November 29, 2006
Tech Review: Why Wii Will Win the War ...
...between the Next-Gen Video Game Consoles
I grew up playing video games and I honestly can't decide if that's for better or worse. So for months I've been following the development of the Nintendo Wii enthusiastically and I've felt for a long time that this system will be the rebirth of Nintendo as the leader in the video game industry. Some industry analysts have said that the battle is between Microsoft and Sony for first place in the next-gen war, and that the Wii would automatically take second place, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the battle between Microsoft and Sony is for second place. So I'm listing the reasons why I think the Nintendo Wii will dominate the war between the next-generation video game consoles.
For starters: The Wii is an inclusive system rather than being exclusive like it's competitors. The Wii is welcoming to non-traditional-players and traditional gamers alike. This is mostly because Nintendo has developed an innovative set of motion sensitive controllers that allow you to move the controller threw the air to virtually interact with the games you're playing. (This is what opens the door to non-traditional gamers who would be less inclined to learn the meticulous button pressing patterns in traditional game-play as featured in the 360 and PS3 and would rather swing the Wii's remote-shaped controller as if it were the handle of a racket.) Each player has two controllers which may be connected by a detachable cord; the primary controller is called the Wii remote (because it looks and is often used as a remote control for your television) and in some games this will be all you need to play, the secondary controller is called the numchuck (because it connects to the first controller threw a detachable cord and when connected it resembles a the famous weapon of choice for Michelangelo (and if you don't know what I'm talking about you obviously didn't grow up in the 80s)); this controller contains an analogue stick like you would find in previous game systems, which is likely to be used in games for moving around in the environment. Both controllers are motion sensitive, and as is the case with the bundled Wii Spots: Boxing game, you can use both to punch at the screen as if you were boxing in real life. Reviews have been very positive regarding the accuracy of the controllers. (A side note: The Wii controllers also feature built-in speakers for sound-effects that are related to the objects you are virtually using in the game: for instance in the latest Zelda game (which is likely to be the Killer App of the Wii) you use the Remote and the Numchuck controller to simulate drawing a bowstring, and in the controller's speaker you will hear the stretching of the bowstring.) The controller design will allow game developers to produce games that utilize the motion-sensitivity of the controllers to give a more realistic playing experience and it should make playing a video game for the first time that utilizes the motion sensitivity much easier; the inclusive nature of the Wii leads to the next reason why the Wii will dominate...
The Wii is focused more on improving and expanding the game playing experience rather than expanding the hardware of the system, so there is likely to be more games having a broader appeal that for the Wii's competitors. The 360 and the PS3 are much more powerful systems than the Wii (and therefor much more expensive), because they support high-definition graphics—In fact, the Next-Gen systems by Microsoft and Sony also represent a war between the two new formats of High Definition DVD. The 360 supports HD-DVD (but you have to purchase the yet-to-be-released HD-DVD player that will connect to the 360); while the PS3 has a built in Blueray player, which is part of the reason the price is steeper and why it came out a year after the 360. (Word on the street is Bluray is better than HD-DVD, but being better didn't do much to help Betamax.) The Wii while having enhanced graphics from the previous system, the GameCube, will still look good on standard television set, and look great on a high-def television, but frees consumers from having to have one (or having to buy one) to enjoy the system; rather by keeping the focus on the game play they are also keeps production costs down for game developers by not having to make games that utilize high-definition graphics. This all add$ up to the next reason the Wii will dominate in the Next-Gen war...
The Price of the Nintendo is only $250, verses $400 for the weaker of the two Microsoft systems, and $500 for the weaker of the two PS3 systems; and to be honest, the population of traditional gamers wouldn't even consider buying the weaker versions of the PS3 or 360, because as in the case of the PS3 several of the key connections that make having a Bluray player valid in the first place are not included so most serious gamers would have to spend $600 to get the full-blown PS3 with all the bells and whistles. Thus the Wii is less than half the price of the PS3, which for many people will seem like a lot more justifiable expense.
