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Thursday, June 30, 2016

DUDE! There's been a significant breakthrough in battery life research, dude.

No matter how good we have it, people as a species are never satisfied. So what if there is a magical rectangle in our pocket that gives us immediate access to our friends, family, cabs, and the near entirety of all great works of literature? The battery life sucks. BALLS. Our garden variety lithium ion batteries break after only 7,000 charges.

If the apocalypse struck tomorrow nearly all electronic devices would be bricks within 2 years. But the intrepid researchers at UCI have found something. Using gold nano fibers in an electrolyte gel made of plexiglass... well let's just say they made it to 200,000 mutha fukin' charges.

This is still decades away from mass production, but I distinctly remember a TIME article years ago had scientists grumbling about it not being possible. Basically this is the biggest step forward for batteries since 1989.

Blade Runner in Glorious Watercolor.

This came up on the podcast a few days ago. Thought I'd enshrine it here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

First one's free....

The first episode of Outcast is on you tube for your demonic possession based pleasure. If nothing else (and this show is something else) the opening sequence is the best I've seen since Dexter.

DAMN It's good to be back.

After a little fun trouble shooting (one of the great joys of playing old pc games) I'm back in Darksiders II.  Most forgotten gems will get a shout out from me but little else. You're on your own, "Xcom: The Bureau!" But Darksiders II is the underappreciated hill I choose to die on. Sure it hardly has any original ideas and the 2 games amount to what is essentially just Todd McFarland's Zelda. But it's made up of so many moving parts that all fit together so perfectly! It also helps that it's got just enough wit and humor to make the bog-standard sword and sorcery narrative go down smooth.

It's art direction is, quite frankly, age proof. It's loot, combat, and platforming are all flawless. If you haven't given 2 a shot, please do. What else are steam sales for?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ok... the new ghostbuster's theme song is "by committee " garbage.

Them' Koreans sure know how to poster.

I'm still holding out hope the new Ghostbusters movie will, at the very least, skirt by on it's amazing cast. But the audio production side is in CRISIS. This is a classic "what do the kids like these days?" reverse engineered disaster. Which is weird because fallout boy played ball with Big Hero Six a few years back and while it may not be that great of a song, it's got one hell of an instrumental hook.

What the hell, Fallout Boy? What. The. HELL?! 


Monday, June 20, 2016

I've made a huge mistake.

Gaze into the abyss and despair.

Do you like Kirkland natural peanut butter? Really? You do? You seriously wished peanut butter was more like oily roofing tar? Because... Jesus I can't eat this sh*t. I'm usually on board for leaner, less sugary food. But not like this. Not like this. See, most food passes through one's mouth with relative ease. This crap establishes occupation forces. It took me almost 15 minutes to get through two pieces of toast.

It's like spreadable cardboard, gritty and flavorless. I've never ever thrown out $10 worth of groceries, but if you made me choose between finishing these two jars of super glue and a bullet to the brain, I'd really have to think about

Friday, June 17, 2016

Keanu and Popstar flopped really hard, you guys.

Two well received comedies in the last couple months have been box office poison. Keanu could only scare up 9 million and Popstar... Popstar barely cleared 4. You know what? Fine. Who needs movies, Comedy? You've been amazing these last 10 years on tv. Parks and Rec, Key and Peele, Bojack Horseman, and way too many others to name here have all flourished under reasonable budgets.  Plus the last best picture they gave you was in the 70's. The goddamn 70's.

The Academy never respected you, Comedy. Maybe this split is for the best.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Chris Avellone has arrived.

The man I created a twitter account for the sole purpose to tweet at has been writing a big budget shooter. Prey is now officially a Chris Avelonne joint... actually it looks like he just punched it up a bit. Still! He's helping mold actual facial animation that isn't frozen in a dead eyed stare. I love New Vegas way more than the next guy and still... that facial animation aged like milk. I could NOT be more pumped for this sci-fi ground-hog-day shooter rigamarole.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Jesus LORD, do I want a domesticated fox

50 years ago soviet scientists bred the aggression out of wild foxes to learn how dogs came from wolves. Though arcane and torturous international trade dealings some people have gotten their hands on a couple "domesticated" foxes. Half of a cat's hunter instincts with half of a dog's high energy playfulness makes a pet hybrid I didn't know I needed in my life. I would LOVE it if I came home to a dog that would play-stalk me like a delightful fuzzy kato.

For now I'll just have to settle for youtube videos...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Crackpot Theory: Battleborn's Loot is tactically brilliant.

BB may have a soft spot in my heart but my eyes are not immune to it's shortcomings. If you're having second thoughts, by all means, wait for a $30 price drop. That's fair. But I do want to talk about the loot because it's AMAZING.

