Gamer’s Hangover News Report 08.04.03

“Kansas City Chiefs: Come See A Priest Run Wild — Without All The Catholic Guilt.'” — Eric Immerman, ESPN.com’s Page 2.

Quasi-random thoughts:

After seeing VH1’s Ultimate Albums show on Nelly and the St. Lunatics, I’m thinking there needs to be some more additions for the next version of Def Jam Vendetta, even though they already ARE in NBA Street Vol. 2. . . . ahh, screw it. Put em in anyway. They need a stable.

F*** the Rat Pack. The George Clooney Ocean’s Eleven beats the hell out of the original, mostly because the cast of the remake was sober.

My buddy Cris’ ideas for what constitutes the Geek Triple Crown:
1. Admiral in any “official” Star Trek organization.
2. Spends more than 10 hours a week in comic book stores, if not working.
3. Works at the local Renaissance Faire/Festival.
I’m still taking suggestions, so feel free to opine.

I’m apparently older (29) than Scott Keith (28), and I’ll guaran-damn-TEE you that I’m better looking in a geek t-shirt. Not to brag, but I’ve actually gotten hit on while wearing my “Engineers aren’t born, they’re derived” t-shirt in the last three months.

To the staff of the Northrock Hollywood Video store: I’m sorry. I’ll have KOTOR back to you tonight. YOU try to play the whole damn thing in two weeks and see how well YOU do. You guys still rock.

Finally saw “Pirates of the Carribean.” Warning: Contains twice the legal limit of Jerry Bruckheimer.

I’m not getting backstage at the Smackdown house show, but I am getting into the VIP pre-show party, where I will (probably) meet Zach Gowan and Rey Mysterio Jr. Details will follow as they are released.

For the loyal readers: The first version of the Gamer’s Hangover FAQ:

Q: What the hell does “Gamer’s Hangover” mean?
A: A “gamer’s hangover” is the feeling of exhaustion (often times accompanied by headaches and/or nausea) one has after a weekend lived to the fullest playing video games. I, myself, don’t usually get to bed before 4 a.m. on the weekends, save for the nights Roni calls executive privilege, of course.

Since the column is on Mondays, and hardcore gamers have a sort of standard pattern of behavior, I thought I would acknowledge their pain, pain absorbed as cost for innocent pleasure. Besides, what is the fastest way to deal with a hangover, but with a little hair of the dog?

Q: What are your credentials? Or, more to the point, what the hell makes you think that you can hang with the rest of the 411 staff?

A: Well, if you’re talking about experience with games, here’s a list of gaming systems that I either own, owned, or were owned by close friends and/or relatives such that I could play them at will anyway:

– Atari’s home version of Pong (Powered by about a billion D-cell batteries)
– Atari 2600 (Air, Sea, Land was what convinced my folks that video games COULD be fun)
– Odyssey 2 (My folks opted for the Odyssey 2 over the Atari. Such is my life.)
– Atari 800 computer (Horribly underrated as a game machine)
– Commodore 64 (Ahh, the first time I ever played Summer Games.)
– NES (I’ve beaten Mike Tyson twice in my life, once by KO, once by decision.)
– Nintendo Game Boy (Witness my mad phat Tetris skilz.)
– Sega Genesis (First college football game I ever played, plus Mutant League sports)
– Commodore Amiga (Horribly underrated. Period.)
– Sega Game Gear (It committed the unforgivable sin of being just a little too bulky. Good games.)
– SNES (Why this over the Genesis? Zelda and NCAA Basketball. I feel so stupid.)
– PCs from x286 on up (Most of my freshman year of college was spent playing X-Wing)
– N64 (Sorry, Smackdown is great, but No Mercy is the gold standard. Three words: Russian Neck Drop)
– PS2
– Xbox

Add to this countless arcade games, and I think I have a pretty good resume.

Now, if you’re talking about writing prowess; I’ll admit, I’m an amateur. I’m an engineer by trade, so the extent of my writing for work centers around: “Ability of the Model 123 to Continue Safe Flight and Landing with One Wing Missing” and similar pieces of gripping prose. By the way, the FAA doesn’t like sarcasm in official documents. Trust me on this.

However, I *did* audition for this gig, and I passed muster with the powers that be at 411, so it’s not like I called in any favors to be here. Also, my fellow writers have been extremely complimentary, though I’m not sure if that’s genuine sentiment or simply the tool of their wish to keep somebody in the lineup worse than themselves. Either way, I win.