Another factor to be considered is Style. The Wii is very small and stylish and would look a lot nicer in your living room than it's rivals. Nintendo says the Wii system is about the size of 3 DVD cases stacked together. The Wii is also WiFi enables so it can connect wirelessly to the Internet, thus reducing the cables needed. The 360 resembles a clunky personal computer, and with a connected HD-DVD player will be a mess of components next to your television. The bulkiness of the 360 is what some have credited to it's terrible sales in Japan, which is a country that values utilizing space efficiently. The PS3 is prettier than the 360 but still very expensive which takes some of the glamor out of it in comparison to the Wii
Early indications seem to be much more favorable for the Wii than it's competitors. At this point after only eight days on the market the Wii has sold over 600,000 units. Microsoft's 360 has not performed well in the Japanese market, and while there are plenty of game developers outside of Japan these days, and while it's true that the Japanese market is not an indication of how well the 360 will do in the Americas or Europe, it is true that Japan is a long way ahead in game development.
At the E3 (Electronics Entertainment Expo), the premiere event in North America for showcasing what's on the horizon in the video game world, held in Los Angeles over the summer, the line to try out the Wii was about 6 hours for five minutes of play time, while the line to try out the PS3 was little over 30 minutes.
When comparing the product launches of the Wii and the PS3 there has been a striking contrast. For the Wii everything has gone as planned, but there have been numerous complications in the production and distribution of the PS3 leading up to it's launch, including multiple release date set backs; originally the PS3 was slated to be released at the same time as the 360 in 2005 but design changes forced them to wait until the Fall of 2006; problems with manufacturing the bluray player caused a reduction of available units which forced Sony to again postpone releasing the PS3 in Europe and Australia until March of 2007. Reportedly when you purchase a PS3, before you can use it, you have to have it connected to the Internet (some say for up to an hour) to download a firmware operating system update; hopefully this is something that can be changed as the PS3 is being developed. This is presumably to solve some problems with backwards compatibility with older generation PS games; the PS3 initially claimed to be backwards compatible with all older generation PS games, but just days before the PS3 launch it was revealed that over 200 older-generation PS games would not work on the PS3.
The Wii is backwards compatible with all Nintendo Gamecube games, and will also feature another innovation called the Virtual Console, which will likely really appeal to old-school game players. The Virtual Console will allow you to download classic games from all previous Nintendo systems (NES, SNES, Nintendo 64) as well games from non-Nintendo systems such as it's old rival Sega's Genesis console and also NEC's only venture into the console industry, the TurboGrafx 16. SNK, maker of the NeoGeo, has a compilation disk of Metal Slug games coming out for the Wii. The Wii will also be compatible with Nintendo's portable game player the Nintendo DS (“DS” stands for duel screen, the player has two screens, the bottom of which is touch sensitive) by using the wireless capabilities of the Wii and the DS.
Between the two powerhouse systems, my vote would go for the PS3, it certainly has some great capabilities, such as connectivity with the PSP (PlayStation Portable); But Sony needs a game that will be the Killer App for the PS3 make it worth the expense; of course it would also help if they dropped the price some. Bottom line: Despite the fact that Nintendo has always been a great game developer, it's really the third-party game developers who will decide the outcome of battle, and they are going to go where the money is, and with all the Wiis that will likely saturate the market, it should be a no-brainer what system to spend their money developing games for.
Nintendo was the underdog last go-around, this time they have stepped up to the plate ready to hit a home-run out of the park. Unfortunately, I'm still too poor at the moment to buy a ticket.
Labels: video games
November 27, 2006
Movie Review: Casino RoyaleI have inherited two of my father's passions in life: watching the New York Yankees in the post-season, and James Bond movies; both of which have been the source of frustration in recent years. Over Thanksgiving while I was spending some time with my family my father and I went to see the latest Bond movie, Casino Royale (2006) (IMDb page), and I was surprised ... by how good it was. The story is based on the first Bond novel by the same name. It starts with Bond becoming a double-O agent and continues as he is sent to use his card-playing skills to prevent a banker from funding terrorism, at the same time there is a developing love story between Bond and the beautiful and confident treasury representative, Vesper Lynd, who is sent to watch over the money at stake.
Movie facts: Casino Royale (2006) is the 21st Bond movie created by MGM, and the second one directed by Martin Campbell (his last Bond movie was GoldenEye (1995)). Only recently did MGM/United Artists acquire the rights to make a Casino Royale film, the story was already used as a spoof television show and a feature film in 1967. There have actually been 21 official and two unofficial Bond movies released to date. The two unofficial Bond movies include the original 1967 Casino Royale, and Never Say Never Again (which was based on the story used in the film Thunderball, and was produced by Warner Brothers and featured Sean Connery again as an older Bond).
