Archive for May, 2005

I talk in my sleep

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

I'm going to build an engine that *mumble mumble mumble*, apparently.
Any ideas what the mumbling might be? Another earth-shattering idea lost to Morpheus' embrace, I fear.

The great clothing cull of 2005

Sunday, May 29th, 2005

At Mrs. Elbeno's insistence, this weekend is the time to get rid of our wardrobes-full of little-worn, old, or outgrown clothes, donate them to charity, and replace them with new. So it was this morning that I bade a fond farewell to well-loved shirts and trousers that had done sterling service, and several pairs of socks that by now are more holy than righteous and have been consiged to the bin.

Many clothes of historical value were boxed up and now live in the cupboard in the spare room, awaiting some future trip down memory lane, or possibly eBay in the case of Limited-Run Video Game Shirts in Mint ConditionTM. Many more bags of clothes were loaded into the car ready for the clothing bank.

Tomorrow I shall be doing my best to restock my depleted collection of short-sleeve shirts, and trousers that fit.

Su Doku

Friday, May 27th, 2005

For some time I have been doing The Times daily Su Doku puzzle. I have to make some effort to keep up with events in Blighty and apparently this is all the rage. My parents first introduced me to it last November – they're devotees too. Since appearing in The Times, it's spread to other newspapers, which enables me to feed my 2-or-3-puzzle-a-day habit.

Having regularly defeated The Times “fiendish” rating for a while now, I'm feeling ready for the challenge of the hardest Su Doku puzzle yet. Being physically removed, I won't actually be able to enter the contest, but I'm looking forward to seeing the puzzles. I have until October to further hone my skills.

Things that happened today

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Went out for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Sat outside. Came home with a pink neck and face. Got in trouble with Mrs. Elbeno for same. Perhaps should put sunscreen in my desk drawer.

Received new laptop for Mrs. Elbeno. All present and correct. Configured and updated it. Mrs. Elbeno pleased. Old laptop bequeathed to me – will be installing Debian at the weekend.

Failed to pick up new keyboard from mailroom at work: was in a meeting from 4 to 6.10. Mailroom closes at 6 sharp. Curses.

Voice actors threaten video game strike

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

Yahoo News article, via Slashdot.

Hollywood throws a tantrum because the games industry doesn’t play their game. Boo hoo.

“It is simply shortsighted to believe that consumers don’t care about the artistic quality of the characters.”

It is simply naïf to believe that consumers even notice voice acting except when it’s intolerably bad. And most of the time these days, it is merely mediocre and unnoticeable, union and non-union alike. Not to mention that it pales beside the other facets of artistic quality that the modellers, texture painters, animators, lighters, designers, audio guys, engineers et al. work so hard to polish.

Where voice acting stands out, many times it isn’t even union work. Part of Hollywood’s argument is that 9 or last year’s top 10 sellers involved union work. Let’s look at the data. Here are the top 10 selling games from 2004, according to the NPD Group. I think most industry bods would agree this is plausibly accurate.

1 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
2 Halo 2
3 Madden NFL 2005
4 ESPN NFL 2K5
5 Need For Speed: Underground 2
6 Pokemon Fire Red W/ Adapter
7 NBA Live 2005
8 Spider-Man: The Movie 2
9 Halo
10 ESPN NFL 2K5

At a guess, #6 doesn’t involve voice acting. Sports games are all about realism, so they use real-life commentators, who are of course guild members. But at the end of the day they’re also some of the most predictable titles around: 12 month schedule, known fan base, nothing unusual. Marketing can hit targets very accurately on sports titles, Hollywood talent or not. Nothing would change if Hollywood pulled out.

Spider-Man is the one game in this list that (it could be seriously argued) needed Hollywood talent. But there are plenty of talented non-union voice actors out there who I think could have done just as good a job. Even EA, who can afford to hire the “real voices” sometimes draw the line *cough* Pierce Brosnan *cough*.

Is Hollywood seriously suggesting that voice acting had anything to do with sales of Halo, Halo 2 or NFSU? Wake up and smell the pixels! None of these games is an RPG, which is the only genre where voice acting is semi-regularly scrutinised by reviews. Voice acting is about 20th on the list of things an action gamer cares about. Voice actors want a bonus when a game breaks 400k units, and bonus for each 100k after that. I can hear the laughter in the video game publisher boardrooms from here. Do your worst, Hollywood. The video game industry can survive and thrive without you.

Tim!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Last year semis, this year second round? And we had such high hopes. Pull yourself together for next month!

London Underground

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

I have both fond and not-so-fond memories of London Underground. I worked in the city one summer. And there were several days of train strike. Anyway, the London Underground swf (warning: parental advisory) going around is one of the better things I've seen this week. I'm not posting a link, since it's probably going to be all over the place any minute now. GIYF.

Tennis season

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Tennis season is here! OK, I know it never goes out of season, but I can never be bothered with the Australian Open. And the US Open is an afterthought. No; the next 6 weeks are the good stuff. French Open, a couple of weeks of in-between tournaments, then Wimbledon. These are the tournaments that count.

Anyway, hurray to Tim H, Roger F, Maria S, and anyone Belgian (Justine, Kim, Xavier). Boo to almost anyone American (I just can't bring myself to like those players; no personality and too much gamesmanship) except Andre (too bad about the injury, dude).

Bring on the strawberries and cream! And I will try not to be too disappointed with the poor TV coverage.

More Star Wars movies? No!

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Episodes VII-IX are rumoured (via Slashdot and other places). Roger Ebert apparently believes that more are a distinct possibility.

Look at episodes I-VI as a whole and ask yourself what the series is about. It's about the life of Anakin Skywalker – his turbulent upbringing, fall into the dark side, and ultimate redemption. Six movies tell this story from childhood to grave. Which is why any addition is now going to be an add-on, an after-thought, not in keeping with the existing movie canon.

6 episodes is enough, George. Some were great; more than half were good. Thanks for that. Now stop, please.

bang. and episode III (spoiler warning)

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Last night I went to bang. improv with , and . It was a good evening. Improv can always be a little hit and miss, and the crowd was not much bigger than the cast, but I think we all enjoyed it. They definitely had their moments. Especially the “English accent” parts. 🙂

This morning I saw Revenge of the Sith. Nice to tie up the Star Wars plot. I didn't even think the dialogue was that bad. The “losing the will to live” part was lame, but what can you do? It's clearly stretching credulity to accept death in childbirth when medical droids can repair someone who's had 3 limbs severed and suffered 100% burns.