Thursday, September 8, 2005

Signs of life

I saw three signs of life today:

1. Arcades.

*sigh* where did we go wrong?

Today I attended Microsoft's big Marketing Symposium, a multi-thousand person power-pow-wow that I can't talk about in this forum, other than to say, this company kicks butt. I am so jazzed about working here. We're doing awesome things.

Anyhow, it was going on downtown at the convention center and I attended. On the way out, I dropped by the local GameWorks, because it's been years since I've been in one.

And **ugh** nothing's changed.

Six or Seven years ago, consoles were challenging the arcade machines for what they could do, but now they are MONSTROUSLY behind standard consumer machines. Very sad. All they have left is peripherals, which is why all the games are either driving sims, beat matching (drum kit, guitar, dance platform, etc) or "wacky peripheral" (hang gliding, fire-fighting hose, etc, etc). But to slap all that force feedback servo, fiberglass, and projection screen together and then run in on something akin to a PS1 is just criminal! No filtering, super low polycounts, not to mention tired game design ideas.

I have to forgive the design thing somewhat. Innovation is always hard to fund and justify funding - let alone in a market that's been bleeding out for years - and it must be especially hard in a place where the user must GET your game in a matter of seconds, and become at least moderately proficient in minutes. Training levels on arcade games cost money (time another person could be paying/playing), would be another way to put it.

Anyhow, so I'm walking around completely depressed when lo and behold! Something new! Something - different looking!

It's Sega's Ollie King! A skateboarding game, it's a mix of Skate King and Wipeout, it's toon shaded (cel shaded if you must) and has some great stylized video transitions and the like. Anyhow, great to see some signs of life in that market.

As an aside, I was going to post screens from the game, but FORGET IT! Stop, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and go immediately to download the 10Mb owners manual for the Ollie King cabinet! Check out the work they put into the illustrations therein! Somewhere, Ed Tufte is sippy a $75 cognac and feeling smug. (Actually, he probably knows nothing about the sega manual, but it's safe to bet that he's feeling smug anyhow). Check a snip from the manual:

Whew. On to number sign of life number two!

Cell phone gaming

Back when I was at Intel, I had to meet with the CEO one time to give him a briefing on game technology, the industry, etc. Someone said, "you need to talk about cell phone gaming". So I did. I gave it one line in teh presentation and said something akin to "never have 200 million gaming devices sucked so bad". And then I moved on.

Not saying he nor the company shared the view, but it was mine.

And yet here I am, a couple years later, and I bought my first cell phone game (shudder).

I bought Phil Hellmuth Texas Hold'em Poker. And I like it. Worth the $6 or whatever it was.

So, who's to say I can't change my mind.

Third sign of life: Media center

This was more a sign of life of the Frankenstein "IT'S ALIVE!!!" Variety.

I've had a side project going for a little while to build a Media Center Edition-based PC, and use it as my primary PVR, replacing my ReplayTV.

Now I'm as skeptical as anyone about using a PC-based device in my got-to-run-24/7/365 living room, but I figured I'd give it a try. I'd put a PC together, added a dual-tuner Nvidia tv tuner card, installed MCE2005, and picked up one of Microsoft's new keyboards for MCE as well.

So, it's ALIVE! It's happily recording away a bunch of movies and shows. So far I like hte interface, and it seems to be working pretty well. I'll give it about a week, and if it's pretty solid, it's going to the living room!

So, anyhow, I've seen signs of life. But for all that, I'm dead to teh world, so I'm going to bed!


Anonymous said...

My first experience with my dual tuner, Dell XPS MCE 2005 desktop: I recorded 2 shows simultaneously, after 5 seconds, it responded like, "Unable to record show. Please reboot and try again." Unacceptable. Can't trust it. Can't even browse other channel information via transparent title at the top of the screen. Come on! I did that with DishNetwork 10 years ago!

I was looking forward to the Xbox 360 to sit next to the RTV as an extender, but after the ridiculous reverse price wars between Sony and MSoft, I'll just get a used Xbox and get the extender for it. Can the 360 be THAT much better???

I'm so glad I bought a ReplayTV 3 years ago. Instant Dora for the kids, Internet sharing for missed TV shows, commercial skip...can't beat it!

Sharing DVDs through my desktop via DVArchive to my ReplayTV is kind of a hassle, it'd be much easier with MCE extender.

Anonymous said...

I assume you have a 5K series Replay... - I cannot import DVD's into my RTV 4508 (which is the model Kim has, if memory serves). I am still looking for a tool to import video into my DVArchive interface other than to pull it down from my Replay directly.

KimPallister said...

I have a 4000 series replay. It's been rock solid and I really like it, but MCE may finally get me to give it up. I'll give it a week or two to see if I get any crashes. So far I'm 3 days with it and no issues.

And yes, 360 rocks the christ child. I came to MS highly skeptical and they won me over very quickly.