Catching up on movie watching …

Some movies I’ve seen over the last couple of months:

Stuck
I watched this because someone told me it had Mira Sorvino (from The Replacement Killers) in it, imagine my disapointment when it was actually Mena Suvari (from American Pie), I nearly didn’t bother watching beyond the first 15 minutes but persisted and it paid off in the end, with a very unexpected and gory ending.

The Dark Knight
One of the few movies which was able to live up to the hype surrounding it, and that was a big ask since there was a lot of hype. Heath Ledger was most certainly the star of this movie and did an amazing job of being very un-Heath Ledger-like, and I’m not saying this because he’s dead. It didn’t feel like an almost three hour long movie at all, which says a lot.

Iron Man
Another hype liver-upperer, very enjoyable, I hope they make a sequel which doesn’t suck.

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising
Already discussed here.

You don’t mess with The Zohan
My primary thought throughout the first 10 minutes of this movie was “what the fuck” as Zohan fried a fish with his cock out then proceeded to play hackey sack with it and catch it in his arse, but then I remembered it was an Adam Sandler movie and switched my brain off for increased appreciation.

Harold and Kuma Escape From Guantanemo Bay
I really liked the first one, in fact, I reviewed it for DVD.net. Go read that review because unsurprisingly it could apply to this movie as much as it did to the original.

Hancock
What can I say apart from that I didn’t know that was Charlize Theron as a major character until the credits rolled, wierd.

Dawn of War 2, inside information…

Not really, I have a friend working for THQ Australia but he is steadfastly refusing to give me any information on what he’s working on, bastard.

However, here’s some potential DoW2 news, THQ Aus are working on an unnamed Warhammer 40k project for 360 and PS3.

No confirmation on if it’s a port of DoW2 for consoles or a whole new game but they’ve just put up a bunch of job ads which state they are working on “an action game for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 3 based on the popular Warhammer 40,000 universe from Games Workshop“, either way it’s awesome. If it’s a port here’s their chance to prove that RTS’s don’t have to suck on a console and I’ll probably end up buying both (PC and 360) anyway, if it’s a whole new game, even better!

Dawn of War 2

Ads here:
http://www.sumea.com.au/snews.asp?news=4073

Story here:
http://au.ps3.ign.com/articles/906/906078p1.html

The Gamers:Dorkness Rising

Gamers: Dorkness Rising follows Lodge, Dungeon Master and budding writer, who wants his gaming group to finish their adventure. Unfortunately, they’re more interested in seducing barmaids, mooning their enemies, and setting random villagers on fire.

While this describes the majority of roleplaying groups on the planet, these guys made a movie out of it, and it’s hilarious and surprisingly well done, so well done in fact that it puts some “professional” fantasy movies to shame. The irony of course being that the whole thing is a parody of gaming groups and roleplaying in general but told by actual gamers which means it’s OK, and not insulting like it could have been.

Check it out, the poster right)and the banner on the movie website pretty much says it all.

http://www.the-gamers.com/

Mac1 and the story of amazing service

oops (not my iPod)So, my 6 month old 80Gb iPod Classic started playing up recently, it would often drop connection with my PC during synchronisation and more recently wouldn’t be detected at all without some serious cable jiggling. So I took it in to Mac1 in Civic to have them take a look at it where they verified it was indeed rooted and they sent it off to be further evaluated.

The next day I get a call, my new iPod is ready to be picked up. New iPod? Of course, they don’t bother repairing them, my old one is probably half way to land-fill by now, or at the very least stripped for parts (errr, why for parts then they don’t repair them, I dunno).

And I bet you thought this was going to be one those anti-apple posts where some nerd rages about how Apple is an evil empire and doesn’t care and overcharges for their crappy unreliable music players, nope, not this time.

Thanks Mac1 and thanks Apple, the shiny new (well, I assume, refurbed) iPod works great.

More Pub Games

I found a post on Wired giving an analysis of the odds of winning in the three Fable 2 Pub Games.

Summary: You can’t win. The odds are so shockingly stacked against the player that winning comes more down to complete chance than anything else. I think this further re-enforces my theory that this is a social experiment designed to force players in to cheating to win, something I have so far refused to do (cheat, and win – much – as it happens).

I guess that makes the 10,000 gold I’ve won so far (legitmately, I didn’t use the cheat) either a result of amazing luck or super-human skill, I’ll take either, I guess.

Fable 2 Pub Games

I’ve been playing the Fable 2 pub games which you (can) get for free when you pre-order Fable 2, or you can pay 800 MS points for it. I shelled 800 points out because my simple maths showed me that pre-ordering at $99 gave me a game worth $12.50, but if I didn’t pre-order and just bought the game from JB on released it would most likely be $79, saving me $7.50, I’m smarter than the Microsoft marketing department, yay!

Anyway, The games are kind of fun but unfortunately only one of them requires any sort of skill at all, here’s a quick summary.

Fortunes Tower – The aforementioned game which needs some skill/thought to play. Essentially you’re playing against the dealer in a multi-level towers game (again, not an original concept but a different take on an old classic).
Keystone – A cleverly disguised cross between Craps and Roulette, three dice are rolled and you place your bets based on what you think the numbers on the dice will be, as a tally or individually or a combination of any numbers.
Spinnerbox – it’s a poker machine, one armed bandit and as it turns out a great way to lose all your money (just like real poker machines).

You can get a better run down of each by following the link above, but the main reason for posting about this is that apparently there is a glitch/cheat which lets you create essentially unlimited money:

When playing Fortune’s tower on 150-1500 you can place your bet down at the lowest number of 150, after the gate card is layed down, hit Left Bumpter to raise your bet to 1500. The amount of money you’ll have put down will be 150, but the multiplier of the money you get back will be as if you put down 1500.

