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Friday, April 14, 2006

Girls Playing Counter-Strike

What gets me about this whole Girls Of CS nude pin-up deal is this:

Counter-Strike is by far and away the most popular online first person shooter with just thousands and thousands and thousands of people playing it right now. Right as I'm typing this.

The idea that anyone would actually be surprised that a) some are girls and that b) some of those girls are attractive seems rather ridiculous. I mean, they might exist. These people that don't believe in a) and b). But I don't think showing them naked pics will perform any kind of enlightenment.

Except for, of course, in their pants.

So to the three young enterpenuerial men apparently behind this venture, remember: You're doing a nudie site. If you can't accept your moral shortcomings - find another line of trade.

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I Remember My Aces

For his next RoundTable, Corvus asks us how we have dealt with our NPCs in the past. Honestly, recent shooters have made me bemoan the NPC as a zombie-like automatons that almost invariable get in the way as much as they actually help. Half-Life 2 may have had the most advanced facial technology of any shooter to date, but frequently my allies were little more than fodder. The bugs, once controlled with pheromones, were far more useful than any of the humans - because they all knew how to zerg correctly.

Even Unreal Tournament's vaunted AI, which works brilliantly on well-developed maps and correctly coded gametypes goes horribly awry when ... well, you don't have well-developed maps or correctly coded gametypes. One of my mods, Grind did little more than alter the movement code for the player pawns ... but convincing the bots they could jump at the appropriate times proved Herculean in nature.

But I digress. The point is that I found much more interesting NPC interaction before things went all 3D on us. The one that strikes the loudest chord is X-Com. Being a turn-based strategy game, everything comes down to how the pawns perform. You might want to snipe that alien from afar, but you can only succeed if the little soldier makes it's shot. Some of it's strategy, some of it's luck, and some of it's the skill of the soldier on the ground. Much of it, actually, is the skill of the solider ... so when you got a soldier who would survive long enough to actually be good, you got a certain rapport for them. You would try to give them more backup. You would go back a save just to keep them from dying. When you got an ace in X-Com, you worked for them so that they'd keep working for you.

They were important, and because they all had their own names ... it was oddly personal. In the Rebelstar followup on the GBA, this isn't really the case because all the characters are the same for everyone. But "Alice Jones" would be your ace. She would win your battles. Alice wouldn't go slutting around and fight someone else's alien invasion. If you kept her alive, she'd try her best to keep you alive.

Simple and effective. No need for fancy eye textures or complicated mo-cap animations. Just a personal level of trust and some reward in maintaining a relationship.

Or to put it very basically - would you feel more connected to ... Half-Life 2's Alix or your Sim?

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Coolest Professor Evah

I can't get to the full article, but I agree with this digg that any professor who "has built a four player arcade cabinet for his students to test and present the games they develop for his class" is definately up for the title of "coolest ever". Or at least "this year".

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Massive Oblivion Mods List

For those of you who are into that kind of thing, here is a huge list of Oblivion mods (digg it). I'm not sure how many are related to your horse.

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Ars Technica Looks At PS3 OS

Ars Technica takes look at the brains of the Playstation 3 ... or rather Playstation 3 Portal does ... and gives us an overview:

This white paper was one of the first to be released on Cell, and it clearly indicates that PS3 was designed from the ground up as a node on the network. It also suggests, well before anything was known about Playstation World other than a name, some of the scope of Sony's online ambitions: real-time communications, DRM-protected audio and video, the dynamic integration of online-only content into gameplay, and more.

Not only is all of this enough work for one SPE, but in some circumstances it may be enough work for two SPEs. And for what it's worth, I also think that the reserved memory numbers given are fairly reasonable, as well.

In sum, the performance of PS3's network-facing functionality is going to be limited by network latency and bandwidth, where latencies are counted in milliseconds. This being the case, the SPE's distance from main memory, lack of dynamic branch prediction, and steep branch penalty aren't going to be a killer if it's primarily tasked with processing this kind of traffic while a game runs on the rest of the Cell.
-- New PS3 operating system details? (digg it)

Remember that, for there shall be a quiz later.

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More On Samsung's Game Phone

Going where the N-Gage failed, Samsung's gaming phone is starting to shape up. Moneycontrol Tech Blog gets a little more info, and while the report is short - they seem to like what they see. Apparently the phone will be able to output to a TV, perform Bluetooth multiplay and doesn't look like a plastic taco when you use it. All good things.

