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PS3: Xbox 360, I am your father

December 31, 2008

Xbox 360: NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!111

PS3: Search your Processor, you know it to be true.

The creators of the PS3’s Cell technology have actually written a book covering the development process of the Cell, along with the development of the Wii’s Broadway CPU, and the 360’s Xenon cores. The Cell processor started development as early as 2001, and Sony forsaw a launch of the PS3 as early as December 2005. As it turns out, when Microsoft approached IBM in 2003 to make a processor for their “NextBox.” What we never knew is that IBM actually modeled the Xenon off of the Cell Processor. In other words, the Xenon is nothing more than the weaker offspring of the Cell. This may not sound like much to you, but you should have seen the fanboy flamewars at the time regarding this.

Of course, we all know what happened after that. The PS3 got delayed, and the 360 ended up taking the 2005 launch. Little did we know of the 360’s Ticking Time Bomb however. After the Giant Enemy Crab fiasco, the bad news would not stop for Sony, things only got worse from there once the Wii got sold out.

Back in 2005 though, people fanboys would debate for hours on which processor was better. “The Cell is nothing more than a networking processor; the Xenon is for true gaming.” What a very hypocritical statement now, seeing as the Xenon was based off of the Cell.

And Microsoft had gone as far as paying people to edit Wikipedia articles with a bias towards the 360 and Xenon.

And we all thought Sony copying Nintendo’s motion controller was bad, remember?

That’s nothing compared to Microsoft’s history of forgery. If it wasn’t for their thievery, Microsoft wouldn’t even have Windows. And now, they’ve completely casualized their system. Avatars? More like Miis amirite?

I probably sound like a butthurt PS3 fanboy now, with so much bashing on Microsoft. I don’t even own a PS3. I own a 360 and a Wii. And let me tell you Sony and Nintendo are no different. But that’s another story for another day.

PS: TF2 online rocks.

Peace

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When McDonalds and garbage are your only options, what do you choose?

December 4, 2008

To make a “hardcore” game, clearly these days all you need to do rehash an old FPS engine, like say, the Unreal Tournament engine. Next, you rehash the story, like alien bugs invading Earth. Nobody’s thought of that one before. Now, add online and with some pretty bloom lighting and there you have the majority of today’s hardcore FPS games.

Unfortunately most of today’s “casual” games are just as bad.

And other then those two categories, we have shovelware… yeah.

So I’m really at a loss here. There are still some gems, but honestly every generation gets worse and worse. I thought Nintendo’s Wii would finally revive it and show developers that a great game takes time, dedication, and originality; not bloom lighting, an FPS genre, and online multiplayer. Well, unfortunately, when the green started flowing into Nintendo HQ, somewhere along the lines they forgot their original fanbase.

I’ve honestly considered lowering my standards these days due to the lack-luster performance of most games. World of Goo, Braid, LittleBigPlanet, and some others have been some truly great, original, and innovative additions to our collection. But every generation I see less and less of these gems. And even less actually become a franchise because nobody will give them chance.

What is wrong with gamers these days?

When Banjo Kazooie came out on Xbox Live Arcade, even with the enhanced graphics, people still said “Games looked that ugly back then?” Have they forgotten their history? Their roots? Has Microsoft’s blatant Nintendo-bashings [see: the very end of BK Nuts&Bolts trailer and Microsoft’s statements regarding the Mii clones of NXE] turned everybody with a 360 or PS3 into a “HATE WII LOVE FPS; UH HOW I SHOOT? WHERE X BUTTON? WHAT IS STRATEGY YOU SPEAK OF??” stereotype that we vowed so hard not to become?

And has Nintendo’s lack of any real games since Brawl (Mario Kart was practically a remake) turned everybody with a Wii into a “I guess bad games can be good!” type of person who has spent so long begging under the table with no food that they have moved to the garbage can.

So either we are starving mutts or cavemen.

What do we do now? How can we change the course of a fledgling industry?

We as Nintendo fans know this is true. If you as a Nintendo fan or fanboy don’t, you are in denial. But the rest of the gamers have been too caught up in crap to know. When they finally start losing interest in FPS games they will start begging for something new, and it won’t be there. Then they will learn of what we know. Notice how all the hate Halo 3 got? And now Gears 2? It’s already starting. The people who have been hating on it are huge 360 fans! (Maybe not fanboys though). They hated on it because it was very repetitive, and after 15 years of the same games, it’s understandable why.

