July 2011 Archives

Great Photos of Flabber

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Number four in a series...

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I think we better get indoors. Stink bugs are easily startled but they'll soon be back, and in greater numbers.

luigimansion2-e32011.jpgThis is the response to Sony when they announced the Vita at $250 and essentially said "Your move, Nintendo." And it's the response to Apple, who went off to create a highly successful mobile gaming platform without even glancing in Nintendo's direction. But mainly it's a sales goose.

$250 has been a tough price for Nintendo and the 3DS. $170 is aggressive as hell. They obviously want to leave nothing to chance in the face of the Vita launch and the growing share of iPad/iPhone/Facebook gamers. We're set up for a replay of the DS/PSP showdown, with Nintendo again resuming the "cheaper!" angle and Sony going for "sexier!" Some things never change. Except for, you know, that iOS guy which all the cheap games suddenly running into the race.

Nintendo has also had to endure shots about the 3DS game library, despite every gaming system ever made having a crap library for the first YEAR of existence. I think the 3DS has had a stronger showing than most, both on first and third party. But you know how it goes, if the system doesn't deliver all-new AAA titles every week, the internet declares it a Failure. And Nintendo has to suffer that worse than most, because the internet declares everything they do a Failure anyway.

In what is a very nice gesture to existing 3DS owners, anybody who has the system (or buys it before August 12) will get 20 free downloadable Virtual Console games by the end of the year. Ten NES games and ten GBA games, which is pretty damn cool. That said, today's press release does open up some fresh wounds.

What this might verify is that our Wii Virtual Console purchases, yes, will not transfer to the 3DS. Even as the same games (NES Super Mario Bros, for example) become available on both Wii Virtual Console and 3DS Virtual Console. I get it, we've paid for a new SMB on every system Nintendo has blessed with a re-release. But now that they're moving into virtual releases, it makes a new happy price tag much, much harder to swallow. We're already conditioned that we have One Account Per Company, and when Apple lets us share purchases across devices, and Sony lets us share purchases across devices, we have to ask why Nintendo won't.

What in the world is going to happen with the Wii U? Will Shop Channel purchases all transfer over? Right now, in some dark underworld dungeon, Nintendo execs are weighing two sides of a scale: on one, Gamer Goodwill. On the other, Who Gives a Crap Because "Transferring Purchases" Won't Even Occur to Most People.

Then there's the sentence at the end of this paragraph:

Starting Sept. 1, Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors will be able to download 10 NES™ Virtual Console™ games at no charge and before they are available in the Nintendo eShop to the general public. These games, including Super Mario Bros.™, Donkey Kong Jr.™, Balloon Fight™, Ice Climber™ and The Legend of Zelda™, are slated to become paid downloadable games, but Ambassadors get them early for free. Once the paid versions of the games are posted to the Nintendo eShop later in the year, the updated versions will be available to Ambassadors for download at no cost.

What do you mean, "updated versions"? Like, 3D Classic versions? I'm already assuming quite a bit as I pore over this release, so it seems like if Nintendo meant 3D Classic NES games, they would have said 3D Classic NES games at that point.

And I think this is the first we've heard of Game Boy Advance titles coming to the 3DS Virtual Console.

By the end of 2011, Nintendo will provide Ambassadors with 10 Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games. These include games like Yoshi's Island™: Super Mario™ Advance 3, Mario Kart™: Super Circuit, Metroid™ Fusion, WarioWare™, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ and Mario vs. Donkey Kong™. These games will be available exclusively to Ambassadors, and Nintendo currently has no plans to make these 10 games available to the general public on the Nintendo 3DS in the future.

I can't imagine Nintendo NOT trying to sell these things later. But I'll take "exclusive" under the dictionary definition for now.

