World of Apex

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Backorder blues (and why I hate drop shipping)

Remember those power issues I posted about earlier this month? Well, they're driving me crazier. So if the little voice in my head starts typing things, just ignore him.

I just want to [kill everyone] get rid of the power supply I have now and [beat someone's face in] replace it. I'm fairly sure that's what's causing my [homicidal tendencies] power fluxuations. Luckily, I purchased a nice X-Connect 500watt unit from Tigerdirect for a very good price. Unfortunately, it's on backorder until [I raise hell] further notice. At least once I do get it, after I [take out my rage on the innocent] give the old one the boot, maybe the problems will be fixed.

So, while I sit here [planning global destruction] waiting for that to come in, I'll bitch about not getting my laptop yet. Seriously people, it's been almost three weeks, and I've recieved *every* peice of the order *except* the laptop. The backpack, [nuclear warhead,] wireless mouse, and even [evil minions] the things for my parents' laptop. School [prison] starts Tuesday, and I'm going to be [psychotic] laptop-less probably all week.

Until then, I hope you'll [burn in hell] bear with my ranting, and [never sleep alone at night] let me voice my frustrations.

Ah, man do I feel better!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The joys of Gmod

I'll tell you what, there's nothing more fun than spending a few hours building random contraptions for completely stupid reasons with people who are building even more random contraptions for even dumber reasons. A massive slingshot made of a laundry cart and two dock posts you say? I'll one up your fridge-hurling elastic-powered hamper with a death melon launching catapult of doom! Stick some whirling saw blades to a Ferrari Enzo? Not bad, padawan, but my NPC-carrying, propane-tank firing scrap tank can squash it!

In an age of modern, open-ended games, Garry's Mod takes it one step further. I'm not even going to try to explain everything you can do with it, because if you don't know by now you're living under a dumpster. I'll suffice to say whether you're defending yourself with a group of buddies against unrelenting hordes of enemies, or trying to find the most over the top method of murdering a watermelon, Gmod is pure, senseless glee.

One of the main reasons it's become to limitless is the ability for a user to create their own custom content. In other words, you can mod a mod. From adding model packs including Lego bricks or the above mentioned sports car, more advanced minimods include controls for managing or manipulating NPCs or adding admin functions. One of my personal favorites is the Gravity Gloves mod, which replaces the clunky gravity gun with simply your hands. Star Wars jokes need not apply.

With version 8.4 on the horizon I really can't wait. Who knows what will spring from Gmod next?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dreamcast 2?

After springing the news of the Xbox 360's pre-order launch on my friends, we had a nice discussion about the system itself. Leaving aside the fact you will have to refinance, take out two loans at 20% interest and sell your children to afford it, we talked about it's impending doom as a console.

I'm not sure how many of you remember the Dreamcast, the short-lived predecessor to the PS2 which Sega put out about two years before Sony's launch. Sporting the biggest, baddest graphics around at the time, it launched at a snobbishly high price tag with few quality titles backing it. Eventually it fell out of the limelight with the PS2's triumph of the console market, and was pushed back to obscurity when the Xbox came out.

In other words, the Xbox 360 is coming out too far ahead of the pack (PS3 projected launch: 2007, Nintendo Revolution unknown), with technology that won't last (3 cores compared to 7, radically new video architecture that will likely be unsupported by anyone else), and few launch titles to back it up. Who cares about an RPG about a fairy, or *another* damn racing game? Give us something original and fun, not pure eye candy that screams "buy me, I look better than the other guy!"

I must also bring to attention that the console is white. Yes, white. Throughout history, no white console has fared well. From the Magnavox Odysee to the aforementioned Dreamcast, none of them have been successful. The Atari, Genesis, PS2 and Xbox were black, and the SNES and PSX were gray. Think about that one for a minute.

Conspiracy? Maybe. Doomed to fail? I think so. Either way, I see it as the first to cross the finish line but the first to die of a coronary during the celebration.

Let the console wars begin

Well, it's official. At least until they change it. Who's they? Microsoft of course! It seems the Xbox 360 is now up for preorder at The good part, at least if you think the system will be worth buying, is it will be coming out before Christmas. The bad part is the price tag.

I remember only a short while ago, people were ranting about the rumor of the Playstation 3's price rising to $500. Well, it looks like they've been beaten to it. Admittedly, there is a metric ton of tech there, but unless you're unimaginably wealthy or stupid you probably aren't going to shell out six Benjamins for a toy. Of course, this is a bundle, but what isn't sold in bundles these days?

That brings me to my next point. What's with the bundles recently? Everything is sold in bundles! From consoles to pre-built PCs, everything comes packed with pre-installed software, packed full of trials or demos, or thrown in with a pile of games and accessories you probably don't want, nonetheless need anyway. If I despise fighting and racing games, this "deal" is really a ripoff, because I'm getting two $50-60 games I don't want! Do I want a headset if I don't play online? No! A high-definition cable you say? Sorry, but I couldn't afford a couple thousand dollars for a new television to play it on! Between you and I, I would rather choose my own accessories and games, not have them chosen for me and waste my money.

My final point is the sudden rise in prices itself. Consoles from last decade cost $200-400 brand new. The PS2 and Xbox both sold new for about $400 (not in a bundle, mind you!). Suddenly the prices have risen? Does it have to do with the gas prices being higher or something? Who knows. The corporate mind changes more often than politician's promises. Maybe politicians and corporations have a lot more in common than people think?

