Benny's Adventures

in Music: Ok Go – “White Knuckles”

Just watch the video (it’s wonderful, I promise):

20 September 2010 Posted by | Internet, Miscellaneous, Music | , , , | Leave a comment

in Gaming: “Halo Reach is what’s wrong with the gaming industry today”

Untitled Over at SlashGear Don Reisinger thinks that Halo Reach epitomizes the shortcomings of the contemporary gaming industry. It’s an interesting thought and Reisinger is perfectly entitled to his opinion. I take issue to several things, however. Let’s take a step back and see if we can see a bigger picture.

The very first claim Reisinger has is that the ‘90s was the golden era of gaming. What is the measure of that? By all tangible measures the general trend of the gaming industry is upward. Just the fact that the industry itself is not a niche market means that gaming has been successful. Frankly speaking Reisinger is calling back to a time that’s not correctly remembered. Take an example from politics.

Basically, Reisinger was much younger when the gaming industry was young and remembers it fondly whereas the novelty of video games has worn off and now he is noticing its flaws. Even back in the day the video gaming industry had its flaws. After all, there were the ups and downs (such as how Nintendo arguably saved the video gaming industry when it was crashing). [I just checked the Wikipedia entry and turns out there are more crashes than I knew about. Take a look.]

That aside the next point made is that the gaming industry is “dominated by a handful of companies that want to quickly turn a profit.” I’d argue that Steam is a great counterexample to this. The availability and popularity of “indie” games on Steam weakens what Reisinger says. There is truth to his claim but it’s changing for the better so rather than reminiscing he could look to the future.

The last big point that Reisinger makes is that… well it’s a bit tough to say for sure but it seems like he’s saying there are too many games that are from established franchises and not enough diversity. Let’s take the halo-wars1eponymous Halo franchise. In the Halo lineup of games, Halo Wars broke the mold of Halo games and provided a RTS game for consoles. This is an example of a well-established  franchise taking a risk. Again perhaps it’s not something that happens enough but as franchises take hold and become a popular name, that’s when taking risks becomes profitable. While a developer could risk it all, remember that these developers are not faceless corporations but companies with people working for it trying to feed their families (or just themselves). It’s entirely unfair to say they should take more risks when their livelihood is at stake. Once the established franchises are making money then other paths can be explored.

Which brings me to this: if people don’t buy the games, they’re not going to make them. Games have bigger budgets now and it takes more copies sold to get a return because most people still follow the traditional model of selling games. (Steam offers an interesting path that might avoid some of those shortcomings.) If the game developers can’t recoup costs on a game they have no reason to make that game. Let me reiterate: if people don’t buy the games.

That’s probably the most crucial part of it. The games Reisinger claims the industry needs aren’t being bought. Why are the masses purchasing filth like Halo: Reach, though? Oh:

Halo Reach gets all the accolades that most gamers say it deserves… The game might be fun to play. It might be a great step up over predecessors.

This is conflicting. Earlier he says “there are still unique and fun titles in the wild.” Perhaps he means it differently, but I take it to mean that the other games that are easier to find (a la Halo: Reach) are not fun. Yet he calls it fun to play! And for all he harps on about innovation, he says Halo reach is a great step up over predecessors! Isn’t that innovation?

There are definitely great points that are floating around in this column. But Reisinger misses it all (at least in this article; I cannot say that he is not aware of them) and instead focuses on something intangible and often skewed by a youthful, immature perception versus a more matured perception closer to current time.

18 September 2010 Posted by | Gaming, Technology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

in Life: Long week, but Duke v. Alabama tomorrow!

This week’s been very rough but tomorrow is Duke versus Alabama! Now I realize that we’re most likely going to lose considering how the Crimson Tide steamrolled Penn State. Still, the fact that Alabama is here playing at Wally Wade is a good sign for the football program.

I just hope it isn’t too bad… more on that tomorrow.

17 September 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

on the Internet: Oh happy dog, why are you so happy?

Last one for today, I promise! Found on reddit.tumblr_l8occyTOz91qapdo9o1_500

16 September 2010 Posted by | Internet | , , , , | Leave a comment

in Science: What if we let tigers go extinct?

tiger I’ve been a bit active this morning and it’s because I’ve got a bit of time before I need to get to class and do not have any pressing tasks to take care of. In the activity I stumbled upon a blog post about the plight of tigers in Asia. Personally I believe we should protect all animals but a thought hit me – what if we didn’t? I know I’m playing devil’s advocate here. What if we didn’t protect animals that are dying out? Obviously they aren’t fit to survive if they’re going extinct.

I thought about it after the novelty of taking that stance wore off and realized that the difference lies in the magnitude of effect that humans can have. Here’s an analogy:

Cells in our body divide, grow, and die every second. We never worry about that. This would be like the world without human interference that follows the predator-prey cycle. However, when our cells grow uncontrollably – that is, they become cancerous – we do whatever we can (to the point of irradiating ourselves) to get rid of that uncontrolled growth. Humans are the cancer to the world. Now I realize there have been cataclysmic events in the past that have lead to rapid evolution but consider the difference: those large-scale events are like a wound on our body that heals. Sure, it may be scarred or not heal perfectly but it heals and the rest of the cells keep dividing and dying as usual. The cancer, however, sucks the life out of the whole body just as we are sucking the life out of this planet.

