September 2005

My computer and XBox died (or, Arrr!)

So, I don’t have a computer now. I haven’t for about a week and I’m not sure when I’ll get another, though hopefully soon. I’m actually breaking rules at work and using a computer here (with my boss’ permission. He’s a solid cat.) What I was using was mine and my brother’s computer. But we decided to sell it and get a better one. Now that we’ve sold the old one, there’s problems with the new one. *sigh* Damn.
Also, my XBox died. My cousin and I played Halo 2 every second or third night, so I’m really missing it by now. Not to mention I occassionally found a good game of Tetris Worlds to hop into on Live, though that was sadly rare. So now I’m left with a chunk of metal and plastic that died while consuming my Tetris disc. But I’m feeling Frankenstein-ish. My inquisitive side is rearing it’s ugly head and I’ve decided that since I have nothing to lose, now’s the time to mod it, assuming I can get it fixed. Johnny of Johnnyz House of Modz tells me that he charges $10 just to look at it, a total of $50 if he can fix it and return it to it’s original state. Then a softmod costs another $40. (I should point out that I’m not ‘horrible’ with hardware, but I prefer to leave it to professionals. Worst case scenerio he can’t do it and I’m out $10.)Obviously this’ll make me seem like a ‘pirate’. And y’know what? I am. We’ve all done it before, and I occasionally do still. I’ll download some music, use my computer (when I have one) as VCR, and rarely movies. But if you trust me at all, realize that if I enjoy something and think it’s worth my money, I’ll support the people behind it financially. (And if you still feel ill toward me, I’ll go ahead and let you know that the TV shows are from channels that I’ve already paid for, and the music is largely illegal music anyway. DJs who’ve not paid royalties for the music (and sometimes themselves aren’t charging for it.))
Of course, this is no less illegal than any other piracy. I’m still one of ‘the bad guys’. Oh, and also about a year ago I downloaded a game, to be completely forthcoming. Somehow my copy of Civ III got lost, so while I was waiting for my new (purchased) copy of Civ 3 to arrive in the mail, I downloaded it and played it. Though while I’m thinking about DJs, go to DJ Z-Trip’s site and listen to some of his new album for free! Though even if you don’t like turntablism at all, I recommend downloading the WFNX mix you’ll find here; it’s a good sample of the style he does. (And he’s cool with you downloading those older mixes, too. And a pal of mine colored a record sleeve for one of his singles on the new album. Swell stuff, huh?)Oh, but back to the main topic. The main reason I’m wanting to mod? The XBox homebrew scene. There’s lots of homebrew XBox stuff out there these days, so I’m already behind the times. And the ‘hacker’ in me wants to poke around with the box and see what I can do.

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m_nFailure += 2;

So it’s a good thing I convinced myself I likely wouldn’t have liked that job. I found out that I didn’t get it. They actually mailed me an honest-to-God rejection letter, though. The kind that takes a stamp to get here. I graduated about a year ago and for a long time afterward didn’t do any job hunting. I wanted to stay around my home area to deal with some issues. But in my four-or-so months of serious job hunting I’ve only ever had one other company send me a letter and that was Epic. So I thank them for taking care of business. I mean, I’ve seen companies just stop responding to inquiries about the job I interviewed for. Most often it’s having a great talk and I call back a week later to hear “Oh, Jeff, hi. Yeah, we went with someone with more experience.” I mean, just call me up and say “Hey, it ain’t happening Jeff. Sorry man.” It’s cool, really.

Now, my second failure? I failed Josh’s homework assignment. In this month’s Gaming Round Table, Corvus asks people to take a closer look at genres in gaming, and Josh at Cathode Tan does just that with a two-part test that you can read, and participate in, here. The first part asks you to match up existing properties with the genre in which their game should be made. You can only use each genre once. You can mix genres, but that counts has a half-use. The second part asks you to look at game mechanics and remember your first experience with them. I can’t remember jack; my memory has always been horrible. But matching up licenses and game genres? Sounds like fun. So, let’s see my choices:

1. Ghost In The Shell – Music&Rythm / First Person Shooter
Not being much of a manga/anime fan I only know of it peripherally, but after watching the trailer, I’m going with a dance pad/lightgun combination game where staying on beat has you gracefully dancing around dodging bullets, while at the same time taking out the bad guys. (Of course the gun will be wireless.)

2. Doctor Who – ARG
Really, is there any other choice? Running mysteries in the Dr. Who show should be extrapolated upon which ARGs that wrap themselves up with each season should be experienced. It should reveal completely separate info about the ‘badguys’ with little overlap from the Doctor himself. Doing this with a time travelling show should be easy and fun, and make for fantastic DVD extras.

