Friday, September 08, 2006

Wii360 vs Playstation 3

In December 2004, I talked how the DS would be competing with the PSP. At that time, both systems had just launched (well, DS launched both in the US and Japan while PSP launched in Japan only) and no one knew how things would turn out for Nintendo. Actually, most people praised Sony for introducing Playstation Portable.... it's kick-ass graphics, a widescreened device that can play movies, music and games!!!!!! And let's see what Nintendo has to offer.... it's.... an ugly, chunky.. system that has 2 screens, a microphone.... and a stylus to work with the touchscreen.. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, it didn't make sense to a lot of people. (At that time, I really did think the DS was ugly, just bad physical design, but I didn't doubt it's abilities and I didn't think that Nintendo was going in the wrong direction.... i did NOT..) At that time, Nintendo kept talking about how games were too complex, and how graphics don't matter. Of course no one would understand, those who actually cared to listen were all hardcore gamers or semi-harcore gamers who don't know how games could possibly be played 'differently'.

Everyone thought that it was really the end for Nintendo. History is repeating itself, history as in N64 vs Playstation 1: Playstation 1 could push more powerful graphics than the N64, it's CD-based media could hold more data for things like in-game videos, it worked as a multimedia device since it could play music CDs. The same applied to PSP compared to the DS.

Things seemed very good for Sony. You could even tell by the launches for each system. There were massive lineups for the PSP in Winter 2004 in Japan and Spring 2005 in the US. It was hard for you to find a PSP since they were all sold out everywhere. Most people got PSPs by pre-ordering. What about the DS? There wasn't much hype at launch.. it sold well since it's one selling point really pushed sales: backwards compatability with GBA games. Launch games weren't the greatest and even with those games, people couldn't fully understand what the fuss is about with the DS. It sold well but you could still walk up to a store without lining up and just buy a DS.

Every gamer you asked said that PSP was going to kick-ass and the DS was just a toy made by Nintendo, whose products are kiddy and 'gimmicky'. Playstation fanboys all bought PSPs and avoided DSs, like Nintendo just to 'kiddy' for them (and some still foolishly do that today).

However, shortly after launch, around mid 2005, it became clear: Nintendo DS was doing well, and the Sony PSP was not. Nintendo had previously stated that, they will rise to heaven if DS works out or they will sink to hell if it doesn't. So true is that statement, because Nintendo was selling LOTS of DSs, and the games were actually fun. So where and how did things go wrong with Sony? Of course, it's not just the fact that Nintendo's doing too good, the PSP has many many turnoffs.. too many: super LONG loading times before you can actually get into gameplay, short battery life, a portable system that's not durable (quite the oxymoron), an analog stick that just doesn't work good, expensive UMD movies that aren't selling, and most importantly - disapointing games. I must say that things look really grim for PSP.. how can you compete with the DS? Especially now that DSlites alone (not counting DS phat) is out and it's outselling PSPs 10:1 in Japan?

Today is Friday, September 8, 2006. Yesterday, Sony announced that they'll have to postpone the launch of the PS3 in Europe until March 2007. I remember back in 2005, there was a lot of talk about the PS3, how it's coming very soon and it's going to be a million times better than the PS2, just because it's PLAYSTATION 3!!!!! but it might not come out til 2007... A lot of people were confused.. how can they wait so long, 2 years..... when we're already talking about it being released really soon? Nah, there's no way it'll take that long to come out. Well now, Sony has made it so, which just shows how much power they have to truly disappoint. Sony initially said that PS3 would launch in Spring 2006. Anyone who truly knows Sony and the video game industry would know that that's impossible and that Sony's saying Spring 2006 just to make gamers wait a 'few' months and to keep them from buying an XBOX360 which launched in late 2005.

