Sunday, March 04, 2007


I rent a lot of DVDs, and a continuing problem is that maybe one if five has so many scratches that it pretty unwatchable.
CDs and DVDs are awesome technology, but come on, it's been over twenty years, how come nobody has invented a disk which does not get scratched if you look at it sharply? Seriously.
Or even just a DVD player, a box or in a computer, which does not keel over and throw its legs in the air in the presence of scratches. How hard can it be to program it to not freeze or crash, but just skip to the next place on the disk which is scratch free?

It seems to be emblematic not just of technology but almost anything human that there are these amazing things, but they always have all those huge, obvious flaws. Weird.


Pascal said...

Why didn't anybody yet think of making CDs and DVDs that remain in their own casing, like floppy disks did? Or, for that matter, the new UMD concept of Sony's PSP.

Jes said...

Dude, I know what you mean. I've always had a sort of love/hate relationship with technology. As of right now, I'm on my third Playstation 2, and I'm starting to suspect it might be going out. My original Playstation stopped working completely after it was struck by lightning...apparently God decided it was time for me to take a break from the video games.

"Pascal 2 : the Return of the neighbor's distant relative", said...

I don't plan to buy any of the new machines right now. I've still got loads of games to play on PS1 and PS2. (Enough to last me a journey to Mars and back!) And an EVOLUTION instead of a REVOLUTION doesn't motivate me enough. PS1, now THAT was novelty.
Heck, I still play some 8-bit games! A good game is a good game, period.

However, I feel that if I was given the choice of a gift to receive, I'd go with the Wii, because it's so cleverly innovative. And for handhelds to PLAY GAMES with, the DS would be my first choice. At last a fresh new way to play on the go!
(Of course, I'd love to order them ALL from Santa!)

I've never had a Nintendo machine before. But damn, they make good stuff these days! Fine efforts, worthy of my recognition.

Besides, I'm still sour about Sony censoring the boobies on the PS2 version of BMX-XXX. WTF? It was 18+ anyway!!! The other machines had complete versions. ):-P
While violence and blood are still "perfectly okay". Bah!...

As an anecdote, old B&W GameBoys, now obsolete as Western entertainment toys, are being recycled in a beautiful way. An NGO has designed a special cartridge for them, that turns them into portable ECG machines for third-world heart patients. The machines have very cheap market value today, exist by the millions, and work on common batteries for a very decent time, so it's a superb project.
And great PR for Nintendo, too. :-)

eolake said...

I read that PS2 machines are gathering dust on the shelves. And that Wii machines are flying off them.

I've only every bought one game machine. Wii.

I played it twice, then I got tired of the very poor control I had over the ball. For instance in bowling I couldn't throw a gutter ball even if I tried.

Jes said...

"I read that PS2 machines are gathering dust on the shelves. And that Wii machines are flying off them."

Well, you have to keep in mind that the PS2 has been around for several years now. Pretty much anyone who was going to own that has already had it for a while now. I can definately see the appeal of the Wii though. I might end up getting one myself.

"Besides, I'm still sour about Sony censoring the boobies on the PS2 version of BMX-XXX. WTF?"

Video games can be a good indication of how screwed up our culture is. You can see someone being killed in every goofy way imagineable in a Mortal Kombat game, but breasts are apparently too obsene. Though I think this is going to change in the next several years or so.

"Heck, I still play some 8-bit games! A good game is a good game, period."

Possibly my favorite game ever is Street Fighter II. I first played it when I was 7 years old, and I've been obsessing over the series ever since. I still play those original games every once in a while, and I love them as much now as I did then.

Pascal said...

That would probably be the new machine, PS3, I believe. Too dang expensive, anyway. In Lebanon, it is already available... for $900-1100!!!
You should normally enjoy the Wii greatly. But maybe sports games aren't your cup of tea. Mine neither. And they often have very un-intuitive control anyway. Especially unusual stuff like bowling.

The PS2 masterpiece, Okami, has such "move=action" control. You might very love that game to bits. You control a goddess in the form of a silent white wolf, that leaves flowers in its footprints when running. The graphics look and feel like ancient traditional japanese paintings, down to the parchment texture! And for a tool/weapon, you use a "Celestial Paintbrush". Select your drawing style, and use it. For instance, "Fill" allows you to draw a ford over a river, repair a broken bridge, or complete a constellation that's missing a star. "Slash" does just that : a fine line across the enemies becomes the cut of an invisible sword. You just freeze the image by going into drawing mode, use your brush with the analog stick (a bit like a PC mouse), and it changes the world the second you're done.
I feel if there's one videogame that you're sure to like, Eolake, it's this one. Really unique. It's already a legend.
But you need a PS2...

I spent hours on MK-Trilogy, with the one-hit kill code and the one-button fatality option, just to watch every single of these outrageous fatalities. Obviously, they're deliberately goofy. And yet, gory too. Not for kids. But this ninja-bunny Animality? LMAO!
Sony has already begun changing policies. There are many bare breasts in God Of War. (Sometimes non-sexual, too.) And the "sex minigame" becomes even funnier from being off-screen and just suggested. Yo, Kratos is KEWL! That was another excellent game. The sea storm in tle first lever left me in awe for several minutes.
And a sequel is coming. :-)))

Jes said...

Lol, my favorite is in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where the dude pulls a rabbit out of his hat and then beats the guy to death with it. What a way to go...

And God of War is probably my favorite action game ever. I can't wait to play the sequel.

eolake said...

I doubt I'll ever be into gaming in and off itself, but I am interested in visuals. (For example, design of game pieces.) And Ōkami sounds a lot more interesting that way than Doom 13 or whatever.

