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Friday, November 11, 2005

Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility

A holographic sentient AI sent word that has the skinny on how backwards compatible the 360 is: Is Xbox 360 backward compatible?

Todd: Yes. Today we’re confirming more than 200 titles including games like Halo® and Halo® 2; Star Wars® Knights of the Old Republic® I and II (LucasArts); Ninja Gaiden® and Ninja Gaiden® Black (Tecmo®); and Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas™ (Rockstar Games). I can confidently say our goal remains to make as many games backward compatible as possible. So what are the 200+ games that are backward compatible as of today?

Todd: It's simple: You can log onto for an up-to-date list of original Xbox games that run on Xbox 360. There are more than 200 titles as of today, and we will update you on a regular basis after launch.

More links and info from the links above as well as a list here. Recent mumblevine couldn't peg this down, so it's good to see that Microsoft is taking the effort seriously.

Next, Rein will just misquote himself

Mark Rein gets in the news a lot. Probably too much for his own liking. Once he was quoted as saying something would be out in two weeks and he still hasn't heard the last of that one. Recently he was quoted as knocking the Revolution and now he's setting that record straight as well. (thanks games.slashdot)

Being an ex-Epic fanboy, I learned to take Rein's statements and their subsequent quotings with a relative grain of salt. Honestly, I said the similar things about the DS. In fact, I still say the DS is gimmicky. However, those gimmicks work for a lot of people and they're leading to a more innovative platform than what Sony has been able to library up for the PSP.

Course, it would be great to see Unreal Engine 3 run on the Revolution. Nintendo's biggest problem is a wide third party base. Considering UE3 is being used by about three thousand and two different people these days, it would help a lot.

Rumors, rumors

OK, Sony is not really on my good list right now. No presents for them this XMas. The whole DRM rootkit thing is just stupid evil and the apparent lack of a central online service for the PS3 is just evil stupid.

But c'mon people. Let's show a little restraint. Here is the etymology of an Internet rumor.

1. Sony patents a method to make media play only on the device it's first run on.

2. Once found, people email the large game blogs who report it ... but note "Does Sony plan to employ this technology in the PlayStation 3? Not likely. If so, PS3 owners would not be able to rent (used) games or borrow their friends’ games—or even purchase used games!"

3. Another site picks it up, reporting "The rumour goes that this will be used on the PlayStation 3 (PS3). Think about it for a minute. Would Sony be that stupid? "

4. It continues, only this time it goes to say, "Rumours on the Internet are that the PS3 is being designed so that each individual game Blu-Ray disc will be logged in each individual machine."

And then, you're pretty much off to the races. Blogs start citing each other as sources, most people kinda question it and then some just swallow it wholesale and the next thing you know you have entire forum thread complaining about how Sony won't let you rent any PS3 games because they are, in fact, Satan's lovechildcompanything.

People, Sony is a huge company with about a gajillion consumer products under their belt. These days it's better to patent stuff you don't even know about before someone else does. Actually connecting any of this information to the PlayStation 3 isn't even conjecture at this point, it's simply illogical.

Course, I never imagined any company would install a rootkit hack just to keep you from copying a song. So, who knows what the year will hold.

Will Kong Make You Cry?

According to MSNBC, Xavier Poix, the producer of the upcoming King Kong game, is "hoping that when they finish the game the players will cry.”

Not sure when sobbing became the grail of modern game design, but I highly doubt King Kong will be capable of hitting that mark. I'm basing this solely on the demo mind you - but I found the demo underwhelming enough that I probably won't have a desire to play the full game. I do appreciate some of the tweaks that the team is trying, like the lack of interface and cinematic settings ... but I was also wading in some messy mechanics and gameplay. Take this bit:

Poix described a scene where blonde-in-distress Ann Darrow is brought to Kong as a sacrifice. The player, in the role of the adventurer trying to save Darrow, is tied up but can still look around. Allowing just this limited movement, said Poix, reinforces the feeling of helplessness in the player.

Seriously - it won't. It's not going to make a player feel any more helpless. The player is quite used to cut-scenes, locked doors and other means of keeping them from opening a box or running around where you don't want them. This myth that by simply shoving someone into a first person view will convey all the emotions of that situation has got to go. No player will feel any more helpless than someone watching that scene in the third person.

Not unless, of course, you've made the player really care about Darrow. See, this is the step that game producers keep forgetting. It's not about your fancy graphics, your interface or the 4,000 node skeleton you have just animated. If you can't make me care about a character, then I don't really care what you do.

