Presenting…Palette-Swap Ninja

So Jude and I got to talking, and then we got to laughing, and then we got to work. The result is a musical side project for video-game related parody songs under the name Palette-Swap Ninja. We have our own MySpace page but the songs are debuting exclusively on the OXM podcast. Our first track, a rework of the 1979 Rupert Holmes hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” that will only be even remotely amusing to people who know Viva Pinata, debuted this week as part of episode 58. I think it’s around 20 minutes into the show. Once it’s had a good run there, I’ll post it in full on MySpace so people can download it or link to it or what have you.

I like having an excuse to do this stuff. I’m hypercritical of anything I make, especially music, but this felt fun. My production skills are not so hot (they used to be good, when I was in college, but the tools are totally different now and I’ve done just enough to stay vaguely aware of what digital recording rigs should and can do) and we are just doing this for fun with the gear we have lying around our respective houses. In my case that’s an obscene amount of gear so it was finally nice to put it to some legitimate use. I know I’m spoiled, but when I hear a solo on record and think “That sounds like a Les Paul…I’ve got one of those, let me plug it in and see,” I find myself very grateful for what I’ve got.

Track #2 is already secretly underway in the Rainbow Dojo.

Egosurfing extreeeeeme

Kat is considering getting her own domain for business purposes — she’s an independent contractor/freelancer now, so it sort of makes sense to get her name as a domain, or her business name. We already have PlayRecordPaws.com for our indie professional ventures, and I was planning on splitting it into her stuff and my stuff. But, you know, if you are trying to establish yourself as your own brand, your name as the URL makes a certain amount of sense.

Alas, Katrin.com is already taken, apparently by a disposable paper company in Sweden. (The paper is disposable, not the company.) She’s a brand name there. Hell, Swedish readers may have already used Katrin Ultima Toilet 680 Plus and not even known it.

Curious, I looked up Dan.com and found it to be even more embarassing.

Mascot mash-up

The good news: Mario and Sonic will finally appear together in a video game!

The bad news: It’s an Olympic game.

“Mario and Sonic have been respectful rivals since the early days of video games,” remarked Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director and General Manager, Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd.. “In fact, for a long time they have been discussing the possibility of one day competing against each other. Now that they have been given the perfect opportunity to meet at the Olympic Games, we may finally learn who is actually faster, Mario or Sonic?”

Answer: Sonic.  Next question.

She’ll come around

Kat is one of the most patient women in the world. She has never demanded that I give up a hobby, never expected me to throw away my video games — she’s only asked me to think critically about what I use and what I need. Do I need as many guitars as I own? No. Would I like to trade up for less guitars of better quality? Sure, that makes sense. But we both have our holy grails; I’ve lately been taken with the idea of getting a mythical Moderne, which designer Kat thinks is hideously ugly:

Kat is not alone in thinking it’s hideously ugly, but that’s kind of one of the reasons I like it. I’ve also talked about getting an Explorer for many years, which is significantly less ugly simply because it’s more familiar, and Epiphone makes a nice reissue in korina (which I really want) for a few hundred bucks. But Kat — who owns several basses, all of which are blue, green, or blue-green — has her lust objects too…

[11:54] Katrin Auch: so this is my Explorer
[11:54] DanAmrich: $2500
[11:54] DanAmrich: OMG
[11:54] DanAmrich: I really thought it was like $800
[11:54] Katrin Auch: It is the wow bang
[11:54] DanAmrich: well if you sell three of your other applications, you can get it
[11:54] Katrin Auch: Print, web and video
[11:55] Katrin Auch: lol
[11:55] DanAmrich: My explorer is $500 new, btw
[11:55] DanAmrich: $1250 if I get a real Gibson used
[11:55] Katrin Auch: I sort of meant holy grail
[11:55] DanAmrich: Bad analogy then. It’s your Moderne…the thing you can never have
[11:56] DanAmrich: I can have an Explorer by stopping by Gelb tonight 🙂
[11:56] DanAmrich: Because the Explorer is not ugly
[11:56] Katrin Auch: oh, you can have it, but why would you want it
[11:56] DanAmrich: BECAUSE IT NEEDS MY LOVE
[11:56] Katrin Auch: no it doesn’t
[11:56] DanAmrich: Nobody else will take care of it, appreciate it for WHAT IT IS!
[11:56] DanAmrich: White korina!
[11:56] DanAmrich: It’s going through that awkward design phase
[11:56] Katrin Auch: some guitars are too broken for life; the best thing you can do for them is put them down
[11:57] DanAmrich: Noooooooooo
[11:57] Katrin Auch: it’s better for everyone this way
[11:57] DanAmrich: If they made it in teal, you’d come around
[11:57] Katrin Auch: no, no I wouldn’t
[11:57] DanAmrich: If Kate Bush used one to do a cover of Indigo Girls songs, you’d come around
[11:58] Katrin Auch: no, no I wouldn’t

After 12 years of marriage, this is about as nasty as most of our “fights” get.

I think I just got pwned by Joystiq

The problem with sharing your geekiness with the world is that it sometimes comes back to bite you in the ass.

Imagine my horror when my friend Sean Molloy alerted me to an article on Joystiq where an old photo of me was used as the header.

“nbajamguy_t6.jpg” indeed.

