Mac OS X Leopard Review Coming
By: Negafox On: 10/27/2007 20:30:07 In: Software
Next Saturday, I will be posting a full review of Mac OS X Leopard. The review will be more comprehensive than those posted by professional reviewers as I will focus on comparisons and benchmarks between Mac OS X Tiger (10.4.10), Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.0), and Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit Edition. Using the the 20" iMac with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB RAM, and ATI Radeon 2600 Pro as the test system, I intend to focus on the performance difference between the three operating systems as well as a comparison of features and whether Mac OS X Leopard is worth the upgrade.
Street Fighter IV Officially Announced
By: Negafox On: 10/17/2007 22:20:52 In: Software
Today, at the Capcom Gamers Day in London, England, Capcom finally unveiled the long-awaited Street Fighter IV. After a decade hiatus, Capcom released a teaser trailer depicting Ryu and Ken fighting in a nighttime outdoor settings, and ending with Ryu throwing a fireball leading to the official Street Fighter IV logo. The teaser trailer featured stylized 3D graphics that resembled a painting -- somewhat similar to Frank Miller's work. Gamespot has an article and teaser trailer on their website.
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Announced
By: Negafox On: 08/05/2007 22:45:41 In: Software
This weekend Blizzard Entertainment held the BlizzCon 2007 convention at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. Blizzard Entertainment announced the second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, at the start of the event. Some of the features originally tossed around during the original World of Warcraft beta-testing such as Hero classes and siege weapons will finally be implemented into the game. Blizzard Entertainment posted some brief information on the new World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King webpage:

  • Master the necromantic powers of the Death Knight - World of Warcraft's first Hero class.
  • Quest to level 80, gaining potent new abilities and talents along the way.
  • Learn the craft of spell augmentation with the new Inscription profession.
  • Brave the harsh new continent of Northrend, the icy domain of the Lich King.
  • Engage in epic siege warfare, deploying mighty siege engines to lay waste to destructible buildings in your path.
  • Transform your hero's look with new character-customization options, including new hairstyles and dances.

In addition, StarCraft II was publicly playable for the first time at BlizzCon. Only the Protoss and Terran races were available for play and some changes were apparent such as the Carriers being reintroduced.

Blizzcon Next Week
By: Negafox On: 07/27/2007 14:17:21 In: Software
Blizzard Entertainment will be holding their second official Blizzcon convention at the Anaheim Convention Center on August 3rd- 4th, 2007. I will be attending Blizzcon along with my wife on Saturday, with a remote possibility of attending on Friday. If any other Battle.net posters or World of Warcraft fans intend on attending and interested in meeting up, feel free to hit me up. Thus far, I know of DatAsian and Sixen are planning on attending Blizzcon 2007.
"I am Murloc" Music Video
By: Negafox On: 07/16/2007 21:58:35 In: Software
Blizzard Entertainment has posted a new "I am Murloc" music video and single in MP3 format on their World of Warcraft website. The video is high quality comparable to many of the fan videos as of recent and the music itself is quite entertaining.

Having leveled past their previous name -- Level 60 Elite Tauren Chieftain -- the crunching chords and pounding war drums of the newly dubbed Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain will once again be echoing throughout the Anaheim Convention Center's main arena at BlizzCon 2007. Exclusive to BlizzCon attendees, the concert will start at 7:30pm on Saturday, August 4, preceding the other live entertainment that evening. Get there early because seating will be first-come, first-pwned.

For those who can't wait to catch another glimpse of the band in action, we've just posted the new video for their hit song "I Am Murloc," as well as the .mp3 of the song for your listening pleasure. Prepare to be musically face-melted.
State of the Mega Man Series
By: Negafox On: 07/01/2007 23:36:44 In: Software
In early 2006, Capcom released Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up for the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). Series creator Keiji Inafune had planned to remake the entire original Mega Man series and possibly up to Mega Man X6 intending to update the sixth entry from contradicting the Mega Man Zero series. As fate may have it, both titles – official entries in the original and X series – were the last entries in those series to date due to poor sales. As a result of the poor sales series creator Keiji Inafune has stated he will not likely develop any further titles either series. In the Mega Man community, many have pointed fingers as to the current state of the Mega Man/X/Zero/ZX continuity as a whole. What happened to the Mega Man series as whole and who is to blame?

Prior to the announcement of the development of Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up, the Mega Man X development team sought input from the Mega Man community through the Mega Man Network and Planet Mega Man websites. Many speculated that the Mega Man X developers were intending to develop another Mega Man X title and the community contributed to numerous suggestions such as the return of FMV (anime-style full motion video) mysteriously absent post-Mega Man X4. Later, Capcom unveiled their latest projects: Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up for the Sony PSP. Both titles would be remakes of the first titles of the Mega Man and Mega Man X series with a 3D game engine, updated storyline, and a level editor in the case of the latter title.

