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  • Wrath of the Dragon God

    Posted on October 8th, 2005 admin 1 comment

    I just watched (most of) the Sci-Fi Channel’s new Dungeons and Dragons movie, Wrath of the Dragon God. The first movie to carry the Dungeons and Dragons name was barely survivable, even by first powering up like a Super Saiyan, and its only redeeming feature was a cameo by Tom Baker. This movie was a good sight better, though it was still obviously built around the concept of putting a 17th-level adventure on camera. After seeing illustrations in the opening credits lifted directly from the Monster Manual (the Devourer and the Kraken, I believe) and the poor high-level mage fail at an attempt at multiclassing as a cleric without selecting a patron diety (and multiclassing is almost never beneficial for high-level casters), I found that the easy way through this film for a hardcore geek was to get out the books and track all the direct spell names and other references. References to Jubilex, Obad-Hai, the Ghost Tower of Inverness, and the Barrier Peaks put this story somewhere in Oerth (Greyhawk for all those who don’t care for it).

    The commercials featured the first TV ads for the D&D game I’ve ever seen, a nice break from the endless barrage from Earthlink and HP. I would rewrite the three rules ad (1. Never split the party 2. Keep the cleric alive 3. Always check for traps) as follows to address some major mistakes I saw characters make as follows:
    1. Never summon a MAGMIN in a LIBRARY.
    2. Don’t read books in the bath.
    3. Don’t send your pigeon familiar to trigger traps.

    The writers of this movie at least allowed the heroes to contribute to the victory at the end, unlike the first one which ended in a mess of deus ex machina. I felt that, to redeem themselves from having done something right, they’d at least have to True Resurrect the fallen at the end, and one shot suggested this might be so.
    Overall… I’ll go with somewhere between Strictly Average and Top of Average.

  • All the cards on the table: Xbox360 vs. PS3 vs. Revolution

    Posted on October 7th, 2005 Finster 5 comments

    UPDATE: I’ve tried to get this as up to date as I could since the months following E3. Surprisingly little has changed in the past few months from what was announced at E3.

    I’m still absorbing all the E3 coverage of the next-gen consoles. The mind-numbing technologies being implemented in some of these machines is truly amazing. 2.18 Teraflops? Holy crap, Sony. Calm yourselves down. So, let me break down my impressions right now.

    If I could buy only one console in the next generation, which would it be?

    Here’s all the info I have gleaned so far. I’ll fill in more details as I get them. (factual and rumored)

    Generation Consoles




    (mostly rumor)

    Vendor-claimed "Power Factor"

    10-13 times more powerful than Xbox

    35 times more powerful than PS2

    2-3 times more powerful than Gamecube

    Backwards Compatibility

    Requires software emulation for each title. MS will
    support popular titles.

    With PS2

    Gamecube and N64, SNES, NES games available through online

    CPU: Core

    3 IBM PowerPC-based 3.2 GHz cores

    1 IBM PowerPC-based 3.2 GHz Cell Processor.
    This includes 1 PPE and 7 functional SPE’s

    2 1.8 GHz CPU’s (Not 1 CPU with 2 cores)

    CPU: L2 cache

    1 MB

    512 kB
    Each SPE has 256 kB

    512 kB

    CPU: flops

    1 Teraflop

    2.18 Teraflops


    CPU: FSB

    1000 MHz

    800 MHz

    1200 MHz

    System RAM

    512 MB of 700 MHz GDDR3 RAM (Accessible to GPU as well)

    256MB XDR system RAM at 3.2 GHz

    128 MB 1T SRAM


    ATI Custom

    nVidia RSX

    ATI "Hollywood":
    600 MHz GPU

    GPU: Graphics RAM

    10 MB Embedded DRAM

    Full access to 512MB system RAM

    256MB GDDR VRAM at 700MHz

    256MB VRAM & 12 MB Embedded DRAM

    GPU: Polygon Performance

    500 million triangles per second



    GPU: Shader Performance

    48 billion shader operations per second

    100 billion shader operations per second


    GPU: Pixel Fill Rate

    16 gigasamples per second fill rate using 4x MSAA




    720p standard, up to 1080i

    up to 1080p

    No HD support

    Memory Bandwidth: CPU<=>Bus

    21.6 GB/s



    Memory Bandwidth: RAM<=>Bus

    22.4 GB/s

    25.6 GB/s


    Memory Bandwidth: RAM<=>VRAM

    22.4GB/s (Read Anandtech
    for the truth about MS’s 256 GB/s)



