Gamer’s Hangover – 06.28.04


Too Little And WAY Too Late
IT mercs out there, the Holy Grail has appeared, so take your resumes, shine those sumbitches up real nice, and shove on sideways up SCEA’s employment office. Yes, now that Xbox Live has shown that pay-for-play online communities can work for consoles, Sony is jumping on the bandwagon and is looking for people to help them build a “global network” for the PS2 and PSP.

Mailing in the specifics: The positions require engineers with business-to-business and business-to-consumer Internet planning experience, TCP/IP knowledge and Internet server maintenance. System planners will need experience designing and operating b2b and b2c environments with an emphasis on load distribution for these systems. Applicants must have good English skills and be available to setup these network services globally.

Experience in taking repeated beatings from management a plus. Also, the ability to fleece panicked upper management who are trying to play catch-up for the first time in their life is recommended.

“¦And “¦ ART CARNEY!!!!
I present to you, the voice talent for Half-Life 2, as announced by Valve Software founder Gabe Newell: (mailed in)

Robert Guillaume – Dr. Eli Vance
Robert Culp – Dr. Wallace Breen
Lou Gossett, Jr. – Vortigaunt
Michelle Forbes – Dr. Judith Mossman
Merle Dandridge – Alyx Vance
Mike Shapiro – Barney Calhoun
Mike Shapiro – Gman
Harry S. Robins – Dr. Isaac Kleiner
Jim French – Father Grigori
John Patrick Lowrie – Citizens/Misc. characters
Mary Kae Irvin – Citizens/Misc. characters
Ellen McLane – Overwatch voice

“We’ve been very fortunate in the professionalism and the talent of the people we’ve been able to work with,” Newell commented. “We had over 200 applicants for the voice of Alyx.”

Half-Life 2 is tentatively scheduled to be finished this August. The title will inhabit approximately 3.5 gigabytes once fully uncompressed, with the compressed files weighing in at 2 gigabytes.

Nice to see Benson getting work besides the Swiffer commercials (absolute genius by the way). But 3.5 GIG? Who’d have thought you’d need to buy a new hard drive just for one game? As if it isn’t bad enough that it’ll probably update at about a frame per second on my computer.

U.S. Tekken Tournament Brings Out The Wor “¦ Best
Namco’s arcade side is talking about another national Tekken tournament for the U.S. I’m sure Bebito is already practicing his signature “one-finger” technique for the occasion. Make sure to e-mail him here with words of encouragement.

Global Gaming League Shuns Sports, Fans
The Global Gaming League (remember them?) has announced the start of it’s 2004 season. “The world’s largest online gaming tournament” features the following nine PC games:

Counter-Strike (FPS)
Unreal Tournament 2004 (FPS)
Call of Duty (FPS)
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (FPS)
Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (RTS)
Startcraft: Broodwar (RTS. Come on, it’s Warcraft II with a different sprite set. Let’s not lie.)
Age of Mythology: The Titans (RTS)
Age of Empires II: The Conquerors (RTS)

See a pattern? If you’re REALLY good at Blizzard or Microsoft RTS games or FPS of any kind, you might be lucky enough to win the grand prize of $75,000. But chances are you’ll probably get killed by somebody sniping the re-spawn point, or get wiped out by somebody with a hacked resource production rate. Good luck.

It Could Be Worse. We Could Be In Japan
Konami has released screenshots for it’s upcoming Eye Toy (shudder) release U Move Super Sports. The game will basically be a collection of mini-games (and when is somebody going to develop an RPG for the Eye Toy? Huh?) revolving around sports. There’ll be a couple of soccer games, a golf game, a rugby “tackling” game (look, tackling isn’t fun unless you can hit someone. Just know this), a horse-racing game (think Final Furlong without the cool hobby-horse controllers), and “several more besides.”

The most disturbing part of this story, for me, was being informed that Konami owns a chain of gymnasiums and “sport centres” in Japan, makes exercise bikes (now THAT’S a peripheral), and even has a line of “¦ and I’m not joking here “¦ nutritional supplements.

I’m just going to leave it there for you to ponder.