So as you can see it’s starting. The industry was briefly revived when Nintendo showed the Wii’s games for the first time. But now, they have abandoned the industry. And Microsoft is just a giant bag of hot air now, and Sony is just reconciling what they once had.

If only hardcore gamers weren’t so blinded by this blatant sight of shit in front of them! Abre los ojos

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The New Pack of Wolves

November 10, 2008

WALL OF TEXT WARNING

This editorial is for the Core gamers.
Before you read this, please consider these questions:

Do you know what a fanboy is?
Do you spend much of your time playing video games?
Do you regularly read about video game news?
Do you know the history of video games?

Do you know what the Crash of 1983, Nintendo’s Sony Betrayal, the Bit Wars, and the Magnavox Odyssey are?

If you answered most of questions as yes, then read on. Please read all of it before making and opinion, or asking a question. Sorry if some stuff is worded bad; I wish I was a better writer, but I’m not.

I’ve spent this entire weekend thinking about the game industry. Being a solo-console Wii owner, I haven’t had the luxury of playing a good game in quite some time now. I haven’t lost all faith in the system though. It’s just a bad time for it. Like when the 360 had all its hardware and RRoD of scandals, and the post E3 2006 months of constant bad news from the PS3. As you can see they have made their comebacks and then some. It’s all a cycle really.

But only owning a Wii burden has had its advantages however. It has allowed me to contemplate our industry, the video game industry. We as Hardcore gamers have reached a high point in our industry. After Sony’s marketing of “games are cool now” campaign, gaming has launched into the mainstream. At the eve of the 6th generation, we officially passed the music and movie industries, officially making us a dominate force in the entertainment industry. In this 7th generation however, I feel we have lost sight of what once got us here in the first place.

Games these days have reached a technical pinnacle. What was once “which system has more bits?” and “which system can calculate the most FLOPS?” is now a thing of the past. We have reached a point in the industry where games are no longer going to get anymore realistic, and if they are, it’s not going to be a considerable leap as it has been in the past. In other words, gaming now rests on the hands that once made it great: uniqueness. However, some of us have lost sight of that; but some of us have also been focusing on it too greatly.

Gaming is such a mass-centralized entertainment, that it has actually split into different categories. Now, we have three prominent classifications: mainstream, indie, and casual. Mainstream involves games like Gears of War, Halo, Guitar Hero, Zelda, Mario, Metal Gear Solid, and the like. These are high budget, well-known games, that any gamer can name off the top of their head. Then there are Indie games. They are lower budget, and lesser known. There are many, but some good ones are Audio Surf, Garry’s Mod, World of Goo, and Castle Crashers. Finally, there are Casual games. This is the newest genre. They have been around for a while, but Nintendo brought them to light with the Wii and its marketing campaign. In fact, Nintendo has once again shifted the entire gaming perspective and the industry. It’s hard to imagine one company such as Nintendo was able to cause so much damage in one fell swoop, whether that destruction be good or bad. Like indie games, casual games are far too many to list. They are the games you play online, on your cellphone, they are Mine Sweeper, Solitaire, Wii Sports, Spore, LittleBigPlanet and etc. Casual was never truly been recognized until this generation of gaming.

Unfortunately, gaming has become a very closed-minded thing now. Our industry would have never been what is today without the unique ideas of the past. Mainstream titles these days have become a glob of all the same. The FPS explosion of the 6th gen is now even bigger than before. However, shooters have really shown their age now. Can you name any popular shooter that does not involve aliens, or World War II? One or two at most? It’s pretty obvious to see now that the entire shooter genre is just milking off other games. It puts the term “cash cow” into not just a franchise, but a whole genre of games. This is no different with Nintendo, who milks off of rereleases and remakes. Even worse, figures like Cliffy B and Soccer Moms are now the new faces of our industry. Cliffy B, head of Epic Games who does Gears of War, is probably quite happy with himself now. I don’t think he would have ever guessed that porting Halo onto the Unreal Tournament engine, then taking the third person combat idea from some indie PC mods, and finally adding a coat of Half-Life (what popular shooter doesn’t take ideas from Half-Life?) would make such an amazing experience.

