A Netflix experiment

Ever since I signed up for Netflix streaming I have been really frustrated with their recommendation system, I know I am a pickyperson and hard to please but they make it impossible to find what I like because my tastes are all over the place and just because I watched a season of some anime with subs off to brush up on my Japanese does not mean I am interested in other shows with similar themes. The show was called Black Butler so what do they recommend? Cake Boss, really? That was just the “Top Pick” which made no sense because they should know by now that I HATE reality TV. Anyways since they introduced accounts I have been experimenting and I found a system that I think mostly works but it has a flaw.

I have four accounts out of five, one is my main account that I messed up and will never get fixed, I call it the junk account but I am trying to train it to like comedies and such but not having any luck it keeps bringing up that crap I accidentally clicked on and didn’t stop in time so it still thinks I liked it among other flaws. Seriously it is getting annoying. My other three accounts are mostly trained perfectly to match their intended moods, I have an animation and family account for the cartoons, anime, super hero, and occasional Transformers relapses I might have from time to time. This lets me have an account where I don’t mind it suggesting Hanna Montana as long as it also shows me some X-Men and some good anime from time to time. It also has learned me pretty well and has gotten good at knowing what to recommend and what to hide.

My third account is dedicated strictly to science fiction stuff, that one is harder to train because some science fiction, well most in fact, can also be classified elsewhere like Ghostbusters is also horror and comedy, which gets difficult especially with Event Horizon also being horror and dark so it keeps suggesting off the wall stuff like American Psycho or Hell Raiser IV because it takes place in space apparently. I am making progress but it has a long ways to go. The fourth account is dedicated to horror movies and slasher films and that one can literally read my mind, which is not hard to do because its hard to make a bad horror movie, they are all b movies to begin with.

That leaves one account open to play with. I have tried action movies but realized that is redundant because most of the ones I would like show up in one of my other accounts, action comedies under my comedy account, sci-fi action in the sci-fi, the super hero stuff under my super hero account and the darker stuff in sometimes in the horror account, so I was never getting anything I didn’t already have elsewhere. I tried a second theme that also did not work out because it wasn’t one I was in the mood for enough to want to see more than occasional movies which also showed up elsewhere. And it quickly devolved into late night comedies anyways.

So I tried a new experiment, this was the one I was working on this week, no manipulating the system just being honest and letting it recommend me movies based on viewing habits only. This was going to be hard because I opted NOT to fill out the taste profile period and opted NOT to rate movies I already have seen. Just watch a movie rate it and see what happens. I am hoping that it will just learn my tastes without me trying to interpret their hard to crack vague code words they use in their taste profile.

They let you rate individual movies on a five star rating system but you can only rate a TV show as a whole, what if I ONLY liked season one of Heroes? Or what if I only liked seasons 2-7 of Everybody loves Raymond? Or better yet what if I only like certain episodes of a show like Doctor Who where it is very hit and miss? Also Netflix should have a better taste rating system, Never, Sometimes, Often are too narrow. I would not like five options that is too hard to keep track of so I suppose it is the best they could do but I think four could be okay, like Never, Rarely, Sometimes (or occasionally might be better), and Often (or almost always for some)

The rating system is not perfect but I can say it is not too terrible. It isn’t as smart as Pandora is about finding exactly what I am in the mood for but if you take the time to train it just right and don’t over think it, eventually the ratings start to get better. Of course if their BROWSE feature and SEARCH feature were not so broken then it wouldn’t matter as much but as it currently is when you browse it HIDES the stuff it thinks you won’t like already and when you search it can get stupid at times, I searched for Home Improvement and it didn’t even register their is a sitcom by that name it was all reality home building, home repair shows.

I searched for King Of the Hill a show I used to watch regularly on Netflix, it took me straight to the page of this movie, it bypassed the normal landing page where it says “not available to stream, here is other stuff you might like” and then show that other movie, nope it just took me right to that movie. I hate that because it used to take you to a search page with similar stuff, so when I typed in Star Trek it brought up ALL their different offerings, instead now it just takes me to the original series page and stays there, what about that 2009 film? It was JUST called Star Trek and that was the one I was looking for, it didn’t even show me it for DVD anymore which it used to do.

So with the search and browse features so broken it is very important to get the taste profile just right otherwise I will never know when they DO finally add that movie or TV show I keep waiting for. I did stumble into the Walking Dead by a recommendation and actually enjoyed it so I know it does work from time to time I just hate how I search for something and it gets so stupid because other titles might have the same or similar name and it doesn’t even try to sell me on the DVD’s anymore, which I guess is a good thing because the DVD side is going downhill anyways.

I will keep trying for now but I am still looking for a replacement. For the money the amount of shows they have alone makes it work it, I added it up it would cost me ten years of Netflix to get all the shows I watch on DVD and that is just what they have right now. I used to be all for owning stuff on DVD but those days are gone, DVD is a waste of space and I am all in to digital only mode now. I went all digital before and then relapsed into physical when Blu Ray came out, which lead me right back to DVD when blu rays became too expensive and their offerings were not worth it and the DVD collections were often better than the Blu Ray sets.

Then I realized I was back into an endless cycle of spending all my money on stuff I will never watch, for $8 dollars a month I don’t mind all the piles of crap as long as the few good shows and movies they do have outweigh the cost of buying DVD anyways. Take Psych, that show now has 8 Seasons at roughly $25 a season, used is slightly less but not much. That 70’s Show also had eight Seasons and Doctor Who and Star Trek ALONE make Netflix a STEAL. ONE Season of Doctor Who, 13 Episodes, is usually $60 or more. The Christmas Specials usually run $30 on their own.

Netflix doesn’t have anything past season 6 but still that’s a lot of money to get just those six on DVD, plus the classic Doctor Who specials go for a lot more and are much harder to find. ONE Season of Star Trek TNG goes for almost $100 on Blu Ray and the DVD set goes for $75 per season, you can get them slightly cheaper used IF you want the bare bones discs no packaging because Star Trek sets are collectors items so if you just want to watch the show your options are pay a small fortune for the damn discs, pay a smaller fortune for cable to watch them once a week with commercial interruptions or just pay the eight bucks to get them ALL.

That price above was JUST for one show. Netflix has Buffy, Angel, all the Star Treks, The Walking Dead, Psych, Bones, Transformers G1 (another collectors nightmare to get on DVD), Doctor Who, Last Man Standing, Melissa and Joey, Everybody Loves Raymond, How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy, and Futurama. Try getting ALL of those for the same price as one YEAR of Netflix I dare you. That alone makes it a bargain Add to that all those obscure but still great horror classics or a whole bunch of really cool but not worth paying for cult sci-fi films and anyone who thinks Netflix is not a good deal is blind.

Will it ever have everything ever released no and sure they lose shows from time to time but they tend to get them back eventually, no different than TBS or other cable channels which also rotate their shows but then bog them down with endless commercials. Now I admit I would be willing to pay more for the service if it allowed them to get more content, especially more shows from the 80’s and 90’s that they are neglecting, but until then I will stick with it and enjoy my endless sea of content for next to nothing while those who can’t see a good deal spend their life savings on DVD’s because somehow that’s supposed to be better? Also Netflix still offers the DVD by mail option for that stuff they don’t stream, so there is always the temptation to just add DVD’s to the plan. My other thought has always been to add Hulu Plus but for now money is tight so I will keep that on reserve.

Right now I will conduct my experiment of just watching and rating without filling in the taste profile to see how that works, I will report back my results once I have enough data to make a reasonable conclusion. I tried the totally honest approach with ratings and it didn’t find me anything I DIDN’T already have in my list so that was a bust. Stay Cool.

The Nerd Rising- or Return of the Geek?

A couple of semesters ago I wrote a paper for English called the nerd rising, where I chronicled how the geeks and nerds were taking over the world. It was a lame assignment that naturally I didn’t take too seriously, but still I did get an A so I must have done something right. Anyways I wanted to re-evaluate some of my conclusions not from the paper itself, it was a home work assignment I really didn’t bother to save. But mostly my own observations that I have noticed since the time I wrote the paper, which was a time I happened to do a lot of research. So here are some of my conclusions.

First Geeks are not Nerds.

