If you read my past Discovery article, you are probably aware I was in the “really hoping Lt. Tyler was not evil” camp. If you’ve been watching Discovery for the past 3 weeks, you know I am heartbroken. Unfortunately though, IMDB spoiled it for me and potentially anyone else who visited the site between when episode 11 was announced and actually available on CBS’ app.

You see, when Discovery initially aired its pilot, Voq (the villain) was credited as Javid Iqbal and we had to wonder who the heck this awesome nobody was. Well it happens to be because the same actor showed up as another character 3 episodes later and that isn’t his real name (must be pulling a Clifton Collins Jr). As soon as episode 11 was announced however, IMDB updated Shazad Latif’s (so sexy) credit on the show to “Ash Tyler/Voq” making it pretty clear that some Manchurian Candidate stuff was about to go down.

Now don’t get me wrong, seeing a favorite hero become a villain is a trope that I adore. Star Wars may have botched it in reverse, but it can be done well. I’m still an episode behind, so he may already be dead, but here’s hoping I get to see him as the villain for at least another season.

Still though, shame IMDB. That was a crude reveal and clumsily ruined a great plot twist. Shame.


I’ve written quite a few articles in the past about how to make good choices when researching new devices online. I often recommend to consult forums and get opinions from other users, rather than just reading reviews of new owners. A number of people have mentioned to me though, how hard it can be to tell the difference between good and bad advice online.

This may sound familiar: You go to a forum or subReddit about a new thing you want to get into. It could be drones, or small board computers, or smart dishwashers, doesn’t matter. Every single person there seems to know way more than you had imagined there was to learn. You have no freakin’ clue who is an expert and who is not, because your own experience is so fresh you don’t know what to look for. So you end up just trusting the people who seem the most confident. There’s a whole fallacy about how confidence can be inversely proportionate to competence (look up the Dunning-Kruger Effect), but let’s just say this isn’t always the best idea.

So as Luke Skywalker once asked Obi-Wan Kenobi, how will you know the good from the bad? Allow me to offer you a slightly better response than “You will know.”

No matter what the topic is, you can identify bad advice by the way it is delivered. Regardless of what the opinion is, if the reasoning behind it is not logical, you can’t trust it. That’s really the simple version that this entire article boils down to: How to identify opinions that are based on bias and emotion, then disregard them.


People or opinions to just avoid entirely.

There are a few camps of thought that are just plain useless to you as a person living in the real world. The people representing them are so far outside the objective reality that we average consumers live in, that you pretty much have to toss out whatever they say. Here are a few you will commonly find in any discussion online.


The Fanboy/girl

“You should just always go with ________, because it is just better and always will be.”

These people are, in my opinion, one step up from members of crazy cults. They sit there with a demented gleam in their eye, rubbing the company logo on their device for luck. Then they go online and blast anyone and everyone who ever looked at the competitor product.

For a frame of reference, let’s use cars. Any forum about American cars is bound to have GM people, Ford people and Dodge people. All of them will insist their chosen brand is the best. For any objective buyer, these three brands are very similar and they all release models that are generally well received. What’s also true objectively is that all of them have released terrible cars, that show that they give absolutely no craps about those fans. Let’s just mention the Nova II, Pinto and the Aries and leave it at that.

So if you have any sensibility and a memory longer than a few months, you probably realize that no large company is perfect. Even a company like Apple that has a pretty solid track record over 40 years, has released quite a few duds. You don’t want to be stuck with one of those (especially if it’s as pricey as an Apple product). So whenever someone advises you to blindly trust one logo over the others, you should ignore most of what they say.


High school debate champions.

“Everything that person just said is wrong and all my opinions are absolutely fact.”

These asshats are probably some of my least favorite people on the internet. They aren’t exactly trolls per se, because they are in it for their satisfaction rather than others suffering. That doesn’t really excuse it. The point is that they are probably not even that interested in the topic at hand, they just cruise the forums looking for people to argue with.

What is most maddening, is that sometimes these people won’t even own the thing being discussed. They’ll just Google the popular opinions and construct bogus arguments just for fun. The good news is they are easy to identify. They will almost always narrow in on one specific person who seems game to argue with them. Regardless of where the topic goes, they will keep trying to argue with that person. It can become very clear cut when everyone else is just sharing experiences and two people are having their own argument. If possible, just hide their posts or block them. These people have nothing useful to offer you.


Actual Trolls

“Really you’re all just Hitler.”

A lot of internet users don’t seem to understand the word ‘troll’ and think it just means anyone who isn’t nice to them online. Troll is actually a very literal term that describes someone doing what trolls do in stories; they wait under bridges and harass passersby with stupid riddles or dismemberment. That is what a troll actually is. Someone who just lurks on internet social spaces, with no goal besides to cause others annoyance and grief.

Trolls aren’t people who have stupid opinions that they actually believe. Those are just stupid people. Trolls have no beliefs, no creed, no axe to grind. They have no reason to be on the internet besides to wreck your day. They get satisfaction from that alone.

The best way to identify honest-to-badness trolls is that they have no actual information to offer. Unlike the debater, they won’t even look up cursory facts, they just go straight to calling people offensive terms or bringing up politically incorrect issues without provocation. Trolls will fall back on the sort of logic used in primary school to get a rise out of anyone thin-skinned enough to bite.

