Tibs Manor

Friday, November 25, 2005

Numbers Fun With The Apprentice

Last night's episode of The Apprentice really got on my nerves. The skinny - a two person team, Excel, wins an advertising challenge by hiring 60 workers and not-exactly-stealing 9 megaphones (this was a great moment I must admit). Their efforts generated 978 calls. Capital Edge, a three person team, spends 60% of their budget on horse-drawn carriages, while hiring only 15 workers - their efforts generated 973 calls. In the boardroom, Adam is blamed for spending so much of the budget on the carriages when temps were clearly the way to go. Now before I start, let me say that the horse-drawn carriages really did look like they were put together by a dude with no eyes and maybe one arm.

However, let's look at this for a second. Let's figure that the quality of an average temp is, well, average. This seems generous, since the show emphasized that Excel's workers were more clean cut, well spoken, and representative of New Yorkers. Plus they had that awesome dude in the van. Plus their temps had megaphones! Still for the sake of argument, let's say temps are of average quality. Let's say the average apprentice contestant is worth 2 temps (and I don't think they are, but bear with me). That gives us:

Excel: 60 temps + 2 contestants = 978 calls
Excel: 64 temps = 978 calls
Excel: Each temp generates 15.28 calls

And now let's do the math for Capital Edge:

Capital Edge: 15 temps + 3 contestants + carriages = 973 calls
Capital Edge: 21 temps + carriages = 973 calls
Capital Edge: (21 temps) * (15.28 calls per temp) + carriages = 973 calls
Capital Edge: 320.88 calls + carriages = 973 calls
Capital Edge: Carriages generated 652 calls

In other words, 60% of the budget produced 67% of the results. If we extrapolate and remove all the workers and only buy carriages, Capital Edge produces 1087 calls, easily enough for the win. And if Capital Edge really did have the crummier employees without bullhorns, their rate should be far below 15.28 calls, making the horses even more valuable. Am I missing something? 15 calls per worker does seem a bit low, they were out there for 8 hours, I am sure I could get someone to call a number more than once every 30 minutes! Adam was getting boring and I am not sad to see him leave but I thought he got railroaded here.

Feast Menu

Lauren and I avoided the Thanksgiving travel nightmare this year and stayed out in California. We cooked a real Thanksgiving feast and I have to say it turned out pretty damn well. The centerpiece was a boneless turkey breast and stuffing recipe that we got from my subscription to Cuisine At Home magazine. This involved deboning the turkey breast myself which was interesting and not as difficult as I had feared. The stuffing was white and cornbread, with bacon, onions, cranberries, spices, and a whole pureed orange, peel and all. Stuffing goes in a baking dish, turkey breast covers it up, bake for 90 minutes, slice, done. You stuff sage leaves under the turkey skin so when you slice it there's this nice visual (and taste) effect from that. Beyond that we made gravy from the results of the deboning which turned out fantastic, redskin mashed potatoes, carrots, and cranberry sauce. Lauren baked a pumpkin pie.

It was also a good excuse to use a lot of wedding items, from some new knives to a rolling pin to the good china gravy boat. Definitely a lot of work, even with about half of it done the night before. I think if we do it again next year we will maybe try something simpler like a spiral baked ham. But in any event it turned out really well and we have a ton of leftovers which I love.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Magic Mountain

Saturday night was one of the times when CalTech offers tickets to Six Flags Magic Mountain for an evening, cheap. They run this once every 6 months or so. This was my second trip and Lauren's third. Other groups I saw there included the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and LifeTeen (that Catholic youth organization that Matt from Real World New Orleans kept blabbing about on one of the RW-RR Challenges). I love these things because they are far less crowded than on normal days, and since it's at night it's usually nice and cool and you don't have to worry about sunscreen or glare or anything.