I don't really have a problem with video games going all Hollywood on us ... just so long as they pay attention to the right things. Instead of everyone trying to make a Ridley Scott film (no offense to Ridley, I love his flicks) ...go see a damn Miyazaki fest. That man makes me care about characters even in his kid movies. Hell, that man can make me care for a cat in a movie.

Want to make me cry? Stop trying tricks and schticks with game mechanics and learn how to portray real characters in real plots.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

FilePlanet = FunSucker

Jesus, I got frustrated with a locational bug with my AJAX text game engine so I decided to try the WoW trial at FilePlanet.

First it grilled me for my age (after insisting I have a free registration login). Then I find out that for non-subscribers, they shave off 4 days.

Then it told me that I couldn't use FireFox, no ... sorry ... FilePlanet is ActiveX only. For the curious, the far superior Fileshack doesn't have any of these inane problems, so you won't wait for your stupid ActiveX download before you have to wait in line.

BUT WAIT! It gets better. Like all things stable and Microsoft ... the ActiveX downloader FAILED TO LOAD. Why? Hell if I know. I'm waiting for the stupid thing to try again now.

In other words, I've spent fifteen minutes with FilePlanet and I'm not even in line to download squat yet.

FP? More like FU.

Update: Well, that was fun. I even tried taking out my firewall and virus protection to let, you know, FilePlanet rape my Windows box if that's what it needed. That wasn't enough for it. So screw that. I just sent the following off to Blizzard:

I just wanted to try out World of Warcraft with the free trial at FilePlanet.

Sadly, their completely unnecessary ActiveX download program refused to install, so no such luck.

Too bad, looks like a neat game. Wish you'd use someone, you know, reliable and less stupid, to distribute trials with.

Thanks for trying though

Hey Blizzard - FilePlanet just lost you a potential customer. Great choice.

Looking Back At Game Addiction

When Corvus put up his November Roundtable topic as video game addiction, I thought back to a piece I wrote for the old Unreal mod site, ModSquad, back when they hung their hat on PlanetUnreal. That's been a few years, but I'm going to quote myself and repost the whole bit:

First of all, apologies for not getting back to serious game design issues (as opposed to development stories) as I intended this week. However, I just finally caught up reading an article on a bit of news which had caught my eye.

It's a sad story really, and you may have heard it already. On Thanksgiving of last year, an EverQuest gamer by the name of Shawn Woolley committed suicide by shooting himself. I mention that he was an EverQuest gamer because his mother is suing Sony over his death.

According to Jay Parker, an Internet Addiction specialist from Redmond, EverQuest was akin to crack to Shawn. He, Shawn's mother, and a law firm believe that Sony should be placing labels on the game to warn people of potential addiction. In Parker's words:

"The manufacturer of EverQuest purposely made it in such a way that it is more intriguing to the addict," Parker said. "It could be created in a less addictive way, but (that) would be the difference between powdered cocaine and crack cocaine."

Like I said. It's pretty sad.

Any loss of human life, no matter the cause, is a tragic event. Shawn Woolley, at 21, had quit his job recently before his death, presumably to play more EverQuest. His mother also tells of when one of his fellow players robbed him, Shawn was in tears. Clearly Shawn lived a lonely life whose chief social outlet was the Internet.

The thing is, I've heard all this before. It's so identical it's spooky.

Some of you old-timers might remember the cultural crackdown that occurred over Dungeons and Dragons when a string of teen suicides were discovered to have something in common - all the players were heavy into role-playing games. Instantly concerned parents, psychologists and, of course, lawyers jumped to the rescue of America's youth to warn them of the dangers of role-playing. 'They get too attached to their characters, too involved in a fantasy life, too detached from society' was the warning.

There's even this horrible old Tom Hanks movie where he goes insane from playing them and wanders the streets having hallucinations. Which reminds me of another Parker quote, this time of another 21 year old who was dropping out of college while playing EverQuest:

"He thought the characters had come out of the game and were chasing him," Parker said. "He was running through his neighborhood having hallucinations. I can't think of a drug he could have taken where he would have disintegrated in 15 weeks."

The mistake that Mr. Parker and the rest seem to be making now is the same mistake the screenwriter for that awful Tom Hanks movie made then. They overestimate the power of the game and underestimate the problems of the player. Certainly, for some, video games can be an addiction. So can porn, television, and other outlets for fantasy where a person is inclined to be involved in escapist behavior.