Casino Royale, in my opinion, has more of the style and substance that made the original Bond movies classic; in every respect it is as good as the original bond movies. Instead of gadgets or the over-the-top explosive action of previous bond films, the film relies on a very well written story, witty dialog, and beautiful scenery to be intriguing. The story starts with an intense chase scene on foot but soon enough Bond is using his intelligence and skill at cards to fight international evil. This Bond, like the original uses his cunning intelligence more than his physical strength to accomplish his mission. You are likely to have questions still roaming in your mind after you watch the film. Graig captures the role that Connery chronologically will fill perfectly, and Eva Green is great as the female lead character; interestingly, it is perhaps the events in the film that relate to her character that possibly explain why Bond will eventually become more emotionally distant in the relationships he has with the women in his life. Bottom line: if you like Bond movies, and especially if you like the earlier ones, Casino Royale will not disappoint.
Casino Royale has a License to Kill your low expectations of what a Bond movie would be: 5 out of 5.
November 26, 2006
Topic: Internet – YouTube and the future of entertainment
A coworker sent aYouTube video to me, which is something that I can only describe as disturbingly funny. If you go to You Tube. And search for "One Bank" you will likely find the video. Look for the guy shown in the picture to the left.
I'm afraid that if Bono ever sees this hilarious and disturbing aberration of one of U2s greatest songs it might make him lose faith in humanity. Please Bono, please don't lose faith in humanity! We need you.
The creator of this One cover song, Ethan Chandler, who is also a professional musician in his own right as well as a manager at BoA, has asserted that the video was never meant to be seen by the general public; however, thanks to You Tube, this video is abundant all over the internet and is drawing both approval, scorn, and laughter.
Sites like You Tube, and the soon to be UndoTV.com (which will feature a lot of the talent from the no-longer existing television channel TechTV), are examples of new forms of media that are community driven, and they show a difference is comming in the way information and entertainment is created and distributed by putting the power to communicate and share data in anyone's hands. I foresee that in the near future instead of executives in board rooms analyzing test group data and deciding what is created and distributed, the general internet using population will become the decision makers as to what is actually worth our attention, for better or worse. Considering the popularity of You Tube, I wonder how long it will be before the internet becomes the next medium for watching traditional network television, which could be similar to the existing video-on-demand services like MLB.com and CNN's Pipeline. The question is: who will be in charge? Are there any rules for how television programming is distributed on the internet?
I've typed out the lyrics to “One Bank” as accurately as I can so you can read along as you watch the video.
One Bank, with the voice of Ethan Chandler and Jim Dubois on Guitar
“It is even better, now that we're the same
Two great companies come together; now MBNA is B of A.
And it's one bank, one card, one name that's known all over the world
One spirit, we get to share it
leading us all to higher standards, ow-ow-ow, mm-mm-mm”
“Do you like the Cowboys, or your university?
Do you like the Yankees, or is Nascar more your speed?
Well it's your choice, you're right, to pick a card that shows you heart and your pride
We're one, with infinity
and we'll carry each other, carry each other, one...”
“Have you come to meet Bruce Hammonds?
Have you come to meet Leah McGee?
Have you heard about Michelle Shepard? She's leading the team in the north east.
And we've got Bank One ... on the run
What's in your wallet?(tm) ... it's not Capitol One
It's us...so which card are you?
Integrations never had us feeling so good!”
“And we'll make lots of money, forever I can sing
About trusting and teamwork, and doing the right thing
We'll live out our core values while the competition crawls
Cause they want what we have got, but it's only here, at Bank of America!”
“One bank, one card, one name that's known all over the world.
One heart filled with spirit: with feeling ... share it
Were one bank working every day
To bring higher standards, higher standards
“We are one, yeah,
We are one yeah
We are one bank.”
Bono, don't give up on us!
November 23, 2006
Topic: Random Thoughts
I was driving in the rain and I suddenly became aware that most of what I was doing was instinctual. Waiting for the light to turn green. My eyes glancing left and right to see what other vehicles were doing. And for some reason it seemed that maybe to understand life better, or at least my role in life, I should pay better attention to my own reactions to life more carefully.