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Television Missing the ARG ... by this much

Watching the old idiot box last night brought up an interesting trend ... shows trying to tie-in their websites by pointing to interactive content. For instance, CSI fans can check out this diner for clues about the final two episodes (and yes, I recognize the painting). Smallvile viewers can check out Project Mercury to catch up on the hunt for Dr. "Brainiac" Fine.

While somewhat interesting ... neither really rise up to the level of a real Alternate Reality Game. The CSI flash barely even rises to the level of game, being mostly a fancy zoom feature. The Mercury Blog seems like it could be closer to the real thing, but I'm guessing it's mostly just an "additional information" and not even a Jamie Kane style casual ARG, with mini-games and chatterbots to keep people occupied.

A shame, because both could be fun little mini-ARGs, if the television industry would just catch up with the times.

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Japan Apparently Cracks Down On Games

It appears there is this Gamasutra article on how Japan is cracking down on video games, but it's been deemed unfit by the corporate firewall for viewing, so you'll have to tell me if it's any good or not.

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Sega Handheld = April Fools

Thanks to the blazing speed of Internet communications, this April Fool's prank came a couple weeks late. No Sega handheld for you! You may now return to playing Metroid: Hunters.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The IGN "360 Still Working" Award

Matt over at IGN is boasting about his feat of playing his 360 without breaking the darn thing. Apparently most of the editors aren't so lucky:

It serves them right, I say. After all, if you're going to play your 360, you have to be prepared for the eventuality that it's going to break. You get what you pay for. And apparently $500 for a system and its accessories doesn't guarantee you that any of it will work for very long. Suck it up and take it, bitches. You've been consumer-pnwed and Bill Gates is laughing his ass off from the top of his golden, hovering pyramid in the clouds.

I, on the other hand, am completely owned free because my Xbox 360 is running just fine. I have created an award to celebrate this occasion.
-- Excellence in Not Yet Breaking (digg it)

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Game Innovation Wiki

Neat idea and I wish them luck:

The goal of the GIDb is to classify and record every innovation in the entire history of computer and videogames. Because we could never complete this daunting task alone, we have made the GIDb an open wiki, allowing anyone to easily add innovation entries for the benefit of everyone who cares about the history, study, and practice of game innovation.
-- Game Innovation Database (digg it)

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Yes, It Must Be Sweeps Week

New Game Plus showing off Ashley's special outfit.

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Game Developer Salaries

Via gewgaw I find the hustler of culture's post on the game developer salary survey:

Game Developer released its 5th Annual Salary Survey. Following are salaries of game industry personnel with between three to six years of employment:

Technical Director: $104,738
Lead Programmer: $81,591
Programmer / Engineer: $73, 618


Art Director: $65,313
Lead Artist: $68,112
Artist: $61,065

There's a few more areas on the full post. Personally, I'd never take a position in the industry for less than Carmack's Ferrari.

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Lost: For What Heals You

Last night episode continued the trend of keeping Season 2 interesting, even if it wasn't quite as strong as Hurley's episode. Hurley and Locke still provide the best material for the show, hands down.

Still, this was an important episode because it emphasized another part of the mystery which is often glossed over - the island's odd healing properties. Locke, Rose and probably Sun have been "cured" in some way. It's an interesting comparison to Boone, who was shown how to back away from his relationship with Shannon.

The explanation for the island's magic healing abilities was probably wrapped around the faith healer who said he focused certain energies into people, curing them. Perhaps his magic piece of rock wasn't strong enough for Rose ... but the island somehow kicks things up a notch. Perhaps the big generator in the hatch is an amplifier for the island's normal electromagnetics. It offers another idea to how people survive such a crash in these numbers ... maybe the island kept them alive.

So why didn't it save Kate's cop? Or Boone? Perhaps it has it's limits ... or maybe it's just finicky.

Finally ... what is up with (Not) Henry Gale? Why oh why does he not want Locke to push that button?

Next week we apparently get confirmation of an old suspicion - that the Others don't have vast numbers or force, but rely on subterfuge and fear to keep their operations going. Oh, the war is so on.

