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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Update on metro station

It turns out that the Lionel Groulx metro station was closed yesterday due to a bomb scare. Somebody spotted a motorcycle bag in the bushes outside the station so the police brought in the bomb robot and shut down the station for two hours. Huh? All the robot does is roll up to the bag and blow it up, right? It's called you take a long pole and POKE THE BAG. If you want to blow it up, but some explosives on the end of the pole. Do you really need two hours and a ROBOT to do this?


The US House of Representatives need to get a life.

The House in the US is starting a federal investigation of Rockstar in the aftermath of Hot Coffeegate. Does anybody else find this ridiculous? For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, the latest GTA game shipped with a hidden (disabled) minigame involving characters in sexual positions. While fully clothed. It turns out that with a mod (a crack really) you can re-enable this minigame. So now they're being federally investigated to see if they deceived the ESRB (ratings board for video games).

Here are some reasons why this is insane: 1) The game was already rated M (17+). The new rating is A (18+). BIG STINKING DIFFERENCE! 2) The characters were fully clothed, there wasn't even any nudity. People can see nude sex scenes on movies on TV, but clothed characters in sexual positions in a videogame... 3) THE CONTENT WAS DISABLED! People had to use cracks to enable it, and on the PS2 version people needed special hardware attached to their PS2 (The GameShark) to fiddle with memory locations to enable it.

You'd think the US government has more important things to worry about than this. On a more serious note, one of the guys who pushed this into the spotlight in the first place is now going after The Sims 2 because it turns out that you can apply a crack to remove the "blur" from nude characters. I guess the guy never played with Barbie and Ken dolls when he was a kid. What an idiot, and what a waste of time and money. Glad MY tax dollars aren't being wasted by this crap.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Annoying morning

Every morning I take a combination of busses and metros to work. I take the 202 down St. John's Blvd in Pointe-Claire right to the 211 bus stop, which I take to the Lionel Groulx metro stop, and from there the green line to McGill.

Not today. Everything went smoothly until the bus pulled up at Lionel Groulx, only to find the entire single entrance surrounded in excessive amounts of police tape (I never noticed that our police tape is orange, not yellow). There were half a dozen cruisers spread around the stop, and the police had blocked off Atwater (street) in front of the metro station.

I was none too pleased by this. I take the metro to work every morning, and have no bloody idea how to get to work by bus. I stood around a while at the metro stop, moving with the crowd closer and closer to the police blocking the entrance, in hopes of finding out what was going on. Luckily, someone ahead of me was asking the police officer what to do, and the officer was giving him directions to the next metro station along the line. I heard him say "Up the hill" and he pointed in the direction that some of the people getting off the bus had taken off in.

What an unpleasant walk! Uphill in the sun on a hot day in work clothes. Not fun. But eventually I got to the next station (Atwater), the entrance to which oddly enough led to a mall. I followed to girls in front of me who seemed to know where they were going, and eventually we ended up at the Atwater metro station. Ugh.

There was a message on the PA from the STM, in a male voice rather than the usual pre-recorded female voice. They didn't give a reason and I couldn't really hear it, they were only announcing that Lionel Groulx was closed. I still haven't found out what is going on, but I'm pretty certain it wasn't a bomb or anything, since the rest of the metro system seems to be unaffected. Trains at Atwater were going in both directions, so it looks like they were just going through Lionel Groulx without stopping. It also probably wasn't somebody jumping on the tracks or being pushed, for the same reason. If it had been a simple assault, the station wouldn't have been locked up so tight. That leaves rape, murder, possibly a shooting. Not pleasant, but that's my best guess.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Thanks for the memories

1920 - 2005

We'll miss you Mr. Doohan.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Bang, you're dead!

This is just too funny... If you remember, there was a recent article that detailed how the Canadian Armed Forces had run out of money and couldn't afford training ammunition that fired from regular weapons a black substance instead of bullets. The soldiers were forced to rent paintball guns and gear out of their own pockets. The armed forces stated that while this had a big impact on the physics of the firefights, this was still better than blanks because blanks gave no indication of who was hit.

Well, the British army just one-upped we Canadians. Due to a misprediction in required ammo, the British have run out of blanks, forcing soldiers during training exercises to yell "BANG! BANG!" instead.



So the news has come out that Valve, best known for the Half-Life and Counter-Strike franchises, has chosen EA as their new publishers. While I, like most gamers and developers, am a tad displeased with EA, people need to get some perspective. Let's take a look:

1) Valve was in a position to dictate their terms

Valve had a blockbuster franchise that is guaranteed to make a bundle of cash. If a given publisher didn't like Valve's terms, there were likely dozens more lining up that would accept them. Valve could make any kind of deal they wanted.

2) EA likely has no control over the products

Publishers (such as EA) normally have control over products for a variety of reasons. With EA it's usually because they own the studio doing the work. With outside developers, it would be because EA fronted a lot of money and the contract gives them that control. When Valve dissolved their contract with Vivendi they were in a unique position. They had a product, Half-Life 2, which they had funded entirely themselves. They didn't owe anybody any money. They didn't need a publishers help to finance a game. For this reason, it is likely that any deal with EA simply lets EA publish the games, and doesn't give them any control.

3) Valve wants to push STEAM

One of the main disputes Valve had with Vivendi Universal was over STEAM. Valve wanted the freedom to publish their games both in stores and on STEAM with no restrictions on what they could do. Vivendi tried to stop them from publishing HL2 via STEAM entirely, and failing that, did manage to set a minimum cost ($5 less than retail) and delayed the release of the game until it was on store shelves. This displeased Valve to no end, and you can be certain that the contract they signed with EA gives Valve full control over what they publish on STEAM, when they publish it, and for how much.