And Mr. Parker is slightly off on his facts. Several powerful drugs, including cocaine, heroin and PCP, can kill a person with a single (over)dose. Fifteen weeks is over three months, and a lot of bad things can happen with drugs in that time. What I can't think of is a single game designed that will actually cause hallucinations. As for Sony's "crack" business model, trying to get players to play longer online is no different than a television executive planning a schedule to keep people at their television sets for an entire night. Unless "Must See TV" is some kind of warning label, I haven't seen anyone offering lawsuits because their kids know the cast of "Friends" better than their own relatives.

Shawn's mother, to her credit, admits her son had difficulties before EverQuest entered the equation. Mr. Parker himself apparently suggests that video games aren't inherently bad (difficult to tell, I think, by his comments). However, by forcing a lawsuit to have Sony place the label '"Warning, extensive playing could be hazardous to your health."' (Mr Parker's suggestion) would not have saved Shawn. If anything, making this a public spectacle in this manner trivializes his death as something as simple as "he played too many video games". Parker's quick-to-judge drug analogy of EverQuest blatantly ignores the thousands of players who seem immune to the "EverCrack".

That's not to say that I don't support the concept of Internet addiction and warning people that it *is* possible to use these games as a form of escape. Labels are no solution, however. Even if EverQuest really was akin to a drug, just ask a smoker how much good a warning label does. Sony, and any company who creates an online community, should not ignore the situation of gamers like Shawn Woolley. Instead of a warning label, however, they need to make sure their administrators, moderators and community leaders are aware of such cases being possible. These people were Shawn's social circle and as a society they need to be more perceptive to warning signs that one of their own may in trouble. I can only assume that there are gamers out there grieving over Shawn's death as heartily as someone who knew him in real life.

Posting information about Internet addiction on websites and within games, warning signs to the behavior and places for assistance is the best solution to the situation. I hardily believe that labels have always had a minimal impact on society. Instead of making a sensational connection to drugs, treat the problem at it's real roots - in loneliness, depression and social anxiety. Awareness, information and community support helps these problems, and as much as the Internet can be an outlet for escapism - it can also be a tool for building healthy support groups and long-distance friends. I doubt Sony, or any other gaming company, would disagree.

We don't need lawyers talking to each other. We need gamers talking to each other.

My condolences to the Woolley family on the tragic loss of their son.



I actually got an email from Mrs. Woolley shortly after writing that and we exchanged a few notes. She was actually quite thankful that I was representing her son in a reasonable light as much of the flame-induced Internet had flame-broiled him pretty hard.

It's odd the parrellels between the arguments about the dangers of game addiction, the problems with role playing games and now a redux with violence and video games. Our culture truly loves to legislate what it doesn't understand.

Faith Based Education

The Kansas Board of Education is so contradictory in definition that it might as well officially be an oxymoron. Welcome to the fine annals of English like "military intelligence" or "government organization" ... in other words a damn joke. Any body which seeks to help students by "redefining science" as to include the supernatural is hands down one of the dumbest bodies on the planet. Maybe Kansas should send some of the board members to school for some learning?

Seriously, I got nothing against religion. But keep it in the churches, people. Do I come to your sermon questioning the validity of God? No.

And trust me, you want to keep it that way.

Free World of Warcraft

Apparently Blizzard is offering a 14 day trial of WoW via FilePlanet.

Evil bastards ... I have no time for such addiction right now.

More Coloussus Viral Work?

Thanks to Aeropause, I see that there is more "evidence" that giants once walked this earth, now a Siberian find over at, complete with a video complete of an extremely familiar looking find they dub "Taurus Major".

I'm still not completely convinced that the Giantology blog is part of it or is just a bystander, since the guy agrees the tsunami find is probably faked. You don't see many participants in a viral campaign admitting to a hoax.

Update: OK, the other major thing the blog links to is an underwater find which is also a bit suspicious. It does seem odd that the three major things the guy is following all seem to be potential Shadow of the Colossus trails. Very subtle marketing if it's all connected together, that's for sure. Blog even has archives back to Feb.

Back into the IF

I had started to hunt down the old Zork series in order to refresh how classic interactive fiction works, but in the course of that I've found so much "indie" work that going back to the commercial stuff seems almost silly at this point. So I downloaded Zoom, a Z-Code intrepreter that works great on OS X and I've been trying out various works in my brief moments of free time (for instance when Visual Studio takes 5 minutes to load up a project).