I sort of addressed this in my paper and I am one who is generally offended by the intermixing of the terms, they both began as insults to different classes of people so there is an understandable amount of apprehension when a term is used incorrectly. I feel it is no different than when you call a Korean a Chinaman or an immigrant from South America a Mexican, it is offensive to mix up the cultures. Now everybody knows nerds, jocks, geeks, rednecks, hillbillies, etc are stereotypes and they all have their own cultures.

So before I get any further let me just end this with saying I distinguish between nerds and geeks as follows, a nerd is more into math and science, they may or may not be into technology as an extension of that and they are probably attracted to video games, maybe even comic books and the like but they are mostly into science and knowledge. Geeks are often considered wannabe nerds, or they are seen as nerds who are not smart. WRONG, geeks are into technology first and foremost, not so much the knowledge behind the technology but more the applications of it.

They are more likely to be into video games as those are technology driven and they tend to be geared towards the tech more than the games themselves. (Gamers are a subset which I will tackle latter) Geeks also are more likely to be into comic books than nerds because geeks are into the superficial sciences and comic books are not very scientifically accurate. They like stories that involve super heroes and giant robots more than anything else but are flexible. There are also comic book fans, they do not have their own word as far as I am concerned but they are not nerds or geeks they are just people who read comic books, a nerd, geek, or gamer may also be into comic books but that again is no different than a redneck who lives for hunting and fishing also being into Football, sports fans are an entirely different breed all their own.

So with that said, the paper I wrote focused on how Nerds are taking over the world, and that the power shift has gone from the strongest of society to the smartest, how politicians are now in control where historically it was Lords and Kings (who usually started out as knights or warriors) who ruled. The world has changed so I wanted to highlight that. But then I realized that to the mass society we are all people who enjoy different freedoms at different levels and some of us have interests that are not as widely appreciated as others.

Anyways I never identified as a nerd I am just not smart enough and I hate being called a geek because although I am into technology it is not what I live for. I always preferred the term techie but even that is stretching it. My interests lie mainly in politics to some extend, Astronomy and Space exploration mostly Mars and NASA but not too much, computers but more so as video games than as tools or whatever, and of course video games. I have on occasion dabbled into comic books but to be honest they tend to lose my interest rather quickly. So I don’t mind being called a gamer because I do at least from a percentage stand point, game more than anything else. But I also watch a lot of television, mostly sitcoms but some science fiction from time to time, and some dramas if they are good, I like the Walking Dead currently, I used to watch Buffy from time to time, and Bones before it turned into a soap.

Recent trends in Hollywood have been to shift their big budget special effects films away from generic save the world blockbusters and more towards the real of comic books and video games, Marvel has especially been successful at turning their comic book characters into a media empire. Still to me this is no different than Star Wars which to many is just a film, or a series of films depending on where you stand on the quality of the series. But it is also a media empire, there are books, comic books, video games, toys, everything else you can think of. At its core Star Wars is still a story, not tied to just a movie. And yes I am a Star WARS fan not so much a Star TREK fan, so there is that.

Why am I bringing any of this up? Because there is a new Robocop movie out that I will be watching either tonight or tomorrow depending on how things go, and I am actually looking forward to it even considering how much I really enjoyed the, clearly outdated original despite what some long time fans might tell you. The original does not hold up well at all, it is supposed to take place in the future but is blatantly stuck in the 80’s, so there is that. Hey I was a kid in the 80s too but guess what, that does not automatically make everything from that decade suddenly good just because.

Robocop was a violent movie about a robot who killed bad guys, I call BS on all the social commentary because first none of what was predicted to occur did occur, second the movies director might have had that in mind but the AVERAGE move goer never picks up on that crap anyways to the average consumer Night of the Living Dead is a Zombie movie it is NOT making fun or American consumerism, To most American viewers, Robocop is an action movie about a dead guy put into a robot body who goes on a shooting spree splattering bad guys all over the wall nothing more.

As long as there is an indestructible robot pretending to be a copy shooting up bad guys then I am okay with this new movie, I do not care if they altered or removed the supposedly social commentary that was NOT blatantly obvious because NOBODY figured it out until years latter on the DVD commentary in the first place. So where do I stand on this issue? For me it is JUST a movie, if you try to make it more than that well you are a nerd, geek, whatever, but if you are just a regular person who just happens to enjoy a mindless action flick with maybe some good special effects to help keep you entertained, they good for you. Like what you like and do not worry about what others think.

I have a part two for this that I will write up latter but I also have other topics I want to get to first so I will also talk more about my thoughts on the movie AFTER I actually watch it. Stay Cool.

The solution to the Netflix problem- themed Accounts

Recently I re-instated my Netflix account after finally getting things in my life settled down to a point where I could just sit back and watch some stuff. I have had Netflix streaming off and on for a couple of years now and the biggest problem for me was not so much the lack of content but the broken suggestions system, it would recommend me the most useless crap no matter how hard I tried I just could not get it to adjust to my tastes. Then last summer they launched a new account based system where each person can have their own taste preferences and if one person watches say Doctor Who it does not clutter my list up with Downton Abby and other british crap because it labels Doctor Who “british” instead of “sci-fi”. Anyways I finally discovered a solution that works for me, of course this won’t work so much if you have other people on your account like friends or family so this is more for single people or couples without kids.

First I signed up for all five accounts, it doesn’t cost anything extra and it saves me a lot of hassle sorting out all my recommendations. Here is how I do it,

Primary account, leave this as the catch all account, use it for anything you no matter how random it might be, or set it aside as the “Guest” account if you have company or a cheap ass roommate. The idea is to have one throw away account that Netflix will never get right because you need a place to watch that crap you might like because Scarlett Johanson is in it but don’t want it thinking you like Woody Allen. So this is your junk account do what you want and forget about it.

Then set up the other four accounts as follows,

Pick four categories you are a BIG fan of and set up each account to be tailored to that specific type of viewing. Try to keep it specific enough that you only watch shows or movies from that style of show or movie no matter what. For instance if you use that as your comedies account do NOT watch anything but comedies, do the whole rating game as if you ONLY like comedies, so tell it always on comedies and never on everything that is not comedies. Then you vote hated it on everything it suggests that is NOT a comedy, now it can be campy sci-fi or those cheesy Army of Darkness movies, its okay as long as it is well known to be more on the laughs.

Then rate everything that is comedy, even if you personally hate it, 4 and 5 stars, 3 is the minimum here. Use 3 stars for the stuff you DO hate but if it is comedy make sure it is 3 stars, 4 for the stuff you would normally rate 3 and 5 is well anything you would rate 4 or higher. This will seed your Netflix account with nothing but comedies, sure it will suggest comedies you hate but as you watch movies and shows it will learn your tastes much better. Do this for your next three favorites, say have one for childrens stuff or anime and seed it for that, maybe have one that is devoted only to Westerns and ONLY use it for westerns and rate movies as if you are John Wayne’s biggest fan. This will give you four accounts that will help you find the more obscure stuff without burying you in tons of crap you hate.

Remember if something catches your eye that does NOT fit that category you are on, immediately switch to the proper account, after rating it appopriately for that account. To do this, say you are in your Comedies only account but you get a recommendation for Sharknado,  funny film but if you watch it you will be flooded with 2 headed shark attack, Croczilla, and the like. So say you have a campy sci-fi or a monster movies account, rate it as 1 star (hated it) OR not interested in your comedies account, switch over to your Monster movies account and rate it 3 stars right now, re-rated it 4 or 5 ONLY if it was something you really liked, keeping in mind everything in that account that is remotely similar to the stuff you might like is always a 3 and up.

So say you like Comedies but HATE Adam Sandler, okay in all your accounts rate Adam Sandler movies 1 star or not interested but in your Comedies account rate it a 3, not that you want more Adam sandler but you MIGHT just get that really goofy spoof movie you never knew the name of to show up some day. This system works much better than just having to remember to search for movies once a month in the hopes they got something new or spending time trying to browse the categories as that never works. Or if you do not want to chance ruining one of your accounts, remember you set back that junk account earlier in those rare moments you might find yourself watching Sharknado but not wanting endless sharkmovie suggestions in all your accounts.

My accounts are pretty focused, I have my junk account for all the normal crap but I maintain my favorite sitcoms and comedies and dramas in there too just in case, if I see something interesting I put it in the list and watch it latter.