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Girls In Bikinis Playing Star Wars

Have I reached a new low? Probably. But check out e4zone's flickr page for lots of good geeky pics.

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A Real Sega Handheld

Personally, I'd go for one of these (Digital World Tokyo) if I was shopping for a Sega Handheld. BenQ makes this fine MP3 player with a built-in retro library.

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Are We Generation G?

Seems like there are more generations than we have decades to fit them into these days, but "Generation G" is starting to gel. Course, it's got a lot of gamer shame to get around ... so I'm getting mixed messages on whether I should start putting my high scores on my resume. Patty Sebold of the Outside Innovation blog does a review of how Gen G might work, including a quote from Erin Biba on the characterstics of a GenG'r:

"1. Arrogance: Killing the bad guys and saving the universe leads to a superiority complex...Gamers as young as 20 often claim to be experts at whatever they do.

2. Sociability: The more a gamer plays, the more likely they are to identify themselves as sociable.

3. Coordination: A study by the University of Rochester found that visual processing dramatically increases with as little as 10 hours of gameplay.

4. Flexibility: Gamers try different methods with tireless persistence. They tackle life's problems with the same flexibility. This allows for analytical, strategic, and open-minded thinking.

5. Competitiveness: Even though gamers often succeed at teamwork, they retain a strong, underlying sense of personal ambition.

6. Insubordination: Logging thousands of hours in authority-free worlds teaches gamers to live by their own rules. Gen G accepts criticism exclusively from peers."
-- What Behaviors To Expect From The G Generation?

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Sega Handheld?

This isn't the first time I have seen this particular rumor that Sega is releasing a handheld codenamed "Hedgehog" (Tech Ticker Blog), but it is the first time it's been accompanied by a sketch drawing. I gotta say - I doubt it. Sega took a huge wash in the hardware industry with the Dreamcast and handhelds are a difficult market. If you aren't Sony, Microsoft or absolutely genius, you'll have a hard time competing with Nintendo's space.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

For Your Digging Consideration #1

Rather than try and post a lot of shorts about possibly decent digg stories, here's a few to consider:

- Spock Market (digg)

- Galactica's" Moore eyeing game space (digg)

- Webcam of largest LAN evah (digg)

- Signed Jack Thompson Book to Be Destroyed for Charity (digg)

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MMO Reports Launches

All the MMO news that's fit to print, apparently.

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Globe and Mail on "Gamer Shame"

Scott Colbourne is a gamer who isn't afraid to write about in front of a large audience, but he revisits the issue at large:

Another way to deal with those shameful feelings is to meet them head on. Canadian writer Clive Thompson did just that this week with a bombastic, hilarious piece for extolling the virtues of violent shoot-'em-ups. In The Glory of the Shooter, he offers this repudiation of gamer shame: "When your boss asks you what you did on the weekend, are you gonna tell him you spent 10 hours shooting at already-dead bodies during slow-mo mode in Half Life 2 just so you could play physics experiments with them? No, it's easier to stroke your chin and muse on the advent of 'narrative' games that will 'rival movies' and finally 'break games into the mainstream.' "

Slo-mo mode? There's a slow-motion feature in Half Life 2? I'm going to check that out -- just have to pull the drapes first, and get headphones so the neighbours don't hear.
-- Confessions from the grips of gamer shame

Most of my co-workers know by now what my hobbies are and I'm actually something of the point person when it comes down to those kinds of questions. Aside from the occasional discussion about how to get past certain parts of GTA and the infrequent title swap, it doesn't come up much. Course, the most common hobby around the office is either poker, golf or child rearing ... so I should count my blessings. I just wish some people around the office didn't annoy IT so much that they firewall even obscure gaming sites.

I have noticed that the couple friends of mine that are as rabid about gaming as I am .... we're complete chatterboxes when we get together. Seriously, it's like a knitting circle. Pent-up discussion, I guess.

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House & Hustle: What's in a Mystery?

The Girl and I are both big fans of House and Hustle, the former being the Peabody winning show about a acerbic but genius doctor and the latter being AMC's presentation of a BBC production about London "long con" artists. They're both smartly written and well-acted, and they both put the concept of a mystery into a spin.