There’s been a study that claims killing off mosquitoes would not have a bad effect. While the claim could be exaggerated by the media outlet there is a quote in there that strikes me as ominous.

“The ecological effect of eliminating harmful mosquitoes is that you have more people. That’s the consequence,” says Strickman.

I don’t know if this Strickman character is aware or not but we already have millions of people suffering from hunger, poverty, and subpar living conditions in the world. Is Strickman really saying that an increase in population under those circumstances is a good thing? Maybe this comes off as cruel but consider where mosquitoes do most of their killing: in Africa where they can’t afford treatment for malaria. If you have a drastic increase in population in those areas that can’t afford the treatment, can those areas afford the cost of supporting those people?

To tie it back to the cancer metaphor, the mosquitoes are acting as a treatment against the human-cancer. If we get rid of that our growth will continue with even more reckless abandon and stress the Earth much more.

Perhap’s it’s time for people like Strickman to notice the bigger picture and see how having more people is not necessarily a good thing. I sincerely lament the loss of people to easily treatable diseases but at the same time would I want to sacrifice the quality of life of millions of people? It’s a really tough ethical question that I think we need to seriously think about but if scientists keep ignoring the big picture like that we’ll suddenly have more and more people suffering without even knowing why we let that happen. I think that’s the most unethical thing we can do.

If all this came from just mosquitoes being exterminated, imagine what could happen if tigers (who have just as much influence on the ecosystem if not more influence than mosquitoes) go extinct.

16 September 2010 Posted by | Science | , , | Leave a comment

on the Internet: Internet Explorer 9

lifehacker When Lifehacker asks if its readers would switch to Internet Explorer 9 saying IE9 "looks truly different"  you know something big is happening. They have a pretty good overview of the new features in IE9 with some extra exposition on the approach it takes to webapps.

I’m most excited about the GPU acceleration for websites. For more than a decade now I’ve had a GPU that has enhanced my gaming. It’s only been about half that time that the operating system began to leverage the computational capabilities of the GPU. Lately the user experience on the computer has shifted over to the browser and even now most are limited to using the CPU even on high end computers. Adobe Flash 10.1 recently introduced GPU acceleration to its Flash content (at least in a beta release… it seems it actually hasn’t been implemented yet on OS X but I’m quite certain it’s implemented in Windows versions of Flash) and it’s made things much smoother for videos on my laptop. The advantage of GPU acceleration is really for netbook type computers where they can’t have monstrous CPUs to save on battery but when they encounter a tough-to-render page they can get help from the GPU. This combination means even netbooks can have the ability to load high quality websites without sacrificing the battery life for when all that isn’t necessary (such as typing up a document or looking at a simple webpage).

Combined with the new capabilities of HTML5 the possibilities are truly exciting.

16 September 2010 Posted by | Internet, Technology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

in Life: 2 career fairs later…

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to attend two career fairs in the last two days. On Tuesday there was an event called TechConnect that brought together technology companies (engineering, biomedical, and even business strategy consulting and some finance which really aren’t technology but they’re looking for the engineer’s critical thinking and analytical skills). I talked with several companies and they asked for my resume which I take to be a good thing. It could just be a formality after all but it was exciting nevertheless. I had similar results at the career fair where many more companies were present.

Hopefully this all leads to some great opportunities for careers. I’m really excited about some of the companies!

16 September 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment

in Life: Job Searching is Stressful

All the mistakes I’ve made are resurfacing and it’s tough to deal with it all. Hopefully it all goes well. Wish me luck!

14 September 2010 Posted by | Life | , , | Leave a comment

in Television: Soul Eater

soul eater

Lately I’ve been watching a show called Soul Eater on Hulu. It’s about young pairs of meisters and weapons (a human-type character who can transform into a weapon to be wielded by the meister) at an academy run by Death. These pairs hunt bad souls and witches and keep the world safe. A lot of the concepts are reminiscent of Bleach (which I follow in manga format on Mangastream) but much of the difference and unique qualities of Soul Eater lies in the characters. There’s a lot of depth involved for the main characters and some of the supporting characters have quite a bit of depth too. There’s a good ratio of action-packed, plot-progressing episodes to filler episodes. The pacing hasn’t gotten on my nerves yet but that might be because I’ve been able to watch multiple episodes in a row on Hulu so far (I’m reaching the end of the episodes up so far, though). Really the only thing that bothers me is the animation of Maka’s (one of the main characters) eyes. Outside of that I find the animation and art style very refreshing. My favorite part is the sky – make sure you notice the sun and the moon.

If you’ve got any free time on your hands, check it out!

12 September 2010 Posted by | Television | , , , | Leave a comment

in Life: Duke v. Wake Forest

The band (which includes me) is on its way back to Duke after a tough loss to Wake Forest. The score was 54-48 in Wake’s favor. The tough part came from how close we came and how much potential we had that we squandered with mistakes.

I’m creating this post on my Droid which is interesting. I’m gonna take this moment to apologize: I’m sorry for not posting more frequently. I’m doing my best to get a good routine set up and it’s almost there.

Expect to hear more very, very soon.

11 September 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment


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