My second account is set up to be geared towards cartoons and anime, specifically super hero cartoons and anything anime. I also seed it with some sci-fi stuff like Power Rangers and Heroes but keep it mostly for animated and comic book related stuff. So far the recommendations are pretty tight and spot on, I occasionally get a Disney flick, if it is one I like say Lady and the Tramp or Alice in Wonderland, I rate it 3 stars and be on my way, if it is something like Mickey Mouse and the Beanstalk I click 1 star, Be sure to be very careful in these content accounts to rarely use Not interested as it might confuse your distate for Adam Sandler for a hatred of whatever his style of comedy is supposed to be when you like other comedians just not him.

My second “content themed” account is general science fiction, this one i try to be strict with, anything that is sci-fi, fantasy or monster movies, if it has aliens, magic, or even radioactive mutants it is ok, but I mostly seed it with robots and space travel, time travel and futuristic stuff. I down vote all anime, cartoons, and anything that is NOT blatantly sci-fi or sci-fi related, I use the anime account for the cartoons so this one I rate all animated stuff as 1 star or 2 stars if it is something I personally really like but don’t want it seeding my account. I try to leave the horror movies, even the sci-fi themed horror movies for another account because while to me Event Horizon is science fiction to Netflix is is a thriller and thinks I like Hellraiser because of the one set in space.

My third themed account is just that, horror movies, this is anything that is gory, bloody, and scary. NOT violent stuff like Kill Bill but gory stuff like Human centipede or Saw, etc. I try to keep it very specific and I let it suggest anything meant to send chills down your spine. I especially like the early splatter and slasher films and netflix has a really good selection despite not having the super stars of Jason and Freddy to fill in their ranks at least they have the good stuff like Sleepaway camp or Children of the Corn. I also reserve this one for thrillers but only those that feature actual serial killers and are high on suspense, Hide and Seek is NOT for this account but Silence of the Lambs would be.

The fourth themed account I deleted. I was using it for action films but that became too cumbersome and I tried to narrow it down to martial arts and commando style movies but it kept suggesting me crime thrillers and detective movies, not that those are bad or anything but it was not getting that I liked guns and explosions and asskicking not Sherlock Holmes. I might try to reinstate it and be more focused but I also have to keep in mind what my personal tastes are and remember Terminator is Sci-Fi and Avengers is Comic book and keep those in the right account.

Now obviously this is a lot of hard work and most people won’t even bother but if you are like me and it really annoys you to no end that it keeps recommending “Top picks for you” and there is Breakfast at Tiffany’s all because I watched Planet of the Apes and they are both “classics” apparently. I also got tired of telling it how much I HATE westerns but I watched Avengers and all those westerns I gave 1 and 0 stars to suddenly came back because they were somehow related in some alternate reality that Netflix appears to exist in. So there you have it a way to keep your taste profiles organized.

Keep in mind if you watch one movie that does not belong your hard work will be for nothing so make sure you keep your junk account no matter what, even if you mostly seed it with a genre you like. I use my junk account for sitcoms mostly but I also just let it recommend whatever it wants because it just can’t win, one night I watched Hell Raiser one and 2, followed by Thor, followed by Great Outdoors and then down rated every Western they had in their catalog and as soon as I watched Men In Black it thought Tommy Lee Jones was in some western, Will Smith was in Wild Wild West, hey I lied before i really do like westerns and there you go, flood gates opened. It is not for everybody but again if you really do want to use Netflix to discover interesting new movies then it is well worth the effort, I am still waiting for Hackers but it did find me a couple of good alternatives to keep me entertained in the mean time. Stay Cool.

Sonic Boom on Wii U

I hate to say this I really do but Sega is forcing me to reconsider buying a Nintendo Wii U. Here me out. When I was a kid I was deep into the whole Sega VS. Nintendo school yard war, in fact I took sides, I picked Sega hands down. It wasn’t that I hated Nintendo it’s just even then like now their consoles were always lacking in certain types of games everybody else was doing right. I loved Sonic from the start and as good as Mario is Nintendo has always been slow to the game, they usually release one or two main Mario games a console generation, Sega on the other hand knows how to keep them Sonic games coming. It also didn’t hurt that I was a HUGE Mortal Kombat fan and we all know the Genesis had the better MK port, for the time anyways. But after Playstation came on the scene things changed, Sony replaced Sega in the realm of hard hitting no holds barred anything goes gaming and Nintendo was left to their niche of family friendly and in some instances kiddie games. As I grew up so did my games, Mega Man was great as a kid but I upgraded to Quake and eventually got into Halo and God of War. I have always had a soft spot for Nintendo and Sega has always been good for me at least so I tend to keep an eye on the two from time to time. Nintendo knows they can’t make the games that can get me to buy their machine, not on their own anyways. So they tasked Sega to step it up and I gotta say I am starting to hate Nintendo for being so friendly to Sega lately.

Take a step back, I am a gamer that much is true. Usually I buy any and every game console I always see the merits in any gaming machine, well most I have yet to figure out how Microsoft sold any Xbox let alone millions but that is another topic for another day. What is important is I do not take sides, I got my Playstation and my N64 on the exact same day and I got three games for each, it was a good time to be a gamer as it is now. I picked up my Game Cube before I ever even considered getting a PS2 because Nintendo had secured some great games by Sega up front and those Dreamcast Sonic game were good on Dreamcast but were great on Game Cube, so yeah Sega sold me a Game Cube not Nintendo. Oh well the point is I did get one and I enjoyed some of Nintendos games and a whole bunch of other third party games too. But I hated the Wii let’s get that out up front it was nothing but a Game Cube repackaged with a waggle wand that I despised from day one. I bought one on launch day for one reason only, the Virtual Console was getting classic Nintendo and Sega games. Eventually Sega released all their classics on Steam and PSN so I was able to leave the utterly depressing Wii behind and I never looked back. Sure Sega put out some decent games but on an underpowered non-HD console forced to use a Waggle Wand, no thanks I can pass.

Here is the deal Wii U is NOT  a bad console, not in the slightest and this is where I struggle, I do want one, or at least I want to want one. But a gaming machine is only as good as its games, the reason why I am waiting on a PS4 for now. The Wii U has some games that interest me, just not as many as I would like to justify the price. Nintendo has Super Mario 3D World which yes let’s face it I WILL be buying at some point in time, they also have New Super Mario Bros. U which is good because it uses the game Pad and left waggle behind. Then there is the tie in New Luigi U which I am a sucker for a good Luigi game any day, and then there is what… Maybe Dr. Luigi and in a month there will be Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze that looks good but here is my stance, I HATED Wind Waker when it was new, I still hate Pikmin and The Wonderful 101 does look kinda sorta interesting it’s not a system seller for me and the 3rd party crap I already have better versions of on Ps3 anyways and some on my PC so no thanks I can do without a gimped version of Injustice and I have Mas Effect Trilogy so I don’t need the lame ass directors cut of a game I barely play as is. Some would point to Mario Kart and Bayonetta, Smash Bros, and (yuck) yarn yoshi, as potential games to get. I haven’t liked a Mari Kart since Super Circuit and even that was pushing it, Mario Kart was fun for a few hours back in like 1994 or so, it got old quick and I never looked back.

Bayonetta 2 does look interesting, and I did pick up the first on Ps3 so there is that I like the game its actually not bad, but its not a must have game that really needs a sequel. Then there is Smash Bros. as a gamer who is NOT a Nintendo fanboy I can say that as much as I loved Melee on the Game Cube it was basically a gimmick game and I played it only for the trophies, sure Brawl has online and more trophies but so what I got all my Smash Bros. fix in 2004 I don’t need another smash, let me download the Game Cube version and we will talk, until then not interested Smash is not a real fighting game and as a fan of fighting games it just does not do anything for me. Oh and as for that yarn shit, count me out. I AM really excited for Hyrule Warriors though and X has me curious so there you go, the games that are on Wii U that I might or should or could be interested in by Nintendo.

