April 4th, 2009


Suzuki Hits The Road

Yu Suzuki is phasing himself out of the entertainment business.

Admittedly, Fumika Suzuki is much cuter, but she's just a model, she didn't design games.

Suzuki was an aspiring guitarist who, according to his own admission, "No matter how much I practised, I never got that much better." He also couldn't pass the entrance exam to dental school. He wound up working at Sega as a programmer, where he created a pair of little games called Space Harrier and Hang On. (Space Harrier will always have a warm spot in my heart. I hadn't played the arcade version, but I had it on my beloved SMS, and it was the first game from the then-new generation of consoles that I couldn't get enough of.) He then came up with Outrun and After Burner, and his reputation was set.

Suzuki continued to climb to prominence with the creation of Virtua Racing. Then he made Virtua Fighter. Pioneering the use of polygonal 3D, it was a purist fighter (other fighters in the arcades at the time were fantasy based combat, like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct) that got people talking. It was the first Japanese video game to be a part of the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation. In addition to its sequels, he also started the Virtua Cop franchise.

One of Suzuki's best known achievements, though, is the creation of Shenmue. A different approach to quest games, Shenmue is officially the second highest development budget in the history of video games at $70 mil (it held the record until GTA4 came out, topping out at $100 mil to make). It and its sequel garnered a dedicated, hardcore following, but it was a cult following -- mainstream gamers weren't impressed with the sanguine pacing and pretty much rejected it. Suzuki has been trying to develop a Shenmue MMORPG, but it hasn't really gone anywhere.

Suzuki is "retiring" (Sega's word) from his duties as R&D creative officer for Sega. He is relegating his duties to manager of R&D for Sega's AM Plus studio. I imagine it won't be long before he leaves that behind, as well.

Farewell, Suzuki. You have definitely made your mark on the gaming world. Too bad it couldn't have been for longer.

If You Can't Say Something Nice, Say It Where They Can't Read It

Cynthia Moreno was a student at University Of California At Berkley (you know, the birthplace of UNIX and LSD, so draw your own conclusions). She had a MySpace page where she wrote a little ditty called "Ode To Coalinga". "The older I get, the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga," before going on a massive rant about the place.

Well, a fellow named Roger Campbell, the principal at Coalinga High School, saw this and forwarded it to Pamela Pond, who edits the hometown paper, the Coalinga Record. Hometown pride took over as people started harassing Moreno for what she wrote. Her parents claim they got death threats and someone took a shot at their house. The parents' 20 year old business lost a ton of customers and had to fold up, forcing the parents to move out of town. So, they decided to sue Campbell, Pond, and the Coalinga Record on the grounds of invasion of privacy.

The judges ruled that the damages portion can go forward for the death threats and such, but as far as invasion of privacy, no dice. Because she posted the information to a publicly accessible web site, that made it fair game. Moreno claimed that she only used her first name, so there had to be some detective work to determine her identity. The judge basically laughed at this, pointing out that her page had her first name, her picture, and that anyone that knew her could discern her identity from reading her posts. Basically, she opened her mouth, she got nailed for it, and it's all her fault.

This is symptomatic of the world at large. With the rise of Political Correctness came the idea that everyone has a right to not be made fun of. While this is true for a lot of things (disabilities, homosexuality, non-Christian religions), it started being applied too broadly to every little thing a person does. Not only that, but it soon mutated into "Because I'm doing this, it shows my personal courage and defiance of the Establishment" when all it made them do was look like loons (including so-called "artists" who put up umbrellas in a park and declare it art, and anyone who doesn't get it is a moron. "The fact that you do not appreciate my genius proves you are not one!"). It took what was a matter of public liberty and forced it through the sausage press of personal choice. It overlooks a very basic problem -- you cannot control what other people think of you. Spin doctors work their magic on the media, not necessarily the public at large. There are some people who, when they first meet me, think I'm one of the smartest, coolest guys in the world. There are other people who think I am the biggest loser in the world, and they would think that even if Jesus Christ came down from Heaven, slapped my back, and called me "homeboy". The only right I have with the rest of the world is the right to be left alone. That doesn't mean, however, that I have the right to have everyone only think great things about me. That's narcissism bordering on megalomania.

We've seen plenty of times where people get fired from jobs for posting things about their work. Tom Tomorrow started drawing cartoons for a Xerox-lore newsletter, and even though readership was barely in the double digits, he still used his pen name. People forget that the world doesn't always pay attention to you, but when it does, anything you say can and will be used against you. Anonymous isn't just legion, it is protection. Heed it.

"All You Have To Do Is Pay $400!"

April 15th is the last day to get your taxes done.

April 14th is the last day Windows XP will be generally supported. This means that it is "extended service," so if you have any problems, you'll be paying for them. This is especially amusing as you can still buy computers from the store with XP installed (Kylie, my IBM S10, originally had XP, and that was this past December). Especially netbooks, which can't handle Fista. "We will let XP be installed on netbooks because Fista is bloated, but you better hope you don't screw it up. Or just buy a Fista machine and you get free support, hint hint."

M$ has also announced that April 14th will also be the last day of widespread support of Office 2003. 2003 still has its fans as it has the familiar interface, is less bloated than 2007, and doesn't have the Uh-OhXML crap baked into it (it was a few months ago that I ran into my first document that needed UhOhXML installed to open. By way of contrast, I was running across ODF's the day it was standardized). M$ is recommending users upgrade to 2007, pointing out that crackers (actually, M$ said "hackers", but hacker != cracker) are exploiting an unpatched exploit in PowerPoint2003. Will it be fixed in time? Where do you think I'd put my money? (Oh, extended support ends on April 8, 2014.)

Doncha just love planned obsolescence and vendor lock-in? There are plenty of free (as in beer as well as speech) office suites out there that will do everything you need them to do ($400 just to get TEMPLATES? Are you fucking shitting me?!?). At this point, if you are too chicken shit to at least consider an alternative because you think paying $400 is an indication of quality, you deserve what you get.