By blog on Apr. 26, 2010.
I’ve just started, and it’s going very well!
I’m feeling a little over-cooked in terms of Malazan books, so I decided to give the Mistborn series a go and I’m really, really liking it so far. I’m over the first one hundred pages, and the remarkable difference between this and nearly every book I’ve read in the past two years is that it wasn’t an arduous struggle. I know that’s a backhanded compliment, but seriously, with many of the Malazan books – which I think are excellent – I’ve had to push myself to get past those first one hundred pages.
I’ve found the same issue with the Wheel of Time books, too. Robert Jordan – may the good man rest in peace – wrote the most protracted prologues you’ve ever seen, with many of the books seeing the one hundred page mark pass whilst you’re still reading the prologue. Okay that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far off the truth, either.
Another thing that I like about the Mistborn books so far, are it’s almost cinematic action sequences. One can practically see and feel the panorama of Luthadel as Kelsier goes flying through the night, using Allomancy to stir up trouble for the Dark Lord. That’s right, the story is set in a world where the Dark Lord has already won, turning the traditional fantasy narrative on it’s head. It’s an interesting premise, and I’m looking forward to finding out more as I plough further into the series.
In other news, hilarious news in my opinion, my SO’s father has been taken to court – that’s not the funny bit, this bit coming up next is the funny bit – over their fence line… Can you believe it!? Their neighbour decided he wanted to put up high security fences, in colour-bond steel, which is all well and good, but of course that means my SO’s parents, along with the neighbours on the other side of this lack-wit, will have to pay for half of the cost of the fence that borders their property. They’re okay with this, but that does mean they feel they’ll have to get the same sort of colour-bond fence for the rest of their yard lest it look odd, though they are going with a lower, more open fence for the front.
So, my SO’s father’s neighbour had the lines drawn for the fence-line last weekend, and what do you know? They’re about half a meter further onto their land than the previous fence. My SO’s father went and had a talk with this neighbour trying to see what the mix up was, and the neighbour gets out a copy of the city-planning layout for the area, which was nearly a century old, and tells him that the fence was in the wrong spot and should be moved over. My SO’s dad is having none of this, and told the guy he’d need better proof than that. Anyway, there’s been a great amount of talking back and forth, some of it very loud, and now they’ve both gotten no win no fee solicitors and they’re suing and counter suing each other. So far as I can see, and looking up the properties with online documents, the original fence line is right where it was up until the neighbour had it ripped out, the new drawn line is encroaching half a meter onto my SO’s parent’s property. The dead give away, though, was the fact that this neighbour tried to pull the same stunt with his neighbour on the other side, too.
By blog on Apr. 25, 2010.
And I’m just not really digging the Malazan experience right now.
On the one hand, I really do enjoy these books. I mean sure, there’s a bit of one-up-manship going on in a lot of it, with more and more powerful characters coming into the series, but I like the epic scope of the books, and love how things that happened in certain books tie in with happenings in books much later in the series. There’s some serious skill going on here.
However, I’ve read the first eight books all in the last year. That’s a heck of a lot of Malazan to read back to back. I’ve not read anything else in that entire time, just Malazan book after Malazan book. They’re all combining in my head, too. This book seems to follow on after Reaper’s Gale, so of course I can’t really remember what happened in that one very clearly. I mean I remember the big stuff, but a lot of the smaller details have left my mind.
Same thing has happened with Toll the Hounds. I remember the climax of the book, and all the stuff that went down then, but a great portion of the book is lost to my mind. I tried to find a good plot summary of what had happened in those books, but I haven’t found anything comprehensive yet, which is frustrating. Part of me is considering putting the book down for a while and reading something else for a while, and leaving Dust of Dreams to read just before I read The Crippled God as they’re actually parts one and two of the finale for the series.
I’ve heard good things about the Mistborn series, and that’s already finished which is a nice change. Still no news about the next Song of Ice and Fire book from George R R Martin, which isn’t surprising. It irritates me greatly that he’s got millions of fans waiting for the next book and he decides he’s going to take time out to write a 1733 word blog post about the NFL draft.