Skip ahead and lets look at third party, like I said nothing I can’t get superior versions elsewhere already except the Sega games, which is the point of this post and why Nintendo really does want my money. I love Sonic games, I know Sega does more than Sonic and I tried some of their other offerings, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Shinobi, Toe Jam and Earl, Shining Force, Phantasy Star those were all good to great games, but since the Saturn Sega has been on a downward spiral mostly hit and miss more miss than anything. As a gamer I do not pick sides I just like good games and Sonic games are still good for me, I know that they have issues but so do Mario games and people look past Mario’s flaws and put Sonic’s under a microscope for some idiotic reason. So there I am I have seen enough gameplay videos of Lost Levels to know it really has me interested and this new Sonic Boom game also looks to be something to look out for. Not saying these two games suddenly make owning a Wii U a must for me but Sonic is one of my top ten favorite game franchises despite all the hate he gets I still love his games, they do what they do right and who cares if some people don’t get it that means nothing to me obviously they are doing something right if they keep selling enough to keep making them so there is that to consider. Also the worst Sonic game is still better than Mario Sunshine (man I hate that game more than any other game ever made) and at least Sega is willing to try new things with Sonic but they keep the core intact where with Nintendo and Mario you literally never know what you are going to get, I couldn’t get into Galaxy either but again I hated the remote so there is that to consider.

So right now Nintendo has five games I am interested in and Sega has two, still not enough to justify the price but seven games is much better than zero games which is where PS4 sits at the moment. PS4 has games in the pipeline I am interested in and I know it will get Mortal Kombat 10, a new Virtua Fighter (Sega’s real reason for still living), and a new Soul Calibur, a new Street Fighter and hopefully a new Tekken, so unless Nintendo can somehow get decent or good ports or exclusives of those franchises I am still leaning towards getting a PS4 at some point, like I said my favorite games are fighting games, especially Mortal Kombat and no MK is a hard sell for me, just ask the stupid Wii that I traded in to buy a USB Hard drive and then got a PS3 with 3 great Mortal Kombat games and never looked back. So that is where I am, if somehow Nintendo can get Sega to throw them a bone from Virtua Fighter or hell even a new Streets of Rage or Eternal Champions, Fighting Vipers, or any other fighting game, then I will consider it but even the Game Cube had great fighting games, Dragon Ball Z Budokai series, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Midways Arcade Treasures with MK 2 and 3 arcade ports. It was enough for me, Wii had shit for fighting games and still used the remote anyways and Wii U so far as I know has one Tekken game that is just a port of an old game or something lame like that.

Still because of Sega and their two Sonic games I am at least giving Wii U a chance to redeem itself, who knows it might surprise me and pull of a miracle but for now, I am still leaning towards PS4 and I might get a Wii U when they are discounted down to $100 or so. Don’t get me wrong I know how the collector market works so I will snatch up the GAMES first and get the machine when I can justify the price.

Cry for Dawn

Between work, school, and just trying to figure out where I am in my life, I still have too much time to sit around and think about things. I know I could be doing something productive with my life but to be honest I have had enough of that, trying new things and all that. Right now I just want to settle into a steady job and focus on doing my school on the side. In between work and school I will try to continue to work on various side projects but I am planning on slowing things down for a while.

Right now the project I am working on though is just trying to keep this blog going before I let it fall apart like all previous blogs. Usually what happens is I lose my focus or I try to find too many topics and then I get distracted. Remember a couple of years ago when all my blogs were talking about Cry for Dawn, nobody even knew who or what Cry For Dawn was and yet I kept trying to get people into the discussion. It wasn’t like I really expected people to understand what Cry For Dawn meant to me or why it was so important or how I even got onto that topic in the first place.

Not to mention that I was mostly just trying to get people interested or at least curious about the Dawn character, not so much the Dawn fictional universe. Actually I was really getting into horror comics at that time and I had previously discovered Dawn back in the 90’s so it was one of those things I always kind of wanted to go back to.

Every once in a while I do like to go back to something that I might have forgotten about or lost interest in or just moves past. Sometimes I like to leave things in the past but for some reason I want to bring up Cry For Dawn today. It sort of just crept into my head for some unknown reason while I was reading another Nintendo is doomed article on the web.

I get so sick of those because let’s face it nobody can predict the future. But there was this one website I frequent who had one topic digress into posting well internet memes that were of the horrible things in life, death, suicide, murder, fears, all those types of things and it reminded me of why I was drawn to Dawn in the first place.

I will not write a biography of the Dawn character as anyone reading this has access to Google and can look her up themselves. I wasn’t exactly saddened that the series has been so short over the years, Dawn has never really had much mainstream attention, which is something I kind of relate to in a way, my favorite movies all tend to be less than mainstream anyways, Star Wars aside of course but even that is something of a different topic. So why do I bring this up again? Well mainly because I have it on my mind and I wanted to just talk about it. Not that I am all that into Dawn, it was a comic like so many others that I discovered and then forgot about as life moved on.

I do start a new job today and as a part of that I am going to be looking for things to get me through the shift so I just wanted to put some of my thoughts down as a way to keep my head clear. If you are interested in learning more about the Dawn character Google Cry for Dawn or Dawn Comics she is pretty easy so spot. Stay Cool.

The Journey so far

When I sat out to return to college and seek a degree it was one of those moves made out of desperation more than a seriously long hard look at where I was going. Before I ended up returning to college I was still running around trying to figure out what I was doing with my life and what I should be doing with my life. The problem is I was trying to do too much and not focusing on the things that were really important to me. I left Nevada partly because the economy was on the decline, the part time job I had only gave me usually 16 hours a week, and the signs were there that things were not getting better at least for where I was at. Some of my family had returned to Nebraska to start over and in the process I ended up where they were thinking I too would start over.

It isn’t so much that once I got here I had no idea what to do is that once I got here there just wasn’t much to do. We moved to a very rural area of the state were lets just say the jobs were beyond scarce and we were forced to try to start up our own businesses each of us. None of us were particularly successful and only one of my sisters husbands was able to land a full time job the rest of us were doing our internet stuff or trying to get some thing going out of nothing. I was working off what I had at the time, I had previously invested a lot of money into video production and editing equipment as part of a website I started with some friends as well as an extension of my music since I wanted to do some music videos also.

I had created a Youtube channel and was starting to really enjoy making video projects. For this reason and because I had some experience in computer repair and in web design I started a business doing those things for people, PC repair, making web sites, offering to convert old video tapes to digital files and put them onto DVD, things of that sort. It was a little rough going but I did manage to get a few decent paying jobs and was able to limp along for a brief period, before the money ran out and the market well dried up since there were just not that much demand for what I was offering.

I became a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and began attending development meetings and along the way I was hired to do a marketing video for the Chamber focusing on the local businesses and attractions that they would post online to their website, Face Book, Youtube, and show at the movie theater before the shows. Since they were a historic theater and were a non profit that showed movies for much less than others, they had an untapped market of people coming to town to see cheap films they could show case their video to and show off all the other attractions the town had to offer. Truth is the project eventually fell a part due to a lack of cooperation with the local business owners, and a lot of miscommunication on every end, so the project was scrapped and I was left again with nothing to do to make me any money.

This was shortly after the government changed the rules on how to apply for and qualify for student loans and since I had been rejected in the past for one stupid thing or another, I was reluctant to even bother signing up. Turns out it was a good idea as not only was I approved but I did get accepted into the school as a non-traditional student and from there I was in. This was great because it meant I had four years of basically free money to live off and a safe environment to plan my life.

I started out right away in the Broadcasting Major because well that was where I was at during that point in my life. I will skip over the part where I went through major changes during school and get right to the end. My last semester, which was my junior year meaning I had completed three years already and was only a year away from finishing up, due to a serious of events I won’t get into I was suspended from the school and kicked out of my apartment.

Up to that point I had kept my area of studies in the same general focus, mass communication, mass media. I moved around from Broadcasting to Content Development, Multimedia, Theater, Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations, Computer Science, and even changing to English Major at once point. The theme was the say, I wanted to do something in the mass media field mostly video production or maybe writing, but I was just finalizing my plans. A year ago I made a major change that threw everything into a big mess which ended up leading to my end at the University.

Not wanting to give all that up again out of pure desperation I immediately transferred for the next semester into the local community college and began taking classes right away in the area I wanted to be in, except I ran into problems, they wanted me to relocate to a town thirty miles away, then denied me the student loans I was going to need to move and live on, and to top it off I was not able to get a job to supplement my lack of income. So I made a quick change to the plan, I moved my major out of Mass media and into Business Administration, something I had been struggling with for a long time at the University. Why do this?

