Wii thoughts

Yeah. I dig it. I think Nintendo did a lot of things right. I’m a little busy so I haven’t played much of anything and the only two games I have (aside from GameCube games) are Wii Sports and Metal Slug Anthology…which were the first two I wanted anyway, really. I like the soothing music, I like the Forecast and News channels. I like the accuracy of the Wiimote. I like the fact that anybody can pick it up and not feel like an outsider. I feel like I’ve barely used it — a little Resident Evil 4 has been played, which was a Christmas gift from Kat, since I never played it when it came out — and I don’t have any of the high profile Wii titles yet. But that’s cool. I’m glad I have it, and hopefully I will have friends who will eventually input the goddamned friend code I sent them.

There goes my Vegas virginity

I’d been to Las Vegas before on business but rarely done anything cool or vaguely scandalous. Some years back I played a little blackjack at the Showboat (so off the strip, you might not know the strip existed) and was so nervous and clueless that I didn’t enjoy it. I’d gone to a nice dinner at a steakhouse once on a biz trip, and gone swimming once with Kat. Most of time I’ve been there for meetings or conferences or trade shows and I was just focused on business.

Midway had an event this week and I went to get the scoop on their upcoming games. After the demos and the parties, I went to the Luxor to finally play poker for real. My local card room is a little expensive for my tastes ($3/$6, which means you kind of have to buy in for $100 to be competitive) and both times I’ve gone, I didn’t enjoy it at all. I was assured that Vegas was more relaxed, more fun, and more drunk.

All in all, it was good. I did not come out ahead. In fact, I was $100 down after two $50 buy-ins, and with the second one, I was all-in and pulled a straight to win a $40 pot, which kept me playing for a good while longer. But I enjoyed playing poker in Vegas for several hours, so I know I was buying the experience more than anything. That win just bought me more time.

I saw the kind of play I expected on a low-stakes table ($1/$2 limit), which is to say “reckless and hoping to catch a card on the river, which happened to me once and everybody else a lot.” I mean, I can’t complain because at low stakes, some people literally play any two cards and see what happens. Tonight, they won a lot — lots of unsuited, disconnected cards took the pot. One of the Mandalay Bay employees said he felt 60-70% of limit games were decided on the river, and that held up at our table. And like I said, some of the play was just horrible so you find yourself going “You’re kidding, THAT won?” But again, that’s poker, and lousy play/crappy cards being rewarded sometimes is part of the game. A lot can happen in seven cards.

The only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth is when a few side conversations were struck up in Spanish. I don’t mean that to sound xenophobic, but I’ve read a book or two on poker cheating at casinos, and collusion is the number one way to cheat. Speaking in a different language is the easiest way to do that. Mandalay Bay’s rules actually explicitly prohibit table conversations in any language but English for just that reason…but I wasn’t playing there. So when these chats en Espanol showed up at my table at the Luxor and were not addressed for a very long time, I did get a little put off. I kind of stayed around longer because I wanted to take some of their possibly-ill-gotten chips, so I might have quit a little earlier if the rule had been handed down. Then again, maybe not. And maybe it’s not a rule at the Luxor, but the third or fourth dealer in did finally say something, so I have to believe it’s common across all the casinos. It didn’t help that one of the Spanish-speaking guys said “Talk, talk!” when I casually struck up a conversation with other people. And then he changes his seat to be right next to his buddy? It all just seemed suspicious.

That said, my mistakes were still my own, and many times I simply didn’t have the cards when someone else did. I was victim to a lot of overcards. I played pretty smart overall, though I did chase a few things I shouldn’t have, and I probably was not aggressive enough (or consistently aggressive). In the end, it was $100 of education. I’d do it again. But when I do, I’m gonna bust out some Latin or something.

Wii to the RSScue

I have been seeking a Wii since launch; didn’t line up, didn’t preorder. Figured if I was patient they would eventually come into stock and maybe one younger kid would have happier holiday since I hadn’t bought the one they wanted more. But after Christmas I set up an RSS reader on my desktop with links to XPBargains and RevolutionTracker, both of which reported on e-tailer stock as it got refilled. This is the first time I’ve used RSS for anything so it was kinda fun. Luckily, I happened to look at it at around quarter after 9 this morning to find that Amazon had some in stock. Vanilla units, too. No bundle, no ripoffs, and no shipping because I’m a member of Amazon Prime.

Assuming they’re really in stock and my order does not become instantly backordered, I should have it Thursdsay…when I’m away on business. Heh. Patience, grasshopper.

Mildly amusing Gears of War anecdote

Personally, I’m pretty anti-cheat codes, and I understand the value of strategy guides, but I don’t usually use them unless I’m really frustrated. I’m playing through Gears of War again (to boost my Gamerscore; I’d finished it twice on the debug and once on my other gamertag) and I’m trying to get all the COG tags along the way. I thought, “Gee, I should double-check that list I saw that had all the locations pointed out.” Then I thought, “No, that’s lame — don’t just follow someone’s instructions, figure it out yourself, earn that Achievement without help.”