Some are just fascinating. For instance, All Roads sends you up as a time-travelling spy in Venice who starts the game with a noose around your neck. Or there is Slouching Towards Bedlam with it's robotic NPC cube that will delightfully analyze anything you point at. I just started poking at Emily Short's Galatea, which takes place in only one room with Pygmalion's animated statue.

Screw Lost, where is the industry's version of these? Is it necessary to work within a textual world to be able to unhinge oneself creatively enough to get to this kind of work?

If you're interested in these things, Baf's Guide to the IF Archive is an excellent place to start. You might also check out Emily's excellent list of recommended works if you need some suggestions.

Katamari Creator Aims For Real Playgrounds

Takahashi, the apparently insanely lovable creator of the insanely popular Katamari games, wants to make real playgrounds down the road:

"In 10 years time, I am not going to be making games any more. I would like to create a playground for children. A normal playground is flat but I want an undulating one, with bumps."
-- Takahashi Will 'Quit Games for Playgrounds'


Spector's Clarification

"You don't think the GTA team could rock hard on something that didn't involve criminal behavior? Wouldn't you love to see them try? That's what I was saying. Well, that and the fact that it's worth our while to examine what our content says about us--as a medium and as contributors to our culture. But that's a longer discussion for another time...

"Look, as an individual and as a player, I'm tired of so-called 'violent video games'--not because I think they cause real-world violence (I don't believe that for one second), but because the 'edgy,' 'violent' routine is getting so dull...

"I'm tired of urban crime, alien invasion, war stories and orc-killing. I'm tired of most every game having to be the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. I'm tired of always having to solve game problems with a gun or a spear or a fireball (and not having to deal with the consequences of such a solution). I don't mind that we make games like that--I mind that the mainstream of console and PC games (apologies to Will Wright and the entire Nintendo DS lineup!) consists of almost nothing but that.

"Where's our Lost? Our CSI? Our Law & Order? Our West Wing? Our Seinfeld? Our musical Buffy episode? Okay, maybe those last two are a bit beyond our capabilities. But the others are within our grasp if we would only try, and if we could find someone to fund and truly support the not-insubstantial effort involved.
-- Warren Spector [gamespot]

Part of me agrees with this ... but isn't it enough that Rockstar has made the "playground" or "free roam" concept work so well that others can learn from it? Sure, some are cheap knock-offs ... but others are simply brilliant. Take Simpsons: Hit & Run or Mercenaries as examples. Rockstar isn't stopping anyone from making the game industry's version of Lost ... I just don't think we should knock them for not doing it themselves.

Sure, I want to see more innovative and interesting games. Course, San Andreas was fairly interesting by industry standards. While some in gamedev might bitch and moan about the urban aspects of the game ... it's still a great game, and a best-selling one at that. In terms of the market, someone has to come out with something that's compelling.

I think the industry needs to stop using Rockstar as an excuse for everything. It's not Rockstar's fault this country has a moral stick up it's ass. It's not Rockstar's fault that cinematique is the fasion for games these days. It's not Rockstar's fault that big budget games take fewer risks. Yes, all these things are true ... but invoking Grand Theft Auto is a) a magnet for nutcases like Thompson ... a fact Warren just learned ... and b) overfull with redudant and useless controversy as it is.

So maybe the next time someone wants to get the industry to think about originality, leaving GTA out of the discussion might be a good way to start.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Interactivity ... to a fault?

This quote, via Gamasutra, of CliffyB's ... which in turn is via Corvus (who apparently has way more time to write these days than myself and is therefore my nominee to win NaNoWriMo), which was actually prompted by Patrick's comment ... which .... *takes breath* ... is this:

The fundamental problem with making an interactive narrative is like – how would you make Lethal Weapon 2, the buddy cop movie - if in the first scene Danny Glover turns to Mel Gibson and shoots him in the head? Never underestimate the ability of the user to undermine the narrative you're trying to tell. You have to allow for every single scenario. You're empowering the user's ability to make the game look stupid, essentially.

To which my highly elucidated response would be: sort of.

Let me explain. Right now in the interactive fiction I'm writing, the playable character is with his mother (she, in fact, rides on your back for most of this chapter). Now the mother will be a fairly central character through the whole story. So if you decide to strangle her at the first scene, you wouldn't be able to finish the story.