Which would explain the leaderboard being filled with punks on over 1 million gold.

The main reason people are playing the Pub Games now is that when Fable 2 is released you get to carry over all your winnings in to the game, making your starting character wealthy beyond belief (or in terrible debt). You can also unlock some exclusive items by playing in Pub Games tournaments (this is the main reason I am playing, there are some cool/unique items).

The thing is, Peter Molyneux has said in muliple interviews that everything you do within Fable 2 will make an impact on your character, including trivial crap like sniffing flowers or killing bards.

This got me thinking, what if this infinite money cheat was a lure by Peter Molyneux to see who will cheat and who will not? A giant social experiment if you will, to mark your character as a “cheater” inside the game for something you did outside the game? What in-game consequences could come of this? For this reason alone I am avoiding the cheat (which explains why my winnings are so pathetic), am I just being paranoid or is Molyneuz actually going to deliver on his promise of a game where everything you do will have real consequences to you in-game? Will we ever know the true extent of his genius, or madness? I guess we will, Fable 2 is scheduled for release in late October.

My next car will be 100% electric

With petrol prices approaching $2/Litre I have noticed the reduction in the number of obscenely large 4WD vehicles on the road. From a personal perspective this is a good thing because I’ve always hated sharing the road with vehicles which were designed to be off the road, not because I hate soccer mums but because I hate driving behind a brick wall in heavy traffic.

On a side note, in the last week or so the prices dropped about 15-20c/Litre and I noticed an increase in the number of cars and particularly large cars on the road, maybe $2/L is the magic number to kill of Humvees forever.

Having said that, we do own a Subaru Forester XT which isn’t known for it’s fuel efficiency but we own it through necessity, for the business…and becasuse it’s a Turbo and it goes fast. It’s ok, I offset that extravegance by driving a Honda Civic which does 7L/100km.

Anyway, I’ve been saying for a while now that my next car will be fully electric because even the fuel efficient Civic is still costing almost $100 a week to run, in fuel costs alone.

So reports that Nissan (and others) are working on 100% electric vehicles to be commercially available within 3-4 years is good news.

What remains to be seen is the initial cost and running costs, electricity isn’t free. Also, how do you bill your running costs to a lease since you (theoretically) just plug the thing in to your house socket and charge it from there?

How much you’ll pay for one remains an open question, and one answered by the price of the lithium ion batteries. “They’re over $1,000 a kilowatt hour,” Tom Turrentine, director of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center at UC-Davis, told Wired.com. “The Volt battery is 16 kilowatt hours. That’s $16,000 just for the battery.”

See the full article on the Chevrolet Volt.

Here’s some more info on plug-in electric cars:

It all starts in 2010. General Motors promises to have the Chevrolet Volt rolling into showrooms by then. Toyota says it will roll out a small fleet of plug-in Prius hybrids to see how they do. Volkswagen has similar plans for its plug-in Golf. And Fisker hopes to have a few dozen pricey Karma sedans in driveways within 18 months. Ford and others are moving more slowly, aiming for 2012 and beyond.

More good news is that going off the design for the Chevrolet Volt not all electric cars have to look like bulbous ugly overly streamlined rejects designed by aerodynamics computers, oh wait…

Games back in the hands of the garage devs

I was listening to the 1UP podcast on the way to work and they were talking about how the games industry has changed in recent years.

They were talking about how initiatives like XNA Studio and games like Little Big Planet are putting the tools for game development back in the hands of the single developer working from their basement or garage, much like games development started 30 years ago when it was possible for one guy to produce a hit game and make a fortune.

This is a good thing.

Five years ago if anyone had suggested that a successful game could be created, published and sold by a single person you would have thought them insane. This was the time of the big development houses, game budgets were approaching those of movies, development teams numbered in the 100’s and it really looked like the time when one person could have an idea and make it in to a game was well and truly over.

A particular watershed moment for this change in gaming came when Microsoft announced the XNA Game Studio and XNA Creators Club for XBOX Live. Follow the links for more info but essentially XNA is a development kit and community which facilitates development, deployment and sale of games on XBOX Live by anyone with an idea and some coding skills.

You may think that this will open the floodgates to ten thousand tetris clones but the XNA Creators Club is structure in a way that other members will vote on the game and give them ratings, members will also have a weighting associated with their vote based on their previous works/votes which will go towards determining if a game will be released to the public or not. This should improve the signal to noise ratio considerably.

The additional requirement that you need to pay a yearly fee to be a member of the XNA Creators Club should also eliminate the kiddies from voting for garbage and restrict membership to real developers, establishing a real peer review system which means that games making it in to the public eye should truly be worth the time to download and check out.

This wasn’t meant to be a disertation on the wonders of XNA, there are a number of other initiatives on the horizon which will work in a similar way, and not all of them are as structured but they do hold the potential to change the way we look at games and game development.

Time will tell if this is the start of a revolution or a blip on the radar for the big corporate players, but it certainly makes for an exciting time of innovation and change for console gamers everwhere.

Totally awesome dice

Since we are on the throws of switching game systems with the Rolemaster group from RM to 4E D&D I thought it was time to look around at how dice have changed since I bought my last dice 15 years ago. I mean, what could they do with a dice, really?

How about this.

 

or this

 

 

or these

 

or this

They’re not cheap but they are very cool and unique, these are not your daddy’s polyhedrons.

See more here: http://q-workshop.com/, they even do custom designs, at a price.