3. Scrubs – Mini-Game&Party / Music&Rythm
Each player picks a character and advances through floors in the hospital by achieving tasks (mini-games) in their quest to make it to the top of their field. The player’s characters each have their own theme of games that they drag other players into from ‘Mop up the Puke’ and ‘Boobies’, to the hit ‘Remove the Tumor, But Don’t Cut the Pulmonary Artery’. Ahhh, good times abounds. And just like every episode, floors end in a well-chosen-song related minigame.

4. Stargate: Atlantis – Adventure
Not being much of a sci-fi guy I’m going to go with what I understand the series being about, which is a new world (or Atlantis on the regular Stargate world? I dunno.) How could that not be a good adventure title?

5. Firefly (Serenity) – First Person Shooter / Flight&Space Sim
I’ve never seen the show. I know, I know… But I mean, is it all flying around? Is it on-foot adventure that drives the show? I have no clue. So I’m going with a FPS, because where there’s one space ship, there’s bound to be some kind of weapon-toting conflict. ;)

6. Fraggle Rock – Platformer / Mini-Game Party
Again, an obvious choice, but it could be fun! Imagine going on a mission to save your fellow Fraggles in a near-endless streaming underground world. Remember those great NES Ducktales and Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers games? This could be those in 3d. (Admittedly, I’d love to see/make a Care Bears game.) And tons of fun Doozer mini-games!

7. The Last Starfighter – Flight&Space Sim / Platformer
Anyone who’s seen this movie would love to have a game where they were the last Starfighter. And we all want a combat-flight game where the reticule disappears completely when moved away from the origin point! And gameplay cuts between the real you in space, and the Beta Unit android replicant left in your place on Earth.

8. Black Adder – Real Time Strategy
Another one I had to Google to find out more about. (I’m so unhip.) But I’m thinking an RTS like no other before it. Don’t think Command & Conquer, but rather Dungeon Keeper or Freedom Force, only a complete comedy. You control the cast of the show and must try to stop the populous from revolting (or turn them in your favor.) There’s just not enough comedy in games.

9. High Fidelity – Life Sim
The ultimate Life Sim that would make Chris Crawford cry. You’re dropped into Rob’s position (you can choose, American or British,) and make your own mistakes in life and love.

10. Gattaca – Management Sim
Completely the opposite perspective of the movie, your job is to find the rumored genetically imperfect man and weed him out through a series of challenges and proper resource management while leading everyone through the space program.

Take a stroll over to his site and do the homework yourself!

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With the popularity of sports games, the only surprise is that MMOSports games aren’t already a norm. But, MMOSports games are on the way. (Tony over at has a pretty good roundup of plenty of them last week, too.) Everyone knew they’d happen eventually. It’s a no brainer really. Sports games sell well. MMOs offer continuous income. So MMOSports games should offer a lot of cash. But what are MMOSports games?

I mean, I barely know what classifies a game as an MMO anymore. Is it anything with more players than an id software game will support? Is it NeverWinter Nights’ 64 players on a server ‘massive’? How about 1000 players? That ‘Massive’ part has always been the trick. But we can’t apply the standard ‘thousands per server’ to sports games as you can’t have 3000 people on a baseball field playing at once. The best I can come up with is we either (a)change our definition to mean “thousand/hundreds of players in a designated league who play in scheduled and/or pick-up games,” or (b)define it as “a sports game that allows every member of every team to be represented by a user.” But ‘(a)’ is essentially the same is ‘(b)’ with arbitrary league restrictions. And both definitions could make FPS’ like Counter-Strike and Halo ‘MMOs’.

But if “MMOSports” games must exist, I believe that’s what they’ll be. So I’m going with (b). And while Tony did cover lots of the games out there, he didn’t mention International Online Soccer. (Maybe soccer isn’t a sport to George Carlin, but I’ll let it slide this time.) It’s a Half-Life mod (with a Source version coming out soon.) The Beta was originally released May 12th, 2003, so it’s just over two years old now. And looking at the stats from August, it’s doing ‘okay’. Over that month only three days did they have below 400 players (5670 unique players the 31 days.) Sure it’s not Natural Selection, the HL mod with 66,500+ players in a given month, but it’s something.

Speaking of which, I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a sci-fi sports game myself. I figure it’s time I updated the resume with something, y’know? Need to look around the Quake 3 code and see if I wanna go that route or just mod Half-Life 2. Think “Halo 2 meets Soccer.” That’s right baby, Rocketball.

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