Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Inexorable Passage of Time - Redux

About a year and a half ago I wrote this post about my daughter turning five. Yesterday my son reached that milestone and as I reflect on this barely-contained ball of energy I find myself confronted with much different feelings. Make no mistake, I’m incredibly proud of my li’l buddy. Like 99.9% of the population he is not a prodigy, but as I felt back then I continue to believe there is this sense of unlimited potential about him. I truly think this child could do anything he puts his mind too. The thought both excites and terrifies me because in every way I can can conceive of, he is exactly like me.

Because I see myself in him, I fear for him much more so than I do my daughter, or at least I fear for him in much different ways. I know what I went through growing up. Being small. Being shy. Lacking in self-confidence. These are not recipes for easy times during one’s grade school years and I struggle with how I might help him find the courage to endure these years with confidence in who he is.

At the same time, because things sometimes came easy for me early on, it didn’t take long for me to just want everything to come easy. I didn’t want to work hard; I just wanted to have the answers and move on to something fun (games). There is no doubt my lack of drive and unwillingness to take chances has cost me in my professional life and when I look at my son and see just how much like me he seems to be, it’s monumentally difficult not to be hard on him; to push him to not be me; to be better than me.

Somewhere there is a line between coddling and being an overbearing monster of a parent and I struggle with it daily. I worry in equal parts that I am both too hard on him and then not hard enough. How do I strike that balance that will bring out the excellence I know he has without making him feel like he disappoints me whenever he inevitably missteps? (The truth being I’m far more worried about being a disappointment to him.) How do I help him to find his bliss in life and go after it with every ounce of determination he can?

Ultimately, I know these are concerns for another day. He’s five years old for goodness sakes and he’s already such an amazing kid that I know I should set worry aside and enjoy him for who he is right now, because who he is, is a bright, surprisingly articulate, fun-loving kid who is quick to smile and laugh. He is everything I could possibly have asked for in a son.

Happy birthday, Kyle. Your mom and I could not be more proud of you and you will have our love, always.

Also, please stop hitting your sister. That’s not nice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

GameShark Podcast #13: Metacritic

The latest podcast is arguably our best. Lots of great discussion -- so much so that Marc Doyle of Metacritic emailed us about the show. He didn't even yell at me. He did demand that Brandon be kicked off the panel.

Is Your Mother a Prostitute?

The Dolphins would like to know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Once a month I get into a debate over this when playing basketball at the rec center and I am continually amazed by the fact that so many basketball players don't know how this works.

If the ball simply hits your foot, it's not a kick. If you dribble the ball and it bounces off my foot unintentionally -- it's not a kick. If I raise my leg in an attempt to deflect the ball -- that is a kick. If you throw a bounce pass and it hits my shin (and I'm playing defense) and I didn't raise my leg in an attempt to kick it. That is not a kick.

I have found that people will almost come to blows over this rule because everyone thinks they know how it works-- but most don't.

I think this rule, as well as the "shooting the ball over the backboard is the ball still in play?" rule are the two most misunderstood pick up game rules in the sport.

That and the definition of a moving screen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

America: The Story of Us

So I watched the first episode last night, "Rebels", which discusses the Revolutionary War.

Now, I fully understand that covering the lead up to the war to its conclusion in 2 hours is impossible so the fact that the show was a CliffsNotes version of history was, by me at least, expected.

They have to jam Jamestown and the Pilgrims and the entire war into two hours. That's just asking for a pretty sterile documentary.

But what I didn't like was that it was also *bad* history. Almost revisionist history.

The Boston Massacre was portrayed in the show last night much like it was in Revere's newspaper account -- that British soldiers gunned down unarmed (maybe a LITTLE rowdy) Boston citizens in the streets -- like a death squad firing line. Forget the fact that none other than John Adams defended the soldiers (and won) and it's regarded today that Revere was a propaganda expert and his portrait was made to rile up the citizens and it was not the cold blooded murder originally thought. You get NONE of that in the show.

Or that the Boston Tea Party where the 'rebels' dressed up like Native Americans? Nah that wasn't mentioned Just that the rebels tossed the tea overboard. You miss out on a lot of important context when you don't mention how they did it.

So the final 1:15 minutes was about the war itself.

How you do ANY history of the war without mentioning -- not one time-- Benedict Arnold, General Gates, General Howe, General CORNWALLIS, the early strong loyalist movement, Washington falling out of favor after many, many losses.

This is all glossed over in a pretty little bow and poof we see Morgan and his sharpshooters, Valley Forge, von Steuben and -- Yorktown! I know this as not supposed to be a detailed look at the Revolutionary War. I really do get that.

But what are you supposed to get out of watching that show? That Brian Williams and Rudi Giuliani know basic American history?

