Monthly Archives: June 2009

That’s one small step…

And one giant leap into commitment! On June 5th 2009 I proposed to Elizabeth and she said Yes! It was a wonderful evening. I made some dinner, we went to the Phantom of the Opera and finished the evening off with some Taco Bell and Diamonds. It’s an interesting story that we will be writing in our wedding book. (The wedding business is a lucrative one.)

It’s certainly a crazy feeling knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone. I’m extremely happy and excited for what the future holds.

Already, in a week, we’ve made a bid on a house and started looking at reception halls. It’s a crazy whirlwind of commitment and money.

Here’s to life! May it be long and happy!

The State of Gaming

The time is upon us again. E3 is back and has returned in the form of it’s former glory. Gone is the small scale industry expo. Back is the grandiose caffeine infused, neon light flashing, booth babe ogling and rock star atmosphere. It’s a very exciting time of year for gamers.

Fanbois the world round are brushing off their insults and lolcatz clipart. The biased insults have already started to fly as coverage begins. It’s like hunting season. Except the deer have guns and are shooting each other.

The comments I’ve read have got me to thinking about the state of gaming and where it could go from here.


So I started writing this post a few days ago and I’ve picked it back up.

I would have to say that someone behind the curtain agrees with my thinking.  That is, that we have reached the limitation of our technology.  We can improve graphics, but we are already capable of entering the “uncanny valley”.  The “uncanny valley” is the point where a human representation on screen is so close to life like, while still missing “something”, that we actually start to dislike the character.  This implies that any increase in CPU and GPU power has extremely diminishing returns as far as the gameplay experience is concerned.

Nintendo certainly understood this.  The Wii is extremely underpowered for the technology that was current at the time of its release.  Rather than try to make a more powerful system, they created a new way of interacting.  This clearly is the future of gaming.  Microsoft and Sony are aware, as they have both announced efforts to create movement based interaction with players.  The downside is that Microsoft’s and Sony’s devices are not slated for market anytime soon.  Where as the Wii has an upgrade to movement detection that is to be released later this month.

Micrsoft has Project Natal which is by far the most ambitious and exciting.   If you haven’t seen this yet, you should certainly check it out.  It’s cool, freaky, scary and exciting.  The camera device is a 3D camera.  It is capable of facial and voice recognition.  It builds a live wireframe repesentation of your body.  It is also able to seperate you from background image noise.  I doubt it will deliver as that kind of technology would surely have shown up else where before being seen on a gaming system.

Sony has their upgraded EyeToy which looks to be much more feasible.  It involves a wand as the main source of tracking information.  This should be able to make it to market before Microsoft’s solution.

While all of this innovation is extremely exciting and certainly needed, I foresee problems…

I own a Wii.  I use a used gamecube controller to play every game I can on the Wii.  This is because using movement based inputs is an extremely annoying and inefficient input for many games.  The best example for me is Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart.  I use the Wii Mote as a form of handicap when playing with family members.  When it comes time to unlock tracks, I pull out the trusty game cube controller and proceed to dominate.

I don’t want to have to swing my arm or shift my foot for every little task.  Can you imagine playing an RPG (role playing game) where every time you interacted with a chest you had to literally open an imaginary chest?  It would get ridiculous.  You don’t have to look to a crystal ball to see this.  How many of you have resulted to flicking your wrist when playing the Wii?  How many of you play Tennis or Bowling while sitting back in your comfy sofa?  Being up and mobile is fun for a while, but it certainly gets to be a chore.  (If I wanted to simulate the real thing, maybe I would, oh you know do the real thing?)

Here in lies the challenge.  How can they create engaging, fun and quality games that use their interaction devices without coming off as gimicky?  My thought is that you will see certain genres transfer better than others.  As can be seen on the Wii, timing based repetitive games fare really well with this form of input.  A ton of crappy wrist-flicking-infra-red-sensor-pointing games have been released for the Wii.  I’d venture to say they are all terrible and not worth your money, but they are certainly out there.  These games provide short intense burst of “entertainment” in a few varieties and then rinse and repeat until you get bored.  Where as a friend and I would sit down and play a  video game for hours on end.  With the Wii you find yourself bored and tired after an hour.

I’m starting to ramble…

The controller will not disappear.  It is a fantastic input device for many many many genres.  Movement should provide growth in a number of genres and perhaps even invent its own genre.  As movement detection technology improves, at what point does the game stop being a game and move into a life simulation device?  That would be the main element I find missing more and more in games.  The “fun” or “game” element.  So many games that are brilliant in nature end up feeling like work or a pixelated version of real life.

I see this ending up in a cycle.  Humans use “Virtual Reality” to react to a virtual world as a means to escape their problems in the real world.  Before long, they will try to create a means to escape the pressures of their virtual world.  How long before we play pong on a simulated Atari in some virtual world that we are interacting with through Nadal/EyeToy/WiiMote?

A little too deep?  Here’s a Kitty.

Who is your Daddy and what does he do?

Who is your Daddy and what does he do?