Wii U

As you no doubt may have heard, Nintendo announced their next console: Wii U.

The short of it is this… pretty much a Wii on steroids.  Better processors, better memory, better graphics, embraces HD, wiimotes and the balance board are supported as are all Wii games.  The early word is that it will beat out the 360 and PS3 for power, but don’t expect that to matter too long as Microsoft and Sony will probably launch their new consoles a year after this and put it to shame… unless the market decided to go sideways instead.  I mean, it’s very possible that the next Xbox will be the same as the 360 but with better processors, memory and graphics (and maybe 3D) with an integrated Kinect over a separate peripheral.  Sony could do that as well.  Iteration over innovation.

But then you get to the other part of the Wii U: the controller.


Aren't you a little big for a game controller?


Yes, that is a screen on the controller.  The obvious bits are that you can use it like a tablet and surf the web, and you can also use it as a main display (freeing up the big TV for other activities if needed), it even has a stylus for drawing, but it can also be used as a secondary screen.  Immediately many people pointed out it could be used for maps or inventory or other bits of a normal game that could be shuffled off to this second mini screen.  I started trying to think of other things…

How about an Aliens game where the pad if your motion sensor?  Even just as a large controller with extra touchscreen buttons and virtual keyboard, MMOs become much more possible.  A flight or driving simulator where one player controls the action while another player with the pad navigates, does damage control and performs other duties.

So many lost hours...

My best idea yet?  Dungeon Keeper.

In the original game, you play the overlord of a dungeon.  You set up traps and other things to run your dungeon and protect your treasure room from the heroes who come seeking to steal your loot.  It was great fun.  But with a setup like this, you could have one player being the hero on the main screen, hacking his way to fortune and glory.  On the tablet you have the second player, the overlord, playing the RTS similar to the old game, laying traps and scrambling to react to what the other player is doing.

Really, any game that requires one person to have hidden information from the other players would work beautifully.  The only shame here is that thus far word is that only a single new controller will be supported and so card games and board games played local multi-player may be out.

I’m excited for the possibilities… now I just need some people out there to make games like these.  Just in case, I’m going to start putting away a couple bucks per paycheck so that I can afford this when it comes out.  For once, I actually might want to be an early adopter.

Movie Round-Up: October 29th, 2010

3D SawSaw 3D: (official site)

I actually like 3D.  I want them to continue developing it and one day perhaps have it without needing the glasses.  I love movies filmed with the 3D cameras, and pretty much universally hate the 3D in every movie that does it in post processing.  I even like horror films in 3D.  That said, I just have absolutely no desire at all to see a Saw film in 3D.  There is just too much blood and gore and torture in the Saw films, and I don’t want that leaping off the screen at me.  I just don’t.  Of course, the 3D isn’t really the turn off I’m making it out to be.  I haven’t seen a Saw movie in the theaters since Saw II.  In fact, I have seen a Saw movie since Saw II.  I might watch them some day, but after the second film and all the copycat torture-porn films, I just don’t have much interest in watching two hours of people being killed in horrendous ways.  However, if this sort of thing is up your alley, the trailer looks like more of the same and in 3D, so you should probably go see it.

Are you going to the movies this weekend?

Looking for People

Wolfshead made a great post about chat in MMOs.  I often find myself agreeing with Wolfshead.  We seem to come from the same place in that EverQuest got a lot of things right about building communities and having players be social while they play.  Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about because, honestly, if you read his post, that’s how I feel.  But along side the chat discussion is a discussion on the Dungeon Finder in WoW.

In the comments, however, Tesh used the word/phrase “self-professed” and it got me thinking, and I commented as well.  In most games, we have to trust other people when they tell you what they’ve done or where they’ve been.  Well, not so much anymore… with gear score and achievements and bind on pickup items, people don’t have to trust you, they can inspect you or check your Armory profile and verify it.  People used to have to be social, now they don’t.

Anway… back to the Dungeon Finder.  The truth is, Blizzard named it properly.  You select the dungeon or dungeons you want to do, you select your role in the group, and then you queue.  You are finding a dungeon.  EverQuest had an LFG tool.  Looking for Group.  It was poorly named.  It should have been the Look for Experience Points tool, because that’s how many people used it.  They didn’t want to make an effort to find a good group, they just wanted to join one already formed and then soak up exp.  However, because of the nature of EQ, while Exp might be what you were after, what you got was a group since getting Exp often meant sitting in the same place with the same five other people for hours.  If you didn’t talk and socialize, you had better at least be excellent at playing and making the exp, otherwise you might get kicked from the group.  But in WoW, you use the Dungeon Finder to find a dungeon, you then do the dungeon and then you are done.  Then you use the Dungeon Finder, ad nauseum…

What I really want is a Looking for People tool.  I don’t want an objective and a role, I want a funny guy who plays with style and makes playing the game more fun than grinding the floating bags of exp and loot.  The tool should be half a personality test, and matching should be made on more than just people going to the same place.  A chatty guy should be placed with a group that wants a chatty guy.  And so on…  I know it would be a pain to build, and some people probably wouldn’t want all those options, which would be why you’d hide them.  The main screen could be as simple as the Dungeon Finder: where I want to go, what I want to do.  Then, under an Advanced Options or Social Options or Fine Tuning you put another screen with a whole mess of check boxes and/or drop downs that allow people to self select a narrower group of people.  The defaults would, of course, be Any/All and then those who wish could go from there.

