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  • “My wife found out I named our daughter after a porn game”

    Posted on August 16th, 2009 keving 10 comments

    1 – 2009/08/05 11:42:07.29 ID:Gv0Doadv0
    I came home from work yesterday to find a porn-game box I had hidden placed on top of the keyboard.

    Kana: Little Sister

    I tried to talk my way out of it at first, but my wife’s decided that I got the name from this game, and it’s pretty much the truth anyway, so I couldn’t. I tried to emphasize how nice a girl Kana is, but that didn’t work either. I’ve got both my and the wife’s parents coming to a family conference after I get home today.

    20 – 2009/08/05 11:45:45.93 ID:dNaLV1HeO
    Uh, Kana dies, doesn’t she?
    That’s creepy, so at least make it Saya or something

    29 – 2009/08/05 11:46:58.86 ID:Gv0Doadv0
    Once I found out she was gonna be a girl, I had no choice in my mind but Kana.

    36 – 2009/08/05 11:49:16.57 ID:uadBUOR80
    You know they’re gonna have her write about where her name came from sometime or other during elementary school. Are you gonna tell her the truth then?

    48 – 2009/08/05 11:51:41.54 ID:Gv0Doadv0
    I’ll tell her that it came from Canaan because I wanted peace in the Middle East.

    39 – 2009/08/05 11:50:16.73 ID:Cq6BhfVd0
    There’s been a name I’ve had in my mind for a daughter for ages now. Can you guess what it is?

    It’s Haruhi.

    I couldn’t do it in the end, though. I’m jealous of >>1′s bravery.

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  • Anyone?

    Posted on August 14th, 2009 keving No comments

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  • The vast left-wing Pong-spiracy

    Posted on August 14th, 2009 keving No comments

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  • Come heavy or not at all

    Posted on August 14th, 2009 keving 1 comment

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  • Two things I learned on this business trip

    Posted on August 13th, 2009 keving 2 comments

    1. John Carmack owns a Tesla.

    2. Teslas don’t have air conditioning, which makes them pretty rough to drive in Texas summers.

  • A Twisty Maze of Konami Computer Entertainment Studios

    Posted on August 11th, 2009 keving 5 comments

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    On April 3, 1995, Konami’s satellite studio in the city of Kobe was spun off into its own separate company, Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka (KCEO). A year later, KCE Production Studio 5 went similarly independent, resulting in Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (KCEJ). Seeing a trend, Konami jumped on it and established three more satellite development studios on March 28, 1997: Konami Computer Entertainment Sapporo (KCES), Konami Computer Entertainment Yokohama (KCEY), and Konami Computer Entertainment Nagoya (KCEN). In 1998, KCE Osaka’s first production studio decided to shed its yoke of opporession and go independent from the independent studio, forming Konami Computer Entertainment Kobe (KCEK).

    So, at its peak, we had KCEO, KCEJ, KCES, KCEY, KCEN and KCEK all developing games at once. That’s not a list of Rush Limbaugh’s affiliates in Humboldt County, I promise.

    KCE Yokohama and KCE Sapporo merged in August 2000 to form the (old) Konami Computer Entertainment Studios. The development staff that remained in Sapporo wound up getting turned over to Hudson in December 2001, part of the deal that made Hudson a member of the Konami group of companies. A year later, in late 2002, KCE Kobe merged with KCE Osaka, with KCE Nagoya folding a little while later.

    In March 2003, KCE Osaka bought all of KCE Studios’ public stock, essentially making it a child company of KCEO. The resulting company changed its name a month later to the (new) Konami Computer Entertainment Studios and moved its offices from Osaka to Tokyo.

    This studio, the new KCE Studios all set up in arguably the fanciest office space in downtown Tokyo, is the outfit that deveoped Enthusia Professional Racing, a game I remember nothing about but must’ve seen at E3 2004. The project was headed up by Manabu Akita, who (judging by his Mobygames entry) mainly worked on arcade games and their home ports before shootin’ the works on this purported Gran Turismo beater. The game was all right — it reviewed pretty well, had a bit of a fanbase, and in any case was nowhere near as bad as Konami’s non-soccer sports games from around this era — but was bulldozed in the marketplace, chiefly thanks to coming out on the same day as Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport in America.

    Akita seems to have disappeared from both the game industry and Planet Earth after Enthusia. There’s a Manabu Akita with a few recent small-time anime credits, but I’m pretty sure that’s a different guy with the same name.

