New South Park game brings TV experience to the console

‘South Park: The Stick of Truth’ brilliant but short

South Park first debuted on television when I was in the 7th grade, and I’ve already written about how the first website I’ve ever built was a South Park fansite so you can imagine my anticipation of finally being able to play through the latest South Park video game.

I was an immediate fan of the show and remain so to do this day. Sure, there are more misses than hits in recent years, but there are still gems produced every season.

My first experience with a South Park video game came courtesy the 1998 eponymous title, which was released just a few short years after the show’s premiere that was essentially a polygon-infused first-person shooter. Players walked around the town, throwing snowballs and firing weapons at turkeys that squealed whenever they died.

In 1999, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, a collection of themed mini-games, was released, followed by South Park Rally, a Mario Kart knock-off that dropped in 2000 and is arguably the best game from the early years.

Despite the fact these games were all very different, the first few South Park video games were universally terrible. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Here’s what Matt Stone had to say back in 2001 about the early trio of video games developed by now-defunct Acclaim:

We currently don’t have a game developer. Acclaim did such a good job of fucking up the games that now no one is really that interested in the liscence [sic]. I will say this … Trey and I had little to nothing to do with the first games, and if we do another video game it will be R-rated. We wanted to do that in the first place but everyone said it was impossible. Now everyone is doing adult-themed games.

A pair of XBox Live Arcade exclusive titles, South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! and South Park: Tenorman’s Revenge, were later released. Nothing as ambitious as South Park: The Stick of Truth, however, has been put out by South Park Studios.

I was stoked when I first heard about the South Park game back in 2012. The early previews built anticipation of an immersive experience where the player and character were actually a part of the TV show.

After finally playing through South Park: The Stick of Truth, it’s clear that the creators fulfilled that original goal. South Park: The Stick of Truth is violent, vulgar but more than often side-splittingly hilarious. What other universe would feature a boss battle between the protagonist and Khloe Kardashian’s Nazi zombie aborted fetus?

There are throwbacks to classic RPG games (see below) and other video games from yesteryear. The constant references to the show’s past are everywhere, making the game as much of a nostalgia trip as a new experience.

South Park: The Stick of Truth RPG throwback

That’s not to say the game is without fault. Quite the opposite. And its fault is a big one.

The biggest issue with South Park: The Stick of Truth is the short featured story arc. It should not take 10 hours to beat a game that took three years to make. Sure, there are plenty of side quests and mini-missions that add more to the gameplay experience, but it’s not enough to satisfy the itch to continue gameplay once the featured story ends.

There has been a call for a trilogy of games, all in the same vein as South Park: The Stick of Truth. I love this idea, obviously, and would play every one of the games. I just hope we don’t have to wait three more years for the next installment.

Photo via Facebook

Google Fiber making its way to Atlanta?

Last night I received a welcome email from my generous overlords at Google. After reading it aloud to a friend, I could not contain my joy at the news Google was planning to bring Google Fiber to Atlanta. I’ve never had a great relationship with Comcast, my current provider of internet and television services, and the prospect of something faster, better, newer and free from the threat of throttling makes my heart flutter.

Here’s the email from Google in its entirety:

Hello,

You’re among the first to hear: we’re beginning conversations with Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna to explore what it would take to bring fiber to a community near you.

Over the next few months, we’re going to work with city leaders on a joint planning process. We’ll assess what unique local construction challenges we might face, and then map out what we would need to do to bring Google Fiber to Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna. This process will take some time, but we hope to have updates on which cities will get Fiber by the end of the year.

We’re excited by the possibilities here in the Atlanta area. Help us spread the word so that your friends and family also hear the news.

Share the graphic below with your friends and neighbors.

Google Fiber coming to Atlanta

We have a lot of work to do over the coming months, and we’ll make sure to keep you updated. In the meantime, you can find more information about our plans at google.com/fiber/newcities.

Thanks,

The Google Fiber Team

I would encourage you to reach out to our local elected representatives to share how Google Fiber could benefit local businesses and residents. I’ve already heard from a couple of politicos, including an Atlanta City Council member, who have all promised to do what they can to bring Google Fiber to Atlanta.

This cannot happen soon enough.

 

Photos courtesy Google

ISP lawsuit

The check and the damage done

In 2008, I decided once and for all that I was done with Comcast. Finished. Kaput. Done-zo. Anyone with a Comcast or Time Warner or AT&T or Verizon horror story can relate. At some point, repeated outages, slow download speeds or the surprise $60 increase on the bill just become too much to handle.

To free me from the shackles of my spiteful overlords at Comcast, I chose a Clear, a 4G internet service provider that was brand new to the Atlanta market. I still remember the smug grin at the thought of my consumer advocacy after filling out the paperwork and receiving the hardware.

I was “sticking it” to Comcast. If only more people were smart like me, maybe internet service providers would be forced to address their terrible services. That smugness did not last long.

After arriving home, my attempts to connect to the internet using Clear’s network immediately failed. I called customer support, fiddled with the settings, drove back to the store to exchange the modem, waited days and later received a new modem in the mail that also failed to connect. I had no choice but to crawl mercifully back to Comcast to beg forgiveness. But first I had to cancel Clear.

Customer service over the phone was useless. Customer service in the store was worse. I left the hardware on the floor in a fit of rage. And that was that. Or so I hoped.

A few of years later, I was invited to join Dennings v. Clearwire Corporation, a class-action lawsuit first brought on by Angelo Dennings against Clear over claims of throttling service speed and knowingly signing up more customers than infrastructure could handle. Dennings was obviously pissed. He sued, and a bunch of people like me hopped along for the ride.

Everyone has a Comcast, Verizon, AT&T or Time Warner horror story. Of all the companies that have ever fought me on bogus excuses or policy, Clear was the absolute worst. Attempts to force customers to pay a penalty to leave their contracts, refusing to accept hardware returns in-store and throttling connection speeds was the Poor Customer Service Trifecta of Doom.

I later learned that Comcast was a major backer of Clear, so despite my best efforts, I still fed the beast

These days, Clear is wholly owned by Sprint. It’s probably a very different service now than five or six years ago. But I’ll never go back, no matter how big the payout.

Ancient Technologies

HomeSite, Angelfire and South Park

I built my first website in the mid-90s using a brilliant (at the time) HTML editor called HomeSite.

After returning from the record store with a couple of South Park bumper stickers, 12-year old Ryan decided to scan them and put them on the computer. The ultimate result was a South Park fansite, complete with photos and descriptions of the boys, that most likely ended up forgotten somewhere on AngelFire.

Almost everything about building a website has changed since I first used the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) to build a simple fansite.

These days, most of the websites I work on are either built from scratch or are based on highly customized themes utilizing the WordPress content management system as the website’s backbone.

This website runs on WordPress, as do many of the web’s most popular content-driven websites. And the theme, which provides the styling and general appearance, was designed by my coworker, Ricky Lee Whittemore, and is named Piedmont.

I chose this theme for my personal website relaunch for a few reasons. The first was to test the theme’s functionality and ease of installation. The second was to support my coworker and our company’s presence in the WordPress.org theme repository by pumping up our download total. The third reason was because it’s gorgeous.

Ryan Watkins

Welcome (back) to Atlanta

It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging or writing for personal reasons. After working in the newspaper business for the last six years, and contributing hundreds of articles, my drive to write was sapped dry.

But, I’ve been at my new job for four or five months now, and I once again have the itch to write regularly again. Who knows what I’ll include on this blog. Stay tuned.