So, now that I've had a few days to think about the presentation that Microsoft put together for their next iteration of the Xbox console platform, I have determined I have some serious issues and concerns with what they showed the world on Tuesday.
- Issue number one has to do with the price of the console and the related Xbox Live services.
Both Sony and Microsoft take the cake for talking tech, tech, tech, but never mentioning a price for the console. Microsoft takes this to another level when they talk about so many features and integrations, but never talking about the elephant in the room, that being Xbox Live. Nearly everything that you can do on an Xbox console, as far as integration with the internet (outside of game patching,) requires an Xbox Live Gold subscription. It would be foolish to think that you won't need to have that subscription for almost everything that they mentioned in the press conference on Tuesday. I will be pretty surprised if they don't require a Live subscription for everything from the fantasy sports updates, to the ability to use the TV integration in the system. Considering the fact that they make you have a Gold Subscription to use Netflix (a service that you already pay for,) I don't think it's a stretch to think that you will be looking at spending extra money every month for the new features of the system. I would project that Xbox Live will move from their $5 a month pricing at the moment to $6.99 or $7.99 a month, and maybe $69.99 a year.
Also, when you see the details of what Microsoft paid to the NFL for their exclusive deal, you have to know that someone is going to be paying that price tag.
(Side note: The subsidized systems that they already have in place for the Xbox 360 consoles are probably a very good indication of where they might go with this. Sure, they might sell you the system for $299, but you'll pay $15 a month for Xbox Live, for the next few years, to subsidize it.)
- Issue Two has to come from the fact that the system will not work without the Kinect. At this point, I can pretty much see that my theater will never be a room for an Xbox One because of that requirement.
Personally, I have been nothing but annoyed by the Kinect. I thought it would be an awesome system addition for motion control, but I found it to be frustrating to use over time and it sits under my living room TV completely unused.
I have seen the videos and I know that they have greatly improved the capabilities of the Kinect and it looks like it does a much better job of recognition, but the fact that it can detect my heartbeat through some of their software creeps me the hell out. I don't want a box that can recognize me the second I walk into the room (oh, and never mind the privacy concerns along with that considering the system has a persistent ethernet connection to Microsoft.)
I loved the movie Minority Report, but it's clear that the engineers at Microsoft LOVVVVEED it. Everything that we saw was some sort of connection to the visual interfaces from that movie. None of which are things that I want to do while sitting on my couch watching a show or playing a video game. I yell at my TV when I am annoyed at a sporting event or the game I'm playing, not when I want it to change a channel.... I have a remote that can do that just fine, thank you very much.
- Issue Three has to do with used games or game sharing.
The issues with this have been covered on a great deal of sites over the past few days, but when you talk about
- 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.
- Still working on finding a new host for the website. I hope to have something in place in the next week or so. Just a matter of being able to make the time at home to be able to pull it off.
- Also, dealing with an abdominal injury that I seem to have suffered either while playing hockey or working in the yard last Sunday. It's caused me to miss one day of work this week and is severely hampering my ability to train for my half-marathon that is coming up in a few weeks. Not much fun there.
- At this point, I'm not surprised any more to see how resilient the Islanders have been in their series with the Penguins. Each time they are down, they manage to fight back into the game. Outside of the 5-0 Game 1 loss, they have really been playing inspired hockey and I've been stuck by the TV for each game. If they can manage to steal game 5 in Pittsburgh tomorrow night, things will get very interesting. Hell, I'm just happy to see them playing well at the end of the season though. It's been since 1993 since they won a playoff series, so it's been a long time since I've seen any success for this franchise.
- Still enjoying my 2010 Prius, but I'm debating replacing the stereo, as the one that was factory installed is really not all that user friendly. I've been debating a ton of different models from units with GPS built in, to having the unit mirror what is on your phone, there are just too many options to look at.
Also, I'm not incredibly handy with installing stereos. The last time I attempted it, I was in high school and my dashboard was a complete frankenstein job. I would tend to think that I would do better this time around if I tried... but I'm still concerned about how great of a job I can do. If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts about the stereo process, please pass them on.
- Let's start catching up....
