Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Grammar?

Seen in a Toshiba add on the front page of 1Up.com:

"The only thing better than blowing away your oponents is being their to see their tears."

Ouch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Console War: Update

Reggie Fils-Aime went and confirmed my fear that enough great Wii games are not going to come out in 2008 to curb my addiction, saying that the business plan they announced at E3 2007 (Paraphrase: The success of the Wii depends on us getting great games in the hands of gamers) is put on hold until "supply and demand curves intersect." He said that "We at Nintendo America are focused on getting to the point when any consumer can walk into any of our retailers and find a Wii. Then we can plan, on an ongoing basis, the rest of the business," which Reuters interpreted as meaning, "Unable to accurately forecast how many Wiis will be sold in the coming months, Nintendo is finding it difficult to plan for new games."

Read the article here.

Why this matters: The Wii is so cheap that people like me are able to rock two consoles from this generation. Also, the admittance that they will focus on production until they meet demand means that they are creating a huge hype bubble that will burst on them once people realize that there are only a handful of great Wii games.

Why this doesn't matter at all: The Wii has two built in backup plans for this: the virtual console and GameCube compatibility. I can rock GC and VC games for ages, all the while waiting for great Wii games to release. Right now I am about five or six chapters into Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and loving it. I've got Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario World, Super Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Super Metroid, Metroid, and Metroid Prime to beat and I am planning on buying Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and some of the Hitman games for GC. This is enough for me. Plus, I usually can't afford to drop $50-$60 on a new game when it comes out. I usually have to save up first.

Final Analysis: The Wii is the casual gamers console. This business plan will work for casual gamers. It works for me at least.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Console War: Wii vs. PS3 vs. XBox 360

I am a gamer. Not a big gamer, mostly just a casual gamer. That should be no surprise to any of you who have noticed that I have a blog dedicated to a single game: GT4. I grew up playing computer games, the original GameBoy, and the wonderful SNES. I still play the last two and I still haven't beat "A Link to the Past." I would love to play more computer games (Crysis, Age of Empires 3, Bioshock, Call of Duty 4) but I cannot afford to upgrade my computer system for gaming right now so I stick to console games.

What am I interested in as far as games go? Anything where the gameplay is fun. I don't like Halo: it's just annoying - there's a room of bad guys, then a hallway, then another room of bad guys ad naseum. (However, the outside levels of the original Halo are fun but too few) I like the original Ghost Recon, all the Gran Turismos, Mario, Zelda, Age of Empires, Metroid Prime, Myst, Knights of the Old Republic, et cetera. I don't really like games that make you save the galaxy, or the planet, or humanity, unless they are fun. That is why I bought a Wii. I thought the Wii would have the fun games.

And I am happy with my purchase. I have had the Wii for about six months now and it is great! I Love Metroid Prime 3, Zelda Twilight Princess, Wii sports, the virtual console, and Gamecube compatibility. The Wii has definitely won the console war up to now. But what about next year? What about 2008?

My prediction is, if the Wii does not get more good games, the PS3 will take over. The XBox 360 is out because the only great game it has exclusively is Mass Effect.

The Wii has had eight: Metroid Prime 3, Zelda Twilight Princess, Mario Galaxy, Super Paper Mario, Zack and Wiki, WiiSports, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and Nights: Journey of Dreams. Upcoming is No More Heroes, Mario Cart, and Smash Bros. That is a great past, but a not too bright future. Nobody knows all the games that are going to come out though, and I would bet at least another three great Wii games come out this year besides those listed.

The PS3 has had four great exclusive games: Resistance: Fall of Man, Folklore, Uncharted, and Ratchet and Clank. Heavenly Sword was good but too short. So why will I be buying a PS3? Because of the games that are coming out: GT5, Echochrome, Little Big Planet, and PixelJunk Monsters top the list of my most anticipated exclusives while Metal Gear Solid 4, God of War 3, and Final Fantasy XIII finish the list of exclusives for me but there's also a little game I'll be skipping called GTA IV that people seem to adore.

The PS3 games coming out are much more fun than Smash Bros, or No More Heroes. Watching the trailers for Little Big Planet makes me salivate. Echochrome is astoundingly simple and challenging, GT5 is an obsession of mine, and PixelJunk looks absolutely amazing. This is why the PS3 will win next year. Nobody really cares about delays or how much processor power is present, gamers care about the games. If the games are fun, they will be played, no matter who puts them out on what console. So in the last round of console wars, the PS2 and the XBox won. In this round I predict the Wii and the PS3. And it all comes down to fun.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tally Sheet:

Part 1:

VTD 344: Done
LARC 383: Done
ARCH 385: Done
FORP 365: Done
ARCH 353: Done

And by done I mean I have finished the assignments, taken the tests, and turned most everything in. Done does not mean the class is over though they will never meet again. This semester was a bank for me. I will be getting stuff out of it forever.

