Last night I had a dream that I played a mostly-complete very-playable version of FEZ II.
Since it's highly unlikely that FEZ II will ever be a real thing, and because I enjoyed this vision of it so much, I think I'll describe it here.
The Sprung soundtrack just came up on iTunes shuffle for me, and it's been about 8 years and for some reason I feel like talking about some of the fun technical stuff. It wasn't a great game and it wasn't an amazing use of the DS technology, but there was some pretty cool internal stuff about it, even if it wasn't really visible in the end product.
I figure that since it was released over 8 years ago now and apparently Ubisoft doesn't even have the source anymore there's no harm in talking about things. (No, Nintendo, I'm not sharing any secrets specifically about the DS, and I never did to begin with, despite what your clueless lawyers told Ubisoft's clueless lawyers.)
I feel like I've written about this before but if so I feel like writing about it again, so bear with me.
So a while ago I posted about wanting a new laptop, and in the comments said I'd ordered a ThinkPad X220 Tablet. It actually took a lot longer than expected (due to multiple screwups on Lenovo's end), but I finally got it today. Actually I got a much better tablet than the one I originally ordered, and for about $200 less. It also came with the gigantic "slice" battery. I can get around 15 hours of battery life total, in theory. (I haven't measured it.)
Anyway, I quickly found that the default Lenovo install of everything was crappy, and I never managed to get a full recovery DVD set burned out and since I was going to upgrade the hard drive to my 256GB SSD (partitioned 128 for Windows, 128 for Linux) anyway, I figured I should just install an OEM copy. Fortunately, Microsoft makes the actual install media for that readily available, and fortunately my OEM key worked without any troubles. (And fortunately Lenovo makes all of the system drivers readily-available too.)
I did find that Wacom's own Tablet PC driver works way better than the one Lenovo provides (Lenovo's tries to calibrate everything by the edge of the screen, where the digitizer is very jittery and unpredictable, whereas Wacom's uses calibration points that are in the actual work area — much more useful).
The keyboard is a bit mushier than I'd like, and I'm getting all sorts of typos. I'm sure I'll get used to it in time though. On the plus side, it's quite a bit lighter than the MacBook this is replacing, and a much better size than the Inspiron Mini 9 that was my alternate for when the MacBook felt way too heavy and big to lug around.
The laptop also came with a docking station, and I'm entertaining the thought of turning my current desktop system (a Mac mini) into an HTPC and just using this laptop for everything. It's certainly powerful enough to. I'll have to weigh my options with software, though. Windows has plenty of drawing apps available but most of them suck; Linux has only a few available and all of them suck. I need to give Paint Tool SAI a fair shake; the UI is gimpy but a lot of artists I follow swear by it, and it's pretty cheap, too. Plus, I like that it actually lets you seamlessly mix raster and vector layers for sketching and inkwork; at least in principle it matches my mental model of how a drawing app should work.
I'm not sure how much time I'll be spending in Windows vs. Linux, also. I'm starting to suspect I'll just run Windows all the time, since Windows 7 actually isn't terribly painful to use for day-to-day stuff. If there were decent drawing programs for Linux the choice would be a lot easier, though.
In other technology news, due to an early-purchase opportunity provided by my employer, I got a PS Vita a couple days ago. My initial impressions: it's much nicer than the PSP, its version of Lumines is wonderful (although I've already played the hell out of it, and it doesn't seem to have the same depth of gameplay as the PS3 version, but it does have a quite nice soundtrack). It's also got the best version of wipEout so far. I haven't tried Modnation Racers (which came with the system). I have run into some stability problems, though, as well as some ridiculous human factors issues when it comes to its power saving "sleep" mode (vs. being actually turned off), and I've had to rebuild the system database several times due to what I guess was filesystem corruption. But given that the system technically isn't even out yet (at least not for most of the world) I'm not surprised that there's firmware issues.
If you liked Rez, you will probably love Child of Eden, which just came out two days ago. It's a prequel to Rez (inasmuch as Rez even had a plot to begin with), and the music and gameplay are fantastic. The first level has a very strong resemblance to a lot of the stuff in Rez, but after that it diverges quite a bit.
However, I do have to question Tetsuya Mizuguchi's sanity and/or intentions based on the PS Move controls. Remember the infamous Trance Vibrator? Well, when using the Move, the way you fire your weapon is by thrusting your purple-tipped rod forward in a rhythmic undulation.
(It's a pretty good workout, though!)
It was a bit longer than Portal 1, way more ambitious, and while I felt like it was a bit easier (especially since there were no fiddly timing-sensitive puzzles, which made it quite enjoyable on the PS3 unlike the original) it was a much better game in general. (And the original was pretty great!)
I personally think that the new ending song is a lot better, but it's also not the sort of thing that will become memetic. Which is a good thing. I really don't want to get sick of it. I'm also glad that there aren't any eminently-quotable one-liners that people will be able to do to death; there are definitely some great moments in it but they're not quotable and sound-bites. Hopefully after people play the game they'll also forget about the deadpan "You monster" schtick, since I'd already been tired of that before the game even shipped.
On the minus side, since PSN is still down I can't activate my PC copy, so I can't extract the soundtrack (or sync my Steam achievements). And it's a great soundtrack! Lots of wonderful glitchy ambient stuff, which I am always in favor of.
Yesterday I also played a bit of split-screen two-player with Findra, and that was also a hell of a lot of fun. I can't wait to be able to actually play online. There's some amazing puzzles in it.
