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Friday, August 11, 2006

PS3 Won't Play Blu-Ray?

I'm not quite following here:

Vincent Bautista, Sony's product manager for data storage, told that due to copy protection issues and lagging software development, the drive will only play user-recorded high-definition content from a digital camcorder, and not commercial movies released under the BD format.
-- Boing Boing: Blu-Ray PlayStations won't play Blu-Ray discs

If this were true, then the Blu-Ray cartel would have to go down as committing the biggest fumble in entertainment history. To shoot Sony in the kneecaps with the most accessible consumer product for their format would be a serious blow to Sony and a fatal blow to Blu-Ray. To quote Blackadder, they slipped while shaving and stabbed themselves in the chest with a butcher's knife.

Here is the thing. And I don't want to accuse people like Boing Boing of lousy reporting. Heaven forbid. But here's a simple way of vetting a story like this.

1) Go to the article:,39029405,40091720,00.htm

2) Hit "Find" on your browser.

3) Type "PlayStation"

4) Hit enter.

5) Realize that the word "PlayStation" never appears in the article.

People. This is beyond ridiculous. It's now going beyond stupid. I mean, first I'm to believe that the PlayStation 3 will write to unwritable BD-DVD's. Now, an article about a specific drive by Sony for the PC market means that the PS3 won't play movies?

Sorry. Not buying it.

UPDATE: Boing Boing has now corrected the post. Cory Doctorow, for which I certainly have a bit of respect, states he misread the original article.

No offense, Cory, but I think "didn't" read is a bit more accurate.

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Google's Movies ... Rating Wrong Movie

Oddly right now one of the only two reviews available under Google's movie review aggregator for Pulse is actually for the original Japanese horror movie and not the one in American theaters. Plus it's for some social network consumer review site and hardly the same as a professional review.

I've had some interesting Web 2.0 discussions in the last week - but stuff like this reminds one that it's still pretty beta.

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Will The PS3 Breed Less Quantity, More Quality

Keith Stuart over at the Guardian Gamesblog responds with to the "glut of the PS3 cancellations":

This isn't a catalogue of disastrous extinctions, it is natural selection. PS3 is monstrously expensive and not particularly straightforward to develop for, so it turns out publishers are going to have to be extremely careful about what they fund. In the PS2 days, it was financially viable, indeed worthwhile, to follow a big genre title with several mediocre wannabes - the budgets were manageable and a large audience was there to lap up the effluent. But on PS3 we're talking millions and millions of dollars for even the most wretched of GTA or Final Fantasy rip-offs. And at least for the first few months, the market won't be big enough to support them, because there won't be enough machines in circulation.

Could it be that in the PS3 universe there will be no hackneyed RPG-by-numbers, no soulless 'me too' urban racers, no witless gangsta adventures completely lacking the wit or verve of GTA but filled with crude racial stereotypes and idiotic glorifications of violent street 'culture'? Well, perhaps that's too much to ask. But at least the numbers will be kept down. Publishers may be faced with a difficult choice - create truly excellent genre titles or break off into new areas. In the crushingly expensive next generation, will it be necessary to mutate in order to survive?
-- PS3: natural selection in action?

I would tend to agree. I'm sure I'm coming off as a Sony apologist, but it just seems like most of the bashing is a pile-on mentality and not exactly in line with reality. Of course the PlayStation 3 will probably launch with a slightly anemic and probably not terribly diverse library -- so has virtually every console in the history of games. Keith also very accurately points out that the cancellations aren't generally Triple A titles from established studios or it's not like the studio isn't releasing other titles ... so assuming a developer is "abandoning the platform" because they've dropped one title but not the other seems a bit absurd. The current list of expected games looks rather typical.

Sorry people, I know playing Chicken Little is fun ... and certainly there's an edge of risk to the PlayStation 3 launch ... but if I have to read two more months of childish nitpicking and rumormonging - I might have to scream.