Whenever I think of a mystery movie, I always think of an old werewolf movie which was setup like an Agathie Christie novel. I can't remember the name. Basically, people start dying at a hotel resort and one of the guests is suspected of being a werewolf. The whole movie is trying to figure out which one. You're given all the normal assortment of red herrings and clues in an attempt to keep you guessing until the end.

Even with misdirections and red herrings, however, you're given the auspice of being able to solve the mystery before the curtain closes. You're not expected to, but you're welcome to try. The closest show I can think of to this format that we watch right now is Monk.

Hustle twists this by showing it all from the angle of the crime. One might think this would simplify the process, but the show is written so that the viewer is usually being conned right along with the marks. It's still completely possible to guess what is happening, but the fact that you can't trust the narrative is deeply reinforced in Hustle. The characters are outright lying within the show and by not revealing the full story, lying to the audience as well. It's a lot of fun and even when you start to piece the full con together ... it's usually intricate enough to enjoy watching unfold anyway.

On the other side of the spectrum is House, a show described by the creators as a "mystery where a disease is the culprit" and the doctors play Scooby to the crime. Watching last night it occured to me that I have no chance of guessing this mystery. And unless you are a Clinical Oncologist, you probably don't either. Plus, the show is settling into a fairly predictable format where you know that the first three things that are tried on the patient will fail miserably.

And yet ... it's addictive as hell. Why? Because it's fun drama. Watching the hospital politics and the larger-than-life personalities clash is good conflict. You're still allowed to guess on details like a patient's honesty or past ... but you're mostly just along for the ride.

That being said, what gives a mystery it's core nature? Is it really the ability to try and be as smart as a detective ... or is it more of the thrill of knowing that the story is inherently unpredictable?

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I'm In A Killzone

Killzone (finally) came from GameFly yesterday, and it's been a post-work fake violence stress-down ever since. I didn't really know what to expect considering how hyped the game was prior to release and then how ho-hum it's actual relase turned out.

In short, it's pretty good. The graphics are extremely impressive for the PS2, although not without it's faults. When a Helghast soldier dies inside a wall and the collision error causes his legs to twitch wildly as the model tries to figure out where it can land ... well, the ensuing laughter breaks immersion somewhat. And you can feel the poor PS2 struggling to keep up with the code, and it's evident even as you see the level of detail swap out right in front of you sometimes.

Still, there are some pretty tight mechanics behind all the pretty. Sure, the Helghast aren't going to win any AI awards. Their training seems to include the skill of walking right past me and then wondering where I am and why I am shooting them. The game does use a lot of cover and close quarter combat quite well, however (even if, as The Girl puts it, you throw grenades like a girl).

The story is definately of the style over substance sort. They assume you won't notice just how generic the tale is as long as there are enough explosions in your way. Basically it's a fairly generic shooter, just an exceptionally beautiful one. I haven't play Black just yet, but I'm getting a sense of deja vu just from the reviews I've read. I'm guessing it's like Black, but not as graphically and impressive and three times longer.

Getting labelled a Halo-Killer was probably unfair for the title. I can't recommend it at full price, but it's definately worth at least a rental. I'm having plenty of fun with it and probably will play it through the end.

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More Odd Bloggery

Following Acid For Blood, Lowspec take aim at how Kotaku and 1UP handled coverage largely based on this Gamers With Jobs Press Pass interview. Note:

Note that in the 1up article Smith doesn’t bother linking to or acknowledging the Press Pass article, let alone the sources of the original concerns. He doesn’t mention the fact that Bethesda commented on the issue, or include any of Bethesda’s explanations. Instead, Smith constructs a relatively slapdash response to Kotaku’s sarcasm that doesn’t fully take into account the game’s range of stats and the implications they have for both genders.
-- Recycling the News

Emphasis mine. After reading about some of the conflict between large gadget blogs and their smaller counterparts, it makes you wonder just how the mainstream blogs are starting to evolve. I've stopped reading sites like IGN and Gamespy for news because they don't offer much in the way of information aside from reviews and interviews, which can be gleaned on a need-to-research-that-title type basis. I prefer blogs because they frequently offer more personalized and rational opinions on topics, even if they're not always the first ones out of the gate. I've stopped forum browsing completely because I got sick of the knee-jerk "OMG THE PSP IS DOOMED" style of reporting (so named after a certain website declared the PSP a failure prior to it's opening).

