Sunday, November 26, 2006

Baby it's cold outside.

This is why I'm not going to work tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hitler, Underwhelmed

Hitler begins to second guess the $2000 he spent on eBay.

(To be fair, Hitler does not own an HDTV and isn't getting the full next generation experience.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


It probably shouldn't surprise me when people call the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii controller a gimmick, but it still kinda does. I find it hard to believe that people didn't see this coming. Were they expecting us to keep using the Dual Shock forever, no matter how complex the games got? This isn't some wild, crazy long shot out of left field here, this is the inevitable, natural progression of how we interface with our games. Granted, it came a lot earlier than I was expecting, and the form it took was also surprising, but I never had any doubt 3D spatial control was coming eventually. All you had to do was look at the history of how we control movement in our games.

For the purposes of this essay, each dimension of control relates to an axis along which the controller has the ability to move (even if games don't neccesarily support movement in those dimensions). I'm ignoring buttons besides those which are designed to control spatial movement, even though many games may use buttons for spatial movement (the ever-present jump button), and spatial controls as buttons (which has been behind a lot of the criticism of the Wii.)

Generation 1
2 Dimensional games with 1 Dimensional control

Seen in: Pong, Space Invaders

Some early games gave you only one dimension of controlling your game. You could only move along one axis (up-down in Pong, left-right in Space Invaders), and that's it. The list of games with 1 dimensional control is pretty short since there's only so much you can do with such a limited control scheme.

Generation 2
2-Dimensional games with 2-Dimensional control

Seen in: NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.

Basically any 2D game where you could move along the X and the Y axis used this control scheme, which is about 99.9% of them. This has been the standard for 2-Dimensional games since the invention of the joystick.

Light guns and mouse control are other forms of 2-Dimensional control in games.

(I should point out here that these Generations aren't necessarily chronological, since Spacewar!, which predates Pong, used this scheme.)

Generation 3
3-Dimensional games with 2-Dimensional control

Seen in: Pre-Dual Shock PS1 controller

In the early days of 3D console gaming, before the introduction of the N64, 3D games were controlled by a strictly 2-Dimensional control scheme. The original PS1 control was basically a slightly more ergonomic SNES controller. It was really a poor way to control 3D games, leading most of them to basically become 3D objects interacting in a 2D space.

Generation 4
3-Dimensional games with multiple 2-Dimensional controls

Seen in: Every post-N64 controller, Mouse & keyboard

Although popular opinion doesn't agree with me, I think the biggest innovation in the N64 controller wasn't the analog stick and it wasn't the rumble pak. It was the multiple spatial controls. To make up for the lack of true 3-Dimensional control, Nintendo took a page from the mouse and keyboard set-up of the PC and put multiple 2-Dimensional controls on the N64 controller. It had an analog stick, a d-pad and the C-arrow buttons, which in many cases acted as another D-pad. Playstation improved upon this by giving their new Dual Shock controller two analog sticks, and situating them in a way that was much easier to use simultaneously than the N64's. Although this technically gave the controller six dimensions of control, due to our limited number of thumbs it was pretty much impossible to use more than 4 at a time (even that was a difficult task for non-gamers).

One nice thing about this control scheme is that it's very backwards compatible with 2D games. You can just use one of the 2-Dimensional controls and ignore the other.

Generation 5
2/3-Dimensional games with 3-Dimensional control

Really, the only games I can think of that fall under this category are games like Wario Ware: Twisted and that Kirby game, that are controlled by a tilt sensor. That's assuming the sensor can detect all three axes of tilt. Much like games with 1-Dimensional control, we mostly skipped this generation.

Generation 6
3-Dimensional games with 6-Dimensional (+ 2-Dimensional) Controls

Seen in: Wii, SIXAXIS

Okay, here's where we are today. This week, both the PS3 and the Wii were launched, ushering in the next generation of game control. Right on time, too. Generally, each of these methods of controlling games lasted two console generations. For a while it looked like the control scheme of the last two console generations was going to last a little longer, until Nintendo announced the Wii remote.

The Wii remote takes all six dimensions of the post-N64 controllers, makes all of them analog and lets you control every one simultaneously, in the most intuitive way possible, with a single hand. That's no small accomplishment. This leaves your other hand free to hold the nunchuk controller, which adds another 2-dimensional thumbstick, and the same six dimensions of motion control. The remote also has a D-pad and a pointing sensor, two additional 2-Dimensional controls. To be fair, the pointing is essentially an extension of the motion sensing. They're used in tandem and aren't discretely controlled, so we won't count that one. But it is important to note that the 6-dimensional control can seamlessly become a 2-dimensional control, something the SIXAXIS lacks.

