- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!