Well partly because I could do business classes online, which is the main reason, but also because I had previously completed an online diploma in business management a few years before so I already had the basic knowledge and being three years into a Bachelors meant transferring to an Associates all my general studies work was already completed and it put me a little closer to graduating. Still I felt like this was not the path I started out on and so I went into a panic and began doing what I always do, making quick changes without doing much thinking, I applied for a full time job at this factory that paid pretty good and decided I would just give up on school and go into that line of work, this proved to be a mistake I couldn’t shake off my conscience so I ended up finding some relief when they offered me a different job for slightly less money but better hours so I could continue to work on school.

Needless to say I was still facing other things that were getting in the way of me being able to enjoy or at least accept where I was at and so I went into a real panic, I sold all my belongings, packed up my van and took off for LA. As moms tend to do mine interfered and talked me into stopping off with her brother in Arizona. See the thing was he was just too close to LA for me to not run over and at least check it out so I did just that, and on the way as my money was running out and I was realizing the gravity of the situation I got a phone call from the company I was trying to get on and they offered my a full time position that would pay enough to live and go to school and gave me weekends off so I could still do my studies and things started to look like maybe they would work out after all. With just enough money to get me home I turned the van around and headed back, leaving California behind and that silly dream that somehow I was going to make it out there in the big city. Did I say big city I mean mega city and well let’s just leave it at that, that place was not for me.

Still looking back the reason I went into such a major panic was I didn’t want to throw away the last three years of my life and go back to what I was doing with no education no experience and skills that without education and experience weren’t worth much, I was doomed to return to bouncing around from one meaningless job to another. Well After taking a nice vacation/road trip I was able to clear my head and refocus on what is important to me. I am most likely not going to be truly happy with this job, there is no doubt about that. But it is the kind of job unlike most previous jobs that I can see my self sticking with at least for the time being.

My intention is to just do this for now, finish up my school, and see where I go from there. I don’t want to make plans too far into the future because one thing I have learned is plans change, they hardly ever go the way you expect them to anyways so it is best to stick with the short term and not worry about the future. So here I am now back on track but a little slightly off from where I was. At least I didn’t throw it all away and I have been keeping up with my school work, the best part of taking online classes is you can do them from any internet connection so far that has been very helpful for me. I am considering what my options are and as I look at the world, the job postings, and attending job fairs, I think that once I complete this degree I will be in a better position to at least look for better jobs than those I have been stuck doing in the past. It isn’t even so much about finding a job I will love as it is finding a job I won’t hate. Now that I at least have one of those, even if it is temporary, it is better than doing what I was doing before. I usually tend to remain optimistic in all things but lately it has been even harder than usual to do so. I think that with my head cleared and my new plans being something I can actually look forward to I am in a better place, even if very little has actually changed. Sometimes you just have to know what you are doing is the right thing for you and right now I can say that at least I am right where I should be right now. Stay Cool.

The future of Gaming, with or without Nintendo

I am going to just cut to the chase and not waist any time on a big build up, Nintendo is in serious trouble. As a long time fan of theirs it really worries me the state they are in. Die-hard loyalists continue to talk about all that cash they have saved up like it some how means they will just be able to exist forever, the problem is their stocks took a nose dive and they lose nearly $2 billion dollars in value over night. Now it didn’t hurt their cash reserves at first but their bonds became worthless and with the company expecting to post a $250+ million dollar loss for the third year in a row, that tells me they will start burning through that cash stock pile faster than they would like, and Nintendo loyalists (I hate the term fanboy), well they continue to bring up Nintendo’s past successes as proof of future successes, without ever getting into how bad it is when you consider the brand new PS4 sold more units in a single day than the Wii U did in an entire year, and sales keep going up for Sony and down for Nintendo, that says it all, their machine is doomed. But worse yet the truth is there is not a single plan out there that can save Nintendo, at least not in the way gamers are expecting.

Plan A, stay the course and release another console in 2-3 years time.

Why this will NOT work. First, Nintendo can not suffer three more years of losses and with Wii U sales flogging and 3DS sales on the decline, they could start running out of cash long before they have a chance to launch a dead on arrive console. Look at Atari and Sega, both dominated their markets at one time and then failed to move forward. Atari lost all confidence with the failure of the 7800 which followed the failure of their 5200, then they released a third failure, the Lynx, by the time they got around to scraping together enough chips and bolts to get the Jaguar on the market, they were so far in debt it was doomed from the start. Sega went through the same thing, they did great with Genesis and Game Gear but they lost face with Sega CD, 32X, Pico, Ex-Eye, CDX, Saturn, and Nomad, all those consoles released in the span of three years! Sega was so deep in debt when they launched the game machine the entire world had been waiting for, the Dreamcast, they could barely keep it afloat for one year before throwing in the towel and selling off their studios piece by piece just to stay alive as a (struggling) third party publisher.

Now lets look at Nintendo, they actually lost money big on the Gamecube, what saved them then was the GBA was a runaway success and they used the Game Boy Player to try to boost sales of the dying Game Cube. Want to know how bad Game Cube was, after only two years on the market they ceased production, slashed the price from $199 to $99 over night and bundled it with a Legend of Zelda collection that compiled all the best Zelda games to that point on one disk and gave it away for free. Sales picked up and they managed to stick it out for another two and a half years, during which time they released the GBA-SP a power house that could easily eat any losses Game Cube caused. Problem is, Wii U is selling WORSE than the Game Cube was at the same point in time, and it costs twice as much too. Retailers are already discounting the machine and several are shipping them back to Nintendo. Nintendo will soon be in worse shape than they were in 2003 when the Game Cube nearly destroyed their empire. Why bring that up? Because as low as sales were Game Cube was still a beloved system, sure it got a lot of jokes about being a purple lunch box but it still had a great array of games, first and third party all across the spectrum. The Wii U is not going so hot on that front, it has less than half of the games that Game Cube had in the same time and worse yet, the best selling game on the console, Super Mario 3D World, is the worst selling Mario title to date, even worse than the Game Cubes Mario Sunshine, a game that was considered a flop. Mario games tend to sell in the millions, not a million or two but multiple millions, Super Mario Bros. 3 held the title of best selling game of all time at 30+ million (this was of course before the multiple re-releases) Maario 3D World has YET to break the million mark and it is been out over two months, a bad omen when you put it in with everything else. Not to mention that with somewhere between 4.5 and 5.2 million Wii U consoles barely making it into gamers homes, Mario 3D World is already handicapped due to the low install base, even if every single Wii U owner buys the game it will still not reach Mario Sunshine’s numbers, and remember Mario Sunshine was NOT a run away hit. Put it another way Knack for the PS4, a game with mixed reviews and a lot of hate for being a knock off Nintendo anyways, sold nearly twice as many units as Mario 3D World which was the highest rated game of the year. How can a mediocre game out sell a main stream Mario title?

Unlike Game Cube where Nintendo was coming off the high of the N64 and the rush of Pokemon Fever, Wii U is in a slump the company has never seen. Wii was NOT a success despite the fanboys flogging the 100 million units so, when every nursing home in the world has at least 2 you can bet your ass half of those units are not being played any more, and the reality is Nintendo stopped making games for Wii in big numbers and started shifting focus to 3Ds in 2010, Wii was a fluke that only made Nintendo a few million bucks of easy money but cost them their entire loyal fanbase and then some.

Wii sold a lot of hardware but did not sell much software. Nintendo makes their money on software and a small profit on hard ware. Wii U they are actually losing on the hard ware and they are not selling software to make up the difference. Also fans and loyalists continue to say the 3DS is doing well sales wise, yes but they ALSO sell it at a small loss to grow the userbase and they just wasted millions of R&R, marketing, and shipping on a failed 2DS, which is a weird device that plays 3DS games but no 3D, or any of the features that make owning a 3DS great other than just the games. They had to sell that at a loss too. Reality is unlike GBA-GC where they lost money on one but made up for it in software and hand held sales, they are just losing money right and left.

Cue the remarks about how bad Sony is doing as a whole. Why does that not matter to Nintendo? Because Sony is not losing money in every division and if worse comes to worse Sony can sell off a money losing division, like Columbia Pictures as example, or their cell phone division, and make a profit elsewhere, Sony has plenty of room to wiggle around and plenty to fall back on, besides Sony is selling their hardware in massive droves and that will give them profits the likes of which Nintendo only remembers having once made. But it gets worse, Nintendo has nothing to fall back on, they are a toy company nothing more. In the video game space, their second best selling toy line to date, they make a ton of great games that do in fact appeal to a very wide audience. But their hard ware has NOT had universal appeal since about 1996 when they released the weird N64 that also struggle for a while but came out rosy in the end. Their most profitable product line is their Pokemon stuff but even that can’t offset the failure of sticking with the Wii U long term.

