Friday, October 31, 2008

Games a plenty

Is it just me, or are there a boatload of great games out there right now?
Fallout 3, Fable 2, Little Big Planet, Gears 2 just around the corner, and many more besides.

Good time to be a gamer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mockba, GPS, something funny?

I have a blackberry (but I'm getting a G1 ASAP).

I was in Moscow for the developer days earlier in the week, and noticed something a bit weird.

In most cities, GPS on GMM takes 10, 15, sometimes even 30 seconds to get a lock. In Prague, for example, it took nearly 5 minutes each time.

In Moscow, I had a GPS signal the MOMENT I fired up GMM.

GPS is an american military technology, right? Based on satellite signals. Methinks there a few extra satellites over mother Russia.

Oh, and this is epic.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Queen, revisited

Matthew Trewhella, the scruffy developer advocate, who's just been jogging?
That'd be me.


If I had a shiny pound for every time I'd been asked about Malware, then I'd be worth at least, well, three or four pounds. Maybe even a fiver.

So, without further ado, here's what the Google team have to say about it.

Bottom line:
If you've picked up a warning and you're convinced you're clean, chances are you've been hacked and you haven't found it yet.
Log into Webmaster Tools and check it out. There'll be some info there.
Once you've cleaned things, that's also the place from which to request a review.

Assuming you're clean, it shouldn't take more than a day for the warning to disappear, barring acts of God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


So, I'm a bit of a fanboy, I guess, if you look at things objectively.
I would argue that I'm more of a realist, though. People ask me which console they should get. I answer "Xbox 360". This isn't because I particularly hate Sony, or think Xbox 360 is a *better* console (more on this later), but if you only have enough money for one console, then, here's why the 360 is the right choice.
1) It's cheaper.
2) It's got more exclusive games.
3) The games are often more expensive on PS3, but you get an identical experience.
4) It has achievements
5) Live (online play) is tightly integrated into every game, with a single user id highlighting the experience.


Let's look at number 2 and 3 in more detail.
But before I start, I'd like to say a little about how I view games reviews. So, when my one reader (hello mum) tells me that metacritic shows PS3 games do well, I should let you know that most of the reviews on metacritic are worthless (for all consoles). Any 'exclusive' magazine tends to give no score below 7 or 8, for whatever reason I don't know, but general belief is publisher pressure. Whatever the case, when a game that scores 3 in Edge and/or eurogamer, and gets slammed by Penny Arcade, but scores 8 in 'Xbox Sycophant Monthly', then that score is a waste of my time.

Combined with number 3 (the games are more expensive), then they need to be much better to ask for my money.

Moving on. As far as I can tell, this is a pretty complete list (at time of writing) of all the PS3 exclusive games.
Looking down that list, there are very few that jump out at me.
You also have to bear in mind that PS3 games cost £10 more
Heavenly Sword, for example, was supposed to be the big platform saver, but turned out to be mediocre at best.
Lair? Let's not even go there.

For a well-rounded view, check out this and this

I know that goes against what I've just said about trusting all reviews, but it's loosely indicative of my point.

Look at the top 20 or 30 or even 50 games in each list, and tell me how many in the PS3 aren't also in the Xbox list.
Not many. And how many would you actually want?
LittleBigPlanet, certainly. Drake's Fortune, quite possibly. Ratchet and Clank, maybe.
"What about Metal Gear Solid?", I hear you ask. Well, I'm not really into 200 hours of cutscenes and 10 hours of gameplay. That's not a game.
"Gran Turismo Prologue?". Fuck you, Sony and Polyphony. Charging money for a demo, when everyone else gives it away for free?

Compare to Xbox: Halo 3, Braid, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Rez, Crackdown - the list just goes on and on. Those are all quality games, and even if you don't like shooters, there's still a great deal of choice.

Look also at some of the ones which are available on both platforms:
Bioshock, the Orange Box, and Grand Theft Auto 4.
Bioshock and the Orange Box were available on the Xbox for months before they were out on the PS3. Now, some might argue there's an uplift in graphics on the PS3, and that's fine. I don't doubt it. It is better hardware. But, you're paying an extra tenner, so you'd expect a better game. Not just a shonky port, which is actually the case in most of the ps3 crossovers.

Grand Theft Auto, has exclusive download only for Xbox. I honestly don't understand how it sold so many units on the PS3. You get worse value for money (Kotaku did an in-depth analysis - PS3 version cost more at launch), and less longevity.

One last thing. Xbox titles have revolutionised the FPS genre. Halo 1, back on the Xbox, changed them, with its idea of 30 seconds of fun, only carrying 2 weapons, and a rechargable shield, negative the need for health packs. To say nothing of the utterly, utterly insane AI.
Halo 3 is the pinnacle of evolution for this. Anyone who's played Forge, or mucked around with theatre mode knows what I'm talking about.

Gears of War took this to the next stage with it's insane cover system, breathtaking graphics, and incredible gameplay. There's a reason it's still featuring in the top played live games.


With the PS3, you're paying for a bluray player. Call me retarded if you like, but if you buy bluray hardware, there aren't any polite words to describe you.
To get the most of it, you have to buy a new TV (1080p), a new sound system (it's 6.1), and then pay double the price for all the discs.
As a quick rule of thumb, human eyes can only tell the difference between 720 and 1080p when they're closer than 3x the height of the TV.

That means if you have a 40 inch TV and you sit more than 6ft away from it, you're not physically capable of telling the difference.