You guys know me, I have little interest in playing old games... especially games that are untouched by modern hands. (I like Pac-Man Championship Edition and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D because they've been newified.) I'll grab all 20 of these free games for sure, but I doubt I'll put much time into actually playing them. I wonder how much space these will kill on the SD card?

captamerica-movie.jpgThe reviews for "Captain America" use all the same adjectives as the reviews for "Green Lantern," except in Cap's case they're leveled as positives. "Preposterous," "absurd," "pulpy," "camp." Cap has "largely favorable" reviews on Metacritic; GL is "largely unfavorable."

And what a difference twelve million makes! GL scored $53 million on the first weekend, and was dubbed weak, a failure. Cap does $65 million and it's a triumph.

Once GL's bad word of mouth set in, there was no stopping the narrative. The fanboy audience that was expected to show up like they showed up for "Thor" and the sinking spiral of "X-Men" and "Spider-Man" movies. Like "Speed Racer," the fans turned on the film.* The Lantern take dropoff was great, sinking the franchise's prospects... while everybody lurves Captain America, so no doubt he's on his way to a $200 million showing.

I like how the Marvel movies are creating a shared universe, I really do. Sure, we had three (four? five?) "X-Men" movies, but they're still all X-Men movies. Here we're getting two Iron Man movies, a Thor movie and a Captain America movie, each focused on the story of one hero. Then we see how they all get together for the big team up. And, unlike the X-books, these are three dudes that have held their own in their own titles, so it makes sense to take this approach. It's great to see movie audiences embracing the concept, as it is part-and-parcel with how comic books operate. I just think it's lame it's the Avengers that are leading the way.

It's a product of my upbringing. When I was a kid, Marvel pretty much began and ended with Spider-Man. Marvel's big licensed properties during the 70s and 80s were Spider-Man and the Hulk. You saw a lot of Captain America merchandising as a third wheel after that pair, but he didn't have any current media backing him up. In the 90s, the X-Men took over as Marvel's big draw, and thus the stage was set for how Hollywood would jump back into super-hero movies. So that's why I've always seen the Avengers as b-teamers.

The Iron Man movie changed that paradigm. That was a risk, you know, that movie. If it hadn't been Robert Downey Jr, if it didn't have a nebulous tie-in to current events, maybe it wouldn't have struck gold. The film version of Iron Man is more or less "Suppose Batman wasn't such an emo piss all of the time," and Batman has usually done well with film audiences. So there you go. Now Iron Man is a Marvel flagship character. They make sure he gets on every product that would have been Spidey's domain thirty years back. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this at all, just pointing out how times change.

Green Lantern's problem is that it's Green Lantern. Sure, reviewers have dived into their old Film Criticism classes and tackled the acting (no worse than any other super-hero movie) and the script (no worse than any other super-hero movie) and the directing (no worse than any other super-hero movie), but I think those complaints are just floating justifications for the core problem with the film: the Green Lantern concept is pretty damned ridiculous and if you're not willing to buy into it, you're just going to sit there in awe of the flagrant combination of unbelievable pseudo-science and pompous Star Wars aliens.

To the film's credit, it brings the Green Lantern comics to life. That movie is straight up comic book canon. And while it's relatively easy to be true to the comic when the story is "earnest weakling is turned into buff American war hero," it's quite something else to be true to all the comic booky craziness that backs up Green Lantern's world.

The moviemakers could have jettisoned all the space stuff. No Guardians, no Oa, no alien police force. Imagine the Iron Man script, but instead of building a suit, he builds a magic ring. Come on, building a ring that emits a thought-controlled malleable plasma is just as acceptable as building a mostly-bulletproof, atomic-powered suit of armor with machine guns and flamethrowers! Or he finds it. Hell, Abin Sur could have crashed in the Middle East and summoned a local ladykilling pilot from the US forces in Afghanistan. Whatever. Then maybe, maybe, in the final scene, the story of Hal Jordan's first adventure ends with an alien appearing before him and hinting that he is part of a greater good. Like Nick Fury at the end of "Iron Man."

But that wouldn't be true to the Green Lantern story, and fans would be outraged at the liberty. Instead, we got a movie that is perhaps one of the best adaptations of a patently comicsy comics property in years, and everybody's running to point out the strings and boom mics.