Plan B- go mobile

This is also a bad idea, people think they should either release their back log of games onto mobile devices or just make a Nintendo tablet/phone and make that separate. Why this will fail is simple, Apple and Android are killing Microsoft, a company 10 times as large as Nintendo, why in the hell would they want to compete with powerful companies that could chew them up and spit them out? They have no experience in this and people are too deeply invested into the tablets they have to make room for another entry, one that will be inferior anyways and whose selling point is to play Nintendo games, something people are already NOT buying Wii U to do. Why would anyone buy a Nintendo tablet to play even more inferior games than they would on a system they aren’t buying good games for? IF Nintendo released a smart device they would be bankrupt within a year or two tops.

Plan C- Make a hybrid machine small portable universal but can connect to a TV also.

Why this will fail. Hello, the 3DS is equal powerwise to a Game cube, a machine released 13 years ago, the tablets on the market are already more powerful, the Wii U is already more powerful and the PS Vita is already more powerful, in order for Nintendo to make a machine that can be portable, and still capable of displaying 1080p graphics on a big screen TV and have a controller built in, wait a second they already did this it is called the Wii U and it still is not selling? Now the hyrbid sounds good on paper but it is essentialy the same thing the Wii U already is but even more underpowered and potentially more expensive, well truth is if people won’t shell out $200 for a handheld, and they certainly won’t buy another tablet they what market is there interested in a hyrbid machine? It would basically just have all the mobile games anyways so its nothing more than a 3DS with TV output, Sony already did that with PSP and PS Vita TV, nobody bough those things. Why buy an even more underpowered games machine than the Wii U already is? This is a losing battle that many saw coming when the Wii U was announced and reality is Nintendo can’t pull this off either because who wants to buy a machine that is half assed as a mobile games and half assed as TV games? It would be the worst of both worlds not the best of both worlds. They would have better luck just dumping all their money into making as many Wii U games as they could and hope for the best, something they will still fail it but I will get to that.

Plan D- Just go third party.

I would LOVE IT if they did this but here is why it will not work. Unlike SEGA who has a rich and diverse portfolio, Nintendo is essentially a one trick pony, their main games are Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Pokemon, Star Fox, and Pokemon. Now if these games are already NOT enough to pull gamers into Wii U why would a PS4 or Xbox One gamer even care if they had Mario on their system, if they really wanted to play Mario they would have bought a Wii U instead right? Sega has ninja games, RPG games, Strategy games, sports games, fighting games, Sonic games, adventure games, movie based games, Ecco the Dolphin games, and so many weird odd games that gamers like its impossible to list them all. Having grown up on Sega I can assure you they in fact make more games than Nintendo does and often they have better games than Nintendo does. However going third party has caused Sega to turn into a shell of its former self and their games are hit and miss. Nintendo would do worse as third party than Sega is doing. Sonic sells well on Nintendo platforms but it falters on the other two. If Nintendo stopped making consoles Sega would stop making Sonic games as Nintendo gamers tend to be the only ones buying Sonic games these days. Nintendo has NO first Person games or open world games in their arsenal and that is where the mainstream market is. At least Sega still makes some sports games, the last sports game Nintendo made that DIDN’T have Mario in it was just Wii Sports, a generic game that only worked on the Wii. Nintendo does not nor can they compete with the likes of EA, Rock Star, Konami, even Valve. Nintendo does games tend to sell to quirky Nintendo gamers who like weird stuff but mainstream gamers pass over that stuff, even Sony and Microsoft have their share of quirky Nintendo-esque games that don’t sell well. Also Nintendo would be forced to actually compete in a market where their gamers would be split just like Sega, their fanbase would be split and therefore their sales would be all over the place. They would have a better chance just selling their games off to different studios and closing their doors than going third party.

Where does that leave them to go? Honestly I have no idea, I think no matter which course of action they take they are basically only delaying the inevitable. I would rather they did go third party and be forced to big into their catalog and bring back some great old franchises and really have to compete in a cut throat market, than if they just went away altogether. I would rather Nintendo end up like Sega rather than like Coleco, Atari, or Amiga, mere memories that fade further into obscurity with each passing generation.

Will I buy a Wii U? I was tempted just to you know throw them a bone, but if it will only cost them more money a true fan would better serve them by abandoning all hope for the Wii U and put the pressure on them to go fully third party. Nintendo could make money with Sony would step up and offer them money to put Mario or Zelda on their machine and Microsoft would pay them to get Star Fox and Metroid on theirs and Pokemon will go to iPhones. Then at least they can keep their fans happy. Honestly I think they are just on the death march so for me I will just wait to see where they end up, a tablet would be a bad idea, a hyrbid would be a terrible idea and riding out the Wii U would just further damage their reputation so as of now their best bet is to just go third party and stop all this jerking people around. I Would they ever rise to the top again, no they are finished Nintendo will NEVER return to the glory days the “golden age” of the NES/SNES, period. PERIOD. At least what they could do is is salvage what is left of their reputation and realize that Mario is not enough to Sell consoles BUT put Mario on a console that sells well without him and you have a better chance of selling Mario games at the very least.

Nintendo is holding an emergency management meeting on January 30th, that is less than a week away, expect big changes coming soon as their President has stated they are looking at a new business structure and even though they say it is not going 3rd party, I am willing to bet they are only saying that to save face when reality is they need to keep it secret until all the signatures are on the dotted lines. Stay Cool.

Michael Bay thoughts

I hear a lot of people on internet discussion forums blame George Lucas for ruining their childhoods because of the things he did to Star Wars over the years. People who had a specific view of what they in their minds thought Star Wars was supposed to be, and along the way they forgot that they were not the creators of the series but only the patrons of the company who was selling them a product.

I know for some people it is difficult to remember Star Wars is just a product, it is not a religion, or even a way of life, it is a media franchise that is designed to sell the brand to consumers who are willing to pay money for the products available. I never had that view, to me George Lucas could always do whatever he wanted with Star Wars, after all he created it who was I to tell him he was wrong?

The reasons I mention Star Wars up front is important because I will come back to that as I go through this. When I was a kid like most members of my generation, I grew up watching Star Wars. When I was a kid it was my all time favorite movie. What did I like most about it? Well let me be honest here that was a long time ago, it could have been any number of things. But what I do remember standing out in my mind quite prominently was it had robots in it and I really liked robots. I watched Space Camp because it had a robot in it for a brief moment. I liked Short Circuit because Johnny Five was a robot. And yes my favorite media franchise of all time, second only to of course Star Wars, is Transformers.

When I was a kid I loved the Transformers they were the best cartoon on TV, the best toys in toy stores, and they even had comic books that I found out about years latter. Growing up I will admit some of my best friends were either Autobots or Decepticons. Sure I would eventually discover other things like video games, comic books, D&D, and somewhere along the lines I started to get into girls too. But I never stopped admiring and appreciating what the Transformers were and represented to me. When I was about 18 I had gotten out of toys and been mostly devoted to trying to get my hip-hop career off the ground, hey it was the 90’s everyone was trying to get their rap careers started. Well one day I walked into a comic book shop that I often frequented looking for some X-Men comics and I decided to check out the other side of the store, the side I never went to and the dealer had a whole glass case filled with classic Transformers action figures. Out of nostalgia I grabbed a couple of the cheaper ones just to take home and re-connect with something from my childhood and from there it all came flooding back. One by one I built up a huge collection of these things, and I didn’t stop with the vintage ones either I even got into the new ones as they were just making a come back. Now this might be contentious but I don’t care, some people argue Beast Wars kept the franchise going, but I disagree mainly because for one Beast Wars wasn’t made by Hasbro is was Kenner, and two, when Hasbro brought Robots In Disguise out the headlines hailed it as a return of the Transformers, nerds could keep any fringe cult franchise going but if it isn’t mainstream then nobody cares and for me their come back was when they returned to the mainstream.