In E3 2006, when Sony made the pricing details for PS3 public, gamers were NOT happy...
$499 USD and $549 CAD for the BASIC pack?? Many noted that with $499 USD, you could buy a $299 USD XBOX 360 Core Pack + a $199 USD Wii (Assuming that the Wii will sell for less than $199 at launch.. historically, Nintendo has never priced their launch consoles at more than $199). A few weeks ago, Sony announced the slogan for Playstation 3: "This is living".... now THAT is something I don't understand.. are you trying to say that I'm not living if I don't buy a PS3?

In my opinion, Sony, being the arrogant tech (not gaming) company that they are, are going to face a financial disaster within the coming months by taking this huge risk. They've already invested billions in R&D into blu-ray and the Cell processor. Not many people are going to be able to afford a PS3 and most people will not buy into the High Definition movies hype. They haven't even launched PS3 yet and the ONLY news that comes from Sony is bad press [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12*].

*People (especially, ESPECIALLY Europeans at the moment) are super pissed at Sony, so pissed, that they created a website to show how they really feel about the European postponement: Compared to Nintendo? They've been getting only GOOD press lately: [1 2 3]

So what's going to happen when the Wii launches? Will history repeat itself? History as in Nintendo DS vs Sony PSP..... Wii'll see... yes Wii shall.

"And now you say, you want a Revolution. Well, we've got one!" ~Satoru Iwata, E3 2005

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's finally MAY!

Yes, the month when so many things happen. Exams, E3, Ottawa, Nortel, internship, marks. I feel like I'm coming up with tags. Anyways, I can't believe I didn't make a blog post for an entire.. 5 months! Holy cow. I know that I didn't make a post for a long time, but I didn't know it was almost half a year. Hopefully that won't happen again. I do want to this blog to be a big part of who I am.

Electronic Entertainment Expo
Pre-E3 accouncements: Nintendo Wii .. Mmm.. OK, even as a Nintendo fanboy, I can definately say that I like Nintendo REVOLUTION a lot better, especially with those official logos Nintendo presented during E3 2005. I liked it, but I suppose a codename is just a codename and Nintendo does have to give it a real name for marketting and branding purposes. The more I think about it, the name Wii has really sunk in. Nintendo Wii. Although I WAS intrigued when the name REVOLUTIoN was first announced in E3 2005 with the little o representing Gamecube minidvd games..

Like IGN's Matt Casamassina said, Sony and Microsoft are going to be coming to E3 with guns loaded and Nintendo better be prepared. As with every E3, everyone comes with big announcements and games to show. Watching people play the Wii was pretty neat, especially when there are 5 hour lineups for playing 5 minutes of Wii. Sure, Sony was the one with the biggest announcements by announcing price and launch date, Microsoft is the one showing off a lot of games, but Nintendo is the one that came to E3 with DIFFERENT and QUALITY games. Microsoft boasted a spectacular launch lineup for Xbox 360 but the games shown at E3 for the Wii tops it, by far, not that they'll all be ready for launch day, but from the looks of it, they'll be released during the launch "window" period. The games that I absolutely must play on the Wii are: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Smash Brothers: Brawl.

.......OMG... common Sony, first you copy the rumble pack and analog stick from N64, now you're gonna take motion sensing. You guys obviously can't innovate. Sure, there are those who say that Sony DIDN'T copy Nintendo since Sony has been working on motion sensing technologies in controllers for more than 2 years, but it doesn't change the fact that you included motion sensing this generation just because Nintendo did. Your campaign for better graphics, more multimedia capabilities and faster processor is going to break your bank. $600 USD for a gaming machine.....? That's like.... an entire paycheque or 2 for the average hardcore gamer who wouldn't have high paying jobs for you to take money from. What else, "rumble was last generation, movement is this generation." ~ Phil Harrison. WTF? Are you guys retarded? PS3s aren't going to include rumble feature and you're trying to convince us that we don't actually need it? We all know you're not including rumble in controllers because you lost a lawsuit that almost got PS2s pulled from shelves. I can't stress this enough, but PS3 is going to spell disaster for Sony, and for the video games industry.