While both titles received positive reviews from the media, they ultimately failed in the marketplace. Maverick Hunter X was a remake of the original Mega Man X with 3D graphics, new playable character Vile, and maintains the original gameplay and formula Mega Man is known for. One problem is that the Sony PSP target audience tends to more mature with more interest in games like Grand Theft Auto III. Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up would have likely have sold better on the Nintendo DS where such titles tend to thrive. However, Maverick Hunter X was intended to be the killer application targeted towards devoted Mega Man fans. Why did they not purchase Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man Powered Up in groves? The primary reason both titled floundered was likely due to the fact that Capcom developed remakes of Mega Man 1 and Mega Man X1 that nobody asked for. Mega Man 1-8 was already collected in the Mega Man Collection and Mega Man X1-6 were compiled in the Mega Man X Collection for the Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, and Sony PlayStation 2. With both collections already available at the time at budget prices, it was unnecessary to develop a 3D remake of each individual title at a higher cost. Additionally, the move sets and game features were a throwback to 13-20 years ago compared to recent entries. One of the Mega Man X series main features that draw the audience back with each title is new armors and abilities. Playing through Maverick Hunter X to armor arts to obtain the dash ability -- default ability in all subsequent titles – is uninteresting to even the most hardcore fan. Capcom went through the effort to develop a 3D game engine, FMV, and voice acting to create the ultimate Mega Man X experience. With all the time and effort Capcom went through to develop such technology and experience, the game would have been better served as a completely new entry rather than a remake. Keiji Inafune has long stated he would like to develop Mega Man 9 and re-link the Mega Man X series to the Mega Man Zero series. Instead of developing remakes, Capcom should have developed Mega Man 9 and Mega Man X9 tying up both series with proper conclusions. Mega Man fans would have swooped up copies of both titles to play through the conclusions firsthand. Capcom should have followed suit of Nintendo with New Super Mario Bros. and develop a new entry in the main series (original and X) in 3D while retaining the 2D style game play.
Mac OS X 10.4.10 Software Update
By: Negafox On: 06/20/2007 23:24:57 In: Software
Apple released their 10.4.10 update for their Mac OS X Tiger operating system. This update makes the first time Apple released a double-digit update a major revision. Most of the changes are bug fixes, compatibility improves, and security update compilations. Additional patch details and the delta update are available on Apple's website.
Top 10 Best-Selling PC Games
By: Negafox On: 06/13/2007 12:57:07 In: Software
For the week ending June 2nd, 2007, World of Warcraft and the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion maintained their leadership positions in the weekly PC game sales according to GameDaily Biz. Despite some hype that Lord of the Rings Online briefly captured the top spot, it quickly slipped to #9 over a month after its release. It is interesting how people predicted that Guild Wars, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Lord of the Rings Online would be a threat to World of Warcraft's dominance. Yet, for a game that has a monthly fee, it continues to hold the top spot over two and a half years after its initial release. It is amusing how the gaming community repeatedly predicts World of Warcraft’s demise.

Anyways, rounding out the ten top-selling games of the week ending June 2nd, 2007 include:

1. World Of Warcraft
2. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade
3. The Sims 2 Seasons
4. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars
5. Halo 2
6. The Sims 2 Celebration Stuff
7. Civilization IV
8. The Sims 2 Deluxe
9. Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows Of Angmar
10. Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Safari 3 Criticism
By: Negafox On: 06/12/2007 23:13:11 In: Software
Yesterday morning, Apple announced Safari 3 for the Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Shortly after the announcement, the Safari 3 public beta was released on the Apple website. There have been numerous complaints pertaining to security and stability issues with the web browser, and some have raised the issue whether individuals understand what a public beta exactly is. One problem is that companies lately have been using the concept of public beta testing as a marketing and PR tactic -- a form of advertisement, if you will. Many MMORPGs have used this tactic, but tend to face a negative stigma of instability after release. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, in particular, comes to mind.

In the debate as to whether Apple deserves the criticism despite their latest browser iteration being billed as a public beta, there is evidence that Apple is at fault. For one thing, Apple is advertising the public beta download link on the front page of their website. This maneuver makes the public beta too readily accessible to the general public who might not be tech savvy. In addition, it is not readily obvious where to download the retail version as the website attempts to direct visitors to the public beta. Finally, the caption below the advertisement states: "The world's best browser. Now for Windows, too." The caption may be misleading to some as that the public beta may be the best web browser available.

