"In 2003, scientists at Paignton Zoo and the University of Plymouth, in Devon in England reported that they had left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Sulawesi Crested Macaques for a month; not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages consisting largely of the letter S, they started by attacking the keyboard with a stone, and continued by urinating and defecating on it." - Wikipedia.com, Infinite Monkey Theorem

Friday, January 05, 2007

Prosit Neujahr!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good New Year's Eve, Christmas, Remembrance Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Labor Day. My excuse has been little more than having nothing to post about, as well as general laziness. Here's hoping that a new year will bring a whole new opportunity to consider posting while not actually doing so, and just being generally useless!

While this is a short update at the encouragement of my cohort, Mr. Lilwall, I'll try to get some more relevant items up on the blog in the coming weeks. Until then, I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and probably Mother's Day.

Fuck upside-down Christmas trees.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Rebirth, a Death, and a Crotch-shot

I've been looking for an apposite topic to come along to impel me to dig deep into the earth and yank this simian site out of the grave and back to life, like a euthunised chicken.

Now, there obviously has been a lot of earth-shattering news in the past little while. (With a little bit of air-time and ink wasted on the day's minor stories and "news.")

But, when this news tidbit found it's way into my mailbox, it seemed right to revitilize 10K Monkeys with a bit of sobering news.

R.I.P Mr. Barbera. You will be missed.

For those that are interested, Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of all the work that Hanna-Barbera did together. The usual suspects are of course there, but there are a few surprises that I didn't know the two animation masters had their hands in. (Like Pirates of Dark Water, which helped foster my childhood love of pirates and pathological fear of living, malicious water.)

So, I leave you with this, good friends.

Sneak preview: I'm going to see if I can get this other primates posting again. I think I can get Kendrick riled up about something.



Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Beware: may cause interdimensional radioactive monster-causing creature to appear..."

So it would appear that, for the next 12 months, Xbox 360 is the only place you'll be able to play a decent game of futball (or soccer, for you north Americans. Of which I am one).

Now, before I continue, I will concede that neither Fifa '07 or Winning Eleven were announced for the PS3 or Nintendo Wii, so a part of this is probably Microsoft's spin. That being said, this is still a pretty big deal, in my opinion, at least as it relates to those consoles. For one, EA wouldn't just "decided" not to release a copy of one of their staple franchises on two next-gen consoles--or one next-gen, one new-gen, if you prefer--for no particular reason. One reason could be because Microsoft through heaps of gold coins at them in bags marked with dollar signs. It's very likely, and a smart move on their part. They know they can't beat Nintendo and Sony in Japan, so they try to tighten their grip on the North American and (more so) European markets.

Then again, I think the length of this deals exclusivity is a bit more telling. For one, this is not the first multi-platform release that has been held back a year on the PS3. Could it be a sign that EA isn't quite sure about the PS3 and Wii? Perhaps they're unsure of the financial viability of rushing development for the two consoles at launch, considering the increasing development costs. Could also be a sign that the PS3 is indeed more difficult to program for than the other consoles, which developers have been whispering? Either are likely. In any case, this is a win for Microsoft, no matter how big or small.

God I love speculation.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You know, over the last couple years I've tried to ignore the argument that PC Gaming is dead, or dying. I don't really buy it. People look at NTP numbers and think, "1-2% fluctuation in sales? PC gaming is over!". Over the last couple of weeks, however, there have been a couple claims, that really piss me off to the point that I must break my silence on the subject.

Now, I can understand why Michael Russell may say what he said. I mean, his game did not do anywhere near the kind of sales they were hoping, and considering it wasn't all that great to begin with, I'm betting he wanted to come up with a decent excuse for its failure. So sure, blame piracy, it works for the music business (see: sarcasm). But ID? What possible reason could ID have for making this argument? Doom 3 was one of the highest grossing games in 2004. What good are you doing to the PC community when you and your fellow developers are telling us that our platform is dying...because of us?

I think it's time we looked at a few facts. First of all, PC gaming is not the only place in the industry where piracy exists. I could go to China Town right now with $30CND in hand, and mod my PS2. Then I can go, rent a game--oh, lets say Okami, since it looks awesome--for about $5, burn it on a DVD, and be on my mary way of owning playing as many PS2 games as I like for about 10% of the retail price. Not to mention, since there are more consoles per house than gaming PC's these days, how many of those do you figure have been modded? You think maybe, just maybe, console gamers are just as bad for piracy as PC gamers are?

Secondly, PC game sales over the years have always been stable, if not marginally increasing. In terms of growth, online sales and microtransactions have completely transformed the way the PC market works. For one, MMO's are a huge cash cow. With 6 million players, I really doubt Blizzard is having a hard time racking in the dough. Direct to Drive formats like Steam, and EA's "Download", have also been able to generate plenty of sales without hurting the retail market. And if you want to talk about the games themselves, you don't really need to look further than Spore to see the ingenuity of PC games--though, if you want to look further, there's always Oblivion, Gothic 3, Dawn of War, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Galactic Civilizations, Civ IV....you get the picture?

That's not to say that PC gaming is in perfect stability. There's are a few reasons that PC gaming hasn't been able to garner the kind of sales that the console market does. Sure, piracy is a factor. I never said it wasn't. But there are other, much bigger factors at work here. Lets consider the fact that there are fewer developers willing to work on PC games than console games--at least ones that aren't doing multiplatform. If you look at the sales stats over the last two years, you'd see that there were way more console games released than PC games--though the PC games, like Half-Life 2 and Doom 3, were the more anticipated games. Or how bout the fact that retailers don't give a shit about pc games--I should know, I work for one. Have you been to an EB Games lately? The pc section is tiny, and usually in a dark corner with small movement space. So tell me, how can a platform defend itself when both retailers and developers are completely ignoring the market?