As always I got very nervous in the hours leading up to it, but ended up having a hell of a lot of fun. Here's what we rode:

  • X - This was the one we really wanted to hit, we'd missed out last time. This one has the longest lines so we rushed straight for it and got on in only about 20 minutes which was fantastic. This ride is insane, check out some of the pics in this review. Flipping around in this thing really does keep you very disoriented. Great ride, I'm glad we hit it. Easily the scariest ride of the night, and the one I swore the most on.
  • Viper - Viper remains my favorite coaster in the park.
  • Buccaneer - swinging ship ride. It is odd that rides like this and the ferris wheel scare me more than most roller coasters, I just don't like some of the sensations on these.
  • Swashbuckler - swings, nice and pleasant. Got to see a few fat people get kicked off.
  • Colossus - Another new one for me, this is a big wooden coaster with lots of up and down action. Just bumpy enough to make you feel the ride but not so much that you wake up feeling like you've been hit by a car the next day (unlike Psyclone).
  • Scream - This is probably my second favorite ride at the park, partially because for some reason the line is always ridiculously short. This is a smooth ride with a lot of excitement.
  • The Riddler's Revenge - Our only bad choice of the night, the wait for this took upwards of an hour. This is a standing coaster. The track was pretty cool, lots of twists and looping, but the standing position had two problems. First off the banana seat you straddle could keep you from fathering children if you aren't careful. Secondly, I was never sure if I should lock my knees or go into a defensive stance or what - I think the latter would have been better, as standing with locked knees put an awful lot of stress on my knees and they hurt for awhile afterwards.
  • Goldrusher - This is the oldest coaster at the park, it is small but fun.
  • Ninja - Ninja doesn't have any loops or anything but it is a lot of fun nonetheless. Both this and Goldrusher are kind of buried amongst the trees and it is really cool to ride them in the dark.
  • Sierra Twist - This was just a circle with single-rider cars. Imagine a Nascar ride only with nothing but right turns, that was this ride. Between guests who insisted on trying to pack two people into a car (I could barely get the seatbelt around just me) and yet another lardo thrown off the ride, it took longer than it should have to load, but it was still fun.
  • Goliath - After funnel cake we checked Goliath just in case. Last time we came it took about 90 minutes to ride Goliath, and earlier this evening the line had looked even longer. Imagine our surprise when we literally walked up to the train and loaded in immediately, there was no waiting at all. Goliath's first drop is sick, it is so steep and puts you right into a dark tunnel. Midway through you air brake to a near stop right before careening down and into a tight spiral. We rode Goliath twice actually (there was still no wait so we ran right back) and the second time, this spiral made me start to black out...my vision got tunnelly and blurry as the helix continued. I'm not the only one to have this experience. That left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth but Goliath is still a great ride and I will definitely try it again next time. I will probably only ride it once though!
I did not get to ride Batman or Revolution, the first was too busy and the second was closed altogether. Too bad, I really liked both of them last time I went. Here's an interesting factoid, Wally World from Vacation was actually Magic Mountain, and Revolution was the "Whipper Snapper" coaster that the Griswolds ride at the end of the movie.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Return to Camelot

After Ted requested it last week, I brought Shadows Over Camelot to CalTech Game Night last night (we also played an unremarkable game of Bang! to close out the night). We played a 6 player game, with 2 newbies. It went quite well, I think we're getting a better hang of the system after losing terribly our first time out. This time we won nearly every quest - the Grail, Excalibur, the Black Knight, Lancelot's Armor, and even the Dragon. The only ones we failed on were two of the Pict/Saxon invasions, and the last one we were happy to lose just to close out the game as we had victory locked up by then. So we finished with 10 white swords and only 2 black ones. I was convinced there was no traitor as everyone made pretty solid moves. It turned out one of the newbies was the traitor, which may explain my mistake, it is a little hard to know how to play that role your first time out and he seemed to have some trouble with the rules. So two of the swords flipped but the good guys still won an 8-4 victory.

I think everyone liked it, I know I did. We did have really fortuitous card draws at times, but we played well. Our three key strategies were exerting for the extra action early and often, making decisions early on committing wholeheartedly to a quest or ignoring it completely, and trying to take better advantage of the knights' special powers. So we tried to mass knights at the various quests, and funnel special cards to the knight who plays them for free, that sort of thing. The nice thing is we can up the difficulty even if we "solve" the game, by dropping initial life points or adopting the Squire variant where you can't use special powers until you've successfully completed a quest. I also think I'll give it another few months before I bring this back to the group...it's a very fun game with a lot of theme, but especially because I'm fearful that it will turn into a puzzle that we know how to complete, I want to space out the plays a fair amount.