It’s actually really tragic to come into some of these exchanges. You’ll have some poor farmer from Bumtarket, who is just trying to fix their dryer and on the other side you have internet troll genericus. Farmer Jedidina has never been called a “sheep-f*#king prairie c^$t” before and has no social tools whatsoever to respond to this besides justified outrage. Everyone’s time is wasted but the troll, who chalks up a victory and goes back to their soul-crushing job in customer service. Identify these jerks early and ignore them to avoid a lot of wasted time and anger.


People with limited experience and unlimited enthusiasm.

“I bought my first  ______ and have been using it for 2 days. I love it! Buy one now!”

These folks are the only ones on this list that I actually like and feel great compassion for. As a tech enthusiast, nothing is better than seeing that joy for the first time in another. An unfortunate byproduct is that this initial success can fill you with an extreme overconfidence that can cause you to act like one of the other people on this list. While these newcomers to whatever the thing is mean well and want you to be as happy as they are, you still need to take their views with a grain of salt.

I run into this a lot with laptops especially. You get a student or professional who has just bought their first real, somewhat expensive system that is good for more than just term papers. They are absolutely blown away by what it’s like to have a system with a modern screen, any kind of SSD and a processor that runs on more than 7 watts. To them, it’s like a revelation of power and fidelity. So they naturally go on whatever forums they can find about that device and spread that love around.

There is no shame in this at all, in fact everyone should get to experience that feeling of having a laptop that doesn’t suck. The problem is that they get involved with conversations advising others and will blanket recommend that brand based on their very limited experience. I absolutely hate having to cite experience to shut someone up, because I feel like a debater, but sometimes I just have to unload a bit and say something like: “I have fixed hundreds of laptops for decades. I have watched the designs of each brand evolve over time and I have seen what things are skimped on in one line vs. another. It is simply not accurate to recommend this brand universally as all of their models are not on par.”

So never hesitate to ask about time of ownership and number of products they have owned by that brand. You should respect everyone’s experiences, but naturally those with more familiarity will have more insight. Unfortunately the most experienced people have often learned not to get involved with these discussions. You may need to send them private messages to ask for more info. Don’t hesitate though, because they would probably love to help, they just don’t want to waste anymore of their life getting involved with online arguments.


Embittered Consumers

“_______ brand will just screw you over. They don’t care about customers at all and just want to make bad products.”

If you do fall victim to any of this or other bad advice, you may find yourself with one of those products that is a dud. Regardless of what the overall products by that brand are like, you got screwed and your money is gone. It’s quite easy to be bitter in this situation and look for a way to get revenge. One way people do this is by going beyond giving that one product a bad review and looking for ways to hurt the company’s overall reputation on social media and forums.

Like the above group, these folks have a very valid viewpoint. You should definitely be aware of them as part of the consumer reality, but not necessarily follow them down their rabbit hole of negativity. Again using the example of computers, Apple and Dell are both brands I recommend based on my experience with them over many years. On the other hand, both brands have made many bad computers and I have one of each in my home right now. The trick is to separate one bad model from a company that has an overall track record that is better than its competitors. While Apple, Dell, Microsoft and Asus are not without failures, their overall quality has been proven over time to be better than Toshiba, Acer and HP. So that is the general opinion I share with people before going into specific series and models.

So if someone seems extremely negative and embittered, try to separate their experience from their emotions. If this is just based on a bad experience with one phone rep or having to wait too long at a store not owned by the device manufacturer, be wary. Even if the person is describing a genuinely failed product, remember that even the best products have a failure rate and when enough have sold that equals a real person with a bad unit. Even devices like the Bose Wave Radio or Kitchenaid Mixer, which have legendary reliability rates, still have defective units sent out to consumers.

Just try to keep in proportion the views of that consumer vs. the vast majority of consumers. No matter how horrible their story is and how afraid you are of that being you, the odds are the odds. If a product has sold millions of units and has overwhelmingly positive reviews, your odds are good. If it’s somewhere in the middle, you will really have to weigh how bad and how numerous these complaints are. Also be aware of what they are complaining about. What is a deal-breaking detail to one may be irrelevant to another.



What to look for.

So beyond just what to avoid, I should also tell you what details and trends in opinions you should look for as useful.



This is almost too obvious to state, but of course experience matters. Unless it is overly clouded by long-formed opinions or biases, experience is pretty much the most important factor in giving good advice.

So no matter what it is you are trying to learn about, weigh much heavier the opinions of someone who has actually worked in that industry for a long time. Unless they are literally a rep from that company, experience with as many versions and models of a thing as possible will give you the best objective view. Also I would credit professional, licensed experience over ‘street smarts’ in most cases. I’m not saying that backyard handyfolk don’t know their stuff, but they rely on natural talent and unique tricks they learned over a lifetime more than science, so taking their advice may just get you into trouble if you lack the same.

