No idea what happened to half of my Xbox One post from yesterday, but it has been updated and is fully available now.
- I'll be running in my 2nd half marathon on Sunday, so um, I'll be tired for most of the weekend, I guess. My goal is only to set a personal best, so I hope I can pull that off. Lately I've been fighting stitches in my side every time I run, so I might need to adjust my stride a bit for the race. We'll see how it all shakes out.
- Other than that, I've just been watching a fair bit of hockey (Rangers suck, and I hate the way that the Red Wings are playing hockey right now.)
- In gaming, I've been playing with Sleeping Dogs on the PS3, Pushmo on the 3DS (which is an awesome puzzle game,) and Fire Emblem on the 3DS (just an amazing strategy title.)
- Back with more after my race on Sunday.
- Well, it's my birthday and it's clear to me that the only thing that my body is getting better at, as I get older, is producing more ear wax and ear hair.
- I stopped into Starbucks this morning to get a free birthday smoothie (quite nice of them, really) and saw that they had free iTunes codes for a TV show. This weeks code was for the ESPN Films presentation of Catching Hell, a great documentary about Steve Bartman.
Here's the code that I picked up for any of you iTunes users. First come, first served.
Please post a comment if you use it.
- The Islanders played a hell of a series against the Penguins, losing 2 of the 6 games in overtime, including the series clincher on Saturday night. That team really does look like it's got things heading in the right direction for the first time in a few decades.... hell, they haven't won a series since 1993, so I think they're due. With a bit more experience, I think they could be a tough Eastern Conference team for years to come.
- As far as gaming is concerned, I've been playing around with Sleeping Dogs on the PS3 thanks to its addition on Playstation Plus. The fighting engine really has a similar feel to the Batman Arkham Asylum/City games, and that is a great compliment. One other thing that I really enjoyed is that after you spend some time with certain characters in the game, it adds specific bonus items to your map so that you don't have to search the city blindly looking for them (health shrines, surveillance cameras, and jade statues being the ones that I've got added to this point.)
I know that I've sung the praises of the Playstation Plus before, but I really don't think about buying many games lately due to the fact that there are so damn many good games on the service right now. Best $50 I spend in gaming each year.
- Have a great Tuesday.
- So, here's what happened to my day today.
If you look carefully at the wheel, you can see tufts of hair. That's where the deer ran into the wheel of my car at about 7:50 this morning while I was on the way to work.
After that, I had to deal with the fun of insurance and getting a rental car (the first one smelled really bad and hadn't been cleaned and was returned for a 2013 Nissan Altima, which is just plain awesome.)
All of that is adding up with a ton of other activities that I have going on over the next week.... Blackhawks game on Friday night, Brewers opening day (my first) on Monday, and a long weekend vacation with the Mrs. next week. Too many things going on all at once.
- So, one of the funny things about getting a review copy of an EA Sports title is that you are put under embargo about giving any impressions about the game until the day of release, but Dan on the other hand can get a copy of the game via the Season Ticket and talk about it 3 days early. Odd decision, that one. I'll have my impressions of my time with Tiger Woods 14 tomorrow.
- One thing that I wanted to mention in the post is the performance of the Wisconsin Men's Hockey team. After starting the season 1-7-2, they went on a 21-5-5 run and won the WCHA tournament championship (in the WCHA's last season, sadly) to make the NCAA tournament.
Everyone here knows that I'm a huge Wisconsin homer, but this was a great run to end a season. What's even more entertaining to me is that just a few days before Christmas, I had this exchange with my daughter.
Gaby - "Daddy? Do you know what my Christmas wish is?"
Me - "What, Gaby?"
Gaby - "For the Badgers hockey team to play just a bit better."
Neither my wife nor myself force sports onto our kids, but man... you should have seen how happy my oldest daughter was when she heard that the Badger hockey team would still be playing this weekend.
I'm not expecting or hoping for a national championship, but I'm just glad that my daughter's wish came true and made her as happy as it did.
- Now that we're to the round of sixteen, I feel it's a good time to update the results of the bracket contest.
John Brown is in the lead, but I'm in 9th and 1st among those picking Kansas to win the tournament. So, there is that....
