Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sin City Trailer

We interrupt this Festivus celebration to bring you this special report: There is a new Sin City trailer that wants to kick your ass. Click on the headline to get there.

Have a Moderately Enjoyable Festivus!

What's with you people? Why aren't you out celebrating Festivus?

I figured I'd take a moment to remind us all of the true meaning of the season by beginning the Airing of Grievances. So here goes:

1) Goddamnit, the new Blade movie sucked. You know my detailed feelings on that, so I'll let it lick--er, lie.

2) Despite my desire to love it, KOTOR II hasn't grabbed me in any way. It's probably because it's buggy and weird, but who knows. That didn't stop me when Vampire did it.

3) Games are getting stupider. Are gamers really that dumb, or are publishers going overboard? Either way, there's a fair bit of stupid in the genetic mix.

4) Your face is dumb. No, really. You ought to get that looked at.

5) My balls currently belong to World of Warcraft. I'd like them back. I don't want to walk by a guy selling them on the street. Some people say I should get them permanently attached, but I don't know.

6) One out of every 9 cans of Canada Dry ginger ale is kinda skunky. I don't know why. I still drink it.

7) Whoever invented cats also invented evil, and they include a little free sample of evil in with the cat, like how you used to get Myst free with everything you'd buy in the mid-'90s.

8) Crunch time is likely to begin anew in January, and I was just getting used to having weekends.

9) My driver's side window on my car is busted. It wil go down, but not back up. This wouldn't normally be so bad when the temperature is -25 degrees Celsius, but it sucks when I have to open my door to punch in the parking keycode or accept poison from the local drive-thru burgermart.

10) This list only goes to 9.

There are a lot more, but I can't say them here because I have to go ship presents that won't get to their recipients before Valentine's Day, because Customs is slow and so is the post office. Ooh, add that one up there, too.

In short, I hate you, games are dumb, and Blade: Trinity sucked.

Happy Festivus.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Mystery Martian cleans US space buggy. 22/12/2004. ABC News Online

Mystery Martian cleans US space buggy. 22/12/2004. ABC News Online

I considered stealing the "homeless guy/squeegee" joke from, but I think it would jsut cheapen the experience.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

AWESOME REVIEW: World of Warcraft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You have to help me. World of Warcraft has my balls. It has them in a tight grip and will not release them. It has demanded that I forego showers, real meals, and spending time with friends who aren't either short, purple, or roughly cow-shaped. God damnit, I swore this wouldn't happen again.

My girlfriend and I made new characters: undead priest and warrior. we played and played, and somehow it was more fun than the last thing, a Tauren warrior/druid combo. Which was more fun than the one before that. Damnit, how can this game keep getting more and more fun? It's supposed to run on addiction, not actual good content (EA, I'm looking at you, foo).

I bought a new goddamn computer to play this, so that my girlfriend and I wouldn't have to fight over it. World of Warcraft has my balls in a grip and will not let them go.

World of Warcraft makes you remember the little perfect things, like the phone number for the nearest pizza delivery place that has the 2-for-1 special and the names of your friends' characters online. You become acutely aware of how much time you spend at work. You gain a supernatural ability to needle through traffic at high speeds because you know that your personal DPS is dropping every second you spend away. And fuck, I don't want my warrior to be any less efficient.

If you ask anyone, they may say the game has problems, and it does: its players. MMO folks have been fishing for things to complain about since sliced bread ("NERF WHOLE WHEAT LOLOL"), and they hit this game hard. Blizzard didn't test a couple of classes enough before they shipped the game, but really, every single class is fun, at least to level 10. Trust me. I've played them all.

The biggest problem with this game is that it has my balls. I wish it would give them back, as I might like to use them someday.

Friday, December 17, 2004


A thoughtful analogy for Blade: Trinity.

Pretend you grew up with poodles. Your family had a couple, one after the other, and they were great dogs. The first one was an awesome puppy, and though it declined in its later years, it was a great dog. The second one was a super awesome fantastic dog that could beat up tanks with its bare hands.