And We Finish With More Foisting
Ruining what would have probably been a decent kids game, Sony has announced that the upcoming game Jackie Chan Adventures, a cel-shaded adventure game based on the cartoon series of the same name, will be released in September and will make use of the Eye Toy in mini-games (surprise) in each level. Of course, it will be interesting to see how well they can integrate something as silly “¦ er “¦ innovative “¦ as the Eye Toy in the scheme of a larger game. Personally, I think they’re missing the boat by not building a huge, Eye Toy exclusive RPG. Make the kitchen-table knights look at they’re own mugs for a while.

Seriously folks, this is the single biggest foisting of a pure novelty peripheral since then POWER GLOVE. If they could use the technology to control something on the screen other than a static shot of your ugly mug, that’d be one thing, but as it is now it’s just stupid and scary. You can’t even do a decent boxing game with it, and you’d think that would be a no brainer.


Misha brings the early poll returns for the next handheld elections, easily winning the award for the most useful information of the week.

Berg, that’s what I’m saying. PS3 looks like it’s going to be expensive, and delaying release of it will only give Xbox time to get a bigger foothold. Besides, I fully expect Nintendo to undercut the PSP the way that the PS undercut the DreamCast. You’ve seen the early polls (thank you again, Misha). People think Sony will have the better product, but they’re going to buy Nintendo anyway.

A-Will, just so you know, my friend Llonda came over Saturday night and we “threw down” on DDR Max 2. She “got served.”

Murphy discusses the Laws of movie marketing and reviews Dodgeball. Read them both. Now. I’ll wait.

As an aside, Murphy and I watched “Scarface” last night. I hadn’t seen it before. Strangely enough, the new running joke isn’t a line from that, but a line from “The Simpsons” parodying a line from it: “In Amereeca “¦ first you get de sugar “¦ den you get de power “¦ den you get de weemen “¦”

Szulczewski speaks truth about a lot of things, the condition of Emporia, Kansas being just one of them.

Gagnon, my suggestion is that it’s in there to give men a place to sit/lie down for a little while without having women in his ear 24/7, but it sounds like that would be far too pragmatic for that kind of place.

Gamble, I got a third category for ya: People Who Can Get The Facts Without Paying $7.50. I’m no dittohead, I’m no cave-dweller, but the man isn’t out to educate anybody, he’s out to fatten his own wallet, and he doctors stuff to do it, so I’ll save the cash and find out what the facts are for free.

The Last Straw

The Kansas City Royals traded Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros as part of a three team deal last Thusday. They received 3rd base prospect Mark Teahen and right-handed pitcher Mike Wood from the Oakland A’s, and catcher prospect John Buck from the Astros. Oakland also received Houston closer Octavio Dotel in the deal as well as cash (less than $1 million) from the Royals.

“I feel good. I hate to lose Carlos Beltran. That’s not easy. “¦ But I feel like we got maximum value for a rare player.” — Royals GM Allard Baird

So what, exactly, did the Royals get for their former ROTY winner and All-Star?

Mark Teahen — 3rd base prospect (read: minor leaguer). Supposedly a future star, but he’s going to Omaha to try and “smooth out” his swing.

John Buck — catcher prospect. Decent power hitter, but slow on the arm.

Mike Wood — a 24-year old right-hander. Will probably start as the #5 guy in the starting rotation, but he’s more of a middle-relief type of pitcher.

So, in review, the Royals dealt away a lock for the All-Star team (now the Royals will be completely unrepresented), somebody who has been characterized as a “young Barry Bonds” (even pre-roids the guy was pretty good), and the only recognizable name on the roster who has played more than 3 innings this year. For that they got a mediocre pitcher (2-1, 10.54 ERA) and two guys who aren’t even good enough to play big league ball yet. And the Royals had to fork over a few hundred grand for that.

I’m done, folks. I’m done with Major League Baseball┞¢.

Now, I’ve gone on rants before about the stupid and greedy nature of MLB so I won’t bore you with the same ramblings here, but this is too much to bear. I know Mr. Baird has a lot to deal with, having to find little lifeboats for the rats and all, but this deal was just insulting to me. It’s like that one deal everyone makes in their first Monopoly game (apropos? You’re soaking in it!) where they trade Park Place and two Green properties for St. Charles Place, 200 bucks, and a Get Out Of Jail Free card. I’m only wondering if Allard got a flaming bag of dog s*** on his front porch out of the deal.