Anyway, so yeah, not sure what I’ll do there. Knowing me I’ll probably end up reading them both at the same time now.
By blog on Apr. 21, 2010.
I know, I know, I have actually written about this, but there’s more to talk about now!
Okay so, if you read my previous post on this issue, you will have seen that I wrote of Roger Ebert’s comment about video games never being able to be considered an art form. I’ll sum it up here again, though. Ebert stated that due to the players choices necessary in a video game, it could never be considered art in the same way film or literature can. Oh and instillation art doesn’t count as art, either, by that understanding, but anyway.
This really irritated many gamers, and, quite rightly, Ebert has been inundated with requests to reconsider his opinion. He hadn’t written on the topic since he wrote his original comment, until now! A game designer and producer, Kellee Santiago, gave a TED talk at USC recently, and referenced Mr Ebert’s comments. She then spoke of amazing games like Braid, Waco Resurrection, and Flower and basically showed how each of these games could be considered art based upon their individual style and impact. I’ve not actually played Waco Resurrection or Flower, but the latter is one that my SO really wants to play.
Ebert wrote a short essay as a rebuttal to Santiago and as a confirmation of his previous statement in response. This then lead IGN writer, Mike Tomsen to write a rebuttal to Ebert, and that’s where I started reading. I agree with so much of what Tomsen had to say in his piece titled, Dad is Dead: Rebutting Roger Ebert – poorly named in my opinion as it doesn’t make sense and Ebert is currently fighting cancer, but anyway.
It was so heartening to see not one but two cogent and intelligent arguments put forth about this topic. Ebert asked in his essay why gamers care that video games be considered art, and to that I had my own response. Because it’s tiring seeing a medium which can be so evocative, emotive, inspiring, and far reaching be diminished by such ridiculous claims by ignorant people. Ebert pans Braid, and the other two games with it, when he’s never even played them. I felt insensed by that, because when I played Braid, I found it a touching and thoughtful game that deviated greatly from the norm. It was intriguing and, quite honestly, beautiful. Want to know what Ebert had to say about the storyline of Braid, which was told between the levels? He said that it “exhibits prose on the level of a wordy fortune cookie”.
I’m astounded that an actual critic would be so callous and dismissive. I found that particular line in his essay to be both grubby and snot-nosedly imperious all at the same time. But anyway, back to my original premise here.
In my opinion, the gaming world needs to stop looking to critics who’ve no idea of video games for validation. There are video games that do deserve validation, praise, and to be considered works of art, but if a critic doesn’t even understand how to play a video game, how is he ever going to be able to comprehend the full package? I think it would be great to see critics cross the boundaries of film and gaming, and I hope to see it in the near future, but I think Ebert is not that critic, and I think he’s just proven once again how ignorant of gaming he truly is. He’s got films down, but games? He’s just not there at all.
By blog on Apr. 11, 2010.
Had a terrible experience with one today. Was just great!
A while back I bought a whole set of Panasonic digital cordless phones for my house. I don’t recommend them. They’re almost as quiet as the phones I bought them to replace, and they’ve got a pretty bad battery life on them, too.
One of the phones we’ve been having trouble with. The battery casing isn’t tight enough, allowing the battery pack to become loose, and then the bloody thing doesn’t charge properly. Because they’re still under warranty I found the customer service number and gave them a call to see about having the defective phone replaced or repaired.
I was treated like a moron over the phone. I’m extremely familiar with technology in many forms, as well as being tech support for other people, and I’ve never spoken to, nor been spoken to, in this fashion before in my life. The snotty little chavette on the phone asked me a few questions about my provider, found out it wasn’t the common BT and was about to blame my provider for the issue as she’d never before heard of them. She was very confused when I said the phone lines go through my broadband modem, and insisted for a while that I was talking about mobile broadband in which case I wasn’t in the right area. I told her it wasn’t a problem with the lines and it wasn’t mobile broadband, so she asked a few other questions and then the really fantastic question of whether I’d plugged it in, and without even waiting for me to answer said she’d wait for me to try that and put me on hold for eight minutes. Wow. That’s appalling.
