thoughts on the wii so far

January 26, 2008 · 1 comments

if nintendo or some game studio doesn't have this guy working for them yet, then they're idiots. what this guy here demonstrates is the promise i purchased this console on. he performs a number of other cool wii tricks in other videos found in the related videos section of this one.

now that i've had the wii for 2 months now, i wanted to lend my perspective. i'll set it up at the beginning to say i'm in no way a big gamer. this is the first system i've ever bought myself or wanted to buy. why? because it represented a big shift in gaming that was intuitive, more interactive and more interesting style of playing. note that i'm not hating on the system, i'm just a little disappointed with what's been delivered so far. granted, it's very early in the life cycle and it takes some time for developers to fully exploit what you can do. but the guy in the video has done it at this point, so why can't they?

my main beef with the gameplay being offered so far is that it is often meaningless. by this i mean in the use of the wii-mote and nunchuck's ability to recognize movement both on screen and in-hand. it's great that you can bowl, play golf, or swing swords by mimicking the motion of the real version, but it's somewhat falsified. take for instance pitching a baseball. there is no functional difference to me making a full swing a-la the real thing or just half heartedly flicking my wrist. the ball will go just as fast and in the same direction. to me that defeats the purpose of the system - to get you actively engaged with a semi-realistic version of the real thing. there is no reward or dependency for becoming more immersed and playing like you really would. i think that's wrong.

as another example, my most recent pick-up was the lego star wars game. aside from the game being to focused around picking up stupid lego blocks, it's lacking in the lightsaber wielding department. any shake of the wii-mote results in the exact same slice of the saber. most certainly the system can recognize how i'm holding the lightsaber (angle, direction, etc) and in what fashion i am swinging it, but it doesn't. a swing, is a swing, is a swing. now i can accept that this isn't the best example because the gameplay isn't centered around the lightsaber (rather picking up damned blocks at all costs) so building this in would be extraneous. but not in tmnt. the exact same holds true and leonardo's sword just swings in the same fashion with every shake of the wii-mote.

the second beef, and this is a huge one, is the lack of online support. there is no excuse why nintendo is so far behind in this respect. the developers are to blame for this too as they're not incorporating it into the games. there is no reason why the games in the sports pack that came with the wii are not playable online. these are simple games that would be vastly more playable and enjoyable if i could play my friend miles away.

on the plus side, rayman's raving rabbids was a big win in my books. the gameplay was smart, the game was fun and funny, the characters were cute and deranged at the same time, and the game took into account the effort you put into it. and that's only the first one. i heard the second was even better.

i have to believe that these changes are coming, that it's just a matter of time. now that developers have rushed to capitalize on the hottness of the console and rushing games to market to fill the demand, they can take a step back and make concerted efforts to build the type of games the system can really shine with.

strategic voting

January 20, 2008 · 1 comments

now that primary season is in full swing, i've been following as much as i can. i recently read a macleans article that caught my attention. more specifically, a quote from a citizen and how he was going to cast his vote was what struck me. he tells the magazine:

"my reservation is that in the general election, he (obama) won't get enough support because of his race. and i really don't want a republican in the white house." but sandin was worried that clinton is too loathed by republicans to get elected, or get anything done (author). "i don't see how she could bring the country together if half the country hates her. i don't think they hate obama the way they hate hillary."

understand that the primaries are meant as a sort of litmus test for the parties to help them select their candidate for the november election. with the party above all else, they want to put the person most likely to be elected in the general election. so parties turn to the populace to see who is the most electable, thus the primaries. it's truly an impressive system were the people have a huge amount of power in all stages of the process. however convoluted the electoral system is (ie. how does gore win the popular vote, but still not get elected?), it does make for one that has a lot of democracy built into it.

to lay a point of comparison, here in canada, the parties themselves select their leader in a party convention. the same happens in america. the difference being that in canada, the selection is done without the involvement of the citizens. in fact the whole electoral year here passes in what seems like a matter of weeks. the election is called, there's like a month of campaigning, a vote, and boom, it's over. where in the u.s. takes the better part of a year and a half to get from the start of campaigning, through to election day. that's besides the point.

