archive for January, 2006

Reviews

I’ve started a reviews category. There’s only one item in it so far, but I figure that I read enough books, watch enough movies, eat at enough restaurants, play enough games, etc… to build a nice collection.

The Fabric of the Cosmos

Title: The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
Author: Brian Greene
ISBN: 0375412883
Rating: 4/5

This is a really nice introductory book about Superstring Theory. There are still puzzles in the world of physics that string theorists hope to solve. Unfortunately, they aren’t there yet, so it’s hard to know if the theory is a complete waste of time or not. The book however, is not because it’s about a lot more than just the theory. It’s also about the people that have worked over the years trying to understand our universe to the finest detail.

I’ve also read Greene’s previous book The Elegant Universe which is equally good. If you have a chance to catch the PBS version, I highly recommend it. There did seem to be a lot of overlap between the two books, but there is enough difference between them to make them both worth while.

Mitchell Howe's "Conversation with an Atheist"

Conversations with an Atheist” is interesting and entertaining, but I wouldn’t expect it to change anyone’s mind.

Here’s a small quote:

Intelligent design doesn’t do anything, which is why people like me get mad even talking about it. It just claims that because evolution is less than 100% verified, an intelligent creator must have done everything instead. Intelligent design can’t make any predictions. It not only fails to hit that one percent, it refuses to try the other 99. It’s like saying that if you’re walking in the cold with a coat that might be missing one percent of its fibers, you might as well just go naked. Yeah, that’s intelligent.

Problem with Save as Draft Fixed

About a month ago, I released a new Save as Draft feature for my blog software. It allows me to save my posts before I’m finished with them.

I originally implemented this feature by adding a <draft> tag to the posts in the XML file. As it turns out, that made my files invalid RSS 2.0. To properly extend RSS, you need to use a namespace.

I’ve updated the code in my blog so that all of the tags are a properly defined <apejetblog:draft>. Once I’m comfortable with these changes (and have a little spare time), I’ll release the changes publicly.

Games Are Key

The key to a good gaming system isn’t hardware or marketing, it’s the games. This may seem obvious, but we all forget this fact from time to time.

Nintendo forgot when it didn’t release any great games for the launch of the Nintendo DS. Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS are finally available and driving sales of the portable gaming system. They still haven’t released Metroid Prime which is exactly the type of game that should have been a launch title.

Microsoft was either very smart or very lucky with their purchase of Bungie and with it, Halo, the game that sold the Xbox. They haven’t been able to duplicate that success on the new Xbox 360.

Sony had some great games for the PS2 from what I understand. For that generation of systems, they probably had the most good games which can explain why they sold the most consoles.

I’m not sure what Nintendo was or wasn’t doing with the GameCube. Sure, there were some cool games, but no real “must haves”. The rumors that I’ve heard seemed to indicate that they made it pretty hard for third party developers to work with their system. I don’t know if they were any worse that the other console developers, but they sure had fewer games.

There’s always the catch 22 of more consoles lead to more games lead to more consoles. That’s why having a great first year is so important. Console developers need to make game developers feel comfortable with the decision to develop towards a certain platform and justify the development cost. One way to lower this risk is to simply lower the development cost. Nintendo is the only company I’ve seen trying to move in this direction.

It’s too early to say what with happen with the Xbox 360. I’m sure they’ll sell a lot of units, but I’m not so sure that it will be as successful as the original Xbox. I suspect a lot of serious gamers that would be willing to spend $500 on a new console are waiting to see what the PS3 looks like. Sure, there are some devoted Xbox and PS2 fans that won’t even consider buying the competition’s system, but I don’t think that group is very large.

The real marketing battle will start at E3 in May. Microsoft will have had time to release at least one must own game, and Nintendo and Sony should be ready to demonstrate their next generation consoles and games. We probably won’t know which system has the best games until E3 of 2007.

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