November 2008 Archives

Child's Play Charity eBay Auction

his year, in addition to my normal contributions to charities, I've decided to also use some of my Blizzard and video game memorabilia to raise money for Child's Play. On my eBay store, Blue Comet Games, there are several items up for bids in which 100% of the proceeds goes towards Child's Play.

Flickr: Child's Play 2008: Charity Items

starcraftposter-26x19blizzcollector's edition

Dividing the Mainstream from the Indies

Boing Boing Offworld is Boing Boing's entry into gamesis led by Brandon Boyer, a former editor of Gamasutra. Gamasutra is the gaming news blog set up by the publishers of Game Developer Magazine, which is sort of the industry publication for game developers; in each issue is columns and articles from insiders in the business of creating games. While Gamasutra does publish the content from the articles of GDM, the blogging on Gamasutra reads more like press releases which lack editorial opinion given the site's need for advertising revenue from the game developers (who take out ads for employment or to advertise their next game). Boing Boing Offworld currently reads like a less gutsy, but a little more indie minded Kotaku.

Now, the problem with most gaming blogs is simply that they either focus on the business of games (which game has just released, what the sales figures are) or one a particular subset of the genre (i.e. the various WoW fansites out there, Massively for MMOGs, etc). Offworld is attempting to cover the "indie" scene but yet they have a post about Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead, two titles, which I would not classify as being indie, but rather mainstream. Fallout 3 is a licensed sequel bought from the failed Interplay, and Left 4 Dead comes from Valve, which is indie in the sense that they are not owned by EA, Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony, but mainstream in that everyone knows who they are. Indie to me, lies more along the axis of developing offbeat independent games with a small team of developers that mainstream audiences tend to find little interest in because they are unpolished and raw, yet subtly quirky enough to attract the interests of the everyday gamer. Three Rings, for instance, is the perfect example of an indie game developer -- they develop and publish quirky casual games that appeal to a limited audience, and aren't on any of the major game consoles; their games' appeal spread by word of mouth, and by the creativity of their game design.

For Offworld to become successful, it needs to echo the Boing Boing formula of linking to interesting content, and I think in the current game blog universe, especially in the field of indie games that it will be a struggle to not turn into all the rest.

Don't Peck Me Bro!


When I was a kid, we had chickens and we had rabbits, although I never knew that chickens could perform this kind of interspecies intervention.

(via boing boing)

Wii Are Displeased

A few weeks ago, I bought Super Mario Kart, and we've been playing on Sunday mornings. This week, however, try as we might, we could not manage after an hour and a half manage to ever connect up with our friends. My running theory is that with the larger availability of the Nintendo Wii, that the network architecture of Nintendo's WFC (WiFi Connection) isn't built to handle all the new users who have recently bought Wii systems. I've seen game companies massively underestimate the number of network players who are on simultaneously -- Sony has never been immune to this mistake, and I suspect Nintendo isn't either.

Interestingly enough, up until this past month, Nintendo had statistics on which showed was live; however the site has been shutdown and now simply refers to a product page for the service.

Glub Glub Glub...


First Impressions: Wrath of the Lich King

After installing Wrath of the Lich King, I created a Death Knight character. The quests associated with this character class take the character to approximately level 58, and from there on out, you end up repeating most of the quests/tasks that you previously worked on to get your character up to level 70. This, for me, meant repeating Burning Crusade. As much as I played World of Warcraft, the Burning Crusade was far from being the most interesting expansion set; with a lot of the emphasis being on faction grinding and small man instance dungeons, as well as keyed areas, I am loathe to start grinding my way through Burning Crusade so I can access the new content as a Death Knight.

The Death Knight character, while new and interesting seems to fill the area between a Warlock and a Warrior Hybrid; while not as ineffectual as a Paladin in dealing damage, the Death Knight does not have the heavy physical defense rating of a Paladin, but rather heavy magical defense so that they can tank spellcasters in a raid group. I think this should prove interesting, as the hardest fights in the game are usually against spellcasting bosses, which do incredible amounts of damage quickly.

