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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Old War Posters With Battlefield 1942 References

This might be old, but I stumbled on a whole crop of war poster images remixed with BF1942 context and the heaviest use of the word "smacktard" this side of the English Channel.

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Blatant RumorMongering

The DS Lite Has Serious Manufacturing Issues
Apparently lots of people are claiming dead pixels, cracked cases, and overheating. Also, the power supply is apparently a huge brick. I mean, it's literally a brick. Like in mortar.

The PS3's Cell Processor Only 10% Faster Than PS2 Emotion Engine
Because of a problem with the compiler (and I heard this from a guy who was on a plane with a guy who heard a presentation ... so it must be true), the PlayStation 3's vaunted processing power can't handle much more than it's previous incarnation. However, Kutaragi announced today that it will indeed include a kitten.

Wii-mote to include "Love Button"
Not happy with simply redesigning the controller completely, Nintendo wants gamers to have a real emotional impact with their Wii. So the Wii-Mote will include a button similar to Tivo's "Thumbs Up" which will give Nintendo feedback on what is precisely happening during the game when gamers are at their happiest.

360 Redesign To Include Two Kittens
Not to be outdone by Sony....

...OK I'm done now. I was just gettting overloaded with all the rumor mill gnashing as of late. And it's so sadly predictable. That new product will have dead pixels. The Playstation 3 will fail because of random technical issue. The Wii will save the world. Whatever. I just read a post complaining that a site had dragged it's feet on reviewing the PS3 versus the 360. Not. Reviewing. An. Unreleased. Product. Yeah, that's a terrible idea. Because heaven forbid we wait for facts before trying to drum up some news.

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Republicans Unhappy With FTC, Violent Games

Proving that one political party can beat a straw man better than the next, those wacky Congressional Republicans are annoyed that the FTC went so light on Take Two(digg it) and want to see a stop to the growing problem of Manchurian Children everywhere. This include Senator Joe Barton who we all know is such an expert on technology and all (he knows more about the Internet than Tim Berners-Lee AND Vint Cerf combined apparently). Thank god we don't have bigger things to worry about (say deficit, Afghan War, Iraq War, Iran, North Korea, Congressional corruption, global warming, gas prices, No Child Left Behind removing teachers later this year, grizzly bears, SCO, avian flu, AIDS, domestic first responders, or inflation).

Our Republican controlled Congress will save us from this problem that doesn't exist ... I'm quite sure. And if not this, they'll certainly look into that gay marriage thing threatening us all. Whew.

In related news, the ESRB will fine up to a million dollars for not disclosing content, upping the ante considerably that miscreants everywhere will pour over game data looking for anything resembling a nipple.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Live-Action GoldenEye Parody

Check out this bit of funny (since I can't right now) (digg it).

In related news, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent got sent back yesterday after it's nearly riveting sense of repetition managed to put one of the boss fights to sleep, making it easy to defeat.

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Citizen Wii's "Crawford Interview"

I might be the only person on the gaming planet without a severe opinion on Chris Crawford one way or another, but I still managed to find this humorous:

CC: Not since Balance of Power, there hasn’t! And do you know who made Balance of Power?

CW: You did, sir.

CC: You did, WHO??

CW: You did… Guru Crawford.

CC: Damn skippy, I did! ME! I made the game! An original idea! At least in the eighties there was experimentation! Most of the experiments failed, but we TRIED. Like Siboot! SIBOOT! Do you remember Siboot?

CW: Uh, no, I can’t say I…

CC: Of course not! It only sold 5,000 copies on the Macintosh II!

CW: That would…

CC: SIBOOT!!! Did you know there was a part in that game I lectured the player and the player could chose how to respond to me and if the player told me to “Go to hell!” it made the game VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO WIN??!?

CW: No, I…

CC: YEAH! That’s how I lay down the LAW: you screw with me, YOU’RE GOING DOWN! See this grape in my hand? That’s John Q. Gamerdork.

[squishes grape]

CC: And THAT, peon, is what happens when John Q. Gamerdork screws with THE GURU.
-- The Citizen interview with Chris Crawford

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sony's Free HUB And It's Not So Free Content

Ars Technica sums up Kutaragi's description of the Playstation 3's networking services:

Kutaragi's comments clearly suggest that online play will be free, up to and including meeting up with other users (the matching service). Voice and video chat, messaging, and ranking services are also expected to be available for free, stemming from comments made by Kutaragi in March. This does not rule out additional value-added services, however, and until the service is officially announced, we can only call these plans tentative.

Kutaragi also said that Sony has plans to sell "content" online, saying that they had wanted to do it as far back as 1999. He hinted that the American market was still too dominated by modems at the time, however, and so they had to cancel plans and wait for the opportunity to return with the PS3. In the meantime, he says, "Apple realized e-Distribution. So we figured it was about time for us as well." He added that, "In a year or two, I think everyone will just expect [commercial content distribution over networks]."

Yet it is unclear what Sony intends to sell. While the 60GB hard drive in the premium console is spacious, it would not be large enough to hold a collection of HD video, although the company could sell storage add-ons in the future. We believe that Sony will initially sell other content, including music and standard definition video, as well as gaming content such as that available today in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
-- Sony to offer free online play, placing its online revenue hopes on e-Distribution

Invoking Apple's name, I'm thinking, is not a coincidence. Sony's probably still a bit miff that the walkman of the modern day is .. well not a walkman. They're acknowledging that iTunes is a major part of that and, in doing so, that they haven't been able to keep up with Apple. Sony's been salivating over downloadable content and convergence devices for some time now, and the PS3 is their chance to make it actually work. While they've been mocked recent for referring to the PS3 as a "computer", I'm not really sure what the hangup here might be. Games, e-mail, web browsing and IM ... that would be the golden apps these days. E-mail and IM would be troublesome without a keyboard ... but unlike Microsoft they've got nothing to lose with adding one.