If we're counting, that's 16 dimensions of spatial control, all controllable simultaneously. Of course, using all at once will be difficult for even an experienced gamer (and rarely useful), but unlike previous controllers using one control will not prevent you from using any other.

On the other hand, the PS3's SIXAXIS has the original six dimensions of control from the Dual Shock controller (2 analog stick and a d-pad), along with another six dimensions of motion control. I was originally under the impression it only detected tilt, but apparently it detects motion as well. Seems like a pretty common misconception too, nobody I asked (granted, a very small sample group) knew about the motion sensing either, just the tilt.

So the SIXAXIS controller has a total of 12 dimensions of spatial control, with 10 of them controllable simultaneously. Like I mentioned earlier, the SIXAXIS has no good way of turning the 6-Dimensional control into 2-Dimensional like the Wii's sensor bar, which makes it less useful as a pointing device.

The increased number of dimensions to control the game across is merely an evolution in the way we already control our games. The really important part of the Wii's control scheme is the fact that the main six dimensions of control are controlled in such an intuitive way, easy for anyone to grasp, and requires very little remembering what buttons and sticks controls what. That's the revolution Nintendo promised.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

PS3 resale market so far

I've been keeping tabs on the PS3 auctions on eBay for the last couple days, just out my own curiousity.

On Friday morning, the average price for a PS3 on eBay was around the $2600 mark, although up to $4000 wasn't unheard of. By 5 or 6 PM, the average price had already dropped to the $1500-$1800 mark. Waiting a mere 12 hours could have saved a lot of people well over a thousand dollars.

By this afternoon, the average price was in the $900 to $1200 range (mostly around the lower end of that scale, and with a game in many cases). Auctions with a starting price over $1400 were ending without any bids. The profit margin is shrinking fast, and I think there's going to be a lot of disappointed scalpers out there. It's hard to predict how the Wii launch tomorrow will affect the prices, but I can't imagine it's going to help.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Entrepeneur of the Year

Can you spot the error in this business plan?

Let's chew on the math a little. There were at least 6 homeless guys (could be more, but 6 was the highest number I could see at any time). At $100 + food (let's say $10) each per day, for at least two days, That's $1320. The store only has 8 PS3s, with at least three people ahead of them in line (in some shots it looks like there could even be four or five of them), so the maximum number of consoles they can get is 5. If the Japanese launch is any indicator, resellers were having a hard time selling them at any more than a 50% markup because the market was absolutely flooded with scalpers.

5 x (600/2) = $1500 - $1320 = $180

Minus costs, he's not going to make anymore than a few hundred dollars. And this is pretty much best case scenario. If he's got even one more homeless guy I didn't count, or there's one more person ahead of them in line, he's losing money with this scheme. That's also assuming he didn't pay to rent the U-Haul, which would probably put him deep into the red.

Abdul Salem, the man who exploited the homeless and still couldn't make a profit.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Riding the Skytrain

There's a Kenny Rogers looking guy standing next to me wearing a cowboy hat. He looks like he might be one of those Texan oil millionaires, except he's wearing a plaid flannel shirt and his briefcase is made of cheap plastic. He smells like farts and shampoo.

There's a teenage girl with a birthday cake in her lap (Happy Birthday Ellen, whoever you are!), lip-synching along with her iPod. She looks like Joan Cusack would look if she was 16 and pretty and whatever is wrong with her mouth wasn't.

There are three black men sitting quietly. Occasionally, one of them coughs politely. I wonder to myself if it's racist to note that his cough was polite, like when my grandma talks about how the negro she saw on TV was quite eloquent.

I notice a giant guy sitting near the back of the train with a big, red, bushy beard. I can't decide if he'd look more at home decked out entirely in furs and wielding a battle axe or decked out entirely in leather and chains wielding an electric guitar. Either one would be far more suitable than the track jacket and slacks he's wearing now.

At the next stop, an elderly asian man gets on and stands in front of my seat, uncomfortably close to me. His crotch is the Allied troops and my personal space is a beach in Normandy.

There's a guy sitting with his bag in his lap, trying not to look at the old asian man's crotch directly in front of him as he attempts to properly describe the situation to himself. The best he can come up with is a crappy D-Day metaphor that barely makes sense. He thinks he'll probably think of something more clever before he gets home and writes about it in his blog. He doesn't.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Why does your life suck? Why haven't you gotten that promotion? Why doesn't that supermodel want to marry you? It's because you don't know THE SECRET.

The Secret!

Every successful person ever in the history of the world has known THE SECRET! They just never talked about it or mentioned it in any way, and would probably have denied it if you asked them but they totally knew it. The secret is the Law of Attraction*!

*Not an actual law in the scientific, legal or any other sense of the word.

"I'm not talking to you from the point of view of just wishful thinking, or imagina-ray craz-ay-ness!"

