The Cleveland Show was always destined for cancellation. Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did, but that never stopped me from sparking up a joint and laughing along with the madness.
Look, not everything has to be a work of genius. The Cleveland Show was entertaining, and I’ll miss it. Hey, at least it wasn’t most other things on Fox. Plus, the joint really helped.
You’ve probably already heard this elsewhere, but Community has been renewed for a fifth season. I think most fans were pretty disappointed by the fourth season, but bad Community is still better than most things. Plus, it got better as the season progressed. With the drama and transition of losing Harmon behind them, I’m optimistic about the new season.
Chevy Chase won’t be back next season, but if I had to pick one character to remove from the show without affecting it, it would be his. Pop POP!
There have been promises to bring back Jack Bauer ever since 24 went off the air in 2010. For a long time, the rumor was that we were getting a 24 movie. While I was excited by the prospect of hearing Jack Bauer shout something other than “Damn it”, I never really thought 2 hours of real-time action was enough to do it justice. Sure, there was 24: Redemption, but it was only a device to segway into Season 7. It was barely a standalone movie, and really only worked as 2 hours of 24 set two months before the events of 24. It was more like an annual issue of a comic book than a standalone event.
Anyhow, a 12 episode run of 24 is coming in May 2014 as part of Fox’s effort to air programming in the Summer that makes people want to watch in the Fall. The limited series will be called 24: Live Another Day. It will definitely feature Kiefer Sutherland, but nothing else has been announced.
Here’s a nice new beer to try for the weekend.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of San Diego County’s breweries. In fact, they’re easily my favorite thing about San Diego. Granted, I’m not much of a beach person, but going down to North County to sample beers is one of the best uses of a Southern California Saturday afternoon I can imagine. The breweries are easy to get to, close together and distinctive enough to warrant checking out several instead of camping out at just one. With a large facility they built from the ground up, the biggest in the area is easily Stone Brewing Co.─who have a fantastic free tour that includes samples, by the way─with others, like the ever delicious Mother Earth Brew Co., being as small as a single suite in a single-level office park. I like to think I’ve been to lots of the area’s breweries, but in reality, I’ve probably been to less than 25% of the fine establishments that make up the San Diego Brewers Guild. One of the bigger ones I’ve never had a chance to visit is Ballast Point. I’ve wanted to go, but it’s far enough away from where I usually go to be written off as “maybe next time” every time. Boy, was that a mistake.
A few weeks back I had a nice time getting
bad genuinely fucking terrible service at Slater’s 50/50 with two friends, and one of them had me try his Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. Now, I’m not much of an IPA guy (unless it’s Port Brewing’s seasonal High Tide IPA), so I tried it more as a courtesy to him than out of actual interest. Much to my surprise, it was beyond fantastic. I’ve since had it several more times. Sculpin IPA has that hoppy, citrusy crispness typically associated with the IPA style, but the execution uses just the right amount of sweetness and a note of tropical fruit to bring a perfect balance to a style of beer that can sometimes overwhelm the palate with bitterness. I would recommend it to anyone, even lovers of canned domestics, and I’m recommending it to you right now.
Ballast Point is my new go-to summer beer, and I think after you try some, it will be yours, too.
I heard a long time ago that the fictional city in Silent Hill was inspired by a real city in the United States called Centralia. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s good and stuck in my head. Granted, Centralia doesn’t have Pyramid Head, but in 1962 the eastern Pennsylvania town became home to a massive underground inferno when a vein of coal that reached the surface was inadvertently exposed to small trash fire. Instead of Silent Hill’s fog, Centralia has coal smoke coming up through the ground in some places. Some 50 years later the fire still rages below the nearly vacant town.
For a time, that was really all I knew: a town became virtually uninhabitable when coal underground ignited.
As it turns out, the fire isn’t nearly as interesting as people’s reactions to the fire. There are rival factions, intrigue, conflict and even death. I love the way adding a human element to history can make it a story instead of a dry set of big picture facts.