After a couple of years of dedicated collecting the toys became more popular than ever thanks to new cartoons, new comic books, and over all a revived interest in all things 80’s. But after a couple of years Hasbro took on this new practice of going overboard, pretty soon instead of launching one toyline, backing it up with a cartoon and comic and then moving on once it ran it’s course, they were running not two not three but FIVE toylines simultaneously. Each one had to be backed up by it’s own media, mostly comics as you can’t get kids to tune into too many cartoons at once their short attention spans don’t have room. But comics it is easier because they only come once a month and you flip through them much faster and more casually than a television program anyways. Then in 2007 Michael Bay came along and did to Transformers what George Lucas had done to Star Wars, he recreated it for a newer generation. Like Star Wars this caused a split in the fanbase and pretty soon Hasbro was having to launch even more toy lines, comic books, and promotions to try and keep everyone happy.

By about 2005 I had already given up on collecting as it became overwhelming, costly, and frankly I was getting more into video games so I sold my entire collection to this dealer and said good bye to my past. Sure every once in a while I might have an urge to want to go back and start collecting again, but as much material as there was in 2001 things are far out of hand now, I wouldn’t even know where to start anymore! So I realized something, I wasn’t going to do to Michael Bay what the Star Wars fans had done to Lucas, instead I was going to accept that I had *my* Transformers when I was a kid, and today’s youth have *their* Transformers. Thanks to good old Netflix I can go back and watch and old episode of the cartoon, laugh at how bad it is, and move on. But the desire will always be in me to return to collecting at least the vintage toys that I grew up with. As of right now I don’t have neither the time nor the money to even begin investing in a new hobby, or returning to an old one. But as least I can look back on it as a fond time and instead of hating Michael Bay for “ruining” my childhood I will just be thankful that Star Wars was popular enough to force Hasbro to launch a robot themed action figure line in the first place. Stay Cool.

New Gaming Generation is upon us

As an avid gamer it is always an exciting time when a new gaming console is about to launch. For many the question they have to ask is which console to get, an Xbox One, a PS4, or perhaps an Nintendo Wii U. Console gamers are an entirely different breed than PC gamers so I will skip the lecture on why I prefer one over the other and instead focus on what has me excited about this next generation, what has me worried about it, and discuss what I would like from this generation.

I will break them down one by one.

Xbox One.

I know most people are counting on Microsoft to repeat their previous success because frankly up till now Microsoft has been pretty consistent. The problem is Xbox One is not targeting the core gamer, it is instead going after an entirely different branch of the gaming segment, the sports fanatic. Microsoft has gone out of their way to talk about how Xbox One will be integrated with various Professional Sports services, their commercials and features they are touting are all focused on how sports will be the center focus of the machine. They will also rely heavily on TV services, in other words they want the Xbox One to be integrated with your Cable Box/DVR like no other device previously. There is a problem with this approach. The TV integration would make sense except for that fact that we already have Internet TV’s and just about every single DVD/Blu Ray player on the market as well as Roku, GoogleTV, Apple TV, Western Digital, etc, all these devices do the same thing, some more some less. Now sure the Xbox One will *ALSO* play video games but for some reason Microsoft is not really making that the central focus instead it is sort of a given, like an afterthought. Sure the machine will have games and post launch but if the market they are chasing is less gaming oriented and focused more on the TV integration and Sports services then they could have a problem, the core gamers might not follow suit and if that happens they could end up with a gaming system that doesn’t sell games but instead sells services. The very fact that Microsoft is relying heavily on cloud computing to offload some of the Xbox One’s features tells me that they are moving away from a dedicated gaming platform and more towards a multimedia machine that just happens to also play games.

In addition to all the above mentioned there is one really troubling problem with Xbox One, Kinect. Now the Xbox 360 Kinect was a travesty, some would say it was nothing but knee jerk reaction to Nintendo’s success with their Motion Controller. Others think it was just a matter of time. Either way Kinect was always optional and as such many people opted to avoid it. But the Xbox One will come with and require the technology in order to run the new machine. The new features of Kinect like it being able to tell when you get up and leave the room, being able to talk to the console and have it turn itself off and on is a but troubling to me. Some think it is a natural progression of technology but based on Siri and other voice activated computing services I think it is becoming clear that consumers regard these things as novelties that quickly wear off, or more often as an inconvenience. But the real problem is that forcing Kinect on gamers means that if you have no interest in the device and what it offers, that makes it harder to even consider buying the Xbox One.

Now what is there about Xbox One that would get me excited? For starters the whole idea of cloud gaming is exciting because it means that if, and a big if, Microsoft can invest in the right technology they can make it so the Xbox is just the streaming device and that all the heavy computing is done at a warehouse somewhere and this would force Microsoft to partner with Telecom companies to invest in expanding their broadband services and upgrading their lines, something that I believe would really benefit everyone. Also there is the idea that once cloud gaming takes off, that hardware costs will decrease dramatically and console gaming will become more enticing in the future.

There is no doubt that Microsoft takes their gaming division seriously but I am worried they have lost sight of who their core audience is and they might be making a mistake they can’t recover from. Nintendo went out of their way to reach an audience that is alien to their traditional core and now they are trying to get their core back they are in a bigger mess than ever. Microsoft could end up in far worse shape because Apple, Samsung, and Google are all chipping away at the division where Microsoft really makes their money and that could spell disaster for the entire company and all of their partners who are relying on them.

PS4

Of all the gaming consoles out there this is the easiest one to get excited about, Sony has the longest track record of being consistent, to date they have yet to release a console failed to reach their core audience. Playstation shattered all expectations and turned the entire gaming word upside down. Playstation 2 continued to break records and raised the bar. PS3 had a rocky start but in the end they were able to get their act together. Needless to say even though PS3 had a slow start in the hardware side, it has never been lacking in software. This is where Microsoft really has to worry, traditionally Xbox has been plagued by the very fact that a good majority of their must have titles were also available on PC’s and PC gamers continued to be troublesome to Microsoft. This was not the case for Sony, whose first and second party titles remain exclusive to their console, which can not be said for Xbox. True there are plenty of exclusives for Xbox but nowhere near the quality and quantity of Playstation. Brands like Ratchet and Clank, Grand Turismo, WipeOut, God of War, to name a few, have all had a strong place on Playstation consoles.

Unlike Microsoft, Sony has never been ambiguous about who their audience is, they are targeting gamers, people who live for gaming. Microsoft wants people who game, but not make gaming their life, Sony wants people who live to game and happen to also use their machines for other stuff. By making their machine a games console first and an entertainment machine second, Sony has always been able to show their core audience that they mean business. Also compare the amount of digital titles on Sony’s store to Microsofts and it becomes clear where the game developers want to put their titles. Playstation is hands down the most recognizable brand to core gamers and right now Sony is doing everything they can to show that PS4 will be faster, stronger, and better in every way than PS3 and they are doing it at an affordable price, which was the real reason PS3 was slow to take off. When it comes down to it gamers buy a games machine for the games, and right now both big consoles have their share of supports from the gaming industry, so that won’t be a major issue up front. However third party companies do need incentives to publish on a game console and I think Sony is looking to be the strongest contender for third party support whereas Microsoft looks like they could be in a position to fall behind.

What else can I say, Sony will continue to bring their back catalog of games from PS1, PS2, and now PS3 to their next gen console in digital form. The other difference between MS and Sony is that Sony has been in the game longer, in fact they go way back to the NES days. Sony has also been far better at attracting Japanese companies to their system and while Japanese companies have been struggling lately, they are regrouping and above all there are some really strong franchises coming from Japan that trump all other regions combined. Sega might not be as strong as they used to but they are buying up companies left and right, strengthening their catalog and giving them more options all the time. Capcom, Konomi, Taito, SNK, Square-Enix, these Japanese giants continue to prove their relevance and it is only a matter of time before they find their stride and return to the top. As for technology, the PS4 is basically doing the same stuff as Xbox One but without the Kinect. They will both offer similar features, the PS4 is slightly more powerful but that has never been a deciding factor for console gamers and isn’t likely to be now. What gets me most excited about PS4 is Sony has the desire to make their console the best it can be, they need it more than Microsoft. Sony is bleeding money and although they have begun to stabilize they are still in danger and PS4 is their golden goose, they are betting the entire farm on it being their return to glory and quite frankly they have the money to make it work. What that means is they need it more, so they will fight harder to attract the dedicated gamer and that bodes well for the gamers who will reap the benefits of a reinvigorated Sony willing to fight for their top spot.