It's because Green Lantern is ridiculous. Most people just aren't going to get it. Kids will, because kids aren't tied down by that nagging anti-fantasy internal voice that keeps asking just what in the hell they mean by "the green energy of will" because what kind of silly bullshit is that. But by the time kids wanted to see the movie, the parents had already heard it was no good. (Plus, "Green Lantern" has kind of an intense beginning for young kids. We saw one dad-son pair walk out after the first two minutes when Parallax is introduced and screams bloody murder.)

The Marvel movies are doing great because they're doing what Marvel has always done: kept the heroes grounded. If you really examine it, that grounding ends up being pretty superficial - again, rich man builds super-weapon out of spare parts in a cave - even as it still keeps that appearance of realistic possibility. "Thor" is a notable exception, and guess who consistently has trouble maintaining his sales. Thor has a very DC kind of angle to him, except he's usually painted in that drab, depressing spin that colors all the Marvel books. And conversely, Batman is a very Marvel kind of guy... a mostly realistic origin, emotionally screwed up, but allowed to run free inside the generally hero-friendly world of the DCU.

I can't wait to see if the Fantastic Four are going to be rebooted as part of the new Marvel movie line. Because there's another Marvel book that most Marvel readers I know never touch. There's some serious silliness going on in that franchise too. Somehow, Marvel sold most of their modern fanbase on "mutant genes" being more realistic and plausible than "cosmic rays."

I wonder if one of the secret goals to DC's upcoming reboot, both in design and story, is to re-invent these characters in ways that are more amenable to future big screen adaptations. Slight costume tweaks to avoid the underwear-over-spandex cliche, subtle modernizing changes to the origins and cast. This is life in the big city, and the world outside comics is a much bigger moneymaker than the world inside comics.

I just really want another Green Lantern movie. The ridiculousness of the DC Universe is exactly what I like about it.

*I do think "Speed Racer" is a better movie than "Green Lantern." Speed Racer revels in its own absurdity without ever referencing it as absurd, while GL keeps the silliness at arm's length. Speed Racer also has a lot of heart packed into it, where overall GL is Silver Age cold. Neither film deserved the Nerd Popular Opinion Boycott.

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NM

Great Photos of Flabber

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Number three in a series...

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Like the LEGO Green Lantern fig, I can't help but expect that this is yet another long-in-planning initiative that was counting on the Green Lantern movie coming in as a blockbuster and not a benchwarmer. The "Fight for the Light" pack will cost $10. User comments relative to that price are not kind.

I'm in, and the biggest reason is that the initial press info indicates that players might want to create all-new characters with light powers. That says to me that this pack will come with missions friendly to low-level players, and that means Single Player DCUO is back. And that's all I need in a good MMO: single player.

LEGO Batman is back!

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Finally! The LEGO Batman line sort of unceremoniously vanished a few years ago. It returns next year, expanded into a LEGO DC Universe line. That LEGO Green Lantern up there is pretty clearly following in the design footsteps of the movie.

The return of a popular toy line has to mean the return of the popular associated videogame, right? LEGO Batman 2 will end up as LEGO Batman and the DC Universe or somesuch. Good news for Warner Interactive, I put together a solid breakdown of a theoretical LEGO DC Universe back in 2008. And that was before LEGO Harry Potter and the Green Lantern movie and everything.

The press release lists a bunch of highly expected names as minifigs in the new toy line (many reruns from the firstw ave of LEGO Batman sets), and then namechecks Batman, Joker and Green Lantern as "buildable" characters. I'm assuming that refers to the oversized, almost-a-giant-action-figure sets like they did for Ben 10 and the various Bionicle lines. I'm not really a fan of those.

They should issue a repaint of the LEGO Death Star set as a LEGO Mogo.

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Posted at the pediatricians' office: a stern warning that could have been written forty years ago, about how the music can make teens promiscuous and violent and drug-addled. Certain genres are indicators of bad behavior choices, probably the genres you dislike! Children are alienating themselves with headphones! This is a recent development!

