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10:11 AM on 11.26.2008

Weinercast Wednesday

The Weinercast is go at

This week: News, Roguecraft, and Heroic Ajzol-Nerub.

As always, the Weinercast is available on iTunes.

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we'll address it on air next week!   read

1:40 PM on 11.20.2008

The Weiner Will Be At VGExpo This Weekend!

If anyone is going to VGExpo in Philly, The Weiner will be there. Leave a comment or a tweet and maybe we can meet up.   read

12:18 PM on 11.18.2008

Two Years Ago...

I slept outside of a Vegas Target for a Wii. I passed up the PS3 until they threatened to take away my
backwards compatibility. I can't believe it's been two years. What a fine half dozen games they have been.

Wii: Twilight Princess, Rayman, WarioWare, Wii Sports, Galaxy, Wii Fit, VC Games

PS3: MGS4, LBP, a damn fine Blu-Ray player

How about you? When, if ever, did you pick up these consoles? How much use have they seen, and on what?   read

11:38 AM on 11.16.2008

Amazon Shipping Inconsistencies Continue

You’d think they’d learn. As we discussed recently around the Fallout 3 release, Amazon has recently started offering Release Date Shipping for some hot items. With one notable exception that we’ll get to in a moment, however, that special shipping does not apply to things you may have pre-ordered months ago. The upshot is that people who pre-order things two days before release are getting it on Day One, and you’re stuck holding no box, because it won’t arrive for two days.

The notable exception is World of Warcraft:Wrath of the Lich King. Amazon realized that they had about seventy gajillion pre-orders for this one and automatically upgraded everyone who pre-ordered the game or its Collector’s Edition to Release Date Shipping. Even though I had a regular copy on November 12 from another source, I can say that my CE did arrive on Thursday afternoon as promised.

I can’t say the same for Mirror’s Edge, which, despite being pre-ordered about five seconds after PAX, did not arrive until Thursday. (Note: it is a miracle we’ve had time to look at this one with Lich King out, but check out the Weiner review of Mirror’s Edge tomorrow.)

But wait, there’s more! Our pre-order of the Pixar Blu-Ray of WALL-E arrived about an hour ago. Yes, on Sunday. Two days before its November 18 release date.

What the heck is going on over there? It’s a big company, sure, but a little consistency goes a long way, especially as the holidays approach. Here’s hoping that Amazon gets this all ironed out well in advance of the new year.   read

9:17 AM on 11.11.2008

Fallout 3 Weiner Review

There is a Fallout fever in my house. The Weiner Daddy is playing on 360, I’m playing on the PC using both keyboard and mouse and the Microsoft game controller. We’ve been playing since the game was released on October 28th, and neither of us is anywhere near completing the game. I will also note that neither of us have encountered any of the nasty bugs reported by Kotaku, but these are known issues, so your mileage could vary.


Welcome to post-apocalyptia, children! The theme and setting are the same no matter which version you choose. Fallout is set in an alternate history universe full of retro-futuristic kitsch and bombed-hell. Imagine the American 1950s, only with 22nd century laser and gene-mapping technology. By the time you are on the scene, the bomb has long since dropped, and 200 years later, you are ready to crawl out of a hole, known as a Vault, and see what’s what in the ruins of Washington, DC. This is a HUGE area, and the sidequests alone can take you hours upon hours. Unlike Bethesda’s Oblivion, however, you can and will want to get back on track with the main quest eventually.


Think bleak. As befits the setting, the Fallout 3 world is full of brown, grey, and yellow. Unlike the repetitive trash-strewn levels of Hellgate: London, the world of Fallout 3 is huge and fairly varied. When Bethesda reuses something in their game, they are doing it on purpose. Think all those tract-home shells look alike? That’s the point. All of that suburban sameness makes it much more powerful the first time you see the ruins of the Washington Monument or the Capitol Building.

The character models are straight out of Oblivion, albeit with different clothes. The facial mapping and details are improved from Bethesda’s RPG, but the idea is the same, with the PC having the edge over the 360 in detail. Enemies vary, from mutated critters to raider gangs to super mutants. The critters are pretty much all the same, but the raiders and mutants are varied. If you look closely you can see the attention to detail, as most of the humanoids’ armor is actually pieced together bits of the trash strewn across the Capitol Wasteland.


It is here that the PC and 360 versions diverge. Fallout 3 is not a shooter and it is not a full-on action RPG, but is something of a chimera of the two. After fighting with the mouse and keyboard for over 20 hours, it is clear that Fallout 3 was designed for a controller. Even the lowest mouse sensitivity option will swing your view way wide of the enemy in front of you. Lockpicking is nearly impossible to do without failing a few times, due to the twitchy nature of the PC controls. My experience was vastly improved when I used a gamepad on my PC.

Combat is its own strange bird. On the shooter side you have the option to take a first-person view and use your weapons as you see fit. On the ARPG side you have the V.A.T.S. system; action points-based pause-and-play combat. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t really play Fallout 3 entirely as a shooter or entirely in V.A.T.S. Most of the time you’ll use V.A.T.S., then try and duck and cover while your AP recharges to use it again. Why? Because the FPS perspective doesn’t work that well. The target reticule is small and inaccurate, and there is no lock-on. This is true in both the PC and 360 versions.

Searching for and picking up items must almost always be done in first person view. The “target boxes” for small items, such as stimpaks, is ridiculously tiny, and unless you’re nose-to-nose with them, you may not be able to highlight them to grab them. This is a little better on the 360 version, but the PC version suffers from too-fast mouse controls again.