A while back, RadioLab covered the history of Centralia’s underground fire as part of their “Cities” episode. What I heard was a rebroadcast. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t support embed codes from Radiolab, but you can click here to hear the story for yourself. That link will take you directly to the segment on Centralia.
Today at 6:00 PM ET Sony will unveil something PlayStation related. Most assume the event will be the announcement of the PS4, which has been developed under the codename Orbis, and I agree. That’s probably what it will be, but what should we expect from a PS4? Rumors of specs are all over the internet, but I decided to think about the experience instead of just specs. Here are my predictions…
Based on what Sony has said, you shouldn’t expect a huge, revolutionary jump here. On the plus side, Sony seems to be abandoning the cell processor for a more traditional setup (rumors say it’s got an 8 core AMD heart), making it easier to port over games from other consoles and to develop for in general. I expect the PS4 will be capable of more on paper, but for the first two years or so, I think the difference in graphics between the PS3 and PS4 will be about as wide a gap as we saw between the PS2 and XBox 360 for the first year or so: clearly better but not awe inspiring. After all, the PS3 already offers 3D and 1080P, so there won’t be some crazy new feature to add. All we’ll get is higher quality graphics at the same resolution. I expect the PS4′s graphics to be on par with a new mid-range gaming desktop until the new generation of console graphics is completely eclipsed by PCs. That should be 2 ½ to 3 years after launch. Compared to the WiiU, the only console from the PS4′s generation on the market so far, I expect better graphics but not the huge gap we see from the Wii to the PS3.
I’m not an audiophile by any means, but given Sony’s desire to make the PS4 an entertainment and gaming console like the PS3, you can expect some decently high end tech here. My assumption is that, like the PS3, the PS4 will be able to put out the kind of sound you’d expect from Sony’s top of the line blu-ray player.
It’s not totally clear how games will come. I expect you’ll be able to buy games in stores on blu-ray disks and also from the
PSN Store PlayStation Store. However, with Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai, there could be some game streaming on the horizon. I’m thinking PS games from older consoles will be available via streaming. Think On-Live only from Sony and on your PS3. However, I don’t expect backwards compatibility with your PS3 discs.
There has been lots of talk about how DRM would work, whether physical media would make it to the PS4, and about streaming games. I expect that we’ll see more games that require a constant internet connection for DRM purposes, but I don’t think we’ll see that mandated by Sony. I’ve heard the next XBox might use always on DRM, but given the slow initial sales of the PS3, I don’t think Sony will be going out of their way to include such a widely criticized form of DRM. That’s why I expect Sony to avoid criticism by leaving it up to developers, making the developers the bad guys in the eyes of the fans. And you thought politics were just for Washington.
There will almost certainly be a PS exclusive title at launch. I’d like for that title to be a new InFamous game, but I expect it will be a Little Big Planet game and maybe something Killzone related. For some reason, I also think we’ll see the return of Crash Bandicoot on the PS4. Not sure why, but it’s what my gut says. I’ll cross my fingers and hope for a studio exec with a sense of nostalgia. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the Resistance franchise is dead, and I don’t expect it to reappear on PS4. Pour one out for the PS3 exclusive.
This generation will bring a successful, console-based MMORPG. Whether that’s on the PS4 or not remains to be seen, but I think it will be. After years of playing second fiddle to XBox Live, Sony wants PSN to offer a better online experience than Microsoft. A good MMORPG and features like cross-game chat will tell the world they are serious about their online play and community.
I don’t think much will change here, just improve incrementally. Your streaming apps like Hulu and Netflix will still be there, but I think we’ll see more first-party apps and services from Sony. For instance, Crackle will probably get a real app instead of soldiering on with the PlayStation browser. Sony made it clear with the PS3 that their console was about entertainment, not just games. Everything Sony has said about the PS4 indicates that’s still the plan.
As far as gaming goes though, I think you’ll get the features that set XBox Live apart from PSN. They might not surpass XBL, but they’ll almost certainly match it. Where Sony could surpass Microsoft is in tying PSN accounts to controllers, allowing players sitting side by side on the couch to each be signed in to their own account.