So when you get out on your own, you of course want a poodle. You go out, seek out the breeder who bred the first one, even, and pick out your puppy. And it's all cute and lovable and awesome, and so you invite your friends over to see it. When your friends get there, the dog goes up to each one of them, one at a time, and sticks his nose right in their crotches.

Not only that, but he sniffs and licks and rubs his head around and generally looks like he's getting off on it. And your friends laugh and laugh, and they say your dog is teh ghey and imply that you are less of a man for having a poodle that eats balls. And no matter what you try, you can't convince them that your other two poodles were great and that this one, for some reason, insists on licking balls.

That's Blade: Trinity.

You see the trailer, and you think, "Ooh, Blade is cool. I liked the second movie a lot! Also, Jessica Beale or whatever is really hot." Therefore, the movie must be great, right? But then you go in, and you sit down, and the first "awesome" thing that happens is one of the last. Then Parker Posey, an actress with a long history of improv and black comedy, completely snarfs her role as a "scary" goth vampiress.

And you think, "God damn, this puppy is licking balls, and I can't stop it."

It gets worse. Because improbable blue gadgets are apparently cooler than FUCKING VAMPIRES, Blade: Trinity has a gadget for every situation. They have bullets that explode with sunlight, silver-plated stakes, and even an arrow that contains a disease that only works on vampires. The explanation? "And this blind beauty over here is River Field or whatever. She's just as badass as the rest of us. Explain whatcha got, River?" And then River says, "This puppy here will blow up a vampire like it's a sock full of dynamite on Christmas," and that's it. Then you know that the ultimate first father of all vampires, who is so perfect that he never needed to evolve, is destined to be destroyed by some punk girl with a bow and arrow. It's all good though, because Dracula is crap, too. It's good to see the director's retarded European cousin getting work.

Dracula, the most powerful vampire who ever existed except the other vampires in the movie, has the power to change his shape into whatever the most plot-appropriate form is at the moment. Rather than turn into a rat or somethiing to infiltrate the good-guy hideout, he takes the form of a dead friend of the good guys. They're not likely to freak out at that, right? Then Vlad the Impaler has a little girl at his whim, and she insults him, and he apparently just walks off. Sweet. Also, the world is full of tons of unnamed vampires who can be dispatched by punching them with the proper swagger. Of course, Dracula has no power, supernatural or otherwise, over these vampires, and there's no telling why Parker Posey wanted to raise him in the first place. Though, I have to admit, Dracula is pretty awesome in his True Form. Someone designing that form was thinking, "In the first Blade, the vampires had two jaws and were kinda scary. The second blade, they had three jaws and were really scary. We'll give Dracula... like, seven jaws! Take that!" Unfortunately, all he really does in that form is throw Blade around and skulk in the costume-flaw-concealing shadows.

The movie has its cool parts, wirth watching for a Blade fan. Like Triple H and his pomeranian. Parker Posey's brother in the film does surprisingly well. And Blade himself is a badass on the Wesley Snipes scale. He slings blades around and punches women like no one else in the business.

But then, man. That dog keeps licking balls. Combat scenes are often blurry and difficult, with punching noises occurring when no punches are being thrown. The ultra-cool "Blade vs. the FBI" plot gets hot and then tossed out when Blade solves the problem by beating up a bunch of nameless FBI dudes. Kris Kristopherson staggers around going, "I'm not gonna lose you again, god damnit" and shooting shotguns at scores of FBI agents only seconds after he tells Blade not to kill humans. Oh, and every single word, except the three lines Blade says himself, of the film is exposition. Here's an example:

BLADE: And who are you punks, who came to save me last scene?

JASON LEE IMPERSONATOR (JLI): We are the "good guys," Blade. Also, I used to be a vampire, this here is Whistler's daughter, the nerd makes magic bullets, and the blind woman's cute daughter has no idea how bad this movie is.

