All you need is…

Every song in the Beatles catalog, lovingly stripped piecemeal and mashed-up with itself, courtesy of George Martin and his son Giles, now on CD. The excuse was the soundtrack for a Cirque du Soleil show, but any excuse is a good one. I particularly like the DVD-Audio mix, which is the first time the Beatles have shown up on DVD-A. Swoon.

WoW: Mounted

One of our Tgiving goals here at Chez Amrauch was to get our Alliance characters to 40 and buy mounts. Kat’s brother Ian graciously donated some gold; I had 75g when I hit 40, so I was close, but it certainly would have taken me another week or so at least, even if the auctions worked in my favor. Kat was even further behind so who knows when she would have broken the barrier. So I haven’t named the horse yet but she handles fine so far.

In any case, we both liked the same horse, which is typical, since our characters look alike too–same color hair, same face. Different clothes because I’m a rogue and she’s a priest, but still. My excuse is that I have a thing for redheads. Her excuse is that she is one.

Thanks…

…for my wife

…for the guitars

…for the job

…for the nice apartment

…for the cats

…for the cool toys

…for the creativity

…for my friends

I’m really not into the meal all that much. But I like taking a day to take stock and appreciate what I’ve got while I’ve got it.

A Guitar Hero milestone

I’m a big fan of Guitar Hero. I’m not a terribly good player; I finished the first game on Medium but I never even knew you could do hammer-ons and pull-offs.

So today I got Guitar Hero II, and I pulled 100% on a song I’d never heard before, on Medium.
OMG. I am proud.

How to solve the console launch problem

It’s another media maelstrom this week as two new consoles show up on store shelves: the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. I’m not getting either one at launch, which is new for me. I was one of those crazy people who got in line overnight for the PS2, the GameCube, the PSP, and the Xbox 360. I thought it was a fun social thing to do; I saw it as one of the few meatspace experiences a gamer could get. So much of gaming is about virtual worlds and online communities that I kind of wanted to be part of something physical, to meet and greet and hang out with other people who were this passionate, but in person.

The problem is that my Xbox 360 launch campout experience tainted me. It really was a sign of everything that’s wrong with the way game hardware is sold. And I’m not blaming Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo for this–they all want to make money, they’re all businesses, they all benefit from a big hoopla being made about their products on launch day. My problem is with the retailers. Because retailers are stupid. It’s that simple. They are not learning from the past, they are not paying attention to customer behavior, and they are not gamers. You would think that, out of all the employees working the counter at your average megamart, they would know something about how their customers act, what drives them, and how obsessive they are.

When I lined up for my PS2, I kept a diary. It was full of paranoia, fear, chaos, and rain. It was also six years ago. But what showed up when the PS3 launched? Same shit different day. You can just search YouTube to find evidence some of the huge lines. But you have to dig through the news reports to find people in line getting shot by BB guns – when they weren’t being shot with real bullets – plus an armed robbery, a thwarted smash-n-grab, and one jackass who is proud that he drugged his fellow linegoers so he could sell the PS3 on eBay. Yes, they were jerks, but they were jerks because they were paranoid and in an every-man-for-himself mentality. And since you’re turning around and selling it on eBay, you get no love from me.

But the big one that people have had fun with is the guy who slammed into a pole while sprinting to get one of 10 spots in line at Wal-Mart. Watch the video and listen to Wal-Mart’s corporate statement. This sums everything up.
Why are the retaliers so goddamned stupid? You idiots. You know it’s going to happen. You helped advertise to make it happen. Why are you never, ever prepared?

Why are retailers making people have footraces to buy products? Wristbands–use them. Create a system, franchise-wide, and use it. Post the rules in your store ahead of time; print up a flyer and hand it out whenever someone asks about the impending launch. Here’s a system off the top of my head: Choose a time when lines may form and give those people wristbands. Post a sign for everybody that comes late and let them know the system that you advertised ahead of time is already underway.

Why are so many lines left unattended, with consumers wondering what the truth is, how many are in stock, and what will really happen?? Hire two or three workers serious overtime to be official representatives and have them hang outside with everybody else. Give them the next day off. But hire them for a special shift so they can actually talk to your customers and tell them the truth.

Why do so many stories of waiting in line have the phrase “when the police/security arrived” two-thirds of the way down? Hire security. Tell them what’s going on. Let the local law enforcement know that you expect a line of people. Ask for their cooperation. Authority figures work in cases like this. They just have to show up!

The violence, the injuries, the bad press–it all comes from a lack of information. The scalping, that’s a question of rarity, and that is something the retailers cannot control. But they sure as hell can fix this problem, and to my mind, they’ve had six years’ warning. No excuses anymore

NIN (a bit late)

Happiness is finding exciting music on your iPod that you didn’t know you had. I tend to listen to the same things over and over again, for calming and concentration purposes, but somehow I found my way to With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails, which I got as a gift when it came out (legitimate gift and everything, not your average internet piracy gift) but never actually got around to listening to. I surprised myself by loving Broken after really disliking Pretty Hate Machine, and The Downward Spiral made me want to commit suicide then and there, so I don’t listen to that too much. So I drifted, but the first two tracks alone really grabbed me.

I am all excited about an album everybody else got into a year or two ago. Awesome!

I’m on MTV tomorrow

For those of you who haven’t seen me a while, apparently there’s a fleeting glimpse of me on camera on Monday night’s MTV special Gears of War: The Road to Launch. I was tapped for a few minutes of on-camera interview two weeks ago at a Gears press event because I did the review of the game for OXM. Today is Emergence Day–the day the game will be available at big retailers like Target and Wal-Mart in addition to EB and GameStop, who got it earlier in the week–so MTV’s quick with the follow-up. I don’t know what I look like on the show, but tune in at 8:30pm tomorrow night and tell me.

Why do I suck at Geometry Wars?

I’m a Robotron fanatic. I like a good game of Total Carnage. This twin joystick thing does not befuddle me. So why is everybody else a better player than I am? Seriously–I looked at my top 10 friends leaderboard and I’m simply not on it. Wat, Shoe, Will Smith, all near the top of the list with 600K. Then there’s tier two, where cracking 200K gets you noticed–Gabe, Rob Smith (twice, with two different gamertags), Gary Cribb, Norman Chan…these are my peeps. I should be among them. But no–I’m still stuck down in newbie hell, a year after this game came out. It was literally the first thing I bought on Xbox Live Marketplace–for me it was a killer app on launch day, since I never bought PGR2.

I need to stop sucking.