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A Poor Artist Blames The Hardware

"I don't think Sony can afford to sit back. I think they still have things they can do with the price and performance of the machine-- things that they need to address."

Gardner points to the success of the DS as being about fun and accessibility, not about pure technical supremacy.

"There's no doubt that EA has historically bet more on PSP. I think we were excited by the technology, but the consumers have proven that actually what they want is fun. ... EA is putting more effort behind DS games -- and creative ones that really take advantage of the hardware."
-- EA says the PSP is no fun

Let me get this right. The DS is more fun not because of the hardware ... but because it has fun and accessible games. EA can't make fun and accessible games for the PSP ... because of the hardware.

So EA isn't making fun games ... and that's Sony's fault? Hear that beeping noise? That's the nonsense detector going off. There are times when EA gets away with public statements only because they're EA.

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Insert Credit And N64 Kid's Aunt

I'm not really up to speed on this kid and N64 (eBay) ... but apparently it's all the rage right now. Doesn't seem terribly compelling stuff, but insert credit got the oddest phone call, from the kid's aunt.

N64 kid's aunt: So his video has gotten something like 2.5 million views since it went up, and his myspace gets over 70,000 hits daily, and there are tons of parodies over on YMTD...

very confused brandon: I believe it!

N64ka: So this is kind of a shot in the dark, but do you know if anyone would be interested in making a game about it?

vcb: Like...a videogame? I don't see how...

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Korean Street Arcade

From hwayoungjung's photostream.

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Top Adventure Remakes

Back in the days before DOOM became the pop phenomenon it still is, the adventure game genre reigned supreme. Adventures were cutting edge, they were. Names like Kinq’s Quest, Larry Laffer, Zak McKraken or Maniac Mansion were common household items and easily quite a bit more popular than your average garden gnome.
-- Old adventures never die. They only get remade. (digg it)

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How Big Is Your Cockpit?

From Stickrod's photostream

tagged: , would feature casual games for the Mac users and intend to become a favorite destination for Mac users.

Though there are several online websites that aspire to offer cheap/free small downloadable games, only a few are aimed at the small number of Mac users online. features games by category — arcade, puzzle, word games, cards and strategy. And while Freeverse publishes its own popular games, features offerings from a number of different Mac game developers.
--, a Gaming Site for Apple Mac users released by Freeverse Software

Freeverse, naturally, being a long running indie studio responsible for such Mac gems as the award winning Wingnuts 2. doesn't seem much different than your standard "casual" portal, but it's nice to have another place which realizes you can game on a Mac.

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TGB Demo, out of beta

Here is something for all you aspiring game designers out there. GarageGames sends along word that Torque Game Builder 1.1.1 is now available. There is a FREE 30 day demo for you to try out and if you decide you like it, the complete package is only $100. Pretty spanky stuff.
-- [H]ard|OCP

See more on the product page. I might have to download this, although I wasn't thrilled with the performance from the last build on my Mac Mini. Still, GG is a good group of guys. Hard OCP also has an interview with Mark Frohnmayer of GarageGames.

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Gary Gygax on Lumino

The results of his work is more wide spread than many know of, the probability mechanics and mathematic tables he developed for the game, as well as the terminology for many of the variables (Such as "Hit Points"), are still used today. This includes everything from recently written tabletop games, to video games such as the "Final Fantasy series. Even "John Madden" football games utilize the probability mechanics developed during the creation of D&D.

The man is E. Gary Gygax, a Chicago native, born July 27, 1938, who now lives in Lake Geneva. His creation to those unfamiliar is a type of game, (note: the FIRST game of this type,) known as a role-playing game, or RPG (not to be confused with the exploding kind).

These games can be best described as half board game minus the board, and half play without a script. Players create a persona that they are represented by in the game, then use that avatar to wander through a fantasy world, acting out an unfolding story as told to them by a "gamemaster," or narrator. The experience is a lot like being an actor in a TV drama with no idea where the plot is going.