She got back on the phone and asked if it was working now. I was actually quite patient with her as my SO was sitting with me and laughing as each minute ticked by and I was still on hold, still listening to crappy hold music which fazed in and out. I told her that I’d had it plugged in, but the battery case was loose so the battery didn’t connect properly, leading it to randomly go flat and take a full 24 hours of recharging to work again, but that only worked when we took the battery case off and used an elastic band to hold the battery pack in place. She told me that that wasn’t using the phone in the correct manner and that this voided the warranty.
At this point I told her to put her manager on the phone. She asked why, so I told her I was going to talk to the manager about her level of incompetence and rudeness, at which point she because a very angry chavette and spluttered for a few seconds then hung up. I rang back and got a different consultant, who did put me through to the manager when I explained what had happened. I wonder what will happen to that girl…
It was hard not to just jump online and start looking for new business and office telephone systems, but the Panasonic people were alright in the end and are actually going to replace the phone in question, as apparently it’s a known fault with that particular model. So that’s nice.
By blog on Apr. 9, 2010.
I’ve a real problem with time sinks. Yep, really big problem.
So, last night, I meant to go to bed around midnight. But I sat up for a while as I had some work to do. I then managed to find myself on Cracked.com, a very amusing website with interesting or amusing articles on a huge variety of subjects. Anyway, I looked at my clock, only to realise it was nearly 2am and I’d not done my work.
This is a real issue: I still have to get the work done, but it’s difficult to not get distracted when you work on a computer and have the entire information highway – that’s an old term, isn’t it? You don’t see it that often anymore… anyway, back to the topic at hand: See! Time wasting! – at my fingertips and I’m just not getting done what I have to get done!
So, I sat down and actually did my work last night, and just suffered today with lack of sleep because I felt that I pretty much deserved it for being caught up on the interwebs for two hours. If I’m not careful right now, I’ll do it again, too.
Like right then, I flicked over to an IGN article I brought up about death in video games. I had to close that tab lest I get caught up in reading the damned thing and not finish this blog entry!
Wasting time on the net can be all well and good when you’ve actually got time to waste. I used to work a tech support job in which I didn’t have a high frequency of people to help, and I was encouraged to still look busy at my computer: My boss directly encouraged me to use the net to look busy, so long as whatever I was looking at was ‘work friendly’ which suited me just fine.
So yeah, I’m not real thrilled with my currently lack of focus… I’ll have to think about how I’m going to stop myself from engaging in this wasteful behaviour…
By blog on Apr. 9, 2010.
A successor to the DS, titled the 3DS, has been announced and will be unveiled formally at E3 in June.
Details at this point are sketchy, but what Nintendo has confirmed is that the DS successor, the 3DS, will have 3D capability without the need for any sort of glasses to perceive the effect. Nintendo have also stated that the new handheld will be completely backwards compatible, so you’ll still be able to play the full library of DS and DSi titles.
At this point, confirmed details of the handheld run dry, and the rest comes from speculation from newspapers in Japan. Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, says that the 3D technology being used by Nintendo comes from Sharp’s 3D LDC panel, which works by having a thin film suspended slightly above the actual screen, which each eye interprets slightly differently, causing the image to look three dimensional. Personally this sounds like a great way to feel nauseous after a short while of game play, but I’m sure Nintendo wouldn’t have gone down this road should that be the case.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper usually entrusted to break all Nintendo news, has reported that Nintendo is planning to use an analogue stick for controlling characters in 3D, and rumble technology is also expected for the new handheld. Both odd notions to me. To continue with a sleek design, the idea of an analogue stick seems somewhat of a sore thumb, and it makes me wonder if they’re planning on sticking with the same folded design. I certainly hope so.