- Speaking of the tournament, I'm not going to be happy unless I watch more of FGCU highlights and see them beat Florida in their next game. How can you watch that and not want that and not want that team to win it all?
- More tomorrow.
Last week, I had the chance to interview Christian Brandt, a producer for EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14.
In the interview I covered some of the following
- Steps they have taken to separate the great players from the regular players when playing in online tournaments
- The process of creating the 1934 version of the Augusta course that is included in the Historic Edition of the game
- The new time-of-day mode
- Modification to the game controls for this years editions
- Enhancements to the Kinect and PS3 Move controls for this years game.
There are some issues with iTunes at the moment, so listening via our webpage, MP3 file, or RSS feed are the only outlets at the moment. I'll let you know when the iTunes issues are resolved (it's entirely on their end and they're not the most helpful whenever issues come up.)
Enjoy the episode!
- Just another reminder to enter the blog bracket contest. No cost involved and you get a chance to win a free game of your choice. Send the link to your friends as well.
- The end of last week was a bit of a blur. I ended up working between 60 and 70 hours on a project at work and on Thursday night only got 1 hour of sleep before going back to work for another full day. On Friday night, I got home at 5:00, fell asleep by 5:30, and was out until 8:30 the next morning.
On Saturday, I went to a Badger Hockey game with the Mrs, and on Sunday I sat around the house and read pretty much all day.
So, I'm just starting to get back into the swing of things.
- Last night I spent a bit more time with my Road to the Show career in MLB 13 and was a September call-up for the O's.
I have to say that while it isn't realistic to play with the hitting on the beginner level, the game certainly is a great deal more fun to play with using that setting.
One thing that I have found is that the CPU does have a pretty high tendency to throw their strongest pitch right down the center of the plate about 50% of the time on the first pitch. That might be a good reason why I have only taken a grand total of 1 walks throughout my entire career to this point. Either that or I'm the next coming of Yuniesky Betancourt.
- One game that I haven't mentioned lately, but I have been playing whenever I have a few spare hours is Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii. I was truly shocked to see how quickly I was sucked into that game. It plays almost like an MMORPG, but without having to play with any real people... which is almost a dream come true for a gamer like myself. I know that the game is difficult to track down as it was only a Gamestop exclusive, but it's well worth your time to try and find if you are any sort of an action RPG/MMORPG type game player... that doesn't want to play with any real people. heh.
- Really, Jim Delany? You're going to make the Big Ten a DIII conference if Ed O'Bannon wins his court case? (Side note: I really hope O'Bannon wins that case and exposes the NCAA for what it is, and forces the NCAA/EA Sports to stop selling their image and likeness without compensating them for it.)
The Big Ten would never give up the money that they make on sports, so it's not going to happen... but it is great to see the commissioner of the league look like such an idiot for suggesting it, as well as for thinking that people would believe that he is telling the truth.
- Team USA moves on in the World Baseball Classic after an impressive win tonight. Doesn't look like there are a ton of fans in Florida cheering for the US team, but they're playing solid baseball and if they win their game against the Dominican Republic, they go to the semifinals in San Francisco. Pretty cool stuff.
- So, I found yet another instance where I hit a homerun in my MLB 13 RttS career where my hitter doesn't step on 1st base when I hit a home run. This time there is a glitch where the stride goofs up, but he clearly misses the bag by almost an entire foot length.
I'm not saying that the game is bug-ridden or horrible or anything like that, but it's just such an odd thing to miss. I don't notice it when I'm hitting doubles or rounding 1st on a single, just on home runs. Very odd.
- In regards to the game itself, I've taken the hitting back to the beginner level and it's just so much more fun. I don't care if the stats aren't going to be realistic, I'm just having a lot more fun playing with my career knowing that I'm not completely frustrated with the hitting controls in the game. I'm into early August and I'm hitting .321 and having a blast. No idea if I'll get a September call up, but I think that I really deserve a shot...
- One last thing for tonight. At work, we're moving from one building to another and for the first time in my professional life, I have been put into an office.. with a door and everything. About 3 hours after moving into my office, someone walked, opened my door and said... "How did YOU get an office?"