BLADE: I see. You think you can help me? You kids?

HOT CHICK: I'm not just an incredibly hot woman. I'm also super badass at all types of fighting and can kill eighteen undead vampires with my bare hands and exploding babies.

BLIND GIRL: Oooh, I just hacked into God's computer with my blind hacking abilities. Look at the information on my screen, which I can understand even though I can't see or read it.

NERD: These puppies make every vampire in the world blow up just by you wishing for it to happen. But we only have one, so make sure you use it only at the end of the movie.

BLADE: I'm still not convinced.

And so on. Then you get to the end fight:

DRACULA: Ah, Blade, I see we are here fighting with swords.

BLADE: I am here to kill you or to die, or both. Unfortunately, the "Blade could be killed too, and so he should decide whether eradicating Dracula is worth losing his own life and make a valiant sacrifice" plot is wasted, because we solved it by not addressing it in the least.

DRACULA: You have honor, Blade. But I will kill you by punching you with fists.

BLADE: .....

A great battle ensues, then the Hot Chick shows up, like all hot chick sidekicks, shoots an arrows that misses, and then Blade gets the final blow.

No matter how badass an enemy is in a Blade film, there's always the uber gadget. The Earth itself could turn out to be a vampire, eating cities by the hundreds daily until Blade shows up, and Blade will fight some dudes with his sword and then use the uber gadget on the Earth to defeat it. How much tension can there be in a plot when, no matter how awesome the villain is, you know that Blade will come up with some sort of silver-coated UV laser garlic spray to defeat it?

Damnit, this puppy just won't stop licking balls.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


I found out today that another magazine, Xbox Nation (XBN) also got canned the same day as GMR. See below (Anutha One Bites the Dustah) for accompanying rant.

"But WHY isn't he talking about World of Warcraft?"

Because I am dying to play it more. I am, sir, an addict, and I have the swingy croutons to admit it. But, alas, I am working 12-hour days most days, and Chez AWESOME has but one computer, which usually sees the lovery AwesomeLady at its helm.

But... BUT. Another PC is coming, and soon I will have another method for ignoring the things that really matter, like family, friends, and Xmas.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Anutha One Bites the Dustah

Gaming-Age Forums - GMR magazine is no more

i would have linked to a better article, but in the forum linked above you get to actually see GMR editors finding out for the first time FROM THEIR FORUMS about how their magazine got cancelled.

What. The. Fuck.

Some background: The most-read game magazines in the past, generally GamePro and EGM, usually topped off around 500,000 circulation. In fact, the magazines really topped off there, finding it difficult to surpass that mark. Still, that's a lot, considering that GamePro and EGM were in the top ten list of most-read magazines of any type, let alone gaming mags.

Then Game Informer, a little-known magazine from Minnesota, came along and suddenly claimed a readership of over 900,000. At the time, the most intelligent comment to this from folks at the other mags was, "WTF??!?!?!!LOLOL"

So people looked into it. It turned out that Game Informer was being given away to people who bought into the frequent buyers' club or whatever at GameStop. Whereas GamePro and EGM had to go about their circulation the traditional way, by, y'know, selling the magazine (or giving it away strategically, to dentists and doctors' offices and stuff), GI was literally giving the mag away (in addition to its newsstand sales and subcscriptions. So everyone who got the club card, which you would buy in return for discounts and a free subscription to GI, would get the mag for free.

You would often hear people say, "Yeah, GI. I don't like it and don't read it, but they gave it to me, so whatever." Over time GI went from a great indie mag to a "Oooh, this new game is COOL" magazine. On the other hand, their gargantuan circ numbers made it difficult for PR folks from game publishers to go anywhere else for their big stories, because PR folks don't really care about the quality of an article, they only care about how many pages that article takes up and how many "eyes" are going to see it. With GI, they could guarantee that roughly 900,000 people would see the cover with their game on it. You could count the number of truly big breaks on non-GI covers on one hand. GI got every big exclusive review (including a glowing one of Star Wars Galaxies based entirely on the pre-release beta and an obscenely high-scored Enter the Matrix review months before anyone else), only increasing their newsstand numbers. Meanwhile, subscription renewals were low (I had heard 15%, but then I worked for the competition), and while many of us tried to tell our contacts that, while GI claimed a huge readership, only a few of those readers liked the mag enough to renew it. But the words, they do nuffink.