The other possibility is that we just got lucky this time out. With fewer players, or a more effective traitor, or worse early card draws, we could have lost. As it was a few of us were knocked down to 1 life at times and Ted even had to use the Grail. So I'm not ready to say that our strategy was foolproof or anything!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Xbox360 Backwards Compatibility

Microsoft has released an initial list of 200 or so Xbox games that will be playable on the 360 hardware. I did a quick count and about 15 of my games are supported, including some heavy hitters like both Halo games, the GTA series, Fable, DOA3, Crimson Skies, Simpsons and Star Wars series, the first Prince of Persia game, and so on. My biggest disappointment is that Panzer Dragoon Orta is not present. There are a lot of games I do NOT own that are also there which pleases me as I was unable to play them in the past. This list includes Ninja Gaiden, Sid Meier's Pirates!, Half-Life 2, and Jade Empire. Some noticeable absences here are Doom 3 and Psychonauts. Supposedly this list will be updated as time goes on and I really hope they follow through on that. But in any event this is a pretty nice list on its own.


Sunday night we broke out my new copy of Keythedral and gave it a whirl. First impression is that this game is even more impressive visually than I originally thought. Five players, each with their own privacy screen and 10 workers, and every piece of art is different - none of the amazing little illustrations of Blue's workers are duplicated for Red. The tiles themselves all have distinct illustrations as well, as do the cards. The two main playing boards have wonderful art as well. My only visual complaint is that the stained glass (purple) and wood (brown) cubes are hard to distinguish at times.

It also plays pretty well. It does feel somewhat like a luckless version of Settlers, and with a lot more screwage. Unfortunately it also shares with Settlers the feeling that a large portion of your success in the game is decided in the initial placement of your houses. In some ways it's even worse in Keythedral, as there's no easy way to relocate your production centers. However as we learn the game this will balance out I think, and there are a lot of possible moves to make. We both liked it quite a bit and I'm looking forward to another play.

Drinking Happy Bird

Lauren noticed this new store in Pasadena called The Toy Dept. and took me there as a surprise on Sunday afternoon, knowing how much I enjoy browsing around these places. Very cool store, lots of classic stuff like tin robots, windups, the Mister books, that sort of thing. I picked up a Duffman bobblehead that doesn't bobble so much, and a Drinking Happy Bird (my model has a slightly longer beak and a green tail-feather but otherwise appears as in the picture). With the tagline on the box of 'Once he/she starts Drinking he/she won't stop!', how could I resist? This was a resounding success, he slows down over time but he can keep drinking for about 12 hours! He has joined my workdesk menagerie, which now includes a Simpsons calendar, way too many Stikfas toys, and a Dallas bubblegum trading card featuring Jock and J.R. Ewing. Lauren picked up a device that counts the licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I attended my first GameGathering this afternoon. This is a spinoff of SoCalGamesDay, it's in a smaller space but a lot of the same people were there. I played four new games and won or tied for the win in three of them, not too shabby.

First up was the auction game Vegas Showdown. This is the latest release under the new Avalon Hill label. It felt like a combination of several existing German games, there were elements of Princes of Florence, Alhambra, and Amun-Re in this. Nothing wrong with that, most German games are derivative of others, and even if there was nothing particularly novel about this, it all came together in a nice package with a good theme. It's mainly of interest because this is a game that actually will show up in mainstream stores due to the Hasbro connection, and for that space it is a very good game. I tied for the win here.

After grabbing some lunch, I played Pallazo, another auction game. Much like Vegas Showdown, there wasn't all that much new to me here, but it came together nicely. I took some risks and managed to win in a game against three others who had played before, which is always a nice accomplishment. It was playable in about 40 minutes or so which is a plus. I probably wouldn't buy this but I'd be happy to play it again.

I played about 20 minutes of a second game of Vegas Showdown after that, filling in for someone who bailed to play in a tournament that was starting up. I won this one as well but the other guy should get most of the credit!. Following that I got to play my favorite game of the day by far - Ubongo. This feels like boardgame Tetris, you get various puzzles and Tetris-like pieces and fit them into the puzzle shape within a time limit. Finishing faster gets you first crack at gems of different colors, and you're trying to amass a majority in a color to win. Who cares about the gems though - the puzzle solving was fast and furious and so much fun I barely paid attention to the gem collecting. In the end I lucked out, I misunderstood the scoring rules but did so well in the puzzles (I solved every one, finishing first about 3/4 of the time) that I came away with the win here. This is a very fast game, it only took about 20 minutes, but it was so fun and different. Not sure if I want to pick up a copy, as it is a little bit expensive for what it is, but I am going to give it some thought.

Finally I played Dragon Delta. This is a program-your-moves simultaneous-selection game akin to RoboRally. This type of game is fun and all, but the main strategy seems to be second-guessing, like the "which cup is poisoned" game in The Princess Bride. Still the other aspects of the game were cool, and it was fun balancing the little bridges. I did not win this one but I had a good time losing!