The first option I’d add?  The ability to say, “Only pick people/groups from my server.”  You know, the people on the other servers in the Battlegroup might be great people, but I’d rather play with people who, if they turn out to be great people, I can play with on a regular basis.

Space… the final frontier

I actually posted this on the D*C MMO site a few weeks back, but I really wanted to repost it here.  Do yourself a favor, switch it to HD and watch it in full screen.

EVE is a game I wouldn’t really recommend to most gamers I know.  It takes a certain couple of specific mindsets to really get into the game (hint: I don’t play either), but you cannot deny that it looks good for what it does and any fan of spaceship science fiction has got to find the imagery breathtaking.

Movie Round-Up: May 14th, 2010

Just Wright:

This actually looks pretty decent, and I’m a fan of Queen Latifah, but I’m always hesitant to pay full price for a romance film on the big screen.  Movies like this are just generally better sitting at home cuddled up on the couch with a girlfriend or wife.  I’m certain I’ll see this at some point, just not this weekend.

Robin Hood:

This story has been made into a movie so many times that you’d think I would be tired of it.  And yet, every one seems to find something new to bring to adds a little life to the tale.  Certainly this one looks action packed, and I like most of the cast.  However, the reviews around the Internet seem to indicate that this is barely a tale of Robin Hood and more a tale of the Magna Carta and the events that surround it.  This news both saddens and intrigues me.  If I can find the time and a few spare dollars, I might make my way to see this at an early show this weekend.  If not, I’ll catch it on Netflix for sure.

Letters to Juliet:

As previously established, I’m a sucker for romantic comedies.  I got to see a screening of this film a few weeks ago, and I really enjoyed it.  Amanda Seyfried puts in a much better performance here than she did in Dear John.  Here I actually believe her and that she is falling in love, whereas there she seemed wooden and unsympathetic.  Plus, here you get Vanessa Redgrave too, who does a fantastic job.  And the whole movie makes me want to visit Italy.  Anyway, completely worth seeing if you like to catch your rom-coms on the big screen.  Had I not gotten to see it for free, I’d probably have waited for DVD, but since I did get to see it for free, it was great to see with a full house and a crowd willing to laugh out loud.

Movie Round-Up: March 5th, 2010

Brooklyn’s Finest:

Saw the trailer, looks interesting, has lots of actors I like… but I’ll probably wait and see this on DVD mostly because while it looks very good, it’s not a big action movie or horror or comedy, the three types of films that I think really benefit from being seen on the big screen and/or with an audience.  But, if you want to go to the theater and see a new movie this weekend, I can think of worse ways to spend your hard earned dollars.  Speaking of…

Alice in Wonderland:

I suppose it may be that I am just weary.  Weary of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp working together.  And the Helena Bonham Carter triumvirate too.  I got to see a screening of this and I’m glad I did because it saved me the $20 it would have cost for the wife and I to go see it.  I was bored.  The story is extremely predictable, and the settings are predictably vibrant and odd.  You know what this movie is going to be before you go in and it makes no effort to surprise you.  Alice goes back to Wonderland, she meets all the people you expect her to meet, she fights, she wins, she goes home.  This was the biggest let down to me.  There are a number of good reimaginings of the Alice tale that would make good films (for example: Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars) but instead Burton just rehashed the same old stuff with his penchant for weird by making people have large heads, over-sized eyes or lengthened limbs.  Oh, and like 95% of the people in this movie are pale.  And I don’t mean pale as in “light skin with a pink hue” but instead “pasty powdered makeup white”.  I suppose paleness appeals to some, but it doesn’t to me.  And, this movie is also in 3D.  Now, I’ve seen a bunch of 3D movies over the last few years as digital 3D has become all the rage, and Alice in Wonderland is probably the least effective use of 3D ever.  It doesn’t add much depth to the image at all, and in fact it feels more gimmicky because the only two or three times I noticed the 3D was when they stabbed things at the screen.  Unlike, say, Avatar, where they never did any “Hey look! 3D!” screen stabbing that I recall and instead the world just felt deep, because it was.  I didn’t hate the movie though.  It is probably great for families or die hard fans of Burton’s brand of oddness, but I’m glad I was able to see it for free and I don’t think I’ll ever see it again.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Yesterday, Zombieland was released on Blu-Ray and DVD.  It was probably one of my favorite movies of 2009.  I mean, I paid to see it twice in the theater.  If you didn’t see it and you can handle a little zombie gore with a dash of comedy, then I highly recommend it.  If you haven’t seen it, or if you don’t plan to, then you missed out on one of the best opening sequences since the Dawn of the Dead remake used Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around”.

