Gamer’s Hangover (News Report) — 06.21.04

News

Five More Reasons To Buy ESPN NFL 2K5
credit: Gamedaily.com
Here’s the list of things promised for Madden 2005:
– online tournaments, “enhanced” messaging, reputation rating. (yawn)
– a customizable live ticker whenever you’re playing online. (eh.)
– ability to create tournaments through a web-based interface (okay?)
– minigames, such as a five-minute arcade style game called Rushing Attack. (feh.)

In addition, the Tiburon folks are apparently planning to have three to five roster updates over the course of the season. Although it hasn’t been formally said whether they’re going to charge $50 for each one, like they have been for their annual roster updates.

Next Up For Blizzard: StarCraft Forever
credit: Gamedaily.com
StarCraft: Ghost won’t be out this year kids. Sorry. Blizzard announced this with the rationalization of having, “plans to expand and evolve the design of its upcoming tactical-action console game” and “further details regarding specific gameplay enhancements and worldwide-release information will be announced at a later date.” In other words, back to the drawing board.

“We are very committed to StarCraft: Ghost as a major part of our lineup,” b.s.ed Blizzard Entertainment head monkey Mike Morhaime. “As a result, we plan to build additional time into the schedule to polish the game until it meets the high standards that our customers have come to expect from Blizzard products. We are sorry to disappoint players with a delayed launch but are confident that we will deliver a great game with the additional development time.”

Actually, I kid. Blizzard does put out awesome products, and this is probably more of an issue with sub-developer Nihilistic than with Blizzard proper. It’s just that “¦ it’s too damn EASY to poke fun at sliding schedules right now. I mean, I’m horribly tempted to suggest that it will be bundled with Doom 3 and be one of the first franchise games for the Phantom console, but even I’M not that cruel.

I Wish I Could Get “Computer Bites Trojan Horse” To Work Here
credit: GameDaily.com
Apparently a gold master version of the upcoming expansion pack Gates of Troy for the Slitherine game Spartan was stolen. Not h4xor3d or even lifted from the computer. Check the press release:

“From what we know so far the gold master was on its way back from the duplication plant in London by special delivery for approval and sign off by Slitherine at its Epsom Head Office. At around 11:05 GMT the Royal Mail Postman was assaulted and his bags stolen. Obviously we’re very upset about it and the delay this will cause to the release of Gates of Troy, but we are working hard to make up for the lost time this will cause and hope the fans can bear with us. We’re also concerned about the possibility of a pirated version hitting the streets now before we can get the original copies of Gates of Troy ready,” said Philip Veale of Slitherine.

No shinola, Sherlock. I’m sure a cursory bittorrent search will probably turn that up by now. Still, that’s a bit of chutzpah, isn’t it? Damn. Beating up a mailman for an expansion pack?

Ho. Lee. Cee. Six. Tee. Four.
credit: Spong.com
I want this. I need this.

I’m lifting this from the good chaps at Spong, because “¦ I’m “¦ I’m just in awe.

Following news that several new plug-and-play all-in-one mini consoles are due for launch later this year, Tulip Computers has announced that it intends to revive the Commodore 64. So alongside the Mini-MegaDrive, Atari and Namco machines, retro enthusiasts will also be able to relive the heady days of the C64 this Christmas.

The C64 was the biggest selling home computer ever, shifting a hefty 30 million units through the course of its life. As such there are sure to be plenty of people willing to spend 30 Euros for a trip down a pixelated memory lane. The mini C64 console will also come with 30 games built in, including Epyx’s hugely popular Summer Games, Winter Games, World Games and of course, California Games.

Tulip Computers also plans to develop other Commodore 64-based gaming projects in the future, although these have yet to be fully detailed. Stay tuned.

Okay, I’m old. Bite me. I am SO there!

Would You Like Zelda With That?
credit: Spong.com
From Nintendo European PR rat Shelly Pearce, regarding the current price of a Nintendo Gamecube at a certain retail store in the U.K.:
“Index is currently running a big promotion on all products, of which GameCube is one, offering up to 50% discount. As far as we are aware Index will continue to trade with Nintendo at certain times of the year. GameCube sales continue to go from strength to strength. Following the launch of Pokemon Colosseum, sales of GameCube doubled and market share has increased, hitting almost 25% in some weeks. We have a strong software line-up this year and with the launch of Animal Crossing, Donkey Konga, and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, we expect this success to continue.”