More important in my opinion than length of experience, is breadth of experience. Someone may have worked in an industry for decades, but if their company always used the same model of tools, they don’t have any experience with other models. The best kind of advice you can usually get is from someone who fixes multiple brands of the same thing. A lawnmower repairperson at a generic shop has worked on many models by every brand. They don’t just work at a John Deere shop that scorns other brands and they don’t just work at a dealership that only services newer models. So they will be able to tell you exactly how many of the cheaper line of mowers break down vs. the more expensive one. It won’t just be their opinion (hopefully) or experience with one mower, it’s an aggregate of thousands of machines.

Look for the person who deals with the thing every day, but is posting online privately, not as a company rep. They will usually give you a straight up opinion, because they get paid by the hour and would rather just see less angry people at their parts counter. They want to talk about their industry, but not to brag up one brand or product. They just care about what they do and are happy to give you the same free advice they would any of their customers.


Calm Sincerity

This goes beyond just online advice to a general life tip. The people who seem really worked up over something are usually the last people you want to consult about practical matters. If it’s politics or football, sure, get all worked up. If we’re talking about what brand of tires to buy, there is absolutely no reason not to have a calm and reasonable discussion based on facts.

As a general rule, pay more attention to the people that have absolutely nothing to gain or lose by your decision. I don’t just mean financially, like if they work for the company, this also includes pride or competitiveness. If someone seems to be really worked up over you agreeing with them, you have to wonder what is going on in their head. After all, at the end of the day if you buy a bad thing when I tried to advise you not to, I’m just going to move on with my life and wish you luck. Any moderately sane person should have the same outlook with complete strangers on the internet.

The people that are the most helpful just want to share their experiences, in the hope that it informs your decision. They don’t usually push their views too hard and mostly stick to their own practical experience, rather than attacking any other viewpoints. Most of all they will be concerned about the facts and will usually provide links and even pictures and videos of their own usage. They just want to share what they know, not show you how much more they know. Any good enthusiast just wants you to join the club and get up to speed as soon as possible. The really good ones don’t even care if you join the other club and will still invite you to visit theirs.


Unconventional Knowledge… sometimes.

A really important thing to know is when the official answer isn’t good enough. I have to once again mention Apple, because the official answers on their forums are never good enough. Apple moderators are so obtuse, they will actually refuse to tell you about a feature of their own products, because they don’t trust your ability to use it properly. I’ve definitely called the bulk of humanity stupid on multiple occasions, but that is downright ridiculous. The short version is you just cannot always trust the mainstream opinion on something. Sometimes you have to go to the alternate sources that think “outside the box” to get the complete picture.

While this is a very important avenue of research, it carries a lot of risk as well. When I say unconventional, we’re talking about enthusiasts and crazy YouTube posters that do not do things the way official support recommends, by a long shot. These are the Nikola Teslas of the world, who are too smart and too wild to actually work at the company, but know more than the people that designed the thing. While these sort of enthusiasts have by far the most knowledge, they often have trouble visualizing things from the point of an average consumer.

When seeking information from these sources, always keep a clear view of your own reality and abilities. This person on youtube may have improved their gas mileage by removing their rear window, but do you really want to drive to work every day with wind whistling through your car? These are the kinds of things to keep in mind when going down this rabbit hole. Most of these people are a little unhinged and will do some things that most of us might not in our everyday use. Always remember to picture yourself following their advice in your normal life before going too crazy with aftermarket fixes and tweaking.

With that awareness though, do not hesitate to seek info from people outside the normal expert community. Sometimes you really can get twice the performance out of a cheap thing by adding a paperclip and a rubber band. This can sometimes save you a lot of money and time, as long as you are smart about which advice to take.



At the moment, this is most of the what to look for/avoid I can think of. As always there is endless nuance to learn over time, but these are the big ones to avoid going down the rabbit hole of someone else’s delusion. If I were to boil it down to one easy to remember concept, it would be to avoid people with an axe to grind, while seeking out people with a lot of experience to share. Hopefully the two are not the same.

What you are ultimately doing is separating the people who socialize on the internet for their own gain and your potential loss, from those who genuinely want you to succeed. The good ones are usually friendly and neighborly, while the bad ones get nasty in a hurry. This is not always true though, as many a grouchy old expert can come off rude, but have the best of intentions. Learn to infer people’s motives to be sure they aren’t just hopping on your topic to continue their crusade against whatever. If you can avoid that, you are most of the way there. If you keep in mind the things I said above, you should have a pretty good idea of how to do that in at least most internet forums and Reddit.

Good luck, because no matter how good some of the help out there is, you’re going to need it. When one uses the internet, the last thing one wants to do is actually ASK for opinions. When that is what you have to do however, steel yourself and keep your wits about you.





When you have a bad script, a bad cast and no hope of matching the prequel’s profits, you can call me baby. I’ll give you that one scene the critics will say didn’t totally suck.

Now although this is a satire article, I don’t want you to think for one minute it reflects negatively on the man above. Oded Fehr has rightfully earned credibility as a beloved actor playing roles like Jafar on Once Upon a Time and his many, many well received voice roles in television and video games. This farsiferous award is for his now decades-long career as a saver of bad sequel plots. Whether it’s The Mummy Returns or the recently released video game expansion, Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris (where he plays the titular character), you can count on Oded Fehr to read that script like it isn’t absolute garbage.

