tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Warning: Pedantry ahead

I’ve been watching (and enjoying) the new take on Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series about the universe (this time around hosted by the entertaining Neil deGrass Tyson), but I’m not too good about watching stuff when it’s initially broadcast (and I don’t have a DVR), so I’ve been watching it after the fact on Hulu.

It was during one such catchup session that Dr Tyson stated emphatically that ‘the theory of evolution is a scientific fact’.

Before you ask me if I’m a creationist or an intelligent design advocate, I don’t disagree with the spirit of the statement made. Also, I’m disappointed that you have such a low opinion of me. That said, I would hope that a programme supposedly trying to raise public interest in science would be a bit more rigorous in terms of making statements like that, i.e. something like ‘Evolution is the theory that is best supported by the evidence that we have collected so far’. The original statement implies evolution is incontrovertible, whereas the version here suggests that we may discard it and seek a new theory if new evidence surfaces that cannot be reconciled with the current theory. Which is in fact what scientists on the cutting edge of the discipline do routinely.

Probably not snappy enough for TV?

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To the five people who read this blog

I haven’t forgotten about this place…I just don’t like to write anything until my thoughts on a subject are fully formulated, is all. I’ve got a couple of posts brewing, so stay tuned.

Here’s some music to keep you occupied in the meantime:


Oh hey, it’s finally publicly available


So I guess I can say what I thought about the beta!

Long story short, it sucked.

I got invited to the beta once a server farm near me was spun up, and I immediately gave it a try. Unfortunately my concerns with the service, which I outlined over a year ago, turned out to be pretty dead on.

My two main concerns were 1) input lag and 2) picture quality. And neither fared particularly well during my time playing. I tried both Prince of Persia as well as Unreal Tournament III, and even in a single-player game like PoP the input lag was noticeable. However it couldn’t hold a candle to the mess that was UT3, which had something like half a second of input lag, completely messing up my aim and movement. On top of that it was prone to lag spikes, during which my screen would freeze and I’d be teleported a vast distance forward five seconds later. Last year, OnLive’s CEO claimed to have some sort of magical technology that would minimize the impact of round trip times on input responsiveness – I really want some of what he was smoking.

As for picture quality, I stated in my earlier entry that they had to be using some sort of compression to get the data size down to manageable levels. And lo and behold, that’s exactly what they’re doing. The feed you get is 720p in name, in that it consists of 720 horizontal rows of pixels, but it lacks the characteristic sharpness that you would get from running a game at 1280×720 on your own machine. And of course the compression artifacts get worse as your connection experiences hitches.

A new and exciting complaint many people have about the service has to do with its pricing model. You need to pay a subscription – but you also need to pay full retail price for any game you want to play, which seems completely boneheaded to me. I know there are the variable costs of servers to deal with, but surely if you’re going to buy large numbers of copies of a game to run on a server farm, that entitles you to some sort of bulk licensing deal?

In the end I’m sort of left wondering who this product is meant to serve. PC enthusiasts are just going to laugh at it and leave it alone, while people who might want to try some PC games are going to end up with a substandard experience, shorn of all the things that make PC gaming awesome – better graphics, more control options and customization. They might as well just stick to their consoles instead.


Fingers crossed? Not really

Part of me hopes that this won’t be a pile of rubbish like almost every single console Sonic game since 2001, but the rest of me knows better than to put hope in Sonic Team.

We’ll see, I suppose, but the days I would give Sega the benefit of the doubt about anything are long gone.

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You should already know what this is about

3609 0747 7730

I'm awful at this game, by the way. :P

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Quick random gaming post

I thought I'd jot down some brief thoughts on a number of games I've played recently, since I have added some new stuff to my library as of late

Geometry Wars (PC, DS)
Holy crap this is addictive. It's basically Asteroids on crack, with score multipliers, upgradeable weapons, helper drones (in the DS version, anyway), different types of enemies and some pretty funky looking graphics. I could play this all day, except for the need to fulfil bodily functions and avoid getting fired.

The Simpsons Game (DS)
Basically, apart from the fact that it has Simpsons characters and dialogue in it (some of which is pretty funny)…it's a pretty basic platformer. The video game parodies are pretty clever, but I can't really justify putting too much more time into it.

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (DS)
The art is by Hiroaki (of King of Fighters 2000 and King of Fighters XI fame), the turn-based strategy is pretty damn good and the music is pretty rockin'. The AI is ruthless, though, and the story is fairly predictable so far. I would have tried it online, but flipping my router back and forth between WPA and WEP is a pain in the ass.

Resident Evil 4 (Wii)
THANK GOD FOR POINTER AIMING. I can't really imagine playing this game any other way now (particularly since I've never actually played it before). Other than that, the presentation and atmosphere are great, but the dialogue is still pretty bad. I suppose it's a Resident Evil tradition to have third-rate voice actors. I should be glad Leon isn't talking about Ashley sandwiches, I guess.