Part 2:

Considering how much Hookah I smoke regularly, and how much more I smoke when I am doing homework, I have been trying ways to measure approximately how much. Bowl counts don't work because I always forget how many. Now though, I have come up with a way. I tested myself over the last two weeks - dead week and finals week - and this is my result:


Two and a half cups of ash. That's about a box and a half of Royal Charcoal Coals made from condensed olive seeds. Granted, I smoke much more than usual during the end of the semester, but that is a lot.

Part 3:

I didn't want to quit this time. There was no "I HATE ARCHITECTURE" this time. I am in it now. I will never get out of it. It is in me. It is me now. It's where I need to be.

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Now that my work is done, posting will resume its almost daily frequency. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Insanity Strikes At The Top (Another Racing Rant)


Formula 1: some of the most amazing machines ever racing around circuits at speeds that scare Richard Hammond, among others. Hands down the most difficult cars to drive. But that is how it should be: the best cars - Scuderia Ferrari, Lotus, Benneton Ford, BAR Honda, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Jaguar, Spyker - requiring a special breed of driver - Schumacher, Fangio, Moss, Stewart, Senna, Prost, Villeneuve, Mansell - to squeeze the car around the best circuits at the fastest speeds, all the while pouring tons of money into research and pushing car technology - turbochargers, monocoque chassis', mid-engines, aerodynamics, tyre performance, desmodromic valves, fuel injection, aluminum in cars, aerofoils - further and further with every passing day. And that is how it has been for 57 years. Basically everything we understand about car's workings today comes from three places: F1, Le Mans, and WRC - in that order. F1 is the massive dick-waving festival. It is prohibitively expensive to play in - making it a very exclusive club to have driven an F1 car - which keeps none but the best out of F1. This is why I love it. This is why I hate it. F1 cars should be able to do this. But you see, there is a slight problem.

In the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the early parts of the 90s, Formula 1 was everything it hoped to be. Almost every year a major change in technology was introduced by one team or another. Rivalries developed and races were always exciting. Now, however, on the television, races are just dull. One or two cars make it through the first corner smash-up to take the race by over 6 seconds - an eternity in F1 time. The race is often won and lost in the pits rather than on the track. Michael Schumacher showed us how the drivers are taking a bit of the power back from the cars. So what has F1 done to counteract this lack of development leading to lack of excitement? Put a freeze on development, of course.

What!?

It fails to make sense any way I think about it. They put a ten year freeze on engine development - the same engine will be used from 2008 through 2017. They restricted aerodynamic research - the only research actually progressing at a pace anywhere close to that of the first four decades of F1. They even restricted computer research. So, if you are in college now, switch your major to Double A and learn how to model and run an F1 car on a computer and you'll be rich in four years. I promise.

F1 is the FIA's cash cow. It does have the biggest dick and the most money. Why are they doing this to it? Yes it needs to be fixed, but over-research isn't what is wrong! Among other things it's these draconian politics that are wrong with F1. Is this a salary cap idea? A way to even everything out? I'm not so sure it is. I mean, now it is more prohibitive than ever to enter F1 - you have to develop a body while working only five days a week, with a restriction on the amount of team members and time spent per member, and then plug somebody else's 2008 engine into it and hope the package works because if it doesn't, the FIA wont give you enough time to fix it. Is this a way to cut costs? No! F1 teams have their own wind tunnels already so what is the use of not letting them use 'em? Attract new manufacturers? Prodrive already made their comment on that one. Now computer engineers and aerodynamics engineers are going to be getting the most money on the team because there are so few of them and so much work to do! Possibly this will allow drivers to take the prominence they deserve. But hasn't that been happening since Schumie left? I certainly know more driver's names since he left than before. Improve reliability? This makes a certain amount of sense but doesn't explain why the rules are so drastic. And also, the first two years under this will be unreliable because the engineers reached so far to get an engine to the FIA by March 31st, 2008 that will win for 10 years.