I am bashing Destiny 2’s expansion here a bit, because it continues a long-standing Bungie tradition: taking popular tropes from the last 4 decades of popular sci fi, putting it in a blender and firing it at the player rapid-fire while they are also being shot literally. I’ve bashed their scripts at great length before, Curse of Osiris is nothing new. Unlike many of the live action films Mr. Fehr has worked on though, in the Destiny games he is also joined by a stellar cast throughout, who have to read equally awful scripts.

This article though, is about the glorious contrast brought to bad stories by Oded Fehr. I don’t want to waste any more of it reliving the pain surrounding him in those projects.

I like to cite examples going all the way back to the second Resident Evil film, which shall not be named. Mr. Fehr is inexplicably playing a Latino American soldier named Carlos, although the actor’s accent is still unmistakably Israeli. Somehow he manages to look Milla Jovovich in the eye and deliver his lines with at least some dignity. The scenes where either those two actors are talking, or one of them is talking to Jared Harris, are seriously the only not-awful scenes in the movie. It’s amazing.

We can go back a few years farther, to The Mummy Returns, where Mr. Fehr is literally the only person working on the entire film who cares. Bravo.

A few nights ago, when I was finishing the plot of Curse of Osiris, when Oded Fehr started talking I was immediately like “Whoa, whoa, good delivery, what is happening here?” At a point where even the legendary Gina Torres seems to be struggling with a powerful bad script, in swoops Oded Fehr to give a crap. You would think he was playing the ancient god Osiris, instead of just some dude we heard about a couple of times in the first game. The gravitas was simply excellent.


While this is definitely a humorous article, there is no shame in doing such a dirty job well and that is serious. I would liken Oded Fehr’s performances in these roles to the latter days of Orson Welles, but in totally different context. Orson Welles would come in after a night of hard drinking and eating, to a film he hated and a script he hadn’t even read and bust out an amazing voice performance. Whether he was a giant planet-eating head/moon in Transformers or some ridiculous looking monster in a Scooby Doo TV movie, Welles delivered every time.

The major difference is obviously that Fehr is not at the bitter end of his career and doing it to support compulsive eating and drinking, in the hopes it will kill him. He just treats it like his job and takes it really seriously, whether it’s an Emmy award winning show, or something that everyone knows is going to suck. Also I’m pretty sure he reads the scripts most of the time and takes the job anyway.

I at least really appreciate that. Because I’m that fan that goes to see all 32 awful Resident Evil movies, or has actually viewed The Mummy Returns more than once. I also have a really sweet headset that clearly reproduces video game voice acting if I don’t turn it off. So I personally really appreciate the work of Oded Fehr.



I don’t want to say I love being the contrary voice, but it does provide novelty for me to write about. If you read any 10 reviews of a Discovery episode, you will probably see some very snide jabs about how the show isn’t Trek enough, isn’t nerdy enough, blah blah. I’m going to disagree with that both in principle and in semantic details. Here we go.


Discovery’s Trek Pseudoscience is Perfect Within the Reboot Timeline

I noticed a few people bashing the rather “popular science” concept behind the new warp drive in Discovery and how it breaks Star Trek on a fundamental level. At first I agreed, but then it occurred to me that ‘spore-something-whatsit’ drive was the kind of name that probably changes over 15 years of development. All they did was update the pseudoscience of the Trans-warp drive to something that fits with an article people read a few years ago from a social media link. Since the whole “old Spock going back in time” thing has has messed up the timeline, it’s not at all hard to believe that the Federation deployed it in early stages to win the war, rather than testing it for another 15-20 years as in TOS timeline (where it first appears in the Excelsior prototype in the movie era).

Overall the TV science is a ton of fun in this show IMO. Anyone who cites TOS or even TNG as a paragon of accurate physics knowledge at that time, needs to go back and watch them again. Even in the 60s they knew better than a lot of the nonsense that Scotty spouts off every week. Before you flame my inbox, I love the hell out of those shows, but we have to be realistic. Discovery’s pseudoscience is in no way worse than any previous Trek show and fits in perfectly with the style of the reboot universe. Star Trek shows are about exploring social and political issues through a lens of science fiction. The social science has always been waaaaaaay better than the hard science. Anyone want to talk about all of the different retcons to explain why different humanoid species can breed?


No Star Trek Show has had Good Characters so Fast

We all love Captains Picard, Janeway and (Cmdr) Sisko right? Can you think back to how you felt in the first season of those shows though? Those characters were barely defined and the actors playing them were still struggling to adjust from “serious” acting to sharing a set with people in ridiculous outfits. It wasn’t until the second, or even the third season of those shows that they really settled in and became the characters we remember so fondly. Even the holy original series, which I hate to mention, took a good 10-12 episodes to really hit that awesome chemistry between the lead actors (as well as an almost complete shift change from the pilot).

By 6 or 7 episodes into Discovery I was pretty attached to most of the characters. Michael Burnham is a hard character not to like, because she’s the Ultimate Girl Scout trope. You can’t not like the character that never stops trying and always has a plan, even when they screw up. The rest of the cast grew incredibly quickly on me as well. Actually, in a strange (and I’m sure intentional) contrast, the captain is actually the most obtuse and hard to relate character in the show so far. He’s somewhat heroic and a little tragic, but it’s hard to really get a read on him and he seldom takes center stage. It was actually kind of a shock after the pilot to go from Michelle Yeoh’s very compassionate and personable Captain Georgiou, to Jason Isaacs’ very brusque and standoffish Captain Lorca. I think it’s very intentional though and for the moment, I’m intrigued. If anything it’s a fun nod to the captain switch between pilot and series in the original.

What I really love about this show, right off the bat though, is the supporting cast. Remember how spot f*cking on Whoopi Goldberg was as Guinan, right from the first scene she appeared in? That’s what every character is like in Discovery. They range from so cute you just have to love them, to relatable in a way that makes you feel like you know them. Many of them also struggle with personality quirks and mental illnesses that a lot of us can relate to as well. From the immediately impossible to hate Ensign Tilly to the Oh-My-God-Don’t-Be-a-Villain handsome Security Chief Tyler, I loved seeing all of them on screen from the very start.


SPOILER ALERT: Let’s Talk About Harry Mudd

I honestly have to say that I am nerd-offended by the critical hate at Rainn Wilson’s portrayal of fan favorite character Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Before I defend it, I want to just say that I accept all of the rational reasons to be offended. They are bringing in a beloved character earlier in the timeline, have cast an unexpected actor and are putting him in early episodes as if to use him as an authenticity trophy. All of that would be completely damning if Wilson didn’t walk away with the show in episode 7. If you are still complaining about his introduction with his bug friend, get caught up and then let’s talk. Mudd’s return a few episodes later has the humor, the maniacal violence and silly dialogue we expect from the classic trickster.

In fact, I think that episode was what really shook my fears that this wouldn’t really be Star Trek. I was already amused, but not convinced that it would be Trek enough. That episode was everything Star Trek is at its best. It turns a TV episode trope on its ear (the “Groundhog’s Day” episode), gives us even more juicy character bits and gives Wilson a chance to cement himself as the “new” Mudd, in the same way Zachary Quinto should never be ashamed to answer to “Spock” again.


They Remembered to Add Fun

One of the best things about watching a good Star Trek episode, is how much fun it is just to watch the plot unfold. The best ones usually involve a white-knuckle plan, an expertly timed science-fictiony button press or two and maybe even some romance. The problem is that this describes less and less episodes as the various series went on. Deep Space Nine and Voyager went way to all-in on the space politics and Enterprise was often more groan inducing than heart pumping.

I am quite pleased to say that most of the episodes of Discovery so far follow the winning formula. While it can get dark at times for Star Trek (they are at war after all), it’s not too out of place in the new universe. For the majority of screen time though, you will see Federation officers rigging crap to the warp drive to save the day, performing thrilling heroics, bonding with each other and sometimes even sharing some romance.


Social Progress

Speaking of the romance, I’m really, really pleased that Discovery’s version of TOS notorious “first interracial kiss” is much more tasteful. Two of the male officers on Discovery are a couple. If you have any sense of people, you will realize it the first time they share a scene and it’s 2 or 3 episodes before we see them in a private moment. When they do have a brief conversation in private, it isn’t some forced opportunity for them to make out. They brush their teeth and have a conversation like any of us about health and work stress. It reminds me of the quote from Gene Roddenberry about hiring Patrick Stewart to play Picard, he said something like “In 300 years, nobody will care if you’re bald.” It’s good to know that in 250 years 2 gay officers can serve on the most important ship in the Federation fleet, work together every day and it’s not even an awkward conversation in the first episode.

I also really like that the main character doesn’t have to be the captain to be the the lead. Sonequa Martin-Green is just mesmerizing to watch. She’s like Indiana Jones or Alice from the Resident Evil movies, where she just goes and goes until the problems are solved. She also has this strange vulnerability by not being vulnerable, as overdone as that is. It’s endearing to see how she works so hard that she struggles to find time to live, once again something a lot of people can identify with. I feel dirty honestly just mentioning that she’s a woman of color. Like it feels so low to even bring up that there could be any statement in her writing and casting, besides that Martin-Green plays a terrific Star Trek character and deserves the role over any other. So I’ll just leave it at that. It really doesn’t matter. You can see it as some sort of controlled image for the show (anybody remember the reaction to the multicultural cast of Voyager?), but I refuse to believe it. Whatever credibility CBS intended to gain by having a black female lead, the actress herself immediately brings credibility to it beyond what any writer or producer intended.


If you don’t think these elements make something Star Trek, we have fundamental differences about what that means. Star Trek to me is social topics, adventure, wonder, optimism and a good healthy dose of “this is how our society should be damn it.” Discovery is all of these things and more in my opinion.




Anyone here ever have a Dreamcast? N64? Original Xbox? The thing all of these systems have in common, is that they were more powerful than the Sony console of the time and could do more tricks. They also have in common that most of the multiplatform games they hosted were barely modified Playstation ports. If you just bought an XB1X, get ready for a trip down memory lane or a novel experience of playing crap ports on your superior system if you never had any of those.

In an ideal world, game developers would have enough time and money to make sure that every version of a game was perfectly optimized for each system and used each unique feature it had to offer. In the real world though, most studios are just thankful to get the game released and hopefully playable at all across all platforms. How well optimized for each it is and how many unique features each version has, are often determined purely by how much of that is baked into the game engine they choose.

Some studios, like Ubisoft or 2K, will use very scalable engines like Unreal that do almost everything for them. In these cases, you can easily just crank up sliders and check more boxes to make a game look nicer on better hardware. The engine is designed to scale performance impact evenly, so the developers don’t have to do a ton of testing. Others, like EA or Bethesda, have in-house engines that they use across most of their titles. These are usually pretty good too, because the publisher has development teams working on every platform. Engines like idTech and Frostbite are very familiar to the devs, who have worked on them and contributed to their development for years. So games like Battlefield, Doom, Call of Duty and Madden can be expected to run well across all platforms and have graphics settings tuned to each platform.

Some studios on the other hand, insist on using a new engine for each product, using exclusive development tools that are not widely known (NINTENDO COUGH), or just making each new game basically from scratch. Most of these developers reside in Japan, but we have a few of them in North America and Europe as well. These guys are the ones wrecking everyone’s day and are why we can’t have nice cross-platform things. Unfortunately they also make up some of the most popular games.

Games that are originally developed for consoles are often made on an engine that was developed specifically for those consoles. For example, Demon’s and Dark Souls were made on an engine that was only intended for PS3 and Xbox 360. The same is true for Grand Theft Auto 5. These games had significant port issues and the versions for PCs and newer consoles were very poorly optimized. Grand Theft Auto 5 was especially notorious at the time for taking exponentially more VRAM as you turned up settings. The original Dark Souls’ PC port was literally the 720p console version, running poorly upscaled to your monitor resolution. This is pretty much what life is like, when you have the more powerful systems something is released for.


What it really comes down to in reality, is that the developers are overworked, underpaid and constantly rushed. In the real world where they barely have time to get the product out in fucntional condition, they have to pick their battles. The easiest way to at least release for all platforms, is to just have several tiers of performance and quality. That usually means that the PS4 version is held back to the level of the slightly weaker XB1. The XB1X and PS4 Pro versions will be another level and then the PC version will probably just be that plus the ability to tweak settings yourself. So nobody is really happy, besides the XB1 and PS4 Pro owners, who can be mildly satisfied that the competitor version is not significantly better.

The days of the PS1, N64 and Dreamcast are a great example of this. You could have say a football game, released on PS1 first. Then the N64 version would just be that with bilinear filtering on the textures, making it blurry, but still not too bad at the same screen resolution. Then you would have the PC and Dreamcast versions, which were still the same game made for the PS1, but running at double the resolution or more and now filtering the textures at a much higher level. This left you with games that looked absolutely awful on the best systems. You could have a game like Tomb Raider, that was all the rage on Playstation, but on PC or Dreamcast, it was like putting pins in your eyes.

Hopefully this will be much improved by modern development tools and middleware, but I’m not too hopeful. Big publishers especially have shown that they love this lazy ‘tiered’ method of multiplatform development. So I would not be surprised if for the first few years at least, we see a lot of very underwhelming XB1X and PC ports of games released across all platforms. Now that publishers have 3 platforms to lump in the ‘high’ tier, it’s actually likely to get worse. Up until now, PC ports and PS4 Pro patches were done as an afterthought and usually had their own time and budget allotment after the game was released. Now I think we’ll see a lot more day 1 multiplatform releases, but the PS4 Pro, XB1X and PC versions will all be sadly on par.


This is one of those things where I would love to be wrong. Unfortunately, most predictions I make that assume the industry is lazy and greedy come true.


After a mighty 11 year career, the Sony Playstation 3 is finally looking ready to officially die. Sony has stopped producing them and the only new games coming out are Fifa and Let’s Dance!(which tend to continue coming out long after a system is really dead). That’s as close as you can get to an indicator that a video game system is truly gone, no matter how many people still own one.

It’s not terribly likely that I’ll do an article like this for the Xbox 360, because Microsoft’s tendency to release their exclusives on PC as well means you will not have to work nearly so hard to play them again years down the road. The Wii went the way of the Dodo years ago, has been replaced by 2 systems already and I already did one of these about it way back in 2012. So really, this is the end of a generation. The PS3 is now moving out of the realm of things you can buy new, into the realm of things you can only buy at used game stores and eventually will move into the realm of stuff you have to hunt down on eBay. So here’s a few things to grab for the memories before they become rare and expensive.



60 GB “Phat” launch edition console: This guy is going to be the crown jewel of collectors and nostalgia buffs’ PS3 collections 20 years down the line. These things literally have the guts of a PS2 inside them to allow perfect backwards compatibility. They also have 4 USB ports, 3 silly and useless card readers, chrome highlights and they weigh as much as a guitar amplifier. The main thing is the ability to play PS1, 2 and 3 games right off the disc, making this the only old Playstation you need to actually plug in to play your classics.

Here’s the big catch: The launch PS3 is the hottest running, most error prone PS3 ever released. Keeping one working for more than 2 years requires pretty much re-building the damn thing yourself with better solder and thermal paste. Even then, you will likely have to replace the disc drive lens every few years.

While the maintenance cost and effort is high, it also means there are very few of these still in working order. That number will only shrink as people get tired of fixing them and decide to just recycle the corpse. I finally managed to score one for myself and it took me a little over 2 years to find one in the condition I wanted.

Side note: The 20GB launch PS3 is also backwards compatible, but lacks wifi!!!  It’s not likely to ever be as valuable as its big brother and having to plug in a network cable is really annoying.


First Party Controllers: Something we’re going to start running into with newer systems that we didn’t with older ones, is a lack of first party controllers still in existence. The increased use of analog sticks, triggers and buttons makes controllers wear out much faster. Since the company stops making them at some point, this means we are going to run out. While many of the original NES controllers probably still work just fine, it is pretty much impossible to build an analog stick that is both sensitive and invincible. They just don’t work that way. PS3 controllers have the added issue of containing a battery that can wear out.

Although these things can be fixed with the right parts, most people don’t bother. They just recycle them or throw them away, forever removing them from the available supply. So definitely get first party dual shock pads for your PS3 collection while it’s still possible to get new ones at near original cost.

Side note: PS3 controllers also charge with old Mini-A USB cables. These are becoming a thing of the past as well, so definitely grab at least one extra. It is NOT the same cable that PS4 controllers and almost everything else use today.


Adapters: I mentioned above that the controller takes an older USB cable, but you could also use an adaptor.

Another important thing to remember, is that the PS3 did not have a headphone jack in the controller, like the Xbox 360. You can use a USB PC headset, or a bluetooth earpiece, but they will only support chat audio. If you prefer to game with a headset for game audio, you will need adaptors or a PS3 specific one. Either that or you will have to rely on headphone out from your TV, which is often of poor quality (if it even still has one).

All PS3 models use standard power cables that can be found in any electronics store. Unlike the Xbox 360, there is nothing special about the PS3 power cables and they can be replaced with any consumer cable with the same plug. The older models use a standard desktop PC power cable, while the slim models use the “bowtie” cable you will find powering anything from your clothes iron to your pencil sharpener.


Replacement Hard Drives: It’s not very likely that SATA hard drives will become rare, even once that interface is replaced. They will probably still be around for decades, the same way you can still find IDE drives for sale today. That being said, SATA SSDs that are plenty large enough for a PS3 are really cheap these days, so it’s not a bad idea to throw in a brand new one before you put that old PS3 in storage. Not only are the stock drives small, but they’re not terribly high quality. Most of them are low-end Hitachi drives that would be found in $300 laptops. Might as well just slap something decent in before mothballing the system, just in case they are hard to find whenever you pull it out again. A PS3 will not even function without a hard drive (unlike an Xbox 360), so if yours fails, you have no system until you replace it.




Exclusives: This one is tough, because re-releasing games in higher resolution is something that Sony does really well. Ico/SotC, The Last of Us, Ratchet and Clank and Uncharted have some of the best HD remakes around. That being said, there are still a few exclusives that are only or best on PS3.

Demon’s Souls is an absolute must. Sony published it, while the newer games were all published by Namco-Bandai, so it’s unlikely to ever come to other systems. Sony has been strangely hesitant to make it available on PS Now or as a PS4 re-release, so at the moment it’s a PS3 only game.

Deadly Premonition is also available on Xbox 360 and PC, but most would agree that the original PS3 version is the most playable and bug-free. Deadly Premonition is a retro-styled gem that relies on you being amused by gameplay that mimics older games with clunky gameplay. Adding actual clunkiness pushes it a bit, so the PS3 version is definitely the one to play.

Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown are both excellent side-scrolling games from Vanillaware. While the emphasis on scantily clad barbarian women may turn some off, these are two of the best games bridging the Metroidvania and Beat-em-up genres in years. Odin Sphere is single player and more RPG focused, but Dragon’s Crown is a co-op game that Golden Axe fans will feel right at home with.

Katamari Forever is debatable in its place among other Katamari games, but stands alone as the best HD way to play Katamari. Since it combines levels from past games, remixed levels and new levels, it’s the best way to get the “full Katamari” experience. It has a sister game on Xbox 360, but Forever has more levels, runs smoother and has more of Katamari’s legendary music tracks to choose from.


HD Collections: Although launch PS3s will play PS2 games and all PS3s will play PS1 games, there are some HD collections that can actually be defended as the best way to play the games. Especially if the games are rare and expensive to find in original versions.

As I mentioned above, Sony does HD remakes very well. Pretty much anything they do themselves is going to be the same game with better visual and audio quality. So Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet and Clank and God of War HD re-releases of PS2 games are by far the best way to play them. They also support widescreen, which is a huge plus over playing the stretched and blurry originals on your modern tv.

Some of the other third party collections are equally excellent. The Devil May Cry collection runs very well and looks sharp and the Resident Evil HD versions are even scarier when you can see what the heck is going on (sorry gamecube and your crappy rca cables). In general though, always look up reviews, because anything not Sony can vary greatly in quality. Some HD remakes truly earn the bad reputation by being outsourced to companies that seem to have no clue what they are doing.

On that note, Silent Hill HD Collection. This one is super tough, because the PS3 version (and only the PS3 version) got a patch that fixed the very worst of the bugs. The games still have bugs and they even struggle at times to render effects the PS2 had no trouble with, but the fact is that it IS still Silent Hills 2 and 3, in HD and they can be played start to finish. With both of these games now being rare and hard to come by in good condition, I grudgingly have to put it out there as an option. I would stay far, far away from the Xbox 360 version, but the PS3 release is a deeply flawed, but fully playable way to experience Silent Hill 2 and 3 in HD and widescreen.


