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All posts for the month August, 2007


I finished up Bioshock and it was quite a tour-de-force in game narrative, and deserves the kind of critique usually reserved for film and literature, even from the most ardent anti-“game-as-art” critics (read: Ebert). So I gave it a shot. Here is my effort at deconstructing the meaning of Bioshock.

Read it, would you kindly?

MAJOR SPOILERS

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I wanted to share a huge missed opportunity in my trades that happened recently. I've been trading ACH in and out, and making very good profits, but when the huge pullback the two weeks ago happened, I backed away. For the last few days, I was following ACH again, watching the rounded top chart pattern forming. Something told me that this was not a bearish signal as it usually is, and I thought about putting a limit buy at $35, at the where the last resistance formed mid-May.

As you can see in the chart, the stock exploded after it hit $35, hitting a high of $50 in less time than I could react to. It had a one day gain of +15%. I was crushed that I didn't seize the opportunity.

My mistake is obvious to me now. The rounded top happens on the chart from mid-June to mid-August. Rounded tops indicate that buying pressure dissipates as the price climbs, then people lose confidence and get out as it crosses the peak and starts falling. The volume on a real rounded top is the shape of the top but inverted, meaning that the volume is lowest at the high point of the price.

Look at the chart. The volume was rising. The drop in price was probably due to other factors, such as the global pullback. The moment I should have known was August 6th when the price fell but the volume kept trending up. People wanted ACH, they had interest, they were fighting the price. And then it happened: on August 16th, the price hit a low but closed above the last high on May 14th. A reversal was coming. The price had hit a previous top at $35, where the price exploded afterwards into the beginning of the rounded top, but it closed above at $37! What was I thinking!

Even more damning was the fact that when it hit that $35 resistance, it crossed below the lower Bollinger Band (red lines). Normally, I consider this to be a moderately bullish signal that the price is at a statistical low, but what made this one special was how the top BB band did not rise. Usually, BB bands diverge (top band rises, low band falls) when volatility increases. This wasn't it.

Anyways, looking at it even closer the yesterday, I realized that from Aprl to June there was a rising double top kinda thing that I should have realized was a sign that this stock had a lot of dedicated, inspired buyers (like myself, silly!). With aluminum being one of the worst performing sectors anyways, ACH was something I should have stuck with, not just traded. Profit is sometimes found in the faith.

Xbox Live is brilliant. Yeah, I know I'm a latecomer to this, but I held out on the next-gen tsunami until this wave of awesome launch titles has crushed me in the tidal fortitude of an endlessly playable holiday line-up. Within the first taste of depth, in the Bioshock demo, I explored the post-objectivist underwater apocalypse that was so beautifully rendered, populated, to the point of being a recontruction, that I haven't been this immersed in the wetting of my panties since… well… just since. I await this game as a leviathan in the famished bathysphere of the game-narrative abyss, wherein we loath surface-dwellers and their shallow byline plots.

Bioshock, save me!

So yeah, I played alot in the last few days. Crackdown, Call of Duty 2, Lost Planet, and the demos for Stranglehold, The Darkness, and Geometry Wars (which is like Smash TV deconstructed by Malevich into a supremacist "essence" of addiction symbology, with my skill level better described as abstract death-on-death). The first five were, in order, crack cocaine, cinematic until you played the idiotic multiplayer, overly-japanese eye candy, bangbangbang, and bangbangbang in the dark.

This smorsgabord was especially exciting for me given its accessibility. I mean, I could just download a shit-ton of random demos and stuff, turn off the 360, come back home after work and I have all the titles mentioned in water-cooler talk awaiting my perusal. And Stranglehold was more fun than I'm willing to admit as well; having long despised John Woo of being reductively derivative of his own work, I found his game was a satisfying Max Payne knock-off with lots more bullets, table-sliding, bullet-dodging, and just sheer mandarin murderin' madness.

Our project got extended, and I sorely miss longer gaming nights, but such is life. Swim with it.

We are five days away from completing the PS2 and Wii versions of Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, and I've barely had time to breath. It will be my first real game title, that first important notch under the belt. I'm very proud of all the hard work our team has poured into the game, and yet there is still so much more to do.

It both amuses and distresses me to read players talking about these games before the release. There is so much laughable misinformation out there. At the same time, we're trying our darndest to fight down the limitations of the current systems, smash in designs meant for next-gen systems, and make the mess work. Possibly even make the mess fun. Because these forum kiddies are who our multi-million budgets are trying to impress.

Either way, I can say I have learned to appreciate how hard a "simple port" can be to develop. I will never underestimate it again. People like to ask, after a game comes out, what the developers were thinking. How about if they even are thinking? I know I'm not. With every waking hour taken up by work, more work, dreams of work, commute to work, commute from work, and more work, it's tough to take a step back and just play. The XBOX 360 Elite I just bought after the price drop is sitting in my living room right now without a game, its sad little drive light a monument to the cost of making rather than playing games.