Postmordem – Digital Oil

I have finally “finished” the first portfolio piece for my design company, Bethesda Web Design!

Now even though the site isn’t for a “real client” but instead a friend, it was still a great experience taking this on and I’m really glad I did so.

In the past when creating sites, they have largely been for myself so I haven’t had to deal with a ton of stuff that you inevitably will when you first start to get your feet wet.

So What and Where’s the Site?
That little piece of information will be (hopefully) revealed tomorrow as I get into the meat of this postmordem. Yes that’s right. I’m going to do a postmordem of the site and share with you all of things that went well, and all of the things that went terribly unwell in this whole process. The thought there is that when you guys out there embark on the same kind of thing, you won’t make the same mistakes that I made. Plus, it’ll serve as a reminder for myself to not do things like that in the future and maybe you guys will be nice enough to lend some tips as always too. (#):)

Hello WordPress 2.5.1!

Well this is certainly becoming quite a productive day.

So far I’ve managed to get some laundry done, hang out with the family, AND upgrade WordPress.

I will say though –

The admin environment for 2.5 is certainly going to take some getting used to but I’m sure the updates to the codebase will win me over soon enough.

You kids out there like 2.5?

Going to 2.5?

Well it looks like WordPress is acting a bit wonky on me and that often means it’s time to update.

So hopefully over the course of today I’ll have a minute to give my blog a little TLC. Oh, and one of the wonky things seems to be that I can’t reply to comments at the moment. Anyone else having problems like that?

Little Update of May Goings On

I’ve once again hit a patch of pretty busy things for myself, and thankfully this time around it looks like those things are definitely of the positive sort.

And I’m beginning to come out of them now so I think it’s time to throw some updates up on here. Well actually… Now that I write that, I don’t know if I’m really coming out of them as much as I’m starting to see the proverbial light at the end of tunnel.

The big things on the hit list are of course the impending house purchase, finally finishing up that pesky website I’ve mentioned on here, Little Mac’s 1st birthday party, getting more business for my design company, and learning ColdFusion *bleh* at work. Why don’t we go in order of stress shall we?

Getting More Business for BWD 0 stress
Right now, my business Bethesda Web Design is doing just the right amount of business for me right now which isn’t too much. (#):) As I’ll point out in a hot minute, I’m putting the finishing touches of the company’s first real client site and I’ve had another person inquire about a new website too which I have a good feeling on. But probably the biggest thumbs up for the company in the past month was getting an old client back on board which means my hosting costs are no longer dragging me down to nearly the extent as they were before.

Finishing Up That Pesky Website 2 stress
This used to rank much higher on the stressful scale but I’ve recently put a lot of work into it addressing the harder parts of the service, and finishing up some nagging issues that I personally had a problem with. NOW the only thing I’m really waiting on is the “client” to get back to me with the rest of the text so I can put the seal of completeness on this one. And don’t worry, I’ll be talking a lot more about this project next week in a Postmordem of sorts.

Little Mac’s 1st Birthday Party 3 stress
I’ll admit it that from jump, I didn’t want to have a birthday party for the little guy. He’s not going to remember it and it’s just going to mean a lot of time commitment from me along with the whole catering thing *rolling eyes*. BUT the wife really wanted to have it so here I am, having to fire up the BarBQ (which NEVER goes smoothly) and having to figure out what food I’m going to make to feed all these people that are allegedly coming. bleh

Learning ColdFusion 4 stress
It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m more familiar with PHP for database manipulation than anything else. (See wordpress). But when I was originally propositioned at work to learn this technology I of course agreed and now I really wish I was doing something else. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m basically learning as I’m going through the joy that is the Internet Tutorial, but it really feels like ColdFusion is forcing me to learn a new scripting language that is just different enough from most standards that I have to stop and look everything up every 5 seconds. And as there’s basically only one other guy in the office with CF experience, I bet I’m gonna have to start doing this a lot more in the future.

Impending House Purchase ? stress
And finally on the pain train is the impending house purchase for which I have settlement on Monday. For some reason, it’s really not stressing me out as much as it should be. Maybe it’s the fact that I probably won’t be moving in ’till Sept or that I’m ok paying copious amounts in the way of bills. One thing is for certain though and that’s that I have very limited time to renew my real estate license if I’m going to be able to get a referral fee off the purchase. Busy weekend for sure coming up. (#):)

Anyone out there doing anything of interest?