Paskal Kontrast said...

Doom Umpteenth? Bah. Strictly for FPS buffs. At least, Magic Carpet had oriental legends atmosphere, and a very decent strategy component. I still play it.

God Of War is also very well made in the visuals department. Realistic Ancient Greece, nothing like Okami, but you haven't seen a sea storm until you've seen THAT one. Seriously! You just look at it, and you feel wet shivers and a fear of drowning.
I'm not sure whether the game displays meadows or snowy landscapes, though. And don't expect any interesting industrial town visuals, either. ;-)

I liked Kung-Lao's Friendship, where he tosses his razor hat, frisbee-like, for a doggie to fetch... ("Yipe!" Oops!)
There are a few bugs in MK Trilogy's finishes. Sub-Zero's "Coolest MK Fatality Evah", the spine rip, happens on a suddenly black screen, and you only HEAR it. Unvoluntary humour : gore legend Mortal Kombat censoring the sight of a fatality, LOL!
I think it is also the ninja Sub-Zero whose Animality does nothing. He just strikes a pose, the opponent drops, and... "ANIMALITY (roar!)".
Oh, Sub-Zero, you're a regular animal, you are... Maybe that's why the chicks fancy you so much? :-)

Eolake, something very cool has been said about the character in God Of War : "Kratos is the only known macho who can look a pair of topless cuties steadily in the eyes."

Another non-standard PS2 classic you might like is Rez. It's not a music-playing game, and yet it's all about sights and music. And let's not forget the awesome duo of Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus. For all lovers of beauty and imaginative adventures. (Santa? You listening, man? The name's Eolake, in Lancashire.)

On another note, the deliberately all-immoral Seven Sins turned out VERY funny. Best adult game with humour, I believe. This guy aims to climb the social ladder from the bottom by being totally devoid of morals... but he has to manage the delicate balance of his own weaknesses. Namely, his levels of anger, stress, lust... and guilt! Five minutes in the game, I had never seen a more creative and entertaining concept. Deceivingly simple to grasp.
Oh yes, Sony is definitely shifting its standards. They accepted an excellent adult game of the non-bloody kind here. And according to Wikipedia, they're not complaining about adult UMD movies in Japan, because they help selling the PSP.

Back on topic, a while ago, I read about the disposable DVD movie. You buy it new, for the price of a rental. After a week's time from opening the sealed wrapper, the special plastic exposed to air turns opaque, and you have to throw it away.
Great for solving the problem of scratches. But a guaranteed huge environmental pollution! I really hope they don't go on with it, for the sake of the planet. You can't Reduce, Reuse or Recycle such a gimmick.

ttl said...

I am with you here, Eolake. In particular concerning the error resilience of DVD player software.

I can see that making the medium scratch free is next to impossible --- after all even a dust particle can obstruct the laser beam and thus cause read errors.

But there is no excuse for the software to not handle such instances gracefully. Its not a trivial problem to deal with any conceivable form of data corruption on the disk, but certainly possible.

In my experience the software players, such as for example Mac OS X's DVD Player fail on errors in the medium much more easily than dedicated hardware players, such as my Sony DVP-NS76H.

I rarely rent DVDs so I haven't been experiencing this as much as you. But the problem you describe can only mean that online distribution of video content will take over even sooner, and the days of the DVD disk as a distribution medium are numbered.

eolake said...

"In my experience the software players, such as for example Mac OS X's DVD Player fail on errors in the medium much more easily than dedicated hardware players, such as my Sony DVP-NS76H."

Sometimes it goes that way for me, sometimes the opposite.
It is rare that the sony box completely hangs up, but it can often stutter and stutter and stutter.

eolake said...

" the days of the DVD disk as a distribution medium are numbered."

O, abso-friggin-lutely!

The moment online distribution is fast and easy enough, DVDs will go downhill fast. T'was ever thus.

Pascal said...

Fast and easy? Not anytime soon in countries like Lebanon! And they are many, I'll bet.

I can't even receive the images on this blog that are over 500K, because they always get cut off at some point. Non-DSL dial-up... :-(
There have been promises for high-flow internet for years now. Last time was announced for April 2006. And counting... ):-P

Anybody still wonders why the Lebanese don't believe in politics any more?

signalroom said...

Pascal you're not kiddin. I sent a children's book to you and Carl, a lovely present from New York heading straight toward Beirut, snail mail, a month and a half ago. Maybe more. Hmph. I had to write the contents on the address label. Do you think they'll believe me?

Patient Pascal said...

Maybe. But only after official verification.

Okay, this was a sarcastic joke. But any mailed audio or video cassette will be viewed/heard by State Security. And that "formality" billed to the receiver. No fib!

Have these paranoid conspirationnists never heard of a little gizmo called "the internet"? Apparently not. :-P

Pascal said...

P.S. : Did you make sure to write it IN ARABIC? Not all of these upstanding law men are college graduates in foreign languages, you know. ;-/

(Being "parscastic" again.)

Pascal said...

Echoing my very first comment, we do have UMD here in Lebanon, modern us!
It stands for Utter Mental Decrepitude, and is sold exclusively by the Government. (But very inexpensive.)

Pascal said...

Went out today, and found GodOfWar2. Woo-hoo! "Kratos, SMASH! Run, puny humans."

But still nothing in my "snailbox", Laurie. Dang! The only way to live long in Lebanon is by being vewy vewy patient! On the other hand, snail mail being so... "sluggish"(!) is quite normal here. I'm sure it'll arrive. Eventually! Probably in less than 3 months.

"Hope is not a way out. It is a way through." (Author unknown)