Anyway, as with every great idea that makes a real success story, someone set out to copy it. Electronics Boutique said, "Hey, that GameStop has a great idea, let's create our own corporate whore magazine!" And they did, and it was published by Ziff Davis and titled, "GMR," because everyone knows that stripping the vowels from a word makes that word cool. Despite GMR's original Editor in Chief being a pretentious jerk, the magazine apparently wasn't that bad. Of course, you got the mag with your EB club card, which is in itself a rip-off.

An aside: I worked at EB a while back, before I moved out to California and sold my soul to Satan. We had a quota of club cards to sell every month, and we actually got a bonus for selling them. Tell me: Would a corporate entity give monetary incentives to their lowly retail droogs to sell a product that wasn't almost 100% profit for them? I doubt it. The cards are a ripoff. With GMR, you get a free magazine, but it's all a scam. You can go in the internet and get better info. Basically you're handing EB free money, and in return you get a low discout, guaranteeing that if you want to buy a game you'll go to EB first to get your 5% off. You also get a magazine that tells you what games to buy. Not bad.

Anyway, back to GMR. The reason for writing this isn't because the magazine's awesome circulation was due to a copycat scheme based on GI's successful venture, but because the magazine is now dead. If you read the forum, you'll see that the editors weren't told until after the subscribers were. The people who worked on this magazine found out AFTER the people who read it. That is fucked up.

Apaprently, EB removed the "get magazine with club card" offer a few months back, and the magazine plummetted. In such a case, as we learned from Gamestar last week, the best thing to do is to break the magazine and stop making it. In the case of Gamestar, nearly the entire editorial staff was sheared off. In this case, a letter went out to subscribers of GMR, someone posted it on an online forum, and the GMR staff found out that way. I can't imagine how awesome it must be to go online and find out your mag got cut. It must feel like getting a milllion dollars in the mail on your birthday.

Dear Game Magazine Editors: Stop it. You're being treated like sheep. Some of you have real skills in writing, editing, or even reporting. Some of you don't just regurgitate press releases like a mama bird. You will succeed in other jobs where your skills will be more worthwhile. Game magazine publishers don't love you, and to them, you are the worst kind of scum: Whereas subscribers pay for the magazine, you are PAID FOR the magazine. Game editors aren't valuable content providers for them, they're freeloading slackers who do what a trained advertiser could do. Editorial takes up valuable ad space in magazines. It's only a matter of time before someone puts a stop to that.

Most likely IDG's Dan Orum. Because he hates puppies.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004 - FBI reports Guantanamo 'abuse' - Dec 8, 2004 - FBI reports Guantanamo 'abuse' - Dec 8, 2004

I'm hoping that handbasket is roomy.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

AWESOME NEWS: Corporate Greed Wins Out!

In somewhat unsurprising news today, one of the "World's Largest Multiplatform Gaming Magazine"s laid off a significant portion of its editorial force today. To avoid mentioning names, despite my own personal seething rage about the issue, I will call this magazine GameSlice. Yes, THAT GameSlice.

As much as I disagreed with GameSlice's tendency to droop boobies on every possible page, I really liked the magazine. It had insightful articles on things like violence in games and why players don't finish games, and most of it was really well researched and written. As far as I know, GameSlice survived for a run of all of three issues before the Money Grubbing Dinosaur Demon Hellbeast that publishes it decided to yank it from publication. After a pretty well-received premiere issue, GameSlice died after two newsstand books.

