, so i'll just say that, due to the fact that all rear projection TVs up-convert to 1080p anyway, and all movies are only shot at 24 frames per second anyway, and most people can't even tell the diff between 720p and 1080i (even though that's a MUCH more significant difference), it doesn't make a shit worth of difference.

5) The Controller. I'll take rumble over motion-sensing any day. You'll be surprised how much you'll miss it when it's not there.

So go buy and Xbox 360. My Gamer Tag is "Oge Vader". See you on Gears.

Monday, October 23, 2006

 

Pats, Stones and the Worst Sport in the World


In reverse order.

1) I don't get to watch Sunday Night Football so people can watch some old guy cheat his ass off and then have it condoned by the OPPOSING team's coach (manager?) and MLB ("Psstt... Hey ump, ix-nay on the ine-tar-pay! We're already losing the kids in droves to NASCAR!") My buddy Scott is a huge baseball fan and a big Bush supporter. Nothing like rooting for the underdog, huh, Scott?

2) At least I didn't miss the game too much, thanks to a last-minute decision to go see the Stones show (the actual Zilker Park show pictured right). I saw these guys in Olympic Stadium in Montreal in 1995 for the Voodoo Lounge tour and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "Wow, it's so awesome I got to see these guys play because, you know, this HAS to be their last tour, right?" Man, you have to see these guys to believe it. The way Mick jumps and sprints (literally) around the stage, there seems to be no reason why they can't be doing the same thing in another 10 years.

3) Back to sports, look out, but the Pats suddenly have a record as good as or better than 30 teams in the NFL. If you're reading this in Boston, you probably get lots of Pats coverage no matter what. But the rest of the national news media isn't saying a WORD about these guys. It's like, Branch went to Seattle, everybody wrote them off as a team on the downswing and nobody's tuned back in to see if they were actually right or wrong. Don't look now, but those were two pretty nice Brady-to-WR TD passes in the second half yesterday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

 

Dick's not mistaken. He's just lying to you on purpose.


Yesterday's big anniversary of 9/11 mostly just made me feel sad for people who had lost loved ones that day. But it also brought back one of my least favorite misconceptions of the past 5 years: the link between 9/11 and Iraq. Whether it was Sunday Night Football doing a big retrospective on 9/11, followed immediately by them flashing to some of our troops in Fallujah, or whether it was Jim Rome devoting his whole show to talking about 9/11, but then constantly taking calls from people whose kids were in Iraq, etc, the subtext was always there - 9/11 and Iraq, 9/11 and Iraq. Of all the duplicitous garbage that the Cheney administration has pushed, taking full and purposeful advantage of the ignorance of the American public, my very least favorite is the concept that a secular Iraq had ANYTHING to do with the 9/11 attacks. I don't need to go into all the reasons why this is obvious to an educated person. Suffice it to say that thinking secular Iraq and it's military dictator, Saddam would be in league with Islamic fundamentalists is like saying Cold War era USSR and the USA were tight pals because we were both white and distrusted China. Yes, it's old news, but it's a concept that was dredged up again for the anniversary, so I'll dredge up my complaint about it. Plus this picture is great.

Monday, September 11, 2006

 

Resistance is Futile


Remember the Borg in Star Trek the Next Generation? Remember how, whenever the Enterprise crew had to fight them, they would get in one or two good kill shots with a phaser or photon torpedos or whatever before the Borg just relentlessly adapted to whatever weapon the Federation guys were using and started working them over? How do you think Buffalo felt after that game yesterday? I mean they deliver some legitimate kill-shots, both in terms of hits and scoring, on the Pats in the first half, then they go into the locker room, re-tune their shields and just DESTROY Buffalo in the second half. I mean, it was relentless: 12-0, stoned them on a 4th and 1, 5 yds of total offense for Buffalo after that stop, 12:01 vs. 2:59 time of possession in the 4th quarter. I don't want to hear about Branch leaving or Brady throwing picks - this was a gut it out performance against a Buffalo team that always seems to come out ready to play the Pats in Game 1 (31-3, anyone?). On a related note, I found a great sports bar down the street from my house - flat panel HDTVs every where and good burgers. Which is good, because given Bledsoe's performance yesterday, that '96 Pats team I was hoping to root for might not be intact for long... Go '06 Pats!

Monday, August 28, 2006

 

Everyone say it with me now...


Everything's bigger in Texas.