Thankfully, it's a wide and deep net out there. I say always keep looking for the kind of "reporting" which suits you best.

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Another Visual Studio Rant

When you're editing a .cs file (C#) and you try to examine the code history, it prefers to bring up the .aspx (HTML) file's history instead.


Tinkertoys, I say. I'm working with tinkertoys here.

Blizzard Still Hearts Mac

According to Macworld, Blizzard won't be leaving OS X anytime soon, saying “We have a recognized record of native Mac OS support, and we have no plans to break with that tradition. We understand that our Mac player base prefers native software whenever possible, and our cross-platform development practice addresses that.” (via nerd approved)

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yo-Yo / Tamagotchi Hybrid

The yo-yos are equipped with a small LCD screen and red, yellow or blue LEDs that flash as you spin it. When you first start playing with the yo-yo your warrior is ‘born’ and as you continue to spin it you’ll slowly charge your warrior’s skills. When sufficiently charged (you’ll know thanks to built-in sound effects) you’ll be able to play one of 7 different games VIA the LCD screen. You can even battle with another Kodai yo-yo wirelessly over infra-red.
-- Kodai Djinns - The Yo-yo Meets Tamagotchi (OhGizmo!)

Nifty. You can get two for $50 and start battling right away. Hopefully the yo-yo won't randomly whine at you if you stop playing with it for a week. That would get creepy.

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The "Xbox" Murders


Prosecutors allege Troy Victorino, 29, Robert Cannon and Michael Salas, both 20, and Jerone Hunter, 19, organized the attack to retrieve an Xbox video game system that Victorino lost when he was kicked out of a different house in Deltona.

The victims, some of whom were sleeping, did not resist or try to escape the attack, investigators said.
-- Trial of alleged Xbox slayings to begin

I love how the media sometimes doesn't even try to make sense. If all these psychotics wanted was their Xbox back, they clearly didn't need to kill six people, and if I recall correctly - a dog, in order to do it. The first paragraph and the second simply contradict each other. Yeah, Victorino might have been pissed about losing his Xbox. But he and his psycho pals went there to kill people. But why pass up the attempt to connect violent crime to video games some more?

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Quake 3 In A Browser

Apparently a work in progress, but after getting Quake 1 to run ... someone is trying Quake 3 via Shockwave. (via digg)

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Blogged Out Features "We Make Money Not Art"

...and comes out with plenty to say about art and gaming:

Debatty is extremely well travelled, and regularly reports on design events from across the world (particularly non-English speaking Europe) that might not otherwise get a whole lot of press. One such event was 2006's Game Set Match at Delft University of Technology in Holland, under the header of which Debatty reports on some other events taking place in the Netherlands, before taking her cue from Game Set Match's curator Annet Dekker and reporting what games can learn from installation art:

"Where in a game, the player needs a lot of concentration to get detached from the real world, in installation art, the player is immediately immersed in a different world. An environment is laid down that make new interaction models emerge in the virtual and the physical space, an environment designed by artists that reveals the new art of gaming."
-- Blogged Out: We Make Money Not Murder

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More On Games Corrupting Your Children

Technology News has another story on that study about how video games will cause you to eat poorly, sleep in late and kick puppies ... or as politicians will put it, "increase violent crime". In a completely accidental way, it seems to cut into the thick of this issue. It starts with:

"I find some of the games out there personally shocking. If you've ever seen 'Grand Theft Auto,' there's adult-oriented material on there and a lot of violence. I don't know what psychological affect it has on kids, but there certainly are more adult-themed games out there," Brian O'Rourke, a senior analyst at In-Stat, told TechNewsWorld.
-- Video Game Study Reinforces Negative Impact on Youth

Here's what's funny: In-Stat is a tech research company and doesn't have nothing to do with anything about this story. But it's important for the reader to know that they find GTA personally shocking. Personally shocking.

And that's what a lot of this comes down to. There isn't any proof that video games will increase crime or do anything but become a bad behavior. But some people are just shocked that not everything is Zelda and Asteroids anymore and by gum, they can't shut up about it.

Because while that quote is in bold at the top of the page, the fact that all of this is getting (expensively) laughed out of court is relegated to about one sentence.

Games have grown up. Get over it.

