Where Old Games Go To Die

The good folks at Gametap comped me an account for a short while, and I’ve spent a few days playing with it. It’s…interesting. First off, despite my self-professed love for direct-to- drive systems, the very proliferation of them is somewhat astounding. On one machine I have Stardock’s totalgaming.net, Steam, and now Gametap. I’m waiting for them to start playing Corewars on my machine, each trying to sabotage the others. The value proposition underlying Gametap is a subscription model. Read On →

When Fanboys Attack!

Any moderately successful game will be played and enjoyed by a large number of people. Many of these people, who I will refer to as “normal”, will enjoy the game for what it is, and then put it on their shelf of past experiences and get on with their lives. Others, who I will call “a bit freaky”, might express their deep thoughts about the game on an online or print forum of some kind. Read On →

Flax Seed Cracker Addendum

I’ve been doing more experimenting, and I’ve made the following modifications to my earlier recipe: (1) Use a nonstick cookie sheet instead of parchment. (2) Spread the flax seeds thicker (3) 275 degree oven (4) Leave them in for a much longer time, around 3 hours. This is yielding me crackers that are a lot snappier and better stand up to the pressure of spreading stinky cheese on them.

Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

A few years ago Valve rolled out their “Steam” service, a form of direct download for their games. The idea behind Steam is that when you want to buy a game, you pay money for the right to buy a game, and Steam downloads it to your hard drive, no CD involved. It’s more than just an online purchase, because Steam is doing some sort of authentication to try to avoid piracy. Read On →

Inside Shoes

I like to wear shoes inside. I didn’t used to be this way, but over the years the fact that my parents always used them and the desire to keep various sorts of mess off my socks made me a happy user. For years I used an old pair of L.L. Bean deck shoes as my inside shoes. The leather had broken in nicely, and they were heavy enough to take outside if needed, but light enough to not be a burden. Read On →

Dead Trees and Played To Death

The latest issue of Played To Death is out, and there are a few changes. First off, the official name is now PTD Magazine, and we’ve moved to a new web address: http://ptdmagazine.com. Your old URLs will continue to work, of course. Second, PTD is now available in print format. Each issue is delivered to subscribers in a slimline case that contains the print edition, along with a disc containing the full PDF as well as demos and other material. Read On →

Digital Schmigital

I was feeling pretty good about myself last week. I was able to read an infuriating article in the New York Times and because I am more mature and grounded these days, I was able to see past all of the little peeves in the piece and write an impassioned critique of the big picture problems. No such luck today. Today the drooling mega-pedantic nerd returns. There have been a lot of news reports lately about the state of the music industry. Read On →

Call For Writers

I’m preparing to undertake another project. I’m looking for a number of aspiring writers who are interested in being published in a print magazine. I’m looking for writing about people who play videogames. This doesn’t mean you need to be a gamer yourself; I’m looking to do something a bit more interesting than simple game reviews. Here are the essentials: You will be paid. The pay will be modest. You will be published in a print magazine, and online You will work with good editors who care about the topic. Read On →

The Glorious Return of Sam and Max

Sam: “Where should I put this [bomb] so that it doesn’t hurt anyone we know or care about?” Max: “Out the window, Sam. There’s nobody but strangers out there.” For many years now there has been no shortage of commentators willing to opine about the death of the adventure game. This, of course, is despite the fact that there have been no shortage of adventure games continuing to be made, from amateur text adventures through to graphical indie efforts and even A-list titles. Read On →

The Legend of Zelda: Chicken Savepoint Woman

Long time readers will recall my distaste for the standard Zelda save system. My main complaint, you will recall, is that when you save the game from the middle of a dungeon, you have to trudge through the whole dungeon over again when you restore the game. Why, I opined, can’t the game just come up with a way to save my position in the dungeon and save me from this boring grunt work? Read On →

Girly Drinks

I wrote about Margaritas a little while ago. I stuck to describing the “canonical” recipe, rather than giving my own, because I hadn’t really perfected the drink. Since that time, I’ve been touching up and refining my recipe until, if I do say so myself, it is almost entirely perfect. The other day I was in a Dave and Buster’s, and had the opportunity to drink on someone else’s tab. Without thinking, I ordered a margarita on the rocks, and was given something well-nigh undrinkable. Read On →

Not Just Coding

We were driving home tonight, and NPR was interviewing some Robert Frost scholar about the publication of a book of Frost’s cryptic notebooks. It took the guy five years to put the thing together. I was drifting into a nice NPR doze while they droned on and on, when suddenly the host went from relating a story about Frost at the Kennedy innaguaration to talking about a talk that the book editor had given at the dedication of the Robert Frost library in “Am-Hurst.” At this point my ears perked up. Read On →

Hii and His Wii

When I told him about the blue-nippled chicken-woman in Zelda, psu thought I was exaggerating. But now he has to suffer through it himself.