I think I've finally decided on what I want it to say on my tombstone: THAT THING YOU HATE ABOUT YOUR KIDS IS THE SAME THING YOUR PARENTS HATED ABOUT YOU, AND YOU'RE PRETTY MUCH OKAY.

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If you had told me a year ago, six months ago, three days ago, that I would have new Guitar Hero product in my house, I would have spit in yer eye.

But there's a Toys R Us coupon live this week that can score you any available Hero bundle for $15. That's the single instrument bundles, not the full band bundles (although some folks have conned hapless TRU clerks into applying the $15 to the band bundle). So I bought DJ Hero 2, Guitar Hero 5 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. These are normally around $70 each. But the sky has fallen on music games and Toys R Us needs stock cleared out as soon as possible.

I liked DJ Hero well enough, so that sequel pickup was a given. Then it occurred to me that I'm fairly desperate for new Rock Band instruments. I have two RB Strats from the very first Rock Band and they are both beat. I've been itching to replace them for quite some time, but finding new RB3-era guitars has become difficult. Harmonix assured me full compatibility on last fall's Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock guitar. But while I was looking over the available bundles, I saw how different the Warriors model was compared to the guitar packed with Guitar Hero 5. So I just bought them both. At $15, who cares.

Both guitars have been tested with Rock Band 3, and I think I may prefer the GH5 edition, but they work fine. Compared to standard RB kit, you lose the dumb little lever that adjusts sound, and you lose the second set of fret buttons... but those are optional gameplay tweaks anyway. You gain a much bigger Overdrive button. And in my case, I gain two guitars with reliable strummers and working motion detectors.

And here's something I missed from the Red Octane controllers: that wonderfully clicky strum bar. The RB flavor guitars have always had soft clicks for me (although maybe newer models are clickier), so I like having that substantial feedback back on my axe. That takes me way back to the first Guitar Hero, that hard, bouncy sound does.

Coming out of my PS3 rebuild, I have restored RB3 to 415 tracks. I re-exported from RB1, and re-downloaded tons of stuff (including the export packs from RB2 and LEGO Rock Band.) Although I sort of remember being at 415 tracks before The Fall, and I had just purchased Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," so I may have overlooked one of my DLC songs somewhere on that killer list of 445 PSN downloads.

I wonder I'll ever even boot those two new Heroes.

The two Tony Hawk skateboard peripheral games are also on the $15 deal, but I couldn't bring myself to get one, even for the sheer novelty of it.

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And there's Chulip, a bizarre PS2 rarity, on sale at Five Below for, yes, $5. Chulip was a GameStop exclusive back in 2007, exclusive probably because Natsume figured it wasn't worth pressing enough copies to support other retailers. I think it was $20 new back then?

Anyway, you could do a lot worse for $5 on PS2 these days. Chulip is a rare find, although still not wanted enough to drive up the price to obscene levels on the secondary market. From what I recall, the game is STUPID hard, like impossible hard, but if you get a walkthrough you'll find a sweetly odd, unrepentantly strange little game. Oh, and you probably need a slimline PS2 to play it because the disc hated the original model PS2s.

Still, wow. Never thought I'd see brand new copies of Chulip again. Check your local Five Below often. They have the craziest stuff in there sometimes.

Hey, I bought a new PS3.

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ps3-bomb.jpgBecause, hey, my old one died.

I guess we just can't count on these things to last the entire generation. I've been through two Wiis and now two PS3s. Last go-round, I had three PS2s and two GameCubes. Of course, back then you did not risk losing all your game saves when you bought new. Why again did we all think HDs were a great idea? Oh yeah, it's not really the HD's fault that saving saves is such a bitch, it's the console makers' burning fear that people will take their saves and movies and music and games and post them all over the internet for people to download for free. Which they still do.

So, thanks again hackers.

This gaming system death was, however, foreseeable. It has always been loud and lately it had been getting louder. The fan, I mean. So I had been running quasi-regular backups. Quasi because Sony's awful Backup Utility literally takes an entire night to finish.