4) You don't have to buy from EA

As of HL2's release, Valve has provided us with a direct-to-developer method of purchase. I purchased HL2 exclusively online, and all went smoothly. While XBox gamers will have to get Valve games via EA (The XBox has a hard drive, but a relatively small one), PC gamers have the choice of using STEAM and cutting EA out of the deal entirely

5) Either way, EA stands to make a lot of money

Think about it. Even if the contract between EA and Valve is strictly limited to "We provide the games, you put them on the shelves", EA makes a bundle of cash. While Valve no doubt negotiated a very favorable agreement with regards to how much of the profit EA gets vs how much VALVE gets, the fact is that even if EA only makes $10 in actual profit per copy sold, multiply $10 by tens of millions and either way they make money.

6) EA may choose to publish games over STEAM

Think about it. Valve has, despite it's flaws, the best online game delivery system in the industry. Valve has been saying since the beginning that they intend STEAM to be a delivery system for multiple developers and that they never intended to keep it to themselves. While they designed STEAM with independent developers in mind (Cutting out the middleman publishers and publishing a game via STEAM goes a long way for a small developer), there is no reason why EA can't use STEAM as a vehicle to publish their games. Part of their agreement with Valve may include the right to publish EA games on STEAM, a prospect that is positive for both EA and Valve.

So what is the point of this post? Simple. Even if you absolutely hate EA, you have nothing to worry about. Valve isn't going to change, and you will be able to continue purchasing Valve games without dealing with EA at all.

Monday, July 18, 2005



I keep walking down the road and thinking to myself, gee, I should blog about XYZ. But of course I always forget what I was thinking about and never blog about it.

Here's about the only thing I remembered that I thought I should blog about: More tourists. I've started seeing them in little packs touring, of all things, MALLS. I was at the Tims in the Cathedral mall, and there were two groups going by, with the tour guides pointing at things and speaking in what I think was Italian and Spanish. Are Montreal malls REALLY that interesting?

Oh, and in response to John Cormie, here's my commute. 28.5km and it takes me 60 to 75 minutes. It's part on foot, part bus, and part metro (subway). The subway is obviously the part that goes under buildings and ignores the roads ;) You could say that Pat has me beat distance-wise, but since he goes by car his commute is shorter than mine time-wise.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Up the zigurat, lickety split!

Those of you who are into science fiction are no doubt looking foward to this friday, when the US cable channel SciFi proves that it deserves it's status as science fiction juggernaut. SciFi has aquired or developped THE three biggest (budget/audience) north american science fiction shows. This friday in one three hour block, ALL THREE premier.

I'm going to talk a bit about where the new seasons of these three shows are going (I've been keeping up on statements made by the producers of the various shows). So consider this a ***SPOILER WARNING***. I won't summarize the last seasons of each show, I had done that last time I tried to post this but a power failure ended that ;)

Battlestar Galactica

Obviously President Adama is going to be off his feet for a while. Colonal Tigh will be taking over command of the fleet for a while, and it isn't exactly going to be a smooth ride. The President will fracture the the fleet into two halves following her coup. Lee Adama is placed under arrest for his part in the coup, but is allowed out of the brig to fly missions, since the Galactica is so pressed for pilots. Baltar is soon going to have Six out of his mind and will have to face life without the pressures she places upon him. Also, they plan to remake a classic episode from the original BSG. I won't say what happens, that'd be too big a spoiler, but if the word "pegasus" means anything to you you'll know what I'm talking about.

Stargate SG-1

Well, RDA is leaving the show, and will be present for the first three episodes to make a transition. He requested that the door be kept open for O'Neill, so we'll see him again as a guest star much like we did with General Hammond. SG-1 has some new castmembers; Ben Browder from Farscape will be taking command of SG-1, and Claudia Black, also from Farscape, will be reprising her roll as Vala for a while until Amanda tapping (Samantha carter) is able to return to the show (She was pregnant during the hiatus). SG-1 is going to face a new threat from the Ori, a race of ascended beings who force civilizations to join their religion, or face destruction. With the Goa'uld out of the way as the main badguys, along with the replicators, the Ori are going to take over as the main baddies.

Stargate Atlantis

Earth's new battleship, the Daedelus, arrives from Earth, bringing us some new cast members. Remember AD Skinner from The X-Files? He's the new commander of the Daedelus. The ship also features an Asgard navigator. Ford gets infected by the Wraith and is changed. He leaves and forms his own group of fighters addicted to a Wraith drug, and battles the Wraith. The Wraith are still around, but Atlantis is hidden from them.

I guess that about sums it up. I don't recall as much about Atlantis's new season as SG-1 or Galactica, but that should give you an idea of what is to come.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005



It's always so strange to see tourists while walking to work. They go by in double-decker tour buses, and in throngs holding digital cameras and camcorders.

Having been born and raised on the island of Montreal, it seems so strange to think of people actually taking a vacation here. When you live in a place your whole life everything seems so blasé that you can't imagine anybody wanting to vacation here when you're busy thinking about how to take a vacation AWAY from here.

Remind me to take some time to play the tourist this summer and visit some of the main attractions :)

Monday, July 04, 2005


Ach, mein eye!

102 minutes. That's how long I had something stuck in my eye this morning. It might seem silly, but it was slowly driving me insane. Luckily it fixed itself shortly before I got to work.

Friday, July 01, 2005



I present to you my contribution to InsaNiti. I certainly can't draw as well as Bogdan, certainly not while drawing on a trackpad and determined not to use the line tool :) Either way, the concept should get through ;)

Click for larger version

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