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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Chris Crawford Flameout

Dang, I wish my flame wars were this wordsy. Tim o' Old Grandma Hardcore has posted the extremely verbose point and counterpoint between himself and Chris over the recent escapist article. I'd go find a quote, but I'm due out the door and don't have the time. It's neat to note that the Editor of the Escapist puts in a good footnote.

Gunz and Fate

I tried a couple of games out briefly a few nights back. I actually stumbled on the first pretty randomly, finding a few screenshots on Flickr (no way I could trace that back now). It's called Gunz: The Duel. It's a free beta of a third person online shooter in a similar vein of Action Half-Life or The Specialists. Gunz forsakes the realistic damage for a far more arcade feel ... there's no bandaging or bleed damage here. There are rolls, wall flips, and the like. It adds a few things to the concept, like experience levels and purchaseable gear. Taken to it's potential, it could be some serious PvP action, although right now it feels mostly like a mindless, albeit fun, afternoon fare. You can't beat the going price though.

Also finally tried Fate. It's unlikely to beat Guild Wars anytime soon as my Diablo-esque action of choice, but it definately has a lot of potential. Features like the pet offer some definate creativity to the game mold. I can only assume that since my character starts out at like age twelve that there is a somewhat extensive length to the game as well.

Latest Naked Search

Someone just googled to here looking for Doom 3 porn mods. That first visual image isn't a pretty one.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Are Riots Good For Business?

Check out these numbers:

Gamestay has tracked down a source inside EB Games that is telling them that the chain is getting a total of 40,000 Xbox 360’s nationwide. While that may sound like a whole heaping, Gamestay is reporting that total pre-orders number 75,000. Sounds like things are going to be getting ugly at EB come Nov 22
-- EB Games Expecting 40k 360s…And Riots?

This is on the tail of Ars Technica reporting that such shortages are all part of Microsoft's advertising strategy. Well, that sucks. What, being the first next generation console ... and the only one for this holiday season ... isn't enough? No, Microsoft feels the need to make an artifical sense of demand as well?

Eventually, I'll probably end up getting a 360 ... assuming the backwards compatibility gets good reviews. But I'm sure as hell not going to wait in line playing Redmond's stupid reindeer games. The only thing the 360 has that I want is new games. , and I am deeply entrenched in old games at the moment. Between the cost and silly supply concepts, I can gladly wait a while before adding one of these in the old living room.

NaNo, Day 2

I'm not even bothering with a word count at this point. For one thing, writing an interactive piece forces me to break one of NaNo's basic guidelines .... don't rewrite. Just write, and move on. Fix it later. But, see, that doesn't work so well when you have to completely rewrite a page of dialogue because it's not even in the right structure anymore.

The other thing about IF is that it's dense. Not in terms of narrative style ... in fact the basic prose is pretty shallow. However, since you have to account for multiple departures from a single point ... you spend a lot of time running in place. In fact, I've mostly spent the last two days in one place, with one character. I pretty much keep running to the same point and wondering ... would the player try this? Or this?

At least the framework is coming together. It's beginning to feel more like a game and less like a proof of concept. I'm starting to have to make serious decisions about the "interface". Mostly, I'd like to avoid having one. I liked that the old text games didn't give you a menu to choose from or even had pictures to represent things. There's something gritty about having to read, having to process and having to input text to get stuff done. I've capitulated that some of the text will have links in them. For instance, where it tells you what is to the east or west, clicking on east or west will take you there. This is in lieu of a compass style widget to "move" around. Also, some dialogue text will have links to essentially continue the conversation in a semi-natural manner.

But there won't be a master list of verbs, or the ability to click on nouns within the text to bring up choices or to try and pick them up by default or the such. The main input will still be typing things in, with only a very few shortcuts for brevity (for instance, a look/refresh or inventory button might be added).

What I'd like to do is get this "demo" version done by this weekend, and then post it up on for people to preview and give feedback. Hrmmm, might need to add a forum to TB. Oh, and there's little point on venturing over there just yet ... the ironically named site has no content yet. I'm considering opening it up to a function other than just a showcase for my limited IF work, but not sure what just yet.

Post Office Fallout - We Win.

A while back, I chronicled the manner in whcih the Post Office treated my shipment. Also, their courteous nature in handling these affairs. In short, both sucked.

Over the weekend, they apparently paid up the full $1,000 insurance. It was taking long enough that I was a little worried it would ever get out of red tape, but at least logic won out at the end of the day. I'm seriously tempted to print out the PayPal receipt and march back into the local office to inform Evil Post Lady that next time she's thinking about wasting a couple hours of a customer's time detailing how she thinks the system works, she should save the trouble and just fill out the damn form.

