This Just In ... This Week in Non-News

Hey everybody - this is a pilot program for a new weekly thing. Let me know what you think in the comments!

This Just In takes a look at one of the trends I’ve been seeing in games journalism recently - the reporting of non-news. These are the stories that you read, then do a double-take, and realize that you just read 5-10 paragraphs that managed to say nothing at all.

But before we get kicked off with this inaugural edition, let me make something clear: I’m not trying to start shit with the authors of these articles. I understand that they’re extremely busy people doing their best to post interesting, timely information. I just think that from time to time, probably in a huge rush, they post things that maybe aren’t worth the homepage real estate.

Our homepage real estate doesn’t quite go for the same premiums so we can waste it on my crazy trainyard hobo ramblings. So let’s see what’s in my bindle this week …

IGN: Nintendo Responds to Comments on Wii U Power

http://wii.ign.com/articles/122/1222399p1.html

Quick - no looking - what do you think Nintendo said to unconfirmed rumors about upcoming hardware? Did you guess “no comment?” You’re pretty close:

"We do not focus on technology specs," said the Nintendo of American[sic] representative. "We understand that people like to dissect graphics and processing power, but the experience of playing will always be more important than raw numbers." - IGN

For any readers who might be too young to remember - Nintendo has been loathe to discuss tech specs since the N64. They’d been burned pretty hard by games journalists comparing apples to oranges when discussing the N64 and PSX tech specs and they decided that they’d had enough of that.

That means it’s been 17 years since Nintendo directly released information about the tech specs and capabilities of one of their systems. I think maybe it's time we stopped asking.

GI.biz: Wii U less powerful than PS3, Xbox 360, developers say

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-04-02-wii-u-less-powerful-than-ps3-xbox-360-developers-say

Okay - here’s a fun trick. Whenever an author uses an anonymous source, replace it with “my neighbor.” “Wii U less powerful than PS3, Xbox 360, my neighbor says.” Now you’ll be asking the right questions. Who the hell is your neighbor? And why should I think he-or-she’s in a position to know this information?

Especially when they start saying things like this:

"No, it's not up to the same level as the PS3 or the 360," said one developer who's been working with the Wii U. What does that mean? "The graphics are just not as powerful," reiterated the source. - GI.biz

One might note that graphics are not capable of being “powerful.” That is not how that word works.

Or how about this?

"Yeah, that's true. It doesn't produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360," said the source. "There aren't as many shaders, it's not as capable. Sure, some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can't quite keep up." - GI.biz

The thing is that modern graphics hardware doesn’t have a number of shaders. Number of shaders used to be an awkward kludge of a term that people used to refer to the number of Texture Combiners available on fixed-pipeline renderers. Modern GPUs have a single Vertex Shader and a single Pixel Shader that are fully programmable and that execute scripts with dozens, if not hundreds, of operations.

Now, I should note that there’s a chance that this guy’s talking about the number of GPU stream processors, but that’s a really strange benchmark to use to describe a system’s capability. It doesn’t affect the quality of the rendering, but rather the GPU’s ability to parallelize shader processing. It could impact rendering speed - but only if you’re comparing it to another GPU with stream processors that handle the same number of operations per second.

It’s a metric that, on its own, has no impact on the system’s performance or the user experience. It’s only when paired with other data that you could start to draw conclusions or inferences about the hardware’s capabilities.

So when the article boils down to “My neighbor says things about console hardware a graphics programmer probably wouldn’t say” maybe you can skip it.

IGN: New Proof of Wii U’s Release Date Emerges

http://wii.ign.com/articles/122/1222235p1.html

For background, it’s helpful to know that Reggie Fils-Aime went on record about the Wii U release date back in January by saying:

"Wii U will launch some time between E3 - which is in June - at the end of the year so essentially the second half of the year. We haven't announced pricing and we haven't announced specific details. We'll share more information between now and E3 and after E3." - Reggie Fils-Aime (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/332116/wii-u-information-drop-set-for-pre-e3/)

Given that the Wii came out in November 2006 in order to meet a Black Friday deadline, and that Nintendo has a habit of launching things on Sundays, the above quote would lead any reasonable person to believe that Nintendo is likely to copy the launch schedule that worked well for them last time and launch the Wii U on November 18th - the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

It’s really obvious then that Nov. 18th would get started as a rumor and catch on - it just makes so much sense. I certainly wouldn’t harangue anybody for hearing that and believing it.

Why I’m pointing this article out is the “new proof:”

According to this photo, it seems the rumors of a November launch might be true. … Recently some rumors about a November 18 release date for Nintendo's next home console, the Wii U, have been spreading like wildfire across the Internet. IGN now has even more proof to add to the fire. - IGN

The “new proof” is a photo of an e-mail sent by a GameStop Regional Manager. From “my neighbor.” But even if we choose to give this all the credibility in the world, take a second to read the e-mail.

Take note - the Regional Manager isn’t saying that the Wii U is coming Nov. 18. He’s saying he heard the rumor (on newsodrome.com - whatever that is), thinks it sounds realistic, and that they should probably prepare just in case.

So IGN just confirmed that this rumor going around about the Wii U release date is indeed both a rumor and going around.

Kudos to the Regional Manager for planning ahead, though. Someone at GameStop should give him or her some recognition for being on the ball.

The Verge: 'GoldenEye' title director creating grindhouse-inspired Intel ultrabook ads

http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/4/2925452/intel-ultrabook-commercials-james-bond-title-director

Hey guys - breaking news. The guy who made the opening titles for a mid-1990s Bond film recently got a job directing a commercial!

Look - I get that it’s a commercial for computers, and that The Verge is a technology blog that deals with computers. But really - there’s absolutely no news here about anything technology.

Even still as tenuous as that connection is, it’s not this …

Gizmodo: Does This Sleek Aluminum Capsule Tobacco Pipe Make Smoking Look Cool?

http://gizmodo.com/5899394/does-this-sleek-aluminum-capsule-tobacco-pipe-make-smoking-look-cool

A) No. This sleek aluminum capsule tobacco pipe doesn’t make smoking look cool. It makes smoking tobacco look like smoking crack.

B) This is missing the mark by a wide margin for a site that calls itself “The Gadget Blog.” You’ve already packed your homepage with a wall of cell phone release date announcements and other minutiae - this is just one more thing occupying space where you could be posting something relevant.

IGN: Sources Detail the PlayStation 4’s Processing Specs

http://www.ign.com/articles/2012/04/04/sources-detail-the-playstation-4s-processing-specs

I really didn’t want to harp too much on IGN - but it just turned out that way. IGN and Kotaku put up a lot of the same nonsense and the only reason I didn’t comment on Kotaku’s articles is that their website is so actively terrible that it hurts my browser. I have a AMD Phenom x4 system with 4 GB of memory but that web page still brings my computer to a grinding halt. Whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it wrong.

Anyhow there’s not much to say about this one that wasn’t already said about the Wii U specs. “My Neighbor” thinks the as-yet-unannounced PS4 will have an AMD CPU/GPU combination. That’s nice. It makes the list for the image attached to the article, though.

It’s a “User Submitted Concept Mock” - or “random reader’s idea of what he thinks the PS4 should look like” - or “I photoshopped a PSP on to a Dual Shock 3 and painted my Apple TV black.”

For reference: here’s a “User Submitted Concept Mock” of the Wii:

It’s like that guy was a psychic or something.