What’s the fuss: Index, the store in question is apparently selling GameCubes for under 40 pound, which is about half of what the current ALREADY DISCOUNTED price is.

Pimp-Licious

Misha wants to rock-and-roll all night, and party ev-er-ry day; but he probably hasn’t unlocked that part of THUG yet.

Matt “Don’t call me Chuck” Yeager thank you, I’ll be checking out my local Fye’s presently. Mmmmm. Fight Night.

The Notorious B.E.R.G is the man with the phat biznass skillz, but he’s dead wrong on a 2007 PS3 release being a good thing for them. That would mean that the PS2 would have to limp along for at least another two years, maybe three. Meanwhile, the Xbox is gaining steam, and releasing Xbox2 next Christmas (assuming they make that release date bug-free) will give them at least a year, maybe two, without any real competition (unless Nintendo pulls its head out of its ass). Sure the PS2 is a great system, but it’s already getting dogged for too-long load times, and that isn’t going to get better in the next two or three years. And this is all assuming that Sony keeps the price point of the PS3 reasonable, which I’m not certain they’ll do.

A-Will, I think we should somehow work the phrase “tossing Moses” into our team’s vernacular somehow.

Eric S. was in transit last week and didn’t post anything. Understandable since 1. He was moving to Kansas. 2. The U.S. Open was this weekend.

Murphy and I saw “Dodgeball” this weekend, and it may set new standards for gleeful stupidity and pointless cameos in movies. It was fantastic. Read his column, as he rants about the best series ever that got cancelled in the middle of its first season, and the reason I won’t watch Fox outside of football and “The Simpsons” anymore.

Gamble, Shto eta, Ron?

Gagnon proves that just being French-Canadian doesn’t make you a prick, although I can attest that the bloodline may be of some help in that regard. (Laflin == La Flamme. I’ll tell you later.) And I wouldn’t mind doing one of these sit-down question/answer sessions that everybody on 411 apparently gives to everyone else. That is, everyone with a cool name and a goth fanbase and 2% bodyfat and rock-star hair. Jerk.

Ralph Wiley, ESPN Page 2 columnist, author, and former contributor to the worst sports magazine on the planet (Sports Illustrated), passed away last Monday at 52. I bitched and moaned about him being racially motivated and an apologist for Barry Bonds, but even though I didn’t agree with a lot of what he said, I did agree with a lot of what he said, and I agree that he was as fine a sportswriter as has ever been seen. He will be missed.

And speaking of ESPN “¦

“”¦that’s a hell of a lot of Wong numbers.”

Yes, kiddies. He’s back. He just couldn’t stay away. Part of me had actually thought that maybe, just maybe my little tirades were getting back to him and he’d slipped quietly back into his editor job title, but thankfully I was wrong. This little bit of joy was pointed out to me by GH Super-Fan, Jeff Patterson, who receives a gold star for doing my research for me, as well as including this phrase in one of his recent e-mails

“All hail Laflin!”

Monsieur Levesque, (Serge, not Paul) you have some competition.

Fitzgerald’s a find
By Matt Wong
ESPN.com

ALL: Woo! Hoo-ray! Go Matt!
Tom: Oh, it’s been too long.
Crow: Yeah, it’s like a trip to the chiropractor. It hurts, but it feels good at the same time.

Larry Fitzgerald’s a mythological character, pulling a Narcissus as he gazes in admiration at his image

Cory: (Sho Nuff —or— Busta Rhymes) Yo, Leroy!! Am I “¦ the greatess’?!
Bots: Sho nuff!!
Cory: Am I “¦ the prettiess’?!
Bots: Sho nuff!!
Cory: Am I “¦

— the one on the cover of NCAA Football 2005, with his eyes fixed on an incoming football and his hands ready to receive it.

Tom: His sphincter tightening in anticipation of the strong safety lining him up from behind.
Crow: (semi-pouting) And *I* get yelled at when I say things like that.

His two-dimensional self has him powerless to look away, luring him down the road of athlete gone diva.

Bots: (singing) Follow the Gone Diva’ Road! Follow the Gone Diva’ Road!
Cory: So does that make Deion Sanders the Wicked Witch of the West?
Crow: East or West. He played for a lot of teams.

But hold up.

Tom: Check yo’self!!

His eyes are widening and widening and interpreting, and it becomes clear that he’s actually studying the picture, not his photogenic qualities or his old Pittsburgh uniform, but the creation of the image — the one that was manipulated to his satisfaction.