Great timing on the death. We had just returned from a shopping trip where I used $20 in Toys R Us gift cards to buy a $20 PSN card. I turned on the PS3, put in the card code to get the $20 added to my account, and as soon as I hit the back button to go browse the store, the screen clicked off. WE HAVE YOUR MONEY, NOW FUCK OFF.

And when I tried to turn it back on, I was the happy recipient of the Yellow Light of Death. There's nothing you can do at that point.

I bought a new slimline 320gig PS3 the next morning, and ever since I have been restoring my system. The "official" backup went fine, although my most recent was from mid-June. There's a month of game saves that are gone. Although most of them are for games that I finished, so I'm not sure I care so much. Duke Nukem Forever, LEGO Pirates and Green Lantern. Clark can actually probably re-unlock everything in Green Lantern in a couple nights, but the LEGO Pirates loss is kind of a drag. We Platinum'd both of those, and my Trophies were all saved, so it's not the hugest of deals.

The disk for Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon is stuck in my old PS3. I can't get it out, and none of the internet's wisdom has been helpful to me on this.

The real shitty part has been re-downloading everything I ever owned. My download list out of the PS Store comes to 445 items. Now, a lot of that is demos I no longer want, or teeny-tiny access unlocks like everything in LittleBigPlanet or ModNation Racers, but still. That's several days of watching progress bars masturbate.

Speaking of progress bars, I believe the new system will have to re-download any and all game patches. That will be quite a 4am workout for the Plus Automatic Download program.

Then there's the expected horror: the stuff that, for whatever reason, Sony will not let you transfer to a new machine. Any video item purchased from the store is gone... I believe I need to call Sony and talk to a human to re-establish access. Certain game saves are gone. I'm not even sure what all I'm missing there, because the Backup Utility is rather unhelpful on this score. It tells you that some items can't be restored, but it won't admit to which. Hopefully this is mostly stuff I had never planned on playing again anyway.

My LittleBigPlanet 2 progress is gone, as far as Story Mode is concerned. All the DLC is there, paid and free, but the game thinks I have started the story over. Minorly annoyed, but the Story levels in LBP2 are all pretty easy, and I was far from 100%ing them anyway. I wonder if I borked this one myself... when I went back into LBP2 for the first time on this machine, it saw my LBP1 save and asked to import it. Maybe that made the game assume I was starting fresh, and it itself wiped out my existing LBP2 data?

I'm re-downloading every single piece of Rock Band music, because DLC songs won't transfer. If the last bits finish tonight, I'll boot up RB3 and survey for damage.

I might try sending the thing out to Sony for repair, just to see what they do. They'll charge me, but if they can save absolutely everything - media, locked saves, recent saves - I may go for it.

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Saw this new Pirates of the Caribbean tabletop game at Toys R Us, which looks like a pretty cool riff on the old Pirates of the Cursed Seas game. But ahoy: calipers! What a great frickin' idea! That seems like it would make ship movement much cooler. It's in theme, it doesn't involve using the side of a credit card to measure. I totally want some calipers now for my Cursed Seas stuff.

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Just before E3, I saw Super Mario All-Stars for the taking at Target, and today I noticed a small army of them behind the counter at Toys R Us. Did Nintendo recently do another run of these? Or are these leftovers from the last run?

Harry Potter meets Happy Tree Friends. In that I've never actually seen Happy Tree Friends.

Great Photos of Flabber

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Number two in a series...

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Another great church sign

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All it takes is looking at the world backwards!

DC's New 52? Very yes!

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jla-new52.jpgThis September, DC Comics is rebooting their universe with line-wide #1s. Even books like Action and Detective, which have enjoyed uninterrupted numbering since the 1930s, will start over with a new first issue.

(Which, actually, I think is sort of dumb. I'd argue for dropping Action and Detective entirely. Yes, these are historical titles, artifacts of comics culture, but they're also stupid-sounding and no longer evocative. I imagine the real reason DC is keeping the titles around is to give them a safety net so they can restore the original numbering just in time for that special 1000th issue.)