Though Gygax was born in Chicago, he spent every August in Lake Geneva until he was eight, at which point he moved there, and has stayed since. (Anyone who has seen the town knows why, it is a gorgeous area.)

Lumino got the chance to talk to the man at his home in Lake Geneva, along with two of his "playas," brothers Jeff and Brad Burklow, to find out what a creator of this subculture has to say about it, then, and now.
-- - Gary Gygax: Dungeons and Dragons creator

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Bully: Like GTA without killing hookers

There's no denying that the game is violent. The main mechanic demonstrated by Rockstar was fist-fighting. Bullies to fight were abundant, and once a clash ensued, onscreen prompts directed the player: "Now fight the bully." "Now humiliate the bully." Some button-presses later, the bully was wrapped in a headlock.

But besides obvious differences, like a lack of actual killing and maiming, the game's violence is even more hemmed in than the police-penalized mayhem of "GTA." Jimmy's skipped classes and fistfights raise the alert level of school officials. He's also forced to obey an 11 p.m. curfew each night for fear of having the game get blurry and uncontrollable for the player. Rampant misbehavior forces a visit to the principal's office or punishments like mowing the athletic field's lawn.
-- Controversial Game 'Bully' Might Not Be As Destructive As Critics Thought

Course certain jackass lunatic lawyers will likely field this outcome as a "victory" and that Rockstar changed their design under pressure. Truth and reality never really entered into the complaints lodged against Bully and there's no reason to think that will change in the near future.

Personally, I think this takes off some of the edge on the concept that all Rockstar does is make games so outrageous that people can't help themselves but to try them. Rockstar makes good games. If it all it took was outrageous content, we'd all have BMX XXX in our living rooms.

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Big Surprise

Of course, like any debate that includes gaming advocates and Jack Thompson, it included more bluster and yelling than actual thoughtful information. See a video of the interview below, or keep reading for an extremely condensed, schoolyard-style summary of what was said.
-- G4, Jack Thompson yell at each other

Gee, what a shock. Thompson continued to act like science simply proves him right (untrue) and that Bully is a hugely violent game which will cause the next Columbine (also apparently untrue). Discussion with him turns into a screaming match. The only other option but a screaming match with BatJack is just letting him rant ... and I don't know which one is worse.

Thanks to G4 for keeping the low bar on this debate at it's present level. Next stop, ground floor.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chair PC Case Mod

Apparently seen during QuakeCon ... from UnholyKnight's photostream.

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This Is Absurd

As if Jack Thompson wasn't already considered a total disgrace all around the planet, we now hear the man is going to appear on G4TV's Attack of the Show tomorrow night. We're going to assume Kevin Pereira himself will interview the pseudo-lawyer, and we'd like to think Kevin may do his best Bill O'Reilly impression while interviewing this attention hog.
-- Jack Thompson to unfortunately appear on AOTS

As if Attack Of The Show had any integrity to lose ... they're now just pissing all over the remains of that integrity. As if it's bad enough that they can't take five minutes of googling to vet their guests, they're going to give airtime to the man personally responsable to lowering the cultural debate on videogames to the level of playground politics.

What possible point is there to putting a camera in front of this lunatic? Oh right, Attack Of The Show follows the gaming journalism school of "let's see how much controversy we can stir up". Great. As if it wasn't bad enough that mainstream press treats him like some kind of authority, the gaming press will now jump into the game. Must have gone down like this:

"Hey, did you hear about that guy who believes the PlayStation has created an army of manchurian children, described the PlayStation 3 launch as the next Pearl Harbor and called the head of the ESA a modern day Goebbels?"

"No! My god! When can we put him on the air????"


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Microsoft Patch Triggers Homeland Warning

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned Wednesday that a recently patched Microsoft Windows vulnerability could put the nation's critical infrastructure at risk.

The patch, described in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06-040, relates to Windows Server services. It was one of 12 updates issued Tuesday, by the software giant, but security experts are particularly concerned with the bug because hackers have already exploited the vulnerability. The vulnerability is described here.
-- Digital World Tokyo

In 1998, Windows malfunctioned on a Naval "smart ship" and left it dead in the water. It's good to see that the government is capable of learning from it's mistakes with such urgency.