Upcoming stuff on my gaming hit list:
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened (PC)
Point and click adventure games forever! *raises fist*

Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Wii)
After that Sonic trailer, there could never be any doubt that I was going to get this game. :P

No More Heroes (Wii)
Impressions have been mostly positive, so I will get this.

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (Wii)
Only after it drops to $30 or less, because this title seems to follow the Sonic Team design principle of taking a game that's pretty good and adding extra tedious and/or crappy bits for “variety.”

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (DS)
If only to see how the localization turned out, since I've already played it.

Devil May Cry 4 (PC)
Yes, I know the 360 and PS3 versions are out this week… *grumble*

But truth be told, I should get off my arse and finish Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition and Psychonauts before I buy anything else. :P

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*hugs Kagura*

Epic's Mark Rein thinks consoles are stealing PC gamers away

All I can say is, the day I play a first-person shooter or a real-time strategy game on a gamepad is the day pigs fly. I started out as a PC gamer, and I have no intention of giving that up now. And if that makes me an elitist, then I wear that badge proudly.

That, and I tend to believe that if you put some thought into designing your machine, you won't have to buy a new video card “every year” like a lot of the commenters on that post claim. I'm fairly certain if you look at the cost of buying a new console and all its accessories every 4-5 years and buying PC parts from time to time, in the long run it averages out. I wonder if any studies have been done on the matter…

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*muffled yells*

I was going to update my blog with something about how the so-called economic stimulus package is a pile of garbage, but I thought “screw it” and posted this instead:

Also, I bought a toaster. Through the ability to now purchase and toast bagels, my breakfast has been taken to the next level.

Userpic shakeup coming soon. You heard it here first.

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My tag cloud compels me…

…to blog about something other than gaming, for once :P

It occurs to me that after my intro to the last season of anime I haven't talked much about the shows I've been watching. In the intervening period I've added a bunch of shows and dropped one rather ignominously. In any case, here's what I've been watching (through fansubs, anyway). You'll probably notice that the vast majority of these are holdovers from last season, meaning of course that not a whole lot caught my eye this season.

Bamboo Blade
Fun series about a kendo team consisting mainly of girls. It does have some shounen sports-anime elements but pokes fun at some of them (like how the instructor's motivation for assembling a strong female kendo team is so he can win free meals at a sushi restaurant for the rest of his life). Most importantly, the characters are lovable, and the humour is pretty good. The fact that the animation (for the kendo bits, at least) is really good helps too.

Hayate no Gotoku!
40 episodes and still going, and somehow, still funny. Also it pokes fun at almost everything, from established anime to censorship policies to 24 and Knight Rider. Random cameos from Nabeshin are also awesome, as is Norio Wakamoto (aka the most GAR Japanese voice actor ever) being the narrator. My only gripe is that the series needs more Hinagiku, although a Maria is fine too.

The best of Kyoto Animation's visual novel adaptations thus far. I look forward to this every week, but if you didn't like Air or Kanon this isn't going to do anything for you.

Sketchbook ~full Color's~
This series is technically from last season, but the subbers have been ridiculously slow with it. :(
It's another slow slice of life series (I seem to watch a lot of those these days) focusing on the members of an art club, particularly a slightly airheaded girl called Sora Kajiwara who has a very unique way of looking at the world. The narrative runs from her perspective (for the most part). One of those shows you can watch to relax and unwind, much like ARIA.

Shakugan no Shana II
After a very promising start it turned out the villain they introduced was no more than a bit player. There was a lot of slice-of-life stuff in between, which I don't necessarily mind since it did serve as character development fodder. I particularly liked the two-parter about Margery Daw's past, which tied quite nicely into the more recent episodes where things finally picked up again.

You're Under Arrest: Full Throttle
This, unfortunately, turned out to be pretty bad. Studio Deen completely dropped the ball on this one, completing stripping out interesting characters like Toukairin and Saori (and everything that made the existing characters interesting while they were at it). Interpersonal chemistry? That's gone too. The series somehow also manages to have worse animation than the ORIGINAL YuA series in spite of being made 10 years after the fact.

ARIA the Origination
It's…ARIA. I loved the first two seasons, and so far the third looks like it'll be just as lovable.

I do also plan on getting some DVDs (legitimate anime purchases? omgwtf), probably starting with boxsets of older series that I like (Escaflowne! Cowboy Bebop!) and progressing to more recent stuff that I liked (like Haruhi and Death Note).

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So shiny you can see your reflection in it

I've written two tl;dr posts in a row, so here's something shorter (which will probably get even fewer comments :P).

So I was visiting random Sonic sites after writing my last blog entry to confirm my impression about the majority of Sonic fans (done and done) and in the process I came across this site:
Blue Sky in Games Campaign

And I must say, their position resonates with me quite a bit…

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