what was my point is how the primaries can make people vote. when you think voting, you understand that as casting a vote for who you want to be the leader. the person you think most fits your personal set of beliefs and would represent the path you want the country to follow. but what about more strategic voting?

what mr.sandin 's quote above suggested to me was voting, not for who you really want, but the lesser of two evils. putting the democratic party above his own candidate, he threw his support behind obama rather than clinton (who it sounded like he wanted to vote for) based on either of them against any republican for president rather than each against each other for the democratic nomination. is this right? is this fair?

i wasn't sure how i felt about this. it certainly presented a new facet to voting that hadn't occurred to me, and one i believe isn't a consideration in every election. this year's election being an extremely important one (not that every election isn't important, just that the 2008 one is an election for the ages coming out of the second bush administration with a country that has a lot of recovery to do internally and externally) i think it comes into play in a big way. the next presidential term is about change (as trite a saying as that has become this campaign) and truly an important one where there is no candidate really apart and ahead from the others. that was a mantle for clinton, but much has changed.

on one side of the coin, doing this belies the point of the primaries. it is thinking ahead in the process to the final showdown in november rather than the part of the process at hand of selecting the party representative. if a lot of people act this way, that undermines the process. had all those people properly communicated to the pollsters their real intentions instead of acting on a perception, it might have meant someone else would have gotten elected. perhaps even the person they really wanted. but because of a perceived shortcoming (or whatever) they channeled their vote elsewhere to simply draw party lines.

on the other side, it is truly the prerogative and freedom of the american people to do so. right or wrong. it is a power given to them by the parties that they have the liberty to act as they want. if america has nothing else going for it, they have a strong democratic process, and this is just an element of the game. like a board game, this is a strategy to employ in order to gain an outcome they want. even if that outcome isn't their preferred candidate, but their party.

one conclusion i have come to in this election year is with so many strong candidates, party lines don't seem to be as important. i can see myself voting for the democrats (who i normally align with) or the republicans. there are a lot of candidates who have a lot of good ideas and strengths. i'm not so much interested in making sure a democrat is in the white house. i believe all candidates on both sides know the importance of change after this president and to me it is who is most fit to institute that change and right the ship that so sorely needs to be done. so if i had to make a call on this, i'd be voting for who i want in office, not which party.

done deal - rolen for glaus

January 13, 2008 · 1 comments

i heard rumblings of this trade a month or two back. i liked it then and i like it now even more. it's a great trade for the jays on paper and i hope that translates onto the field. there's many differing opinions on this trade, much of it centering around the health and durability of the two players. both have nagging injuries and have missed a lot of games in the last two years. at least their equals on that measure. anyone who doesn't see this as a win for both clubs is deluded. while i think the cardinals got the shorter end of this stick (i'm not saying much shorter, but shorter still), it's still good for both clubs. that's not up for debate, both come out in good shape.

here's the career lines on the two players

in every offensive category except home runs (where he is not very far behind anyway) rolen is a better player and easily has glaus beat on defense in the minds of all observers. rolen has two big edges in my mind - he hits for far better average and drives in a heck of a lot more runs. if there's two things the jays need are more men on base and more people to knock them in. well, who doesn't need that, but i'm saying the jays do more than a lot of teams(like the red sox for instance have absolutely no issues in this respect). how many times did their offense lose a gem of a game for halladay (there were a couple complete or near complete games he pitched where the offense didn't support him) due to a lack of run support.

back to the injury which everyone is harping on. not to dismiss it, it is a big issue, but rolen has taken quite a bit of time off to recoop the injury. i and the rest of the blue jays fans hope this means the return of the once pre-eminent third baseman in baseball. i'd like to believe that the team doctors have carefully evaluated this and set riccardi's mind at ease (same with the st.louis gm) that rolen will return to his past playing form or close to it. at the very least we're getting a better injured player than we have. glaus is no slouch, but if both are at the same level of injury proneness, i'll take rolen. we often times see a player who is injured or having difficulty in the clubhouse (or in this case both) flourish in a new setting and i eagerly await that happening here. best of luck to you glaus, you're a solid player, but i'm siding with rolen here.