Why Mylo Is Doomed

An old associate of mine, Preston Grallla said it best: “So let’s sum this up. It’s a device for people who are devoted to instant messaging, but won’t work with biggest IM networks in the world. It costs as much or more than handheld gaming devices, but won’t let you play games. And the Skype capabilities are nice, but the target audience already has cellphones.”
-- 5 Reasons Why the Sony Mylo is Doomed to Failure

I'm terribly inclined to agree. Mylo feels like the PSP's mutant stillborn cousin. It looks like a great hardware design, but a primarily text messaging orientated device which ignores the vast portion of text messengers? The article at RealTech goes into more detail, knocking it's lack of games and cost. Which again, feels accurate - because why drop $350 for this instead of a PSP anyway? To not IM your friends on AIM?

If anything, Mylo feels like an attempt to add a keyboard to the PSP that accidentally made it's way to a product line. Just add the damn keyboard in the next PSP and call it a day.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How The Wii Might Fail

Curmudgeon Gamer shot along this well-thought out analysis on how the Wii could stumble:

As the Nintendo guy, I’m zeroing in on Wii.  You might predict that I have a positive slant toward Nintendo and you would be correct.  After all, developer support is the strongest in years, there’s a radical and compelling new dynamic to the console, and people are proably still standing in line to see the Wii in the LA Convention Center.  So, it’s pretty easy to presume success for the House of Mario, right?  Wrong.  Not by a long shot.  Today, we examine the question…”Could the Wii Fail?”

Dumb mistakes.  Nintendo’s made plenty of them in the past.  From cringe-worthy advertising to burning bridges with developers, the gaming veteran has hit most of the metaphorical potholes.  Does disaster loom?  Well, that all depends on the new Nintendo, the Satoru Iwata Nintendo, and if the risks he’s taking are right.  Iwata has done a good job to cleanse Hiroshi Yamauchi’s imperialistic Nintendo image, making amends with scorned developers and paying some honest-to-god attention to the American market (Reggie, anyone?) 
-- Could The Wii Fail?

It goes on for a few pages with pretty specific points and makes some intelligent jabs at Nintendo's armor. Will the lack of Rare on the Virtual Console hurt? Is the NiWiFi system too clunky for a console compared to the handheld? Instead of waiting for me to paraphrase, read it for yourself since paraphrasing won't do it justice.

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F.E.A.R. For Free Online

Old news by now, but this is great:

Re-branded as F.E.A.R Combat, the multiplayer mode for the popular FPS game will be made available free to download for players who do not own the full game. Players who download the multiplayer component will be able to play with retail owners and other F.E.A.R Combat users online without any restrictions.
-- The Escapist News Room : F.E.A.R. Multiplayer To Be Free

I really enjoyed the F.E.A.R multiplayer demo, so I've got to recommend this download. It's a great blend of run and gun with a touch of actual skill and strategy.

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Cutie Quake

Tre bizarre. Try it out here. Via RealTechNews.

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There Are No Casual Games

Corvus has introduced a new Round Table in part a riff off of Craig's and Duncan's takes on the casual game market.

Right now I'm working on a project which will be easy to learn, easy to play, simple in terms of design, probably free and downloadable. Most would say that defines it as a casual game. I'm not entirely sure I agree, simply because I think they're focusing on the wrong part of the sentence. Most people, I think, would say a casual game is a relatively basic game which anyone can learn and play quickly. Cell phone Tetris, Puzzle Pirates, that kind of thing. But it's not like Doom was exactly hard to learn. Gather, dodge and shoot. Quake? Pretty much just added proper jumping. Nobody spends more than a few minutes learning a game anymore, even if it's a sim or war game. When's the last time you felt you had to read the manual while waiting for an install to finish?