Good to know that people think I'm as good in my day job as people on the internet do. heh.
- Who has WBC fever? I know it isn't Dan, since he just talks about some soccer team when you look at his Twitter account.
The WBC concept is a terrific one and I think that in time it will get more interest, but they have to do a better job of getting the games on TV. Having them on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes is just not enough coverage at this point. No one seems to know when or where the games are on. Also, if you go to MLB.com, they don't even give you quick links to find information about the games. It's quite sad as there have been some good upsets thus far and there has been very little coverage about any of it. Oh, well. Maybe in 4 more years....
- Speaking of the WBC, it seems that Pro Yakyuu Spirits is the only game that includes the ability to play the series yet again. Looks like the 2013 version of the game is coming out in the next few weeks, but I'm not sure if I'll be picking it up this year. While the game is so good... it's hard to justify that import price increase for it.
- Congratulations need to be given to Bo Ryan for winning the Big Ten coach of the year, yet again. How he got a 4th place finish out of this roster is beyond me. Accomplishing a 12-6 season while losing your starting guard (Josh Gasser) before the season started, having a player (Ryan Evans) resort to shooting jumpshot free throws because he can't make a regular one, all while the team was expected to finish in the bottom 3 or 4 of the league, is pretty impressive. Hard to think that a Wisconsin team will ever have a chance for a national title, but it's clear to see that they'll always be in the running for the Big Ten title with Ryan as the coach.
- Tomorrow I'll get back to some more MLB 13 impressions. I was out of town for the weekend and had to work tonight, so I'll be back in the groove tomorrow.
Tonight was an eventful night for my RttS career as I was traded from the Brewers to the Orioles. What's funny is that the Brewers traded me as I was in the first slump of my career. As soon as I arrived at Baltimore's AAA franchise, I broke out of my slump and went on a 6 game hitting streak and brought my average back up to .275. Go figure.
As I said earlier today, the hitting interface is still pretty challenging for me at this point while it is set on veteran. Part of the fact that my batter is struggling more is the fact that my plate discipline isn't good enough to keep up with AAA pitching, or it could be that I just stink at hitting. Probably somewhere in between if I had to venture a guess.
Still, I've gone back to the game each of the last two nights because I'm very curious to see how quickly my player will get a chance to make it to the bigs. Even with how much I dislike fielding and baserunning (oh, how I loathe the analog base running interface,) I'll keep going back to it. I guess the fact that it cost me $60 for a game that I can't trade it might have an effect on how much time I will put into the game as well. Funny how digital purchases impact me like that, or maybe it's just day of release digital purchases. Hmm, I'll have to think more about that.
Also, I mentioned earlier today that I had a video of my batter missing a base on a home run trot. Have a look for yourself, if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Having pre-ordered MLB 13 for the PS3 (and began the download process at 11:00 p.m. CST on Monday night,) I started the game up around 7:45 in the morning and played for the better part of the day. (A special thank you has to be given to my children and their school, which closed due to a large snowstorm, which turned what would have normally been a work day into a gaming day.)
Before I jump into my details for my Road to the Show career, I will say that I was very happy that there are no specific goals that you have to accomplish for your player on the field. For example, if you come up with a runner on first, the game will not tell you that have to advance the runner to get points. If you have a good at bat, you get points for that. (One of the possible good outcomes would be a multi-pitch at-bat that ends with a long fly ball.) That is a nice enhancement to the batting side of the game and it has made character advancement a better (and easier) one.
As we spoke of in the comments yesterday, the hitting in the game was far too difficult, in my opinion (as well as those of others,) and received some well needed tweaking in the game. So, instead of taking a reliever for my RttS career, (which I have done each of the past few years,) I created an 18 year old Right Fielder (named Glen, of course) and entered the draft. As luck would have it, I was taken by the Brewers and sent to AA in Huntsville.
After starting my career, I went with the Advanced mode for hitting as I had some experience with the game. With my first AA at-bat, I hit a solid homerun to left field and thought that maybe they had really improved the default hitting model, but after 5 or 6 games I found that I was just as frustrated with the batting portion of the game as I had been in years past, and it seemed to be just as unforgiving as I remembered it being.