However, it's not really a problem. See, this is all Valve's fault. The concept of a tabula rasa character is interesting, but in reality just doesn't work. Gordon Freeman is not you. You are playing a character named Gordon Freeman, and are therefore bound to the kind of character boundaries of Freeman. You can't shoot an innocent person trying to help you in Half-Life 2 because Gordon would never do that.

The allure of tabula rasa exists primarily in first person shooters because of, well, the first person. That's the narrative I. You are right in the driver's seat. Interactive fiction generally uses second person, so there is the chance for the narrative to contradict your actions. It will tell you that strangling your mother might sound like a good idea, but you'd never actually do it.

The basic way to do that with a first person perspective would be to have the character initiate an inner monologue. Point a gun at a helpful character and pull the trigger, you hear the main character say. "I wouldn't do that." (or something better written). However, thanks to Valve, everyone's convinced that main character dialogue is somehow intrusive. Which is, imho, bunk.

San Andreas Sweeps London Awards

While the American side of the pond can't seem to attack Rockstar enough, the Londoners are a bit more sympathetic to the best-selling Grand Theft Auto series:

As well as being named Ultimate Game of Year, it won for best PlayStation 2 game, best soundtrack and best hero and villain for its main characters.

"Having achieved such popularity with gamers and spawning a whole slew of imitators, it's no surprise to see GTA: San Andreas pick up such an impressive haul of awards," said, James Ashton-Tyler of the magazine publishing group, Future.

I realized the other day that Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas are some of the few games within a franchise that I've played pretty much from beginning to end ... and an awful great deal of exploring and side missions in the middle. And that's from the day of purchase on, not picking it up later or anything. Sure, that also recently includes Half-Life 2 and Doom 3 ... but those were much shorter outings. Timewise the only other games that share that kind of attention span would be Ocarina of Time and the original Zork.

Though come to think of it ... I don't know if I ever did finish Zork...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Steve Meretzky Catch-Up

I completely missed the fact that over Halloween, Gamasutra posted one of their "catch-up" features on Steve Meretzky, known to many as the man partially responsible for tormenting them with the insidious puzzles of the Hitchiker's Guide text adventure. What's the man up to now?

In July of this year Meretzky left WorldWinner to join Floodgate Entertainment, though he's still involved with WorldWinner as a Games Advisor. "I thought it would be a fun next step for me," he said. "Floodgate’s mission is to become the 'Pixar of mobile gaming,' doing the most high-end and high-quality games in the space, with a particular focus on multiplayer gaming." Meretzky is currently working on a project code-named Swashbuckler.
-- Playing Catch-Up: Infocom's Steve Meretzky

I'm starting to research a bunch of indie text adventures now, so seeing his name still around was something of a treat.

Xbox 360 Live Arcade Preview

Should you be one of the few people on the planet able to get your hands on a 360, Talk Xbox has a preview of the arcade portion of the Xbox Live service:

The games on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) run the gamut from heavily revamped coin-op games to original indie titles and everything else in between. And when I say coin-op, I don’t mean Bubble Bobble. I’m talking Smash TV, ported from the original ROM code with updated sprites and Xbox Live multiplayer. I’m talking the original Gauntlet, again ported from the original ROM code, and again with Xbox Live multiplayer. I’m talking games from studios such as Ubisoft, Midway, and EA, all of which have submitted game concepts for approval.
-- Hands-On Preview: Xbox Live Arcade

It also mentions that for the first time in the industry, an indie title is available at launch for a major console. Congrats to Marble Blast Ultra for getting in one the ground floor.

Amazon 360 Bundles Are $1,000

According to Gizmodo, Amazon has 4 Xbox 360 bundles all costing $1,000. Seriously? There's really a lot of people willing to throw down a grand for a game console? Is this savvy upselling or a gross miscalculation? Considering the mumblevine has Microsoft creating a shortage at launch and a new rumor that Apple might sue them for iPod infringement, this could be one of the bumpiest launchiest ever.

Thompson Removes Self

Apparently Thompson has elected to remove himself. He says he did this voluntarily and under no pressure, but a blind man can see the writing on the wall here. He did the math and realized he could save face by shooting his own foot rather than be taken out to the woodshed.

Course, this probably means he'll have more time to rant and rave in front of cameras. Hopefully his "Pearl Harbor 2" will get tossed soon and he'll have to wait for Bully's release before he has new material.