Carnival, Take Eight

Despite what I said yesterday, the Carnival is up over at Aeropause and looks like all good quality meat. If it's any indicator as to how busy I've been, this is the second one I've missed.

In related news, I'm likely to put a deadline on the CoG IV Swag Contest soon, and replace it with something else down the road.

Get Your House With Bride Attached

Here's an early morning one for you. There is a woman in Denver selling her house for $600,000 ... so long as you marry her along with it. Both home and woman are quite the looker, but this one is bound to go down with a long list of Internet weirdness. Is Denver that bad of a social life that it requires selling the roof over your head?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Steam Poll

Jamie Fristrom has a Wildly Un-representative Survey about Valve's Steam going on. Essentially, do you use it and have you downloaded Rag-Doll Kung Fu or Lost Coast yet.

My comments are down a bit on that page, but shouldn't surprise anyone who has read my earlier opinons about Steam. Short version - I believe there is a valid place for digital delivery. However, I don't believe you get to force buggy bloatware onto my hard drive.

PlayStation 3 to cost $495?

That's what Merril Lynch is estimating. The key word there is estimating, of course. For instance, I'm not sure how they determined that Bluetooth would cost $10 per unit at launch.

If this were true, my estimate is that I'd end up just geting the presumed-to-be-cheaper Revolution next spring and see the rest of the pack in 2007. I mean, I've already got a line of games the length of my arm to try to finish on the current generation. More than enough digital entertainment for a twelve month cycle. The 360 is already pushing my limits for launch prices, so if Sony busts the $399 barrier, it's unlikely I'll "early adopt", so to speak.

There is no word on what kind of loss Sony might take to reduce the unit cost. Lynch suggests "not much", but I wonder if the chance of putting some mud in Microsoft's eye might not change Sony's mind.

I think Blu Ray might be what tips the scales down the road. If by Christmas 2006 there's sufficient videophile reasons to go high density, then a PS3 might sneak it's way into the living room.

Carnival Deadline Soon

Over at Aeropause, Shane reminds y'all to submit for the next Carnival of Gamers by tomorrow night. I may get a piece about the de-evolution of my game hobbies, and how that's not a bad thing, in by then.

I've Been Pinked

According to some, pink noise will help drown out your annoying co-workers and make your life more peaceful and serene. I'm trying out Noise is a pink noise generator for OS X (although as the wiki attests, apparently true pink noise is impossible as it requires kryptonite, three elves and unlimited amount of energy. So far, I'm not sure how well it works. The voices in my head are still screaming, that's for sure.

Go Fate

I didn't realize that Wild Tangent's Diablo-esque Fate was an editor's choice over at GameSpy:

Fate, simply put, is one of the best PC games released so far this year. It's elegantly designed, hopelessly addictive, and -- best of all -- only costs $20. So why haven't you seen in on store shelves? That's because it was developed by WildTangent, and is only available online via the company's website. Don't let the "indie" game label fool you - it's a superb game.

Sweet. Will have to download onto the CheapBox when I get a spare moment.

Yes, Virginia. There Are Women Gamers.

There seems to be a nice bonfire going on over Crawford's interesting attempt to explain gender roles scientifically over at The Escapist. I'd add fuel, but it seems kinda redundant. Thomas does it far more succinctly than I would and Tim goes into more detail than I have the time to allow.

I prefer Confessions of a GameStop Girl myself. While plenty of game design hours have been allocated trying to determine just what kind of game women would be interested in, how to not insult women, etc., what for ... a real problem is gaming culture itself. Fact is, lots of gaming communities still treat women gamers like second class citizens. They're harrassed, hit on, demeaned and treated like gross anomalies. Plenty won't even hint to their gender for fear of reprisal. It's almost like it's not worth the trouble unless one is a member of a gang ... er I mean clan.

First step to getting more women into gaming? It's not marketing, it's attitude. If less male gamers would freak out around them, more female gamers would be inticed into playing. Playing anything, not just Nintendogs or DDR. Women gamers exist, people, and they have for some time. You can stop gawking now. Just as the concept that all gamers are twelve year old kids glued in front of a TV after school for hours isn't true, neither is the concept that it's a boy's club.

Thomas points out in the comments of his post that since his girlfriend is a gamer, he's has to hit on at least one of them. Good point. I've got the same problem. It's not that we have to forget they're women. There's nothing wrong with wanting to date women who play games any more than wanting to date women who watch football, curse or drink large amounts of beer. However, I'm also betting the first date wasn't preceeded by a "OMG UR A GIRL?? A/S/L?????".