Anyway, I'm pretty damned excited about the reboot. I got into super-hero comics just after DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, which rebooted the line in 1985. So I have no strong aversion to the concept. Even further, I like that DC has the balls to do this (again, and again) rather than launching simultaneous universes in companion titles while keeping the "core" universe more or less intact. IE, not like Marvel's separate-but-equal Ultimate universe (although they did get a nice run out of that.)

So, a rebooted universe with 52 mostly-new titles. For you non-fans, 52 is sort of an in-joke that DC has been holding for years, and that's why they went with that number. I don't even feel like explaining it to you.

My local comic book shop is holding a great deal on the first issues of the new 52. If you pre-pay for the entire 52 issue set, you save 25%. Comes out to about $120. If you're choking on that price, you haven't been in a comics shop lately. 52 comics is kind of a ton of comics. And since 95% of my regular monthly pull list is DC anyway, this is like my entire September, pre-paid.

Now here's the trick: DC is also going day-and-date digital on the entire line with the new 52. Let's all hope they can live up to this, but every issue every month will be available on the iPad app, same day as the print copy. Same price too, $2.99 for most books, but dropping to $1.99 a month later. So what I figure I'll do is, I'll be able to test out the entire line (and own a neat bit o' comics history: the entire 2011 DC Reboot #1s) and decide what I want in print, what I want digitally, and what I'll never read again because yech. I'm still married to the idea of actually owning physical books, but there will be some titles that will be marginal enough for me that I won't mind having them only in digital form.

And you know, digital comics on the iPad have been fantastic. They look great, and the convenience is unbeatable. If somebody said they'd take $X to convert my entire collection to digital, I'd find a way to make it happen.

And, AND, I have no issues with Superman's new costume. Largely because, if you showed it to most people, they wouldn't even realize it's "new" in any way. It's tough to get excited about such a non-issue.

John is not really dull...

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I noticed one of these vintage posters in the exit queue for Tower of Terror at Disneyland. Took a picture of it - because it's hilarious - only to discover that the hipster internet has already been making CafePress mugs and mousepads with this design for years.

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I can't say I'm not disappointed that this fall's new Kirby game dumps the inventive style of last year's Kirby's Epic Yarn, but I'm still all-in for the new edition. Which, last I heard, was still being called simply Kirby Wii.

This is the first "true" Kirby game in a while, inasmuch as Kirby can be said to retain one specific type these days. He has become a testing ground for a wide variety of game types in recent years, often completely abandoning the classic he-sucks-he-scores gameplay. Kirby Wii (c'mon, subtitle that!) is another multiplayer, sideways-Remote side-scroller game. Which has totally become a thing for the Wii.

I played Kirby Wii at E3 and it is a nice reminder of the multiplayer nonsense of New Super Mario Bros Wii without the constant frustration of three-quarters of your team dying all over the place. This one is going to be far less hardcore and far more fun. You can see four Kirby-Universe partners smacking the snot out of Wispy Woods above; I was playing Meta-Knight.

Seemed like Kirby had to do most of the work, though. He is still the only guy who can suck up enemies and earn screen-blasting new powers, so the rest of us had to follow his lead. Only Kirby could advance the team through level doors, for example. The guy playing Kirby would get totally pissed when we would run ahead of him and outright kill the enemies, thus keeping him from absorbing them.

Nintendo should do a side-scrolling multi-mascot game, now that we've seen new Wii iterations of Kirby, Donkey Kong and Mario (and the Mii version of NSMBW fielded as a Wii U tech demo). Toss it under the Smash brand, make levels based on the iconic history of the separate franchises, but with a sea of playable characters and their own familiar abilities.

Number one in a series...

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I'm reformatting HeroClix.

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gl-heroclix.jpgAfter we played a round of highly simplified HeroClix, Clark stated "I did not enjoy that as much as I thought I would."

I'm sure I watered down the mechanics to the point of stupidity, as we sort of got stuck standing right beside each other and just trading blows via die rolls. And he's right, that wasn't a ton of fun.