Games games games, with just better graphics with a very robust online gaming platform: Xbox live, but you're forgetting that some people are still not willing to pay to play online, especially if/when Nintendo's going to build an online platform and let people play on it for Frii. It's good that PC games can be easily ported to Xbox 360 and that dev environment and dev tools for developping games are advanced and easy to use, but..... you're still losing money. =/ The entire Xbox division has NEVER made money for Microsoft, so eventually, you're gonna have to think of a way to start making money or start scaling back on your push into the gaming market. Sure, you've gained a 1 year head start ahead of Sony and Microsoft, but you can only take so much market share from Sony especially when there are distractions like Nintendo Wii and the entire 'motion sensing in games' idea..

Nortel Internship in Ottawa
OK, the internship. In the comp-sci program I'm in at UofT, there's something called PEY (Professional Experience Year) where you spend one year after 2nd or 3rd year (preferably 3rd) of your studies to start applying your developed skills, your passion and the things you learned in school so you aren't lost once you graduate and come out to look for a job. There were multiple rounds, the 1st round is where a large number of people get placed and when tensions are high because you're competing against EVERYONE (even engineers, for the placements that I truly wished I got back then [ATI]) for a placement. I had 2 ATI interviews in 1st round and I was so nervous. I screwed up the 1st one since I didn't have my r?sum? with me, assuming that they would have it. The interviewer tells me that he forgot to print it or something and there's no WiFi so he can't go online to view it.. Great.. Well, at least most of the questions were technical. I answered the large majority of them correctly but with not-so-great presentation. Then the 2nd ATI interview.. I made the mistake of letting him know that I'm really into graphic acceleration but I don't actually own an ATI card but rather an nVidia card.... oops, that must have pissed them off. Well, then came the day when the placements would be posted online, kind of like those high school "DID YOU MAKE THE TEAM?!?!!1" environments, where a frantic kid runs up to the bulliten board to look for his name, but doesn't see it and then proceeds to sink into depression. Ya, that's what happened.

There was a little break, about two weeks, before the continuous round job postings were listed. I was so withdrawn. I needed to know why I only had 2 interview in 1st round yet I applied to so many. I spent, literally, HOURS every night taking a look at my r?sum? and making changes, some big, some small. Over those weeks, I separately saved my new r?sum?s, giving them revision numbers. At the rate I was saving revisions, I would have had more revisions than there are Final Fantasies. Now that I look back, there are definately HUGE leaps in improvement.

I got a call on my cell one day in late-ish March while I was at home studying. I thought it was the most bizzare thing, I know it's not my gf cause we just talked earlier and she knows that she needs to give me time to study. I picked up the phone and it was someone named Ken McCarthy from Nortel. [ =D !!!!! ] Wow I can't believe they called.. Ok stay calm, what does he want..? A phone interview! I'm always good at that.. I always do better in phone interviews than in-person interviews

Now that I look back at the positions I've been interviews for:
Verifications Engineer@ATI
Technical Writer@IBM
QA Specialist@Net Integration Technologies
Intern Developer@Clariy Systems
QA Specialist@InSystems
I can't be happier than I am now to be offered the placement of being a Software Tools Developer@Nortel. Surely, being a software tools developer for 16 months beats doing 16 months of testing slave work at ATI or the smaller firms such as NIT and InSystems (Verifications Engineer and QA Specialist are just fancy names for TESTER). Hmm.. IBM.. well, surely it's a highly well known tech company with a lot of history and reputation behind it, but technical writing.. at first I was a bit interested. I can do technical writing. With practice, I can do quality documentation. I love writing, not essays though, but documentation is good. I even brought 2 piece of references with me: 1 2 and he even tells me that I'm his top choice unless his last interviewee turns out to be a superstar. The next day, I find out that indeed, his last person to interview turns out to be a superstar.. I guess my 2 pieces of references didn't impress him much.. I was a little down about that, but now that I look back, being a technical writing definately doesn't directly relate to what I'm looking for. Surely, being place with Nortel is the best case scenario. I'm not even going to comment about Clarity Systems.. I got an interview the day I submitted my interview, got interviewed the next day, and then received a rejection e-mail the next day. It went so fast I don't even remember much of it.