"Godzillatron" goes live at Texas' Royal-Memorial Stadium

We've seen
Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights enough times to know that bragging rights
are an important part of Texas football culture, so it's no surprise that the UT
Longhorns are filled with pride over their
ginormous
new stadium display
, nicknamed Godzillatron. At 134 feet wide by 55 feet
tall, the $8 million dollar screen needed to be mounted to tree trunk-like
support columns with 5-inch diameter grounding bolts, and requires 40 five-ton
air conditioners to keep it cool in the sometimes unrelenting Texas heat.
Problems start to arise, though, if and when school officials refer to
Godzillatron as the world's largest HD display -- not only is that plain false
(the Tokyo Racecourse's new
Mitsubishi
monster
trumps it in both square footage and diagonal length), but as we
noted before, it may not even be the largest display on American soil. You see,
although the Longhorns' screen can boast a total area of 7,370 square feet, the
other
Daktronics-built
display at Dolphin Stadium
still has it beat on the diagonal measurement:
1,750 inches to Godzillatron's 1,738. However, as a wise man once said, "Being
perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's
about you and your relationship with yourself, your family, and your friends."
That may be true, but if the Longhorns don't bring home another championship
trophy this season, the alumni who shelled out millions of bucks for that
scoreboard are gonna be pretty darn pissed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

I need more Cowbell.. uhh.. Cowboys

Big Bill Parcells calls the play in from the sideline to Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe under center, here's the snap, drops back, slings a bullet downfield.... CAUGHT by Terry Glenn! TOUCHDOWN!!!

Pop quiz, hot shot: The previous paragraph could be play-by-play from:

A) The 1996 New England Patriots
B) The 2006 Dallas Cowboys
C) All of the Above

If you haven't already guessed, the answer is C. In other words, that team up the road from my new town is starting to look a lot like the Super Bowl-bound team I had so much fun watching my first Fall living in Beantown. Except, dare I say, better? Terry Glenn, once a certifiable nut-job, must finally be getting his money's worth from that shrink and Drew Bledsoe, while still in full posession of the only 4.3 second 5-step drop in the NFL, actually appears to have grown a set of balls out there. Add in T.O., Jerry Jones and the NFC East being the most competetive division in football and I've got myself a team to watch and root for when the Pats aren't on.

PS. Good to see Bledsoe hasn't lost the "Hey Coach, what town are we in, again?" look in the past 10 years.




Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

I'm Back!!

After an extended absence, I'm back!! Here's the synopsis of the past 6 months:

February: Shortly after my project gets killed at Tiburon to allow for more engineering effort towards the PS3 port of Madden, I say goodbye to EA Tiburon


February/March: I rack up the frequent flyer miles shopping my brand around the video game industry

April: I field offers from Factor 5, Sony Santa Monica, THQ, Infinity Ward, The Collective, and Midway Austin. And the winner is.... Midway Austin!

May: I move to the coolest town ever, Austin, TX and start with Midway. Snowflake get a whoop-ass offer from her company to be the GM of a new Southwest operation in Austin.

June: Snowflake arrives in Austin

July: We close on a sweet downtown condo, get out of our sublet, where we've been living out of suitcases, and move in.

August: Life begins to approach a normal pace again and I return to blogging for the 2 people who read this.

So, that's what's up. I'll be on this thing more often, promise.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

I'm officially a Steelers fan this weekend



The best part about these pix is that they appear to be taken in some shitty, low-ceiling frat basement. To paraphrase Chad Johnson talking about T.O. earlier this year, "Ben, I get you, man."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

 

Ahhhh HAHAHAHAHAHAHA



This takes some of the sting off the broncs beating the Pats in the play-offs. Shanahan, you pompous ass, you really think you're going to be able to control this Grade-A moron? Remember all your success with Daryl Gardner? Nobody knows how to relate to the brothers like you and your pinched-face, tight-assed, Type-A coaching style. And T.O. is gonna get along great with a guy who looks like this.

Monday, January 30, 2006

 

I <3 my TV


In the spirit of getting HAMMERED with High-Def TV commercials in the week before the Super Bowl, let me tell you that I love my new TV. I hauled my old 35o-lb. Sony CRT HDTV from apartment to apartment to house, despite it's gigantic footprint and (relatively) puny 40-inch 4:3 picture because I just couldn't compromise on picture. I liked what was happening in the projection TV space - prices were getting lower, viewing angles were getting better, sets were getting thinner. LCD impressed me with bright colors and DLP really took a step in the right direction with higher contrast. But there were trade-offs from one to the other and on both you could still see the pixelation or window-paning that came from projection. I stuck with my beautiful (but small and unwieldy) direct-view set. Then came the next step in projection technology. Sony calls it SXRD and the generic name of the technology is LCOS. In short, it's a hybrid of DLP and LCD, producing bright colors, super-high contrast and tight, tight, tight resolution. And Call of Duty 2 Xbox 360 looks incredible on it. Can't wait to watch those Patriots this weekend!! Oh, wait a minute...