There are a bajlllion articles which talk about this on the 'net, so knock yourself out if you want to learn more (but here's a quick chart)

Even if you have a setup that lets you see the difference, you can't honestly believe that media will be distributed on hardware for much longer.
Over-the-wire sales are the future, and anyone investing in new technology right now needs their head examined. It's got a 2 year lifetime, at best.
And hey, if you want to spend money on something that'll be obsolete in 2 years (along with all the investment in the discs themselves), then no well-reasoned argument is going to sway you.

Xbox Live, PSN and WiiWare only reinforce this notion. Physical media is dying.

In fact, Xbox Live already sells HD videos over the wire, without the need for an expensive hardware player. Personally, I don't buy them (I sit too far from my TV), but the option's there for those who need it.


With the advent of LittleBigPlanet, a PS3 becomes more compelling, but you know what? The big draw for that game is user generated content, and it's just come out, so it will last for a few months/years yet. I'm not about to drop £400 on a console, controller, game, cables just for one game.

I'm a gamer. I buy 3-4 games a month, for various platforms (Wii, DS and Xbox). I barely have time to play them all as it is. Until the ps3 can offer me a decent number of games to justify the hefty price tag, I'm not wasting my cash.

I will almost certainly buy a PS3 at some point in the console's lifetime, but any time soon? No, I'd have to be insane, and have more money than sense - something which simply isn't true, certainly for me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Milanese Developer DAy

So, the Milanese developer day has been and gone, and it went really well.

In other news, the battery in my DS appears to be playing up - it doesn't seem to last nearly as long as once it did, which is somewhat frustrating, but it should at least last the length of my flight tonight.

And where am I going? Prague, of course!
Here are some basic facts about Prague, courtesy of

Population: 1 186 855 inhabitans
Average height above sea level: 235 m
Average temperature in July: 19°C
Average temperature in January: -1°C

I'm currently sitting in the hotel lobby in Milan, trying to work out how much time I need to get to the airport. Word of warning - avoid Malpensa if at all possible.
It's a milanese airport, in the same way that Luton and Stansted are part of London (you should avoid them too).

I mean, do these *look* like they're part of London?

View Larger Map

In fact, after a quick check, Malpensa is EVEN FURTHER from Milan than these 2 are from London

View Larger Map

The worst part? It's still WAY cheaper to travel from Malpensa to Milan (7 euros) than from those airports to London (£20).

Friday, October 17, 2008


With the news that PS3 are about to get Bioshock (or maybe already have it, I don't know), I realised I never finished it on the Xbox. Stupid bonus in march meant I pre-ordered about 30 games, which just kept coming, and so I kept playing things for 2-3 hours, and then moving to the next game. I have a massive pile of stuff which needs finishing, but that's for another time.

Anyway, that being said, I picked it up again. It's just as good as I remember. Totally atmospheric, and very cool indeed. The only complaint I have (beyond the fact that I've completely forgotten what's happening) is that where I am (just after having to take some pictures for some dude), I've actually got too many resources. All my ammo is full, I have $500, 9 first aids, and 9 eve hypos. From reading the reviews, I thought I'd be really on the edge of equipment - constantly running out and having to resort to other tactics than throwing grenades into the mix.

The only thing I'm missing is enough Adam to buy decent plasmids.
Oh well.

It's still one of the most atmospheric games I've ever played, and I greatly recommend it.

Also, I'll be replaying it, so I'll try a different tactic next time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Queen? What?

So, I almost certainly shoouldn't be posting this, but what the hell!

I spent a whole 5 minutes with her, explaining search.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Upside down, uhh, dogs?

So, uhhh, some of you may have seen BonsaiKitten back in the day.

It's a brilliant parody, but generated so much hate mail it's not even funny. For a full report, check this.

So controversial is the site that the museumofhoaxes site has received death threats for even hosting that page. People are crazy.

Anyway, I was just sent Upside Down Dogs and when the laughing had stopped, it really sparked some memories.

Free linkings

Matt's beaten me to it. I was halfway through posting something on this, but he's done a much better job than I could have.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This is the crazy shit I get up to.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Well, last week was pretty mad.
I got the chance to meet the V&A staff, and help them plan their new website. They had a lot of very smart people in the room, and it was a real pleasure to be invited to be part of it. I look forward to working with them over the next few months. Their vision is bold, but they realise, as a leading design museum, they need to be leading the way.
I also got to attend FOWA, where I saw diggnation, which was pretty funny. It's Episode 172, which at time of writing isn't aired yet.
The sessions were also pretty informative, but with a general leaning towards American presenters, which was a little disappointing. I presented a couple of sessions, though, which seemed well-received - at least, the t-shirts were taken pretty quickly.

Well, lots of work to do this week, so I'll write more tomorrow.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Andrew Turner is talking on 'beyond Google Maps' at FOWA. 
It's possible that the guy talks even more quickly than me.

Anyway, he raises some interesting points about Google Maps, but sells it somewhat short.
There are many features which actually do give information about something you're looking at (streetview, for example).
There's also a my location feature in Gears, which wasn't mentioned - a big shame.

Oh well, still very interesting.  


At Fowa. Should have known better than to expect good internets. More later.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

BrowserRank from Microsoft

Well, this is pretty interesting.

It seems they want to include 'time spent on page' as one of the signals, or rather, the main signal. That's good, but I can't help worry that it's self-fulfilling - that is, those pages near the top will naturally have the most time spent on them, since people tend to click near the top first. Therefore, bad results may find it hard to slip down the rankings.

But Microsoft have some smart people, so we'll see.