Crow: (Larry) There. Now THAT’S a bulge!

“It’s amazing what computers can do,” Fitzgerald says. “They strapped my gloves up, put my chinstrap on and buckled my belt.

Cory: *sings first few bars of Jetson theme*
Bots: *Look worriedly at Cory*

“But they should’ve made my dreads longer out the back.”

Tom: You know, for that Ricky Williams/pull-me-down-from-behind-and-fracture-my-cervical-vertabrae look.

He’s smiling now, a character and a kidder — but far from a kid. Beyond his All-America resume, his engaging personality is what Electronic Arts saw in Fitzgerald when they chose him to represent NCAA Football, which last year was the second best-selling football game behind EA’s Madden 2004.

Crow: Which proves the American public will put up with anything as long as it’s familiar. Cripes, why don’t they just get Ozzy Osbourne to do color.
Cory: Too coherent.

“Selecting the cover boy is like ‘American Idol,'” says Sandy Sandoval, EA’s director of athlete relations. “You want to find that one with a special quality.”

Cory: Namely, someone who doesn’t mind taking a boatload of upfront money in return for sacrificing the rest of their career to “¦ the currrrssssssse.

Someone like Fitzgerald, who after meeting Sandoval and his wife at the Super Bowl, kept in touch and ended every conversation with, “Tell your wife I said hello.”

Crow: He’d hit it.

Someone like Fitzgerald, who, despite being just 20 years old, looks whoever he’s talking to in the eye, initiates conversation and makes a room full of strangers feel like long-lost buddies, no matter the differences in age.

Cory: No R. Kelly jokes, please. We LIKE Mr. Fitzgerald.
Crow: Michael Jackson?
Cory: No.
Crow: Pete Townshend?
Cory: No.
Crow: Rob Feinstein?
Cory: No.
Crow: *grumbles*

Someone like Fitzgerald, who, even as former ball boy for the Vikings, a scoring machine throughout college, and the son of a prominent sports writer in Minnesota, refuses to use an in-your-face touchdown celebration.

Tom: He’s trying to conserve energy. He’s going to be playing in PHOENIX for goodness sake!
Crow: Hey, how long before one of these young Arizona receivers breaks down and pulls a Cuba Gooding Jr. mid-game?
Cory: My money’s on first week of October.
Crow: Think they’ll be on a win streak by then?
Cory: No, that’s traditionally when Denny Green loses control of his teams.

Not even as he tried out an advanced copy of the game, which is due out in July, and he quickly finds the end zone.

Cory: I see that they’ve stopped letting Matt handle the controls. Think that was his own choice or did it come from higher up?
Tom: (somewhat muffled) Matt. Matt. This is Jesus, Matt. You’ve been a very naughty boy.
Crow: (also kinda muffled) And one more thing: STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR “¦ THE GAMES.
Cory: Not quite what I meant, but a good reference.

All he says is, “That was pretty impressive.” But he’s referring to the player movement in the game, instead of boasting about his control-pad skills.

Cory: Matt, I hate to break this to you, but it’s an EA game. The controls haven’t changed since the Reagan administration. He could probably hit a deep post with his eyes closed at this point.

It’s an unexpected response, especially since he’s proud of his game-playing abilities, proud of how he was able able to win a few dollars while honing his skills against his college teammates (at the expense of his homework on occasion).

Cory: (Keanu) Whoa. Déjà vu.
Tom: I wonder if he’s responsible for edit editing his own work work?
Crow: Probabobably.

“Dudes used to get into fights over games,” says the 6-2 wide receiver, the third pick in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. “We had rules and you don’t mess with the rules — you don’t press the pause button mid-action.”

Cory: The first rule of Game Club is: Do not talk about Game Club.
Tom: The second rule of Game Club is: DO NOT TALK ABOUT GAME CLUB.
Crow: If someone says stop, goes limp, taps out, the game is over.
Cory: Two guys to a game.
Tom: One game at a time.
Crow: No shirts, no shoes.
Cory: Games will go on as long as they have to.
Tom: If this is your first night at Game Club, you have to play.

Unless, perhaps, the game is World Series Baseball on the DreamCast and the challenger is his younger brother Marcus.

Crow: Well there’s Larry’s gamer cred. Still waiting for Matt’s.
Tom: “No shirts, no shoes?”
Cory: Well, it almost worked.