Now, I don't know the politics behind the decision, but IDG (oops!) has never been one to go around, y'know, supporting their publications all willy-nilly. Except the German GameSlice, which has an entire staff just to work on their DVD (which is frickin' awesome, by the way). GameSlice, on the other hand, had one guy whose job it was to put together the CD that shipped with the issue. Oh, and that guy was also the Managing Editor of the damn magazine. And he wrote articles for it. And, I suspect, he also wrote for GameSlice's sister pub, GameCool, in his spare time. As far as I know, there were maybe four, maybe five editors on the permanent staff for GameSlice. And Mr. Goddamn Dragon Head Publisher wonders why it might not have been as good as it could have been!

The Editor of GameSlice, a good friend of mine, has been laid off for the crime of being willing to take a new magazine, make it his, and make it the best he can possibly make it with half the staff and a tenth of the corporate support he needed. One of the most energetic and excited men in the business now has to go find something to do, and his vision of his own magazine has been squashed because someone's shortsightedness won out.

Let me tell you. I have been laid off before. It's unfair and stressful, and it makes you wonder what you did wrong. I was laid off because the Internet boom went bust, and I was on the bottom end of the scale. In this case, Mr. Orum (oops!) lopped off the entire staff of the magazine. He didn't stop the magazine and offer the staff a chance to do something else at the company. He just told them to pack up. Along with several other people at the company.

As much as I liked the magazine and its sister pub, I can't help but wish it ill. Because it is led by management with their hands on their wallets who don't understand what it is to publish a magazine that needs to keep an audience to survive. Think maybe that shrinking audience has something to do with the quality of the mag taking backseat to selling the mag? Maybe editorial integrity means something to these readers you have such complete disdain for? Maybe you should get your thumbs out of your fucking asses and actually consider what you've been asking editors to do for the crap salary you're expecting them to live on in the most expensive city in North America.

Not everyone there is evil. I absolutely love some of the people at the VP level, and this vitriol isn't being spewed in their direction. This is for the people who took the magazine's website and turned it into a corporate shill for whoever happened to be advertising at the time. This is for the people who covered my magazine cover with an ad glued on so that I had to tear the cover to get it off. This is for the people who tried to build up GameSlice, not as "a new magazine for an older crowd who wants smarter articles," but as "the magazine that Best Buy can sell in their stores to the drones who go in there flinging money like it's monkey shit." These people didn't care whether GameSlice was good or not; they just wanted to put tits on the cover and watch it sell. Meanwhile, the people who really cared whether it was a good magazine or not are, as of now, "chilling over Xmas because no one will hire until the New Year."

So, someone profits from this layoff, and so it's not all bad. But when something like this happens, the layoffs come almost 90% from the editorial pool, because you can offer a 13-year old kid $5000 to write articles for a year, and he'll do it happily. The industry loses its best people left and right because it doesn't make it worthwhile for skilled people to remain in the business. The ones who are really good stay in it because they really love the business, but the publishers are making it harder and harder to love. So you get turnover and crappy, cheap writers who have no idea what they're worth taking over for seasoned editors who have been in the industry just long enough to understand what "journalism" really means.

Since I can't really wish success for the remaining awesome people AND failure for the turd-headed fishmouth that runs the place, I suppose I'll err on the side of wishing success.

For GameCool's competitors, please note: A ton of really great potential freelancers just hit the market. Go get them. They will make you proud.

For the remaining GameCool edit staff: I hate what has happened. Your magazine has only gotten better editorially in the past few months, but I sense a disturbance in the Force. I know there are days when you want to pick up the replica Darth Vader lightsaber and go at it. Who knows, things might get better there. But the Man just sliced off GameSlice. Do with that what you will.

Argh. Enough. RIP, GameSlice. We argued and fought, but in the end, I'll miss you.

Friday, December 03, 2004

AWESOME NEWS: EA promises change in memo without really promising anything

So, EA has finally given a statement about their alleged worker-exploitation practices. The link below goes to a blog site that gives links to the original complaints and the text of a leaked memo from EA Senior VP Rusty Rueff. Go ahead, read it. I'll wait.