After that I headed home with only two small regrets. I had brought Traumfabrik because someone on the mailing list had requested it. He never showed up so I didn't end up playing. The other disappointment was that although there were at least two copies of Caylus there, the timing didn't work out and I wasn't able to try it. No big deal though. All in all it was a very fun day, the people were cool, I got to learn a few new games, and most importantly they were all a lot of fun. Winning so much was just gravy; this was much better than I usually do at these things!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Grab Bag

Due to the Thanksgiving absence of Lauren and I, and my brother's family, we are unable to do our traditional post-meal Christmas Grab Bag drawing. This is where we each get a name of someone else, and out of the entire group that is the only person we have to shop for. For people outside of the Grab Bag (like nieces and nephews) you still have to buy, and you also cannot be matched with (and thus must buy for unless you want to sleep on the couch) your spouse.

Last year drawing out of a hat was a terribly frustrating task. There are seven members in the Grab Bag, and we drew about 10 times but kept pulling a spouse or your own name and having to start over. Eventually we gave up and went with a pseudo-random solution where my dad pulled random pairings and then shuttled names around to avoid conflicts. This year I wrote a program to do it. Quick and dirty but it works quite well, and it hides the results even from me (as long as I don't look at the individual output files!). If any readers are in need of a solution for their own families, I can post the program.

PBW Amun-Re

Eagle-eyed viewers of the blog will note some link changes on the sidebar. In particular, I am now involved in a Play-By-Web game of Amun-Re. I will bet that this game will move considerably slower than my last game of Wallenstein on SpielByWeb, because of the higher level of player interaction during the auction phase. Hopefully players can check in quickly. Amun-Re remains one of my very favorite games - as of now it is ranked #3 on my BGG Top 10. I hope playing by this method contains some of the fun of the face to face version.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Continuing my theme of "childhood stuff I missed out on," I never have read any of the C.S. Lewis Narnia books. Earlier this week I decided to rectify the situation, and picked up the box set of all 7 Narnia books from Target. It was cheap, only thirty bones, and buying any single book from there would have run between $10 and $15. My aim is to read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe prior to the release of the movie on December 9th. The only question is, which order should I read them in? I am leaning towards the chronological event order, rather than the published order. They are short books, I should be able to get through the first two easily by the time the film is released.

My favorite piece of trivia about the movie on IMDB is this: "Michelle Pfeiffer was offered the role of the White Witch, but turned it down due to family obligations. She was the only major Hollywood star to have been contacted about the movie." Apparently Liam Neeson doesn't qualify as a major Hollywood star!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

One of my "I can't believe you've never seen it!" movies is the cult classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I have seen snippets of it but never the whole thing, it always struck me as somewhat creepy and just not a style I particularly enjoyed. Last night Lauren and I watched the 2005 adaptation, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was pretty lukewarm on this. Johnny Depp was often very funny in this, and a few scenes were really great, but on the whole it still had the uncomfortable feelings I associate with the earlier version. The Oompa Loompas in particular were very disconcerting, I did not like the massive computer generated effect there at all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Game Night - Pirates and Doges

Played two games last night at CalTech, both of which followed a similar pattern. First up was Pirate's Cove. I jumped out to a big lead mainly by avoiding combat, which is my general strategy for this game. That's really my only beef with the game, it seems safest to stay away from fighting, which is contrary to a dicechucking pirating game. Anyway after awhile the other two guys playing had to gang up and sink me which slowed me down a lot. I ended up coming in second. The game was very fun as usual. There are very few highly random theme-over-mechanics games that I have learned in the past few years that I actually really enjoy, and this is near the top of my list.

Next up was San Marco. I led for almost the entire game but gradually saw my board position erode as the other 3 players went after me. I ended up managing a tie for second and that was by the skin of my teeth. I have a general problem in games where I sprint the first half of a marathon and then sputter over the finish line. A lot of these games encourage you to disguise your strength; if you come out scoring points, you'll get bashed again and again. Anyway I was still pleased on the whole, this is normally a game I am terrible at, it was nice to do well for awhile at least. This game has a great central mechanic that I haven't seen elsewhere, where one player is given a set of good cards and bad cards, and splits them into various piles, and the other players pick which pile they want. You know, like two kids deciding how to cut one piece of cake. It makes for very difficult decisions, and I often make bad ones in this game, but it is a really interesting problem that I enjoy no matter how it turns out.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Creepy Dad

Check out this article about abstinence that Fark linked to today. In particular note this bit:

MacIntyre, who thrills to find dates through the College Coalition, wears a silver "purity ring," which her father slipped onto her finger during a mountain ceremony. When she gets married, she says, her father will give the ring to her husband.