Out, Damned Spam!

Due to some aggressive spamming, we’ve tightened up our filtering on comments recently. If you’re a regular commenter, you might want to consider registering an account and posting as a logged in user. It’s free, and we won’t give out any information about you to anyone. We’ll continue to approve legit comments as we notice them, even if you’re not logged in, it just may take longer for them to appear if our robot overlords don’t trust you.

Carrots with Honey Butter

Tonight my brain can only handle writing down a small recipe. I’ve never had much use for carrots outside of using them as a partner to potatoes in stew. But here’s a fun way to do them. I must have stolen the recipe from someone, but I can’t remember who. My wife says it was Bittman, so I must have changed something because I don’t like Bittman. Start with about a cup or two of cut up carrots. Read On →

Game Publisher To Release Game Soon; We Reprint Their Press Release Here

Tea Leaves has learned that PR Games’ new title, Hype V: Revenge of Hypenos, has gone pre-gold. Hype V, the fifth entry in the ground-breaking Hype series, has been eagerly awaited by gamers everywhere. In an interview, included in the press release, PR Games president Barry Womble said “I am pleased to make a statement that will make sure that all news coverage of Hype V will be ‘on message’: Bump mapping. Read On →

My Wii and Mii

I found myself awake on Sunday morning at 6am. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I did what everyone else is doing these days. I went to the Target to see if there was a line of people waiting to get a Wii. It was cold on Sunday, so there were only about 10 people there. I waited about ten minutes, got a ticket and then 45 minutes later walked into the store and picked up the machine. Read On →

New Ratings System

We here at Tea Leaves don’t rate things that we review. In particular, we don’t rate the video games that we review. After all, we are self-absorbed wankers with an inflated opinion of the quality of our own writing. We would like to think that we provide insightful, almost literary commentary rather than a simple consumerist analysis. We want to tell you what it’s like to play the game, and maybe a little bit about what the game means. Read On →

Birth of America

Next up in my Huge Pile Of Wargames is AGEOD’s Birth of America, published by Matrix Games. Google informs me, although I find it hard to believe, that I have not written any articles on Tea Leaves that use the word “grognard.” Grognard, as I’ve heard it used, is a word to describe a hardcore player of “board” wargames. The sort of person for whom a night without calculating the percentage chance that an assaulting tank will overrun dug-in infantry is like a day without sunshine. Read On →

A Day in the Strawberry Mashup Walrus

As a general rule, I don’t like covers. This makes me Pete’s mortal enemy. Part of the nature of modern music is that much of it is performed and recorded by the people who wrote the music, and these recordings form what I perceive to be the correct way to perform the piece. There are exceptions to this small psychological tic, but not that many. I particularly dislike covers of the Beatles. Read On →

Whole Flax Seed Crackers

Lately I’ve been trying to limit my intake of white starch. Most whole grain crackers seem to be 1% whole grain and 99% white flour. But the other day at Whole Foods I found a yummy little package of flaxseed crackers. They were crispy, flavorful, they held up well to cheese, and were otherwise nearly perfect. The only problem was that they cost something like $6 for a tiny little package. Read On →

Legion Arena

I have a stack of strategy games I’ve been meaning to review recently. I was talking to psu about this just the other day. He was saying how he always thinks they sound great, but when actually faced with the prospect of playing one, he tends to lose interest fairly quickly. I, in my turn, said that I tended to play them until the computer defeated me in a particularly offhand and crushing way, at which point I’d throw the game across the room and yell at it for cheating. Read On →

Saturday in the Strip

It was another Saturday in the Strip. La Prima and Il Piccolo Forno were as full as always. Actually, they were even more full than usual, especially for a weekend in Janurary. There was coffee coming out of the cafe. There were baked goods and other food in the bakery. People milled around outside. People shuffled in and out of the doors. People enjoyed each other’s company in the presence of the best combination of coffee and baked goods that the city has to offer. Read On →

Return to Return to Infinite Space

I’ve written about Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space before. But I simply wanted to say: It’s been about a year, and I’m still playing it. It lacks a little bit of the approachable lickability of the earlier game (simply by having a “large” map option), but it’s still a fantastic game. I am rapidly becoming a Shrapnel Games fanboy, even if they’re just the publisher. Weird Worlds: Return To Infinite Space. Read On →

iTunes Rules

iTunes told me today that it has 440 albums in its database. That number seemed high to me, but I have been ripping the occasional disk once in a while ever since I got my iMac two years ago. And, every new disk I buy generally goes into the machine. After bootstrapping the one true indexing system, I have been more motivated to actually rip and catalog the disks. While iTunes is not the ideal catalog database, you can muddle through by following some simple workflow rules. Read On →

