Elefunk is pretty cool

It was only five dollars. It also looked cool, but for $5 how can you go wrong? I'm slightly disappointed it didn't come with trophy support, and like several other PSN games, it could use some help with its leader board display (take some hints from Super Stardust and Super Rub a Dub people), but its pretty fun.

Sorry, let me back up a moment, we're talking Elefunk. Its a cute new physics / engineering puzzle game featuring elephants trying to cross bridges that badly need some support upgrades. You add trusses, supports, ropes, wires, spans, etc. in an attempt to make them withstand the weight of the elephants (and other critters) as they cross. You're also trying to beat the clock and use as few pieces as possible if you want a high score.

The game plays quite well. Its not as complex as a bridge building simulator I once tried for kicks, but it appears to have some decent physics as they're implemented for the game. Note, as the game points out, that only joints can break -- pieces in between joints simply detach from said joints. Also, joints are always mobile; you can't make a nice solid beam 20 units wide, its like you've strung them together with putty instead of a good weld, but once you get the hang of it, its quite entertaining.

Have I beaten it yet? Nope. Got through the first few levels (up to one called something like "this is going to be tricky") before deciding to quit for the evening. I'll definitely go back and try levels over to do them faster or more efficiently, although it would be nice to see the stress on your joints in some type of colour coding before they break, to judge how close you got to failure. Also, trophies. Small puzzle games should all feature trophies.

The verdict? Definitely worth $5. Needs in-game music. Needs trophies. Very replayable. Could use higher resolution graphics -- somewhat blurry to me, not as sharp as Super Stardust for example. Music is so so, but crisp and fairly well recorded.


Sony E3 PSP video announcement

So it would seem that Sony has just announced their new downloadable video content for the store is to be available tonight, and transferable to the PSP. Its not quite my wishlist item, but its very cool nonetheless. From their live casting of the presentation:

  • 12.23 - Jack talks about the new video download service. On Day 1 - Sony Pictures, Fox, MGM, Lions Gate, Warner Brothers, Disney, and more will have content available. A huge differentiator - you can take movies and tv on the go via PSP.
  • 12.25 - Eric Lempel takes the stage (you remember him, right), to show a live demo of the video download service - it’s part of the existing PLAYSTATION Store - there’s a new video tab. Each studio has a page. Eric shows how to buy, rent, or preview a movie.
  • 12.29 - “How long will it take to download an SD movie?” The answer is about an hour for a 2 hour movie. However, with progressive downloading, you can begin watching your video almost instantaneously.
  • 12.30 - Eric demonstrates how to copy movies to the PSP. You can do this either through a PS3, or through the PC Store. BTW, this video download service will be available TONIGHT (applause). We’ll be adding new titles each week.

You have to admit that's pretty cool. Its not exactly Netflix on the 360, but its a good start, and we'll see how it goes. Having PSP integration for watching movies on the go is awesome though.

PSP wishlist

I'm the happy owner of a red Kratos PSP, which I got for Father's day (and half for my birthday). I've been enjoying it quite a bit, playing the included God of War game, ignoring the bundled Super Bad movie on UMD, and trying to wrestle it back from my wife as she works her way through Patapon. I have been playing with Remote Play and picture viewing and loving the screen for showing off photos and home videos.

I have, however, come up with some features that I would love to see addressed in the future, and hopefully they will be implemented some day:

  • Saving of music/videos/pictures viewed via remote play to the connected PSP.
  • Optional resizing and transcoding of video/music/photos to the screen resolution of the PSP. The PS3 should be able to easily transcode video it supports into video the PSP can play and transmit the result.
  • Full-time wifi scanner that constantly updates the wifi visibility list until it is stopped instead of timing out and requiring a re-scan.
  • Bluetooth support for two-way headsets as well as headphones and file transfers with cell phones, mini keyboards, etc.
  • The RSS features from the PSP implemented on the PS3.
  • Downloadable day planner and IMAP E-mail applications. VNC viewer if you really want to make me happy.

There it is, if you have any suggestions, feel free to add them as comments below.


Geeking out Linux style

Every following has its events, whether its Daytona and Indianapolis for their respective racing fans, or conventions for various sci-fi followings. As a computer geek who's bent on using Linux everywhere, the one I'll be at this summer is the Ottawa Linux Symposium later this month.

The Symposium brings together Linux people of all areas of expertise including simple fans and programmers, kernel hackers and company reps. As a simpleton myself by comparison, I enjoy hobnobbing with the likes of file system designers and SCSI engineers. The list of events this year is quite impressive, with some very interesting topics including SELinux and Bluetooth audio streaming, energy management, mobile devices and BitTorrent distribution, it should be a very enlightening extended weekend.

My employer has paid for me to attend (I am after all a Linux system administrator and programmer for a living), but I'll be covering my personal, travel and hotel costs. Since it happens that the convention falls on the week of my wife's birthday and a week before our 10th anniversary, we're making an outing of it and having ourselves a little vacation too. No, my wife probably won't attend any of the events (and isn't registered to do so anyway), but she did enjoy meeting some interesting people last time we attended, and getting to ride in a home-made electric car (something Mazda hadn't intended for their Miata, I'm sure).

Since my fellow geeks at the convention will have the building wired for wireless (lol), I may be blogging random updates as they happen starting July 22nd. Check this space for more details, with the tag OLS2008.


In-game XMB will have to wait

Well it would appear that Sony heeded my advice and took down the PS3 2.40 patch. Now, according to Sony, it wasn't to give us something to complain about, but rather because people were complaining anyway. It seems the firmware didn't take for all users, and gave a few some problems, so they took it back down for debugging. Maybe it'll be back up soon, maybe not.

Personally, I was somewhat anxious to check out trophies so I was online Wednesday morning checking for the update and got it just fine, as well as the Super Stardust update with Trophy support. I've been working on unlocking them ever since (PSN ID Maluraq if you'd like to compare).

The in-game XMB access is pretty cool and very smooth I might add. Its not as fast as when you're not playing a game, but I can scroll through my trophies and friends list and look at music titles and such while a car slowly rotates in the background (the live 'screensaver' view from Gran Turismo 5: Prologue). In fact, that's what most impressed me -- the XMB does not automatically pause the game that you're playing, but instead leaves it running (unless the game itself chooses to pause as a result) which makes for some cool background graphics in the case of GT5:P or when running Folding@Home.

I'll be getting those trophies before anyone else can while you guys wait for the firmware to be available again :-)