I guess they got the idea from Joe Simpson, who is still creepier.

Weekend Recap

Friday night was Girl's Night Out for Lauren and some of her school friends. Look out Olive Garden! I just hung out at home and watched Alexander. Or tried to watch it at least. I am a big fan of the (usually historic) epic. Ben-Hur. Spartacus. Braveheart. I even really liked Troy. This movie bored me so bad. I saw through the conquering of Babylon, which took about an hour. The battle scene was in some ways impressive, the aerial shots in particular were cool. But other than that it was just confusing and not well explained. I did not get to any of the romantic scenes so I cannot comment on them. I cut my losses and spent the next couple of hours cleaning the house. After Lauren got home we played a quick game of Through the Desert.

Update: Alan reminded me at lunch of the other TERRIBLE part of Alexander - the musical score. Vangelis has composed some memorable stuff, like the theme from Chariots of Fire, but the music in Alexander seemed wholly inappropriate. It wasn't rousing or epic, I really noticed the score while watching, and not in a good way.

Saturday morning I trekked to the cable company's branch office and managed to get a replacement HD-DVR (and yet another account adjustment in my favor). Finally I have a box that works on all fronts. This was just in time to record the Miami-Va. Tech game. What a stomping by the 'Canes. Saturday night we watched The Abyss. Lauren had never seen it and it had been awhile for me. This is really a fantastic movie, we watched the standard edition which I prefer. I like the extended edition's extra time with the NTIs, but it is just a little too preachy for me. Anyway James Cameron really needs to make more non-documentary movies, his stuff is so damn good. I was pleased to recognize Ken Jenkins, who plays one of the topside Benthic Petroleum guys in this movie. He is more recognizable as Dr. Kelso from Scrubs.

Sunday morning was the arduous chore of cleaning our oven. What a nightmare, I'll leave it at that. Seeing the G-Men win again was awesome. We watched Stuck On You which was a lot better than expected. This is the latest dumb movie I get for free as a result of my Blockbuster membership. There were the obvious sight gags but there was some pretty funny stuff in there too. The sports montage had some good laughs, and the way they filmed Walt's scenes in "Honey and the Beaze" was also clever and had some very funny moments. I'd rank this as better than Kingpin and Me, Myself & Irene, worse than Dumb And Dumber and There's Something About Mary.

Finally we watched the live West Wing episode. Of course it was only live on the East coast, and we recorded it on top of that. This is maybe the worst episode of the West Wing ever. Being live just made it look worse, because they tried to make it look like live video instead of the nice soft film look. The "it could only happen live" moments like the format departure or the heckler just came off as silly. Also I was hoping we'd maybe see some more behind the scenes wrangling. It ended up just being an exhaustively boring rundown of their platforms - has anyone forgotten that these are not real candidates and I don't need that level of detail? Hell, I don't even watch REAL presidential debates!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Business Cards

Boing Boing has an entry up about one guy's solution for storing his business cards. I wonder how many readers know that old Tibs collected business cards as a youngster? I amassed quite a collection. I also used basically the same storage technique as this guy, it's not rocket science. Most of the cards I got were pretty boring but occasionally you'd get someone with a weird name or funny picture on their card. I vividly remember a black business card with gold design on it from somewhere in Pebble Beach, that was sent to me by friends who moved from NJ to the left coast. I also remember that my favorite hotspot (for quantity, certainly not quality) was department store cosmetics departments. Every one of those counters has a business card. I'm sure there are others but at the time I wasn't able to just drive myself anyplace so the opportunities for acquisition were reasonably limited.

The One Hundred

If there's one thing that boardgaming probably doesn't need, it's another "best of" list. BoardGameGeek is inundated with GeekLists at this point, the overwhelming majority of which bore even me to tears. Who really cares what some schmoe in Montana found at his local Goodwill this weekend? However, occasionally there are great lists, like the truly excellent annual Spiel des Josh lists, or like today's entry, The One Hundred.

