Late last Spring semester I was interviewed for Texas Tech’s per-semester magazine, Tech imPRESSions, for a story about video games and gaming culture. That feature ended up being the cover story of this semester’s mag. You can read it online, for free, here:
Archives For August 2010
Telltale Games’ Twitter account has been teasing a new game trailer for a little while, which would debut on GTTV soon. Well, it is now “soon,” and the new teaser is extremely short and mysterious. It is also not for Telltale’s upcoming Jurassic Park or Back to the Future games, which would have been my guess originally.
So what can we draw from this? Well, obvious silhouettes are Sam from Sam & Max, and Strong Bad from Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People, both games that Telltale has made in the past (Strongbad is of course famous from HomeStarRunner.com).
The other two characters teased? Well, it looks like Tycho from the webcomic Penny-Arcade and a Heavy from Team Fortress 2, neither of which Telltale has ever had any involvement with at all. ::EDIT:: Kotaku user Foxhack has corrected me on this point. I had completely forgotten (partly because I never play TF2) that Telltale gave away exclusive TF2 items to people who pre-ordered Sam & Max Season 3 on Steam. So there’s at least some connection there.
Also, both Tycho and the Heavy seem to be holding a hand of cards. Is this some sort of cameo-crazy card game? Telltale has experience making Telltale: Texas Hold ‘Em a long time ago. Could this be a sequel to that? That would be my guess, personally. If not Texas Hold ‘Em, then another, similar card game, in which you can play as some classic game characters.
We don’t even know what platforms the game is coming to. Hopefully we’ll know this and more come Sept. 2nd.
It also begs the question, though: Where is Episode 2 of Puzzle Agent?!?
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
I didn’t make any crazy changes to my textbook purchasing routine this year. No rentals or digital downloads. I pretty much just drove up to Varsity and grabbed every used book I needed, holding off on a couple in case I’d rather order them off Amazon.
It’s kind of a bummer, though. This is my senior year, and I think I’ve been harboring some secret hope that I would be downloading textbooks directly into my brain &- “Johnny Mnemonic” style &- or at least taking advantage of one of these new, supposedly cheaper methods of obtaining textbooks by now. But so far, I’ve yet to be convinced to change my ways.
The Daily Toreador did a good story in our Thursday issue about bookstores using such new methods &- such as textbook renting &- to lower prices and bring in more revenue. I saw evidence of the popularity of renting when I bought my own books, as many students were filling out paperwork in order to rent their books.
It seems like a great idea, and I’m anxious to see how people react to this alternative to buying new books. But I’m just not ready to be part of the test market yet.
It definitely helps that I’m an English major. Many of the books I’m required to buy are novels or short story anthologies, which don’t run too expensive and which I often like keeping for my own collection anyway. I’ve also had good luck with kind professors who try to keep costs low. I once had a class with Brian McFadden, an English professor who was quoted in The DT’s textbook story, and he practices what he preaches. Required texts were inexpensive.
But I wonder if renting and eBooks are truly going to be the future, or if professors should still try to think outside the box in order to help students out.
For instance, I’ve had more than one professor who’s only required text was a $20 book printed at CopyTech. It helps when professors look at what they need to teach and think, “Hmm, all of this content is free online, so I’ll either provide print-outs or give students links.”
Obviously this just isn’t possible for every class, for a large variety of reasons (content availability, copyright restrictions, etc.), but wouldn’t it be great if it were? As more and more content is being made available online (supported by ads or what-have-you), I wonder if we should be looking for brand new methods or educating students.
I do think the written word is extremely important &- I definitely don’t think we should be moving towards some sort of all audio/video format &- but even that is evolving. With more and more schools providing laptops and even iPads to students, a lot of doors are being opened for ways to obtain information.
I personally thought pretty strongly about purchasing one of Amazon’s new Wi-Fi only Kindle eReaders, with the excuse that I could buy cheaper textbooks on the device (but the real reason being I could read more novels between classes). But I’m just not sold on the idea of purchasing digital textbooks, considering you can’t resell them and I’ll never want to look at my history books again after finishing their respective classes.
I’m curious what the Tech student body thinks about the future of textbooks as a whole. Did you go digital this year? Did you rent? How are those methods treating you so far? Let me know on DailyToreador.com, because I’m still on the fence. And besides, I’ve still got next semester to potentially join you guys in the textbook future.
Daily Toreador – Peele: Digital textbooks, rentals lowering prices, but are there better solutions? http://t.co/INcInkN
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
As a slightly independent but pretty conservative Christian, my view on the gay marriage debate has in the past been something like, “I don’t care if they have the same rights as heterosexuals, but I wish they wouldn’t call it “marriage.’”
I have both family and friends who are homosexual, and I don’t think any less of them for their sexual orientation. Whether or not I agree that their actions are unhealthy for themselves and/or society at large, I’ve never been one to support the banning of things that I may or may not agree with. I don’t like people getting drunk, but I don’t want to ban alcohol. I don’t like Jar Jar Binks, but I don’t think we should ban the “Star Wars” prequels. (Well, maybe that one would be OK.)
But at the same time, I treat the idea of marriage as very sacred: two people united by God to spend an eternity together. I acknowledge, though, that the ceremony and practice of marriage is a very human invention. All God or Jesus ever said on the subject was that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matt. 19:4-6)
He didn’t talk about marriage certificates or laws or wedding receptions. He just talked about man and woman being together forever as partners. He spoke a little about divorce, but he was still addressing Jewish law as it stood at the time more than saying, “Here’s the book on marriage.”
But if marriage is really supposed to be two “soul mates” entwined for eternity, then the word “marriage” was tainted a long, long time before Proposition 8 was reversed.