"Your attack is 10 plus... you rolled 7. 17 total, no hit."
"I attack... 9 plus 4. 13 total, no hit."
"Your attack, 22! Nice roll... 2 clicks of damage but my guy has Invulnerability which subtracts 2, so no hit."

Clark wanted more super power action, and in HeroClix that means lots of peering at teeny-tiny colored squares and then cross-referencing that with a separate chart. This is not fun by any stretch. I imagine that if you play a ton, you'll eventually know all the colors and what they mean when applied to four different numerical stats. But at the start? It's hard to believe this game has been in business this long with THAT as the backbone.

A few years ago, they added cards to each figure. I thought that was a great idea, until I saw that most of the info on the card is useless because it does not actually tell you how to play anything. The card lists hero-specific titles for the game's generic attacks, without defining what those attacks do... so it's back to cross-referencing again. The only useful info on the card is when the character has totally unique attacks not included in the rulebook.

A rulebook which, by the way, was not included in the Green Lantern Fast Forces set I purchased.

So this morning I had a great idea. What if I make my own cards for the figures that actually list all the attacks and what they do. In HeroClix, a figure's stats and abilities change over time, as characters take damage. HeroClix has a neat gimmick for this; you twist the figure's base and reveal the changed info. So I would need to make cards for each click of the base.

Having a stack of cards that replicate the stats and specifically define all the available abilities at that time seems a lot smoother and quicker than having to twist bases (some of which are complete bitches to turn) and referencing charts and tables like it's some kind of terrible D&D module. So I'm doing this. At least for the figures that Clark and I want to use. I'll Photoshop the hell out of it, include comic artwork and whatnot. I'll post some when I have them finished.

Channel 5 Thursdays are about to get even more tender...

Target has Quisp for $2.50.

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This is important. First of all, Quisp is an exceptionally hard-to-find cereal, almost never in regular stock at grocery stores. And when it is, it goes for an absurd $4 to $5 per 9 oz box. Which is actually a great deal because it is the best cereal mankind has ever produced, but moreso because it sells for $5.79 online direct from Quaker.

So Target - Target - having it on hand for $2.50 is fantastic. Seems to be part of the weird retro-art cereal series; they've had old school Cap'n Crunch around for months. But get a load of this: these particular Quisp boxes hold a mail-in offer... three of the special UPCs and $5 gets you either a Quisp Wacky Wobbler, a Quisp watch, or a Quisp Rubik's Cube. The Wobbler is a bobblehead that has been available for years through the kinds of pop culture joints that traffic in cereal mascot-based bobbleheads. The watch might actually be the same Quisp watch that was offered a decade ago in a similar deal. This is the first I've seen a Rubik's Cube.

I'm going to have to go for the Wacky Wobbler, since I never picked one of those up.

Great Photos of Flabber

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Number one in a series...

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Overall, not a bad relaunch.

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Here's what I still need to work on here at fourhman.com.

I don't think Facebook user commenting works. Not sure why. Other forms of comment login seem okay, better than before at any rate.

I changed my RSS feed location, which was probably stupid. So now I'm exporting two XML RSS feeds to two different files because I don't feel like changing all the places that read that feed to accept the same URL.

Bunch of deprecated html files to delete from my server. Particularly lots of old server side includes that have now been replaced by MT 5.0's cool widget plug-ins. My old "mobile" website is officially gone, since you all have smartphones now and no longer need a low-fi website alternative. RIGHT?

Have to make a new 404 page. I understand some people go to great lengths on those things.

Need to smack around the monthly archive pages and entry archive pages. They still have mostly default template work in them.

I'm still debating how to handle non-entry entries, like the Twitter posts, video shares and link items. I don't think Tweets need to be archived right alongside the weblog entries, since, you know, Twitter, but maybe videos and links do.

Haven't done much with tags either. And I have not investigated how search works. (Does it?)

I'm not sure how or why my author name auto-links back to the main website. I suppose it's because I do not have an author archive setup, so I should probably replace that code with an email link.