This is a compilation of the Top 15 games as ranked by various luminaries in the online boardgaming scene. So far #100-#91 have been revealed. Out of these I have played 4 (Domaine, Capitol, Dvonn, and Samurai) and own 1 (Domaine).

Two Player Ra

After disappointing recap/rerun episodes of America's Next Top Model and Lost, Lauren and I turned to one of my latest game acquisitions for our evening's entertainment. We decided to try the two player variant for Ra. As promised, it worked quite well with only two players. This is a rarity among auction games, the only other one I own that I think works well with just two is O Zoo Le Mio, and that's blind bidding. I ended the first epoch with a big lead, but netted 0 points in the second. So we were close going into the third round...but my monuments ended up scoring a lot of points and I ended up with a fairly comfortable win.

Update: I remembered Goa - this is another auction game I own that actually works well with only two players.

Our initial impression was that we should have changed a few more rules. The base game has rules for rewarding the winner in some categories, and penalizing the loser. With two players this effect is even more pronounced. For instance, having the most valuable bidding suns at game end is supposed to be worth +5 to the winner, and having the least is worth -5. In a 5 player game this is great. However, in our game which I won 47-32, this is a huge swing. Had I lost the bidding suns count, final score would have been 37-42 with Lauren winning. Most games will have some sort of swing decision like this that you can point to, but a 20 point swing seemed like way too much. And indeed, from a glimpse at various message boards, it seems most people play without penalties for least pharaohs/suns (there is still a -5 penalty for no civilization tiles) in the two player edition. I think we'll play this way next time which should be soon, as this was also a very fast game.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In Mourning

You may have noticed that the blog is clad in black today. Well that is because the Gaghans are out of the Amazing Race. It was tough holding back the emotions but if Carissa could do it on the mat, then so can old Tibs. Truly a great family that caught some bad luck this episode with the coffee bean challenge, but even in defeat they stuck together and went out the right way.

I was impressed (if unsurprised) by Tony Paolo's herculean efforts at the banana challenge. DJ Paolo was weaker than I expected. I know bananas are heavy but he whined like a child. Still the Paolos on the whole were less annoying than usual.

The Weavers suck. "Pray, Rachel, pray!"? Making fun of a hardworking garbageman? Mocking the Godlewski sisters' breasts? "That's the dumbest volcano I ever saw"? "Lefto or righto?"? This team can't go 2 minutes without supplying me with another reason to hate them. I mean really, this is a team from Florida that doesn't appear to have ever been to an airport before. Unless Daytona Beach is a hotbed of volcanic activity that I didn't realize, there is no excuse for these morons to be so jaded. Only one team yielded you Weaver clan, and maybe one other team besides that dislikes you, so enough with the persecution complex.

The only people who seem even less fond of the Weavers than I am are Lynn and Alex, their blog entries are hilarious. I would have just linked to their profile pages, but it looks like someone at the CBS web production team forgot to swap out the Latin placeholder text with real information. That never would have happened while I was working at Viacom.

Current hopes for the win: Linzes, Bransens, Godlewskis, Paolos, Weavers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Xbox 360

I ran over to Best Buy at lunch to pick up the new DVD of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (I also picked up The Abyss). Saw some interesting stuff there, like an Office Space Extra Special Edition, some widescreen televisions (my TV is having some issues and I am just trying to figure out what kind of prices are out there, to help decide if I want to repair it, replace it, or live with it), and more interesting still, an Xbox 360 kiosk with playable Peter Jackson's King Kong.


My initial impressions are kind of subdued. It looked good, but not great - it didn't appear much better than most regular Xbox games, and I don't think it looked quite as good as top graphical titles like Halo 2 or Panzer Dragoon Orta. Part of that may be that it was on a smallish LCD, and those tend to not look great to me. Another problem was a lack of control info, I had a hard time telling what to do in the demo. I was playing as Kong against a T-Rex and there wasn't much time to experiment with buttons before the dino attacked. The controller was nice, I still prefer the bigger original Xbox controller, but this was definitely comfortable. All in all I guess I am a little less excited about the Xbox 360 than I was before playing it, as usual I will really have to see some more games before I really decide. Gears of War does look like a tremendous game for instance. But that's not due til sometime in 2006. I also really need some more info on backwards compatibility. There are a lot of original Xbox games that are getting dirt cheap now, and I want to be able to play them. Anyway, I probably won't be rushing out to get a 360 at launch based on this impression. We'll see how that holds up, I have been known to be weak about such things in the past!