Down in flames

The three Es

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 03:12 AM | by

Some good stuff this year. Games-wise, the highlight for me thus far is The Division. A lot of the other stuff I'd heard of before, but Division just blew me away. It looks fantastic.

Console-wise... wow. Microsoft got their dick knocked in the dirt, huh? Holy crap. After the confusion that passed as their Xbox One reveal event, and the reaction that followed, they had a solid window of opportunity to, if they were unsure of their plan at all, make some changes. They didn't. That tells me that they've decided that their brand and exclusives are strong enough to move consoles despite the current backlash.

They could very well be right. The internet is up in arms right now... everyone has immediately declared Sony the winner, and the Xbox dead on arrival. If you read forums and blogs, it certainly looks like the Xbox One is going to suffer. But you really can't rely on the vocal minority as a litmuss test. For every one hardcore gamer hitting the forums and twitter to debate this, there are probably a dozen gamers that don't even know E3 is taking place this week. That's the reality of the market. It's possible that the hardcore, completely-devoted gamers don't even make up half of the consumer-base anymore. Video games are mainstream now.

Not to mention, six months is a long time on the internet. Is the rage still going to burn quite so hot come holiday season? Will conviction hold once those shiny new games start getting hype?

I don't know... as I've said in the past though, Microsoft has all of the numbers. They didn't make these decisions in a vaccuum. They had meetings, they strategized and they decided, knowing full-well what the reaction would be, to hold fast with their plan. Whether it works out for them remains to be seen, but the internet does have a short memory.

I mean it seems they've already forgotten that the PS3 spent about five of the last seven-year console cycle as a joke, barely kept alive on the strength of their few exclusives like Uncharted. It's really only been later in the console cycle, after the purchase price has come down, the games have shown up, and Sony has really been scooping up and embracing neat exclusive indie titles, that the console's strengths have shone. Perhaps that's the XB1's role this time around, as the more expensive console. Maybe it will stumble... who knows. That doesn't mean it's out of the fight.

But Sony certainly delivered a comeback punch this week. Whether they never intended to implement DRM at all, or if they just scrapped it in the past two weeks since the XB1 reveal, they played to consumers perfectly. They spent the last couple of weeks carefully tailoring their presentation to push on all of the XB1's perceived weak spots, and it worked. They've definitely picked up some spite pre-orders this week.

Personally, I've pre-ordered both consoles. As I've discussed, the Xbox One's feature list and restrictions don't bother me, and playing games is basically my job description, if you boil it down. I can't simply ignore half of the exclusives for the next generation. Moreover, as a gamer, I don't want to have to choose between an Uncharted or a Crackdown. Between a Heavy Rain or a Dead Rising. I want to play them all.

I certainly understand the need to choose, though. This is expensive hardware we're talking about, and the vast majority of video games that come out are multi-platform. So certainly it makes sense to pick one and roll with it. What I do not understand, however, is the need people have to immediately shit all over whichever console they didn't pick, to somehow justify their decision. The "console wars", if you will.

The "war" is between Sony and Microsoft. It's their job to try and entice you to choose their system over the competitors. They are the ones doing battle. And it ends the moment you make a decision which console you want. Why people need to get personal about it and drag it on past purchase is beyond me, and has been since the days of Nintendo vs Sega.

I'm excited about both consoles, especially after seeing some of these games in action. While I've always owned multiple systems, one always naturally rises to the top as my main go-to console. For this past generation, it ended up being the Xbox 360, probably in large part due to launching a year ahead of the PS3. So when multi-platform games came out, I typically picked them up for the 360. My PS3 was there to play the exclusives (and watch Blu-Ray).

With both the PS4 and XB1 launching at (roughly) the same time, neither will have a clear head start, so I'm curious which turns out to be my "go to" console for the next cycle, and why. It could be determined by the launch line-ups, or it could be entirely related to the other features.

If the XB1's TV and hot-swapping features are as convenient and easy-to-use as they're suggesting, I could see gravitating towards that for ease of access when starting up games. However if the PS4's social and cloud features actually work the way they're suggesting, I may spend more time there.

Guess I'll find out this Christmas! In the meantime, check out this awesome 'The Division' trailer, my favorite new game reveal of E3 2013!

Original Art Auctions

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | 03:17 AM | by

For the past few years I've drawn my comic entirely in the computer, from sketching all the way through colors. But when I started ten years ago, I would do all the initial sketches on paper, and then scan them into the computer to finish them. It led to a huge pile-up of paper that I've been storing for the past decade.

Long story short, I recently decided to clean out the closets in my office, and came across said mountain of artwork. I'd hung onto it all these years because it felt like I should; but really it's just been taking up space. Space that I need for other stuff. It's time to get rid of it. Initially I was just going to throw it all out, but then thought perhaps people might like to own it instead.

This stuff was never intended to be sold... in most cases they're just the rough, barebones sketches that I used as a guideline for drawing the artwork in the computer. Still, they're a part of the comic's history, so who knows. I've gone through and picked out a handful that were in good condition, and thrown them up on eBay, along with various pieces of Ctrl+Alt+Del "memorabilia" and some other random stuff I'm getting rid of.

All of the sketches that led to an actual finished piece of work (comics, the book covers, etc) will also come with a signed copy of that finished artwork, so you can frame them side-by-side if you want. I started the auctions at $5 a piece, so you guys can decide what you're willing to pay for them. Obviously these are all one-of-a-kind. 

All of the auctions end today.