Don’t let the control issues dissuade you. Fallout 3 is a fantastic game. It is engaging, fun, and deep. You will care about your character. You will care about some NPCs and want to kill others. You will make irrevocable choices early on that will truly affect your game path and the game world. Evil is as viable a choice as good, and your experience will differ greatly depending on which path you take. You can get through the main quest in about 10 hours, yes, but if you do, you’re missing the point. I didn’t miss it at all, and I’m wondering how I’m going to balance playing more Fallout 3 with the release of Wrath of the LIch King on Thursday.

Also available on   read

1:30 PM on 11.09.2008

Guitar Hero v. Copyright Law

Some snags this week for users of Guitar Hero World Tour's Creation mode.

User-created versions of existing, copyrighted songs are disappearing. This comes as no surprise, as Blactivizzion warned that content would be monitored for infringement. That being said, I think there is a significant legal argument to be made that what people are creating in World Tour is not copyright infringement per se.

A little law first, from the U.S. Copyright Office:

One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

1.) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2.) the nature of the copyrighted work;

3.) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4.) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Making your own version of the Green Hills Zone available for free download in GHWT is not "commercial", at least for users. You don't expect to realize a dime on it. Blactivizzion, however, may.

Kotaku is reporting that the company is considering a fee-for-service model for user-created content. That sounds like foul play, as users were not warned about this possibility before buying the game. Why should we create content for the company to sell and not realize a dividend? And what, then, is the effect of the use of these tunes on the potential market for the copyrighted work? I would think it would encourage people to enjoy the original, whether that be playing Sonic or picking up a song on iTunes. These three "instrument" versions of songs are NOT the original. The nature is substantially different. No one is going to mistake your lyrics-free version of Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen's magnum opus. And no one who wants to sing along with Freddie is going to miss their chance to do so with the actual song.

The implications for your own creations of original material are different, and possibly worse. If Blactivizzion does what they are proposing, you will be creating new music and handling them the licensing fees. Moreover, it is unclear how this structure would affect your own copyrights in the future. All in all, this seems bad bad bad bad and bad. Fun, fairly used tunes are being taken out of play and it seems that they are to be replaced by play-for-play wholesale acquisition of your music. It's enough to make me want to stick to Rock Band.   read

9:35 AM on 11.05.2008

Weinercast Wednesday

The Weinercast is go at

This week: Gwyddia's Top 8 Politically Themed Games.

As always, the Weinercast is available on iTunes.

Please leave us a review or a comment/question, and we'll address it on air next week!   read

9:48 PM on 11.04.2008

Amazon Takes On "Wrap Rage"

We interrupt your election results to bring you this breaking news from online retailer

Do you hate buying a new shiny something and not be able to open it because the packaging seems like it was designed by sadist monkeys? Me too. Don't worry, Amazon is on the way.

Amazon has a large splash letter on their front page tonight touting their multi-year war on bad packaging, titled Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging. They are working with major manufacturers to reduce extraneous packaging, use more recyclable materials in packaging, and make products easier to open in general. As of today there are 19 products from Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend in Frustration-Free packaging, with more promised to be on the way soon.

I won't be impressed until they get those evil dog bone things off my games and DVDs, but kudos to Amazon for taking some steps in the right direction.   read

10:51 AM on 11.04.2008

VOTE, America.


I don't care if you're a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a Green, a Purple, or a Plaid.


Voting is a privilege and a right, and something that you can do right now.

If you need more incentive, Ben & Jerry's, Krispy Kreme and Starbucks are all offering free deliciousness today.   read

11:05 AM on 10.30.2008

Beatles Announcement A Bust?

So we aren't getting Rock Bad: Beatles. Instead we're getting "an unprecedented, experiential progression through and celebration of the music and artistry of The Beatles", whatever that means. So what DOES that mean? If it is a play through of the history of the Band, that's great, but that would be the same basic idea that Guitar Hero used with Aerosmith. I can't imagine that we'll be allowed to play with or change the Beatles' music in any way, and how many more "lost" tunes can they have in the vault? I'm looking forward to this one, almost a year away, but I'd love to hear what folks think it will be.

(Trying in Firefox today after DANMARTIGAN's helpful comment to my post yesterday. To you, DANMARTIGAN, the sound of . . . a crescendo!)   read

10:30 AM on 10.29.2008

I Am A Criminal.

According to Jack Thompson, at least. In his last death throws before disbarment, Thompson filed a motion in
his lawsuit against the Florida Bar in which he referred to as a "video game enem[y]" doing
"criminal activities." I am a Contributing Writer and attorney at

I have rarely been so proud.   read

7:43 PM on 10.28.2008

Fallout 3 Amazon fallout.

Did you pre-order the Amazon exclusive Fallout 3 Survival Edition? I did, back in September. Did you receive it
today, on release day? I didn't, and neither did hundreds of other people.

According to the Fallout 3 user forums, Amazon vastly underestimated the amount of Survival Edition's they'd
need, and took too many pre-orders. As a result, some people had their orders cancelled today, along with a
$20 "don't hate us!" gift certificate from Amazon. Who had their orders cancelled? Not the late-orderers; folks
who pre-ordered the Survival Edition as late as last week received the game today, while some of the earliest
pre-orderers were left in the lurch.

But wait, there's more. Of those who were lucky enough to actually *get* the Survival Edition, most did not
receive it today, on the day of release. People who pre-ordered in the last two weeks were given Amazon's new
option of "guaranteed day of release", but everyone who ordered the game before that and paid extra for one-
day shipping (that would be me) will not receive their order until tomorrow at the earliest.

Way to go, Amazon. I will think long and hard before I take you up on one of your "Special Offers" again.   read

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