People say it’s a shame one can’t see past the curtains. For me, I have been looking past the curtains for so long I have forgotten the stage itself. I’ve spent my entire modern gaming career analyzing games from the development perspective, instead of how fun they actually are. I am happy to say I have now seen my weaknesses. I am also happy to say now that Gears really is a great game. I just have spent so long griping about how half-assed it was, and how unoriginal it was that I forgot what makes a great game: fun. It’s the fun factor, not how unique it is. When you look at Gears and just judge on how unique the title is, as I have, then you won’t see much in it. In fact, you see a shitty game. But in reality, it isn’t a bad game at all. It’s just not a very original one.

This revelation is what leads me to a conclusion. While some of us have lost sight of gaming by looking at things based on how unique they are, some of us have also lost sight on unique games period. The 360’s blunder of mainstream titles has infected a heavy influence that if a game doesn’t involve shooting, racing, or football, it is a terrible game. After all, a human being is influenced by everything around them. So if we play nothing but shooter games, then we tend to get a “comfort zone” there and shun games that try anything different. In other words, what once made our industry is now the bad. Unique games like Spore and Wii Music that try something new and fail miserably at it are now given horrible ratings. It’s like when somebody invents a better type of gasoline for a car (ie, a game like Deadspace), and they are praised greatly. But when somebody invents a whole new type of fuel and fails (Spore), they are ridiculed instead of praised for trying something new, because we have grown so much attached to sameness. That’s not to say that Deadspace is a bad game, and Spore and Wii music are incredible games. But I’m sure you see my point.

It’s up to us to realize this because clearly the gaming journalism sites that we once trusted are now just as closed-minded as we are. Remember the Jeff Gerstmann being fired from Game Spot? Clearly all that site cares about now is money. What about IGN? If you read any one of their modern-day reviews, you can clearly see they have become nothing but a mainstream stuck-up. When they reviewed Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts, they were bewildered by it because it was a unique game. Or what about the recent Metacritic conspiracy where 3.5 out of 10 isn’t a fanboyish attack, but a revolt against editors? These sites clearly have lost their way. Let’s right their path.

My conclusion is that there are two factors that make games great — uniqueness and fun factor. Gamers, all of us, no matter how smart you think you are, have lost sight of one of these. All of us have. And don’t hide it, because you know it’s true. We have either become too focused on one end of the stick or the other. We are either unwilling to try new things or too willing to do so. We need to strike a balance point between a game that is unique, and a game that is fun. Until then, our industry is only going to go down. A fun game is fun now, but without originality, we will never evolve, and novelty value will drop until a game is no longer fun. But if we just try to make everything unique, then we will never have any fun games. It’s time to change our views. It’s time to make this industry great again.

The idea behind Wii Music is very similar to a game called Frequency, which was an indie game released on the PS2. In the game, you went down tracks and hit a sequence of notes to make a beat. Similar to how you must stay on tempo in Wii music to do the same. After you got an entire song going in Frequency, you could go off and do a solo. In Wii music, it was virtually the same. The only major difference is that Wii Music is marketed towards a more casual audience; thus there is more casual based gameplay. Frequency never sold very well, but it did lay down the stones for some future games by that same company. Who is that company? The company who made Frequency was Harmonix; yeah, you may know them as the ones that created Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

We have become closed minded in these recent years. We can’t accept games because they are either too much of the same or too different. Hell, we can’t even except each others opinions. We just say “fuck Gears of War” because it’s too much of the same, even though we haven’t played it (or barely played it). We say “fuck the Wii” because it’s too different, even though we haven’t played it (or barely played it). We’ve all become ignorant again. We are the Core gamers, and we can’t even appreciate each others’ opinions, or standards?! We may not shape this industry, but we are the leaders that the mainstream and casuals look up to, and they are the ones who shape our industry. But what kind of example do we set for them if we can’t even open our own minds? We may not be fanboys, but we’ve slumped into something just as bad. All of us have, and we are too arrogant to admit it. Gaming is growing exponentially, and in 50 to 70 years, I predict it will be what major sports are right now. My evidence to this is how once nerdy things (Batman, Spiderman, etc) are becoming cool.
5 years ago, who ever thought wearing a shirt with the joker on it would be cool?