Q: What does “GLS” stand for?
A: “The GLS chip” was a euphemism coined by my friend Guy for the routines often present in games that serve no purpose but to insure victory for the computer even in the face of overwhelming force. The single best example of this is the “computer assistance” feature (that wasn’t always optional) in the NBA Jam series. You know, the one that dictated that a 20 point lead at halftime would be gone by halfway through the third quarter. GLS itself stands for “Good Luck, Sucker,” and it’s something I use to denigrate the gameplay of deserving games.

Q: Why do you just cut and paste all of your news instead of rewriting and reporting it like the other columnists do?
A: To give more creative time for scintillating exposition such as this.

Q: Do you realize that when Bebito copies and pastes news he calls it, “mailing it in?”
A: Yes. I am PERFECTLY aware of that. Thank you. Next question, please.

Q: You do know that Bebito is more popular than you? You have seen the numbers, right?
A: Yes, and we all get jobbed to Lucard, so what’s your point?

Q: Did you ever think that nobody reads you because you half-ass it every week?
A: Okay, let’s make something really clear. I do NOT half-ass it every week. There are lots of people in this world who half-ass it every week: Randy Moss, Triple H, Bryan Berg, but *I’m* not one of them.

Q: Bryan Berg?
A: And his half-ass columns are still better than most columnists’ wet dreams, so he’s allowed. He’s The Gamer, and don’t you forget it.

Q: Okay, so you don’t half-ass it. You just suck. LAF-LIN SUCKS! LAF-LIN SUCKS!
A: Hey, last I checked, Bebito still had claim to that phrase here, so you’d better ask him before you use that on me.

Q: Bebito sucks?
A: Oh, you didn’t know. Your ass better read this. Prior to his little hiatus, he had a virtual patent on the phrase. Just a second, I’ll call him for you.

*picks up phone* Yo, Bebito.
Bebito: Lafin, whuzzup!

A: *whispering* Uh, that’s LafLIN. There’s another L in there.
Bebito: Right. Laf-LIN. What’s going on?

A: My questions guy wants to know if he can use “Laflin sucks” as a chant.
Bebito: Oh, sure!

A: Really?
Bebito: Yeah, I dropped the whole “Bebito sucks” thing when I got back from hiatus. Go ahead!

A: You don’t mind?
Bebito: Naaaah. It’s time for somebody else to get the rub anyway.

A: Cool. Thanks Bebito.
Bebito: Don’t mention it, Lafman.

A: Laf-LIN
Bebito: *click*

A: Okay, now then . . . LeeeeeeEEET’S GET READY TO SUCK IT!!

NEWS

Parents Gain Ally in Slashing Tube Time
Card Access, Inc. has begun shipping its new product, the Time-Scout Monitor, which will allow parents to set time limits for their children’s consumption of television, computers or videogames.
The Time-Scout itself plugs into a power outlet and then in turn provides power to connected devices. Parents use an ATM-like card to add or subtract to their kids accounts on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. When the time limit is hit, the Time-Scout shuts off the relevant device. Card Access notes that by using this process, the Time-Scout and “not the parent, becomes the enforcer’ by shutting the device off,” giving parents control “without being the bad guy.”
The Time-Scout is available for $69.95 from its website or by calling the toll-free number 1.888.299.8989.

“”¦.without being the bad guy.” Bull. Sh*t. Kids are bright enough to know who got the bright idea to get the fascist box in the first place. This is just for parents who are bound and determined not to take an active role in their child’s lives. Be a man (or woman) and tell the kid to put the %#@& game up when it’s time for supper and when they have to study. Making them go through some electronic credit card device just teaches them to sneak into your room and put about a billion hours worth on their card.

At least that’s what I’d do, but I’m an addict.

MS Flight Simulator 2004 Lands at Retail
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight, the 20th anniversary edition of the acclaimed software title, is now available in retail locations around the country.
The Microsoft Game Studios PC title offers up 15 contemporary aircraft to pilot, including jets, turboprops, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk SP and the Robinson R-22 helicopter. Around 24,000 authentic airports worldwide are included, along with a new dynamic weather system and interactive air traffic control.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight carries an estimated retail price of $54.95 and is rated “E” (Everyone).

