Please stand by…

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We’re working on getting Joey’s website upgraded for future potential pop culture zaniness. There are still a few features that need to be added back in before things are “fully funtional.”

In short – if a link seems blank or not working right over the next few days… it’s not you.

Thanks.

Green Mustard Entertainment

You know what doesn’t suck? Borderlands!

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Everyone that has read just a few entries here knows I play a lot of games (points over to his ‘gamercard’).  Most of the time you can find me logged into EVE Online or Champions Online. Those MMO’s have a tendency of sucking away most of my free time but I do spend quite a bit of time on my Xbox 360.  Recently I have played Batman: Arkham Asylum and Halo 3: ODST.  Both were interesting and well designed but have not held my interest very well.  Halo was great in Co-Op mode and Batman, even though it is very faithful to the Batman mythos and is one of the best DC superhero games ever (that isn’t saying much, though), just did not hold my interest.  Kicking the heads of bad guys in over and over just to get to the next boss battle has become blase.  The Bat-gadgets are neat but they just seem to be more of ‘this’ and extra hit points, nothing to really strive for.

Recently on my Raptr feed (www.raptr.com) I had seen a number of people playing a game called Borderlands.  The only real exposure I had in regards to this game was an e-mail sent from my buddy Damon.  Damon and I worked together years ago and one of the few joys we had at that job was designing items for the Elvis Presley license.  Much of what came from my office was the need for more of the iconic “Taking Care of Business” items ‘The King’ had and wore.  Damon designed a number of items that incorporated the logo, many of which I sill have in my possession.  One of the 4 main playable characters in Borderlands wears a “TCB” belt buckle, so Damon sent me the promotional graphics that showed it.  That piqued my interest because anything that referenced “TCB” was already cool in my book.
The TCB Logo for those that are not in the ‘know’:
Originally I placed the game in my Gamefly queue with the hopes of a speedy arrival (a hope that is hit ‘n miss at best).  During my wait I continued to see people playing it time and time again on my XBL feed and Raptr.  People that I knew I shared the same taste in video games with.  So when I dropped by the store to pick-up a copy of Windows 7 and pre-order Lego Rock Band, I grabbed a copy of Borderlands.
Borderlands has been called a First Person Shooter Role Playing Game and while it has a number of RPG elements (leveling, skill allotment, semi-persistent world, missions/quests, etc.) I prefer the description of “Shoot ‘n Loot”.  Because you are basically running around, shooting stuff and hoping they drop the good stuff.  Though with this description one would think that game play would become tired and bland quickly, but for some reason it becomes addictive and just plain fun.
Why is Borberlands ‘fun’?  I think I can boil it down to three things:
Setting – The planet Pandora is just the right mix of Mad MaxFallout and Firefly.  We have spots of civilization but it’s mostly shanty towns with moderately advanced tech in weapons and commerce.  When walking (and later driving) across vast areas of waste and sheet metal, you can tell that you and your weapon define the law in the area.  9 times out of 10, if it’s moving… you want to shoot it.
Character Class/Skill Tree – Much like another favorite game of mine Diablo (and Diablo II), as you advance in level you have a skill tree to allot points within.  So you may be playing a Hunter, Brick, Soldier or Assassin, but you can tailor that character to your specific play style.  As I continue to play I am noticing that my original class choice, Brick, does not match my play style, which is pointing to Soldier.  I guess a restart/re-roll is in the near future.
OHHH SHINY! – The game is chocked full of really neat stuff that either shoots things or blows them up!  Each time I see a weapon drop from a mob or creature (yeah, birds drop huge rifles and pistols a la The Bard’s Tale) I want to run up and see how and in what way this new toy kills stuff!  One time last Friday, I spent nearly 20 minutes just comparing the different sniper rifles I had and which one to use.  Between reload rate, DPS, magazine size and damage type (some weapons shoot lightening, fire and/or acid) there are over 10,000 weapon combinations!  When you add that to your possible advantages from the skill tree, you will have millions of ways to meet people and kill them.
I have not had this kind of enjoyment in an ‘RPG’ since Fallout 3 and not this much fun since playing Battlefield 2142.  This game is a complete hoot, and I haven’t even tried any of the Co-Op or PvP elements as of yet!  For an excellent mix of the RPG and FPS genres, I cannot recommend Borderlands nearly enough.
This game truly does not suck!
Now I’m just afraid I will not be done in time for Dragon Age: Origins. :)