Driving Around in My Automobile

My baby beside me at the wheel. *riff*

Baby you can drive my car –

Ok, I could clearly go on for a while. Anyway, I don’t know if you caught yesterday’s post, but it was about Glenn Beck attacking the video game industry, and specifically Grand Theft Auto IV.

Mark from Me And My Drum yesterday posted a hell of a comment (thanks again) and got me thinking about the problem of realism in games.

It All Started…
With part of Mark’s comment…

Honestly, what’s the entertainment value in mowing down innocent bystanders or killing law officials? The answer: the value is zero. It only serves to “train” or desensitize our kids to morals, to decency, to the difference between right and wrong.

My head was a mess trying to figure out what to say in response to EVERYTHING he said, but immediately I started thinking about his comment about driving in GTA IV. And I thought about it like this..

Driving in Video Games 101
Forget about GTA for a minute, and lets think about video gamedom in general where you can drive cars. If anyone older than 5 picked up a game where you could drive, they would first and foremost expect that they would be able to drive which to me means being able to direct the car where you wanted it to go, much like a real one. If we stop right here and ask, “What if we weren’t allowed to direct a car where we wanted to go?” I think our initial reaction would be, “This sucks”. And I generally agree with that statement because if you can’t actually drive the car, you’re basically taking the interactivity out the game which is what video games are anyway (otherwise see: movie).

So if we at the most fundamental level agree that if a game has drivable cars we should be able to drive them, that immediately brings about the possibility of questionable behaviours. For instance, nothing would stop us from performing basic traffic faux pas including blowing stop signs, and drifting onto the wrong side of the road. But what’s the alternative? I think it’s getting into a car and letting the game decide where we are going and how we get there again removing the interactivity and turning this product into more of a film than anything. Continuing,

Most game environments are not empty. They’re usually filled with something. Either trees, items, powerups, people, enemies or whatever. And if we again agree that we should at least be able to drive our cars, we obviously have the real possibility of colliding with something. I think the only way to change that would be to have gamers either a) not be able to drive or b) drive in empty Langolier eaten worlds.

Driving in Populated Worlds 101
So let’s assume at this point we want gamers to be able to drive cars in populated worlds. As said before, there’s a real possibility that gamers will display “questionable” behaviours and for this example let’s say that I’m referring to driving on the wrong side of a road. What can happen if one does this? Well in a populated world, you can obviously crash into oncoming traffic. This would obviously be bad. So does this mean that games that allow us to drive are training us to be bad drivers because we are allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road?

Well because I’ve never heard anyone bring up this argument, I think the answer would be a resounding “no”. Which is pretty interesting because if you hit somebody going the wrong way in traffic, there’s a real chance they could end up dead. Much like as if you saw a person in front of you in a game and you mowed HIM over. So what’s the real difference between these two scenarios? I say nothing.

Does Grand Theft Auto IV Celebrate Violence?
Certainly the argument in regards to Grand Theft Auto IV anyway is that the game celebrates anarchy and violence. You should remember though that when you do these types of things in GTA IV, you’re slapped with stars indicating that you’ve created crimes and that the police are on to you which given any amount of time you observe as the cops try to take your a$$ to jail. And again – I know the argument coming : “The ‘star system’ in GTA IV may make the police try to take you down, but it’s still glamorizing these horrendous acts.”

Well what if the game was called “Click It or Ticket” and was made by the Department of Transportation to show you the consequences of dangerous driving and associated behaviours? The game would still be realistic because you’d have to be able to drive cars, the police would still come after you, and you’d still be facing points in the game where you’d have to decide what you want to do… Stop at stop lights? Run from the police? Stay in your lane at 35 mph… My bet is that if the driving portion, JUST the driving portion of GTA IV was made by the government, given a new title, marketed in a different way, but STILL had the EXACT same driving gameplay – You wouldn’t hear the complaints that it is teaching its players to be killers.

The Problem with Freedom and Realism in Video Games
The problem is that it’s a double edged sword. The gamer community wants to be able to do everything it can in video games but then with that opportunity, you immediately introduce the possibility to perform acts we would consider taboo in the real world. And unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you view the subject, if you’re allowed to drive a car in a video game, you’re inevitably allowed to make some questionable decisions in regards to how you drive it. Personally, I just hope in years to come we don’t see in game police forces upholding real world laws that carry real life consequences.