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Slate On Dell And Alienware

There is at least one group for which dullness isn't a virtue: hard-core gamers. For people who spend much of their time in virtual worlds, image is important. Gamers want powerful computers, of course, but they also want stylish systems made by a company that they believe understands them. Dell's XPS line of machines certainly provides the requisite power. The PC giant's market clout earns it premium relationships with component-makers like ATI, Intel, and nVidia, often allowing it to be first to market with the hottest technologies. But devoted gamers have still stayed away from Dell. Halo obsessives are not IT managers: They ogle expensive, flashy machines … and they buy expensive, flashy machines. That's where Alienware comes in.
-- Dell's Quest for Cool

It's odd, I think, that articles like this come around at the same time people are trying to determine the exact time of death for the PC gaming market. Perhaps this is exactly why there won't be none. For all the sense it makes to just buy a $400 console which is in the same ballpark as a $2,000 rig, there will always be the ones who need the quad SLI monster and shell out $8,000 anyway.

For the record, I haven't seen these people in the wild. But Dell apparently has the photos to prove their existence.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

The Game Chair Demands Better 360 Split Screen

Jake of The Game Chair takes a look at the 360's Non-Live multiplayer offerings and hopes it's not a trend:

Lets take a brief look at the 360’s gaming landscape. Four player support has run the gamut from shoddy, (Perfect Dark Zero) cheating (Dead or Alive’s tag team four player or Burnout Revenge’s round robin four player) to non-existent (practically every other 360 game). System link play also hasn’t been a solution because it has only supported one player per Xbox 360 on the vast majority of games. Backwards compatibility? No go there either. Halo 2’s backwards compatible framerates collapse in flames when four player split screen is activated. Also, even two player split screen modes have been largely ignored by 360 titles, often missing large chunks of gameplay available on Xbox live.

Microsoft has been leaning heavily on the crutch of Xbox live for its multiplayer support and pushing its developers to do the same. Meanwhile, gamers around the world are frantically reconnecting their GameCubes and original Xbox’s for some real multiplayer gaming; you know the kind where you can punch the guy/gal who just owned you.
-- Microsoft, where’s my split screen gaming?

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Advertising In A Non-Linear Space

ClickZ has a brief-but-interesting opinion on fitting traditional concepts of advertising into media where the user/viewer/player (Usviewlayer?) has more control:

A colleague recently saw "War of the Worlds." He didn't like it. It felt like a video game, he said. It didn't feature the same tension as the original. I was reminded the first "Star Wars" prequel, "The Phantom Menace," was perhaps the first time I heard the suggestion a scene in a major Hollywood blockbuster was written specifically to be a video game. There was a lot of discussion at the time around how the pod racing felt forced in the movie. It was just barely believable; it felt out of place.

Sure enough, the racing turned into a game version featuring the same construct. I, and many others, felt Lucas was trying too hard to market the movie. He was forcing it to have legs, to extend into other channels, rather than just writing a good story. The second prequel was more of the same, though a better balance was struck in this last film.

A few years back, I hypothesized that if you take interactive TV to the extreme, where the viewer is somehow empowered to control the storyline, you'd need a completely different skill set to tell a compelling story.

Making storytelling's linear nature interactive requires a different kind of creativity. It's at least partially why some offline agencies have trouble with online. So many have built their business around the :30 spot. It's a very linear (and short) format, whereas online is mostly nonlinear and consumer-empowered.
-- Making Linear Storytelling Interactive

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PlayStation 3 Video Blogs ... Good Thing?

Apparently it's possible that the PlayStation 3 will let you record with the EyeToy and blog the results. Do we really ... want that? Are there a lot of people who would be willing to do that? And how many would watch it? I mean, I get that it's all about the community and you want people to band together and rally for your games and hardware ... but I'm having a hard time shaking the notion that the gamesphere would be assaulted by a 100 different kinds of Wayne's World except without the funny.

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Glory Be The Shooter

Wired is throwing some praise for the often uber-violent first person shooter genre:

And it suddenly hit me that I was spending a Friday night doing inventory management. Last time I checked, I get enough bean counting at my day job; do I really need to spend my weekends pondering whether I should carry an extra set of warhammers just in case I run into a merchant who might be able to buy them off me? Sure, I enjoy having a virtual life -- but as a virtual accountant?

Yeah, no.