I honestly have no idea.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mr. Brees

Not that I personally care about this but Drew Brees will appear on the cover of Madden 11.

Never have understood the whole cover thing but hey -- it's news.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh No! Ebert Says Games Aren’t Art!

So gamers around the Internet are irate that Ebert is again insisting that games are not art. First of all, it would be nice if we poor oppressed gamers could get a grip (those of us screaming the loudest I mean). So Ebert says games aren’t art. I had a step-grandmother who, at one point, thought I was a head of cabbage. People say things. It doesn’t have to matter.

Gabe (Penny Arcade) has it pretty much nailed:

Of course video games are art. They are nothing but art. They are art piled on top of more art.


So Ebert says games aren't art. That does not make it true. I say games are art and last time I checked, I was beating Michelle Obama, Oprah and Taylor swift in Time's 100 most influential people list.

Game. Set. Match.

The thing is, I read the article in question and aside from some really bad logic and arrogant statements there’s not much to be in a huff over. The guy has an opinion and a newspaper company willing to print it. Let it go. Next week he’ll write something most people agree with and they’ll all proclaim him a critical genius.

I Cannot Stand Todd McShay

And I guess I am not alone.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Wargame Protest?

Words sorta fail me.

Blood Bowl Video From Angry Man

I can really relate...worth watching the whole thing.

Naked Gun Redux

So I'm just about done w/ solo play in Splinter Cell. It's a short game and fairly entertaining. It's nowhere near as good as I'd hoped it would be, though.

I was chatting with Brandon this morning and the best comparison I can make is that solo play in this game is like The Naked Gun.

Remember the scene in NG when Frank Drebin is firing from behind a wooden crate and then the camera pans out and you see the criminal he is shooting at -- is also behind a crate but only like 2 feet from Drebin?

That's SC: Conviction. Only in the movie it was hilarious. The game takes itself seriously.

Gameshark Podcast Episode 12: Gaming Lulls

This week's show is about what we do during our gaming downtime. Brandon reveals he never has downtime and then goes off about Pokemon. Seriously.

There's also some Mount & Blade and Wario DIY is there as well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Back from Blogging Hiatus

Yep it's been a while. I would "apologize" but I won't. I need my downtime from gaming, blogging, and constant Internet interaction.

So with my batteries (somewhat) recharged I can get into what's going on the Abner Gameworld.

EA sent me an early copy of World Cup 2010...there's no embargo info attached but I learned my lesson with THAT a while back (see NCAA 09 Fiasco) so I need to call EA before I can start talking about it. I imagine it's good because I enjoyed Fifa 10 quite a bit.

Out of the Park Baseball 11 -- a game I shockingly forgot to mention on last night's podcast (duh) has been eating my time. I have played every version of this game starting with v3 and every year I go into saying "no way will this be worth the money" -- I say this because I really enjoy OOTP but it suffers the same as do big publisher sports games -- what can you really expect in a 10 month cycle? And we're now on the 11th edition and with text games it's even tougher because you really can't sell "better graphics".

Well, so far OOTP 11 is a surprisingly big upgrade over 10 -- not so much for the sim engine (I really can't tell much of a difference there) but from an interface, speed, and tightening of the screws perspective. Version 10 I still find to be buggy. I play V10 every single day because I run an online league. I still see duplicate players, weird sign/release bugs, batting order bugs and other anomalies. So far anyway V11 looks rock solid and for such a *huge* game that's pretty rare.

Being such a large game doing a review takes a while but thus far all signs point to "upgrade". Today is a big test as I try to import my OOTP 10 online league and see how that shakes out.

I STILL hope one day OOTP adds rudimentary graphics. Nothing big. I don't need motion capture. But man I sure would like to see some graphics ala MicroLeague Baseball circa 1984.

Anyway, tonight is co-op Splinter Cell with Brandon. Nothing like simming baseball games all day and following that up by shooting a terrorist in the face.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2K Marin + XCOM = WIN

2K Games Announces XCOM® - Suspense and Mystery-Filled First-Person Shooter from Creators of BioShock® 2

Award-winning developers set their sights on re-imagining the suspense, tension and fear of one of gaming’s most beloved franchises only on Xbox 360 and Windows PC

New York, NY – April 14, 2010– 2K Games announced today that XCOM®,the re-imagining of one of gaming’s most storied and beloved franchises,is currently in development at 2K Marin, the studio behind the multi-million unit selling BioShock® 2.Currently in development exclusively for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC, XCOM combines the strategic core of the groundbreaking franchise with a suspense-filled narrative and distills it into a tense and unique first-person shooter experience.