We’re living in a culture where atheists are married by justices, pastors marry divorcees, and drunkards are married by Elvis in Vegas. It’s been a very long time since marriage was just for the religious, and none of us (religious or not) are setting a very good standard for the practice anyway.
Knowing this, I have to ask: What have my fellow Christians really been fighting for? That battle has already been lost, but some of us have failed no notice. Let’s focus on more important fights.
Yes, I would love for other people to follow God’s commands and advice not because “God said so,” but because His advice seems to be pretty good, on the whole.
But trying to force people to do so is, I believe, the wrong course of action.
It used to be said, “They will know you’re a Christian because of your love.” Now people say, “I know you’re a Christian because you’re against abortion and you hate gays.” Regardless of how we feel about certain issues of morality or politics, we should be trying to show people Christ’s love in more effective ways.
With the money we’re spending to fight a lost battle, we could be making serious dents in the battle against AIDS. We could be helping the homeless and feeding the hungry. We’re wasting our time and energy fighting for an already lost term.
All that said, earlier this month I proposed to my girlfriend. We intend to get married by a pastor in a small ceremony in front of family and friends. We’re following tradition, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, I’m not sure that any of that really defines what I think of as “marriage.” We’ll have a license from the government and the approval of a church, but that isn’t what’s most important. What is important is that she’ll be the Eve to my Adam, a partner that I wouldn’t be able to live without. We could call it marriage or a union or whatever, but that doesn’t change what it is and should be.
Maybe it’s time to give up the fight for marriage, the term. Fight instead for marriage, the idea, which no government can ever change or taint.
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
Way back in Spring 2008, I wrote a column for The Daily Toreador about reviving classic video game franchises for the modern era. I discussed the problem some franchises were having with the transition from 2D gameplay to 3D, as well as then-upcoming games like “Bionic Commando.”
I asked readers to tell me what classic series’ they wanted revisited. I got responses like “Donkey Kong Country” and “NBA Jam,” and I offered some suggestions of my own, such as “Kid Icarus” and a new 2D “Sonic” title.
A mere two years later all of the above franchises are going back to their roots, and it doesn’t stop there. Multiplayer classic “Goldeneye 007″ is getting a pseudo-remake for the “Wii,” “Kirby” is coming back to consoles, and 8-bit graphics are now considered “hip.” Companies left and right are jumping onto the retro bandwagon. And speaking of bandwagons, who downloaded the new “Oregon Trail” game on their iPhone? I know I did.
It all sounds great, and seems as if our wishes are finally being granted by the gods of gaming. But now the question arises: Are we getting more than we bargained for?
This classic comeback is extending to more than the great games you and I played growing up. You might have cheered when they remade “Tecmo Bowl” as a downloadable title, but what was your reaction when Atari announced a new “Haunted House” game?
Yeah, “Haunted House.” I don’t blame you if you don’t remember it. It was an old Atari 2600 game released in 1981 where you explored a dark and allegedly haunted house. You knew it was dark because you could see your character’s eyeballs and little else.
Though I didn’t play the game when it came out (1981 was seven years before my prime, or birth.), I’ve played “Haunted House” as an adult, and it’s not bad for what it is. You can check it out on Microsoft’s “Game Room” via the Xbox 360 for a couple bucks if you’re interested. It’s a cool little game, and a remake might actually be fun.
So here’s the problem: As we gamers are spending more and more money on titles that toy with our nostalgia, more developers are going to see this fad as nothing more than an opportunity to gain some quick cash. When that’s the case, the quality of the revivals will go way down, and we’ll be forced to see our childhood memories stomped on like Mario on a Goomba.
Don’t get me wrong. I still really want some of these games, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the titles we’ve received so far. But maybe that just means I’m part of the problem. If Capcom knows I’m going to buy another 2D “Mega Man” game the second it’s released, why shouldn’t they release it?
Maybe it’s a good thing that developers are still trying to find good ways to modernize their franchises as well. The upcoming “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” has the potential to finally be a good 3D game bearing the “Castlevania” name. As much as I crave new 2D castle crawling adventures, it’s good to see new technology taken advantage of.
But we can’t strive enough for originality, either. What would happen if we played every new “Zelda” title, but ignored “Portal”? Or “Mass Effect”? Would we have missed out on “Halo” if we had all said, “That’s OK, I’m waiting for a new “Perfect Dark’”?
I’m cautiously optimistic about the future of this retro revival. I’m excited to see what developers will do with my beloved franchises, but I’m really worried that we’re going to get too much of a good thing. Or too much of a bad thing, whichever the case may be.
Daily Toreador – Peele: Christians already lost marriage battle http://t.co/CArHQxY
Daily Toreador – Peele: Gamers hope for great retro revival http://t.co/gz3tOhL
For the first time ever, I have an actual hosting account. Just like all the older, cool kids have! As such, this layout might be pretty temporary, as I play around with different themes and see how often I can break things by messing with the codes.
I’ll be working on getting content on all of the pages ASAP – particularly links to my previous works (columns, game reviews, etc.). The Daily Toreador website, which currently hosts a majority of this content, is currently down, so some of that will have to wait. But in the meantime maybe I can stroke my ego by adding other stuff.
Anyway, along with the usual news, reviews and previews that I write for The DT or other sites, I hope to blog here more often in an effort to just get quick blurbs of my opinion out there for people to read and comment on.
Also, I’m pretty excited that the site can be viewed on a mobile device pretty smoothly, now. So you can read my narcissistic thoughts while in class or on the bus! I’ll also working on getting the RSS feed and all that set up.
Read! Comment! Enjoy! I’ve hopefully got some exciting projects that will be started soon, so I’m anxious to get new stuff to you guys.