Snack Time Online 000: Remember… The Podcast

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The planets have aligned and the winning lottery numbers match – in short: Snack Time Online is attempting to return.  The pop culture podcast from “the before time” kicks off with Episode Zero. That episode number allows Joey Snackpants & Tom Croom to write off this episode as a beta test.  In true Microsoft Windows form, we’re releasing this test episode before it is actually ready for public consumption – so enjoy!  Please post your feedback so we can apply it future episodes.
Direct mp3 Link: http://www.greenmustard.com/snacktimeonline/STO000.mp3
Feedburner Link (subscribe): http://feeds.feedburner.com/joeysnackpants

Episode 000: Remember… The Podcast

1:26 What we’re doing and where we’ve been (podcasting-wise)
4:31 Tonight’s topic
6:24 Transformers Panels
7:28 Plane Tickets & Booze
8:25 New Transformers Cartoon?
9:09 We are Steve Jobs free
10:06 Burp #1
10:20 Have an Opinion
13:49 The Nudist Colony Newspaper
15:26 Glee
17:00 Call #1
17:28 Call #2
20:45 The Rules So Far
23:04 Stuff Tom is watching
25:05 Adult Swim
26:00 Twittering
29:32 Call #3
32:57 No one watches wresting anymore
37:00 Windows 7
40:31 Call #4
46:00 Tom’s social networking web
52:41 Call #5

-Green Mustard Entertainment

I know my Podcast is as consistent as Season 3 of Moonlighting…

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There are few things that sadden me as much as my inability to keep a podcast up and running for very long.  Anime Pundit Daryl Surat once told me, “90% of all podcasts don’t make it to episode 8.”  I thought he was joking, but only 3 (5 recorded) episodes out, I have come to recognize Daryl as the sage he is… again.  That being said, there are a number of podcasts I listen to on a regular basis and decided that you need to know who they are, and why I listen!

In no particular order:
Anime World Order – The first podcast I every subscribed to, and the one I have listened to consistently from the beginning.  Gerald, Clarisa and Daryl take a very unorthodox look at anime and anime fandom.  They only talk about stuff they want to talk about.  Just because a show is ‘new’ or popular will not drive their need to talk about or even review it.  I like to refer to their style as “punditry on a whim”.  The AWO crew is in no one’s pocket (well, maybe in the pocket of Otaku USA since all three write for the magazine), so their blunt honesty can be both humorous and biting.  Being on both the favorable and unfavorable end of their opinions, I still listen each month-or-so.  I have to say, they have some of the most unique opinions on the grand overarching subject of anime out there.
The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast – If someone were to ask me 3 years ago, “Hey Joey… what kind of podcast would you do?”, my answer would have been the exact outline of The Greatest Movie Ever! Podcast.  Paul Chapman has taken two things I love, movies and opinions, and made the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of podcasting.  The mix that Paul has created is a two-fold extravaganza.  First the selection of movies which have included The Last StarfighterConan: The BarbarianXanadu, and Django. There is no film that Paul will not try to tackle.  The second part is the ‘co-stars’ Paul brings to the table: Sean “Hollywood” Hunting, Kathrine “The Great”, Daryl Surat, and even his mother!  Each of these brings in a unique view that truly makes The Great Movie Ever! Podcast a treat.  I would say that Paul’s podcast is the one I truly enjoy the most currently.
Raging Bullets – This may come as a shock to many of you, but I read comics… a lot of comics.  Every Wednesday revolves around what I am going to need to get done, what I need to eat, how traffic will be so I can be at my local comic shop (Heroes and Villains) promptly at 2:00pm.  The problem is I read 99% DC and 1% Marvel (Captain America: Reborn is it), so most comic book podcasts are full of about 50% of stuff I just don’t care about.  Sean Whelan and Jim Segulin have created the Raging Bullets Podcast, which is 100% DC… No Marvel, no Image, no Indies, just DC all the time.  While these guys can be way too detail oriented and will take 3 episodes (6+ hours) focusing on a storyline that could be handled in 20 minutes, you can tell they just love these comics as real fanboys.  Not only do they talk about current storylines, but will take a trip in the Wayback Machine and look at older ‘classic’ stories.  Even with their faults, Sean and Jim produce a quality podcast that does not bore, which a good number of comic book podcasts do time and time again.
Massively Speaking – I do play a number of Massively Mulitplayer Online games (MMOs) but I really do not have the time or the money to sit down and play them all, or even keep track of what new ones are coming down the pipe.  Massively Speaking covers all of the MMOs with only a small spattering of World of Warcraft (WoW).  Since I do not play WoW at all, that fact initially attracted me to the feed, but after listening to it for nearly a month, their insight has been very helpful in making decisions on what MMOs to look at and which to ignore.  Unlike all the previous podcasts I have listed, the staff of Massively Speaking are compensated for the production of their podcast, but it does not seem to have skewed their opinions of particular products… as of yet.