I swallowed my pride and went into the settings and changed the hitting difficulty down to the veteran setting and adjusted the hitting style to be timing based. With that hitting method selected, you focus only on guessing the pitch that will be thrown and work on just getting your timing down, as the CPU will control the area of the strike zone that you will be swinging in. That's when the fun really started. As you saw on my picture yesterday, I went from hitting in the low .200's to up in the high .300's, all while putting together a 14 game hitting and 4 game home run streak. By the time I got called up to AAA-Nashville (near the end of May,) I was hitting in the .390's and having a great time with the game.
What I have found now that my player is in AAA, is that even this new easier hitting model may still not be easy enough for me as I started in the .320 range in Nashville, but have fallen into the .250 range in the middle of July. It's a very small sample size, but the fact is that the pitchers are getting much better, can throw to tougher locations, and can vary the speed of their pitches much better, which all make the timing based hitting more difficult because the CPU (who is picking your swing zone) isn't doing as good to locate the pitches even if you have a perfectly timed swing. Again, it's a small sample, so I'll stick with it to see if I just the simplicity is enough to prevent my struggles with the hitting part of the game at the AAA and major league level (when I get the call.)
Beyond the hitting, one thing I can say for certain is the fact that I dislike the fielding. For one, when you are in the outfield, the camera is very close behind you (3rd person over-the-shoulder type feeling) and it is very difficult to pick up where the ball is going off of the bat, which makes running to make a catch very difficult even with the arrow that is pointing in the direction of where you have to try to run to. Thankfully errors aren't granted every time that you miss a ball, because there is no way that they would moved me up to AAA based on my fielding performance there. To be fair, I haven't looked to see if there are any other better fielding controls, so there may be a method that is much easier to play with that I just haven't found yet.
There have been a few bugs that I have found as I've been playing (audio glitches happening most often, as well as an instance where I hit a home run and I missed 1st base,) but nothing huge to this point that would prevent me from recommending the game.
So, those are my first impressions after about 200 AB's in the RttS mode and I will detail more as I keep with the game.
Probably only because there are 100 or so people on there right now, but damnit I'm there!
- Still can't make up my mind if I want to buy the digital versions of MLB 13 for the PS3 and Vita. I have a $100 gift card from work burning a hole in my pocket and would love to have the new games right away.... Hmph....
- Over at Operation Sports there are a few impressions and videos for MLB 2K13 and (big surprise) it seems like a pretty minor update to last years version of the game.
Personally, I have liked playing the MLB 2K series over the last few years, but I guess we're stuck in a holding pattern to find out what changes that they might have put in place for this year.
- Over the weekend I took part in a local trivia contest with some co-workers. One thing that I know is that I was the only person in the crowd to recognize the 'Kate and Allie' theme song in one of the categories. To me it was very entertaining (and sad) that I was the only person out of 400 to know that answer.
- Still working my way through the Dark Tower series. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the 3rd book and still very interested in the story, although I think it's losing a bit of it's steam at this point. It would seem silly to give up on it at this point, so I'll keep working my way through it.
- Lastly, the Madison Tecmo Bowl tournament was held a few days ago. I don't know why I've never tried to play in the tournament as it's only 25 minutes from my house each year. Tecmo Super Bowl is, and will always be, my favorite sports game and it would be fun to try and get into the tournament and see how good I might actually be at the game.
- What was funny to me about the PS4 reveal was the expectations of gamers. It seems as though the entire thing was a reveal designed to get the interest of people making games, rather than the people playing them.
Gamers seemed certain that the entire conference was going to be about them and their expectations, but it really seemed after watching just a few moments of it that Sony was reaching out to the people who make games to say, "OK, our hardware really was a pain in the ass for you in the current generation. How about now we give you essentially PC hardware and let you publish your own material on the platform (as a back-hand to Microsoft and how much cost and hassle it takes for developers, mainly indie, to put a game on Xbox Live.)"
- As for my impressions, there were two things that really stood out to me. Remote play and instant on/off.