*Sobs, remembering the fate of poor little Meigs Field* Mr. Eric, I know you adore Boss Daley, but I gotta say that ripping up one of the most famous airports in the world without due process was below the belt. Security concerns my ass. The biggest security worry from Meigs was having some yahoo bounce a 172 off of the Sears Tower. O’Hare is a much bigger terrorist threat than poor . . . little . . . *snif* . . . Meigs.

Bastard.

Another Sims Expansion
Electronic Arts and its Maxis studio will release yet another expansion for its popular The Sims PC franchise, this one bringing magic to the magically selling series.
The Sims Makin’ Magic is due out in October and will grant Sims characters with magical powers that can be used to “cast spells that are playful or deviant.” 150 new items, a new Magic Town location and additional characters will also be included.
The expansion will sell for $29.95 and will require a copy of The Sims or The Sims Deluxe Edition to play.

*thwack* It’s their dead horse and they’ll beat it if they want to.

Okay, I’ve played The Sims, and it was neat, especially with the hot girl-on-girl action, but I have friends that treat it as a damn-near religion. I had enough trouble trying alternating between the kitchen and the bathroom, and avoiding accidents in both, without all the mucking about with jobs and neighbors and online play. And why the online play? Is there that big a coprophilia market in this country (and if you get that, I’m really very sorry).

Halo Champ Lassos Endorsement Deal
Major League Gaming (MLG), the professional console gaming league, let us know that it has signed a management contract with “international Halo champion” Dustin “HP Darkman” Langton.
MLG has already hooked up Langton with an endorsement gig; he will be the spokesman for LASR Accessories, Inc., manufacturers of a line of “console-toting” backpacks for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube with the brand name GamePak.
MLG says that it is still “actively scouting” for professional gamers and plans to announce more management contracts in the coming weeks. The company is targeting having a roster of 100 pro games within five years.

*mouth agape* Uhh . . . okay.

You all aren’t going to fool me. I don’t care what this says, there IS NO HALO. It DOESN’T EXIST. Someone just printed up a buttload of display boxes and started this rumor that it was the best FPS EVAR!! [sic] You aren’t going to sucker me in with this. There is no Halo, there is no Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, there is no spoon.

Anyway, “HP Darkman?” Why not just “Darkman?” Darkman was a kick ass character, why did he have to be sponsored by Hewlett-Packard to get into Halo?

Again, I’m saying if they’re going to form this league, I think 411 should represent. With our spectrum of gaming skills, we’d be dangerous.

VidTrac Results
The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) has announced the top renting games for the week ending July 27, 2003.
Here are the top 10:
1. NCAA Football 2004—PS2
2. Enter the Matrix—PS2
3. Midnight Club II—PS2
4. Hulk—PS2
5. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness—PS2
6. NBA Street Vol. 2—PS2
7. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic—Xbox
8. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City—PS2
9. Midnight Club II—Xbox
10. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell—PS2

I STILL can’t believe that KOTOR was only the 7th most rented game last week. It got beat out by Angel of Suckage? Do these people not read? That’s it, I’m camping out at Hollywood and handing out flyers for 411. These people NEED to be educated.

I guess I shouldn’t gripe. That’s probably the reason I was able to get my grubby mitts on a copy last Friday. I notice that Halo and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance aren’t on that list. Yep. Maybe because they DON’T EXIST, therefore THEY CAN’T BE RENTED.

So there.

SimCity 4 Deluxe Planned
Electronic Arts will release a SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition for the PC in September.
The bundle, which will have an MSRP of $39.99, will contain the original SimCity 4 along with the expansion pack, SimCity 4 Rush Hour.

SimCity is one of those games that, if I’m not careful, can suck an entire weekend out from under me; which is funny because you’ve seen what I think about the Sims. Maybe I’m just big on the megalomaniacal power, but then again I hated SimEarth, but so did everybody else. Oh well.

From Reuters via Yahoo, more news about Yahoos:

EA Sees Countdown to Next-Generation Game Consoles

*singing* THE FINAL COUNT-DOWN!!!!