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo is in the worst position of all three, their console has already been on the market for a year, it has had an identity crisis trying to distance itself from the first Wii, and unlike Sony and MS, they no longer have a core audience to draw upon. See Nintendo has been in a slump over the last few years, they sort of drift along on nostalgia and a group of dedicated loyalists but as time has gone they have further alienated their core fans and have been shrinking their core user base for going on two decades now. They are in a unique position also because unlike MS and Sony who are corporate behemoths, Nintendo is still a relatively small company by global standards, they have three main divisions, their handheld division which as been under constant fire from Tablets, Smartphones, and other hand held devices, their Console division which has been in a troubled mess since the N64, they had a couple of good years with Wii but that was something on an anomaly as they were reaching an entirely different audience than their traditional gamer. Their third division which is their most profitable is their Pokemon division which is a little complicated but it is their only outside source of income unlike Sony and MS who have many.

The thing is, Nintendo has been around for so long that Nostalgia is their best asset. How many times do you see a commercial for the latest Mario game and instantly go back to your childhood and remember the first time you saved that princess from her tower? Unlike Microsoft who has been mainly the Halo machine, and Sony who has had a few strong franchises come and go, Nintendo has forgotten more franchises they the other two combined could ever hope to have. Nintendo has been the number one supporter of their game platforms since the earliest days and that is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time. Third party companies despise Nintendo because if they put their game on Nintendo’s machine it is not likely to sell with a Nintendo game sitting on the same shelf. For decades you would see third party games get discounted month after month while the same game that launched on the Nintendo machine, the Mario or Zelda, would sit there for years at full price, get discontinued and then immediatley become a best selling collectors item. Nintendo has always been in a great position in that people  but their machine to play THEIR games, not Capcom, not Midway, not Square, but Nintendo. Sony can’t say that people buy Playstation for the varied experiences, they buy Xbox for the online features and community, but if you combined all of the best selling games on MS and Sony you wouldn’t even have half of what Nintendo can sell. Let us not forget that their handheld division is still their main money maker and isn’t going away any time soon. So what is the deal with Wii U then? Well put it bluntly it has no games, or rather it has no compelling games that you either can’t get elsewhere or can’t live without. Right now the Wii U is getting better, with the new Sonic, Mario 3D World, and Donkey Kong Country coming out, but up till now they system has been plagued by a serious lack of games. Not to mention the consumer confusion over the name, not knowing if it is a new console or an accessory for the regular Wii.

What worries me most about Wii U is that it is underpowered compared to the other two and unlike Wii which had a brand new casual gamer market to draw on, Wii U is looking to recapture their core audience, problem their core audience was leaving them in droves even when they were making powerful consoles that could compete head to head with the big boys and they still lost ground. Now that making under powered machines is becoming a habit for them this has the hard core gamer worried because it means that even if sales do increase, third parties will still have to wrestle with putting their game on a machine that requires a tremendous amount of retooling to get it to work. PS4 and Xbox One are different in key areas but underneath it all they are basically the same, Wii U is entirely different, it has a weaker chip set, a smaller internal memory, considerably less RAM, and a controller that is as different as night and day. Sure it worked with Wii because motion controls were so intuitive and natural that anyone, including grandmas, could pick it up and play. With Wii U that is not the case, it utilizes a tablet style touch screen controller that is a cross between an iPad and a traditional game pad. Sure this means new and innovative gameplay features are possible, but it also means that game developers have to find interesting and innovative ways to make use of it, and gamers have to come to terms that a tablet is not the same as a remote. Not to worry as they still have remotes for the Wii U but that also complicates things, companies now have to decide to tailor their game to use the Gamepad, the traditional Pro controller, or the Remote, this is even more confusing than all those options the first Wii had. What is worse is devs might not be willing to make that investment on a console that doesn’t have the sales like the Wii did. And if it was a success so what, you just end up with and endless flow of party games, casual games, and other shovelware that would be better suited for the Android or iOS market.

What does excite me for Nintendo Wii U is what excited me for their past consoles, well prior to GameCube, and that is the new Super Mario game. Super Mario 3D World looks to be the most fun Mario game I have seen in years. I hated Sunshine, I wanted to like it, I tried to like it, but in the end it just wasn’t a Mario game to me. I never played Galaxy as by the time it came out I had already relegated my Wii to the party machine my parents played more than I did. If not for Virtual Console my Wii would have been collecting dust after the first couple of months. Now will Wii U I am no longer excited for Virtual Console because times have changed, and frankly I have purchase Super Mario Bros, original NES Zelda, and Donkey Kong classic from Nintendo more time than I care to admit, I am NOT going to shell out more money just to play those old games once again on another machine. What does that leave me with? Well Mario 3D World doesn’t look anything like Sunshine and whats even better is it looks like it is trying to reach the core gamer, which is who I am.

But are those three games enough to entice me to invest once again in a Nintendo console that I KNOW will lack certain third party titles I am pretty sure I will want to play? Games that I also know will NOT be coming to PC? Well the short answer is no, those three games are not enough. There are more games on the way but as of right now it is to be seen if those games will even make a difference or who knows they might end up getting canceled or pushed back to their next console, or even go multiplatform as Nintendo transitions into a third party like Atari and Sega did. Truth be told I am honestly worried for Nintendo and I would consider myself a fan, not a “fanboy” but a loyalist nonetheless. So for me I am realistically unsure if they can come back. I think Microsoft will either sell off their game division or they will morph into something core gamers run from, I think PS4 will sell strong numbers at first and then should start to level off as competition from tablets gets stronger, but Nintendo I am genuinely worried about, what could happen to them. Will I but a Wii U, PS4 or Xbox One?

If I had the money I would gladly pick up a PS4 in a heartbeat, I would get a Wii U once it has more than five games I want to play, right now it has three and that is not enough. I will never get an Xbox One period because some of the stuff MS is doing has me really worried. Plus I never owned an Xbox before, the first or the second so I have no desire to pick up the newest one. BUT I have owned every Playstation to date, and every Nintendo console to date so it is a safe bet that at some point in time I am going to get one, the other, or both, eventually. Right now I am leaning towards PS4 because it has features and a strong line up of games in the pipeline plus Sony is showing a strong hand at the moment. I might change my mind and get a Wii U if it has strong holiday sales that can lead to more games in the coming months because let me be honest I want to play that new Mario, I love Mario games in fact as a gamer I love Nintendo because they are the best at making video games, not so much interactive movies and sports simulations like their competitors. But Sony also has a knack for putting up a good fight and well Capcom makes some games I can’t do without that haven’t been strong on Nintendo consoles for years, same with Square and other Japanese games so for me, it usually is a two for, PS and Nintendo. The days of just getting the Nintendo machine and being happy are long gone.

In the end it doesn’t matter much to the rest of the world, each person will buy or not buy the machine of their choice for whatever their reasons are. As for me, I am in wait and see mode at this point but as a gamer I am tempted to get into the next gen at some point or another. Right now I will continue to enjoy the hell out of my PS3 which is nothing but awesome but eventually I will feel the need to get into the next gen and when that time comes I am going to have to make a tough call. Stay Cool.

Halloween 2013

Not much of a day, nothing went as planned. I didn’t watch any of the movies I set out to. I did end up going to a Halloween party they held at the College. It wasn’t my kind of thing so I left early. I didn’t expect anything much going in so I wasn’t disappointed. Then I watched the Bulls barely beat out the Knicks in their first match up of the season.

Movies Watched

The only Halloween related film I watched today was the original Hellraiser, I did watch a Halloween episode of Roseanne and then How I Met Your Mother, followed by Dream Warriors and Dream Master. I noticed Dream Child was on Sci-Fi Channel but since that is butchered for TV I just passed it up. Even though it will keep me up past midnight.

Chicago Bulls

Well not much to report other than they look like they are going to need some time to get back into the groove of things. Sure they won but it was a pretty close, low scoring game. I am glad to see Rose is back to playing, he looked to be in good shape, a little rusty but that is understandable.

Other than that not much else to report today. I had a quiz in my Geography class yesterday that I could have done better on but I wasn’t expecting to do that well considering I didn’t even study, mostly because I forgot until the night before. I hate it when that happens.

Tuesday I attended my film class and we were shooting footage for our projects and I was selected for a small on screen role so I got to see what it was like to be in front of the camera for a change.

#StayCool.