Of course, it’s not Mr. Baird’s fault. (Everything in the Herk Robinson era WAS Herk’s fault, just so we’re clear. David Cone. Twice. Idiot.) He’s simply trying to deal with the financial realities of his job in the best way he can. Beltran is a great young star. He’s going to end the year in the neighborhood of 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases and he’s a good run at the plate away from breaking into .300 territory. He’s also in the final year of his contract; a contract where, even in small-market Kansas City, he had a salary of nine million dollars this year. And his agent happens to be the infamously hard-nosed Scott Boras. Someone who regards re-signing with teams during a contract year as verboten, especially with somebody as valuable as Beltran.

What’s sadder; the fact that pimps like Boras are making millions by destroying the concept of home-grown talent, or the fact that NINE MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR is not nearly enough to keep someone around?

Meanwhile, the only time a team not in the New England area gets any press is “¦ never “¦ unless they happen to be a certain clueless franchise from Chicago who is willing to blame a century’s worth of futility on either some poor schmuck reaching for a foul ball or a goat. The Astros are getting some press just because they’re following the Florida Marlins (1st incarnation)/Arizona Diamondbacks method of winning; known in fiscal circles as “deficit spending.” Unless the Astros’ pockets are especially deep, I’d expect Mr. Beltran to be in New York by next March.

So why the hell am I bothering myself with this sport? It’s been 19 years since the last time the Royals had any sort of post-season play (and, for the record, HE WAS SAFE), I don’t even get decent Royals coverage in the local paper (and we only host the Royals’ AA team, the Wichita Wranglers), and the only time someone utters the team name in the national news, other than following it with “lost in a rout to the “¦,” is when they deal away yet another one of their promising young stars for another crop of nobodies, one or two of which will develop into promising young stars just in time to price themselves out of the K.C. market and the cycle continues. Jermaine Dye, Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, and now Carlos Beltran. Angel Berroa just signed a four-year extension, but he’ll only be 30 when that closes out. That’ll probably be just enough time for Teahen to come into his own and the Royals will end up dealing them both for a bag of marbles and two sticks of Juicy Fruit.

And what, pray tell, is the Royals’ chance of ever winning a World Series? Slim to infinitesimal. A puncher’s chance. Basically, they’re hoping for a season where every one of their mediocre, Scott Boras-won’t-answer-their-phone-calls players gets their stuff together for one glorious season. Literally, the long-shot season is their ONLY chance to win another World Series. Anything that takes over a season or two to build will give the good players a chance to bolt.

Might I suggest that, if they’re going to do it, they do it right. They need a catcher and they need pitching, so find somebody from one of the Mexican leagues to catch and a pitcher from the California penal league. To replace Beltran get some moron with a 4.2 forty and an ego the size of Ohio. Although I’d prefer not having to see David Glass in a bikini bottom and pasties.

The point is that there’s no point to watching this. The NFL is infinitely more fun because it has some degree of parity. College sports are more fun because there are varying conditions of success: rivals, conference championships, bowl games, NIT, NCAA Tourney, etc. The NHL has many of the same financial problems as MLB, but they’re even more enjoyable since one region isn’t overexposed nationally. Also, I’ll wager that there’ll be a cap system in place by the time the teams take the ice again, and I’ll suffer through a work stoppage if that’s the end result. Watching a small-market MLB franchise is basically feeding your own inferiority complex, granted you’re feeding it veeerrrrry sloooooowlyyyy.

The big-market teams always win in the long run. Scratch that. The Yankees will always win in the long run. There will never be a Royals “dynasty” or a Cardinals “dynasty” or a Rockies “dynasty” or a Diamondbacks “dynasty” or a Marlins “dynasty” or an Astros “dynasty” or a Brewers “dynasty” or a Twins “dynasty” or a Reds “dynasty” and there probably will never be a Dodgers “dynasty” or a Giants “dynasty” or a Mets “dynasty” or even a Braves “dynasty,” even as hard as they tried in the 90’s. The Red Sox and the Cubs need to understand that they’re the comic relief of the league and nothing else. The Sox will never beat the Yankees in the long run, and even if the Cubs win a Series, they’ll always be remembered for the losing streak, the old drunk guy who used to call the games, and the goat. As long as things remain the way they are, it’s the Yankees and 31 subtly different versions of the Washington Generals. Not Senators, Generals.