Your standard platformer is no more complex than your average puzzler and for some puzzlers - like Tetris - require similar skills in the long run. So why is Psychonauts hardcore and Puzzle Pirates casual? Simple: one is a console title and the other is a downloadable game.

When people say accessibility ... I think they need to be specific. Casual games are casual not necessarily because of their content, but because they are cheap and easily attainable. My mom would never play Psychonauts because I could never convince her to get a PlayStation or Xbox. If someone made a game for Xbox Live, she'd never see it. But if it was a web game? She might give it a try.

This is precisely what happened to my dad - a closet hardcore gamer if there ever was one. My stepmom would never be caught dead playing TimeSplitters so instead they've both gotten into various PopGames. In this case, it's not so much the cost of entry (dad's already got it) ... but the hardware itself. Let's remember, Nintendo's "casual revolution" isn't focused on the games so much as the hardware. Succeed or fail, it's brilliant because someone's finally acknowledged that a game controller isn't the most natural thing in the world.

To take the whole concept of a casual game and twist it - I hate playing golf in the real world. I don't hold the club right or stand right or anything. But I'll play hours of Tiger Woods on the PS2.

There's no such thing as "casual" games. Anyone who has known a serious Tetris or Sodoku addict knows that's a misnomer. I've seen my mom play crosswords - there's not much casual about it.

There's such a thing as "accessible" games. Not everyone wants to spend hundreds on specialized hardware or "learn the controls". Lots of people would rather spend $5 on a cell phone game than $50 on a "full" title. Some people would rather challenge their mind than their coordination. What we're seeing isn't a new market - it's a broadening of the exact same market. It's an evolution of the home game console - make games more accessible by freeing them from the arcade. Now games are getting unleashed onto your web browser or cell phone. The hobby projects I've got in the fire are "casual" not because I see them as basic games for non-gamers ... but rather because I'm completely outside the industry required to get something onto a console. It takes a lot of time, money and dedication - and I'm lacking in pretty much all three.

Another counter-example: ARGs. In many ways, an ARG resembles a "casual game". They're played via the web. They don't require a lot of hand-eye coordination. They're usually free. Yet, there's a major investment in time and energy and most ARGs are very difficult to get into without a community to help the player along. They're one of the most inaccesible genres around, because the entirety of gameplay is often a puzzler in and of itself.

So I'm not sure a music-powered Galaga clones played within iTunes is precisely casual. In fact, I'd say it's about five times geekier than simply playing the original. But I'm hoping it will be accessible.

Head back to the table for seconds:

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NPR's The World On Game Development

Later today, the NPR radio program The World will be doing a segment called "Dare To Be Digital":

College students from across Britain and around the globe have converged on Dundee, Scotland. Their task - create genre-busting video games - under real-world pressure. We travel behind the scenes in one of the computer gaming world's top creative competitions.
-- PRI's The World: Radio News Magazine, co-produced by PRI, the BBC World Service, and WGBH

NPR's been rocking with video game coverage for a while, offering mature and thoughtful analysis in lieu of the typic mainstream "video games are killing your children" mantra. Press Start is, for example, an excellent video game podcast from their alt.NPR series.

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360 Lost / DHARMA Skin

Occasionally I notice something in the logs that someone has searched for something other than nude Link models or how to unblur Sims. This time, someone was looking for a DHARMA (from the TV show Lost) skin for the 360, and what do you know ... eBay's got one. For four extra brit-dollars, you can apparently get a controller skin to match.

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And we're back...

Sorry for the complete lack of updates yesterday. The Girl and I closed on the condo and then proceeded to head over to the new place and sanctify in the name of our Dark Lord, Shibburath. Kidding, of course, although with as smoothly as we got away with signing stuff it almost seemed like we had the devil on our side. We got through all the legalese in about two and half hours and there's very few issues still open.

Signing for property, to wax geekly for a moment, is actually a lot like coding. You begin with nothing, then you define all your important variables and then you define all the important functions. Everyone compiles the results and gives it a proper checksum, and then it's sent off for processing.