Supposedly the new 3DS will also have much better battery life and wireless, but the screens aren’t set to go as large as the DSi XL – watch that chunky hardware sit on shelves for a long time to come! – but will have an accelerometer, which is the same technology that allows electronic devices to know when they are being tilted, so you’re already familiar with this if you’ve played a Wii, even if you didn’t know the fancy name for it.
That’s all the info that’s out there at the moment. No one eve knows what the thing is going to look like, but I do have to wonder why Nintendo announced it just days before the DSi XL hit shelves everywhere other than Japan. Just on IGN I saw many comments on the 3DS article from people saying that they’d just cancelled their pre-orders for the DSi XL. Seems a faux par, but still, the handheld is not set to ship until March next year, and that’s only for Japan.
By blog on Apr. 8, 2010.
Written by Mr Molyneux, of course.
The latest bout of my laughing at Molyneux was brought about by happing upon an article on IGN where Molyneux is claiming Fable III has ‘the greatest cast of any video game’. Now, I know that they’ve got some great actors in their voice cast, including John Cleese and Steven Fry, both very funny, but the best cast ever is just a ridiculous claim. It’s so very childlike that you have to wonder if Molyneux is even aware of how easily and often he’ll find himself ridiculed for such a statement.
Now, if this was a game developer who’d come through on his huge game promises in the past, then perhaps there’d be less of the ridicule, but he isn’t. He’s made huge promises with the Fable franchise and has failed to deliver on many occasions. His ideas of what constitutes a good video game sometimes baffle me, and it’s a little sad to see great actors working on less than great games.
Sometimes it seems, when one is reading or watching an interview with Molyneux, that he genuinely believes that he’s the most amazing game developer out there, but you have to wonder if it’s more of a media ploy; that he’s playing up his bold claims and eccentricities to get more coverage for the upcoming Fable title.
Either way, it’s both mildly irritating and rather funny. Apparently they’ve gone about voice recording in a way never done before. From what Molyneux said it just sounds like they’ve gotten the actors to ad lib a lot of the dialogue, in which case it’s really their great work not his, but anyway.
I’ll still not buy or play the game, but these little boasts of Molyneaux’s are often good for a laugh.
By blog on Apr. 8, 2010.
I was looking forward to Splinter Cell Conviction, but I do have some issues with how the game is shaping up at this stage.
I took a look at some of the trailers for the game on IGN the other day, and the first thing I couldn’t help noticing was the poor graphics. Okay they aren’t terrible, but when you put it up against other games being released at the moment, the graphics really are sub-par. Sam’s head looks to be oddly shaped many times through the trailers, and textures look a little big for what these seventh generation consoles. The other thing of note was the minimalistic approach to the environments: though many of the scenes in the trailers there was a decided emptiness that wasn’t as engaging as it could have been.
The first thing my SO said was that it the ’same old storyline’, and she’s pretty much right. It feels like a very cliché storyline that’s being trotted out as the reason behind Sam Fisher’s new found aggression towards the bad guys. The events of the game take place around two years after the previous Splinter Cell game, Double Agent, and in the intervening years Sam’s daughter, Sarah, has died. Sam finds out in the early stages of the game that her death was no accident, so now he’s rogue Sam Fisher, and he’s after the bad guys whilst Third Echelon – his former employer – is after him.
He’s pretty much got a no-holds-barred approach to taking down anyone in his way to finding out the truth behind his daughter’s death, and this is a fairly new approach for these games. In previous titles Sam was often hamstrung by directives issued from Third Echelon, often making levels irritating because you couldn’t do kill or couldn’t be noticed or some other action. However, now that Sam’s rogue, that shouldn’t be an issue.
So I’m still hoping for a great Splinter Cell game, but I’m hoping for three things. One, that the writing is good if the storyline is going to even approach the cliché. Two, that the graphics are improved before release, and three, that Ubisoft has ditched their terrible DRM.