Moments like that make me re-appreciate the true value of a good first-person shooter: its raw, modernist simplicity. Like a cool, refreshing glass of water on a smog-choked summer day, a shooter cuts through the fog of everyday life.
-- The Glory of the Shooter

Gotta completely agree. Sometimes I like complexity and strategy. Sometimes I like the nuances.

Sometimes I just want to mash things.

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Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows

This was an odd weekend. The Girl and I are making are way into the homebuyer's guild and it's pretty exhausting. The roof over our head is getting sold and there is a slim chance of eviction in the next couple months. Unlikely, but we like any excuse to be paranoid. Especially if it involves browsing the web a lot and loaning huge sums of money.

Burning stress required a lot of mindless pixel violence. I had picked up Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows when I got Hunters to prove to The Girl that I wasn't planning to hide in a room, ignore her, and practice Metroid for days on end. Rather, I was planning on all that and was hoping getting a coop game would make for a sufficient ruse to cover my tracks. This weekend, we finally broke it out and gave it a serious whirl.

It's easily the prettiest incarnation of the franchise. Instead of tight maps with tons of wallled passages, there are wide paths with rich backdrops. Much of the layout feels more Golden Axe than Gauntlet. The models are well done and the particle effects add a lot of flair (flare? You get the idea). The combo system is updated to, well, a real combo system and works pretty well. Definately still a button masher in it's heart of hearts, but the game finally gets a little variation in terms of combat and you actually have to think about what you're doing sometimes.

The bad? We finished the whole game in one sitting. Maybe five hours, tops. I don't even think it was that long. And once you're done ... well ... there's not much else. Higher difficulty levels merely adjust some stats like lives and enemy damage. Before you even finish the campaign, you run out of things to buy (which is limited to new combos only). No new heroes to unlock. No bonus stage.

It's fun for a while and the coop mechanics are much more polished than earlier versions. You can jump in, on-the-fly, and even load up your saved profile while someone else keeps on playing. It's a shame it's so damn short and limited.

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Nothing To See Here

I put this within the comments on the "Oblivion AO" post, but I thought I should make a call out to Jeff's reaction to the Oblivion topless mod:

…the truth is that it’s fairly typical for any game with customizable wearables to start with a bare-skin model. Then you add clothes to that. This is so you can add clothing that would otherwise reveal bits of underwear sticking out in odd places, if the underwear were “built into” to the model.

But it’s not a “nude” model, any more than a Barbie Doll with no clothes on is a “Nude Doll”.

So stop it, already.
-- Oblivion "nude" mod

I had merely assumed that the skins in question were at least moderately pornographic. If not, if it's just as exciting as seeing a Sim nude (without any third party addons, of course) ... then consider it stopped.

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Odd Bloggery

I must have completely missed this brouhaha with OhGizmo!, DAPReview and Engadget. Short version: showed that Engadget lifted their story while removing credit and OhGizmo! had suspicions that they've done the same thing to them. Engadget claims that cropping a photo and editing out references to the source site was "an honest mistake".

What's odd, is that I've had similar things happen. Little stuff, but occasionally I've found something very randomly via Google or eBay and tossed it on here and had it mysteriously show up a few hours later on one of those "big" blogs without any mention if where it came from.

Seriously, I don't really care. I've gotten credit plenty of times from even those same sites. I'm not here for the traffic. Not trying to increase ad revenues (remember, I put ads for a while because I thought they were funny) ... I'm just here because writing helps me think and to try an maintain enough of a crowd to have the occasional discussion with.

In the few times it's happened, I assume it probably could have been an honest mistake. The only thing that annoys is that if the blog culpable of it is a pro blog ... if someone is being paid money for it ... they shouldn't be so sloppy. I'm not one of these people who entertains the notion that I'm a journalist or proto-journalist or whatever just because I blog. Some out there are journalists, or trying to be, though ... and if you can't cite sources accurately ... get thee back to journalism class.

So, basically, I don't care. But those who read this blog for potential material for their own ... you should know. I keep very accurate logs of who stops by and read them frequently. So it's not like I won't notice.

Placing Your Metroid Tag Online

Thomas has some quick tips on how to iframe your Metroid: Hunters license for your own website. Course, right now it just looks like a big "Access Denied" sign to me, thanks to the corporate firewall.

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