The PS3 launched with 20 and 60 GB models. These days they go as high as 500 GB. I don’t expect much more than that. In fact, I would say the PS4 could launch with less available storage than the PS3. Sony, really the whole entertainment industry, is pushing for more cloud services. I expect lots of cloud saves and streaming services. In fact, I doubt we’ll see anything over 500 GB until the first hardware revision, and even then, I doubt it. This is one of my riskier predictions, I think. Betting against more storage usually only works on Apple devices.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone to go on record saying the PlayStation Move was a huge success. However, as much as it may annoy hardcore gamers and those of us over 22, motion gaming is here to stay. We’ve already seen prototype controllers shipping with dev kits that appear to have Move hardware, touch pads and speakers built right in, probably a microphone too. What I think we will see more of on the PS4 is voice control. Sure, there will be plenty of games where you dance and run in place, but I don’t think that motion is the big takeaway from motion gaming. We’ve already seen voice controls on our smartphones and on the Kinect, and I think it’s the most appealing thing to come out of motion gaming for the hardcore gamer. I had no interest in getting a Kinect, and I’m not sure when I last powered up my 360, but being able to shout my Shouts in Skyrim had me thinking about it. Plus, if you are in to shooters, the voice tool is probably pretty handy for controlling your squad.
Controllers and Wacky Peripherals
I don’t expect a Rez vibrator or anything like that, but I do think we will see a few new features, connectivity with other devices, and a Wii U-style approach of offering regular and advanced controllers. The PlayStation Vita will probably offer some kind of connectivity. The PSP never really worked as a controller for the PS3. In fact, I’m pretty sure all you could do with it was navigate the XMB. I predict that will change significantly on the PS4. With two thumb sticks, the Vita actually has nearly the same controller layout as a PlayStation controller. Yes, it lacks L2 and R2, but those could easily be mapped to the Vita’s touch sensors. As a point of reference, think of the Wii U tablet controller then make it kludgier.
This was covered in motion gaming, but again, Move will be back in some form. It probably won’t look like an ice cream cone anymore, given the prototype controllers that appear to have Move capability built-in, but it will be there. Let’s hope there are games that make it a worthwhile addition, so it won’t end up as the PS4′s Sixaxis. Also, as much as everyone hated Sixaxis, it will be back as part of PS4′s motion gaming component, but hopefully we’ll have less “Shake your controller. Do it now. Shake it. See, Sony? We used Sixaxis like you told us to.” I expect there to be a $40-$50 controller that doesn’t have Move, speakers or a microphone and a $70-$80 Move version. Let’s call them Dual Shock 4 and Dual Shock Move. (Dual Shock Move! New band name, I call it!)
You should also expect better connectivity with other Sony devices. Since PlayStation has really become MediaStation, I expect the ability to stream photos, music and video from your phone/tablet/camera/etc. to your PS4 over Wi-Fi. There will probably be some in-game connectivity as well, like play calling in sports games, showing a map in open world games, etc. You may even be able to do with non-Sony products, but I expect that will require some homebrew action or a Sony app that is only available on Sony-approved devices à la PlayStation Mobile (nèe PlayStation Suite). Again, I think you can expect a kludgier version of their competitor’s tech, in this case Microsoft’s SmartGlass.
Some of that may sound pessimistic, but once the bugs are worked out, I think the PS4, like the PS3 is now, will be the most versatile console on the market. The problem will be the growing pains, and of course, nothing big is really possible without good developer support. Hopefully nothing will be too broken at launch.
P.S. The thumbsticks on the controller will stay symmetrical.
Predicted Launch Window and Price
Holiday 2013 (October/November) for $400 and $500 with PlayStation Plus. There is no reason to suspect that Sony will stop offering base and premium versions of their console. The distinctions will be storage and maybe the advanced controller.
I’ll be back tomorrow to break down just how wrong─or how right─ I was.
UPDATE: There won’t be a follow up post. I was mostly right, and by now you have all the information you want anyway.