I'm also really glad that Valve did the PS3 port themselves this time, instead of trusting EA with it and then complaining about how bad the PS3 is when EA did a terrible job. Portal 2 is clearly using the latest and greatest version of the Source engine (with dynamic lighting and everything! holy cow are the graphics amazing) so here's hoping that they're going to port the Left4Dead series at some point as well.
I also hope that they eventually release a PS3 Move patch (as they've hinted at the possibility of in the past), and despite what they say I think it would actually work out quite well in 3D, although the game seems like it's pushing the poor little RSX to its limit as it is so that might not be in the cards.
It is so much better than 6th Mix. It looks like everything's unlocked from the outset, it has very nice difficulty scaling, and a lot of music (on two discs, with the second disc containing many of the best songs from all previous mixes! although it's missing a bunch of ones that I already have in other forms anyway), so much that they have it classified into handy categories (including whether they're new to the mix, what level they are, name, and a few other things which are in Kanji so I can't understand them). It also has "rival mode" which appears to be related to the fact the arcade game has a PS2 memory card slot (which means it's of course useless in the US).
The music is definitely more on the dance and trance side of things, unlike previous mixes I've played which had a wider variety, but it's still a lot of fun. The second disc makes up for that, though, and also means I actually don't have to keep on collecting mixes.
Neill and Patrick tried playing it a bit but mostly they humored me while I played and they riffed on the music videos (which of course I wasn't looking at at all).
I'm very tempted to take this to Albuquerque on my upcoming vacation but I know better than that.
This entry will probably not make any sense to anyone else because I am basically drunk on music.
Usually when you fall back into a habit it starts out gradual. "One little hit," you think. "Just for old time's sake." And then before you realize it, you've just spent $350 without a second thought.
Hi. My pseudonym is fluffy, and I'm addicted to Japanese rhythm games.
I haven't played any games on it since there's nothing I want to pay money for (at least not the prices they're charging). Supposedly their menuing system is part of the same streaming video thing, though, and that was pretty responsive. It's hard to judge latency on something like that, though, and even then I did notice a bit of lag in spots.
Also, the reviews which say it looks just as good as local gaming are clearly colored by wishful thinking. The colors look washed out and the image looks fairly fuzzy. It's better than YouTube but it's still no local HDMI link (and things that move get smeared into oblivion). Also, it took quite a lot of bandwidth (7Mbps down, 100Kbps up), and also whenever I watched someone's game, it just played a short segment of it before pausing.
An interesting technological achievement to be sure, but it still seems like a little fish in a big desert. Out of place and probably going to dry up unless they figure out how to get some water.
Things I like about Beatmania:
It's also a shame it's so hard on my wrists because holy cow did I miss playing this wonderful game.
I have basically every worthwhile mix for the PS1 (except Sound of Tokyo, which I should be receiving soon, having finally sourced a copy on eBay), and the first Gameboy mix, which is basically a "best of" for the first few PS1 mixes, in chiptune form, and the chiptunes are exceptionally well-done. Right now I'm considering also getting either an import or modded PS2 so I can start building a IIDX collection, even though IIDX didn't really seem so much fun (since it seemed to be all about the difficulty instead of the fun). It's just too bad I didn't get back into this stuff a few years ago when it was still easy to source a PS2 modchip. (Maybe not so bad for my wrists though.)
Also, "8GB of storage for free" is a bit disingenuous when it only applies to an iPod Nano which doesn't actually have any music loaded on it.
On that note, I also found Phil Schiller's comments about gaming to be a bit off-kilter. Yeah, there are a lot more games for the iPod than for the PSP or DS, but how many third-rate Same Game knockoffs does a platform need, anyway? Also, his mention of the "purchase experience" being bad on the PSP and DS because of the supposed lack of an app store is just an outright lie. (Okay, the iPhone App Store is admittedly a somewhat nicer experience than the PSP's, but he made it sound like the PSP could only play UMDs.)
These instructions are based on Fink (and obviously you need XCode installed). For Darwinports/Macports/whatever it's probably similar. Whatever you do, I really don't recommend trying to hand-manage the dependencies.
For build-dependencies, it's just fink install scons sdl zenity lua51-dev, and to build fceux it's just CFLAGS=-I/sw/include LDFLAGS=-L/sw/lib scons; sudo cp bin/* /usr/local/bin
gfceux doesn't seem to work (even after getting PYTHONPATH set up, pygtk doesn't appear to be available), but I'm fine with the commandline (to play Neill's hack it's just fceux --loadlua metroid.lua metroid.nes, assuming fceux is in your $PATH and metroid.nes/metroid.lua are in the current directory). At least, I assume this works - I still need to acquire the ROM (I'm sure I have it on a hard drive somewhere but I'm lazy). I tried a couple of homebrew demo ROMs and fceux worked just fine, aside from the usual SDL-on-OSX gimpiness anyway. (UPDATE: the Lua stuff doesn't seem to work. So I'm just using the Windows build under VMWare anyway. Meh.)
Also, I highly recommend running fceux with the following command line options at least once: --inputcfg gamepad1 --xscale 4 --yscale 4 --opengl 1. Fortunately it saves the last command line options in ~/.fceux/fceux.cfg so you don't have to do that every time.
Also, money quote, from "Sid:"
Can you imagine living in a futuristic society where men don't need PS3s and Xboxes to play insanely gorgeous games? Someone pinch me, I feel like I'm living in a George Orwell book.I don't think Sid has actually read any George Orwell.
The big problem with it stems from that it uses BMI's ridiculous classification system (which is good for a casual statistical clustering of body types but is not in and of itself a useful diagnostic tool), and that it disregards progress and only tells you how you're doing based on where you are in the BMI.