The original version is on my Halloween page (which I’ve just realized I did not update with 2006’s costume).

I was excessively proud of that NBA Jam outfit. There were no armholes, for authenticity. The joystick and buttons were real. I even put a quarter up on the control panel.

My lawyers will be contacting Joystiq shortly.

I will now fix the review score problem.

Ratings systems in videogames are a constant source of controversy. Every outlet uses a different scale — 100 points, a 10-scale with halves, five stars, you name it. And no matter which score you use, someone’s going to find fault because your score doesn’t match the score in their head.

Recently OXM took some heat for giving Crackdown a 7 out of 10. OMG WE HATED IT, said the readers. But when OXM gives a first-party game an 8 or above, OMG THEY R TEH BIAS.

So. After careful consideration, here’s the answer:

All games get one of two scores: 7 or 8. As already determined by the audience, 7 means the reviewer hated it. An 8 means the reviewer loved it. There will be no complaining, no arguments about whether a stealth game that gets a 9.8 is actually superior to a shooter game that gets a 9.9. You get a 7 or an 8.

When you think about it, every reader faces the same decision anyway: Is this a game I want to play or not? The intensity of the desire to play doesn’t factor in; it’s either fun for you or not. It’s either your kind of game or it isn’t. You either care to play it or you don’t care to play it.It’s a very personal but extremely binary decision at its core. Pull out your wallet and tell me it’s different: It’s worth your money or it’s not worth your money.

The rest is just lunatic ravings and nitpicking. When I see someone debating the difference between a 6.7 and a 6.8 — or even a 7.0 and a 6.5 — I realize it’s just people using someone else’s arbitrary scoring system to “prove” their opinion is the “right” one. They will keep looking around until they find a score that matches. This completely circumvents the nobler purposes of artistic critique, but then again, so does GameRankings. And people like GameRankings, because it turns most scores into a mushy pulp of easily digestible 7s and 8s.

That said, I’m intensely bothered by the fact that 7 is considered “bad” when it’s still “above average.” I am assuming that the rest of the world believes that 5 is “average” on a 1-to-10 scale, which is, I hate to point out, mathematically correct. But we’ve gotten seduced into thinking that anything less than a 7 is a negative score, and although it clearly goes against all logic, it’s constantly reinforced by the audience, and the audience has the last word. That a game like Crackdown can be given a 7 (and justified with the review text as to why) and therefore thought of as “bad” is, well, terrifying.

So, no more fooling around. If you can’t handle the freedom of gradiations of scores, away that freedom goes! Everybody uses the same system: 7 or 8. It tells you everything you need to know and it uses the numbers that are most commonly in use today anyway, the ones people seem to get really upset about.

WoWeekend

Spent most of my time in World of Warcraft Saturday and Sunday. Among the highlights:

– My first PvP kill. Kat, Jude, and I were out minding our own, taking down bears and mountain lions when an Alliance guy over 10 levels higher than us came over and tried to provoke us. Like, stood in the middle of the corpses we were skinning, hoping we might accidentally click on him and thereby give him permission to hit back. We ignored him, until a fourth person around our level came over and decided to take his challenge. So, boom — we all turned on him and kicked his ass. He came right back to life and housed us because I didn’t realize how close his graveyard was. But still, for that fleeting moment, it felt good.

– Saw a player named Goldeelox being chased by a bear.

– Found two really useful websites that I didn’t know about before: WoWWiki, which just explains all the basic stuff that I should know about character progression, learning professions, and various other -essions; and wowecon, an auction house price database. Now that I’m getting up to making the good items as a leatherworker and a blacksmith, I try to play the market smart without ripping people off. That site’s going to help immensely.

I have too many alts. I get them up to 25 or so and then never get to enjoy the higher level aspects of the game. Inevitably we want to see how some other class plays. At the moment I’m leveling a Blood Elf rogue:

WoW Kimzey

Artsy fartsy

I have been too lazy to figure out any of the advanced features of my blog. I like using existing plugins and leaving it at that. I upgraded my WordPress install today and in so doing learned some of the really, really easy things (like CHMOD 666) that I should have known before, which will make things easier.

And one of the things I’ve wanted to do but couldn’t be bothered to figure out was rotated pictures of my past and present guitars (and Kat’s basses) as the blog’s header. K2 makes this alarmingly easy now.

Extra challenge: One instrument appears in two different colors because it was refinished. Spot it.

Basketball Jones

For years I have talked about playing basketball on a regular basis. I am short, white, and have no skills. My depth perception? Not so good. Perhaps you’ve noticed that one eye saunters off at a rakish tilt. I am every coach’s dream.

But that didn’t stop me from suggesting the WBBL — the White-Boy Basketball League. No skills are required; I just want to get together with friends and run around and get a little exercise. Back at GamePro, they used to reimburse you for $100 of fitness equipment. One year I bought a sweet pair of And 1s. They’re like this but in royal blue. These shoes were bought for a purpose and they would serve that purpose. I swore I would not wear them unless I was playing basketball, per the plan.

That was at least about five years ago.

Today, they came out to play. Chris and Ryan and Ken from work had much the same plan, but not the same shoes. Chris found a nice new local court in Brisbane, which is five minutes from the office. It was a success. It felt good. It hurt. It was about time. I even made a basket or two.