By Ben Berkowitz

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (Reuters) – Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc, the industry leader,
expects to know in the next four to six months if the next generation of game consoles will come in 2005 or 2006, its chief executive said on Thursday.
In an interview with Reuters, EA CEO Larry Probst also said he expected industry leader Sony Corp. to make a decision in the next 30 to 45 days on whether to cut the price of its PlayStation 2 console again this fiscal year.
The timing of the next generation of consoles from Sony, Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. Ltd. has been closely watched since it is expected to kick-start the next growth cycle in the industry.
Sony’s PS2 launched in late 2000 and Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo’s GameCube came in late 2001.
“We will know when we begin to get first-generation development systems, because typically we get our hands on those about two years before launch,” Probst said, speaking at the company’s headquarters after its annual shareholder meeting. “So if they start showing up in the fall of this year, then we can pretty confidently predict it’s 2005.
“If we don’t start to get them until ’04 then it’s probably an ’06 launch.” he said. “So that’s going to get sorted out in the next four to six months.”
EA, which reports more revenue in its December quarter than its closest competitors record in their entire fiscal years, reported results for its June quarter last week, beating Wall Street expectations and raising guidance for the year.
ONLINE PLAY
The company is seeing signs of strength Already in the new quarter. Probst said sales of the company’s “NCAA Football” video game were about 40 percent better than last year, and more than 40,000 people had registered to play online.
The company has also seen quick adoption rates, Probst said, for Club Pogo, its new online subscription service featuring card, puzzle, trivia and arcade games. Thus far it already has 40,000 subscribers.
But by the same token, the game that was intended to be EA’s online flagship, “The Sims Online,” has been a relative disappointment, with fewer than 100,000 subscribers since its launch last December.
“I think we overestimated the audience and I think we probably shipped the product before it was ready,” Probst said.
But with evidence that console users are eager to play sports games online, Probst said the company will test pay-to-play tournaments for the PS2 version of its basketball game “NBA Live.” “It’s an opportunity for us to experiment,” he said.
With more than $1.6 billion cash in the bank, EA is also looking at acquisitions, particularly with a number of game publishers struggling.
“I think there are some shopping opportunities, and I think there will be more in the future,” he said. Asked about the prospect of acquiring an entire game publisher, rather than just a development studio, Probst said “we would not be averse to that.”

This is what happens when they go to a day-seminar at the Microsoft campus.

Earlier in the day, at EA’s annual meeting, shareholders approved an expansion of the company’s stock option plan and re-elected the board of directors.

Okay folks, you heard it here first possible drop in PS2 price before Christmas, and if they drop you KNOW the other two will drop. I’m putting odds of a $99 GameCube by December at 3-1.

After the previous news about The Sims, does anybody else find it funny that they’re “disappointed” about Sims Online sales? Once again, they misjudged with their sexual deviant market research studies.

NON-GAME NEWS

Librarians chafe under federal Patriot Act restrictions
BOULDER, Colorado (AP) — To Priscilla Hudson, public libraries are society’s great equalizer, a place where anyone can go to learn regardless of their economic, social or political background.
So she doesn’t much like Big Brother peering over their shoulder.
Hudson, manager of Boulder’s main library, is among a number of librarians nationwide who oppose a provision in the USA Patriot Act that gives authorities access to records of what people check out from libraries or buy from bookstores.
The law is why Boulder librarians have lately been purging their files on patrons every week, not every couple of months. And experts say other libraries are doing similar things.
“Boulder is truly right in line with what other libraries are doing,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone of the American Library Association in Chicago.
The Justice Department says the Patriot Act, put in place after the September 11, 2001, attacks, is crucial in the war on terrorism. Critics say it gives the government too much power.
On Thursday, Sen. Russ Feingold introduced legislation that would limit the FBI’s ability to gather library, bookstore and other records under the act.
The Wisconsin Democrat, the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act, said it makes sense to give authorities some access, but “we can protect both our nation and our privacy and civil liberties.”
The previous day, the American Civil Liberties Union and several Islamic groups filed a lawsuit in Detroit against the use of the act to let FBI agents monitor the books people read.
The ACLU also said that under a provision of the law, librarians can’t tell the patron that the library has given the records to the government, and would be legally bound to secrecy forever.
Even before the lawsuit, librarians across the country had been waging their own form of protest.
The Santa Cruz, California, library is more quickly shredding its sign-in sheets for using the computers, Caldwell-Stone said. Other libraries have posted signs warning patrons that federal authorities may review their records.
The Montana Library Association passed a resolution saying it considers parts of the Patriot Act “a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights to library users.” Privacy rules there are so strict that Montana librarians must get children’s permission before telling their parents what they’re reading.
“More so than in other Western states, we have a real privacy feel to our Constitution and also our Montana code,” said John Finn of Great Falls, head of the library association.
Government officials emphasized that the act allows the government to obtain “business records,” which they said could include library records, though the act makes no mention of libraries.
Caldwell-Stone said libraries cooperate when presented with a search warrant for records. But she said the Patriot Act allows authorities to seize “any relevant tangible item” in an investigation without having to show probable cause that a crime was committed.
Forty-eight states have laws protecting library patrons’ privacy, Caldwell-Stone said. The other two, Hawaii and Kentucky, have opinions by their attorneys general upholding the right.
“What the First Amendment protects and what goes on in your head isn’t a basis for punishing you,” she said.
John Suthers, U.S. attorney in Colorado, said he appreciates the concerns, but said the Patriot Act deals with business records and doesn’t specify libraries and bookstores.
The law says the FBI cannot investigate a U.S. citizen on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment, he said. Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock also said that part of the law requires court approval to obtain records.
Libraries and book stores across the country, however, support changing the law to make sure they aren’t targeted. A book store in Montpelier, Vermont, will purge purchase records for customers who ask.
The Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, one of the country’s largest independent book stores, won a fight last year to protect a customer’s privacy. The Colorado Supreme Court refused to order the store to turn over purchase records in a drug investigation.
The justices said records of what a person reads are constitutionally protected, and police must show a compelling interest in seeing them.
Tattered Cover general manager Matt Miller said because of business considerations, the store isn’t purging its records like the Vermont store.
“We certainly respect stores and libraries that choose to handle records in the way they do,” Miller said. “We spent two years trying to protect customers’ privacy and First Amendment rights. It remains an integral part of our philosophy.”