Yes. It was that boring that it deserves such an analogy.

As an aside, though, we've got lots of packing to do and eventually I'll probably be without internet at home for a while. So if I go dark for a little while - it's not that I don't care.

It's that I'm trapped inside a box. Send help.

Monday, August 07, 2006 Updates

Apple's website has been updated to match their WWDC announcements. Here's the superquick overview:

Mac Pro:
Gee, what a shocker. It's an Intel 64-bit monster with more options than you can shake a credit card at. Start at $2499 and max it out to your liking.

Leopard Preview:
Leopards' more than just a new skin on Tiger. Boot Camp is getting out of beta, they're adding automagic back-ups via Time Machine, and a whole pretty new toy called Core Animation for developers (not to mention XCode 3.0 I guess).

Edit: Xeni a la Boing Boing reports:

For developers: Dashcode helps you design, develop, debug. Canned widgets, source library, javascript source editor and debugger. For endusers: Webclip. Select item from internet (Dilbert comic strip shown), clip it, drag to dashbaord, and you can have a widget that will show you every day's new edition of a comic strip, for instance. Or, an eBay auction: select, apply a theme (torn edges), then transform into widget -- it's live, so you can still navigate through the webpage in its clipped widget form. Or NYT Bestseller list. Or webcams. Have a widget of a webcam on your dashboard. Throughout day, you work, then bring up dashboard and you see a live webcam feed you've selected (much applause, much catching of breath).
-- Boing Boing: Liveblogging Apple WWDC06 in San Francisco

Also Spaces, which is basically this year's Expose. Easier way to support multiple desktops (put all your dev apps running on one desktop, all your porn on another ... swap when boss walks by ... that kind of thing).

30-Inch Cinema Display:
That would swallow me whole, I think. No iSight for every garage like some had expected, it seems. Still, when it comes to monitors - size matters.

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After the weekend I've had, that's funny as hell. Check out xkcd for more on "romance, sarcasm, math, and language."

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Penny Arcade Case Mod

You know, it's that lovely robot that enjoys the company of fruit. Check out the whole set of pics for more views.

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Dev Day Diary

I got some work in both Saturday and Sunday. Again, I have very little to show for it. On the Open GL side, I got stroke fonts (stroke fonts are 3D scaleable as opposed to the 2D non-scaleable) and display lists (an important performance structure) running - but neither out of my current example, just modified versions of existing tutorials. I wasn't having much luck with integration which means there's something I'm clearly not grokking.

Sunday was largely trying to get an empty plugin to be picked up by iTunes. I figure if I get that done and then get the plugin to display basically any Open GL drawing, I'll have most of the foundation work. Sadly Apple's Visualizer example isn't the best example in the world. For one thing, it relies on another library to perform all it's memory management. So if anything goes wrong with that library, it throws off the whole example. Naturally, the library wasn't compiling for me. Plus, it's a long rambling demo without much specific documentation. If Apple seriously wanted to people to jump in and code these things, a primer would be wise.

So by the end of the weekend, I had some compiled code I somewhat understand and a compiled plugin that iTunes doesn't like. I think its because I was working around the memory management code, though, and iTunes isn't being told specifically what it's looking at when the plugin registers. So next step would be: register the plugin and get it to create a triangle.

This would be why pre-packaged engines are so attractive...

I haven't actually figured out what kind of game I'll make with this - but there's likely to be either a Robotron or Galaga clone demo just to prove the concept.

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Ubisoft Is The Wheelman

Driver was a pretty seminal game for it's time. Before any of us ever got into a big debate over Grand Theft Auto, there was Driver. Even though you weren't really a bad guy (undercover cop), it was hard to tell the difference. And a lot like games of the past (the original Test Drive comes to mind) ... Driver proved that it could be fun to be bad.

The franchise has faltered and stumbled these days, but apparently that will be Ubisoft's problem now. Ubisoft generally does pretty good work, so maybe they can give the series a shot in the arm.

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