They tweak everything from running speed, area of effect skill cooldown times, sprinting speed, shield piercing, healing power, just anything and everything. But you can only use 3 at a time and it's usefulness usually comes at an equal price. They all run on an in-match currency called shards. Low level loot'll run you about 300 shards. Epic loot like the generous refund policy up there is worth a whooping 1800! There is no way you'll be able to use it until about halfway through a campaign level and that can be an eternity. Even if you have the greatest possible loadout, if you're not "good" you're gonna get wiped long before you have a chance to use any of it.

But there is an opposite side to that spectrum. Most white loot is garbage, but some come with no shard cost at all! You can just boot em' up immediately. Like this one do-dad that gives me 1.5 healz per second at the cost of -15% reload speed. A harsh trade off for a sniper... but what about a melee character that has no reload at all? You could run the board early in a PVP match and I have done so!

The checks and balances with Battleborn's loot are polished to a mirror sheen. It's a shame not enough people are playing it. Or even talking about it... siiiiiiiiiiiigh.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Steamy Racism

We JUST stopped talking about Anita Sarkeesian.

In any given group of people... some are going to have a pretty cruel view of society. I'm done calling people "racist." I find "cruel bastard" far more appropriate. I also find there are entirely too many steam users with their panties in a bunch over the Watchdogs 2 protagonist being an African American. But hey, this'll sell 2 million easy and these f**kers will shut up. Because marketers have already figured out that they don't financially matter. As much as I commend Ubisoft for doing this, it had to have taken a mess of market research to prove this decision wouldn't hurt them. Then the bastards will internalize their impotence and we'll all go back to quietly ignoring the fact that too many gamers use this medium as a way to reinforce their sh**y world view.

Soon they'll have nowhere to hide.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Battleborn Review: This is Spartan.

I know what you think about Battleborn, but baby... lemmie try to change your mind.
I don't get much time to blog these days, usually I have to "need" to blog. I either loved or hated or felt deep concern about any given article I've written. I've seen three times as many shows as I've talked about. So with Battleborn, I feel concern. Everything said about it is true. It's too little too late. Overwatch has already decimated the player base and essentially won over the press and fans.

As my blogger buddy Chance devastatingly pointed out to me a few weeks ago on the podcast... "nobodies talking about it." I barely talked about it myself, but I just couldn't stay away. I don't have it in me to play something for 60 hours just to make a point. I genuinely can't stay away from it. Allow me to explain.

Gearbox curates a gameplay loop that they've been slowly refining since the first Borderlands. For some reason, no one else quite has "it" and it's really hard to explain. I think it may all be about their head shots. In games like the last couple Tomb Raiders, the aim assist is so intense I can regularly get head shots by accident. For some reason, no matter my load out and no matter my weapon, in gearbox's games I always have to do the right amount of work. It's not too hard or too simple. It's a delicate alchemy tailor made. It's also perfectly captured in Battleborn.

I think it's funny when people say Gearbox isn't funny.
What is unfortunately true is that this puppy was rushed out the door. The two PVP modes only have 2 maps each and the campaign is a paltry 8 missions. It feels like there should be 12-15. Maybe this was all designed. Too many missions or modes and the player base gets divided. That's just it, you can reason away everything wrong with this game in the name of balance. How can you make a game that is essentially for everyone at any time?

Only good at FPS? Oscar Mike plays exactly like every single Shooter McCspace-marine you can remember. He even has a couple fun twists to pique your curiosity. I know I wanna play Halo with lava grenades and "sick ass space lasers." What about Elder Scrolls? There's an otherworldly sword and board gladiator with your name on it. My point is, every character is genuinely fun to play. I haven't exactly tried every one of the 25 "Battleborn." But I've gotten pretty far with more than half and only 3 have actively disappointed. I don't even know where to begin to pick a favorite...

If I'm in a rogue mood, I'm Reyna. A pirate queen with a laser cannon, magnum pistol, and a dead eye. I tend to go off by myself to find loot and she can hold her own to a point. Her real job is buffing the team's shields and eventually putting up bullet walls. As soon as I see my team going down I Errol Flynn like a motherf**er. Shielding friendly's from death, taking down enemy captains, and generally saving the whole goddamn day. She's amazing.

Or Mellka the chick with a jade claw for one arm and a machine pistol that launches grenades when you reload. She's crowd control and DPS in one snazzy package, plus her faction (of space elves and stuff) regenerates health so if you have loot that gives her a shield... I've gone too inside baseball haven't I? My point is that even though there is a dearth of content, each new character could honestly hold their own if they were the star of a 12 hour single player game. No. I'm serious.

Picture a Saturday morning cartoon that knows exactly when to curse.

Battleborn is almost a new game every time you dive into a different character. I never would have thought I'd enjoy being a healer until I had two pieces of legendary healer loot foisted upon me. I've been having a blast with my ninja mushroom medic ever since. And it should be noted that Miko, unlocked from the start, changes back and forth from a male voice over to a female voice over. Because he/she/them is a colony of spores! It may be a step removed from a real issue, but gamers can be a depressingly prejudiced and sensitive bunch. They did not have to go that direction and they certainly didn't need to make that character a cornerstone of the posters and marketing. Kudos, Gearbox.

