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Monday, June 26, 2006


And it only took 3 months!

If it's feeling a little chilly in hell, it's because Microsoft finally released a much anticipated update to the backwards compatibility gamelist for the XBox 360. Yes, those harworking folks at microsoft toiled endlessly for three months, working day in and day out to add 20 whole games to the list. I don't know about you, but I have a sneaking suspicion that keeping this list up to date is not a full time priority for these folks.

Why is this a big deal? First of all, when Microsoft was first promoting this fantastic new game system, they took pains to assure original XBox owners that they would not be left behind, that they would enjoy all of their favorite games on this new system. But then Microsoft came up with this software driven system of verifying the games before allowing them to be played on the 360, leaving a large percentage of XBox games waiting for their chance to be played. In other words, if you're at the store, and you're wondering if that Xbox title will play on the new 360, it's very likely that it will not. And with them adding 6-7 titles a month, maybe not ever. Compare that to Nintendo. Nearly all of their Gameboy games will run on the Gameboy Advanced and I've yet to find a GBA title that won't run on the Nintendo DS.

But what does this mean to us? We've been waiting for some of our favorite games to run on the 360, not the least of which so we can get online and play with other folks and get updates, etc. Of the 20 games that were added to the list, only one of them was one we happened to own - Star Wars Battlefront. Sigh.

Arcade Update - Front End
Thought you'd like to see the custom menu I put together for the arcade machine. Feast your eyes:

Sadly, it may turn out that this menu system may turn out to be too taxing for the tiny little computer I'd tapped to be the guts of this system. Time to troubleshoot!

Monday, June 19, 2006


Productivity problem

When you share a computer with other folks in the household, there are bound to be complications. In fact, there are times when my wife dispairs of using the computer at all when she has to contend with two teenagers and myself in the waiting line to use the machine. The only way to get past this is to establish some rules. For instance, my need to finish the current week of Working Daze and Gamecreature cartoons trumps my children's need to play a game or chat online with their friends. In fact, I'm the only person allowed on the machine on weekend mornings. And homework (during the school year) trumps a lot of other computer needs. However, I'm not quite so forgiving if they wait until the 11th hour to suddenly remember that they need to use the computer for a project due next Monday. What's the moral of this story? Learn to schedule and stick with it, friends!

Arcade Update - Communicating with the beast (in style!)
The printed art for the control panel came in over the week, so it was time to put it together. The old control panel was sanded down and then my son and I drilled the holes for the 18 switches and joysticks. Then I crossed my fingers as I put the printed overlay on top - and it matched almost perfectly! After that it was smooth sailing, puting in the switches and wiring them to the interface. The only glitch came when I discovered that there was a block of wood in the way of where I installed the player start switches. Oops! A little trimming and the thing looks like it has always been in an arcade. Cool!

Monday, June 12, 2006


Backseat Gaming

We've all done it. It doesn't matter what the game is, when we see someone playing a game that we might have some knowledge of, we can't resist kibitzing. I myself, am guilty of trying to help my wife when she is playing solitaire - yeah, that game you are supposed to play by yourself. I don't know why it is that we have this uncontrollable urge to offer advice where it is not wanted. And let's be fair, if someone wants help, they'll ask for it. Otherwise, find a book to read, leave them alone and let them game in peace.

Arcade Update - Let there be light
Well, I was all set to show you the new interface I had designed to great users to the game cabinet when they chose a game. It would've looked great. But Photoshop mysteriously vanished and took my work with it. Thanks, Adobe!! However, I do have one other minor accomplishment. I successfully connected up the backlight unit (had to replace an eighty cent starter) so the marquee will show in brilliant glory when it arrives. Yeah, we gotta take our successes where we can get them.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Why we game.

The dialog in this week's cartoon comes from my son (more or less). I thought it sounded amusing so I built a cartoon around it. But it sort of underlines the lengths we go to while seeking entertainment. We're willing to put up with some inconvenience and suspending of disbelief if the payoff is worth it. In this case (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter) it was worth the effort. But I stress that the margin is very low. Once the player steps over the threshhold from playing a game to merely pushing buttons, they will not tolerate very much. Ideally, you want the player to stay within the fantasy that you've created, where even the failures stay within the reality that you've established. More on that later.

Arcade Update - Some Artwork
I hadn't intended to make this a weekly update, but what the heck. I do a little on this thing every weekend and I like to share my results. I filled the holes in the control panel with wood putty and sanded it down. It's ready for the new control panel overlay which I finshed:

Now I just need to finish the marquee and then I'll send them both off to the printers. Whew!

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This Week's Comic


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