Buona notte, Antonio

Ti mancheremo molto._

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” –William S. Burroughs Last night while cooking on my ancient, somewhat crappy electric range I heard an ominous “pop!” Some magic smoke came out, and the circuit breaker tripped. I switched burners, reset the breaker, and went back to cooking. But afterwards, I wondered if this was a Sign that I should be looking at a new range. Read On →

Play Me Some of That Old People Music Baby

Left to my own devices, I tend to listen to older music which is arguably for older people. I like Classical music, especially from the late Classical through the Romantic periods. The more modern stuff is OK, but you have to pick and choose carefully. I also like a lot of old Jazz, up through the classic period of the middle to late 1960s. I also like modern recordings of modern groups that are stylistically similar to music like this. Read On →

This Is What I Do

Once in a while, in the midst of casual conversation, someone will ask me what I do. When I was a graduate student, I would mutter something about computer science research, algorithms analysis and by the time the word “geometry” came out of my mouth after “computational” their eyes would glaze over and they would back away slowly. When you work in research, you can scare people away with the power of your abstraction. Read On →

Played To Death: Sam & Max Edition

The January issue of Played To Death is out now and can be downloaded for free. In addition to the magazine’s fine content, you can write in for a free beta key for NCSoft’s new MMORPG “Dungeon Runners.” My reviews this month include Railroad Tycoon as this month’s Retrograde, Trauma Center for the Nintendo Wii, and a review of the long-awaited PC adventure game Sam and Max Episode 1: Culture Shock. Read On →

Why I'll Never Write For IGN:

I’m not retarded. Courtesy of the forums at Quarter To Three comes this little gem: IGN declares the Playstation 3 to be the “best new game console” of 2006. Their rationale? The PS3 plays DVDs and you can install Linux on it. And maybe there might be a good game or two sometime next year.

Surprised At Sea

When the remake of Sid Meier’s Pirates! was released in 2004, I completely passed it by. I was thoroughly addicted to the original 1987 release. I simply assumed that the major effect of any remake would be to embitter me by wrapping the trappings of the franchise around a sucky game. I recently rented the game from Gamefly, out of morbid curiosity. I was wrong. The Xbox version of Sid Meier’s Pirates! Read On →

Of the Year

It’s the time of year to do “best of the year” or “most of the year” or “worst of the year” lists. I couldn’t focus on any one theme, so after spending some time in a food-induced coma, I came up with the following hodge podge of “of the year” topics. Sports Gaming Console of the Year The Sony PSP. Between Madden ‘07 and MLB 06: The Show, I’ve logged dozens of hours playing sports on this shiny black wonder. Read On →

"Number of Comments" in XML feeds in Wordpress

I got this working today in the Atom, RDF, and RSS 2.0 feeds. It’s not working in the RSS 1 feed, but WordPress’s RSS 1 feed sucks anyway, and if you’re using that feed you should change to a different one. Using the RDF feed as an example, all I did was change this line: <content:encoded><![CDATA[<?php the_content('', 0, '') ?>]]></content:encoded> to this: <content:encoded><![CDATA[<?php the_content('', 0, '') ?><p><?php comments_popup_link('Comment now »', '1 Comment »', '% Comments »', 'commentslink'); ?></p>]]></content:encoded> Hope that helps those of you who were looking to do something similar.


Surely, I must be one of the first people to post to their blog from a Nintendo Wii. I’ve only found one other Wiiblog entry so far. To type, you use the Wiimote like a laser pointer. It’s a bit ponderous. But editing is quite easy. Hmmm. I wonder how much work it would be to attach little Mii icons to each post… The user-agent comes across as “Opera/9.00 (Nintendo Wii; U; ; 1309-9; en)” Happy festivus, everyone.


Today I got tons of stuff done at work, finished editing three articles for Played To Death, did the Christmas shopping, and began work on a gift I’m making for someone. But I didn’t write a real article for the weblog. My apologies. Anyone have a time machine?