Then I realized the list I was thinking about…was one I wrote.

The Taylor T5 has arrived

This is one of the nicest-playing, coolest-sounding, sweetest-looking, hardest-to-photograph guitars it’s ever been my pleasure to own. I tried to take some photos outside in the sunlight but all I got were reflections. Hopefully these shots that did come out will help show a little of why I’m so in love.

Yes. This was definitely worth selling three other guitars (even if they aren’t sold quite yet). Between this and the 410CE L1, I’m officially a Taylor whore.

RedOctane thinks you’re an idiot

This is the worst “interview” I’ve read in a long, long time. And GameDaily is partly to blame, but not as much as Dusty Welch at RedOctane, who has apparently mistaken his actual voice for that of a robotic press release generator.

How is it GameDaily’s partial fault? It looks like an e-mail interview. I have gotten burned on e-mail interviews in the past so I can sympathize (Stan Lee, by god, if I ever catch up with you…). E-nterviews come off feeling very dead, because some good questions were asked and there is no follow-up; it’s literally a list of Qs and a list of As that may or may not have any relevance or interconnectivity. And the “Thanks, Dusty” garbage at the end is appalling. It’s like we’re watching two people performing a high school play and they think nobody else knows it’s a high school play. So yeah, GameDaily plays along instead of calling bullshit, or reworking the content into something you might mistake for news reporting. There’s no filter here, no making sense of the data, no “um, this looks plastic, but we’re going to pass it along as we got it and let you decide” sense of TRUTH to the thing. But hey, it says “exclusive” and I know there’s always pressure online to get the info first. Even if it’s pathetic.

But really, it’s a Dusty Welch embarrassment parade here. Every robotic answer made me cringe — moreso because I genuinely like RedOctane, Neversoft, and Guitar Hero. But I hate it when people refuse to communicate like human beings. I expect press release quotes in press releases, not in personal interviews. If you are not ready to speak to the press about something this important, say nothing. Say “No comment.” Say “We’ll have a statement in a few weeks.” But don’t spool off a carefully worded press release, full of finely crafted, committee-approved PR speak, and expect the rest of the world to accept your sales pitch instead of an honest answer. We are smarter than this. And if you underestimate your audience (or just the public at large) this much, then it gets me thinking that maybe I’ve given you too much credit and respect.

Seriously, I’m disgusted. I’m angry and a little sick at just how blatant, insulting, and disrespectful this is.

Dusty Welch has a long list of successful Activision games to his credit; he clearly knows what he’s doing in other respects of his career. He’s good at marketing his products and I can respect that. But next time I see a quote from him…I can’t say I won’t filter my interpretation through this experience.

Ghostbusters on OXM Podcast

Most of you know about my Ghostbusters outfit/website/fetish. If not, here’s an embarassing photo.

It’s rare when my personal obsessions and professional duties converge, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen on tomorrow’s podcast. There’s some hot hot hot prototype footage of a Ghostbusters game that’s made the rounds, so we got one of the programmers from Zootfly on the digital phone to talk to us directly. I think this will be the first time anyone from the team is interviewed “live” and not just in email.

As usual, the podcast hits Friday, usually before noon Pacific. It’s at oxmpodcast.com or you can subscribe through iTunes. (And we give away prizes every week so you should be listening anyway.) I’m stoked to have a scoop for once.

The Swiss Army only offered a knife

It came from the TV:

“Call 1-800 984-ARMY now for a free DVD to learn about strengthening yourself and your community as a citizen and soldier in the US Army Reserve. You’ll also get a free sports watch.”

Wait…what?

After some heated phone calls, I got the Marines to counter-offer with free “Semper Hi-Fidelis” headphones.

My Crusade, she’s a-Burnin’

I was very pleased to come into work and find a copy of the WoW expansion sitting on my desk. Awesome! Even though I’m a 360 whore, I still have friends at Blizzard!

Figuring it would be a madhouse — and I like madhouses — I logged on tonight to be part of the launch scene. My server only went down once, and only for a few minutes, so props for that. I started a draenei paladin (say what you will, but I like the class so far) and really only felt weird when I saw this:

Yeah. I’m fighting a flower that is also a monster but is still a flower. I listened to what the flower people said, and they said “Im in ur base, killin ur d00dz.”

And all I could think of was Capcom Fighting Evolution, which so confused me when I reviewed it, I had to take a particularly head-scratchin’ screenshot and make a macro for it.

In any case, I’m not high enough level to enjoy BC’s really good bits — like flying mounts and stuff — but I did jump on the jewelcrafting bandwagon and I gave all the stuff from one of my other low-level characters to the new one. Then I will kill the previous one, which I haven’t played in a while and likely never would. Huzzah!