Manager Tools**WARNING** **WARNING** **Boring ‘work’ kind of stuff ahead** In my ‘real’ life, I am a manager.  Those that manage teams will agree with me that it’s easy to lead, it’s much much much harder to lead well.  I try to gather information from all kinds of sources but with the amount of other reading for pleasure and my short attention span, I was having a good bit of trouble trying to collect information, especially real world experiences.  It’s real easy for some professor that hasn’t managed people in the work force for the last 10 years to spit his drivel at me but I wanted to pick the brain of real managers that dealt with real issues (i.e. PDPs, annual reviews, one-on-ones, etc.) in the modern workplace.  Mark and Mike are two long time friends that have experience as managers in the traditional workforce, the military and as consultants.  This wide breadth of knowledge means these guys have seen it all!  I was hooked on their original set on interviewing and the pitfalls of ‘embellishing’ yourself.  The podcast has one major quality that these informational shows have a problem with: they are entertaining.  I have heard others say that Mark and Mike have a tendency to get off track but it’s this friendly banter that gives them that ‘real world’ credibility I enjoy.  Their constant schilling of their upgraded ‘paid’ product can get annoying but that is more than offset by the information you get.

Podded: An EVE Online Podcast – What began as the most boring podcast ever made one simple movie, adding a co-host with personality, and has become a real joy to listen to since.  There have been a number of podcasts I have listened to that I had to just stop… because they were causing me to fall asleep at the wheel.  Podded originally started as a spewing of facts regarding the MMO Eve Online hosted by “Dillon Arklight”.  All Dillon did was talk about the actual numbers of Eve and the ‘news’ from the PvP areas of the game.  The problem was, it was just him talking.  After a few episodes Podded disappeared into the podcasting ether.  In May 2009, Podded relaunched with Dillon Arklight and his new co-host, War Childe.  War Childe added personality and banter to the show.  While these guys still talk about the ‘numbers’ and ‘news’ of Eve, they also debate and bounce ideas off each other, making it a much more enjoyable Podcast.  Much like “Mike and Mark” and “Sean and Jim” these guys seem to be close friends that really enjoy talking to each other, which bleeds over into their recordings.

Fast Karate for the Gentleman – Lastly is the ‘guerrilla’ podcast operation of Dave and Joel.  Whenever someone like Daryl Surat says you need to spend hours editing your podcast, I point to Fast Karate for the Gentleman (FKFTG).  I don’t even think Dave and Joel know what ‘editing’ is.  Each week (or so) they put out about 30+ minutes of stream-of-consciousness onto the interwebz.  Uncouth and raw, these guys hold no punches in this ‘geek’ podcast that could range from anime and video gaming to daily commuting and parking tickets.  FKFTG is an acquired taste and their run ‘n gun format may not be your cup of tea, but I really enjoy these guys for what they are… real.

Why EVE Online needs to get their butt in gear.

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Today’s blog post will probably only interest about 5% of the people that read my diatribes, if that many.  This subject has been eating at me since Dragon*Con.  I have been going to Dragon*Con for the last 4 years.  Between eating at Trader Vic’s, Chicken ‘n Waffles, paying big bucks for autographs and standing in lines, I do actually attend a few panels.  The one I have made sure to attend each year is the EVE Online panel.  For those of you ‘not in the know’, EVE Online (EVE) is a Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG or MMO) set within a space faring science fiction (SyFy many may say) backdrop.  EVE’s biggest difference is that all 30,000+ players participate on one server.  Everybody plays in the exact same sandbox.  EVE is run by CCP, which has its US offices in Stone Mountain, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, the same city in which Dragon*Con is held.  Even though they are just 30 minutes from the venue, CCP has had the inability to send anything more than a ‘talking head’ to the panel.  Last year, it was a single story guy that had little to no information.  This year, it was 2 marketing guys and a single story guy.  You would think with some marketing goobers there we would have some pretty pictures or new ‘smoke and mirrors’ promotional videos…. ANYTHING!  Even those losers over at Sony Online (creators of such stinkers as Matrix Online and Star Wars Galaxies) could muster up some videos and graphics, but the CCP locals could only offer talking heads… again.