How does it work? The first step is you think about something you want. Then the universe has to give it you, no matter what it is! It's in the contract! If it doesn't that means you aren't thinking good enough and you have to try harder (maybe try squinting really hard while thinking). It's that simple!

In other words:
Step 1: Think about something
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

That's all there is to it! We know it's true because it happened to Aladdin (who was apparently asian; I guess the casting director was thinking a little too much about asian guys).

I know what you're thinking. "How does this possibly work? It doesn't even make sense!" Well guess what else doesn't make sense? Computers. You can't tell me how computers work, yet we use them every day. In fact, I'm typing on one right now. Are you suggesting I'm somehow beaming magical text rays out of my eyeballs onto the screen? That would just be silly.

"First of all, no one even knows what electricity is!"

Whatever you do, don't make a plan on how to reach your goal! Plans are for losers. The universe is much better at planning things than you are, and you're going to be too busy imagining things to have time to make a plan. I guess if you really want a plan, then don't make one, just think about how bad you want one, and the universe will make it for you (the plan will probably involve thinking about something until you get it).

"If you do just a little research, it is going to become evident to you that anyone that has ever accomplished anything did not know how they were going to do it."

If you aren't fully convinced yet, try this experiment and your skepticism will be washed away!

"Hold an image of talking to an old friend that you haven't seen for a long time. Somewhere or another someone's gonna start talking to you about that person, that person's gonna phone you or you'll get a letter from them."

I know it sounds amazing, but I guarantee that somebody somewhere will say something at some time about somebody you thought about once (if not, think harder)!

"Everytime you look in your mail expecting to see a bill, guess what, it'll be there."

Debt doesn't come from you spending money you don't have, debt comes from you thinking about debt! Bills aren't sent by companies whose services you have used, they're sent by the universe, responding to your brain frequencies! Bills are like closet monsters, if you don't believe in them they can't hurt you.

And don't go thinking, "I want no debt," because that has the word debt in it, which will just give you more debt! It's just like when you spend all day thinking, "Boy, I hope my abusive boyfriend doesn't beat me tonight." You and I both know what's going to happen that night. Instead you should be thinking, "Boy, I hope my abusive boyfriend brings me candy tonight!" and maybe make a list of the things you like about him.

"We've had a thousand different "diagnoses" and "disease" out there. They're just the weak link. They're all the result of one thing: stress."

"Our physiology creates disease to give us feedback, to let us know we have an imbalanced perspective and we're not loving and we're not grateful."

YOU GOT CANCER BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT CANCER! It was your own damn fault, dummy. I mean, it just makes sense. When's the last time you saw a happy person dying of a terminal illness?

Remember, don't think "I don't want cancer anymore," because you'll just get more cancer. I think in this case it's probably best to just ignore it until it goes away. Also, watch funny movies apparently.

"So if you're anti-war, be pro-peace. If you're anti-hunger, be pro-people having more than enough to eat. If you're anti-a particular politician, be pro-his opponent."

Apparently you're thinking about how you wish this post would end already, because it just did. That's okay, I have a batmobile to go think about.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Yesterday I, apparently along with everbody and their grandma, saw Borat. While I wouldn't go as far as some and proclaim it the funniest movie ever made, I can definitely see where they're coming from. There was hardly a moment during the movie when I wasn't laughing at something.

It was number 1 at the box office this weekend, despite the studio's poor predictions and the fact that it was only playing on a quarter of the screens as every other movie on the top 5 that opened this week. I imagine the studios are pretty wary of internet buzz in this crazy post-Snakes on a Plane world. The difference between Snakes on a Plane's disappointing showing and Borat's huge victory is mainly in the timing. While the hype behind Snakes on a Plane was organic and uncontrollable, Borat's hype was mostly manufactured and tightly cultivated. Snakes' buzz popped out of nowhere, spawned solely from the idea of the movie and was blown to epic proportions by fans. Borat's buzz was created by the creators of the movie, and spread by the fans, mostly through YouTube videos. The reason Snakes' buzz never paid off was that the movie was released months after the buzz had worn off and the joke had gotten old. Had they been able to release it a few months earlier, I guarantee it would have been the huge hit they were expecting. Borat was released right at the crescendo of its hype and is reaping the benefits of good timing. And with a movie this good, word of mouth is only going to make it stronger.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unexpected Fireworks

As I was driving home from work today, I stopped at a red light. I was waiting for the light to turn green, when suddenly the sky lit up with fireworks. It was like my own little fanfare, as if to say, "Congratulations! You obeyed the hell out of that traffic light!"

And you know, I totally did.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Self Portrait Day

Yesterday at, over 330 people joined in a giant vanityfest and drew or painted their beautiful selves.

There's some fantastic artwork there. My own self-portrait is on Page 6 of the thread.
Check it out!