As a result of Apple's PR handling of the Safari 3 public beta, there is some merit that Apple should be criticized for releasing a web browser with such glaring flaws. Many internal websites at my workplace crashes the web browser, the copy and paste functionality behaves erratically, and there are several zero-day exploits available. Personally, a public beta should be an application that has no known serious stability issues and requires public testing to uncover any potential serious issues. However, any user will likely find serious issues with Safari 3 within minutes after installation and the browser is definitely not in the condition for widespread public testing.
Blizzard Websites Unavailable
By: Negafox On: 05/31/2007 16:51:54 In: Software
For anybody who has noticed that the Battle.net and World of Warcraft websites have been largely unavailable this afternoon, the World of Warcraft forums appear to be still accessible. You must have an active World of Warcraft account to log into the World of Warcraft forums.

Update: The websites appear to be accessible at this time.
Linux: A Decade Later
By: Negafox On: 05/30/2007 14:25:31 In: Software
Nearly a decade ago, the United States Department of Justice and twenty U.S. states filed an anti-trust case against the Microsoft Corporation. They allegedly claimed that Microsoft abused their monopolistic power in the operating system market to edge out competition in other markets as well such as web browsers. There was much anticipation and hype at the time from hardware enthusiasts and the media alike that open-source software will become mainstream and replace commercial applications. One of the primary over-hyped applications was the Linux operating system, touted as soon becoming user-friendly and offering similar software packages free of charge. A decade later and much has changed in the computer landscape – but has the open-source software revolution become user-friendly?

Many companies offer various Linux flavors which can confuse customers. Which distribution is the best for them? Also, which desktop environment and software packages are right for them as well? Unfortunately, options are not always a good thing as it can lead to confusion to the average customer, which ultimately leads to why Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office continue to dominate to this day. Microsoft continues to try to develop a single-source solution for a majority of consumers needs which is why many of their products are difficult to replicate with open-source alternatives. One area Microsoft made a mistake was ignoring Internet Explorer for several years leaving the web browser market stagnant. As a result, Mozilla developed a web browser implementing tabbed browsing and standards compliancy which caught the eye of consumers. If Microsoft was continuing to maintain and innovate Internet Explorer over the years, Firefox would have likely been an echo in the wind. However, Microsoft failing to innovate is led to their browser market share slippage. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 2007 adopts XML standards and file compression for their new file format which puts them a step ahead of open-source alternatives. Additionally, the Ribbon bar is a bit innovative and may potentially replace the classic drop-down menu.

One of the primary problems with Linux and open-source alternatives in general is that they try to mimic their commercial application counterpart. Instead, if they followed the path of Firefox and try to innovate, they could capture serious market share. However, if one takes a look at most Linux distributions, they heavily try to mimic the look and feel of the latest Microsoft Windows operating system. A majority of consumers tend to view the "me too" approach as a cheap knock-off and avoid such software.

Anyways, back to the original point, has the Linux operating system become user-friendly over the past decade? Many strides have been made with the installation and GUI shell experience; however, the installation process can still be a nightmare for the many customers whose hardware configuration is not supported straight out of the box. For example, my primary computer at home is an Intel Core 2 Duo using a P965-based motherboard, 4 GB DDR2/800 RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7800GT, and a NETGEAR wireless adapter. Fairly common parts that should be supported straight out of the box, correct? Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case. I recently attempted to install Ubuntu 7.04 onto my second hard drive only to find out that it failed to boot straight into the live CD three out of four times. After some research it turns out that most Linux distributions do not support motherboards using the JMicron SATA/PATA chipset straight out of the box. After some configuration file tweaks, I was able to install Ubuntu Linux 7.04 onto my second hard drive. Apparently, Ubuntu Linux installed a boot manager onto my primary hard drive. A menu to either boot into Ubuntu Linux or Microsoft Windows Vista (which is installed on my primary hard drive) seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, selecting to boot into Microsoft Windows Vista led to a hardware reset as it refused to boot after installing Ubuntu Linux onto a completely separate hard drive.

Over 15 years later and the Linux operating system still has not put a dent into the desktop operating system market share. If anything, Mac OS X has surpassed Linux in desktop market share and is continuing the path to be the alternative to Microsoft Windows. Additionally, with ASP.Net and AJAX technologies becoming commonplace in web development, Microsoft has claimed a large stake in the server market giving them an edge over any UNIX-based alternative. Only time will tell on Linux's fate, but after a decade after Linux’s media hype, the operating system seems to have become a hobbyist's toy in the desktop market for potential developers to be.
Terran Marine Thoughts
By: Negafox On: 05/25/2007 12:12:30 In: Software
After Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft II announcement, there have been some complaints about the shield that appears to be mounted on the Terran Marine's left shoulder. For the starting basic unit, the Protoss have the Zealot with psionic energy blades (a la lightsabers) and the Zerg has Zerglings with sharp claws which can destroy metal. The concept of Terran Marines having a shield mounted onto their shoulder is not such retroactive concept as it would help the units' defense against similar basic units in opposing factions. Logically, it is not such a bad idea. With the shield being mounted onto the shoulder, it would not hinder a Terran Marine's movement while also leaving both hands free to carry weapons.