Exams and marks
CSC263 - Data Structures and Analysis
CSC336 - Numerical Methods
CSC343 - Introduction to Databases
CSC318 - Design of Interactive Computational Media

Well, all my marks are finally in. I can surely say that marks don't matter as much to me anymore. Definately not as much as they did since high school days when getting high marks was easy. Let's see.. ouu...! I passed CSC336 and CSC263!!! Horray. I thought I might have failed 336, considering how insane that exam was.. Now I know why the autofail borderline is at 30%.. I.. seroiusly think that that course needs to be re-structured. The assignments do not reflect what's expected in the midterm and exam and there is too much material presented, much of it is .. well, boring and is never applied. The beginning unit of the course was interesting. It's much like CSC258 material except it's less technical and more mathy. What really threw everyone off is the fact that.. Tom Fairgrieve would take 20 minutes talking about super complex concepts related to errors and how math relates to it and such, where no one understands anything he's saying but are just blindly writing whatever he writes on the board and are scared to death because they don't understand the material and then he'll move onto spending 20 minutes explaining every single little detail to the algorithm of matrix multiplication.......... very strange... and scary.. Hmm.. CSC263.. I expected more out of this, but it turns out it's my lowest mark this term. Oh well, I learned a lot. I especially learned that surrendering your marks using the "I don't know" rule helps, and it's just not worth the time and effort to blindly elaborate on what your partially know. This has to be my most enjoyed course this semester. Sam Toueg is, well, from Princeton, that's pretty much all that needs to be said... but I'll elaborate: Toueg is a prof who can teach CSC263. He is so enthusiastic when he's up and lecturing, it draws you in. Long before taking the course, I was told that CSC263 was one of the hardest courses in comp sci, however, there is a prof who is very amazing at teaching it. Unfortunately, he would only teach it in the 2nd semester in the 2005/2006 school year. I was a bit behind in our courses and no one would want to wait that long for a course that should have been taken in 2nd year. I knew that taking a hard course on my own not knowing anyone would be hard, but I also knew deep inside that it was the right thing to do. I would wait for Sam Toueg and do 263 on my own. I've already decided that I'll be taking 5th year anyways, so there is no rush. On top of that, the fact that Michelle Craig is teaching in the 1st semester really makes me sick.. I'm a bit shocked.. only 2 people have rated Sam Toueg on How can this be? He is one of the best in the comp sci department. Shame on you all who have taken 263 with Sam and haven't rated him. So that's CSC263.. I passed.. I really enjoyed that course.. CSC343.. At first, the lectures were really easy to understand...... too easy.. so easy to understand that I would fall asleep because Ramona Truta would speak so softly and then blame it on the acoustics of the room .. -_- .. The assignments SEEMED hard, but they really weren't. The lectures were quite (I don't want to say it, but) useless.. yes.. I didn't understand most of the things she said.. Most of the time, I would just refer to the lecture notes for reference. Learning SQL was cool though and SQC (embedded SQL in C) too.. pretty neat stuff.. but I doubt I would be applying that stuff anytime soon. CSC318.. at first I thought it was the course where you learn OpenGL, graphics and such.. but I guess not, it turns out to be a course with a lot of courseload, but in general, quite easy, but just a LOT of material to cover, a LOT of work that needs to be put into it, but still a breeze course compared to what I still need to go through in CS.

Internet Naming
OK, so SCUMBAGS took my nickname DeepBlade for eBay and Skype many years ago, but I'll have the last laugh! I got to register