- I'm now the proud owner of a 2010 Toyota Prius after finally dealing with all of the issues with my wagon getting totalled out. So, if you see someone driving way too slow on Wisconsin highways while they are trying to conserve as much gas as they can, it's probably me. (Last tank was 49.5 MPG, WOO!)
- Another reason that I haven't been around as much of late is that I'm training for another half-marathon in a few weeks. This one has been a hell of a lot harder to train for than the last one, so it's taking quite a bit out of me. 4 more weeks and it'll all be over though, for good or bad.
- Back to sports stuff....
- I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Jason Collins did yesterday in announcing that he is gay. It's been far too long that athletes needed to dread this decision while being an active participant in any major league sport. Hopefully others will be able to follow in his footsteps soon enough.
- EA Sports has reportedly canned Tiger Woods 15 for next year, which I can't say is all that surprising. Each year the title seemed to struggle with finding it's identity. With some luck, they'll be able to make some large advancements for the new console platforms (and perhaps for the PC as well.)
- If this is what is due to come of the next Xbox, count me out.
- All I've heard for the last week or so is that EA might be going exclusive with certain titles on the Xbox, which I truly believe will be one of the worst things that could happen in console gaming. Ugh. All of this stuff just makes me want to lock into PC gaming more and more....
- Still playing Your Turn Football, like it's going out of style. Each day, I get frustrated with my crappy backup TE's that can't catch a pass, but I keep playing over and over to try and get enough money to get a better team put together. The game is just crazy addictive.
- Since I really didn't have a ton of interest, I'm curious as to what thoughts people had about the NFL draft. Word around here is that people are very happy with what the Packers did, but I have no real thoughts on it either way.
- Not that it was all that surprising down the stretch, but I'm very happy to see the Islanders in the playoffs again. Not thrilled that Crosby will be back on the ice for their series with the Pens, but glad to see them back in the hunt for the Stanley Cup again.
- Lastly, I don't think I could have ever imagined a game where the Brewers hit 5 home runs (and 3 triples) and not one of those hits came from Ryan Braun. This team is a total mystery to me right now as they doing the lion's share of their scoring and work without Weeks hitting or Aramis Ramirez or Corey Hart even playing. Utterly remarkable that they're over .500 at the end of April.
One of my first sporting memories, at the age of 8, was watching the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers win the ALCS against the California Angels, which propelled them to their first (and only) World Series appearance. Since then, I was a dedicated Brewers fan, but being a very young one, some of the stories and events of that year, along with many others before it, were lost to me. Thankfully Brewers beat writer, Tom Haudricourt, has put together this book detailing 100 of the greatest moments and activities that have happened with the Milwaukee Brewers, County Stadium, or Miller Park.
You would think that it might be difficult to come up with 100 great moments (well, some of them weren't all great) for a team with only 44 years worth of history, and while I knew a good deal of these, there were plenty of surprising tales contained within the book. Whether it was reading the story of Terry Francona's ejection while receiving an intentional walk, hearing of the dangerous games of "flip" that were played by the 1982 team, the story of Gus the Wonder Dog, how the "ball and glove" logo was designed for the team, or reading of some of the great moments from the playoff seasons of 1982, 2008, and 2011, there is plenty of history for a Brewers fan (or any baseball fan for that matter) to get from the book.
If I had one criticism of the book, it would be that since each of the stories has a backstory told alongside it, that you will deal with a good bit of repetition if two stories from the same year are read back to back (which can and does happen throughout the book.) Even with that caveat, it still wouldn't be something that I would say to someone to prevent them from picking up the book though.
You can tell from the book that Tom has a passion for the game, as well as for the team that he covers, and I highly recommend picking up this book for any Brewers fan that you know.
Over the past few weeks, Dan and I have been teasing you about a new sports game that is in development by some former industry veterans. Today, we're going to give you a bit more information about a free-to-play game for iOS and Android called, Your Turn Football.
As you can see from the screenshots, the game has a "10 yard fight" look to it and has a great pick-up-and-play type interface.
The game play controls are much more simple than a lot of the sports games that you have seen on mobile platforms before. Gone are the options to pick "X-Right, Y-Split, Iso." You pick your offensive strategy and then the game leaves the timing of your cut or passes up to you with, simple, two button controls. For the defensive side, the only thing that do is to pick your strategy to run against the opponent while they are playing offense against you.