The talents and skills of a Death Knight are interesting, as they range from being able to summon Ghouls to being able to Death Coil (fire a bolt of energy which steals life from the enemy and replenishes the Death Knight's).The game play is very similar to a warrior or rogue, in which the player must build up runic energy in order to execute special attacks.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Today is the release of Blizzard's latest expansion,World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, which meant that last night was the midnight launch of the game; Europeans had a head start on the Americans, and as a result, those realms are likely to already have some level 80s running about.

In the Bay Area, the official event was in San Francisco's Powell Street Gamestop, which had about 200 gamers showing up; in my opinion, the real crowd was at the Fry's in Sunnyvale further down the peninsula, which by all estimates numbered well into the eight hundred plus mark.

The game is estimated to sell approximately 5 million in the first month of release, a phenomenal number of copies, given that most PC games are lucky to sell even a quarter of that number in the first year of release.

My own experience with the game has been one of installing and patching -- after installing from the DVD, a process which took for me about an hour, one must download a 390 MB patch to update from 3.0.1 to 3.0.2, and then one smaller 20MB patch to go from 3.0.2 to 3.0.3. Those with the patches can supposedly jump right in after filling out their account keys.

The Collector's Edition of the expansion set includes an art book, which while nice, isn't as nice as their previous Art books included with the Collector's Edition. As always, the CE comes with a special in-game pet, a CD and a behind the scenes DVD.

Mmmm. Baconnaise.

As far as I am concerned, you can get some pretty tasty combinations by mixing foods with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a condiment that goes with just about anything -- so it's no surprise to me that in recent years, we've seen all sorts of jars of mayo+something show up at the supermarket. The latest concoction by J & D Foods is Baconnaise, which is, you guessed it -- bacon plus mayo. While I haven't tried it yet, I can only guess that this will likely find it's way into my kitchen at some point.


It's been almost 3 years since the Nintendo Wii was released, and throughout those 3 years, I've never been able to order one through Amazon, that is, until today. I was finally able to place an order through Amazon and received a shipping confirmation for the Wii. This Wii is not for myself, or for friends or family, but rather destined for Child's Play.

Lately I've been finding Wiis at Target, but with the Nintendo Wii being readily available on many online retailers now (such as Amazon, Gamestop, and Best Buy), could it mean that the 3 year drought of Wii consoles is over?

Happy Holidays

Hello my friends, it's time once again for the season of giving; as always, I encourage you to donate to a charity instead of sending me presents. This year, because of the current state of the economy, charitable organizations can really use your help. Here are some suggested charity organizations: For those of you who still wish to send physical items, this is the right Michael Huang Amazon wish list to use.

Review: 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid

It's been a while since I've taken my car to truly be serviced, so I had a long laundry list of items that I wanted checked and done with my car -- so while I am temporarily without my ride, I've received as a loaner car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid. From the exterior, the Camry Hybrid looks like any other late model Camry, with one big difference -- the inclusion of a silver and blue "Hybrid Synergy Drive" badge on the trunk of the vehicle.

While the Hybrid Camry still falls below Lexus standards for luxury, it's definitely a step up from the base model. Perhaps it's something in the soft-touch plastics and the leather treatment, but the Hybrid Camry definitely feels like a more upscale than the Prius (see my previous review of the Prius and the plastic steering wheel). One of the major shortcomings of the Camry hybrid however is trunk space; while it will no doubt accommodate a bag of golf clubs or my backpack (a tall order considering that sometimes my pack does not fit in the overhead bins on airplanes), it's possible that one may not be able to fit much more than that inside. the trunk.

With the Smart Key System, the need for a physical key to make contact to tart the ignition is unnecessary. The Smartkey is left in range of the sensor, and the car is able to be powered on; Unlike a regular combustion engine based car, the Camry Hybrid is on near instantly, as if you were flipping a light switch. There's not a turn of a key, nor a loud starting of the engine, the car is simply on, and silent. The car is largely silent in e-mode, under which the operation of the car sounds like a eleictric golf cart; it is this quietness of the car that one grows used to.