“Man, he figured out how to hit the ball up the middle, right past my pitcher every time,” Larry says. “He used to wear me out.”

Crow: Was it just me, or did that sound vagely “¦
Cory: (curtly) Just you.
Crow: But “up the middle?”
Cory: Just you.
Crow: “He used to wear me out?”
Cory: JUST. YOU.

But that was then. Nowadays, nothing seems to shake Fitzgerald.

Crow: And playing in the NFC West, it’s likely nothing will THIS season.

The pressure of training camp? “It’s not that difficult. Man, I play football for a living.”

Cory: Translation: “Matt, I’m being paid MILLIONS of dollars to PLAY FOOTBALL. Frankly, I can’t get in the car to go to practice without giggling.”

The pressure of learning the NFL playbook when he doesn’t even read the instructions for a video game? “They compensate me.”

Crow: See above. Cripes, he used to do that for free in college.

The pressure of teaming up with Anquan Boldin and Bryant Johnson and being tagged the best young receiving corps in the NFL? “On paper we look good, but we just have to go out there and show people.”

Tom: Well, I know who YOUR fantasy starters will be this year.
Cory: I don’t know. The Rams defense is supposed to be pretty tough this year.
ALL: *pause*
ALL: *Laugh*
Crow: Oh, that was good. You actually kept your face straight for that one.

The pressure of playing for Denny Green, who was the Vikings’ coach when Larry was a ball boy? “For all he’s done for my family, yeah, I want to play well for him. It’s extra motivation for me to contribute and help the team win the best way I can.”

Tom: Somewhere, on Bizarro World, Terrell Owens is saying the exact same thing “¦ only backwards.

And there’s even the pressure of representing a video game that’s all about dealing with pressure as EA introduces the Match-up Stick, which takes into account a player’s ability to perform despite a hostile crowd.

Crow: Do they account for playing in Philadelphia? When you’re the Eagles?
Tom: It’s nice that Buffalo has somebody to make fun of now.

Nope, that’s not a big deal to Fitzgerald either. And he’s ready to prove it all when the NFL season kicks off.

Cory: I don’t know “¦ those domed stadiums can get pretty loud “¦ I’m sorry. I just can’t.
Tom: But on the bright side, they’re always plenty of seats available for home games. Even on Monday night!
Crow: I wonder if the crowd noise in Phoenix can be set to “Realistic Mind-Crushing Silence.”

“Not only can I handle the pressure,” he says, “it will be done.”

ALL: RESISTANCE IS FYU-TYLE!!

Quasi-Random Thoughts

Look, I blame Murphy, okay? I’m not trying to become a Simmons clone, but when he calls up and says “Vegas, baby!” how do I say no? Anyway, that’s nine whole months off. One bad piece of latex and I could have another kid by then.

And let’s all knock on wood now to make sure THAT disturbing little example doesn’t come to pass, shall we?

Only six more weeks until the start of NFL Training Camp. Hang in there, people.

Also, only six more weeks until I buy my WSU Men’s Basketball season tickets. It’s time. I’ll have just turned 30, I have a young son who’s likely to grow up to be power forward-sized, I can actually afford them (provided the house doesn’t fall into a sinkhole between now and then), and I’m young enough to still scream my head off, unlike most other WSU season ticket holders. And isn’t being a season ticket holder a condition of victory if you’re an American male? It proves that you were both childish enough to maintain your boyhood fanaticism about your favorite team AND affluent enough to afford your own seats at every home game. The way I see it: you hold season tickets; you succeed as a man.

Of course, there’s all that rot about resolve, kindness, having a loving family, having a job you love, and having a personal relationship with God; but we all know it’s really about the season tix. Can I get an a-men?

For you Michael Moore fans out there, read this. Read the whole thing. Every single word. If you fail to do this you are a wuss.

Look, I don’t like getting on the political soapbox. I spent way too many of my younger years doing that without thinking. I’m older, I’m wiser, I have a better idea of what exactly I believe in, and I haven’t seen a Michael Moore film since “Roger and Me,” because I like my blood pressure where it is, thank you.

But after reading Cris’ indictment of Mr. Moore, I had to go sniffing around a bit for more information, and I’m happy to report that critical thinking isn’t quite dead in America. I read about the edits to the Bush ads. I read about the edits to the Heston speeches. What really pissed me off was the section I linked to in the above paragraph.