By playing games (either winning or losing,) you gain coins that can be used to enhance the players on your team. Also, if you want, you can spend real money to get dollars in the game that allow you to purchase better players, upgrade your special teams, or buy better offensive and defensive coordinators.
We'll be posting our Riding the Pines podcast with the staff behind the game in the next week or so when the game releases and you'll get a ton more information about the game at that time.
I can safely say that this is one of the most fun games I've played on a mobile platform to date. Between my phone and tablet, I have over 15 games going all at once and am enjoying every one of them from the blowouts to the nail-biters.
The game is due to be released in the next few weeks and we'll be pestering each and every one of you to download it as soon as you can, so we can start playing games against all of you.
We had some database issues with the site recently, but all should be corrected now.
I'll be moving the site to a new hosting provider in the next month, due to some of the issues that have come up over time.
Hopefully that will resolve those sorts of issues.
Thanks for your understanding.
Man, what a last few weeks. Spent 5 days in San Francisco and then have been spending the last week or so trying to figure out a new car. Almost everything is caught up and getting back to normal, thankfully. Glad to be back.
- I wanted to extend my condolences to any and all involved with the bombing at the Boston marathon. As a recreational runner, I couldn't imagine anything like that ever happening and the horror of it shocked me to my core. Taking something that is supposed to be an amazingly happy moment shared with all of those people and turning it into a horrific event is just monstrous. I can only hope that the people/person involved are brought to justice as quickly as possible. My heart goes out to the victims and all of their families.
- As Dan said, the last podcast that we did will be up in the next week or so. I'll be posting some information about the game today though so you can start getting excited about it. Dan and I have been playing the hell out of it and really enjoy it. (I kept him up until 1:00 a.m. EST playing last night.)
- More later.
Well, look what we found here... time to do another podcast with Dan and Glen.
We cover... well, quite a bit, best that you just listen for yourself to find out all of the details.
The podcast is available here for download as well as on iTunes again.
- The iTunes feed has been fixed. Quite a pain in the butt to get it working again, but all of the most recent ones are up on iTunes again, and the old ones should be returning to the list in the next day or so as well. Just glad that the issues are all resolved.
- For the last week or so, I've been pretty deeply involved in Fire Emblem: Awakening for the 3DS. I'm finding that it is quite an amazing strategy title after my first 5 hours in the game. The nicest change that I've seen thus far is the fact that there is a "normal" mode where you can die in the game and just get knocked out of the particular battle. The previous games have been so damn difficult because if one character died in the game, you lost them forever. The game is still challenging, but much more fun to play when you're not getting frustrated by every battle. Really worth picking up if you are a strategy game fan.
- Also, I've been playing Lego City Undercover for the WiiU. First off, I love the humor and the environments in the game, but the loading times are terrible. You're looking at 30 to 45 seconds of staring at loading screens at least 1 or 2 times per hour while playing. I don't know what they can do to improve it, or if they can, but it really does take away from the game when you're just sitting there with a controller in your hands watching a progress bar as much as you have to with that game.
- Speaking of the WiiU, I had a chance to play Super Mario Bros. U with my daughters on Sunday and it was one of the more entertaining things that I have ever done. My girls really don't show much of an interest in games, but when they do, it's been primarily to play games as a family, so when my youngest had her birthday on Sunday and wanted to play, we couldn't turn her down.
Since it was her birthday, she got to be in control of the Gamepad which made her the "helper" for the rest of us. Never have I played a more chaotic game in my life, all while laughing hysterically with my wife and kids. The whole event really opened me up to wanting them to play more games like that with them. We try to do the "family fun night" thing as often as possible, so that game will definitely be used for repeat playings.
- Tomorrow I'll post my early thoughts for Tiger Woods 14. Something else came up tonight that will delay my thoughts on that.
- 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!
- Sounds like there were some issues with the blog bracket password or something. I resent an invite to everyone who has participated in the past.
Feel free to forward that invite to others to add themselves to the contest.
- I'll be doing an interview with EA Sports today in regards to Tiger Woods 14. Post in the comments if you have any questions you'd like to be asked during the interview.
- Have a great day.
- 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.
Head on over to CBSSports.com and fill out your bracket there for a chance at the honor of being the Sports Gamer Blog 2013 bracket champion.