20 December Is A Bad Release Date For Star Wars: TOR

Just recently BioWare finally gave us a release date for their highly anticipated story-driven MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Turns out the game will be released on 20 December is the US and 22 December in Europe.

Now, I believe this is a terrible date to release a game such as this. There’s 2 distinct reasons for this, 1 is personal and the other is more business/marketing related. let’s start with the business aspect here.

I can understand that even a successful developer such as BioWare can’t pass up on the boost that a holiday release can give to a game. Though, releasing a title such as this so close to Christmas seems like a mistake to me. The end of the years is traditionally packed with triple-A games and 2011 is no different. There’s Skyrim, MW3 and the likes. I’m guessing that a lot of RPG fans will still be spending most of their time playing Skyrim, thus it seems like they won’t have a lot of time to invest into an MMO. It might be a good idea to have it close-by for the weeks after Christmas.

Besides, are we even sure that the game is polished enough by 20 December? An MMO is never finished, but it seems to me that they’re pushing hard to make that holiday release, and that might be at the expense of higher quality.

The other reason why I think this is a bad date to release TOR is because I’m a student. Being a student in Belgium means that you’ll have exams in january, which means that I HAVE to study during the Christmas holidays. I’m not sure when the exams are in other countries, but the last thing I need around Christmas is a game that I’m dying to play lying next to my on my desk while I’m trying to study.

Besides my concerns here, I have no doubt that the game will sell incredibly well because of a pretty effective marketing strategy and the high anticipation amongst avid MMO players.

What do you think about the 20 December release date? Good, bad or are you indifferent? Let me know in the comment section!

/Niels

New Video Game & Box Office Releases Week 39 (25 Septembre – 2 Octobre)

Hey there guys. Below you’ll find the new video game releases from 26 September to 2 Octobre. As an extra from now on, I’ll list the new box office releases for this week as well.

Please note that this list is always subject to change and as such is not an absolute reference.

Continue reading “New Video Game & Box Office Releases Week 39 (25 Septembre – 2 Octobre)”

First Look At The Facebook Timeline

Just recently Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new Timeline profile pages at the F8 event. Today we’re taking a first look at the new features of these Timeline profile pages, and boy will your profile change. I can already hear the incessant whining of people who are too lazy or unable to learn the new system. Just imagine the hundreds of fan pages that go viral and get thousands of likes crying to go back to the earlier profile pages.

Zuckerberg announces ‘Timeline’

Now, let’s take a look shall we.

The goal of this new profile page setup is to create a Facebook experience where one can go on the profile of the friend and go back and see what they did today, yesterday, last month and back when they signed up to Facebook. It’s a moving collage of photos, videos, status updates, new friends that give you a clear picture of someone’s life and personality.

I had the chance to try out Timeline already by a method I found on Mashable.com. The following is my first impression of the new feature, paired with a couple of screenshots.

Alright, let’s talk design and look first. The interface looks amazing and is appealing to the eye. The cover photo option gives an extra dimension to the whole and another opportunity to personalize your timeline. It will take some time to get used to the new lay-out, even for Facebook savvy people. Once you get used to it though it gets really easy to navigate, I might even go as far as saying that it’s easier than before. Obviously a lot of thought was put into this.

The system runs smoothly with a couple of hiccups here and there but that’s to be expected as it’s a developer preview, and not the actual system to be released on 30 September. The only beef I have with it is that you can’t choose specific points on your timeline to watch, in much the same way as scrolling down your news feed for a while.

The new photo page is pretty nice as well, moving your photos closer together and more easily accessible and arranged by date.

The Timeline itself a wonderful new feature, but it can be a bit confusing to find specific dates or posts. It’s a really powerful way to get to know your friends and I imagine it’ll be quite the recruitment tool as well. It’s an in-depth glimpse into someone’s life. For the Facebook users of the first hour, however, the Timeline won’t be as complete as new members who have a much more complete profile than us already. So it’s more catered towards the newer members.

Next to that, it’s pretty time consuming if you want to sort it out properly and delete and/or hide certain posts that have no meaning or relevance whatsoever. I’d advise you to sort through ALL your posts to avoid any awkward situations (I look forward to seeing plenty of those on lamebook.com).

There’s also a new box for updating your status that I’d like to say a few words about. The publishing box has been made more versatile. On top of adding your status update you can know also add a job, milestones, health, relationships, education, family and living. You can now tell your friends EVERYTHING you do or experience, no idea why anyone would care if I broke a nail though.

In summary, the new Facebook Timeline is a neat and pretty feature that will help personalize your profile, together with apps that will be playing a more important role in the future. I do think there is some things that can be done to make it better though, such as making it easier to go back to certain dates and getting rid of all the social game posts. This will help to lower the time spent on getting your Timeline trimmed to your liking. Again, be wary of awkward situations as a result of poorly chosen status updates from times past.

Users will no doubt spend a lot of time on each other’s Timelines and I have no doubt that it will be a new way to kill time in class. Rejoice!