In the end, a multiplayer game lives and dies by it's player base. And in that case... death is near. We peaked at 10,000 and are now stuck around 2,000 on PC. It won't be long until it's free to play and it won't be much longer after that when the content support dries up. It's a shame. Though the folks that are left make the most of it. Not a single person has been rude to me or anyone else.

 If I played as someone like Reyna in a Call of Duty player base at least ONE little f**k is going to say something stupid about her full figure. Not here, we're all just happy folks are still out there. No one, as long as nobody has run ahead and screwed the whole team, is going to say anything nasty. And I've played public while miked with a friend who happens to be a woman. Nobody did anything weird and she has only the nicest things to say about her time with the game personally. Isn't great she only feels comfortable in games with a DOA player base?  Sigh... one topic at a time, McCracken.

It may not be a great game, but I've had a great time with it. Strong characters, a decent but brief campaign, a delightful community, and a fine loot/leveling system make it a memorable experience. Sometimes in spite of itself. If I had a 10 year old brother back when I was in high school I'd be playing this with him every. single. day.

I think you've confused Reyna with someone who takes sh*t.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Well... damn.

Allison Road, the great dark hope of the horror gaming community, is now cancelled. We will have to look for our photo-realistic first person supernatural survival horror fix elsewhere. Damn.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Nice Guys Review: What about the birds, man?
I love almost everything Shane Black has done. Including Iron Man 3 and especially Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The latter is the single greatest movie of all time. I have sources! Key and Peele think so. I can't find the clip, but trust me on this. He has a simultaneous love and disdain for masculinity and you never know if he's going to glorify or kick it in the balls. But mostly he kicks it in the balls with a style all his own. 

After one of my favorite opening shots ever (of the decrepit the 70's Hollywood sign) we might as well be in a foreign country. That decade was gaudy, drug addled, and hideous. Only a hard boiled PI story could do it justice. Audio snippets of the sickly sweet ads for "The Waltons" clashes wonderfully with the pastel colored hellscape that is 1970's Los Angeles. And indeed, the set design almost makes the whole movie. I won't say the city was also a character, because that's hack... but I'd be fine if you made the comparison.
Crowe plays a lonesome old body guard who just wants to do what he's best at and get a little respect out of the bargain. He dreams about becoming a PI so he can finally go legit. But Gosling pops into his life to turn all that into a nightmare.

Gosling (a PI single father) crosses paths with Crowe while on the hunt for a missing woman (who Gosling knows is dead but takes his fee anyway). One thing leads to another and soon they're both pulled into a circus of murder and arson surrounding a single unreleased pornogr- uhhh... art film. The story's just a goof. It's solid but don't peek behind the curtain too hard. It actually makes a lot more sense if you've seen "Who Killed the Electric Car?" but I digress. The film is entirely character driven and all the better for it.

Crowe is the soft spoken straight man to Gosling's panicky lout of a PI. He has an arc over whether or not he can be both a killer and a "good" guy. But this is the Ryan Gosling show and he mostly stays out of his way. I don't care what you thought of Ryan Gosling before this. I don't care if you hated Drive, this is a comedic performance that's once in a generation. This is a Gene Wilder level mastery of humor and pathos. Holland March is an all time comic drunk. A man who lost half of everything he had and knows he will never get any of it back.

There's real sadness behind his eyes in every scene and it's honestly what makes it so funny. He has real talent for investigation but can't shake the drunken monkey on his back. The highest comedy beats of the film all stem from him coming so agonizingly close to cracking the case and then failing masterfully. He's somehow the most lovable deadbeat dad possible.
In Shane Black-land... it's Christmas every day.
His daughter, in a career maker performance by Angourie Rice, is an emotionally scarred Nancy Drew stuck in a Lethal Weapon mystery. Hi-jinks. Ensue. It's rare you see a young actor this frikkin' natural and even rarer to have a story that gives her so much to do. She's kinda her dad's chauffeur seeing as he's a step away from blacking out at any given moment. Every time you think she's going to bring the buddy cop vibe down, she only grounds it. Because seriously, how many noir detective stories pretend kids don't exist? 

Amidst all the family drama, gun fights, pithy rejoinders, and all the gory visual details of Carter era California; this movie transcends being just another buddy cop joint. It's the rare flick that's smarter than it wants you to think it is. I personally had to be shushed by the couple next to us. That's how much it got to me. It's not the best movie I've seen this year (I sincerely hope Zootopia gets a best picture nod) but there just ain't nothing like a Shane Black picture. They may have finished last at the box office but there's no better time at the movies right now. Go. GO!
The hell are you still doing here?!