It's entirely possible that the reason Sony is being met with so much suspicion right now (OK, other than them being an evil megacorporation...) is simply that until the PS3 gets hooked up to it's HUB ... it won't really click. Microsoft has made Xbox Live into a major selling point. Whether Sony can keep up with both Microsoft and Apple could make or break the PS3.

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Wired On XXX Games

Dave Taylor, who helped develop Quake and Doom, worried that the two markets would never meet. He argued that video games, with their multi-million dollar development price tags and uncertain profits, make uneasy bedmates for pornography, whose production values are low (a typical film costs tens of thousands) and profit margins high.

But later, Taylor admitted that he's deep into making his own pornographic video game. And he praised games for making possible a whole new range of fetishes that the market can target. Taylor himself turns to VR technology for a supply of "breast enlargement" simulations where CGI models grow assets of such titanic proportions that even Anna Nicole Smith would appear modest by comparison.
-- Scoring with XXX Games

And a fine morning to you as well ... big old piping hot cup of NSFW links abound in that article. But c'mon, a guy who worked on Doom is now playing with virtual breasts? Can't pass that up.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Massive PC Fighting Game Controller

Checkout Big Kurt's gigantic controller, which apparently weighs some sixty pounds.

Honest, I'm working. Not just browsing flicker. Honest.

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Surreal Geeky Football Photo

I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for these pictures, but I'd rather not know.

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Cyberpunk Bond

GoldenEye: Rogue Agent arrived via Gamefly before the weekend so I've been putting it through some paces. Reviews of the game weren't terribly favorable. I never really liked EA's obvious abuse of the GoldenEye brand to key off of Rare's classic, so I think in some ways the constant comparison between all things shooter and Bond to that game was completely deserved. EA literally asked for it.

More than not living up to that classic's quality, the game itself is very bizarre for a Bond game. In fact, were it not for the calvacade of Bond villians parading around the cinematic sections, you'd be hard pressed to think of this as a Bond title. Not because you don't wear the shoes of the legendary superspy ... but because design reminds one more of Project: Snowblind than anything in the Bond series. There's augments and near sci fi like weaponry abound. It's not that Bond never had a strong appreciation of realism or anything, but having someone's cybernetic eyeball being able to cast a bullet-proof force field would be a bit much even for 007's world.

There is some stuff to like, though. The akimbo weapon design is pretty clever. I played with "true" akimbo weapons for a Unreal Tournament 2004 mod, where you could mix and match left and right hand weapons. Each weapon would also have a seperate trigger (right and left mouse buttons) in lieu of secondary fires as well. Rogue Agent works in much the same way and works pretty well in practice. You worry less about reloading and ammo management and spend more time picking up a variety of combinations along the way. It keeps the action changing and interesting without being overly complicated about it.

Rogue Agent is almost absurdly arcadish at times, with most of the design being theme-linked rooms with a random number of nearly identical baddies lurking about. Occasionally there's environmental interactions like flipping a switch to crush people under a lift or some such. Here again, the Bond franchise does little for the game. You could be in anyone's casino, it just happens to be Auric Goldfinger's.

And that's the rub of Rogue Agent. There's some good ideas and a fairly clean design going on, just nothing elaborate ever made of it. Probably because all the rest of the concept was blown on fitting it into the Bondverse. Like Snowblind was a better game for simply not trying to follow in Deus Ex's footsteps, Rogue Agent should have gone a little more rogue itself.

On a side note, The Girl was apparently brought up in a Bond-free environment. At one point, Oddjob's hat flies past your view. When I noted that was a neat addition, she asked what I was talking about. Oddjob ... hat ... .... apparently she'll have to be re-educated...

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Dev Day Diary: Text And Graphics

I haven't done one of these in a while, where I just chatter about stuff I'm actually working on, but it's a really slow news day (basically it's this or me ranting about silly rumormongering).

Two projects are on the front burner for me right now. The first is another piece of interactive lit called Rain and Wind, which is about two samurai chosen to protect a town. Something funny happens along the way to a bordello and much hilarity ensues. Well, not exactly ... but I'm still flushing out the details. Instead of either a traditional parser or a Randolph Carter style interactive text, the story will progress out of a combination of card games. You try the prototype of the card game out. During different paths of the game, variants of the card game might arise instead of what's in the prototype ... like playing against a series of three card hands or having the trump card hidden during play. Other parts of the story will vary simply by having the player choose one card over another, with the card portraying a preview of the text they would be choosing. Part of me shivers at the idea of including what is essentially multiple choice, since it's an aspect of the old Choose Your Own Adventure design I've always hated. This is a more subtle method, and a secondary one at that, however, of letting the player control the direction of the narrative somewhat.

The other project is Atlas. Largely it should play like Asteroids meets Nethack. Right now it doesn't play like anything because I'm still adjusting to the changes in the latest Torque Game Builder, so it took me a few hours just to get a modded version of their demo working. I had previously gotten the Asteroids portion mostly working, but I'm trying to go without my C++ modifications for great portability. Once I get around that, I'll work on the mission aspect of the game. One of the notions is that because it's outer space, missions can be strung together by merely defining points in space as opposed to laying out complete levels. I'm trying to define specifics like how the "economy" will work and I'm leaning to a military motif of prestige and medals as opposed to the scavenge & trade economy of most Nethack clones.

Rain and Wind might be ready in a few weeks. Atlas is months away.

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