    Almost immediately after Enthusia’s release, on April 1, 2005, Konami reabsorbed all of its external game studios and ended all this Konami Computer Entertainment tongue-twister malarkey for good. In case you’re wondering, the chief projects each studio worked on:

    KCE Osaka: SNES Goemon, Hybrid Heaven, assorted other SNES games
    KCE Kobe: N64 Goemon, the first N64 Castlevania, Rakugakids
    KCE Sapporo: Bishi Bashi Special, cell phone stuff
    KCE Yokohama: Air Force Delta, Pop’n Music, Beatmania II DX
    KCE Nagoya: GI Stable, Castlevania Legends

  • The 1988 PC Engine Video Game Awards

    Posted on August 9th, 2009 keving 3 comments

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    What a wonderful year it was for our favorite system, wasn’t it? The year that the PC Engine finally got a little attention, you know? Namco began what’ll prove to be a long series of well-made arcade ports, Hudson released some of the most classic titles the console will ever see, and the first CD-ROM software in video-game history hit the marketplace just before Christmas. Oh, yes yes yes, truly a standout year.

    That’s why I’ve rented this luxurious auditorium to host the 1988 PC Engine Video Game Awards, sponsored by Magweasel, with host Kevin Gifford, announcer Kevin Gifford, musical director Kevin Gifford, and judges Kevin Gifford, Gevin Kifford, Fevin Plifford, and the mysterious “Fennec Fox” from world-renowned GamePro magazine.

    Organization for this award ceremony was delayed slightly, causing the date to shift a tad from the original January 10, 1989 target. This was entirely due to circumstances beyond my control. There was difficulty in finding and retaining sponsors; ceremony space fell through repeatedly; I was 10 years old at the time. It’s time to make amends, however, and while my plans to feature Master Takahashi singing a duet of “Straight Up” with Paula Abdul have sadly come to naught, I do at least have final award selections to give out after 21 years of deliberation.

    The categories and the winners:

    Game of the YearR-Type
    I don’t think there’s much room for debate here. R-Type was what put the PCE on the map in Japan and served as the system’s biggest killer app until mid-1989. The level of perfection this port reached also made it a remarkable software engineering effort. Without this release, the PCE wouldn’t have enjoyed nearly as long a life.

    Best Action GameMakyō Densetsu
    An early hack-n-slash standout, and one that became heavily used in TurboGrafx-16 advertising once NEC came to their senses. Extremely colorful and varied — until you got to the last level, anyway.

    Best Sports GamePro Tennis World Court
    A tough choice between this and Power League, but the easy-to-pick-up, hard-to-master gameplay and the loony RPG mode give Namco the edge here. I’ll forgive the game for being, at its core, a quick Famicom port.

    Best RPGJaseiken Necromancer
    By default as no other RPGs came out in 1988. This stuff takes time, you know.

    Best ShooterR-Type
    Again, nothing came close. Dragon Spirit is a competent port of a great game, but Namco could’ve done better if they tried.

    Best GraphicsAlien Crush
    Perhaps not the most detailed graphics of the year, but almost certainly the visual package that left the biggest impression in gamers’ minds.

    Best Original ScoreYūYū Jinsei
    A controversial choice. I understand that Kevin Gifford’s undying love for the Hudson Soft Lounge Orchestra played the greatest role in it.

    Hottest ChickNoriko Ogawa
    Again, almost by default, although the “how to play” lady from Appare! Gateball gave her a run for her money.

    With that, the 1988 PC Engine VGAs come to a close. Thank you all for attending, and see you next year.

  • “The Phantom of Akihabara,” Chapter 6: “Endless Game”

    Posted on August 7th, 2009 keving No comments

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    “So you’re cosplaying and everything whenever you go undercover like that?”
    “Yes, sir. I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off past thirty, but it keeps people’s eyes off me all the same. In fact, it’s gotten me a lot of side benefits. People brag to me; they reveal details; they give me their life stories.”
    “What were you dressed as?”
    “I’m sorry, sir; that’s kind of a personal question.”

    Here is chapter six (“Endless Game”) of The Phantom of Akihabara: GAME OVER, a serial novel written by Yoshitaka Ohsawa between 2002 and 2004. You’ll want to start at chapter one if you’re new to the tale.

    On a visit to the twice-yearly underground Comic Market, illicit used-game broker Ryohei Takamizawa runs into the shadowy owner of Sofmap #666, a “game buyer” he’s known for his entire career. The man is neck-deep in the underground game business, and he has bad news: the Japanese government is set to clamp down on every aspect of otaku culture, from what it can depict to how it’s distributed. If they succeed, then otaku-dom has no future, and Ryohei is sent by the man to meet up with a certain someone and figure out a way to stop them.

    Happy readin’.