Just to recap: I’m a libertarian. That means I’m conservative, but I support this ALL THE WAY. Support your local library! Rack up some overdue fines today!

Kobe update
Bizarre plot twist #107: Apparently some sexual relations were consensual, but not intercourse.

WTF? Literally.

NOT-SO-DAMN-SERIOUS-NON-GAME NEWS

LOS ANGELES – Hollywood’s belief that celebrities can open movies was badly shaken this weekend as Jen & Ben crashed and burned in their summer bummer “Gigli” while “American Wedding” with no big names did $34 million-plus.

I’m not even putting the whole story in. This says it all; although I’m a little offended. Willow and Jim ARE CERTAINLY big names. . . . at least in my circles.

Of course, I mean Jason Biggs, and Alyson Hannigan. Damn you, Alexis Denisof!

This just in: J-LO Files For Divorce. Has To Be Reminded She’s Not Married Yet.

PLUGS, PIMPS, AND THANKS

No new fans e-mailed me this week, unless you count 411 Games newbie Chuck “I used to live in Lawrence, KS” Platt. I did get a nice follow-up from now-long-time-fan Steven. However, I’m writing this on something other than my home computer so I can’t include what he said. Suffice it to say that it was brilliantly written, artistically put together, and it’s topic explored artistic and technical issues sublimely.

Steve, I’ve thought on it and I have NO idea why that is happening to you. Perhaps you’re nearing a quantum singularity and experiencing time dilation . . . or compression . . . or something. When you see a bad-ass looking red robot standing in front of a matte painting, THEN you can panic.

Panky is SUPPOSED to get this up before noon. Let’s see if he does, shall we? He chats with Baal . . .eh . . oops. . . . I mistyped. Ahem. He chats with MICROSOFT about the XSN network. As I own an Xbox, I’ll be selling my . . . time . . . to them any day now. Hypocrisy? You’re soaking in it!

Bebito is a wonderful sport for letting me use his name in vain so often. The debate is on: Smackdown vs. No Mercy. You’ve seen the short version of my answer, probably several times by now.

Baxley He reviews (surprise, surprise) an RPG and eulogizes Netscape. Vive le Roi, and I don’t mean Patrick.

Berg is REALLY a good sport, and I don’t really think he’s half-assing it. Really. He IS the Game-r.

Watson talks about that poor, poor victim of the console wars, the Sega Dreamcast. I will miss the Dreamcast, if only for the best console version of Crazy Taxi ever, and my first flirting with non-EA sports games. *sniff*

Lucard is much better this week, thank you. He talks about games with exception sound/music, and in true Lucard fashion, you’ve never heard of any of the games he names . . . except maybe Castlevania . . . or Pokemon.

Next week: news.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory