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April 15, 2005

The long tail...

Today, I attended the IFTF's 30th annual 10 Year Forecast Retreat in Berkley. I was actually a panelist with Nick Yee for a breakout session on MMOGs and "virtual" economies.

I have to say, it was a refreshing experience to interact with so many intelligent thinkers from diverse backgrounds. The conference was attended by well known authors, professors, entreprenuers and senior managers from many large corporations.

Topics ranged from "The Tragedy of the Commons" to "Remix Culture." I have a lot of notes that I'm going to put together this weekend. Maybe I'll have something more interesting to post than my latest gadget. ;)

Posted by SunSword at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

I finally bought a PS2...

Just so I could play God of War. Isn't that sad? Now I have 4 consoles. Not counting our 2 gameboys, 1 gameboy color, 1 gameboy advanced SP, and a Nintendo DS. Wee. And just think, the NextGen consoles are right around the corner...

So far, God of War rocks. SS out.

Posted by SunSword at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

Where hast thou been, o SunSword?

Well, I've finally gotten around to playing two of last years biggest games, WoW and Half-life 2.

I managed to resist playing WoW until last week. Kim tried it out immediately, got to level 20 or so, and then got frustrated and stopped playing because she wanted me to play too.

Honestly, I had very little interest in playing, and actually I still do. Nonetheless, I now have a 15th level Tauren Hunter named "Tumult," and I'm still too far behind Kim to make partying worthwhile (because of the XP penalty).

So, why am I playing? Well, for two reasons. First, Kim really seemed to be enjoying herself, and how could I come between my wife and her computerized entertainment? Second, because of its popularity, WoW has become the measuring stick against which everyone seems to be measuring MMOGs these days, particularly my bosses...and their bosses...and so on. Which is great! I mean, at least they're playing an MMOG, right? And I get to be amused when people are astonished that WoW hasn't had any significant impact on UO.

I'm of two minds about WoW, which is good, because up until now, I've been of ONE mind about EQ-style MMOGs...I don't like them. They bore me. I guess I did all of my grinding in text MUDs during my college years, but *yawn*. Please.

During the 3D MMOG days, I've spent my time playing lots of great first-person shooters, traditional RPGs, and all kinds of other games, some online, some console and some PC. During that time, I've tried just about every MMOG that's come out, including ones you probably haven't even heard of, but between the quality issues and the lack of good core game-play, most of MMOGs have been nothing more than lackluster rehashes of text MUDs. I'm still of that mind about WoW. Actually, I did play it when it first came out, I got to level 5 and thought to myself, "Yup... I know how this ends." Kim got tired of me bitching almost immediately. So I gave her the account.

Anyway, I decided to give it a concerted effort and ignore my misgivings this time. At first, the second experience was almost identical. Fedex quest. Kill quest. Walk up to bad guy. Press 2 until dead. Loot. Rinse, wash, repeat. Level up. Buy skills. Update EQ. Gripe, gripe, gripe. BAH. And somewhere around level 6, at the end of my first session, I had that viceral MMO Gamer Addict MOMENT. I was thinking to myself, "Man I hate this game, I'm quitting for the night. Oh wait...I'm almost level 7. Maybe just another 15 minutes..." OH DAMN. That was it. I could swear my right eye started twitching. Kim just laughed at me.

The second perspective I have on WoW goes something like this: While the moment-to-moment activity of the game leaves me wanting to punch the screen (or fall asleep), the pacing of the game so far is pretty damned good. It's ramping up slowly enough, and the world design is so good, I'm actually enjoying the exploration and achievement factors of the game. If only it played like a good action game, I might actally enjoy the overall experience.

Speaking of which...Halflife 2. I used STEAM to d/l the game when it originally came out in...what, November? But neither my graphics card, nor my monitor were up to the challenge of H2. (Props to WoW for not making me deal with that issue.) There was just waaay too much ghosting on the NEC 19" LCD monitor Kim got me last year and the Geforce MX 400 that came with my Dell just passed out at the thought of running H2. I can never seem to force myself to drop cash on a top-of-the-line video card. And I still can't.

So last week, I did a little homework and then hit Pricewatch.com and ordered a Hyundai 19" L90D+ from Newegg.com. I used Newegg because they were near the lowest price and I had at least HEARD of them, is it CGW that always refers to them in their hardware recommendations? I can't remember.

Anyway, I got the monitor. It's great! Except it has one of the feared DEAD PIXELS, which really is annoying. Luckily, Hyundai's service center is in San Jose (another great benefit of living in Silicon Valley!), so I'm going to swap it out this week. Anyway, no ghosting at all. Very nice. Crappy install software/setup, but who really cares? I had nicer cables in my hardware stash anyway.

And so...you're going to give me a hard time about this I know, I was at BestBuy on Sunday and picked up an AGP GeForce FX 5700 VE for like...$90. 256MB of DDR RAM, decent shader support, DX9...for less than $100! See what I mean about me and video cards?

Anyway, yeah, not bleeding edge, but perfectly capable of handling H2. And man, is that a great game. I just wish they'd hand me the gun from the get-go. No one likes creeping around trying not to get killed. If you're not sure, just try the Banner levels of The HULK.

So, I'm sure you're wondering why, if I play shooters, I have such a crappy setup these days? Well, since I've become a dad, I've been doing a lot more hanging out with the family, and less of what I'm doing right now. And if I do have time to game, it's a console game so I can still be near/with the family. A fine trade-off if I do say so myself.

What else have I been up to? Spending lots of quality time with the Kids. I'm a panelist this week at "future" conference. I'll post more about that tomorrow.

Posted by SunSword at 02:36 AM | Comments (0)