Check out this introduction video to Facebook’s Timeline.

PS: I know the screenshots are in Dutch, because I am from Belgium and I was too lazy to change it. Also, blurred the faces with my awesome Paint skills.

/Niels

Review – Walk The Line

Today I’ll be reviewing Walk The Line, a movie about the life of Johnny Cash (and by extension June Carter). The movie was released in 2005 but I only recently watched it. Let’s get started shall we?

To a lot of people Johnny Cash is a legend, especially in the United States. He was commonly known as ‘The Man in Black’ and he sang and played for people who had no one else; the man who reinvented himself when he started performing in prisons with June Carter, who was the love of his life. Less know, however, is the life of Johnny Cash before then when he made his first steps to becoming a famous musician, his ongoing battle with an addiction to pep pills and his complex relationship with June Carter. Walk The Line depicts those years, from his youth to his famous performance in Folsom prison. The movie primarily focuses on his romantic relationship with June.

Johnny Cash is born during the Depression in the 30’s in the poor south of the United States of America. His older brother dies when Johnny is about 10 years old, which was a devastating blow to the already struggling family. At the age of 18 Johnny enlists in the military, after which he gets married with Vivian while he tries to make a living as a door-to-door salesman. In the meantime he works on developing his skills as a country musician. He auditions at Sun Records and eventually gets offered a contract. He proceeds to record a couple of hits in the same studio where Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley recorded their songs. Together with the famous musicians of the day, he travels across the country to perform in various theatres. During one of those tours he comes into contact with pills, a substance with which he will struggle until the end of the 60’s.

During one of their tours he meets June Carter, also a singer. On stage, a connection forms between the two but both of them are married to someone else. As a result of this, Johnny gets hooked more and more on drugs and he derails completely when he hears that June is marrying someone else. In the meantime, his own marriage collapses and he ends up being depressed (both musically and emotionally). With the help of June he manages to overcome his problems and he re-invents himself as a musician.

In order to portray the famous couple, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon prepared themselves for over a years. This was because director Mangold insisted that the wild, energetic spirit of Cash’s music couldn’t be caught on camera by playbacking. Both Joaquin and Reese had to learn how to play their respective instruments and sing. The goal was not to portray the original voices, but to give their own twist to the music. As a result, Phoenix’s voice comes pretty close to Cash’s which helps in portraying the man in black. The hairstyles and costumes are really thought through as well. Phoenix manages to nail Cash’s attitude, body language and personality quite well. Reese Witherspoon performs equally well and demonstrates that she can handle more than those dime in a dozen romantic comedies.

The relationship between John and June is portrayed nicely in a couple of hearth-warming and heartbreaking scenes. The personal problems of Johnny Cash get portrayed adequately and the start of his musical career receives enough attention.

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash

In many aspects, this movie resembles ‘Ray’, that other musical American biography movie. Hardcore Johnny Cash fans will probably wince at some of the details, such as when certain songs are sung. However Walk The Line is a really good film and I would definitely recommend it to anyone (except the people who like movies like ‘The Expendables’, they can piss off). Furthermore, this movie managed to spike my interest in Johnny Cash and his music which is most certainly a positive event.

The only sad thing is that Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash both passed away in 2003 and thus never saw this work about their life.

/Niels

Facebook gets a facelift

Facebook is busy putting out some rather large updates of their social network. Just this week we saw the implementation of the ‘smart lists’. More updates and changes will follow in the next week.

The biggest social network of them all is busy changing the very foundations of the entire website. Facebook is with 750 million users still the biggest social network out there, but has received a lot of criticism over the last few years. Mark Zuckerberg and co are now responding to all the critics by releasing a couple of new features. The other new features and updates to the website will most likely be announced at the F8 fair. Not surprisingly, the new features resemble those of other social networks.

For instance, the so-called ‘smart lists’ that automatically bundles friends based on interests, work, school and numerous other categories. Personally I find this feature quite useful as it’s the ideal way to keep track of friends that share a common history with you. Though it can make for some awkward situations, so the best advice I can give you is to manage those lists by yourself instead of letting Facebook do it for you. If you’re familiar with Google+ you probably know this feature as well as it resembles Google+’s ‘circles’. Integrating one of the main selling points of the competition is a pretty smart move for Facebook, especially since Google+ seems to have stagnated regarding the number of new users.

Even though Google+ went public (instead of on invite only) the hype seems to have died a quick and quiet death. This is due in part to counter actions by Facebook.

Zuckerberg has a couple more tricks up his sleeve however. According to anonymous sources Facebook is working on implementing a music platform in cooperation with streaming services such as Spotify. Next to that there are also rumours of an app-store.

Furthermore, the Facebook homepage might also get a make-over so that you can monitor what your friends are doing in real-time. Moar Facebook stalking lulz!

And last but not least, rumours have been circulating on new buttons next to the existing ‘Like’ button. Rumour has it there will be buttons to indicate that you listened to something, read something or watched something. Maybe we can also hope for a dislike button? Can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for one of those!

/Niels