Local retailers screw Halo 3 release up

Halo 3 bubble shield Last week Wednesday Microsoft invited a select few community members to their offices to pre-play the latest in the Halo series, Halo 3. To protect the millions of dollars invested in the various international and even local launch efforts we were required to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) which prevented any of use speaking about the game-play until closer to the launch.

One sad thing was that we weren’t allowed to get our promotional copies right there and then due to the international embargo which we all accepted. However the following day, reports started rolling in of people picking up copies from stores around the country. Yes retail chain stores like CNA seem to have no regard for an international release date.

So you may argue that its only a game and its not such a big deal. But unfortunately its not just a game, its Halo 3, and its the biggest game of the year. Every game of this magnitude suffers some international slip-ups in the retail sector and it is to be expected, but I don’t believe the South African retail sector needs to try set a world record for this.

Just a few weeks ago the local Xbox 360 community was moaning about the delays in the local release of BioShock which was an unfortunate but necessary delay due to an international required change in the local distributor. Imagine what it will be like in future when other local release dates are then pushed out to protect the international release dates. I bet getting your copy of Halo 3 a week earlier won’t exactly make up for lets say a 2 week delay on Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed and Project Gotham Racing 4.

Its unfortunate that the real fans generally pre-order months in advance and in this case will get their copies after everyone else who can just walk into their local CNA and pickup a copy. So niche stores like BT Games and online retailers like Take2 and Kalahari will also suffer as pre-orders are canceled.

And then we consider the midnight launch competitions and events. Oh great, now everyone that has already picked up a copy has an unfair advantage in the competition. Not to mention the expenses in planning and executing the launch events; who cares about launching a game when its already on the street.

So we can thank our lame retailers, yes they know who they are, for this and for the future repercussions that will most likely result.

I encourage anyone who has seen a copy of Halo 3 on a store shelf before Wednesday the 26th of September 2007 to comment on this post. I will then post the list of offending retailers for all to see and shame.

[tags]Halo 3,South Africa,rant,BioShock,CNA[/tags]

Halo 3 Game Guide and Silverlight

image I can’t figure out if this post is about Microsoft’s Flash killer, Silverlight, or the most anticipated game of the year, Halo 3. Tim Sneath posted about the new Halo 3 Game Guide that has gone live and its using Silverlight to get the message across.

With the local launch of Halo 3 this coming Wednesday, the 26th of September 2007, the Halo 3 Game Guide is a valuable resource for South African gamers that don’t know too much about what happened in the original Halo and Halo 2; not that I believe you need to know the story to enjoy the game.

The game guide also explains the game controls, heads-up display, characters, weapons, equipment, vehicles and explains how to use some of the very cool new features like The Forge.

The Forge is a new game mode that allows you to tweak, create, or even destroy the objects present on any multiplayer map. In short, welcome to world domination!

If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy for your Xbox 360 yet then I suggest you get hold of a retailer like BT Games or a major retailer and reserve your copy quickly as this game is going to be flying off the shelves this week.

[tags]Halo 3,Silverlight,guide[/tags]

Are you gonna braai?

 National Braai Day logo On the 24th of September 2007 its a public holiday, Heritage Day in face. But a bunch of people have decided that is really just a great day to have a braai and are encouraging all South Africans to get friends and family together and to cook up a storm in true South African style and celebrate National Braai Day.

Our vision is to create a local day with the same festivities and impact as St Patrick’s Day in Ireland or the 4th July in America. National Braai Day is a non-profit initiative, however to measure the success we need the help of the nation, and this is where you come in.

Show your support of National Braai Day by sending an SMS to 34761 on 24 September with the number of people attending your braai. We will release numbers to the press on a real time basis, and there will be a live counter on this web site.

If you’re part of the official count, we will send you a return SMS with the number of South Africans around the fire with you.

Don’t miss out, start your fire and don’t forget to SMS.

So are you going to get your charcoal and tongs out and have a braai?

[tags]event,National Braai Day,South Africa,holiday[/tags]

Halo 3 and The Parlotones launch together

The Parlotones & Halo 3 Yes, Halo 3, the hottest video game of the year is going to be launched next week and The Parlotones are launching their new album, A world next door to yours, at the same time. The launch is going to be taking place on the 27th of September 2007 at the Partyhouse at The Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate. Tickets will be available through Computicket.

[tags]Halo 3,Xbox 360,The Parlotones,event[/tags]

Silverlight 1.1 UserControl C# template code does not follow best practices

Why does the Microsoft Visual Studio team not follow the best practices internally? When creating a Silverlight 1.1 UserControl under Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2 it generates the following code by default.

    System.IO.Stream s = this.GetType().Assembly.GetManifestResourceStream("Project1.UserControl1.xaml");
    this.InitializeFromXaml(new System.IO.StreamReader(s).ReadToEnd());

Most developers would realise that this is not good code. Why do I say this, well firstly the code is creating two objects, a System.IO.UnmanagedMemoryStream and a System.IO.StreamReader, that implement IDisposable and are not disposing the objects immediately after use. Yeah sure the finalizer will take care of any unmanaged resources at the end of the day but why not just release the resources in a predictable and up front manner. I have recommended that Microsoft use the following instead.

    using (System.IO.Stream s = this.GetType().Assembly.GetManifestResourceStream("Project1.UserControl1.xaml"))
    {
        using (System.IO.StreamReader sr = new System.IO.StreamReader(s))
        {
            this.InitializeFromXaml(sr.ReadToEnd());
        }
    }

If you feel strongly about best practices, please take a moment and vote for this on the feedback site here.

