Fatal Inertia

Fatal Inertia will be one of the Playstation 3’s first titles. It’s being touted as a “futuristic racing game”, in which you whizz around canyons in super-fast aircraft blowing the other competitors out of the sky. So basically, a cross between WipeOut and the “pod racing” scene from Star Wars.

But what on earth were they thinking when they came up with that name? A while ago, myself and my friends came up with a “Random Shit Movie Generator” – take one ridiculous adjective, couple it with an absurd noun, throw on a couple of shit stars, and add a horrible tagline, and you’ve got the makings of a completely shit movie.

Example: Outlawed Fortunes
“Ready or not, here he comes”
Rutger Hauer & Beverly D’Angelo

Is that what the Playstation 3 is going to be about? The gaming equivalent of a straight-to-video movie?

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Grand Designs

More4 launched a few weeks ago, and already it’s become a major part of my TV-watching habits. Well, less than I’d probably like. My girlfriend doesn’t think Jon Stewart is particularly funny (and, Crossfire appearance aside, I tend to agree with her) so we tend to avoid that.

But the most surprising thing has been a massive addiction to Grand Designs. In just a couple of weeks, that show has become such a massive part of my TV viewing habits, I turn it on even if I’m in the middle of doing something else like cooking dinner.

I’ve thought long and hard about this. I think there are a couple of things going on here. First, obviously, is the actual building. Nine times out of ten, the people being showcased are the kinds of insufferable assholes that most likely had no other choice than to strike out on their own because no-one wanted these cunts for neighbours.

This works for me because I like shouting at the TV. And these episodes give me plenty of opportunities to turn the air blue from the amount of obscenities I’m hurling at these people with more money than taste. For example, Grand Designs Abroad recently a couple who built a god-awful wooden house in France because this the husband really wanted to become a writer and the only thing stopping him was the lack of a badly-designed house in the middle of a French valley. That episode gave me lots to shout about.

But it’s not always like this. As I said, this is only nine times out of ten. The other time is typically a really heartwarming, reassuring story about someone who really is chasing down their dream. Like the one last week of a guy who worked in a forest in England and spent ten years living in a leaky caravan while waiting for planning permission to build an organic house in the forest. The end result was something so pretty and beautiful that it absolutely brought a tear to my eye. That he built it all by himself, right down to the carving of the 16,000 wooden slates only added to the beauty of this episode.

But there’s another reason. And I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I think I’m developing a bit of a hetero crush on the presenter, Kevin McCloud. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a major thing. Certainly not like my hetero crush on Peter Gallagher (more specifically: Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows) or my full-on hetero boner for Noah Wyle. No, no. This is much simpler – I just like his little soliloquies. These are perfectly judged breaks from the chaos of the actual home-building, providing just the right balance of caution and hope.

I was thinking of dressing as Kevin McCloud for Halloween (other ideas included: Hellboy, Arthur Dent, Biff Tannen). There wouldn’t have to be much to the costume, but I would occasionally step aside and offer my own soliloquies about the party, pausing occasionally for emotional effect.

“People… Are the life and soul of every party… And this party certainly has people… But are they they right people? … And will it be enough?”

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Why gaming in Europe sucks

Shadow of the Colossus is the sequel to Ico, one of the most incredible games I’ve ever played. Ever. I can’t call Ico underrated, because everyone who played it agrees that it was, indeed, one of the best games they’d ever played. Ever. Instead, it suffered from woeful under-exposure and an apathetic market. Incredible word of mouth and a dedicated fanbase mean that pre-owned copies of Ico swap hands for approximately EUR50 on eBay. It still ranks as the only game I’ve ever played through more than three times.

And to say that I’ve been looking forward to its sequel would be an understatement. I’ve been poring over every video, awe-struck by the scale and enormity of the promise. has only made matters worse. From the review:

In short, Shadow of the Colossus breaks storytelling barriers none of us knew existed. It’s the rare game for which the often overused words “ground-breaking” were truly reserved for, and it’s enough to make you regret every stupid coin you ever collected. There’s more to gaming than rote clichés and borrowed ideas, and Shadow of the Colossus is kind enough to remind us of what could be. You really couldn’t ask for better than that. Besides merely being one of gaming’s great moments, this is the experience of the year.