Merely my two cents on some people's complaints about a newly announced game.
StarCraft II Announced
By: Negafox On: 05/20/2007 20:57:34 In: Software
For those living in a cave for the past week -- or possibly without Internet access -- rumors have been floating around that Blizzard Entertainment would be announcing a sequel to StarCraft at the Worldwide Invitationals in Seoul. On May 19th in Seoul, Blizzard Entertainment announced StarCraft II at the Worldwide Invitationals. StarCraft II will feature a 3D graphics engine, realistic physics, additional abilities for existing units, and new units. The original three races -- Terran, Protoss, and Zerg -- will return from previous game in the latest installment. Information, news, movies, and screenshots are available on the official StarCraft II website, http://www.starcraft2.com.

An excerpt from the official announcement at http://www.blizzard.com: SEOUL, South Korea – May 19, 2007 – Blizzard Entertainment® today unveiled StarCraft® II, the sequel to its award-winning real-time strategy game StarCraft, at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational event in Seoul, South Korea. The announcement took place inside the Olympic Gymnastics Arena, in front of thousands of attendees, who received a presentation that included a StarCraft II cinematic trailer and a gameplay demonstration by the development team. Designed to be the ultimate competitive real-time strategy game, StarCraft II will feature the return of the Protoss, Terran, and Zerg races, overhauled and re-imagined with Blizzard's signature approach to game balance. Each race will be further distinguished from the others, with several new units and new gameplay mechanics, as well as new abilities for some of the classic StarCraft units that will be making a reappearance in the game. StarCraft II will also feature a custom 3D-graphics engine with realistic physics and the ability to render several large, highly detailed units and massive armies on-screen simultaneously.
E3 2005
By: Negafox On: 05/20/2005 12:54:30 In: Software
Yesterday I attended E3 in Los Angeles. I left around 8 AM from work and drove 1 1/2 hours to the Los Angeles Convention Center. Unfortunately, every parking lot in a five mile radius was charging an arm and leg for parking. $40 to park in a rundown back alley ten blocks away? No thanks. Upon entering the main entrance, I was greeted to a beautifully painted Zelda stairway. Indeed, I was at the correct place. I walked around E3 for a while staring at all the games. A passed by a booth and a few exhibitors wanted me to try their MMORPG. It was Lineage II which had nice graphics, but I have been spoiled by World of Warcraft's simplistic control system. The booths with the free gifts and prizes were immensely crowded and popular. Oddly, as much as these booths were attempted to draw attention to their games, they were barely, if ever, covered by the media on gaming websites. I hung around the Bandai booths because I wanted to see the new .hack//G.U. game. The Bandai exhibitors were wearing .hack shirts and sticking "I've been hacked!" bumper stickers on people. It was quite amusing, but they did not stick one on me. I saw a pseudo tournament for InuYasha, so I had to join the fray. It was an hour wait, but a pair of Gamestop employees questioned me about my company the entire time. They seemed to have enjoyed my non-PR style answers. Eventually, I was paired with one of the Gamestop employees and won the match against him in InuYasha.

Later, I will post pictures from E3 along with some additional game previews, but here are a few for the time being:

Crash Tag Team Racing

A quirky racing title that does not feel like past Crash Bandicoot racing games. This game is unlikely to dethrone Crash Team Racing since strategy is largely removed from this game what I can tell. CTR and CNK has shortcuts and powersliding which can be used to the player's advantage depending on their skills. Crash Tag Team Racing is still a fun game and appears to be a better game than CNK. A new feature in this title is that if the player passes an opponent, both players can temporarily merge their vehicles into a destruction vehicle. Players can toggle between driver and shooter.

Heroes of Might and Magic V

After 3DO closed its doors, Ubisoft obtained the rights to the Might and Magic intellectual propertes. Some were concerned how would Ubisoft handle the newly announced Heroes of Might and Magic V. Rest assured, the game returns to its roots without any "re-envisionings." A playable demo was available at E3 and the game felt similar to Heroes of Might and Magic III. One major enhancement is a beautiful 3D graphics engine. Gone are the days of recycling the same sprites and map tilesets.

InuYasha: Feudal Combat

A fun game which involves 2-on-2 fighting. Rather than a side-scrolling 3D fighting game, this game allows 360 degrees of freedom which allow the player to avoid the opponent and attacks more strategically. The game obviously suffers from slowdown issues between super attacks and when an opponent is defeated. How bad were the slowdown issues? The game appeared to run at 1-2 frames per second at times for about five seconds. The exhibitors assured us the game is still far from completion.

Nintendogs

Nintendo's Nintendogs for DS reminded me of the Dogz screensaver. It was certainly a fun little game to enjoy just playing with your virtual dogs.