Category: Games

Second Hype

Second Life has to be most hyped online game in history. I’ve read all types of drooling stories saying that Second Life is going to revolutionize online gaming, etc, etc. Its a cute idea, but Second Life is certainly not original, it just seems like an extension of the Sims Online concept. EA came out of with an online version of the Sims nearly 5 years ago, and it was a flop. Millions of people tried the Sim’s online, and subsequently dropped it.

second life

The problem with nearly all these online environment games is they are way too time consuming. Most people don’t have enough free time to excel in Second Life. What happens? People try it out, drop it, and the people with way too much free time do well.

One of my favorite blogs, Valleywag, confirms one of my long held suspicions. The usage figures for Second Life are deceiving.

Now that Linden is publishing actual user numbers, we can see that the Residents figure, as expected, is a big overcount over actual people (about 50% inflation, in fact, accounting for over a million ersatz users). Second Life doesn’t have two million users. They have had two million users over the life of the service, and they’ve lost most of them. Of those users, the majority — something like 5 out of 6 — bailed in the first month.

The Nytimes has confirmed my suspicion, that the ps3 is a very unpolished machine.

The PS3, which was introduced in North America on Friday with a hefty $599 price tag for the top version, certainly delivers gorgeous graphics. But they are not discernibly prettier than the Xbox 360’s. More important, the whole PlayStation 3 system is surprisingly clunky to use and simply does not provide many basic functions that users have come to expect, especially online.

Sadly for Sony, the best way to explain how the PlayStation 3 falls short is to explain how different it is to use than its main competition, Xbox 360. When I reviewed the 360 last year, I wrote: “Twelve minutes after opening the box, I had created my nickname, was in a game of Quake 4 and thought, ‘This can’t be this easy.’ ”

I never felt that way using the PlayStation 3. With the PS3, 12 minutes after opening the box I realized that Sony inexplicably does not include cables to connect the machine to a high-definition television. Keep in mind that one of Sony’s main selling points has been that the PS3 plays Blu-Ray high-definition movie discs. But high-definiton cables? Sold separately. The Xbox 360, by contrast, ships with one cable that can connect to either a standard or high-definition set.

And so it is a bit of a shock to realize that on the video game front Microsoft and Sony are moving in exactly the opposite directions one might expect given their roots. Microsoft, the prototypical PC company, has made the Xbox 360 into a powerful but intuitive, welcoming, people-friendly system. Sony’s PlayStation 3, on the other hand, often feels like a brawny but somewhat recalcitrant specialized computer. (Sony is even telling users to wait for future software patches to fix some of the PS3’s deficiencies.) The thing is, if people want to use a computer, they’ll use a computer.

I’ve really been neglecting the blog lately, so here is a collection of quick posts.

Election 2006

I wasn’t too surprised by the democratic resurgence this year, but I can’t say I’m optimistic about Iraq regardless of whatever party is in power. Bush has dug our country in to hole that has no possible clean exit.

Sun Free’s Java

I was really happy to see that Java is going to be released under the GPL license. Hat’s off to Sun for making the smart move.

Next Gen Consoles

The PS3 and WII will be released in the US soon. At $600+ retail price for the PS3, I strongly believe that the competition has a real chance this time. The WII is going to be cheap and innovative, while the Xbox 360 has a superior interface, online community, and controller. Both are going to be significantly less than the PS3. I’m very happy with my 360, but I would definitely like to have a WII.

BTW, Gears of War from the 360 is a must have.. I despise console FPS’s, and I love this game.

After my recent move, my Xbox 360 started becoming more and more unstable. Games would freeze after a few hours, forcing me to reboot. After a few weeks, the device wouldn’t even boot.

Last weekend, I finally broke down and called Microsoft to get a replacement. Amazingly, the tech was actually good, but the news he delivered was not. Apparently, the Xbox 360 only comes with a 90 day warranty. 90 days? At a bare minimum, I expect a year for $300+ consumer electronic device. 90 days is something I expect for a $20 CD player at a gas station.

So now I have to pay $129 to get this situation resolved. 90 days shows how much faith Microsoft has in the reliability of this device.

<meta content="OpenOffice.org 2.0 (Linux)" name="GENERATOR" /><meta content="Alex Valentine" name="AUTHOR" /><meta content="20060109;51700" name="CREATED" /><meta content="16010101;0" name="CHANGED" /> </p> <style> <!-- @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> <p>Old video games were so easy to use. A lot of people say the older games were easy to use because of the primitive technology, but it was actually the Arcade design restraint. Developers would have to write games with the restriction that any user should be able to walk up to a machine for the first time, put a quarter in the box, and have fun.</p> <p>This topic came up recently when I brought my shiny new Xbox 360 home for Christmas. In 1985, my parents gave me a Commodore 128 for Christmas. My Dad and I would play games together in the winter months, usually John Elway Quarterback. Because John Elway Quarterback was designed as an arcade game, it was really easy to pick up, just like most of the games of that era.</p> <p>Well imagine trying to play a sports game today for the first time! My Dad and I tried to play NBA 2K6 together, but it was simply too much of a learning curve. The same hold’s true for just about any sports title available for a modern console. I’m surprised video game developers haven’t looked harder at the huge market of middle aged gamers. How many millions of middle aged housewives addicted to Yahoo games will it take, before developers start producing games that easy to learn?</p> <p>One game I discovered last night on the Xbox Live arcade is Hexic HD. Hexic is a highly addictive tetris like game, so I gave it the ultimate usability test:</p> <p><a href="http://alexvalentine.org/gallery/v/Everything-Else/album02/img_0862.jpg.html"><img align="middle" alt="the lindsey test" title="the lindsey test" src="http://alexvalentine.org/gallery/d/3509-4/img_0862.jpg" /></a><br /> Hexic HD gets the Lindsey seal of approval.</p> <div class="sharedaddy sd-sharing-enabled"> <div class="robots-nocontent sd-block sd-social sd-social-icon-text sd-sharing"> <h3 class="sd-title">Share this:</h3> <div class="sd-content"> <ul> <li class="share-facebook"><a rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-shared="sharing-facebook-221" class="share-facebook sd-button share-icon" href="http://alexvalentine.org/?p=221&share=facebook" target="_blank" title="Click to share on Facebook"><span>Facebook</span></a></li> <li class="share-twitter"><a rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer" data-shared="sharing-twitter-221" class="share-twitter sd-button share-icon" 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