    Memory Bandwidth: CPU<=>GPU


    35 GB/s (20GB/s read, 10GB/s write)


    Storage: HDD

    20 GB optional
    Detachable/Upgradable 2.5"

    Detachable/Upgradable 2.5" HDD


    Storage: Optical


    Blu-Ray BD-ROM

    6 GB Dual Layer Panasonic Discs (Proprietary?)

    Storage: Solid State

    Starting at 64 MB

    Memory Stick,
    SD, and CompactFlash

    512 MB of internal Flash ROM
    SD slots

    IO: Controllers

    up to 4 wireless

    up to 7 bluetooth

    up to 4 wireless

    IO: Ports

    3 USB 2.0

    6 USB 2.0

    2 USB 2.0

    IO: Networking

    100 Mb Ethernet

    Gigabit(?) Ethernet
    802.11g wi-fi
    Bluetooth 2.0

    802.11 wi-fi

  • J Allard: Marketing Personified

    Posted on October 6th, 2005 Finster 2 comments

    This whole hard drive thing, and Microsoft’s attitude about it is really irking me. It was a stupid idea to make the hard drive optional. That’s all there is to it. So, Edge Magazine posted some interview responses and I’d like to take a moment to comment on them.

    When asked if it’s possible that developers had been let down by making the hard drive optional, Homey J Allard replied with:

    I don’t know who we’ve let down. There isn’t a game on 360 that you can’t play without a hard drive, so I think that’s a good thing for consumers. We’ve made a commitment to broadening the audience, and while I think most of our energy here at X05 is about the hardcore, over time we’re really setting the stage for making this a bigger category for everybody. So from the developer point of view you have the best tools and the commitment of the most well-resourced company in the world going worldwide with this product and saying that we want to grow the audience. So that seems like a win for developers – I’m not sure who’s supposed to be disappointed.

    Okay, there’s a TON of marketing weasel speak in here (Homey J Allard’s primary language apparently), so let’s break this down and see if we can make sense of it…
    Read the rest of this entry »

  • The Saga of the Ninja Gaiden Of the 2nd Chapter

    Posted on October 6th, 2005 Finster 1 comment

    I defeated numb chuck guy. I found out that the dodging maneuver is your friend. Now, I’ve progressed to the evil horse guy boss. My favorite part of the game so far is when the evil horse guy spears you through with his giant spear-thing and then he kind of drags you around and you can do nothing except watch your life meter dwindle to nothing. When I say nothing, I mean NOTHING. Forget about hitting the start button so that you can imbibe a life-giving elixir, because you can’t do that here.

    If anyone out there thinks this game is fun, and I understand that many do, please enlighten me. Why am I not finding this game fun? Mind you, I will keep playing it. BECAUSE I SWEAR I WILL BEAT THIS GAME NO MATTER WHAT! Just as soon as I can find the time and my wife stops playing it.

  • The pursuit of liquid refreshment

    Posted on October 6th, 2005 admin 3 comments

    Today Fresca was holding a promotion on campus. Free Fresca is not something I’m going to pass someone up on, so I saunter over. To my surprise, there are two new varieties of Fresca… Peach and Black Cherry. I was familiar with their logo change some weeks ago at least, but these new ones had escaped my attention.

    A few words on these new flavors:

    Peach is peach, It tastes as peach mixed in to Fresca, while interesting, and still good, it isn’t something I’ll be drinking a lot.