F1 can never go back to what it was. F1 has to become something else. Making it static for 10 years is not the solution. As much as he was boring because he was so damn good, Michael Schumacher gave F1 a hint of what direction they should go - focus on the drivers. Yes the cars are amazing. Yes they are expensive. Yes they have the biggest dicks. But that is a given. It has always been a given and will always be a given. The driver's are what should be interesting. Since when have we had a Prost Senna rivalry? A Moss Fangio? We haven't in a over a decade! Only in the last year have we seen the start of some beautiful rivalries and now F1 has put the focus firmly back on the cars and engines. This is exactly why I don't watch F1 anymore. I can't handle the frustration at what it has become compared to what it was when I started watching it. This year I watched a few races because of the drivers alone, they have started to interest me again. But F1 just shot itself in the foot and the wound wont heal until 2017.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Speech Almost Given

The design embraces the only human invention: the grid.

The grid is the essential and only human invention. It has become so pervasive that not only is a reaction against the grid now impossible, it is likely that to try and exist outside the grid proves impossible as well. Rather than lacking in appeal, the grid done right has provided some of the most effective landscapes and erection in the history of humanity. From Chinese courtyard housing to Egyptian necropoleis, from Roman streets to American property lines, the grid has become what we exist within. It is more than the sum of its parts though: it is an ideological frame and the field of human thought. It is the basic construct of humanity and perception. So if humanity is not God, if they are separate, then Hundertwasser was correct, "the line is godless." But if humanity and God are connected – or one in the same – then "putting things in order" as Corbusier says, is a celebration of humanity.

The design embraces the grid on multiple levels. Each room is a piece of the grid. Each section of the house is a piece of the grid. Each floor footprint is a piece of the rowhouse. Each rowhouse is a piece of the rowhouses. Each yard is a piece of the private park. The rowhouses are a piece of the street fa├žade, in turn a piece of the block, the neighborhood, the city, et cetera ad nauseum. The design allows each piece of the rowhouse to exist in its own section of greater grids. The grid then is not the mode of organization for the rowhouse, but is the rowhouse itself.

Where Hundertwasser finds a lack of grid more interesting, his buildings still exist within a grid. Corb finds what happens within the grid more interesting but takes that to mean that the architecture should attempt to react against the grid while at the same time creating, or perpetuating, the grid. Neither of these makes as much sense to me as Eisenman's embracing the grid as a design partner. The context of any building is a grid.

The experience of the spaces is largely derived from the user. The user further defines the grid through the stack of commodities they bring into it – it becomes owned – and that ownership defines the experience of the space. The owner's claiming and marking their territory means that a positive experience of the space relies on the relationship with the owner.

And while not trying to give the impression that perpetuating the grid is the only answer to working appropriately with it, it is my answer in this case because of the visibility of the grid within the human context. The grid allows for density. It allows for connection, usability, proximity – all these things a rowhouse wants. And for me it was the most appropriate response because it fits humanity. It is humanity. Rather than trying to design spaces for specific people – designing a space when I don't know the user and their hobbies or habits doesn't seem realistic – my design is for humanity. It separates defined and definable space and allows being within the varying scales of the context of the grid. The grid is all we have and how I addressed it became the design.

On one corner is a grocery market on the lower level. Second floor is a restaurant/wine-bar in a loft space called "Up." On the opposite corner is a basement bookstore, a record shop on the street level, and a classics/foreign theater upstairs. The yards are connected into a community park for the residents and designed by the residents – a portion of the purchase price goes right into the park.


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So I started giving this. Then I just hit upon the main points as the critiquers got restless. Then I could tell they weren't listening, they were thinking, so I folded and they started. Some minutes later I wasn't sure if I did well or not. I sat in the back. For a long time. Then I realized that the project did what I wanted: it spawned questions. And I started to realize how much I grew with this project - especially over the last one. About that time the critiques were over. I was... proud. I knew I was much better for that class. I was sure I could do this. I can do this architecture thing. Than Dillon said, "here's your final grade," and showed me an A. Thank you Dillon. I needed that class.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I Love The Mars Volta

This is no secret. Or at least it isn't now. On a list of top musical acts of all time they are in the top couple. Their music just - uh... um- uh; uh... their music has always scared me with how good it is and how innovative it is. I've said before that this next album is their make or break - it will likely define them as either OMA or Liebskind. Even if this next album sucks De-Loused will always be the greatest album of this decade (probably).

So their new album; I was - and am still - looking forward to it. Seriously. I am. I believed it would tear me in half. Then I read the story behind it. Now I'm scared it might rip me in half. I am more excited for this album than for the Opus X Perfecion X that I have aged for two years and am going to smoke tomorrow night. It doesn't come out until the 29th of January, so why am I hyping it now? Because the internets are my friends and my girlfriend didn't want to talk about this album any more. On the 29th I will be taking work off. I will be too busy trying to find the pieces of my face that got rocked off. And trying to figure out what the hell is going on in the lyrics.