Oh, NaNo

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.

It's not like NaNoWriMo isn't hard on it's own. Oh no, I had to go and decide to do an interactive piece as well. I am, to use the vernacular, dumb.

Problem is, I'm still fine tuning the framework itself. Even when it's more or less working, a lot of the work will be in code. The way this framework operates is by either shuttling html files or flipping swaths of text to illustrate changes in the fictional world. So if you "go north" it will load the descriptive text for that location. If you take something from that location, it will reload the text but also swap out text to indicate the item is no longer there.

All of that shuttling requires javascript and while I have a lot of stuff automatically working (for instances, sections named after items more or less know what to do now), that only gets you so far. The real meat is in activities not related to the common go, take, drop or examine verbs. Actions like disturb, blow out, light, attack, talk, etc. Talk in fact is really annoying. Consider how much of a novel you read is dialogue, and then try reading that text in the second person. You can't because you're part of the conversation now. Originally I was going to use a modal system ... more or less the kind of multiple choice dialogues you get from your average CRPG. That didn't feel open ended enough though. What if a reader talks to a character, and then leaves that location for somewhere else? Will they figure out that new options might have appeared? Game design would dictate fairly obvious clues or else you run the risk of hiding an important solution. However, if you force the player to try different subjects like, "talk to man about grave" or "talk to man about lemonade", then they might be more likely to try different keywords as they explore more.

Great. But now half the dialogue is text, and another half will be code to determine how to display it. And code is like poetry ... it's not easy to write it quickly or well. Try writing three pages a night when half your words are coming out in haiku.

Well, at least NaNo isn't about winning but about writing. It will be definately interesting to see how this looks 29 days from now.

For the record though, I'd guess my word count is less than a hundred right now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Let's Go NaNo

It's November 1st ... that mean's it's NaNoWriMo time. 50,000 words in 30 days. I'm going to be taking a bit of time today to get up and running, which will be the placeholder for Cathan, my interactive fiction piece.

For fellow NaNos, I found NaNoWriMoProMe to be an excellent meter graphic last year.

And if you're on OS X, you might check out TUAW's list of NaNo utilities for the Mac, including free word processors and the like.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mad King

Here I am, partying with the Mad King. He's pretty fun, although tempermental. I didn't get a pumpkin for a head, but I did get pretty wasted.

More Guild Wars Halloween

These guys apparently got converted by the Mad King of Tyria. Apparently if you don't dance when he asks, he kills you. That's pretty mad.

Happy Halloween, y'all.

No Demo Today

I think it's safe to say I won't be getting my interactive fiction demo done by tonight. Sorry, it's just that I ran into some framework and design issues this weekend, so I wasn't able to just sit down and "write it" as I had hoped. It's really extremely short ... if one knew the solution you could probably run through the demo in like five minutes. Mostly just a proof of concept. However, some conflicts with modern browsers (namely their desire to prefill every form element) is going to require some new interface tweaks I hadn't counted on, the conversation handler is less robust than I currently need and I need a node for each hand instead of one for both in the inventory. But hey, if the Simpsons can hold out until November, so can I.

It definately looks like I'll be making this my NaNoWriMo project instead of editing my last entry.

How Does One Haunt Ground?

To be a bit in the spirit of the season, The Girl and I played some of Haunting Ground this weekend. This title is a bit of Nintendogs meets Resident Evil. Well, OK ... not quite ... but close. Once you befriend the dog Hewie, you'll be calling him to your side pretty frequently and at least one sequence requires you to teach him to sit. That sequence, actually, is a perfect example of why adventure games have such a hard rap these days. And yes, Virginia, survival horror is just a deviation from those old point and click King's Quest games of old. Better graphics, more zombies.

In this sequence, you have to get Hewie to remain on a plate to raise a gate. Pretty simple, right? Except that this plate is difficult to notice, shoved off to the side of a small corner room and were it not for a guide The Girl and I would have probably never thought to even look for. In fact, when the main character enters the room, she makes note of a chair, which is seemingly useless, but completely ignores the completely vital plate. Hiding clues through obsfucation is just not terribly fun.

Still, it's an atmospheric game and I do like the rather clever "run and hide" mechanism as compared to the usual awful gun control of these titles. We haven't played with the alchemy or traps yet, either. So while a little flawed, it's been a fun Halloween distraction.

On a side note, we stumbled on the show Strange on Showtime this weekend. Apparently a 2003 BBC series starring Richard Coyle, better known as Jeff on Coupling, as a defrocked priest fighting demons in England. The tone is relatively quiet and spooky while the angle is more mystery than pure horror. Definately recommend.