To help you out, here it is.  Be sure to switch it to 720p to give it a little more clarity, and turn off annotations to keep the viewing pure.  It’s not as good as seeing it on the big screen, but it’s still pretty damn good.  Enjoy…

The iPad

You can search all over the Internet and find out about the specifications and tons of opinions on it.  Here are mine.

First, I think the name is silly.  The people guessing that Apple was making a tablet came up with dozens of better names.  Does no one at Apple have access to Google?  It would have taken less than five seconds to search “iPad” and find the years old MadTV skit.

Next, I am not impressed.  They showed nothing in their presentation that made me want to have one of these over a netbook.  However, I see potential.  To me, the ultimate success of this device will depend on two things:

  1. What applications get designed to fully use this device.  The best idea I’ve seen floated so far is a “cash register” type application since one of these plus a couple of peripherals is cheaper than most computer registers.
  2. The next revision of the hardware.  Apple is notorious for withholding features.  They like to put just enough in a product to make people want it, but hold back enough features to be able to also make revision two, three, and four worth buying too.  Expect the next version to have the front facing camera most people feel is missing, and more memory.

Lastly, I think they priced it almost perfectly.  The only way it gets better is if AT&T subsidizes the price of the 3G version in exchange for a 2 year contract.  Personally, I wouldn’t want the 3G, so it is priced right as it is.

To me, at the moment, the deal breaker is the keyboard.  The virtual keyboard looks like it would only be comfortable using if I can manage to have the device at a 45 degree angle allowing me to type and see the screen.  This means that I’d either have to be hunched over the device, or to be lounging on the couch with my feet propped up allowing my lap to hold it up at a usable angle.  But that’s because the biggest feature of a portable computer for me is writing, and the iPad seems to be aimed more at people who are more interested in reading and watching.  This could be saved if someone makes some sort of clip on keyboard and screen protector (i.e. – the keyboard folds up over the screen, kinda like the clam shell design of a laptop).  But it would also have to more than double the weight of the device because you can’t have the screen be heavier than the keyboard in that sort of design.

Another missing element for me that I don’t think will ever make it into the Apple design is the ability to use a stylus.  I like to do digital art (doodling more than anything) but I don’t like doing it with my finger.  Perhaps, if the iPad sells well, Wacom will decide to make the Cintiq into a full blown art tablet.

Overall, as I said before, I see potential, I even see this as being a device that plenty of people could put to good use, but just not me.  And that’s okay.

Movie Round-Up: January 15th, 2010

Now commencing, the week of “The” …

The Spy Next Door:

Our first “The” film is this little throwaway kid friendly family film starring Jackie Chan as a secret super spy who also babysits.  Or something like that.  Take the kids, sure, but don’t expect to be anything other than predictable.  Not worth my money, and I had the opportunity, three times, to see this for free and never did.

The Lovely Bones:

Our second “The” film is an adaptation of a very successful book.  I’ve actually wanted to read the book, however, I put that idea aside once I heard there was to be a film.  Films always have to excise content from the book, sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad.  If the film is good, I’ll read the book in a couple of years.  Anyway, if you don’t know, its about a girl who is raped and murdered looking in on the world after her death.  She follows her family and the man who killed her and she watches her family fall apart and the murderer prepare to go after another girl.  I’m not sure I’ll make it to the theater for this one, mostly because dramas don’t really benefit from the big screen (and often are hurt by people who won’t shut the hell up), but if I head to the cinema, this will be on my list.

The Book of Eli:

Our last “The” film is this post-apocalyptic tale.  I was lucky enough to get into a screening of this last night, and let me tell you, in my opinion, this is one damn fine film.  The Hughes Brothers have taken Gary Whitta’s script and painted it beautifully on the screen with excellent use of Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.  I know some people in the theater were bored, because their shuffling and chatting occasionally distracted me, but I was enraptured.  Even having already seen it, I may pay to see it again.  Well done, gentlemen.  Well done.

And here ends the week of “The”.

Movie Round-Up: September 25th, 2009


In 1980, Fame hit the screen with a story that followed four students through the New York City High School for the Performing Arts.  I remember seeing it years later on HBO or Cinemax, sneaking a rated R film while my parents were out.  I watched the TV show too.  Part of me was excited to see the remake, and part of me dreaded it.  This new 2009 version of Fame is fun, but dumb.  Frankly, there are too many characters in the foreground here.  You don’t get to know any of them well enough to care about them, and while the musical numbers are interesting to watch they stand out so much from the bland non-musical parts that they primarily serve to remind you of how lame this new Fame is.  If I rated with thumbs, this would be a thumbs down.


I love me some haunted house movies.  I especially love it when the house in question is a space ship.  Add on top of that Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster and  I would see this movie in a heartbeat, if not for…


This is going to be my must see movie of the weekend.  Firstly, its Bruce Willis, and I pretty much love every movie he’s ever done, especially the action films.  Second, the plot here just looks to be awesome.  So, my hard earned $10 will get spent here.  Hells yeah.