Saving King's Quest

A while back I got an email from Matt of the Save King's Quest IX! project. You may or may not have heard about this via a couple other blogs, but in short:

Our goal here is simple: the release of King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining.

King's Quest IX was a fan game that had been in the works since 2002. It was being made by fans for fans, and was going to be made available to all as a free download. Unfortunately, Vivendi Universal Games, which owns the rights to King's Quest, has recently issued a cease and desist letter to the fans making the game -- essentially shutting it down.

I've written in the past about how tenuous doing mods or fan work of commercial property can be for people. To their credit, they knew all of this walking in and these guys show much more understanding of IP and copyright law than your average mod team. Normally I'd be commenting on how "inspired by" or "clone" works are much safer, but these guys have an answer to that:

Also, it doesn't matter that the game was going to be free. Just because you don’t charge money for something doesn't mean you aren’t infringing on someone else's copyright.

The game would have to be changed to such an extent that it is no longer recognizable as a King's Quest game. The game makers don't want to do that for two reasons:

1) It would require a tremendous amount of work. Months and months of work.

2) It would no longer be a King's Quest game, and that was the whole point in the first place.

The best thing we can do is appeal to Vivendi to reach an agreement with the makers of the game, so it can continue legally. Please visit our website and email Vivendi if you'd like to help.
-- Save King's Quest Forums

OK, you got me there. The only other out I could see would be parody, although I can only imagine that might require a massive, potentially complete, rewrite as well. So really the only avenue is to appeal to Vivendi.

Now, the King's Quest series is near and dear to my heart. Heck, I made out with one of my first girlfriends while that game was on in the background (yes, I am that dorky). They were pioneering games with tremendous design value. So here's what I will be emailing to Vivendi:

Dear Vivendi,

I am writing on behalf of the effort to save the fan work King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining. I am a long time gamer, modder and programmer. I completely understand the need to protect your license and copyright, even for games for which you may not have any current plans to develop. It is not only your right, but your responsibility to maintain control over the use of the King's Quest series.

However, I would ask that you re-examine this particular case. Clearly this project is being done by serious fans who want to do the license justice. They are being as mindful as to respect the property as much as they are being respectful of your rights to the franchise. They have no commercial ambitions for the game, and while I completely understand that by itself that does grant any privilege to use an intellectual property - it might be an advantage for you.

For instance, you might note the change LucasArts recently took with the Unreal Tournament 2004 mod Troopers. Instead of shutting the mod down, they developed a relationship which allowed LucasArts to control aspects of the mod including it's distrubition. In return, the project got better production assets and turned into a much better game. Even though though Troopers could have potentially competed with future titles like Star Wars Battlefront, the game instead simply helped emboldened a fan base and had no visible impact on sales.

In this case, allowing King's Quest IX to be public would only aid the franchise's visibility at very little, if any, cost to Vivendi. I'm certain that the team would be open to negotiation at this point if there were specific concerns that Vivendi wished to express. Allowing free downloads for such games has been a long standing method to extend the vitality of a license, and it would be a shame to see King's Quest lose it's vitality by being shelved.

I hope you see your way to give this work a chance to be played.

Thanks for your time,

Joshua Birk

Will BatJack Be Removed?

Right now, all signs probably lead to yes. While this has been widely reported, Joystiq does a fine job of summing things up. The best part, I think is:

Judge James Moore is reviewing the requested revocation of Thompson’s license to practice law in Alabama, taken the stacks of press releases Blank Rome submitted as evidence into consideration. Thompson defended himself by reminded Moore he had told Thompson “after the criminal trial to ‘have at it,’” to which Moore reportedly replied “your ‘have at it’ and my ‘have at it’ are not the same.”

Oh, snap. Just more evidence that Thompson's only real talent is soundbites. Course, if he gets disbarred somewhere, it will be easier to convince the mainstream media that he's not a reliable "expert" of any field.

My guess is that he will be removed from the trial. Moore has shown a lack of patience when it comes to Thompson's antics. By all accounts, BatJack came close to being in contempt during the last Devin Moore trial with his continued public comments. Since he's clearly not showing any remorse or indication of slowing down with the civil trial, I'd be almost surprised if he was allowed to stay with the case.

Course, shortly thereafter the case will probably be thrown out for the groundless waste of time it is anyway. The prosecution has very little evidence and the defense has little things like the First Amendment.