Every PS1/2 Classic on PSN: Another thing to keep in mind, is that Sony may not keep the PS3 store up forever. The PS4 is not showing any signs of getting backwards compatibility and very few games have been ported as downloads, so the PS3 may remain the only way to play them. If you already own digital classics, or would just rather pay less to play these classics instead of buying physical copies, you might want to load up while they are on sale.

The PS3 doesn’t have a by any means complete selection of digital ps1 and 2 games, but there are quite a few available. Games like Suikoden II, Xenogears and Grandia are quite pricey to pick up physically, so buying them for 6-10 US dollars is very reasonable.

Sony would draw a lot of ire if they took these purchases away from people any time soon, but there will come a day when nobody is logging in anymore and Sony just has to free up the server space. So don’t expect them to be maintaining an ancient server full of old PS3 downloads 20 years from now.



I will probably add to this article later as I flesh out my own collection and move my PS3 stuff from the “current systems” mess to the “collection” mess.

Extremely Off-Topic: The NFL just changed last night.

Posted: October 30, 2017 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic

Even if you have been reading this blog for the past 7 years, or even know me personally, you may have no idea I’m an NFL fan. I don’t consider myself an expert, don’t play fantasy leagues and only follow the Seahawks of my native Washington state on a weekly basis. So I was naturally watching the Houston Texans’ better-than-The-Wrath-of-Khan defeat to the Seahawks on 10/29/2017.

While the dust is still currently settling and everyone is debating the final play calls, I just want to use my dedicated soapbox to air an opinion before it becomes the media line:

Last night’s game changed the NFL for at least the next decade.

That may seem like a bold statement, but it’s actually pretty plain when the shock of the game wears off. The Houston Texans just put up 38 points and over 500 yards against the Legion of Boom. Whether you’re a 12 or not, you’ve probably heard that this just doesn’t happen very often. Scoring 2 touchdowns on the LoB in the final quarter is almost unheard of.

Now there may be some debate about how well Seattle’s defense actually played and whether or not Deshaun Watson will play that well again this season. I’m not arguing that for a moment. What’s pretty obvious though is that in a year or two, Houston is going to do this any given Sunday. On every week that isn’t their worst week, the Texans are going to put 35+ points on the board, even against the best defenses the league has to offer.

Russell Wilson had to play the best game of his career to beat them and he was already a legend with his old stats! If you are any team but Philadelphia, New England, New Orleans or Green Bay (talking about Rodgers when healthy), you have to seriously ask yourself if your QB even has that to pull out of his hat, on the best day of his life. If they don’t, you can look at this season as the last time you have much chance of beating Houston.


It may seem like I’m jumping on the Deshaun Watson bandwagon and becoming a Texans fan, but that is not the case at all. I love my ‘Hawks and you better believe that I’m kissing my lucky hats that my QB is the 5th on that list. Seattle may have a lot of work to do in other areas, but we do have a captain who will be able to play in the NFL of the next decade.

Realistically though, I have to accept that this is not a fluke. Quarterbacks like Watson, Wilson and Wentz are what every single football team is going to need in the very near future, or viewer numbers are going to get even uglier in a hurry. It’s no secret that the Patriots, Saints and Packers are going to need someone who can continue to execute at this level once their legendary QBs retire. Once again, this is the new normal. Every great rookie QB is going to be coming out of the Deshaun Watson mold now and every single one of them is going to be dropping laser-guided strikes from across the field. If you’re a team like Carolina that has a QB playing the way the NFL did 20 years ago, you should be seriously considering your playbook and options.

Because really, there is no other answer to these new paradigm young quarterbacks. Sports press used to talk about Russell Wilson like he was some kind of mutant back in 2012, but I think we’re starting to see that QBs with a new set of skills are becoming the norm. Sure they have good arms, sure they’re tough and can take a hit. What really makes them different though, is that they are showing up out of college with the poise and execution of an older player. To be able to field a QB who has the arm of a 25 year old, with the mind of a 35 year old, gives a team a ridiculous advantage over teams in the old mold. They can do things you never expect them to do, because they’re doing things nobody their age has ever done before.

So that leaves you with very few answers, besides an equally impressive QB, until the rest of the positions are similarly reinvented to compensate. For the next few seasons, I think we’re going to see more and more young quarterbacks making good defenses look bad, because they’re going to keep doing the impossible. If a rookie can make a ball do gymnastics around Richard Sherman’s body, who the hell else is going to do anything about it? You’re definitely not going to stop him with a few sacks, he’s too young and healthy for that. We saw Russell Wilson play to the very end of the season last year with both ankles wrapped and some sort of erector set around his knee, you definitely aren’t going to wear these young QBs out. It may not seem like it if you only watched the videos of Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas picking Watson off, but it wasn’t exactly easy to bamboozle him either. The LoB pretty much had to come up with a few plays, to make him look like anything less than the human form of Apollo.


So where does that leave you as any team but the Eagles or the Seahawks? In the market for a young QB that already plays like a hall of famer at his peak, I would hope.