 

The time I kicked Dr. Doom's ass


Last week I had the most fun, most challenging experience of my professional life. After spending 2 and a half months designing gameplay and animation for what I have to call, in this forum, "an unanounced EA Sports NFL Football Product", I packed up our shot list, an assistant producer and an animator and went to Vancouver to direct a motion-capture shoot. Waiting for me there was our brand new, state of the art motion-capture facility, the crew of 6 it takes to run it, a 3-man wire crew and 4 grade-A stunt men (including Dr. Doom's stunt double from Fantastic 4, The Thing's double, and Nightcrawler's double).

Motion Capture is that thing you've seen on TV commercials and making-of videos for both video games and CG-intensive special effects. It's the process of capturing a live actor's performance into a computer for use on a computer-generated character. For more on MoCap, check out Wikipedia.

Anyhow, the whole thing was a great experience - we got a lot of very technical and violent stunts involving wire work, walls, impacts, etc. I also got to expereince the pressure that film directors must feel of trying to get as many good shots as possible as the seconds tick away on your $$$/hr set and crew.

Friday, January 27, 2006

 

Quityerbitchin'



I hear so much complaining about the rising costs of console video gaming, even from well-compensated nerds (guys I work with, Funk, etc). It's well-known that the premium package Xbox 360 is $400 (up from the $300 price tags of Xbox 1 and PS2) and premium 3rd-party games cost $60 (up from $50 for the same titles for current gen hardware; NB: 1st party Microsoft games are still $50).

But let's put things in the perspective of PC Gaming first: Say you want to be able to play PC games in all their high-rez, high framerate glory for 5 years. You're going to drop $2K on a PC and then upgrades of $200-$500 a year on upgrades. God forbid some completely new graphics tech comes out during that time (I got burned by PCI -> AGP in 1998), then you're upgrading your whole motherboard and probably your processor with it. For $400 in a 360, you've got a platform that will play every single game exactly as he developer menat it to be for the 5-year lifespan of that system.

Now let's take a look at that egregious $10 price-hike in games. Ever since the days of 8-bit Nintendo (say, 1986 or so), games have cost about $50. I don't know about you, but I was paying about $4.50 to see a movie back then. Today? $9.50. Comic books back then: $1.25-$1.75. Now: $2.99 - $3.99. Paperbacks then: $3.95-$4.95. Now: $7.95-$10.95(!). And bear in mind, you're getting the same quality of books, a little better comic book and, in many cases, not as good of a movie (thanks George). Whereas video games are immeasurably better (and don't give me any nostalgia here - just TRY to go back and play Ikari Warriors).

Add to that the fact that a good $60 video game gives you more hours of enjoyment per dollar than anything listed above (except maybe books, but who reads those things anymore?) and you get my point. Now quityerbitchin' and go buy one. Plus a bunch of games. Snowflake needs a new pair of shoes!!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

Bulletin Board Material

From thebrushback.com:

Bin Laden Comments Posted All Over Pentagon Locker Room

WASHINGTON, DC--An audiotape of Osama Bin Laden that was aired on Al-Jazeera last week has gotten the attention of the Pentagon and provided them with a little bulletin board material. The 50-minute tape, full of boasting and smack talking, seems to have fired up US military officials even more than they already were.

“Hey, that’s fine. If he wants to talk, let him talk. We’re just going to keep our mouths shut and do our jobs,” said one high ranking Pentagon official. “When you hear things like that, it just adds fuel to the fire. I mean, the guy actually had the nerve to say that they’re winning the war in Afghanistan. Is he delusional? We’re kicking ass over there. We’re killing people with remote control airplanes and they’re using rifles that were outdated in the 1980’s. Still, we can’t get any respect.”

The official described the reaction when the Bin Laden comments were posted all over the Pentagon.

“I came into work and there were all these comments posted on the bulletin boards throughout the whole building,” he said. “I just punched the wall and yelled ‘Motherfucker! He can’t hang with us!’ Then everybody gathered around in a circle and started jumping up and down. At that point we just wanted to bomb somebody, anybody. We actually came very close to doing so before one of our superiors came in and calmed us down. If I was Spain, I’d be sending that guy a thank-you note right now.”

Publicly, the Pentagon downplayed the trash talk, and chose to take the high road when it came to responding to it.

“Hey, there’s no question that he’s tough,” said Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita. “He wouldn't be in the position he's in if he wasn't. We've definitely got our work cut out for us here. But we believe in ourselves. Eventually we will capture him. And when we do, he won’t be taking any more smack. He’ll be singing ‘God Bless America’ with a pack of rabid pit bulls snapping at his feet.”

The comments made it all the way up the White House, where President Bush and his staff analyzed the tape last Thursday. According to spokesman Scott McClellan, Bin Laden’s trash talking irritated the President, and he ordered the comments posted on every bulletin board in the White House.