So I’m done. No “Baseball Tonight” for me any more, although I have to admit that I’m not having to make any big changes in my life to accommodate this. I won’t have to remember not to turn on the Yankees-whatever game that’s on ESPN. I won’t have to cancel any trips to K.C. I’m still going to wear my Royals cap, and since it’s already been through 12 years of my head sweat I doubt anyone will want to touch it, much less snatch it off my head. Consider it a protest statement, like wearing a Kansas City T-Bones t-shirt to a PETA rally.

There are some things I will have to remember, though. I’ll have to remember to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich anytime they’re playing baseball highlights on “SportsCenter.” I’ll “¦ wait “¦ I guess that’s it. I won’t have to remember to not tune in to the Royals radio broadcasts since the local sports station stopped carrying their games this season, probably after seeing too many board ops hang themselves with the mic cable.

I also should point out that I will continue to follow the Wranglers, since they’re a AA team in a regional league and, as such, have a decent chance of actually winning a few games; and I will continue the support of my alma mater Wichita State, even as they continue to choke in the NCAA Regionals every damn year. I’m not giving up on baseball as a sport, I’m giving up on Major League Baseball┞¢. Baseball is a fine game, even if I don’t buy into the hype that sports-writers give it. Frankly, I’d love to see all of the writers that fawn over baseball actually take the field and play the game. Put George Will at catcher (the guy deserves no better) and Gammons at short. The bullpen can be made up of overweight Boston-area writers. We’ll put them up against the Yankees and see how well they like the game by the 7th inning stretch. If nothing else we’d get more soccer coverage in this country.

I’m sure there are a lot of small-market (and not-so-small-market) fans out there mad at me for this or for what I’ve said. That’s fine. You all are fans, and I respect that. I really do. Hell, I was one with you until last Thursday. I’ll understand your fanaticism if you’ll understand my frustration. I’m not trying to convince you to give up baseball yourselves, I’m just saying that I’m done. Those of you that want to keep playing Monopoly, go ahead. I’m going to play Tecmo Bowl.

Quasi-Random Thoughts

I need to get back on the diet.

Nicole Ohlde update: 19 points, 7 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 1 turnover in the 83-67 loss to Los Angeles. 6-11 shooting = 56%

Meanwhile “¦.

Diana Taurasi: 16 points, 6 boards, 1 assist, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 2 turnovers, in a 63-57 loss to Sacramento. 7-19 shooting = 37%.

And the sad thing is that she’ll probably win the ESPY for Female Athlete Of The Year. Lord knows she won that NCAA title all by herself. Yes. I’m bitter.

Well, it looks like the Michael Moore Media Machine worked this weekend, picking up the dregs before “Spider-Man 2″ cleans everybody else out starting Wednesday. On one hand, I’m happy that so many people want to educate themselves on recent history and current events, but on the other hand I’m sorry that it takes somebody has manipulative as Michael Moore to do it. And even worse, now that this one worked, he’s going to think he can do it again. If Bush wins in November, expect a movie bitching about the campaign by either next summer or the summer after that.

Cris and I tried playing poker last night. Not so fun with two people as a beginner. You know nothing, you know your friend knows nothing. You end up either playing the cards completely or you end up trying to “bluff” your friend and he bluffs in return and you both get to ridiculously high bets which one of you ends up winning on a pair of threes. For the record, we went through both phases last night.

I’m fully supportive of the current surge in popularity of poker. If nothing else, maybe it’ll take some of the casino attention off of the blackjack tables and we can start getting some decent games there again. (Shuffle Master = bad)

Finally picked up a used copy of Gran Turismo 3 for $10 last week and took all of fifteen minutes to remember why I hadn’t bought it beforehand. Luckily, the EB Games I bought it from also has a couple of used steering wheel peripherals. Maybe after payday this week”¦

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is too damn easy.

And speaking of the PGA Tour, I want to know who else heard about Tiger’s vigilante caddy. The one named Steve Williams. If I were paired up for a round with Tiger, I’d place a call to another Steve Williams to see if he’d want to be my caddy for the round, just to keep the other Steve Williams from beating up fans. (Steve, don’t give him a stunner on the fairway, you’ll damage the turf. Take him over to the rough for that.)

My wife is now SCUBA-certified. I just find that incredibly cool.

Next week, another actual hangover, from my 4th of July party this time.

Until then, get some sleep.