It really makes me shake my head when a company like ID, whose roots are deep in PC gaming, tries to make a case for the toe-tagging of the PC market. Way to help the cause.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"...So would Mel Gibson think that Microsoft was like the Jews of the tech industry?"

So it would appear that Ziff Davis--the publishing house that owns 1up and it's accompanying magazines--has announced an "integrated media
collaboration" with Microsoft to rename Computer Gaming World(CGW) magazine. The magazine will stop production and will return in the fall as Games for Windows--presumably to be the voice of Microsoft's crusade to bring PC gaming back onto it's rightful thrown.

It doesn't entirely surprise me, considering Ziff Davis has been reported to have been scouting for buyers for its assets. I guess CGW was the first to go.
CGW Editor-in-Chief Jeff Green clarified the change in a posting on the CGW message boards"

The bottom line, however, is that this is a GOOD thing. We will all miss the "CGW" name...we are going to be the same staff, writing the same articles, with the same point of view...Microsoft has NO say over our editorial content, and, in fact, it's part of the legally binding contract that they not interfere. So it's not even just a gentleman's agreement -- it's a legal reality...Microsoft is seriously upping their commitment to PC gaming. That's a good thing. And do I mind being a part of that? I do not. Not at all. And when they fuck up, we're gonna be right there, calling them on it. I promise.

If it was any other group of people, I'd probably call bullshit. But if there's any group to put faith it, it's 1up. Well, them and PC Gamer. But I do wonder if this is any indication as to what direction the other magazines will go in. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Do I hate it? Nah. Am I a little concerned? Sure. But only time will tell.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Paving over the road to Mecca

Earlier today, I received some news that made me die a little inside. Seriously, that's not a dramatization. If gaming was a religion--which is technically could be--E3 would be its Mecca. Gamers from all across the globe made the trek to LA, in order to catch a glimpse, take a peak, and be graced by the presence of gaming genius. They would cram into a small auditorium, packing it so tight that you could barely move, and become a part of the craziness. It was my dream to, one day, be a part of that craziness; to make that trek, and find myself amongst the masses of sweaty gamers with calloused thumbs. Today, that dream died.

Ok, so that was a dramatization.

I guess it makes sense. I mean, over the years, journalists and publishers alike have become increasingly bitter and jaded towards the whole affair. I guess after doing it over and over every year, the novelty of it dies. Realistically, E3 hasn't been healthy for the industry in a very long time. The whole community seems to stop entirely before and after the thing, with a massive rush of information in a three-day span in between--kind of like the speed up of events after massive lag. The cost of doing business has also increased dramatically for everyone involved, which means setting up events/booths/tech demos has become alot more expensive and even more time consuming. I'm not sure I agree with the idea that it takes away from development time for game publishers--anyone who watched the PS3 press event this year can attest to the fallacy in that argument--but it definitely puts a lot of pressure on them to perform with what they really may not have. It also potentially means a more consistent stream of news year round, though I'll wait to see if that actually happens; I'm extremely skeptical.

But who gives a shit about realism? This was my dream, damn it!

Yeah, that's right, I said it. E3 was my dream. It may be shady, but I didn't care if I had to do the "friend-of-a-friend-who-works-at-EB" thing. The road to Mecca was my destined path, and suddenly it's like it no longer exists. The defining moment for thousands of gamers, that "first time" that no one but us would understand, is suddenly...gone. It's a generation split really. Those who have been, and those who will never be. The latter is where I now sit--which sucks, since I was supposed to go this year.

The penny-pinching from publishers and developers means that, at least in the near future, it will become less of a trade show than more of one. Instead of turning it into something like Comi-Con, and charging people for admission, booths, and closed-door demonstrations, it's becoming what it was originally intended to be: an industry event for industry insiders. Though I find this kind of ironic, because gaming has and always should be about the gamers, not just the gaming "industry". What was once an opportunity for up-and-coming journalists/designers to become part of the elite and test their metal, has now become another isolated event in a line of events designed to keep the John Q. Gamer out, and only let in those who are worthy--in other words, pay them enough.

Then again, who knows. It'll be a few months before any tangible details are revealed. It still hurts though. A lot.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Well, excuse me while I toot my own horn. Not like anyone else'll do it for me!"

So I am now the second person I know that has been featured on Google News. Unfortunately for me, I was not told of this until a few days later, so I have no visual evidence. But it happened, I tells ya! My Prey review for the Gateway was featured on the front page of Google News, for some undeserved reason. But I'll take any recognition I can get. It got me a bunch of hits on the Gateway site, so it's a good start.

Though, lately I've become very frustrated by the idea of being "in the know." Gaming is a harsh mistress to be taken seriously in, for the simple fact that you always have to be searching, reading, commenting, making sure your voice is heard. You make it your goal to have your questions be "Question of the Week" on whatever podcast/website/magazine you read/listen to. You can never sound stupid; you can never ask questions you don't already know the answer to. Message boards are key. If you don't sound smart, you're a "noob" and no one takes you seriously. I actually had someone say to me, "You don't read fucking Famitsu!?" like it's some sort of crime, or makes me any less credible a candidate for writing about the coveted industry that no one outside our circle really gives a shit about.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not so jaded/lazy as to stop keeping track, paying attention. My friend Jin, who's an aspiring music producer, said to me, "If it's truly your passion, it shouldn't feel like work." And for the most part, it doesn't. But I can't help feel out of my element. Maybe it's because I've only recently begun to take this whole thing seriously; to consider it a viable career path. I just don't like the idea that someone thinks their better than me because they have more entries on a message board; or that I feel less knowledgeable than the guy who has more entries on a message board than I do. But, hey, I guess I'm taking a step in the right direction.