[tags]Visual Studio,Silverlight,best practices[/tags]

Disturbia review

image I was lucky to be invited to a pre-screening of Disturbia by Ster Kinekor this evening. I took my good friend Tim along and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the pace of the movie and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

To be honest I hadn’t read much about the movie and I don’t think I would have watched it unless there was nothing else on the big screen that I hadn’t already seen. The cast was a bunch of unknowns to me so that wasn’t even a draw card. I am just not normally keen to watch thriller or horror movies as they usually involve lots of blood and guts.

I won’t give away the plot but I will say that Disturbia was at least original with an ingenious mix of thrills, suspense, comedy and touch of romance binding it all together. I highly recommend it. It comes out on the South African movie circuit this Friday, the 21st of September 2007.

[tags]Disturbia,movie,review,Ster Kinekor[/tags]

Telkom in the dwang for claims

image It looks like Telkom is in a bit of a pickle over its recent “Do Broadband” advertising. A post on MyBroadband details the complaint from a consumer that says its false advertising.

Mr Moorad lodged a consumer complaint against Telkom’s “do” broadband campaign, arguing that the advertisements claims of being suitable for ‘movies, gaming and music’ is misleading.

According to the ASA website, the complainant submitted that the advertising states that one can “do” music, movies and on-line gaming, but only affords the user 1GB. “This is misleading as a DVD-quality movie is at least 4GB and online gaming needs at least 20 GB monthly to play daily.”

While I agree that the “do movies” claim is a little bit of a stretch as I doubt Telkom would promote torrents and illegal movie sharing. They must surely be referring to paid movie downloads, I can’t think why a consumer would want to pay for a highly compressed movies that are sub-DVD quality, can you?

I however don’t agree that to “do on-line gaming” you need at least 20GB monthly of bandwidth. Is Mr Moorad downloading the games before he plays them or maybe he is playing Battlefield 2. As an Xbox 360 gamer I regularly play on Xbox LIVE and its common to work on about 150MB per hour for serious online gaming including voice chatting. So 20GB equates to about 136 hours of online gaming per month which I believe is more than excessive. So the 1GB is quite capable of at least 6 hours of serious online gaming; or perhaps a whole month of online Sudoku.

In its submissions to ICASA, Telkom clearly stated that “Telkom’s ADSL service was never intended for bandwidth-hungry applications, such as gaming or online trading.”

This I find highly amusing to read. Telkom has clearly been caught out in its statements. Its time for the left hand to start talking to the right hand, and oh, while they figure that out, can they sort out the service delivery issues etcetera etcetera…

[tags]ASA,Telkom,ADSL,Xbox 360,Xbox LIVE[/tags]

Wanna win a copy of Halo 3 Legendary Edition?

TXL Halo 3 competitionEvery serious gamer out there should already know that the most anticipated game of the year, Halo 3, is launching worldwide next week. It launches on the 25th of September 2007 in the United States and South Africa and Europe will get it on the 26th of September 2007. With apparently over 4 million pre-orders this is certainly not a small release.

To coincide with the local release, the kind folks over at The Xbox Lounge are running a competition to win a limited edition copy of Halo 3 Legendary Edition valued at over R800.

Entering is simple, just SMS the keyword halo3 and your Xbox LIVE Gamertag to 35357 (e.g. halo3 CraigN). You can enter as many times as you like and each entry will cost you R3.00. The prize will be awarded at the end of September.

[tags]Halo 3,competition,The Xbox Lounge,TXL[/tags]

Windows Live doesn’t support Vista x64, yet!

As you may have noticed earlier this month, Microsoft released new builds of the Windows Live series of programs that it seems are destined to form the Windows Live Suite 2008. The individual components and their build numbers are listed below for prosperity

Unfortunately users that try to run the installer on a Windows Vista x64 system will encounter the rather obscure error message “Windows Live programs can’t be installed on this operating system.” as can be seen in the screen shot below.

image

A search using Google didn’t bring back anything useful so I wandered over to the newsgroups and found a workaround as well as the following statement from Brandon LeBlanc on Vista x64 support:

“To everyone running 64-bit and unable to install the betas – do not worry. Microsoft fully intends to support 64-bit users for the new Windows Live installer and apps at release.”

Apparently the problem is not with the actual applications or their individual installers but rather with the new shared Windows Live Installer (WLInstaller.exe) which doesn’t support x64 as yet. This is confirmed by the release notes I found for Windows Live Installer (build 1320.0823).

However I did find some users posting workarounds to the problem. The easiest solution is to run the shared installer on a x86 machine first and to then copy the MSI files and run the individual installations manually. If you don’t have access to an x86 machine then you can always hack the shared installer using a hex editor and get the installers out that way.

I’m personally very excited to check out the new Windows Live Writer features as well as the first public beta of Windows Live Photo Gallery which apparently replaces the Vista Windows Photo Gallery component.

[tags]Windows Live,Windows Live Messenger,Windows Live Writer,x64[/tags]

Zero Punctuation review of BioShock

Last night Andre introduced me to some very funny video reviews over on The Escapist. Thanks to James Francis for the original link to this video review of BioShock.

 

He has some other very cool zero punctuation reviews including Tomb Raider Anniversary, Console Rundown, Psychonauts and Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff. Go check them out, they really do rock.

PS. I was going to post the Tomb Raider Anniversary review by Zero Punctuation but Gavin beat me to it – next time I must remember to blog it here and not send out links on IM. :p

[tags]BioShock,Zero Punctuation,The Escapist[/tags]