    Black Cherry is incredible. The flavors mix wonderfully. From one can of it, I have no recourse but to place it in the same realms as I hold Fresca. A lofty achievement. Normally when Iry something new and interesting it takes a while to grow on me. This, on the other hand, is like the first time I mixed Raspberry & Cream cheese ice cream with English Toffee ice cream in a shake. An instant hit to my tastebuds, and something I return to because it’s unique flavor is something truly impressive.

    I am again reminded that I want an American company to bottle ginger beer, just so I can buy it for less than $1.70+tax a can. The same 12oz bottle for $1 as what I can get for birch beer would be excellent.

  • Ninja Gaiden Black: An exercise in frustration

    Posted on October 5th, 2005 Finster 3 comments

    Ninja Gaiden on Xbox is a superbly crafted game that supplies hours of action and fun.

    At least… that’s what I hear. I have a problem. I can’t beat the first boss on Ninja Gaiden. The big guy with “numb chucks” (as Napoleon Dynamite would say). I got him about 1/3 down after I had spent all of my elixirs and used my reincarnation scroll.

    Ninja Gaiden is HARD. I’ve always been an RPG or FPS player, and 3rd-person games typically drive me absolutely bats in the belfrey looney nutso. I have yet to play any 3rd-person game where the camera doesn’t totally screw things up on a consistent basis. Ninja Gaiden Black still has an annoying camera, but at least it’s fun. However, I keep getting the nagging suspicion that when I’m trapped in a room fighting endless waves (3 at a time, mind you) of brown ninjas, that I should be able to somehow avoid getting hit by one of the ninjas while I beat the other 2 into submission. I want to turn my ninjaizer up to “Puree”, if you don’t mind.

    No. Not in this game. This game has strange conventions where if you start a swing with your sword, it’s insanely hard to stop that swing, turn around and take a swipe at the ninja that just jumped over your head. Oh, wait… maybe that’s semi-realistic.

    Anyway, I’m no stranger to difficult games. I’ll prove it: I finished Panzer Dragoon ORTA on hard. Oh, and I also think that Ikaruga is delightfully fun. See? I can appreciate difficult games. But this Ninja Gaiden nonsense is killing me.

    I borrowed the original Ninja Gaiden from a friend and gave up on it after I don’t know how many hours of trying to beat numb chuck guy.

    I want to really have fun with Ninja Gaiden Black, but numb chuck guy is totally thwarting me.

    Maybe I need more illegal ninja moves from the government.

  • Bioware Announces Mass Effect for Xbox 360

    Posted on October 4th, 2005 Finster 1 comment

    Mass Effect is a sci-fi action RPG. That’s all I know right now.

    Watching the trailer…

    Hmm. Pretty cliche, so far. Mankind among the stars, they have to fight for their place amongst other galactic civilizations. No gameplay, looks like mostly cutscene material. The graphics look… nice, but even on the Xbox, pre-rendered cutscenes can look great.

    I’m more concerned about the gameplay. When Bioware says “Action RPG,” I tend to think of Jade Empire. That’s not really a bad thing, but if Jade Empire’s story hadn’t been absolutely top-notch, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. On the other hand, if this turns out to be the next incarnation of a System Shock 2/Deus Ex-like First Person RPG, then COUNT ME IN!

    Browsing through the marketing-riffic Mass Effect website…

    Bioware is referring to its NPC’s as “digital actors.” Fascinating. I guess that is supposed to mean something to me. Perhaps the Xbox 360 will rematerialize actors right into my living room, a la Tron. Sweet.

    Seriously, though. This announcement is rather exciting. I’ve liked pretty much every game Bioware has ever produced, and I see no reason to expect otherwise with Mass Effect.


    Posted on October 4th, 2005 Finster No comments

    It is not April Fools’ Day.

    And this is not a joke.

    My day?


  • I smell something burning

    Posted on October 4th, 2005 Finster No comments

    Oh, that’s just the smell of my new computer contemplating running Quake 4, which incidentally has gone gold. Expect to see it released on Oct 14th.

    There, there computer, it’ll be okay.

  • Love Joss Whedon?

    Posted on October 4th, 2005 Finster No comments

    Yes. Yes, I do.

    Google’s ads are sometimes eerily intelligent in the questions they might pose.