I feel like I should have something a little cooler for a header image, but I'm OK with what I have for the moment.

Video: I'm a Hufflepuff!

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Hufflepuff: When the Sorting Hat has no real investment in the matter.

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Source: Joystiq

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$20 at Target, right now, found in their summer living section. Four heroes on four pint glasses, each given a dominant color. Some pretty classic 70s/80s Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez promo artwork, if I am not terribly mistaken. Batman and GL get matching 70s/80s logos, but Wonder Woman's logo is from the late 1980s? The Superman logo is his usual, ancient logo.

Last chance to buy merch before Jim Lee's new costumes take effect!

guesswho.jpgClark wanted to watch a movie. He could not remember the title, but we had watched it previously. Here are the clues he offered to help us identify it.

- The guy eats spaghetti and doesn't like it.

- The guy gets a baby and takes care of it.

- The guy wears a black hat.

- People aren't nice to him.

- His dad says eat the spaghetti and you'll get strong.

Did you figure it out? I needed several hours to piece it together.

Like, a day.

I'm dragging this out so that your eyes do not subliminally see the answer. Although I imagine that it is probably too late for that. I hate guessing games, so I'm not about to not answer my own stupid question, or hide the text by turning it white. Stop reading now if you still want to guess.

"Popeye," starring Robin Williams. We watched it on Netflix about a month ago. Clark remembered Swee'pea, remembered that Popeye is not well received by the townspeople of Sweethaven. But he mis-identified the spinach detail. Kids today! They can't recall signature details from 100 year old comic strip characters that have almost entirely drifted out of the public consciousness thanks to poor brand management caretakers and a general flagging disinterest in the property! Next Clark won't be able to name the Katzenjammer Kids, or produce a quick sketch of at least two Betty Boop co-stars!

Incidentally, "Popeye" is currently not available on Netflix. THANKS.

First, "Space Oddity" as filtered through a snarky Starfox (as seen on every gaming website this week):

Then, the official Twitter account of David Bowie Going Grocery Shopping. I read a few shared tweets of @grocerybowie before, but this is the one that earned a follow from yours truly:

Am I crazy or are there NO diced tomatoes?

Now that's good Twittering.

talespintee.jpgBecause it is. In over fifteen years, I've gone through eight full-on site redesigns. Mostly because they tended to suck. That last look started in 2005, so I must have liked it substantially more than the six designs that preceded it, mathematically.

This time, I started with a stock Movable Type template and then tore into the customization. For years, I've built this thing from scratch, but the cooler coding is definitely way beyond what I feel like comprehending. That's why my commenting has been weird for years, among other mishaps. Now that I have templated code cooking under the hood, I hope comment logins will go smoother and not be irritating and inconvenient.

I had a major goal in mind to have a site that would look good with shorter posts. I'd like to not ramble as much, and aim for a more frequent post rate with smaller articles. I felt like I needed a new design to handle that.

The other Big Deal is that I installed a Twitter hack that automatically incorporates whatever silly crap I post to Twitter on the main fourhman.com page almost as if it is a real weblog entry. Although I jerked the code around so that the tweets do not fall in alongside the monthly archive pages, because that seems weird to me.

I jettisoned a lot of the cruft that had built up over the years... no more category listings for dead "franchise" articles, no more randomized Hiptop photos, and I'm this close to dumping the Link Farm. The only reason it is still here is because I end up using it as personal bookmarks when I'm on an unfamiliar machine.

There's still plenty of further tweaking ahead. Still some stuff I want to return to life (like the PSN Trophy box), and I need to remove a lot of obsolete files from my server. I'm just glad it all went so well. Usually my adventures in Movable Type are full of steaming ash and hot pokers, but this was pretty much a single day's work.

And somewhere in the middle of all of that, I found the time to order a wicked TaleSpin t-shirt.

Note the Facebook Like button up top. I think those things have become the 2011 version of the Rolling Hit Counter, so click it and make me feel appreciated.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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