and in parting, a passing shot at the leafs. it's refreshing to see a gm in toronto actually make moves to improve their team.

traffic officers are just doing their job, but we hate them for it


today i was watching the new a&e show parking wars. what i found most interesting was how people react. not their actual reaction (although it's still funny to watch people get written up and flip out), but the subject of it. the anger comes from now having to pay an extra $20 bucks or so to the city but it's who it's direct toward. of course not upon themselves for either blatantly overlooking the laws, ignorance to them, or simple tardiness but rather on the person (or department when the actual officer isn't immediately available) issuing the ticket.

it's preposterous to blame someone else for your own error, but everyone does it. admit it, it's okay. it's never our fault. one malcontent likened them to the gestapo, while others berated the meter maids as they passed tossing out potty-mouthed tirades at them. but our displeasure remains constant. as if we're entitled to park wherever the hell we want. that it's our god-given (insert whatever higher being you blindly devote yourself to) right to leave our car in whatever empty space we want, at whatever time without regard to posted statutes.

i bet if you asked 100 people, each and every one of them would list parking officers in their top 5 of most hated occupations. right up there with telemarketers, door-to-door salesmen, tax auditors (or anyone in the irs/cra for that matter) and politicians. is the system perfect? no. are the officers perfect? no. they're still assholes, but by the same token so are we for getting irate at them. i'm fairly certain, way more often than not, we are at fault.

kickoff to the '08 U.S. presidential election race

January 3, 2008 · 1 comments

today marks the official kickoff (not official-official as candidates have been campaigning for months) of the presidential race across the border. but it is the first major electoral event in an election year, that being the iowa caucus.

i won't spend a lot of time explaining what a caucus is. if that's of interest, the collaborative minds at wikipedia have a thorough yet succinct overview of the caucus taking place as i write this. it is fascinating to understand this process and to watch people take part in democracy. while convoluted (there is a different way for both democrats and republicans) and probably even archaic in how the caucus is conducted, it is exciting to see democracy in action beyond just pulling a lever once a year.

the most important outcome of the caucus is to actually get some voting brought into the mix. for up until now it has only been polls, which can very often prove to be misleading or altogether irrelevant. that's not to say that the iowa caucus is flawless , accurate to the rest of the country or significantly more relevant. but it is people making a statement in public as to their intentions in the upcoming election as opposed to random questioning of people on the street who they might support. what this translates to is many candidates using this to determine whether they should stay in the race or throw their support for another candidate and drop out.

it goes without saying that i'm always very interested in an election year. a presidential race is always very exciting (much, much more than in canada) and i try to stay up to speed as much as i can. you can expect many more posts throughout the year as the race progresses with the milestones and news as it unfolds. i've not made up my mind on who i would vote for this year. i'm not even sure what party i would vote for. normally i'd say democrat, but there are republicans that i could see putting my vote behind. and yes, i can vote in the election. it's probably easier to wait until there are only 2 candidates (one democrat and one republican) to make up my mind, rather than wading through the varying stances on all the issues. but narrowing it down is all part of the process. whoever remains, it will be interesting.

happy 2008

January 2, 2008 · 1 comments

this being the first post of the new year, there are two things (as my friend the verve so aptly put) you'd expect to be written: reflecting on the year past or speculate/set goals for the year ahead. as i'm not one to dwell on the past (in part because i don't dedicate the headspace to remembering everything) nor one to set resolutions i'm stuck how to set up the next 363 days.

my anti-resolution stance is more a principle than anything. i don't need an event (like the start of a new year) to take a stance on something. if i'm going to do something, it's because i want to and not because a certain day tells me to. in much the same way i don't need a holiday like valentine's day to express my love, i'll do it as i see fit. besides, resolutions are always half-baked, fraught with forgetting and mostly hollow.

the year ahead is a blank canvas. goals and aspirations are always changing. sure, there are things that i'd like to do and accomplish for the year, but i don't want to feel guilt for not accomplishing something. okay, i wouldn't feel guilty, but that's my point. why set out resolutions if there's no consequence for inevitably breaking them? so i will resolve to do nothing specific, but simply make the most of the coming year.



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