EA promises changes in leaked internal memo : Kotaku


For those who couldn't bash through the bullshit enough to really read it, I'll translate it, paragraph by paragraph, into Normal Human Speak for you:

"It has not been easy around here, getting kicked in the face by truth and having our employees rise up against us, strengthened by the growing acceptance of expressing their minds about the negative treatment they have received at this company. We have not responded to any of these allegations because, I mean, really. Shut the hell up, y'know?

"As much as I fear the truth about the working conditions here, this huge media blow-up is too big to ignore, so I need to at least acknowledge your pain in a shallow, surface fashion. Even though we've been in this business for ages, we still 'don't know' how to alleviate this crunch problem, despite the fact that our massive funds could easily hire more people and finance an even bigger workspace than our Redwood Shores complex, which has its own gravity. Oh, and by the way, all you studio people who are complaining need to shut up, because the marketing, sales and other departments are working at least like, 50 hour weeks, and you don't hear them complaining!

"We recently had our survey for you employees, and so many of you replied that it's taking us an extra long time to ignore all of your comments and suggestions. We will soon have our terse response prepared by our lawyers to make sure that we don't promise anything, so stay tuned.

"Don't worry though, because we're not waiting for our lawyers before we start making minor changes that don't really affect anything. Here are just a few, which is to say, there are all of them:

"You will all have to learn a new technology platform, even if you're in the middle of a project. This means that all of your effort previously wasted on reinventing the wheel can be wasted somewhere else, instead.

"Expect long out-of-work training hours in December, around Christmas (except our cash-cow Madden folks, who won't do training until after the New Year). To solve the problem with the extra burden of changing horses in mid-stream, we will be adding extra burden to pre-production, to use up more effort making decisions on things that will doubtless change based on realities that pop up during production.

"We're rolling out an important-sounding acronym that ought to make it look like we're trying to reduce the last-minute decisions that extend a game's late-cycle development burden. This way we put more concrete weight on decisions made when the game is but an ethereal creature of ideas, making us far less flexible when reality comes up later to bite our games in the ass.

"We are also looking into actually considering paying some of you what you deserve, and by 'some of you,' I mean, 'most likely only the project leads and executives.' We haven't been doing this all along, not because we don't want to pay you as much as you deserve, but because we know that you don't WANT to be paid fairly. To do so would be to insult you. We think of our artists as creative, starving people and our engineers as flexible people who are ready to 'adapt' to whatever hardship their long hours and small paychecks may cause. Outdated 'laws' want to make us pay you a fair wage for the stupidly insane hours we make you work, but you don't want that any more than we do. So we're taking the onus on ourselves to look into how to look like we're giving you more money without actually doing so. And yes, I said 'onus.'

"That's what we're doing now. We're getting more great ideas from you, so we'll be ignoring those more thoroughly over the next few months.

"Here are a few things I'd like you to know about our company:

"First, we are awesome. We are so awesome that even looking at us makes women's pants fly off. I'd lie to you, but I don't think... Oh, screw it. 'Year after year, our games finish at the top of the charts with the best ratings.'

"Second, man, this is fucking hard. We're just TOO successful, and that makes it difficult to pay you more money or give you sane hours. Seriously. It's like, really hard.

"Most importantly, we realize that we can't fix this with one email, despite management's new deadlines which say, 'To do: Fix this in one email.' This requires all of us working together to ignore the great ideas of you downtrodden workers. Also, keep in mind that there are huge benefits to working at EA, like free heart attacks and the feeling of complete apathy from releasing an average, but highly polished, product. By noting down all those who complain about their working conditions and torching them all in public, we will fix these issues and become stronger as a company.

"Thanks for taking the time to read this. We know who you are if you didn't."

That ought to clear up a few things.


Gizmodo : Toyoto i-foot and i-unit

You have never seen anything this cool. God damn.