Personally, I'd love to see Jack get sued himself. Had someone spent more time and money developing his "game concept", I'd think they could get fraud charges on him. $10,000 isn't a prize purse you can just joke about. His comments about Sony bringing about the next "Pearl Harbor" I think borders on racial intolerance (try telling your co-worker of German descent that he's about to go all Holocaust and see how long it takes to get served). And of course while I think gamers sending the man death threats is stupid, I think continually inciting and insulting them makes it pretty unsurprising.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Death By Caffiene

How much coffee would it take to kill you?

Myself, over 80 cups. I think I'm safe for now.

Sakkara Episode 2

The second episode of the BBC's flash adventure game Death in Sakkara, is up today.

Oh, Warren

GamePolitics portrays Warren Spector's recent remarks about Rockstar as "breaking the ranks".

Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. Seriously, you'd have to have your head in the sand not to notice that everyone and their dog likes to kick Rockstar whenever they get the chance. Heck, when GamePolitics first noted it they even left out Warren's comments about the brilliant design used in GTA.

Which really seems odd. That Warren would be so self-contradictory, not that GamePolitics took another chance to bash GTA. Here is an industry demanding that bigger studios worry more about mechanics than flair, worry about creative properties rather than plundering licensed IP, and build more innovative games with the potential for mass appeal.

Rockstar does all that with the GTA series ... but now the industry also wants all of that as long as it isn't too violent. Free-roam good ... hookers bad ... or something like that.

Now I'm a Warren Spector fanboy. Always have been, always will be. But c'mon, Warren. I killed a great number of people in your games. I sniped people from afar, I chopped down entire police squads, I stabbed people in the back and hid the bodies. So why is Rockstar so bad, but you're not? BatJack is trumpeting Warren's comments as proof that the industry knows Rockstar has gone too far .... but let's face it: Thompson would gladly put Warren himself on the stand as a defendant as much as a witness.

Rockstar has made an innovative, genre-bending, best-selling series. While all the industry heads in the world can shake at dismay, the fact is that the consumer public has already judged the content to be not just tolerable, but entertaining. The only people making a case against Rockstar are the ones trying to take some kind of moral high ground ... a ground that the market simply doesn't agree with.

NaNo, Week 1

So it's now the Monday after NaNo began. I'm still in no shape to worry about word count, which isn't exactly a good sign to "winning" the contest.

Yet, I realized this morning that there is an advantage to interactive lit. Expansion doesn't necessarily take place along a linear plot, since the player more or less controls the pace and direction of the narrative. Last year, word count was all about new scenes chained together ... and to add a new scene I needed some kind of cohesion to stick it to the rest of the story. Here, I can just add a new location. Expanding the fictional world, as it were, expands the word count (and the size of the "novel").

Course, I still spent like two hours on Saturday working around one stupid bug. The framework has gotten a little more complicated in that some functions are called twice for specific reasons ... so if I don't keep track of timing I can easily confuse myself.

Not that confusing myself ever took much effort...

A History Of Violence

We saw A History Of Violence on Saturday. It's a hard movie to wrap much of anything around. If someone came up to me and said, "I'm going to see a movie this weekend, what would you recommend?" ... it's not what would jump to mind. It's not a particularly fun movie, nor is it overly poignant or emotional. It's an extremely tense and at times incredible violent movie.

Truth is, on it's own, Cronenberg's latest would probably have more than a few people scratching their heads. Fans of some of his earlier work will wonder where the allusions to insects or surrealism went. People expecting a wham bam action flick will be outright bewildered.

That, I think, is Cronenberg's aim. Actually I had heard a great NPR feature on the movie a week or so before it's release about this angle. Cronenberg didn't want a comfortable movie, he wanted something that would be a dark reflection of American action films. In a normal action movie, the protaganist would be glorified and praised for his violent acts ... but in A History Of Violence, it's a central point for fear and loathing.

Compare this movie to A Long Kiss Goodnight, where Geena Davis plays a soccer mom who has forgotten her assassin ways. There the possibility of a mommy being a killer is seen as kinda cool, but Cronenberg puts a grim focus on death and the people capable of dealing it out.

So I don't necessarily recommend the movie ... except that I think everyone should watch it. You might not have the best time, but it may give a unique perspective on how violent media works.

It would be fascinating to see someone pull of a video game in this same vein. Despite it's attempt to be an indictment of violence, I'm positive our currently climate would be too nearsighted to grasp that and only focus on the presentation of gore itself.