For those that have not played EVE Online, its number one complaint is the extremely steep learning curve.  This graphic was making its way around the EVE forums about a year ago, but it is almost a perfect example of what people have to deal with when trying to play EVE.
This ‘advantage’ of EVE makes its players a very loyal lot, but it makes adding new players extremely hard.  You cannot just pick-up the game and go out and begin shooting ‘rats’ in an asteroid belt.  EVE itself has very poor documentation and trying to find out information about the game can be very difficult.  This question came up many times in this panel and each time the representatives of CCP sitting behind the table, wearing the CCP corporate shirts, pointed to PLAYER GENERATED CONTENT!  Yes, the company itself cannot support its own game and has now relied on its own customer base to provide support and documentation.  I will repeat, CCP depends solely on unpaid CUSTOMERS to provide the documentation and information to play its own game.  I was completely dumbfounded that corporate representatives would admit (though not directly) that they were so lacking in the most basic of customer support.  As the panel went on, the CCP Reps continued on about how they are the #3 MMO in the world.  I can only assume World of Warcraft is #1 but #2 eludes me.  CCP seems to be fine to rest on its laurels and continue on its road of mediocrity because as poor as they may be, EVE is the only viable space based MMO out there… currently.  CCP really needs to get its act together and quickly.  Their position as the only player in the SciFi genre MMO field is coming to an end with two HUGE powerhouse franchises looming on the horizon.
The first is Cryptic’s Star Trek Online which is expected to launch its closed beta testing (a ‘perk’ in the purchase of Lifetime or 6-month subscriptions to Champions Online) in the next 6 months.  With the recent blockbuster movie in theaters this summer, the re-release of the original series and movies on Blu-ray, the Star Trek franchise is at its greatest height in the last 20 years.  With Cryptic’s success with City of Heroes and Champions Online, coupled with the marketing power of Atari, Star Trek Online will be a force of contention right out of the gate.
The second is Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR) which according to rumor has already begun its closed beta sign-ups.  This game should not be confused with the epic failure Star Wars Galaxies that started well but entered a tail spin that caused it to crash into the ground nearly 6 years ago.  Where SW:TOR has a leg up is its proven development studio.  BioWare, the creators of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic I and II, Balder’s Gate, Jade Empire and Mass Effect, will be taking their RPG creation to the MMO arena.  With only a few story videos and other ‘smoke and mirror’ marketing items, SW:TOR has created such buzz in the MMO community, you would have thought it was the cure to cancer.
Unless EVE makes some MAJOR changes in the way it handles its business and customer support its grand ‘sandbox’ will only have a few trolling cats in the next year.  Its time to get a swift kick in the ass and projects like DUST 514 may help, but have just as much chance of pulling needed resources away from the important projects.  I fear that complacency has infected the CCP team and they will be the dying elephant for 2010.

Star Trek and the theories of Web Marketing…

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One of dearest friends Stepp-sensei posted this video recently and as a guy who crunches large amount of data for his ‘day job’, I found the explanation of the theories of segmenting data sound and the presentation very interesting.

If I was going to hire an internet marketing consultant, this would be the guy.  Your usage may vary. :)

A grand experiment…

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When Katie McAwesome and I moved from the Orlando area, we originally lived in a hotel as we were looking for new digs (actually KMcA looked, and worked).  In that whole time she used a Dell Mini 9 to do all her work.  Surprisingly, it ran everything she did; web, word processing, e-mail, the whole works.  I myself own an ASUS EEEpc 900A, that I use for casual web surfing and blogging.  That machine is 100% on the cloud, as another experiment.  I recently purchased KMcA a Dell Mini 10v so that she had a larger keyboard and screen to use.  So now I have both the Dell Mini 9 and ASUS EEEpc 900A.  Both of these machines are intel processors, Atom in the Mini, Celeron in the 900A.

Now the experiment.  For the next week I will use both of these machines, the Mini 9 running OS X Leopard and the 900A running Windows 7.  Looking at both, I’ll see what works, what doesn’t and which I prefer in the end.  Because all you OS X Kool-Aid drinkers scare me. :)

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