That is a Lockheed Martin plant that builds satellites and satellite launch vehicles. Hell, I’ve APPLIED to that plant because of my jones for the space program. The primary land-based nuclear missle is now the Minuteman, and that’s made by Boeing, probably in Seattle. If you want to talk submarine-based, those are Tridents, and while those ARE made by Lockheed Martin, I believe they’re built in California. The Titans built in Denver USED to be nuclear delivery systems, but are now used exclusively for satellites.

Also, Foreign Object Damage is a HUGE concern when building, flying, taking off, landing, or taxiing anything that flies; especially if there are paying customers on board. There’s similar anti-FOD placards all over my plant, and last I checked Cessnas weren’t exactly known for being weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, and living in an aerospace town, trust me on this: You WANT those mothers moving out in the middle of the night. They move at about 5 miles an hour through town. Drive time traffic is bad enough without that sort of logjam.

One nice thing I have to say about Mr. Moore: He does supply free excerpts from his books online. At least he isn’t as big a cheapskate as Al Franken, even if he is just as big a media whore.

This week has been a bit throwback to me, since I’ve spent most of my evenings playing my copy of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri on my computer. Yes, I know. It’s Civilization with a different sprite set. Bite me. I’m a space freak, so I like the planetary exploration theme.

I go through this cycle fairly periodically. I don’t play it, I don’t play it, I don’t play it, I see the CD one day and think “Hmmm. I haven’t played that for a while,” this continues until one day when I have no solid commitments rolls around and a put it back in the CD drive and the next two weeks are shot. That first game is always great. Difficulty is at the lowest setting, and you’re developing plasma shard launching hovertanks before any of the other factions can put together a canoe.

So I’ve climbed up the difficulty level ladder and am now on level 3 (of 7) and things are a little bit harder. Oh, don’t worry; the other factions still have no idea how to conduct a successful military operation, it’s just not quite as easy as driving a steamroller over baby chicks anymore.

In fact, there are some universal truths about Alpha Centauri that hold regardless of the difficulty level you’re playing. Some might even say that these truths could apply to the real world as well, but until I see video tape of Sid Meier sitting in a room full of TVs, telling Keanu Reeves that he’s a mathematical anomaly (like we didn’t know THAT already) I think I’ll keep my perspective a bit more realistic:

What I’ve Learned About Politics And War From Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri:
– Peace Is Best Kept Through Superior Firepower.
– Religious Fundies won’t stop until you beat them into the ground with their own book of scripture.
– Don’t give technology to anybody but your closest allies, and don’t even give THEM your best stuff. (You need fusion reactors? Ooooo. Sorry. Ran outta those last week.)
– Environmentalists will be the first to initiate a scorched earth campaign if you piss them off. (Boreholes?! The Greenies have BOREHOLES?!)
– Try to limit the number of factions you’re at war with at any one time to less than half the game’s total.
– Don’t sweat it if this isn’t possible. Half of them will be fighting with whipped cream pies anyway (see also: Morgan Industries)
– Militia members usually don’t have the first idea of how to actually fight.
– There’s no better feeling than to have communists surrender to you.
– Do NOT f*ck with the University unless you have overwhelming force in position to annihilate them, or you have plenty of probe teams.
– Repairing is cheaper than replacing.
– Punishment Spheres have real S&M appeal.
– Once you’ve saved their asses, just expect your “allies” to try and take you out.
– When given the choice between money and technology, take the tech.
– Try to barter all extortion tried against you down to half before just giving up and declaring war.
– Planet Busters are a pain to make, a pain to use, and will get all of your Pacts revoked for you, so only use them if you have no other choice or you really really want to.
– Diplomatic victory is for pussies.
– Having superior military tech means less money spent on building war materiel in the long run.
– Endear yourself to the natives as much as reasonable. That way, they’re more likely to pester your enemies than you.
– If you have to wage war on multiple fronts, skirmish on all but your easiest front. That way you can more quickly finish off your weakest enemies, while still being an economic drain on your other ones.

And guess which faction was the first, and only, group to use Planet Busters? Hypocrisy at it’s finest.

I’d like to give a quick thank you (yet again) to my parents and my friends Shawn, Amy, and Jessie for coming over and helping us repair the skylight, the drywall in the sunroom, and two separate leaky pipes on Saturday. I feel much less like white trash now than I did on Friday night. Y’all rock.

Next week, more.

Until then, get some sleep.

-Cory