I'm a Loser

Or so says Glenn Beck.

Side note : I’m sorry I used that line to open up this post because I know everyone else who is talking about these Glenn Beck statements have done the same thing. But hey, just be glad I’m posting at all. (#);)

If for some reason you DIDN’T know where that all came from, Glenn Beck calls “video game bloggers” losers. But that’s not what I’m really writing about anyway… I’m writing today in defense of the game industry.

My Initial Reaction
If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch a bunch of his statements here but in a nutshell Beck starts off by saying that he doesn’t blame video games for everything and that basically all forms of media are doing damage to our kids. But then instead of talking about the entertainment industry as a whole, he focuses on video games and in particular Grand Theft Auto IV. What gives?! It seems to me that if you were going to have an intelligent discussion about “this”, you would clearly define what “this” is!… If you’re going to talk about GTA IV being the downfall of society, fine. But don’t say that all media is to blame and then focus on one product from one industry. *rolling eyes*

Quotes
Beck alleges that

[Grand Theft Auto IV] is training our kids to be killers…and training our sons to treat women like whores.

and

In Grand Theft Auto your son or your husband or your boyfriend or whoever can hire a prostitute, have sex with her and then beat her to death with a baseball bat. When a police officer comes after him, he can either light that police officer on fire or cut him in half with a chainsaw! This is entertainment!? As he makes his getaway, Niko can carjack the ride of his choice and drive down a sidewalk mowing down as many pedestrians as he’d like. It took 75 YEARS and countless BILLIONS of dollars to train our soldiers to kill. Today – 60 bucks buys your kids the same thing. Whatever happened to pong?

At the moment I’m not gonna lie – I’m pretty hungry. Which makes responding to these comments a bit difficult. I will say though that I believe video games get a bad rap and I think a lot of that is due to the more mature ones being readily accessible to younger people and (what may go hand in hand with that) much like the Internet, most parents just don’t know enough to be able to make responsible informed decisions for their kids. Is this the problem of game designers? In my opinion : No. Look – obviously I’m a big believer or parents parenting their kids and teaching them morals and helping them to interpret the world around them and I think a lot of the problems we have as as society now is because we leave media in charge of teaching our kids about the world.

And look, I don’t have many problems with the media because I believe it is the society who largely drives their content. And I don’t have any problems with people listening to the media, but I think it has to be tempered with personal morality and scruples. Okay enough of this, I really gotta get something to eat.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Samba De Amigo Coming to the Wii

File this under a little bit of alright : Sega’s hit game Samba De Amigo is coming to the Wii!

Now I’m sure that all of you mugs knew about this a while ago, but for your boy this is news. And you know what Charles Manson said on Family Guy – “If I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me!”

If you used to follow this site when it was approaching “good”, you know that I love rhythm games like Space Channel 5, Frequency, Rock Band and the classic Parappa the Rapper.

Samba De Amigo was always in my mix of great games but I felt that when it was on Dreamcast it kinda flew under the proverbial radar for most gamers.

Will it Be the Same on the Wii?
One of the best things about Samba De Amigo was the maraca peripheral and as far as I know that won’t be making an appearance on the Wii. And that sucks. Now I’m not saying that Destructoid isn’t going to post that someone made his own maracas with a Wiimote holder ’cause who are we kidding? – That’s just a matter of time. But the fact that we can get a crappy wheel for Mario Kart and lightsabers for Star Wars leads me to believe that my favourite monkey just isn’t getting any love.

But on that note – Because of current music game hits LIKE Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I don’t know that something suitable could be made and packaged and still be sold at the price of a current Wii game. I think given today’s marketplace, the whole maraca idea where once very creative and innovative now would be viewed as stale, flat and a poor man’s ripoff of something cool like a guitar controller.

Will it Be Good?
I think for the Wii and it’s target audience, I think there’s room for it to be a hit amongst the rest of the system’s party games. Though I don’t think it would quite work on PS3 or 360 because I just don’t think an older audience would dig it. And on a final and very SIDE note, Samba De Amigo MUST pump the maraca sound effect through the Wiimote’s speaker to capture some of the classic goodness. If they do that, we’ll all be happy. Notice : I didn’t touch on anything online because I can’t do another Wii Friend code. Sorry NOA.

P.S. I wrote a post today. Hooray!