My Morning Surprise

Earlier this week, I was walking over to my car so I can go to work.  As I was walking towards it, I noticed that the windows looked pretty dirty.  Seeing that I washed my car just the other day, I was upset.  I wash my car primarily to clean the windows.  In the morning, I have to drive in the direction of the sunrise, and in the afternoon I have to drive in the direction of the sunset.  So, if there was even a bit of dirt on the windshield, it would be very difficult to see through it.  I also try to not use the windshield cleaner/windshield wipers so that I can prevent smearing the dirt and making it 100% worser.  I asked myself: “Who would do this?”  Did someone use a leaf-blower near by and kicked up some dust/dirt onto my car?  Did a pickup truck pass by with a pile of dusty stuff in the back and as it passed by my car it deposited a good helping of dirt onto it?  Well, upon closer inspection I noticed something very interesting.  It wasn’t dirt, it was ash!





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yes people, ash! This took me totally by surprise.  But I shouldn’t have been.  If you have not heard yet, this week, Southern California is practically on fire.  However, I live at least 30 miles from where the fires are at, so I thought I wouldn’t see any physical indication of the fires, except for the very hazy skies that have been looming over socal for the last few days.  When I realized it was ash and I was surprised by myself noticing that it was ash, I immediately  thought of a particular line that Travis Grady said in the game Silent Hill: Origins.  Travis, after almost hitting a person with his big rig during his stormy night commute through the town of Silent Hill, he stepped out of his semi to see if the person was alright.  As soon as he got out, the weather changed and it got foggy and a light dusting of snow started to cover the region.  After the weather changed, he saw a glimpse of a person running down the street.  After running some distance down the road, he approached a house and noticed that it was on fire.  When he noticed that the house was covered in flames, he said: “That wasn’t snow, it was ash!”




Well, that’s what I thought he said.  Guess I was wrong.  My memory has failed me yet again.
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Capcom VS SNK: Art Book Fighting 2009

 I recently purchased some art books related to video games and decided to review them and pit them against one another.  One is a Capcom art book and the other is an SNK art book.

2009 is the year we make contact!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
The competitors:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Title: Capcom Design Works
Year Published: 2001
Pages: 240
Region: Japan
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Title: SNK Illustrations
Year Published: 1996
Pages: 192 pages
Region: Japan

 
 Capcom VS SNK
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 This is going to be a match to remember. FIGHT!
  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Capcom has many years in the gaming industry and has various franchises that have become poplar throughout the past few decades.  The company also strives itself in creating new installments for these franchises all the time.  This art book showcases many of those franchises and will show off many different aspects from them.  From character models, to beautiful multi-paged image spreads, to CG designs.  This book has it all!  Each image or illustration spread even includes designer comments and info on what design tool was used to create it (e.g. Photoshop).  Unfortunately, the designer comments are in Japanese, and since I don’t understand Japanese symbols, I was unable to read the comments.  Each artist also has an avatar next to their comments that illustrates themselves.  A neat thing to side note is that artist Toshiaki Mori, pen name Shinkiro, has illustrations that are included in both art books!  Yes, Shinkiro originally worked for SNK, but lost his job there when the company went bankrupt in 2001.  Capcom immediately hired Shinkiro and had him work on many different projects.  Some of his current work includes Dead Rising and Bionic Command Rearmed.  You can see his work in the art book for the Capcom VS SNK game.  Below are some pages from the Capcom art book.
 



 
SNK, like Capcom, is also a seasoned company that’s been in the industry for a good length of time.  It too, has a few franchises that have been popular throughout the last three decades.  Right off the bat, the first section of the book shows all of the characters from The King of Fighters franchise.  Well actually, this book focuses heavily on characters.  Usually, it’ll show illustrations of characters doing some odd ball stuff.  For example, you will see Terry Bogard playing a fighting game on a Japanese arcade cabinet or you’ll see a cast of characters around a Christmas tree.  Some general information related to some franchises will be noted towards the end of the book.  The last few pages will show off some rough sketches of characters.  And yes, as mentioned above, a lot of Shinkiro’s work is included in this book.
 



I enjoyed both of the books very much, but in the end, I preferred the Capcom art book.


 

 
I felt that it contained more variety as compared to what was shown in the SNK book.  With Capcom, the art styles between each franchise were very dissimilar and seemed to show a unique feeling to what the franchise represented.  Also, Capcom appears to have more artists, so many different art styles were shown.  SNK, on the other hand, seemed to have a similar style throughout the book.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it appeared more bland compared from what Capcom had.
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 

 



 

 

!

 

Udon's Art of Capcom



To be continued?
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1000 Points!











I’m excited that I’ve finally surpassed the 1000 point mark for uploading content to giantbomb.com!

I think this bit of music fits the occasion quite nicely.

ACT COMPLETE!

  

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The Xbox “720” Controller - My Thoughts Regarding It

I was thinking about this the other day and decided to share my thoughts about it.