It’s politics. Politics in the gaming industry. There are two types of gamers, conservative and liberal. Conservative gamers are afraid of change, and liberals demand too much of it. (Those views may be a bit contradictory for some of your real-life political views, huh?) You may find it ironic now that most Xbox Live gamers support Obama after reading this, hm? I am ashamed to say I had become too liberal. And I’m sure many of you are shamed right now that you have become too conservative. Well, we know our problems, so let’s settle them. It’s time we as hardcore gamers start shaping our industry right. We demand a balance of good and unique games. And we are not getting that. Did we forget the real people who made our industry? If it wasn’t for Shigeru Miyamoto and Ralph Baer, there would not even be video games today.

–DmNt

I would like thank one of the many talented writers at Infendo, ナオミ, as I used part of his very well-written article when I discussed the similarities between Wii Music and Frequency. That paragraph I did was directly referenced from his own article. Please read it sometime.

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LittleBig Tautologistics

October 8, 2008

While passing through Kotaku, I stumbled upon a simple, yet deft, Youtube video of LittleBigPlanet. LittleBigPlanet is the PS3’s biggest and, besides Metal Gear 4, only hypefest. Well, a rather Mathmetically inclined individual decided to construct a calculator within LBP’s level editor limitations. The calculator can only add or subtract two double-digit numbers, but this is easier said than done. At the end of the video, the player shows you what went into this little calculator. Never have so many XOR, AND, and OR gates been seen in one multiplexer. Using Over 9000 around 600 pistons, connectors, and spinners, the man was able to construct an entire working bus of buffers, adders, half adders, and an I/O stream of Carry flags. Impressive work. Video below:

Well, that’s blows off some cobwebs. I’ll be back in another month when I have more worthwhile information. In the mean time, keep masturbating.

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Gaming: Spore Is Released Tomorrow (Plus Rant)

September 6, 2008

I feel terrible about not being able to do updates like I used to. It’s very hard with my current time restrictions. It’s not an excuse any more, it’s the truth. And it’s not just that, but my emotional moral has been somewhat low lately.

Not to go too in depth (well, so much for that), but let’s just say that I am pissed off at society’s mediocrity. I wish people would stop taking things for granted and actually try. And work. I’m sick of people not trying and getting admired for it, when others work their asses off almost everyday (and night) and get no recognition. And you know who you are. All of you. Deep down, you know if you are lazy or not. So think about it, think about how good you’ve got it, if you are reading this, then it probably means you do have it good. So don’t bitch like I am right now; instead, pull your balls down and start working. When you’re not working, why not study? I don’t get why people hate learning. I find it absolutely fascinating. I live in America. And despite the shit going down right now, I’ve got it better than most people do. So you know what? I’m not gonna take that for granted. I’m gonna use my gift to study, learn, and generally better the world. And when somebody knocks me down, I’m gonna get right back up. Nothing more needs to be said. They are the weak, and I am the strong. And don’t let love fuck with you. Love is great, but knowledge is greater. Love is candy, and knowledge is meat. Which is better for you?

So yeah, Spore comes out tomorrow. Looks really fun, especially for the casual gamer. According some reviews, the game is VERY good. Except for the gameplay. The kicker is that it is just too shallow. I myself haven’t played it, but I will let you guys know how it is when I get it tomorrow. You can, however, download it from Pirate Bay (I’m not giving a link) if you don’t want to wait or have other problems. Keep in mind that EA heavily cracks down on pirates. And that this is an online game.

Also, 76% of woman comprise the casuals. So do you think that most woman will love Spore and idolize it as the greatest game ever? It won’t happen if they release a game called “The Heartbroken.” Also, I thought the irony of the dominatrix used as the main picture in the article was funny.

PS: Christian Screamo is real.
No, I didn’t believe it until I heard it.

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Some advanced tips about mixing

September 1, 2008

Oh Lord in Heaven. It’s been what? Over a week? I am truly sorry for my lack of discipline and how I neglected this blog. I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t because I was busy (I was busy, but not to the point where I couldn’t update this blog), or because I was sick. I was just lazy just didn’t feel like writing any posts, or I couldn’t think of any. So once again, I am sorry. I will try to update more this week. Last week was a little hectic. This week should be a bit calmer.

This is more like an advanced tip. Not advanced tips with an ‘s’. But it’s a very important tip, so listen carefully.