Dork Nation

When I was in high school, I was a bit of a dork. No really, it’s true. Back then even a passing interest in the emerging digital technologies was looked upon with suspicion and would get you beat up during study hall. We geeks were antisocial outcasts relegated to self-created school ghettos while the normal people did normal people things while dressing better. Over time the things that used to amuse us dorks have slowly wormed their way into the everyday lives of normal people. Read On →

Transition nearly complete

We’ve cut over DNS, and so you are viewing the new site. Our old articles are still available at their original URLs, so any direct links you had to them previously should still work. For the time being, we are requiring logins to leave comments, until we better understand our spam-fighting options. But don’t think of it as yet another annoying password to remember: think of it as a chance to join our community (by remembering yet another annoying password). Read On →

Computer Scientists and Cruciverbalism

It seems to be a reasonable childrearing principle that you should give kids a break in order to foster their creativity. “Look, Mummy, I’ve made you a dinosaur out of cotton balls and toothpicks!“ “Oh Billy, that’s so precious.“ And it is. But at some point, say after Billy has gotten his PhD in computer science, you need to finally expose him to the idea that the world is a competitive place and he needs to be a harsher critic of his own stupid ideas. Read On →

Excuse Our Dust

Over the next week or so, updates may be sparse and you may notice problems reaching the site as we prepare to move to a new content management system. Things should be back to normal relatively quickly. We are, however, having a small contest to go along with this. Because looking at CSS makes our eyes bleed, we will reward the first person who designs a set of WordPress templates and stylesheets for us with a DVD or video game. Read On →

Web 2.0 Picoreview

“All the power of WordStar with all the hardware requirements of Windows 95”. And all the flexibility of VAX/VMS.

Princess Zelda and the Childish Adult

Several years ago, one of my favorite authors, A.S. Byatt, wrote a scathing review of the Harry Potter books called “Harry Potter and the Childish Adult.” In this review she roundly criticized not Rowling, but the adults who chose to read her books. She said, essentially, that there was something fundamentally misshapen about adults who would choose to invest so many hours in a work created for children. Byatt took a lot of heat for this review. Read On →

When to go Wide

Wide angle lenses, roughly speaking, are lenses that for a given image size, provide a wider than “normal” field of view in the final picture. For 35mm cameras, we generally consider lenses with a focal length of 35mm or less to be wide. Back in the day, I asked my photo expert buddy whether I should buy a 24mm lens or a 20mm lens for my wider-than-35 wide angle needs. He said if I knew what I was doing, I should get the 20, otherwise, I should get the 24. Read On →

The Internet Is Full. Go Away.

My dad used to tell a groaner of a bad joke about a guy he knew opening a cheese shop in Israel. The name? Cheeses of Nazareth. I thought of that joke today, and on a lark typed “cheesesofnazareth.com” into my browser…and then name is owned by a domain name squatter, offering to sell it. The Internet is full.

Played to Death #12

The Holiday issue of Played To Death magazine is out. Download the free PDF now and you can read my reviews of the Nintendo Wii, The Wii’s online service, Wii Sports, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Xbox Live, as well as many other fine articles.

Because I am Stupid I Make Myself Suffer

My rag-tag group of adventurers had just prevailed over the ghost-like sewer monster. The fight had not been too tough, although it did require some careful tactics. Having come all the way here, I figured I’d have a look around. Just around the corner from our fight was another network of sewer pipes and water ways, so we took a few tentative steps that way. From the shadows, a brown lumpy form appeared and took a swipe at me. Read On →

Musings on the Eternal Console Wars

I showed up at Target a few Sundays ago and stood in the cold for about an hour to try to get a Nintendo Wii. I had number 42. Unfortunately, they only had 41 of them. Ouch. Through some machinations and good luck, however, I managed to pick up a Wii the other weekend. My “real” review of the box (and some of the games) will be in Played To Death’s holiday issue, but I have a few philosophical ponderings to share here. Read On →


Some weeks are made for long and thoughtful articles. And some are just made for top 10 lists. In the queue: Nintendo Wii, ¡Viva Piñata!, and an assortment of other games. But for tonight, we have monkeys. 22. The dominant monkey (pdinda) 21. The favorite monkey who’s friends with the dominant monkey (pdinda) 20. The monkey who’s right (pdinda) 19. The monkey who makes sure all the other monkeys around them are happy (jch) 18. Read On →

Foods That Sound Like Sexual Positions

Wikipedia may have a longer list, but here at Tea Leaves we know that size doesn’t matter. Much. 20. The Salty Lassi (peterb) 19. The Slab Apricot (peterb) 18. Toad in the Hole (jch) 17. Chicken Tikka (rajesh) 16. Bubble and Squeak (jch) 15. Cherry Tart (peterb) 14. Dublin coddle (rlink) 13. Black and Tan (peterb) 12. Apple Turnover (rlink) 11. Pumpkin. (baird) 10. Hot mustard pretzel (mwm) 9. Pigs in a blanket (mwm) 8. Read On →

Football on TV

I’ve been watching some football in HD on my big TV this year. Since all HD broadcast options at this time in our history are about as appealing as drinking sewage for lunch, I’ve been doing it over the air. Today my antenna would not pick up FOX, so I watched the game on my Tivo instead. As a result, I missed much of the experience of the live broadcast. 1. Read On →