Time Travel: My coworkers and I were having a conversation about time travel recently. During that conversation I came to the conclusion that time travel isn't logical. I feel like if time travel were really possible then there would inevitably be evidence of time travel by way of otherwise unexplainable changes in the logical outcomes of events; because if time travel is possible then you have to assume that eventually someone would make a mistake that creates evidence of time travel; therefor if time travel was infinitly possible then there would be infinite potential for someone to make a mistake that disrupts the logical order of events; so there would constantly be alterations in the logical sequence of events. Or, I was just thinking, that if the way I understood the Critique of Pure Reason is correct and Kant is saying that our minds create the experience of time to make since of experience, then perhaps our minds have evolved to rationalize the most logical course of events and disregards the inexplicable; and if that's the case, then maybe the experience of Deja-vu is our mind trying to reconcile a variant of the events we are experiencing that is illogical because of events that have changed because of time traveling interference.
Space Travel: So science has shown us that there is a relationship between the speed of light and the passage of time; so that when an object approaches the speed of light, it is experiencing relatively less passage of time than would an equivalent object traveling much slower than the speed of light. But I wonder if that object were traveling faster than the speed of time wouldn't it be traveling towards the observable future/relative present of the destination? And therefor the appearance of the origination location would be the observable past because the relative events of the origin location would still be being transmitted across light waves to the destination location. And likewise, when traveling back to the original location from the destination location, wouldn't the traveling vessel be traveling towards the observable future/relative present of the origination from which the vessel originally began the journey, and upon arriving there would be in the relative current plus the passage of time of the journey to and from the destination plus of minus any distortions of time as the vessel approached and exceeded the speed of light? If this is the case, that's good news for faster than light-speed travel, but might pose a communications problem. It's not like you can send out a message communicated in a light wave if you are traveling faster than the speed of light, right? Or maybe you could: You can speak when you are traveling faster than the speed of sound because your sound waves are projected relative to the supersonic traveler, so perhaps the same applies to traveling faster than light, but it would not be likely that an object moving less than the speed of light could receive a light wave transmitted from an object moving faster than the speed of light, but who knows?
Happiness: It seems people in our society try to put a price on happiness like It's a commodity that can be sold, but It's not. Happiness has no regard for financial stability or an individuals possesions. Other emotions can often be confused for happiness. And so people keep consuming and searching for fulfillment with material things. I'm starting to wonder if the average person lives as if life is just about spending most of your young adulthood preparing to one day enjoy the last few years of your life. What a waste that would be.
Urban sprawl: Mega stores and strip malls are ruining the landscape of the America. I beg my fellow United States of Americans to rebel and tear down your Mega stores and put up anything else, so long as it isn't the same crap all over the country.
Daydreaming: I imagine if I lived in the future perhaps I'd be piloting a sophisticated starship, on a solo research mission; and somehow the ship I'm in might be pulled threw a rift in space, such as a wormhole or some similar kind of space anomaly, and I'm taken to a far off part of the universe, so distant that the ship's onboard navigation system can't recognize where I am. The onboad navigation system functions by examining the stars and determining their approximate distance by the strength of their light and then compares them with known constellations that have been extrapolated to compensate for the changed perspective as seen on Earth. I imagine it would be called the Earth-Based-Constellation-Extrapolation-Navigation-System, or EBCENS (pronounced “eb-sens” for short. But since I'm in a part of the universe never before measured by human instruments the navigation system is unable to determine my location. So I travel until I find a planet that is like Earth, and to my surprise perhaps I will find that it's populated with a species so close to human beings it can only be explained as that they are human beings who were brought to this world at a time when humans were still developing on Earth, perhaps by a race of aliens whose primary motivation is to populate the universe with clusters of human-like beings. And I presume I'd have to give them the medications I've brought with me that will immunize them to any ailments that I might have brought with me; however there is no guarantee that their would be any immunizations to the germs of their world awaiting me. Disease between worlds is a topic rarely considered in science fiction, but it would be an obvious problem to overcome, just as it was for the Native Americans when Europeans explored the New World.
November 14, 2006
Topic: Asheville Film Festival Movie Reviews
I had a little time to write some reviews for the movies I saw at the Asheville Film Festival. The reviews are available here: http://huffmania.com/special/ashevillefilmfestivalmoviereviews/
Click on the movie stubbs to see the corresponding reviews
November 13, 2006
Yesterday I got home from a road trip threw the mountains of North Carolina for some corporate like training (including a ropes course), and then to Asheville, NC for a film festival as a side trip.