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  • Mr. Takanori Hashimoto, part 2

    Posted on August 6th, 2009 keving 4 comments

    Following up my original post a little while ago, I thought I’d catch up on what my favorite shogi player, Mr. Takanori Hashimoto, has been up to over the summer. The last time I saw him, he looked like this:

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    Here he is again on TV a few days back on NHK’s shogi instruction program. Looks like he (A) gained a little weight (B) decided an inner tube was the perfect accessory for his televised match that day. (Heavyweight boxers WWE wrestlers have elaborate ring-entry sequences; shogi has this.)

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    It hasn’t all been smiles, though — he had an unexpected loss in a tournament on NHK the previous week, and he was a little broken up about it:

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    If you want to know more about what professional shogi is like, this video will tell you absolutely nothing. Click on it anyway; it’s humorous. Hashimoto shows up in the second match, on the left.

  • DRAGON QUEST NINE

    Posted on August 5th, 2009 keving 9 comments

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    How well is this game gonna do saleswise, anyway? The more optimistic among Japanese game sellers were hoping for five million in that country alone. Game journo Kiyoshi Shin has a lot to say about that, starting with Famitsu’s perfect review of the game:

    Weekly Famitsu’s cross-reviews receive the closest attention from members of Japan’s game industry. The total score from the four reviewers is seen to have a certain level of impact among retailers and users, so everyone has to be conscious of it. But is this cross-review system fulfilling its purpose? Developers and users have split opinions about this.

    When it comes to power, game media is going to lose out to game companies every time. Japan’s game companies have an aversion to getting scores applied to their releases, and the media is obligated to consider that in their actions — if a publisher refuses to give an outlet advance information, then that’s it. I had the editor-in-chief of one publication [presumably an online one -k] tell me once that “adding scores is simply a difficult proposition for us as a business.”

    Meanwhile, American game media is filled with score-based reviews. There’s even a “metascore” that calculates the average score across multiple media outlets. It doesn’t end with professional reviews, either: Functionality that lets users submit their own reviews (with scores) is standard-issue. Whether pros or gamers, the scores get compared and contrasted with each other, and that in turn puts pressure on media to make their reviews fair and appropriate. As a result, you often see cases where major releases with enormous advertising budgets behind them are faced with low scores. Meanwhile, games with high-scoring reviews are usually backed up by users and have a tendency to be long-selling hits; poor games receiving high scores are a rarity.

    It says something about the Japanese press, maybe, that Shin seems amazed at the concept that a game’s score should have nothing to do with its advertising.

    DQIX received a perfect 40/40 from Famitsu, but users have been using the game’s Amazon page as a soapbox to vent to the heavens about the RPG. The result: DQIX’s average score on there is only 2.72 out of 5. This has led to online arguments across Japan’s forums, with many accusing trolls of fanning the flames and posting reviews without even playing the game. The thing is, this isn’t only occurring on Amazon — discount shopping site Kakaku.com also displays an average score of 2.72/5 (coincidentally), and amateur-run review database Nintendo DS mk2 has it at 57/100, or around 2.85/5.

    So why are these scores on disparate sites agreeing with each other — and disagreeing with Famitsu?

    In his book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, Cal Tech professor Scott E. Page uses his research into group knowledge to build the foundation for the theory that “diversity beats ability.” The theory: A randomly-picked group of people is more capable of solving problems effectively than a solitary talented person. There are some caveats: The problem has to be divided into a reasonable size and strictly defined, and the group’s members should be as diverse as possible in age, gender, and background, in order to increase the number of parameters at work.

    Page writes that professional groups have a tendency to all think the same way, no matter what. Meanwhile, a diverse group working under many parameters provide a wealth of different viewpoints. When these viewpoints are put together, they create an accurate font of group knowledge. The rise of the Internet has provided us with an environment that makes forming these groups simple.

    Comparing the user reviews on American game sites with actual sales figures, I get the impression that we’re seeing this theory at work. It isn’t strange at all that Amazon and the other two sites are giving nearly the same results. If you assembled another group with similarly diverse parameters, their reviews would very likely average in the upper 2′s as well — and the way the userbase as a whole feels about the game would very likely be close to that number.

    While I don’t like Shin’s conclusion (mainly because it assumies that game media is worthless for anything besides straight-on reviews, some conventional wisdom I’ve spent years trying to overturn), the fact is that Japanese gamers’ opinions have never had the direct impact on sales that they have in America and Europe these days. Now, Amazon and other sites have given them a soapbox. Japan’s publishers should be watching — it’ll be interesting to see if DQIX’s long-term sales are affected by these users at all.