“With BioShock 2, the team at 2K Marin proved themselves as masters of first-person, suspenseful storytelling, and with XCOM they will re-imagine and expand the rich lore of this revered franchise,” said Christoph Hartmann, president of 2K. “Players will explore the world of XCOM from an immersive new perspective and experience firsthand the fear and tension of this gripping narrative ride.”

XCOM is the re-imagining of the classic tale of humanity’s struggle against an unknown enemy that puts players directly into the shoes of an FBI agent tasked with identifying and eliminating the growing threat. True to the roots of the franchise, players will be placed in charge of overcoming high-stake odds through risky strategic gambits coupled with heart-stopping combat experiences that pit human ingenuity – and frailty – against a foe beyond comprehension. By setting the game in a first-person perspective, players will be able to feel the tension and fear that comes with combating a faceless enemy that is violently probing and plotting its way into our world.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Madden ‘11 is Doing the Locomotion

I know. It’s okay to hate me for that title. I hate myself for writing and posting it. And yet, I couldn’t make myself change it.


There’s a great post from Madden 11’s Lead Gameplay Designer, Ryan Burnsides, up at the EA Blog. It details how the changes to the player locomotion engine as well as how they’re improving how speed and acceleration are handled this year. It’s interesting stuff and it’s clear that –as Bill is fond of saying- the Madden guys “get it.” Here’s a snippet, but if you’re a Madden player the whole thing is well worth reading:

Momentum: In Madden NFL 10, players couldn’t turn as fast when they were sprinting as they could when they were not. One of the mechanics around this was forcing users to let go of the sprint button when they needed to make sharp turns (like trying to choose a run hole for example). This wasn’t very intuitive for a lot of our users. We knew that we had to make a change that would allow people to move where they wanted to on the field, while still making skills like Agility matter. We tried a few different things, but the mechanic that felt the best was to allow the player to go where you are pressing on the left stick, but slow him down to make the turn you are requesting (based on his ratings of course). It feels pretty natural to gradually round off a turn if you want to keep your speed up, or move the stick sharply to sacrifice speed for making a necessary cut. As soon as we put this in, the game felt way more responsive. You can feel the momentum of trying to turn a big lumbering lineman, but at no point do you feel like he isn’t going where you are trying to make him go.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Obama V Kellogg

I love this video -- know how you can tell Obama is a real player? It's not that he's able to hit the occasional three.

Listen to him as he fires off what will end up being the game winner. Ball is in flight and Obama says, "wap!"

I don't know what I think of the new Healthcare just yet. But I know Obama has game.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Will the iPad Blend?

Spotted this at Mashable today and it’s great.

There’s two more vids at the Mashable link where PC World does a sturdiness test and some punk kids –with rich parents?- appear to be wrecking two iPads for no apparent reason.

What’s better is there is a whole series of these Will it Blend videos. Love the style. It’s the kind of theme music the podcast should have. Anyway, here’s one more where he blends glow sticks. Hilarious.

Jumping the Shark Episode 10! Now With 50% More PAX East!

They said it couldn’t be done. We’d never make it to double-digits. But we proved them all wrong! Wrong I tell you! Celebrate the #10 milestone of Jumping the Shark by tuning into episode 10 of Jumping the Shark. It’s good for your digestive system and it won’t give you glaucoma! Don’t believe me? Just remember the wise words of Dr. Spaceman: Science is whatever we want it to be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blood Bowl Gets Legendary

Got an email today that there will be a “Legendary Edition” released for Blood Bowl before the end of the year. Here’s the text from the website:

Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition is the ultimate Blood Bowl edition! 12 new playable races join the 8 races already available in the 2009 edition. Blood Bowl fans will thus find all their favourite races from the original board game. Undeads, Amazons, Ogres and 9 other races enter Blood Bowl's tournaments. All 20 races have their personal style, tactics and unique skills which give each game a diversity rarely seen in a strategy game.

There will be also new, more impressive stadiums to welcome all these new teams. From the snowy Norse stadium to the creepy interior of a crypt, the change of scenery is guaranteed.

A new Story mode is introduced, in which players will play as a freelance coach. They will have to lead several famous teams and take up many challenges through a story revealing the origins of Blood Bowl, the Old World and its many races that relentlessly compete with each other in merciless games. A newly scripted tutorial will teach all new comers everything they need to know about coaching a Blood Bowl team!
Of course, in order to stay as close as possible to the official rules, many additions and updates have been made to better match the latest Living Rulebook edition, used in all official board games official tournaments.

That all sounds great… except for the fact that there’s no mention of improved single player AI. Without that it won’t matter how many races you put in the game. Hopefully as the year goes by, and we start to hear more, there will be some encouraging chatter on that front.