The roads I took to get to Highlands, NC included about an hour and a half of constant hair-pin turns weaving up into the mountains. Oddly, the passengers I brought with me seemed a little incensed when I said that the roads were more fun than driving in a video game. when we finally got there, the welcome sign said: “welcome to Highlands, elevation 4118 ft.” It was pretty high, and there was a great view of other mountains. The Film Festival was pretty amazing, and I came away from the experience with one prevailing thought: Why hadn't I done this before? This made so much sense for me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love movies. I got to see movies that were made by people with a passion for film, and then I got to vote for which ones I liked best. I felt a little guilty. How could something this fun be legal, or make sense commercially. It seemed way too organic, or healthy to be true; kind of like the town of Asheville. I had heard that Asheville was a beautiful town, and my idea of what it would be like was obliterated. The pictures I took do not do it justice.
Movie reviews coming soon!
November 6, 2006
Topic: wrath of the fire ant
Today I had a new experience. I was digging a hole close to a couple ant hills, well more like an ant city with tiny ant skyscrapers; and just as I always have in the past, I ignored the ant hills and went about shoveling dirt. I dug in part of the area where the ant hills were, even stepping on the hills without thinking about it. Everything was going well, I was getting close to finishing the hole when I began to notice a nagging prickling sensation on my hand, I ignored it until the sensation started to sweep across my body. I looked down and to my surprise there were ants crawling on my hand, and all over my shirt and on my pants, and much worse, inside my pants up and down my legs. Welts formed on my wrist where I had been bitten. I panicked and suddenly realized I was under attack, by Fire Ants! I reacted to this by flailing my arms trying to sweep away all the ants but they clung to my garments relentlessly stinging my flesh. To a co-worker I proclaimed: “I have fire ants all over!” She cautiously backed away and another co-worker suggested I wash them off with a shower. I was able to get rid of them, but not before I'd received many bites, and an important lesson: in nature, danger is not always apparent. When something as tiny as an ant can be so vicious; I will now be weary of larger bigger beasts that lie in waiting for the right moment to attack. For instance: Is that cute lovable little kitten rubbing up against me to show affection; or is it just marking me to let the other kittens know that I will be it's next prey?
Topic: SpaceI think the space in outer space is very huge! but i think the space in someone's imagination is even bigger!
November 5, 2006
topic of science: evolution
Lets investigate a topic of Science: Evolution!
Off topic: I just saw a really great movie named I [Heart] Huckabees. It had a great cast and the acting was superb.
Back to topic, kind of: I look at my hand and for a moment it looks kind of like a dinosaur foot. My fingernails look like miniature versions of the nails of a stegosaurus hoof. When I was five years old, I would have loved to feel that way. I heard on NPR recently that all life has somewhere between 97 and 99 percent shared DNA. That might not be true, I was driving and trying to find a place with a poorly drawn map, so my attention was kind of focused on that. So if I heard right that means that all life is made of very similar building blocks, and the blueprints we are designed with are all very similar. It's an interesting thought that this human body I understand as my self, in which resides my consiciousness, is based on a design that has evolved, and a design that is similar to the design of a stegosaurus. Evolution doesn't really explain why there is life in the first place.
Recently I just can't stop thinking about this question: What is God? Really? I have an idea that people are the creative self-reflective manifestation of God's awareness. So basically when you look in the mirror, you are looking at one of the many faces of God. Then it occurred to me that some people might have a problem with that concept because they would think to themselves: Hey, I'm not god. And I had an interesting thought: what would it feel like for god to realize that god was god? How would if feel for God to be self-aware. I was driving in my car and I thgouht to myself: I am real, this is amazing! What is the difference between me and God? What am I in relation to God? What is the difference between me and everything else, the universe, my loved ones? This feeling I guess is foundation of the isolated nature of humanity, that basic existential feeling, separateness.
Buddhists preach that all things are interconnected, and that there is no such thing as nothingness. Or maybe it was that nothinglness is everything. That's what I think they said. Just thought I'd throw that in there, I think it's relevant. The tree is not the tree, and the tree is also the sun, and so on.
Man, I [Heart] Huckabees was awesome!