“That’s some classic bulletin board material,” McClellan told reporters yesterday. “When the President heard those comments, he was extremely irritated. Still, he’s not going to respond. He won’t take the bait. We’ll do our talking on the battlefield. Remember, no matter how many tapes they release, no matter how tough they seem, we’re still going to come out on top. Why? We have airplanes. As a general rule of thumb, if there’s a war, always bet on the side that can fly.”

After the audiotape aired, many members of Al Qaeda tried to distance themselves from the comments. This isn’t the first time Bin Laden has run his mouth off, and some of the mujadeen are growing tired of the constant smack talking from he and his second in command, Ayman Zawahiri.

“This puts us all in a really awkward position. I mean, we are the ones who have to do the fighting, here,” said an Al Qaeda commander in Pakistan, who asked not to be identified. “I admire his confidence, but saying things like that only helps the opposition. Didn’t he see what happened to the Bears last week? Hello? They talked smack all week about the Panthers and then proceeded to get lit up during the game. That is what happens when you talk smack. Of course, if that was us, we would’ve at least been smart enough to cover Steve Smith.”

 

Why I Love My Xbox 360, by Ogie Young, 6th Grade, Kimball Elementary School


I love my 360 because last night I was watching Entourage Season 1 on DVD (Let's hug it out, bitch!) when an icon on the screen told me that my friend, Jim, sent me a voice mail. He wanted to play Smash TV. I stopped the DVD with my Xbox 360 wireless gamepad, plugged in the headset, and then went to the dashboard. I tried to download Smash TV, but didn't have enough points. I added points in 2 seconds with my stored credit card, and then downloaded the 30MB game in 2 minutes. Once I was in, Jim sent me a game invite. I accepted and we played Smash TV for half an hour. After that, not wanting to return to my DVD just yet, I hooked my iPod up to my 360 and put in my favorite game, Call of Duty 2. Turns out, Guns N' Roses makes an awesome soundtrack to storming the beach on D-Day. Better yet, Hans Zimmer's haunting and intense soundtrack to Black Hawk Down was great for multi-player on Live. It drowned out the heavy breathing and fake-tough-guy accents of my fellow players. After that, I went to Xbox dashbaord and browsed to my home PC, which I had networked to my Xbox earlier, and played a slide-show of some pix in HD. When I was done, I selected "Play DVD" on the Xbox dashboard, which resumed playback exactly where I stopped it. I love consumer electronics. When I grow up I want to marry my Xbox 360.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

 

Game of the Year

The winner of the coveted "Oge's Favorite Game of the Year" goes to: (dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada)... God of War!

Sorry to all you Xbox-only owners reading this, but GOW, a Sony first-party title (making it a PS2 exclusive), is the best game I played this year. The story is epic, the graphics are tight for PS2 (how does Sony squeeze 480p widescreen out of its first-party titles and why won't they tell the rest of us how to do it?), but the gameplay is king.

Simple controls give way to deep, satisfying combos. Button-press mini-game allow for control of crazy scripted battle sequences and, most importantly, you can transition in and out of animation at any point, meaning you're never stuck in that long combo animation when all.. you.. want.. to.. do.. is.. FUCKING block..

It's so good, I'm presenting this game tonight as the moderator of our Competetive Product Design Analysis Forum.

This game, plus Guitar Hero, Resident Evil 4 and the uncertain futures of PS3 and Xbox 360 more than justify the $129 you can get a Ps2 for these days.

Runners-up:

Resident Evil 4 (PS2, Gamecube)- Goodbye shitty control scheme, hello laser sight!

Guitar Hero (PS2) - I hate crappy rhythm games, but this game, and it's custom controller makes you feel like you're really playing the music. And the song list rocks!

Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) - The graphics. Wow. Wowzie. Also, the only 360 game I've seen that actually does something gameplay-wise that you just couldn't do on a current-gen platform: voulmetric smoke grendaes actually affect you and the AI as it fills the screen and then slowly clears.

 

Having your cake and eating it too

On the one hand, I love those Nike dri-fit T-shirts. I like to work out in them, I like to hang out in them, I like to go to work in them. On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of super-hero T-shirts (coolest one so far: Superman logo from Kingdom Come).

Apparently, I'm not the only person with these 2 apparel interests in common. Only in America...

http://www.purehero.com/s.nl/sc.2/.f

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

 

Truth, Justice and the Soviet Way?


So I go into a comic book store and not only can you buy cool, non-continuity books like Superman: Red Son, but you can buy awesome action figures to go along with them. Now this guy's on my desk making the Superman purists around here mad...

 

Routh, like mouth

So here's the first interview I've seen with Brandon Routh, the new actor playing Superman. Seems like a nice guy. Seems like he could pull off Clark and the Blue Boy Scout.

http://www.iesb.net/videointerviews/brandonrouthggqt.php

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