The Vita becomes a much more powerful WiiUPad if the Remote Play and latency issues are worked out. I'd love to be able to start playing a game on the TV, stop gameplay, pick up my Vita and be able to continue the same game in the bedroom without missing a beat. No cloud saves, no nothing... that would be nice.
That goes along with the instant on/off functionality that they were talking about. The Xbox if the Kinect is hooked up takes forever to start... and then I'm smacked in the face with advertisements the second it does. Give me a console that can stop and start without me ever having to see an advertisement and store and I'll be a happy camper.
- Having said all that, Romier really nailed it in his comments to Dan's post from earlier. The PC is really where I want to spend the majority of my gaming time now due to the flexibility it offers along with the fact that game pricing is so much better than consoles.
Take a game like Sleeping Dogs for example. It released last August at a $49.99 price point on the PC and a $59.99 price point on the PS3 and 360. I could have bought the game for $10 at Gamefly yesterday, but the best price I could have it for on a console is $29.99.
This is where the Steam Box concept will really kill the console market. Almost every innovation that Sony tried to throw out yesterday is something that the PC should be able to do with almost no issues.
- Will I buy a PS4? Eventually, I'm sure I will... because I'm an idiot. But coming out of that conference, the clearest thing to me is that Sony wants to win the battle of the developers on consoles, but it may not be enough if Steam can make their Steambox console do the same sorts of things for a less expensive price point.
- Since Dan posted his games of the year, I'll post my quick thoughts.
Sports game of the year - The new Fairway Solitaire - Easily the most time that I spent with any sports related game this year. Loved the changes that they made to the new version and still play it quite regularly. (Oh, and the iPod version appears to still be free at the following link. )
Console sports game of the year - (Tie) NBA 2K13 and MLB 12: The Show
Both games really are terrific for their representations of their sports. I do love the fact that I can upload my Show save to the cloud and play it on my Vita though.
Game of the year - Borderlands 2 - It's not the same as the original, but it's better in a lot of ways. Still one of the best co-op games that I've ever played, and it has one of the most comically entertaining villains that you will ever face.
Honorable mention - FTL - I have only had the game for the last few weeks, but trying to beat the game has become a major focus for me (and I still haven't beaten it yet.. even on easy.) A terrific game for a low price.
- Have to say that I'm pretty exhausted this morning as I played 2 1/2 hours of hockey last night for two different groups. One started at 7:45 and the other at 9:50. Having to get all that gear on, play for an hour and a half, then take it all off, change, go to another rink, get dressed again , and then play for another hour has just got me wiped out today.
Gotta bounce back though, as I have a New Years party at my house tonight.
- My 8 year old entertained me greatly yesterday when she was watching the Packers/Vikings game. I was busy with house stuff and wasn't paying all that much attention to what was going on until heard her cheer at one point.
"Yay! The Vikings scored."
...a few minutes later...
"Yay! The Packers scored."
"Who are you cheering for?" I asked.
"Both," she responded. "I want them both to win."
Moments like that just make me smile.
- One thing that made me very sad in the last few weeks was to see that the mouse (technically a trackball) the Logitech Trackman Wheel has been discontinued. I've been using this device for the last 10 or so years and absolutely love it. I went to buy another one for my PC that I moved to my theater and was horrified to see that it has been discontinued.
Anyone have any recommendations for a good mouse or trackball (other than the wireless model that they replaced it with?)
- Lastly, I started messing around with Persona 4 Golden for the Vita, as I rented it from Gamefly. The game is definitely different than any other RPG I've played recently. I hadn't tried any of the other Persona's before picking this one up, so the gameplay system is very foreign (no pun intended) to me.
- Not sure what it is, but the games that seem to be taking up the majority of my time lately are less expensive ones, rather than the full retail titles that I have with the game.
In the last week I've dedicated hours to Motorstorm RC on the Vita, along with Retro City Rampage today (thank you cross save feature, Jet Set Radio on the Vita and FTL on the PC.
FTL has become a very sad addiction for me at this point as I continue to play the game over and over... and yet cannot win it. Such is life.
- Went out and saw the Hobbit last Friday and really enjoyed HFR 3D. I did think that the movie was a bit longer than it should have been, but I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to the next film in the trilogy.
- Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Festivus, etc.