Before I begin I would like to note a few things.  1) Anything described below are only ideas I thought about.  This is has nothing to do with any rumors or speculation on what’s in store for the next generation console.  2) Don’t talk about fight club.  3) I believe this discussion needed some illustrations, so I photoshopped a few images to help visualize what I’m talking about.  The quality of the images are not important (I did not want to spend a whole lot of time making perfect images).  4) Yes, I agree.  It’s very, very early to start talking about next gen consoles, but I wanted to explain what my thoughts were for the system.  Now let us begin!

I was wondering what Microsoft was conjuring up for their successor to the 360.  Primarily, I was thinking about the controller.  What are they planning to do differently compared to the current controller for the Xbox 360?  What kind of new functionality can we get out of the new system to consider it “next gen,” but still keeping the control layout similar to the current one?  Should it include a new type of feature that might propel Microsoft into a market they have not yet ventured into before?  Well, I came up with a list of items that I think will suffice most of what I have just explained.  If you don’t want to read the details and just want a summary of what I’m about to explain, go to the very bottom of this blog entry.

Display

Yes, a screen will be placed on the controller and this will be the primary new item for it.  The display will be the center object for most of the ideas I have for the “720” controller.  It
The Xbox 720 controller
will replace the Xbox Guide button, but will have the same functionality (explained later).  First off, the display will be an OLED screen.  One of the primary advantages of using OLED compared to an LCD display is that it consumes less power.  Obviously this means better battery life.  This will be definitely needed if a wireless controller were to have a screen put on it.  The size of the display would be approximately 1.46 in × 1.02 in (37 mm × 26 mm).  This is the same size of the display for the Dreamcast’s VMU.  The screen size would be big enough to be used without straining the eyes, but small enough to fit onto a controller that’s roughly the same as the 360s controller.
The display will have two physical purposes.  One is to be used as a, well, screen, so that the player can see the images that are going to be displayed on it.  The second is to be used as a button.  Similar to the SurePress feature for the Blackberry Storm, when the display is pressed down, it will give the player the felling as if they pressed down on a physical button.  Pressing down on the display will give the same functionally as the Xbox Guide button does for the current Xbox 360 controller.  Double-clicking the screen will show the controller number and the battery life.  The screen will display colors and will not be a touch screen.  The player will also have the ability to adjust the brightness of the display.
While on XBL, the player's gamercard will be displayed onto the screen

When the Xbox is not online, the display will show the Xbox’s “X” symbol.  When logged into Xbox Live, it will show a mini version of your gamercard (gamertag, gamer picture, and gamerscore) along with an envelope if you have a new message.

Battery

The battery will be internal and non-replaceable.  It can be charged whenever it’s attached to either the console or a PC via a USB cable.


Internal flash memory

This will be used so the player can store Micro games onto the controller.  The storage could be a few gigabytes in size.


“Micro Games”
A box for a console game displaying that it supports Micro games

Similar to the VMU for the Dreamcast, the controller will have the ability to store “Micro games” onto its internal flash memory.  This will allow Microsoft to enter into the handheld console gaming market.  They will call it “Micro games” as opposed to “mini games” because it will offer more than just a bunch of short played games.  It will be a new feature that supports a game that is played on the 720 console.  The controller will actually be the handheld gaming console when considering Micro games.  This means you can play the Micro game without the need of the main console.  After transferring the Micro game from the 720 console onto the internal memory on the controller, just put your 720 controller into your backpack and play the Micro game while on the go!  The console game will have to support this feature in order to have a Micro game on the controller.

Below are a few examples of the main console games supporting the Micro games feature:
- An RPG game.  Are you going on a trip, but want to build up some experience for your character?  The Micro game will have a few mini quests that will, along the way, allow you to gain some experience points when battling monsters.  When you get back from your trip and connect your controller back to the 720 console, all of the experience points and items you have acquired when playing the Micro game will be transferred back to the main game that’s played on the console.
- A fighting game. Micro game will offer a training mode so you can practice learning moves for characters when you are not going to be near a console for a while.  Great for
…while the Micro game for it might be simpler
The graphics for the game on the console will look amazing…
practicing during your lunch break while you are at work.  The display will show the character you have chosen and he/she will execute the moves you wanted the character to perform.
- Driving games.  Have the ability to modify the performance of your car.  All modifications will be applied back to the main console game.  Track maps can also be available so you can memorize the track layout.

In conclusion, Micro games will get the best of both worlds.  It’s not a watered-down console gaming experience (PSP), and it’s not just a bunch of mini games (DS).


Speaker

The controller will have stereo speakers and will probably be placed somewhere underneath the controller.  Speakers will be used for the Micro games.


GPU

To render graphics onto the screen.  Will be able to render 2D and 3D graphics.


“Gameplay Supplement”

When playing a game on the Xbox 720, the screen on the controller will display custom animations or images that will enhance the gameplay.
Resident Evil game supporting “Gameplay Supplement” feature

Below are some examples demonstrating this:
- When playing a football game, a series of images will be displayed on the screen of the controller.  The team’s helmet that the player selected will be displayed.  Next will show the current score for each team.  An event such as a touchdown, safety, or interception will trigger the screen to show some crazy and wacky type of animation (something similar to what would be displayed on the big screen at an actual football game).
- A game like Resident Evil could show health status and number of bullets remaining in the clip.
- A fighting game will display the character that the player chose.