The game is being released today in the US. Checking out when I can expect to get my grubby little paws on my own, European copy…

(Author’s own emphasis)

That’s two thousand and six. Might as well be two thousand and fifty. And this is why gaming in Europe sucks: all the localisation that needs to be done – manuals, box art, voices, interface – multiplied the 6 or so languages that Europe requires, means that we don’t usually get our games until much, much later than our American cousins. In some cases, like Animal Crossing, this can mean that we don’t to play the game for over a year and a half after its original release (even though there are typically perfectly good PAL releases in English for the Australian market).

This bites.

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Simple Wifi Setup?

Our office is reasonably thin, but quite long. It’s also broken up into three areas

* Developer Room
* Front office
* Board room

The developer room is, obviously, where most of the action happens. It’s got an existing wireless connection, but since our office is so long, its range doesn’t quite extend to the front office. It would be nice if the people in the front office could also get access to the wireless network, since most of those people use laptops anyway. And since we’re kitting out the building, why not give the board room its own wireless access point too?

I didn’t think it would be unreasonable to assume that there existed a wireless access point that contained two “remote” APs, that weren’t actually APs at all, but simply extended the range of the main Access Point. This would mean that someone could connect in the developer room, walk the length of the building and enter the board room (where most of our meetings, both internal and external) are held, without having to disconnect and reconnect. Surely this would be a fairly common request?

Apparently not. I spoke to our supplier about this and he told me he never heard of such a solution. He said that most companies just make do with the disconnect – move – reconnect scenario.

There must be *something* out there like this. Has anyone heard of anything like it?

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There’s a special place in hell for bike thieves

In the 18-odd hours between coming home from TechCamp and parking my bike in our building’s underground parking area and stepping out again to cycle into town, someone had managed to break into the underground parking area and run off with approximately five bikes (I’m guessing five because there were five mangled locks left where our bikes had been.)

I’m still pretty furious about the whole thing. But I can’t tell if I’m more furious at the guy (or girl!) who stole my bike, or our management company for recognising that there was a huge problem with theft and vandalism in our parking area and yet doing absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

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TechCamp roundup

On Saturday, I jetted across to the Northside Civic Centre for the inaugural TechCamp. I gave a talk on “Getting Things Done” and moderated a discussion about “Using technology to improve our lives.”

### So how did it go?

I thought my talk on Getting Things Done went okay, in spite of being time-limited to just giving a really brief introduction to the topic. The discussion didn’t go so well. I’d put this down to the fact that halfway through the thing, my mind started wandering down the more philosophical road of “What actually counts as an improvement, and what’s merely a convenience?” and just wouldn’t get back on-topic. Dammit.

The other talks were good. Tom Raftery’s discussion about blogs and marketing was quite interesting and eye-opening, even if I did come out with less of a clear idea of what “blogging” is all about than when I went in.

### What went well?

Well, the casual, laid-back nature was nice. And it was really good to put a face (and a voice!) to many of the blogs I’d been reading. And some of the talks were really very interesting. The venue, in spite of its awkward location, was well-fitted out.

### How could it have been better?

Well, one of the things that I thought that made (Foo|Bar)Camp so compelling was the participatory nature of the things. There didn’t seem to be as much of that at this one – although the talks were generally quite open and relaxed, it seemed to be pretty *one way*. Perhaps a communal project for the next one?

In the end, I think it was definitely worth getting up at 7.30 on a Saturday morning to cycle the 10-odd kilometers to get to. And a rollicking good start to something that I hope will continue for quite a while.

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Spielberg’s next movie is a game?

Stumbled across two articles about Steven Spielberg this morning.

The first comes from IGN, who discuss an interview he gave to the Hollywood Reporter, in which he says

A good movie will bring you inside of itself just by the sheer brilliance of the director/writer/production staff, but in the future, you will physically be inside the experience, which will surround you top, bottom, on all sides… I’ve invented it, but because patent is pending, I can’t discuss it right now.

The second comes from the BBC, who report that Spielberg has signed a deal to work with EA on three games. From the article:

Steven Spielberg, who worked his magic with ET, is now looking do the same with games giant EA.

The acclaimed film director has agreed to develop three original games with EA’s Los Angeles studios.

Work has already started on the first of the three projects, which EA says will be a next generation game which appeals to a broad audience.

Perhaps the two are related, perhaps not. Anyway, let’s hope the results are a little more like The Dig, and a little less like The E.T. video game.

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