We'll see what Sony has to offer. In light of recent events, Sony has fallen from public favor slightly, but maybe such a kick in the arse was just what they needed.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Try _after_ you buy

There's a phenomena sweeping the gaming world recently, or at least the gaming world inside the walls of my house. With the lack of console game demos (especially for big name titles that think they're so good they sell on name alone. And usually suck.), we've improvised a way to "try after you buy".

You see, the way it works is, you order a game from, and when you recieve it, play it for a day or two. If you don't like it, or it's so tragically short that you've beaten it in that time, take it back to a brick and mortar EB store. Give them a reason, or just tell them the game sucks and you want to return it, and you'll get credit/money back/a trade in.

Finally there's a way to prevent bad game investments and rock-bottom trade-in values!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chords and cords

I had an interesting conversation with a friend last night about music. I've discovered that while he's a good bit older than me, we're into the same music. I don't find that strange, because I listen to the same music my parents have always listened to: Classic rock.

Though society and pop culture seem to be moving in a very...urban...direction lately, I've been suprised to note alot of other people in my young age bracket who also enjoy Floyd, Skynyrd, Zeppelin, Tull and others. In an age of beat-boxing, bass-thumping jukeboxes on wheels in every neighborhood, where real musical instruments are being frowned upon, I'm starting to think they might soon dissapear for good. But knowing I'm not a lone rock'n'roll soldier in a new-school world really gives me hope that cheesy, lip-synching boy-bands are really gone for good, and wannabe pop divas are on their way out.

In other news, I'm beginning to think the wiring in our house is screwed up. My video card continually gives errors about low power, though there is no concequence from this that I can see. The errors are consistently random, and seem to effect anything from Word to Half Life 2. Maybe it's haunted. Yeah, I think there's the angered spirit of some boss I killed lurking in my circuitry, that has to be it.

*evil laughter echoes...*

Monday, August 15, 2005

Error: Success?

I just had a fun time reinstalling Windows XP. Again.

Why you ask? It corrupted itself. That's right, Windows Update installed Service Pack 2, and it corrupted Windows. Only in Windows would something that ironically stupid happen.

First I had to jump through some electrically charged, high-tension hoops to activate my copy of Windows after my drive exploded, which involved an excrutiating automated phone marathon followed by a foreign language lesson from India (which wasn't that bad, he spoke better American than most of us). I thought I was good to go there, and I'd express update SP2, install Visual Studio and be done with it. Hah. Never let a computer know you're in a hurry.

So anyhow, back to the point. I just had to share that little peice of humor.

The price is...uncertain?

Lately I've heard alot of buzz and whining about the possibility that the next-gen consoles might hike the price of games up. I've heard nothing but "Sixty bucks?! No way man!" for weeks. I've got a few things to say on the subject.

First of all, if you're already shelling out fifty per game, what's five or ten bucks extra? Sure, gas prices are through the roof (topic of a later post no doubt) and you have more than just games to spend you money on (hopefully), but with all of the deals you can get from various resellers, getting a game for today's prices shouldn't be difficult. Take a hit and trade in some of those old games you bought and later regretted, or go out on a limb and go eBaying.

Second of all, everyone complaining and making a big deal of it obviously hasn't been in the video game world long. I remember clearly about ten or twelve years ago buying Sega Genesis games that were *gasp!* $62.99! I still have a box with the Electronics Boutique price sticker on it, too. So it's been there, done that, and it certainly isn't a new trend.

Sylvester and Tweety, $62.99? (Picture taken myself)

Third of all, though there's little to no reason people can't pay it, the same applies to them charging it. For example, ESPN NFL 2K5 was sold for a wallet-pleasing $19.99. Why, you ask? No big fancy commercials, no ingame product placement, no super-fabulous box art. Is the cost really in the advertising? It must be, because as the saying goes, "the best products sell temselves", which is what happened in this case (and why EA bought the NFL license). Maybe everyone should take a hint from Sega/Take-Two. Make your games so good they sell themselves and quit spending so much on luring people into buying your sub-par games.

There is another reason behind the pricing though, that most people don't think about. Used games are a big market these days. Take a stroll into your neighborhood EB store and you'll see shelves of pre-played titles for discounted prices. The catch to used games is the company that made that game gets zilch from used sales. So the more used games people buy, the less money the company makes in the end, which might be just another reason why prices are getting the once-over.

I guess the real question here is, will you still pay it? The answer I believe is a resounding "Yes", since, well, gamers need games. This is especially true of the mainstream game market, which seems to have a flock mentality, so whatever a company makes, they'll buy. If no one takes a stand, nothing changes, and prices keep soaring (gasoline reference). Either that or warez will become mainstream (though they're making their way there anyhow).

So who will wake up first, the consumers who buy the overpriced titles, or the companies who sell them?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Exploding hard drives, communist plumbers and more

Ever seen a hard drive shatter? Neither have I, but I heard it, and boy did it sound nasty. I think if you dropped a medium sized nut into the enclosure it would give a similar effect, but you would be able to see it there.

On the bright side, I have a shiny new hard drive that has a Start menu shorter than my border collie's attention span, which is refreshing. I'd just like to add that you should never depend on a hard drive that's older than your oldest game. Of course, if you're like my friend Jeff over at Codejunkie, you can't hold yourself to that rule. So I'd suggest a four year limit or so, just to be safe.

The title also references an image a friend of mine had as his MSN icon, showing that our Italian plumber hero may have been a Soviet dictator. I'm not sure if any DNA evidence supports that comrade Stalin and Mario are related or in fact, the same person, but it's a striking resemblence:

Hmm...Comrade Mario?

Just look at the moustache...

That's about all for today, kids. Come back tomarrow when I actually post something interesting!