The overall goal in mixing, NOT COMPOSING, is to confuse the brain. If you confuse the brain in composing, then you have a bad song. But when confusing the brain in mixing, it will — for some reason — jazz up your tunes quite a bit. Why? Who knows, that’s just how the brain works. Have you ever listened to a song, and the song sounds awesome, but you can’t put your finger on what sounds so good? Or just listened to a song that “works?” Well, I’m gonna show you the sciences of how that happens, and how you can do it too.

I have come to a conclusion that the reason this phenomenon happens is mostly do to panning. If I haven’t said this before, I’ll say it now: panning makes or breaks your song. Panning is the equivalent of a bassline in musical composition. That is, it is the glue of your song. How can something stick if there is no glue? REMEMBER THAT!

So how does panning do it? How does it confuse our mind, and make everything work? The answer is the sound wave itself…

a bass drum kick

This is a sound sample. It can also be called a wav or wave, respectively. Before we look at the wave itself, let’s try and figure what type of basic sound wave it is, not what the sound is itself. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. On the top left-hand corner, we have the sampling rate; it’s at a standard 44100Hz (Hz = Hertz). And below the word Format, we have what we’re looking for. The icon that says “32” indicates bitrate, which is the overall quality for wav files. The sqaure shaped icon with the two little squares (referring to speakers) tells us its stereo, meaning it is comprised of two sound channels. That’s what we want to know. You see, it’s very important that we know whether it’s stereo or not. If it isn’t stereo, we want it stereo, even if it’s just a little bit stereo. In many cases it should not be drastic, as that would sound weird, especially for the bass.

So now let’s look at the scope itself. The scope is the sound wave you see. What sound does this make? That’s one thing you might have been wondering. The sound is a kick drum. An ordinary bass drum sound. However, it has a special sort of “groove” that makes it sound good. But “what” is the question… First off, you’ll notice that there are actually two lines to the scope. A blue and red line; these indicate left and right speakers. Keep in mind the length of this sound is only .6 seconds, so it will just sound mono to the human ear.

Now this is where the key part of the groove comes in. Look how much divided space the blue and red lines are. No, it is not normally like that; in fact, let me show you what this sound looks like, when unmixed, and unprocessed.

Lack of mixing

Wow! Doesn’t that look different? You can’t even see the two lines; they appear as one! As you can tell by the square icon under Format, it is indeed stereo, but it looks like just one line, meaning mono! Not only that, but the impact doesn’t look nearly as large neither, for those you who can read scope.

OKAY STOP OFF TOPIC TIME

Okay, this will be a little off-topic. When mixing, one thing you simply MUST know, is how to read sound. Yes, “read” sound. You read the sound you see in those pictures, and to be honest, it’s like learning a whole new language. You just have to keep looking at wave samples and such, and you get good at it. Obviously, you won’t be able to play a whole song in your mind that you’ve never heard before and have only seen the scope, but you need to be able to figure out basic sounds. Kicks like I am showing you here are pretty easy; they go quickly up, and slowly down. Natural kick such as this tend to look more distorted, while digital kicks look almost exactly like sine waves.

OKAY BACK ON TOPIC

Anyways, back to the groove. Take a look at the below picture:

Zoomed in

This is a zoomed in portion where the source of the kick is. In fact, this is the part where you hear the most bass. Now, notice the highlighted part. The highlighted part is the very core of this kick. And right at it, both waves are crossing each other in an almost perpendicular fashion, do you see? THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. That right there confuses the living shit out of your brain. It hears one sound cross to one ear while the other crosses to your other ear. Your brain just goes nuts. This is the source of a good sound, cross panning right at the core of your sound sample. Even if you have to manually build it, (which I don’t recommend because it’s time consuming and doesn’t come out natural) it will still be worth it.

How can you make this yourself? Well, it varies from sound to sound. Try equalizing, adding reverb, using dub delay, things like that and take a look at the sound source. Samples like a bass drum kick shown here that are used all the time should have some sort of perpendicular crossing. Trial and error folks, trial and error.

Now, you may think this is a bunch of bullshit. Well, I can’t stop you from thinking that. So fine. Take it like that. But you will be missing out on some musical gold, I promise you that.

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Sorry for no posts this weekend

August 25, 2008

Lots of personal stuff happened this weekend so I didn’t really have time to write up anything. Sorry. Hopefully I’ll get something posted tomorrow.