Well, that’s everything I wanted to discuss with you.  Could any of this really be implemented into a controller? Will it be difficult for developers to create material for these features?  Does anyone care for this stuff? I don’t know!?  What do you think?  I would like to hear your opinions on this.


Summary

- OLED will replace the Xbox Guide button
- OLED screen will be a click screen.  Similar to the Blackberry Storm.  Clicking down on the screen gives the same functionality as the Xbox Guide button does for the current Xbox 360 controller.
- Brightness controller for the screen
- Internal rechargeable battery
- “Micro Games” – A VMU type game that will enhance a console game.  Can be played without the console.  Take it on the go.
- Similarly design to the 360 controller (they have already found the “perfect” design), except that it might be a little bit taller on the top to accommodate a slightly larger screen.
- Display on the controller will show the player’s gamercard when logged into Xbox Live
- When playing a console game, screen will display custom animations or images that will enhance gameplay.
    - Madden Football = the team’s helmet that the player selected will be displayed.
    - Resident Evil = shows health status and/or number of bullets left in the clip.
- Internal flash memory to store “Micro games”
- Tiny speaker(s) for mini games (similar to either the PSP or iPhone)
- GPU to render graphics onto the screen.

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Google Maps + Street View + Tokyo = Many Hours Lost

You can now “drive” around the mean streets of Tokyo without even leaving your house!  Yes, Google Maps has added the street view feature for the Tokyo, Japan region.

You can use street view when the little stick figure is yellow.  Click-and-drag the yellow stick figure and drop him on a street that has a purple line on it.  After that, the street view window appears and you can now start viewing the streets as if you were actually there!

Yellow Stick Figure












Below are some places I found interesting while looking around the Tokyo region with street view.

Shibuya
Shibuya











A Sega arcade?
A Sega Arcade?











Akihabara
Akihabara











FNN News Building
FNN News Building











7-Eleven
7-Eleven










Oh, and by the way...Happy New Year!
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NES Nikes

I dig it!  I appreciate how subtle the designs are and the tones of gray give it its finishing touch.

NES Air Max





I gotta ask, is this shoe bringing us one step closer to the pair of Nike’s Marty wore in Back to the Future II?

“This is heavy.”







Originally found here.

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Dreamcast VGA Adapter

I recently got myself a Dreamcast and I love it!  However, I noticed how horrible it looked when it was plugged into an HDTV via composite cables (the yellow, red, and white cables).  The colors of the video looked very washed out and the sharpness was very cruddy.  It was so bad that I even considered not playing it on an HDTV because it looked so terrible!  I needed a solution, so I checked the web to see what was out there.

VGA input on my HDTV

Luckily, Sega was on top of it when they designed the Dreamcast because they also made the system compatible with VGA (way ahead of its time when considering that the Dreamcast came out in the US in 1999).  This was great news for me because my HDTV has a VGA input.  I found a store on EBay called fourtriangles and they sold their version of the VGA cable for a little over $13.00.  After testing it out, I’m happy to say that it works…beautifully!  WOW!  You can see every marvelous pixel on the screen!  The sharpness is fantastic and the colors are vivid and pop out right at ya!


VGA adapter from fourtriangles











There is, however, a negative side to outputting your video via VGA.  Not all games are compatible with VGA output.  The upside to this is that only a small amount of games are branded as not compatible.  Check out a compatibility list by clicking here.

I took some screenshots comparing the video output between the composite and VGA cables.  The pictures were taken with my digital camera and not with some type of throughput capture device.  Yes, this means I took pictures of the display from the HDTV.  Even though I took the comparison images this way, you can still see a significant difference of output quality between the two types of cables.  View the full gallery of comparison images by clicking here (check out the original sizes to see the true details).

Test 1 with composite
Test 1 with VGA









Original Size of image for test 1 with composite

Original Size of image for test 1 with VGA



Test 3 with composite
Test 3 with VGA









Original Size of image for test 3 with composite

Original Size of image for test 3 with VGA


Later!

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Silent Hill Easter Eggs

Since it’s close to Halloween, I thought this would be cool to share.  I ran into this forum thread the other day that shows many easter eggs that are found throughout the first Silent Hill game.  I knew a few easter eggs (like the street names), but I didn’t know that practically almost every poster, sign, and business was a reference to something.  The references are mostly horror related.

Portishead poster in game
Portishead source material














12 Monkeys reference in game
12 Monkeys source material













Pulp Fiction reference in game
Pulp Fiction source material










Happy Halloween!


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The Mr. Sega Cell Phone Strap

While adding content to the Hidekazu Yukawa page, I got a little carried away with my research and I bought a Yukawa cell phone strap on Ebay from a guy located in Japan.  This was a limited edition item that was given out when the Dreamcast first launched in Japan.  The actual strap is colored orange and attched to it are two items.  The first has the Dreamcast logo on it and the second item is Yukawa himself!  Apparently, the Japanese text on the white board says: "Ganbare!! Yukawa senmu" (Cheer up!!-Do your best! Managing Director Yukawa).

Yosh!










I took many images of the cell phone strap.  Check out the gallery by clicking here!
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